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Far Out!

pumpkin farms fast fashions cake wrecks and more!

inspirational styles for interplanetary travel (or just going to school) PLUS

» Storyteller Kirk Waller » Fun in the sun in San Diego » Of garlic and vampires » Cake Wrecks » Yoshi’s restaurant

OCT/NOV 2009


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


Sally and Caden protecting the universe, starting with Chabot Space and Science Center


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Bay Area Kids



Campers shine in 2009.

Help our kids dream big in 2010! Serving children living with brain tumors, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, skin disease, Crohn’s, colitis, celiac, diabetes, autism, bereavement, bipolar disorder and many more.

EACH YEAR, The Taylor Family Foundation (TTFF) sends more than 2,700 kids with life-threatening illnesses and developmental disabilities to TTFF’s Camp Arroyo nestled in the foothills of the Livermore Valley. We need your help to continue to host these children at no-cost to their families. Every dollar of your tax deductible Kids-to-Camp donation goes directly to funding camps, allowing us to offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience to seriously ill children in Northern California.

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Bay Area Kids

5555 Arroyo Road, Livermore, CA 94550 • (925) 455-5118 • • e-mail: Tax ID No. 94-3262932




Volume 1, Number 6 October/November 2009

the regular

Publisher/Editor/Father Everard G. Strong

6 small talk

Sales General Inquiries Helga Glasson Kathryn Sibley General Editorial Inquiries Calendar Photography Christina Fabbri Photography Contributing Writers Kelly Pollard, Patricia Kutza, Elise Cooke, Cathy Jetter, David MacFadden, Amy Renaud Submissions Send photos, events, news, and story requests to Product submissions Send all products to address below. Include return postage.

the good stuff

boo ... yeah

8 play dates

a comprehensive calendar

13 pumpkin farms plan your fall outing shelf 14 book NEW» literary calendar

16 book reviews

putting the “boo” in books

17 mixed media


video games, music

18 spinning a tale storyteller kirk waller fast fashions 22 quick change when I grow up 28 a school fit for your child

44 thought for food

what’s inside

out! 36 far fashionable inspirations for the fall months

garlic: not just for warding off vampires

cake wrecks 46 NEW» spelling it out 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

October/November 09 | East Bay

48 table talk:

clean plate club yoshi’s oakland

49 recipe

chocolate mousse with whipped cream ghosts

last words 50 diary of a suburban queen Special Section

32 Absolutely Essential Back to School Guide II

diego 40 san a family finds fun in the southern california sun

this is our sixth issue ... we made it one year … woohoo!

Bay Area Kids



editor’s letter

boo … yeah As I was walking up the stair I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I wish that man would go away. Hughes Mearns (1875 - 1965)

6 small talk

sound check Kid-friendly halloween tunes

Monster Mash Bobby Pickett Purple People Eater Sheb Wooley Witch Doctor David Seville I Like Monsters Abby and The Pipsqueaks Ghostbusters Ray Parker Jr. Time Warp Rocky Horror Picture Show Thriller Michael Jackson Boris the Spider The Who Martian Hop The Randellls Blob The Five Blobs Bad Moon Rising Credence Clearwater Revival For some real spooky fun, check out local band The Chills new release, Creepy Songs for Courageous Kids. send your mix list to


Bay Area Kids

I was born on Halloween (at 7:30pm, to be exact). True story. I was born at a small hospital on an island called Bonaire, part of the Netherlands Antilles (think Aruba, Curacao, and then Bonaire). Why my family was there … long story. But we lived there until I was seven, and in all that time we never celebrated Halloween (nobody else did either, for that matter). We celebrated my birthday, yes, but never with costumes and trick-or-treating and ghosts and goblins and all that. After a stint on the island we moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Once again, Halloween was not celebrated. By the time we moved to Chicago, Illinois for a permanent residence in the U.S. of A., I was beginning my teen years. Standing almost 6’3”, not many doors opened for me on Halloween night, even in my hastily-made Draculameets-the-Mummy outfit didn’t win me much in the way of candy. I’m not asking for a pity parade. Never experiencing the ritual, I never knew what I missed. College brought along its share of costume parties, and after I turned 35, I stopped paying attention to my birthday anyway. (Ironically, though born on Halloween, I’m not the hugest fan of horror movies.) Halloween was an excuse to go party with friends somewhere, which meant my door was usually locked and no tub of candy sat outside for visiting goblins and ghosts. That all changed when my daughter started walking, and we bought her first costume and took her—along with Nani, Grandpa, and her cousin (who was one year older) and some older friends— out for her first trick-or-treat gig. Following the lead of the older children, she ambled over to the front door, opened her bag, and looked up, not knowing really what to do, only that by doing so, candy magically fell into her bag. Now, at four, she is eagerly awaiting Halloween, going through the many costume catalogs that come through our mailbox, pointing at almost every girl’s costume in them: I want that one, and that one, and that one, and that one ... okay Daddy? She’s even nice enough to start prepping her two-year old brother for what’s to come. He doesn’t grasp the whole scenario yet, but he knows candy is involved somehow ... and pirates … and he’s getting very excited about it all. Oh, my daughter did also say this about Halloween: “It’s my Daddy’s birthday.” (Something I think my wonderful wife might have taught her.) She was quick to add to the above statement, however: “That means we get to have cake and more candy!” Something’s never change.

This issue’s fashion theme For this issue we decided to reach for the stars (pun intended) in putting our fashion spread together. Inspired by Chabot Space and Science Center—and lots of B space race movies from the Fifties and Sixties—we combined handcrafted costumes and accessories with the latest fashion trends. We want to thank the following people who made this happen: Sharon Fletcher, Robert Ade, and all the other staff at Chabot Space and Science Center for opening the place up so we could run around and have fun. To our models Caden, Brandon, and Sally, their parents, and J E Model, San Francisco. To Courtney Jo Barnes, Chris Bloomingdale, and Carolyn Carcione for their invaluable assistance.

Your Turn We’re already planning our next shoot. Want your child to be a part of it? Send us a photo (head shot preferable) to No guarantees, but we try.

Have a Happy Boo Day and Turkey Day! Everard G Strong, Publisher, Editor, and Father Halloween is the second biggest holiday, as rated by consumer dollars spent on it

going beyond the expected

A Montessori Education in the Heart of the Dimond District of Oakland • Spanish & French Immersion • Fine Art Instruction • • International Community • • Ages 2 yrs - 8th Grade •

To Schedule a Tour call 510.531.8566 3668 Dimond Avenue, Oakland CA 94602

October/November 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids



event calendar

compiled by David MacFadden

October | November


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


play dates

There’s A Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak

Mon, Tue, Fri-Sun 11am-5pm; Thu 1pm-8pm, through January 19, Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., San Francisco, (415) 6557800, $10 adults; $8 seniors 65 and older, and students with valid ID; children under 19 free. Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, among many others, inspired generations of children and changed the landscape of picture books. Included in the exhibition are original watercolors, preliminary sketches, drawings, and dummy books from more than forty of Sendak’s books. A number of different aspects of Sendak’s work are explored, including his child characters, monsters, literary and artistic influences, and the settings of his stories.

Maurice Sendak once worked as a window decorator for FAO Schwartz

October 1-4 Jack and the Beanstalk Fri 2, 7:30pm; Sat 3, 2pm and 7:30pm; Sun 4, 2pm, Front Row Theater, 17011 Bollinger Canyon Rd., San Ramon, (925) 973-2787, $16 adults, $12 children, matinees $10. The entire family will enjoy this outrageous musical comedy about a young lad who trades his cow for some magic beans and finds his way into a magical world of golden-egg laying geese and giants. Will Jack escape with the giant’s prized harp? Grand Opening of Baboon Cliffs Sat 3 10am4pm, Oakland Zoo, 9777 Golf Links Rd., Oakland, 510-632-9525,, $10.50 adults, $7 children ages 2-14, children under 2 free. The baboons are being relocated to a spacious new habitat that includes a naturalistic exhibit with a large rock wall, waterfall, grass, and trees. This new exhibit will allow the baboons to engage in lots of natural behavior. The Oakland Zoo will be handing out special Top Trumps “Super Cards” of the baboons. Zoo docents will also give presentations about baboons and other primates at the Oakland Zoo. Help welcome the baboons to their new home. Saturday Stories: Jackson and Bud’s Bumpy Ride: America’s First Cross-Country Automobile Trip by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff Sat 3 1pm2pm, Museum of Children’s Art, 538 Ninth St., Ste. 210, Oakland, (510) 465-8770, Free admission. In 1903 Dr. Horatio Jackson bet $50 that he could drive one of those new-fangled cars from San Francisco to New York. Elizabeth KoehlerPentacoff will read her story of this amazing dare. After the story take your own journey by fabricating your own car.

Pediatric Dentistry

Providing Smiles 4 Kidz for over 25 years! Ask about our complimentary

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M.H. Ashrafi, D.M.D., M.S.

Diplomate, American Board of Pediatric Dentistry Clinical Professor of Pediatric Dentistry, UCSF 1501 Bollinger Canyon Rd., San Ramon (925) 820-0303 • Fax (925) 820-7373 •


Golden Gate Boys Choir and BellrinGers

October 5-11 Tomie de Paola’s Strega Nona presented by Active Arts Sat 10-Sun 11, 2pm and 4:30pm, Front Row Theater, 17011 Bollinger Canyon Rd., San Ramon, (925) 973-2787, www. $16 adults, $12 children, matinees $10. Everybody’s favorite do-good witch Strega Nona hires penniless Big Anthony to help with her busy schedule. Strega Nona warns him not to mess with her magic, especially not with her magical pasta pot. But does Big Anthony pay attention? Come see what happens when Tomie de Paula’s beloved masterpiece of children’s literature bursts into life in the Commedia dell’arte tradition. Show is designed for children 3 and up. Creativity Competition: Techno Geek Art Challenge Sat 10, 1pm-3pm, Museum of Children’s Art, 538 Ninth St., Ste. 210, Oakland, (510) 465-8770, $7 children, $3 adults, free to members. Family teams compete in wacky, ridiculous art making. Become a gadgeteer and join fuses, resistors, capacitors and thingamajigs to create deranged designs, or cyborg sensations. Don’t get too technical; it’s all about the fun. Prizes for invention and ingenuity for all participants!

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. 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”


October/November 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids



playdates primo’s run for education Sat 11, 7:30am-9:30pm, (925) 820-9181, Registration fees range from $20-$65. Dust off your athletic shoes for Primo’s Run for Education. Choose from a 5K Run/Family Fun Walk in San Ramon or a half-marathon that stretches from downtown Danville to Iron Horse Middle School in San Ramon. The run benefits the San Ramon Valley Education Foundation, which raises money to fill in the gaps in funding at each school site of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. Stick around after the race and enjoy a Fun Fair and a slice of Primo’s Pizza. there’s A mystery there: sendak on sendak Mon, Tue, Fri-Sun 11am-5pm; Thu 1pm-8pm, through January 19, Contemporary Jewish Museum. See October 1-4.

October 12-18 cornfield maze and pumpkin patch Mon-Thu 4-8pm; Fri 4-10pm; Sat 10am-10pm; Sun 10am-8pm; from October 3-31, G&M Farms. See October 1-4.

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Bay Area Kids

tomie de paola’s strega nona presented by Active Arts Fri 16, 7pm; Sat 17 11am, 2pm, and 4:30pm; Sun 18, 2pm and 4:30pm, Front Row Theater. See October 5-11. goblin Jamboree sponsor Breakfast Sun 18, 8am, 9am, and 10am, The Bay Area Discovery Museum, Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, (415) 339-3900, www.BayKidsMuseum. org/goblin09. Ticket prices start at $200 for a family of four. Get a jump on the fun with a buffet breakfast including special entertainers and early access to the Museum and Goblin. Annual goblin Jamboree fundraiser Sat 17-Sun 18 10am4pm, The Bay Area Discovery Museum, Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, (415) 339-3900, www.BayKidsMuseum. org/goblin09. $14 adults and children, $12 members, children under 1 free. Children and their families are invited to come in costume and explore a haunted wonderland complete with games, attractions, and live entertainment. Enroll in the witches’ school, take a train or pony ride, or visit the petting zoo.

target family day Sun 18, 11am4pm, downtown San Francisco, (415) 614-3216, http://www. asp. Free admission. San Francisco’s biggest day-long family block party features free admission to four downtown museums including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Zeum: San Francisco’s Children’s Museum. Circus performances will take place in Yerba Buena Gardens. there’s A mystery there: sendak on sendak Mon, Tue, Fri-Sun 11am-5pm; Thu 1pm-8pm, through January 19, Contemporary Jewish Museum. See October 1-4.

October 19-25 cornfield maze and pumpkin patch Mon-Thu 4-8pm; Fri 4-10pm; Sat 10am-10pm; Sun 10am-8pm; from October 3-31, G&M Farms. See October 1-4. children’s fall fest Fri 23, 3:30–5:00pm, and 5:30–7:00pm; Community Center, Danville, (925) 314-3400, Enjoy a safe evening with arts and crafts, face painting, games, trick or treating, and much more. Costumes encouraged. Preregistration required. star trek: the exhibition Opens Fri 23; Mon-Wed 9am-5pm; Thu-Sun 9am-8pm; The Tech: Museum of Innovation, 201 South Market, San Jose, (408) 294-8324, www.thetech. org. $25 adults; $22 seniors 65 and older, and students with valid ID; $19 children ages 3-17. Transport into parallel universes of the past and future. The exhibit features over 200 artifacts including an authentic replica of the bridge from the U.S.S Enterprise NCC-1701 as featured in the original Star Trek television series. For a separate fee, enjoy a ride on the full-motion flight simulator. california Academy of sciences eighteenth Annual familyfriendly halloween party Fri 23, 6:30-8:30 pm, California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco (415) 379-8000,, Tickets cost $375 per family, which includes two adults and two children. Individual tickets can be purchased for $125 per adult and $75 per child. Creepy creatures like tarantulas, snakes and eels will greet families in Steinhart Aquarium, and face-to-face

encounters with Academy scientists and their fascinating collections are sure to captivate the entire family. Partygoers will enjoy spooktacular activities, crafts, and surprises galore throughout the museum. danville fall crafts festival Sat 24, 10am-5pm, Hartz Avenue in Downtown Danville, (925) 8374400, www.danvilleareachamber. com. Free admission. This popular event features arts and crafts from more than 200 artisans, along with food, music, and entertainment for the whole family. Children can also participate in the Halloween parade on Saturday, and safe trick-ortreating throughout the day. Shuttle service will be provided at the 680/ Sycamore Road Park ‘N’ Ride. family extravaganza: superheroes and mythical monsters Sat 24, 1pm-3pm, Museum of Children’s Art, 538 Ninth St., Ste. 210, Oakland, (510) 465-8770, $7 children, $3 adults, free to members. Parent-child workshops combining creativity, teamwork and fun. Become a crusader by creating a personalized cape and mask for Halloween or get eerie and make a creepy monster mask to spook the neighborhood. the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe Sat 24 at 1pm; Sun 25 at 1pm and 3:30pm, Young Performers Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldg. C, San Francisco, (415) 346-5550, www. $10 adults, $7 children under 13. This stage production brings all of C.S. Lewis’ classic adventures in the land of Narnia to life! Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy wander through an old wardrobe to meet old Mr. Tumnus, Aslan the lion and the dreadful White Witch. The story contains valuable lessons about the triumph of love, faith, and courage. glow Bones Sat 24 10am-4pm; Sun 12pm-5pm, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, (408) 2985437, $10 adults and children, $9 seniors, children under 1 free. Celebrate the spookiness of the month and learn a bit about bones to boot. We will paint your bones with special glow-in-the-dark paint and then you can shake, rattle, and roll your skeleton under black lights. halloween cabaret carnival Sun 25, 2:30pm-4:30pm, Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, 510525-5054, $6 adults, $4 children. Help raise money for Unicef projects in Mexico while

October/November 09 | East Bay

celebrating one of the best holidays of the year. Vaudevillians Stage Troupe performers will sing and dance along with a rockabilly band of awardwinning Bay Area musicians, featuring songs like “The Monster Mash” and “Flying Purple People Eater.” The troupe will host an evil-laughing contest and perform many other skits and tricks. Don’t forget to wear your costume to this party! there’s A mystery there: sendak on sendak

Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate

2960 Peralta Oaks Ct, Oakland (By the Oakland Zoo) |

Oktoberfest & Pumpkin Patch: October 24, 11 am - 4 pm.

October 26-November 1

A family event with old fashioned games, crafts, pony rides, horse drawn wagon rides and pumpkin painting. There will be suds and sausages for the grown up crowd, and German style music. The event will be held in and around the Carriage House at Covington Gate.

cornfield maze and pumpkin patch Mon-Thu 4-8pm; Fri 4-10pm; Sat 10am-10pm; Sun 10am-8pm; from October 3-31, G&M Farms. See October 1-4.

Holidays at Dunsmuir: Weekends between December 5 and December 20.

See October 1-4.

Animal secrets Tue-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm, beginning October 31, Bay Area Discovery Museum, Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, (415) 339-3900, $10 adults, $8 youth under 19, $8 seniors 62 and over, children under 1 free. In Animal Secrets, visitors discover nature from an animal’s point of view as they see the world from an eagle’s nest, pretend to be a chipmunk and gather food for the winter, and help a raccoon family escape from a hungry fox.

Our 39th annual holiday tradition with a beautifully decorated mansion, music, entertainment, food, Breakfast with Father Christmas, children and adult teas, demonstrations and so much for the whole family.

Celebrate the Magic of this Season with the Recreation Services Department

Children’s Fall Fest at the Community Center

Friday, October 23, 3:30pm–5:00pm, 5:30pm–7:00pm A ghoulish evening filled with arts and crafts, face painting, games, trick-or-treating and much more! Pre-registration is required. Call (925) 314-3400 to register.

glow Bones Tue 27-Sat 31, 10am4pm, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. See October 19-25. there’s A mystery there: sendak on sendak Mon, Tue, Fri-Sun 11am5pm; Thu 1pm-8pm, through January 19, Contemporary Jewish Museum. See October 1-4. star trek: the exhibition Mon-Wed 9am-5pm; Thu-Sun 9am-8pm; The Tech: Museum of Innovation. See October 19-25. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Sat 31 at 1pm; Sun 1 at 1pm and 3:30pm, Young Performers Theatre. See October 19-25. cash for candy Sun 1, Noon-4pm; Canyon Pediatric Dentistry, 1501 Bollinger Canyon Rd., San Ramon, (925) 820-0303, www.smiles4kidz. com. Bring Dr. Ashrafi your child’s Halloween candy, and he gives you cold, hard cash (while donating the sweets to worthy causes.)

Village Theatre Art Gallery Opening “Peanuts at Bat” Exhibition

Saturday, November 14, 11:00am Bring the family and experience America’s favorite past time through the eyes of Charles M. Schulz and the Peanuts Gang. Special appearance by Snoopy.

Santa’s Mailbox

December 1–11 Santa has a mailbox at the Danville Community Center! Drop off your children’s letters and they will receive letters from Santa by December 24! Be sure to include your name and mailing address on the letter.

Town of Danville Recreation Services Department

“Creating Community through People, Parks & Programs”

Bay Area Kids



Occupational Therapy treatment in our multi-sensory, fun clinic We specialize in: * Sensory integration * Motor skill development * Therapeutic Listening Program

Handwriting Groups for All Ages (925) 676-9165

1190 Burnett Ave., Suite D, Concord

Clayton Valley

Pumpkin Farm & Christmas Trees

Open October 1-31, 9am to 8pm daily Kids Activities Plumpkin™ Playland featuring Giant Straw maze • Lima Bean Pots NEW! Black Hole Tunnel Train Rides • Duck Races • Farm Animals

Huge selection of pumpkins, squash, gourds Fall Gift Shop Fall Flowers Plumpkin™ Pantry (food on weekends)

Open Friday after Thanksgiving for Christmas Trees.

1060 Pine Lane, Clayton (925) 672-5198


Bay Area Kids

playdates November 2-8 Alameda Children’s Musical Theatre Presents the music man Fri 6-Sun 8, Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High Street, Alameda, (510) 521-6965, www. $12 adults; $6 children under 17, seniors, and veterans. In this musical classic, follow fast-talking, traveling salesman Harold Hill to River City, Iowa where his world turns upside-down upon meeting Marion Paroo, a strong-willed librarian. With his word-a-second style, he convinces the town to buy into his revolutionary music program. Fun, singing, and dancing ensue. fortieth Anniversary celebration weekend at the exploratorium Sat 7-Sun 8, Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco, (415) 3975673, Free admission. To celebrate its Fortieth Anniversary, the Exploratorium is offering free admission and special events, including “Bubble Magic” demos by “bubble troubadour” Tom Noody, and an installation in which a hanging motorcycle cuts through a large block of ice—and mysteriously leaves the ice in one piece. Animal secrets Tue-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun, 10am5pm, Bay Area Discovery Museum. See October 26-November 1. there’s A mystery there: sendak on sendak Mon, Tue, Fri-Sun 11am-5pm; Thu 1pm-8pm, through January 19, Contemporary Jewish Museum. See October 1-4.

star trek: the exhibition mon-wed 9am5pm; Thu-Sun 9am-8pm; The Tech: Museum of Innovation. See October 19-25. the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe Sat 7 at 1pm; Sun 8 at 1pm and 3:30pm, Young Performers Theatre. See October 19-25.

November 9-15 Alameda children’s musical theatre presents The Music Man Fri 13-Sun 15, Altarena Playhouse. See November 2-8. Berkeley playhouse presents Wizard of Oz Fri 13, 7:00pm; Sat14, 2:00 and 7:00pm; Sun 15, 4:00pm, Julia Morgan Center, 2640 College Ave., Berkeley, (510) 665-5565. Advance tickets: Adult $28, Senior (65+) $25, Child (14 and under) $19. Take your family over the rainbow with this musical adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s novel featuring all your favorite music, lyrics and adventures from the classic motion picture. The colorful wonderland of Dorothy’s unusual imaginings begins a season at at The Julia Morgan Center. Directed by Jon Tracy. Music Direction by Phil Gorman. Animal secrets Tue-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun, 10am5pm, Bay Area Discovery Museum. See October 26-November 1.

5pm; Thu-Sun 9am-8pm; The Tech: Museum of Innovation. See October 19-25. the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe Sat 14 at 1pm; Sun 15 at 1pm and 3:30pm, Young Performers Theatre. See October 19-25. village theatre Art gallery opening: “peanuts at Bat” exhibition Sat 14, 11:00am Village Theatre Art Gallery, Danville, www. With a special appearance by Snoopy, enjoy America’s favorite pastime through the eyes of Charles M. Schulz.

November 16-22 Berkeley playhouse presents Wizard of Oz Sat 21, 2:00 and 7:00pm; Sun 22, 4:00pm, Julia Morgan Center, 2640 College Ave., Berkeley, (510) 665-5565. See November 9-15. pier 39 tree lighting ceremony Nov 22 1pm-6pm, Pier 39, Beach and Embarcadero, San Francisco. Free admission. This tree lighting celebration will feature Bay Area groups performing seasonal favorites. Pier 39’s majestic tree, adorned with glistening ornaments, bows, and twinkling lights will be lit at 5:30pm in the Entrance Plaza. Animal secrets Tue-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun, 10am5pm, Bay Area Discovery Museum. See October 26-November 1. there’s A mystery there: sendak on sendak Mon, Tue, Fri-Sun 11am-5pm; Thu 1pm-8pm, through January 19, Contemporary Jewish Museum. See October 1-4. star trek: the exhibition Mon-Wed 9am5pm; Thu-Sun 9am-8pm; The Tech: Museum of Innovation. See October 19-25.

November 23-30 Berkeley playhouse presents Wizard of Oz Fri 27, 2:00pm; Sat 28, 2:00 and 7:00pm; Sun 29, 4:00pm, Julia Morgan Center, 2640 College Ave., Berkeley, (510) 665-5565. See November 9-15. lighting of the old oak tree Fri 27, 5:15pm8:30pm, Diablo Road, Downtown Danville, (925) 837-4400, Ring in the official holiday season with a good old-fashioned tree lighting. You might even catch a glimpse of Santa Clause. Animal secrets Tue-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun, 10am5pm, Bay Area Discovery Museum. See October 26-November 1. there’s A mystery there: sendak on sendak Mon, Tue, Fri-Sun 11am-5pm; Thu 1pm-8pm, through January 19; closed Thanksgiving, Thu 26, Contemporary Jewish Museum. See October 1-4. BAK

there’s A mystery there: sendak on sendak Mon, Tue, Fri-Sun 11am-5pm; Thu 1pm-8pm, through January 19, Contemporary Jewish Museum. See October 1-4. star trek: the exhibition Mon-Wed 9am-

Calvary Christian Preschool SPECIAL EVENT SECTION:


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

G&M Farms 487 East Airway Blvd., Livermore, (925) 447FARM, Six acre cornfield maze and pumpkin patch. Your little ones will love G&M’s farm animals and the free straw bale maze, pony rides on the weekends, and don’t forget to ride G&M Farms’ famous Cow Train!

Moore’s Pumpkin Patch Rowell Ranch Rodeo Park, 9711 Dublin Canyon Rd, Castro Valley, and Alameda County Fairgrounds, corner of Bernal Ave & Valley Ave, Pleasanton, (510) 886-6015, Family Fun Park with rides and attractions. No need to be afraid herethis patch focuses on a Fall Harvest theme rather than a dark and gloomy one. Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm 1060 Pine Ln., Clayton, (925) 672-5198, www. Every Fall, our farm transforms into a pumpkin wonderland. The Gift Shop carries a huge selection of flags, pumpkin decorating products, home decorations, novelties and much more. Activities are plentiful with the most popular being our Plumpkin Playland (with a tunnel of straw) and the “Pumpkin Farm Express” trackless train. (See ad in this issue for more info.)

o to h de nc ra ot lu s th g H er 12 ms • put ips r m tr st – 1 nifo Co ield U F

Joan’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch 4351 Mines Rd., Livermore, (925) 447-0794, Maze, Old West town, hay ride, farm animals, gem panning, antique museum, pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, corn stalks, straw bales, nuts, refreshments, gift shop.

Director: Arlene McLean

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

Calvary Apostolic Church

Welcomes You! Ministries: Word, Music, Spanish, Multi-media, Resources, Outreach, Married Couples, External Support, Ladies and Men, Youth, Children’s Church

Grades K-8

Information Events: Sunday, Oct 25th 1-3 pm Tuesday, Nov 10th 7-8:30 pm

Your entire family is welcome!

Pumpkin Patch on Orchard Lane 2260 Concord Ave., Brentwood, (925) 516-1365 Smith Family Farms 4430 Sellers Ave., Brentwood, (925) 625-5966, There is a corn maze, barnyard animals, country style “Hoe Down” in the barn, music in the picnic area (weekends) educational displays, and a Miwok Indian village. Dell’ Osso Farms 26 Stewart Road, Lathrop, (209) 982-0833, Come see the mile long train, corn maze, pumpkin blaster, haunted house, gem mining, U-pick pumpkins, kiddie land, pony rides, petting zoo, face painting, and a tractor train. Free: hay ride, hay bale pyramid, speedway, hay bale labyrinth, maze bridges. Picnic area, food court, seasonal decorations, photo opportunities and more.

October/November 09 | East Bay

3425 Concord Blvd. Concord (925) 689-2542 SERviCES • Sunday Worship: 10:00AM • Sunday Celebration: 5:30PM

• The Word: Tuesday, 7:30PM • Youth: Friday, 7:30PM

2722 Benvenue Avenue Berkeley, CA 94705


Bay Area Kids



lIterArY events

by Amy Renaud

October | November



literary events


Bay Area Kids

mIchAel BucKleY

Wednesday, 7, 4pm Clayton Books 5433 D Clayton Rd., Clayton. The author of Nerds and the Sisters Grimm series will be at Clayton Books on Wednesday, October 7. After growing up in Akron, Ohio and graduating with honors from Ohio University, Mr. Buckley found himself living in New York where he has written for a number of television shows as well as his popular children’s books.

Czech Author Jan komesnky publishes the first children’s book, Orbis Pictus, in 1658

literary calendar

OCTOBER 1-3 Various Themes Thurs 1-Fri 2, 10am, Barnes and Noble Dublin, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin. Free Admission. Thursday events include a snack. Storytime Fri 2, 10am, Barnes and Noble El Cerrito, 6050 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito. Free admission. Discover a new favorite book or author at this fun event. Toddler Storytime Sat 3, 11am Barnes and Noble Emeryville, 5604 Bay Street, Emeryville. Free admission. Toddlers will learn valuable pre-reading skills while listening to a story geared for their shorter attention spans. Saturday Storytime Sat 3, 11am, Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St. Walnut Creek. Free admission. Readers will read a different story aloud to an audience of children and their adults.

OCTOBER 4-10 Toddler Storytime Tues 6, 10am Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St. Walnut Creek. Free admission. Bring your toddler to Toddler Storytime for a reading of a book geared for those with shorter attention spans. Toddler Storytime Wed 7 & Sat 10, 11am Barnes and Noble Emeryville, 5604 Bay Street, Emeryville. Free admission. See Oct 1-3 Various Themes Thurs 8-Fri 9, 10am, Barnes and Noble Dublin, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin. Free Admission. See Oct 1-3 Storytime Friday 9, 10am, Barnes and Noble El Cerrito, 6050 El Cerrito Plaza El Cerrito. Free admission. See Oct 1-3 Saturday Storytime Sat 10, 11am, Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St. Walnut Creek. Free admission. See Oct 1-3

OCTOBER 11-17 Moms Bookclub Mon 12, 7:30pm, Barnes and Noble Dublin, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin. Free Admission. Once a month, moms can attend this book club dedicated just for

October/November 09 | East Bay

compiled by Amy Renaud

them! Whether the subject of the book is mom-related, or a just-forfun read, moms will appreciate a night to talk about the book. Toddler Storytime Tues 13, 10am Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St. Walnut Creek. Free admission. See Oct 4-10 Toddler Storytime Wed 14 & Sat 17, 11am Barnes and Noble Emeryville, 5604 Bay Street, Emeryville. Free admission. See Oct 1-3 Various Themes Thurs 15 & Fri 16, 10am, Barnes and Noble Dublin, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin. Free Admission. See Oct 1-3 Storytime Fri 16, 10am, Barnes and Noble El Cerrito, 6050 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito. Free admission. See Oct 1-3 Saturday Storytime Sat 17, 11am, Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St., Walnut Creek. Free admission. See Oct 1-3

OCTOBER 18-24 Toddler Storytime Tues 20, 10am Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St., Walnut Creek. Free admission. See Oct 4-10 Author Signing: Jeff Kinney Wed 21, 5pm, Barnes and Noble El Cerrito, 6050 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito. Wristband required to participate in event. Jeff Kinney will be signing copies of the fourth installment of his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series at the Barnes and Noble in El Cerrito. Participants must have a wristband (given at the event) and a copy of the latest book in order to attend. The bookstore will also have a trivia contest, a scavenger hunt, and a special Wimpy Kid menu in the store’s café. Wristbands will be distributed starting at 3:00. Toddler Storytime Wed 21 & Sat 24, 11am Barnes and Noble Emeryville, 5604 Bay Street, Emeryville. Free admission. See Oct 1-3 Various Themes Thurs 22 & Fri 23, 10am, Barnes and Noble Dublin, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin. Free Admission. See Oct 1-3 Storytime Fri 23, 10am, Barnes and Noble El Cerrito, 6050 El Cerrito

Plaza, El Cerrito. Free admission. See Oct 1-3 Saturday Storytime Sat 24, 11am, Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St., Walnut Creek. Free admission. See Oct 1-3

OCTOBER 25-31 Toddler Storytime Tues 27, 10am Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St., Walnut Creek. Free admission. See Oct 4-10 Toddler Storytime Wednesday, 28, 11am Barnes and Noble Emeryville, 5604 Bay Street Emeryville. Free admission. See Oct 1-3 Various Themes Thurs 29 & Fri 30, 10am, Barnes and Noble Dublin, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin. Free Admission. See Oct 1-3 Storytime Friday 30, 10am, Barnes and Noble El Cerrito, 6050 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito. Free admission. See Oct 1-3

November 1-7 Toddler Storytime Tues 3, 10am Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St. Walnut Creek. Free admission. Barnes in Noble in Walnut Creek has a story time dedicated to this youngest group of potential bookworms. Storytime Fri 6, 10am, Barnes and Noble El Cerrito, 6050 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito. Free admission. Your child will get to hear a story while developing important reading comprehension skills. Various Themes Thurs 5 & Fri 6, 10am, Barnes and Noble Dublin, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin. Free Admission. Saturday Storytime Sat 7, 11am, Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St., Walnut Creek. Free admission. Develop your child’s love for reading by attending Saturday Storytime.

books. Toddler Storytime Tues 10, 10am Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St. Walnut Creek. Free admission. See Nov 1-7 Various Themes Thurs 12 & Fri 13, 10am, Barnes and Noble Dublin, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin. Free Admission. See Nov 1-7 Storytime Fri 13, 10am, Barnes and Noble El Cerrito, 6050 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito. Free admission. See November 1-7 Saturday Storytime Sat 14, 11am, Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St., Walnut Creek. Free admission. See Nov 1-7

November 15-21 Toddler Storytime Tues 17, 10am Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St. Walnut Creek. Free admission. See Nov 1-7 Various Themes Thurs 19 & Fri 20, 10am, Barnes and Noble Dublin, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin. Free Admission. See Nov 1-7 Storytime Friday 20, 10am, Barnes and Noble El Cerrito, 6050 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito. Free admission. See Nov 1-7 Saturday Storytime Sat 21, 11am, Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St., Walnut Creek. Free admission. See Nov 1-7

November 22-28 Toddler Storytime Tues 24, 10am Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St. Walnut Creek. Free admission. See Nov 1-7 Saturday Storytime Sat 28, 11am, Barnes and Noble Walnut Creek, 1149 S. Main St. Walnut Creek. Free admission. See Nov 1-7 BAK Bookstore managers, owners, or authors: submit your events to

November 8-14 Moms Bookclub Mon 9, 7:30pm, Barnes and Noble Dublin, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin. Free Admission. Whether the subject of the book is mom-related, or a just-for-fun read, moms will appreciate a night to talk

Bay Area Kids



book shelf: halloween round-up

by Cathy Jetter

» 1-3 years whoo’s that Kay Winters (author | Jeannie Winston (illustrator) Witches, bats, monsters, cats and all the other Halloween favorites are waiting to be discovered, again and again, behind the giant pumpkins featured on each of these easy to turn, brightly colored pages. Unlike other peek-aboo books, these flaps are firmly attached and easy to grasp— keeping little fingers happily playing hide and seek for many, many readings.

» 4-7 years

16 book shelf

Piggie pie! Margie Palatini (author) |Howard Fine (illustrator) Gritch the Witch has woken up grouch, grumpy and very hungry….for Piggie Pie! A quick check of the pantry reveals one key ingredient missing: no piggies. No problem for a witch and her broom—a short ride to Old McDonald’s farm should solve Gritch’s pangs of hunger … but those piggies are pretty smart and awfully elusive. With rollicking dialogue and crafty, crazy artwork, kids will still be clamoring for more Piggy Pie long after the Halloween screams have faded. Gritch’s glorious adventures continue in two other Palatini favorites, Zoom Broom and Broom Mates.

» 8-12 years diary of a stinky dead kid David Gerrold, Stefan Petrucha, Rob Vollmar, Jim Salicrup, John L. Lansdale Halloween is an ideal time to introduce the graphic novel series Tales from the Crypt to your pre-teen. The eighth and newest entry in this not-too-gory, but definitely ghoulish genre features plenty of pop culture references, beginning with the cover creature, Stinky Dead Kid (a take off on Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series). From Guitar Hero to the infamous Twilight novels, these terribly talented authors and illustrators have their fingers firmly on the pulse of what works with today’s teens, and that resonates clearly through the Crypt.

» 4-7 years j is for jack o’ lantern: a halloween alphabet Denise Brennan – author | Donald Wu – illustrations Rhyming the way through the Halloween season, Brennan-Nelson’s thoroughly researched and beautifully illustrated book delves much deeper than “A is for ‘Autumn’ and B is for ‘Boo’.” Beyond the friendly, engaging illustrations, each page is filled with Halloween facts, fables, traditions and recipes.

» 4-7 years sometimes i’m scared

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


Bay Area Kids

Jane Annunziata, PsyD | Marc Nemiroff, PhD | Bryan Langdo – illustrator Kids like to be the boss of things, but some things just can’t be controlled. Spiders, storms, robbers, monsters, thunder, fire, even feelings can all seem like too much when you’re still learning about the world around you. Annunziata and Nemiroff offer explanations for common fears, then outline a plan for managing the worries that keep little ones from exploring and enjoying their environment. Additional notes for parents of anxious children can help answer the question of when it might be time to seek professional help.


video game

creepy songs for courageous kids The Chills (Brainy Tunes) Local musicians The Chills fill a void with this Halloween offering, providing scary songs that kids will want to sing along to, but crafted with pop sensibilities that even adults won’t mind hitting repeat on the disc for the seventeenth time. Spooky songs include “Fear of Little Men,” “Here Comes the Booger Man,” “Ghost Story,” “Haunting School,” and more—all with smart lyrics and memorable harmonies. Intended for children over five, the band consists of a ghoul, a zombie, a gnome, and some unlucky drummer’s skeletal remains. Listen Online Go to http://www. and listen to selections from the album before buying it.

Little big planet Media Molecule/Sony Entertainment ( Even though this enchanting videogame came out in 2008, we at Bay Area Kids deemed it engrossing enough to launch our video game review section. At it’s most basic, Little Big Planet (LBP for short) is a jump-and-run game, with one of up to four players guiding a Sackboy through different levels of various themed locations. The game, however is way more than that. The scenery is a lush patchwork of homemade objects and fuzzy textures, as if it were all built by crazy scrapbookers, and your character is this cute stuffed little ... sack dude. As you guide him (or her—you can alter the look and gender of the character in many ways), you unlock balloons that have different costumes and accessories; many also have stickers that you can literally stick all over the place, to a little heart’s content. Built on a real-world physics engine, items roll, bounce, teeter, sway, and fall, allowing young children to see the laws of action and reaction at work first-hand. Once you complete all levels, your child can unlock their own creativity and create their own worlds which they can then upload to share, or trade. Available only for the Playstation 3, Little Big Planet is ideal for children over four, and is so charming that you will find yourself playing too.

17 mixed media

online fun Storyline online | Presented by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Storyline Online brings your child some of their favorite stories as told by some of the most well-known actors and actresses of screen and television. Cuddle up with your children on your lap and listen and watch as Amanda Bynes reads The Night I Followed the Dog, or Sean Astin tells of A Bad Case of the Stripes, Elijah Wood talking about Me and My Cat, and countless others. A free service, think of it as a great alternative to bedtime story time on those nights when you want to take a break from telling tales yourself.

October/November 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids



18 neighbors

The Spinner of Stories Storyteller Kirk Waller Talks a Tall Tale Story by Patricika Kutza | Photography Christina Fabbri


his is the era of deficit-spending. Attention deficit-that is. If you want to compete with cell phones and Blackberrys for an audience’s attention for twenty or thirty minutes, you need to know how to make your point short and say it fast. To see this principle in action, consider attending a Kirk Waller performance. Waller, a professional storyteller, is known for his ability to keep listeners enraptured with his spoken words. From the looks of his yearly engagement calendar—local libraries, schools, summer camps, churches and even a federal prison want his special brand of magic—there’s plenty of demand for Waller’s brand of tale telling. Waller chooses his stories based on how he connects with them. “The character, the message—there has to be something there that resonates with me,” he says. “Once I select a story, I work with it until I make it my own. To really make it real—I call it ‘getting it out of my mouth’—I need to tell it in front of an audience.” 18

Bay Area Kids

Important storytelling tip: every story must have a beginning, middle, and end.

That’s when it gets interesting. Every audience brings their own chemistry, making a unique stamp on each of his performances, sometimes in memorable ways. Waller recounts the time when he performed at a library where hardly anyone understood English: “They smiled and nodded, but I sensed they didn’t understand anything I said.” Times like those are challenging. Storytelling by its nature is interactive, and Waller draws on the energy from his audience’s reaction. Waller has also learned the value of controlling his environment. At one engagement, the well-meaning staff placed a plate of cookies next to the stage. “The kids kept on getting up to get those cookies; I never dreamed I would be competing with cookies.” Waller also never dreamed that it would take such a tragic event—the death of his wife—to launch him on a full-time storytelling career. “After she died, I needed a flexible schedule to manage raising my kids while earning a living.” Her death inspired Waller’s upcoming project—a CD of stories touching on themes of loss, grief, and hope. He launched his first children’s book, Sister Water and Misses Wind (read a review online at www., this past May. Waller adapted his story from the Zora Neale Thurston anthology of early African-American folktales, Why the Waves Have Whitecaps. Like other tales he has adapted for his oral presentations, Waller had to work with it. “The original story is pretty violent in its personification of the weather elements and the origination of the October/November 09 | East Bay

first storm,” he says. “I tweaked it to make it easier for readers to relate to it.” Waller hopes to change the prevailing misconception that story telling is just for kids. He also hopes to interest more African-Americans into becoming professional storytellers. “There are a number of great African-American storytellers on the

“To really make it real, I call it ‘getting it out of my mouth.’ I need to tell it in front of an audience.” Kirk Waller scene but their presence is not proportionate to other nationalities. Storytelling has been and remains a very important part of our tradition.” Perhaps if they knew what rewards awaited them, there would be more storytellers overall. “I was doing a school-residency program, working with fifthgraders,” Waller shares. “It was a ‘thrill me’ day when all of my own stories seemed to bore them. Then one girl piped up: ‘Can I tell a story?’ She proceeded to tell this amazing story about her grandfather dying of cancer. Her story triggered other kids to share theirs too. It was one of the most moving times I have ever had.” BAK » Online: go to

Bay Area Kids



sister water and misses wind by Kirk Waller Kirk Waller’s special way with words informs this Walleradapted version of Zora Neale Thurston’s African-American folktale about the origin of Earth’s first storm. The complicated friendship of Sister Water and Misses Wind is beautifully told and illustrated with powerful and colorful images. It’s not hard to imagine how the sisters’ friendliness gets so easily tangled with their competitiveness, wreaking havoc on an Earth that, until that moment, had only known peace and quiet. The story progresses in such an engrossing way that even the most reticent of readers will feel their natural storyteller-impulses stirring. Sister Water and Misses Wind can be purchased online at Patricia Kutza


Bay Area Kids

Sakura Gakuen

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

Enroll Now for 20092010! 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.

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

Come see us Open House Week, Oct 19-24

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

Expanding Worlds of Learning

NEW at our MORAGA CAMPUS: Ballet 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

Kenneth Young

• Growing K-5 campus in Berkeley/Kensington

• 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 October/November 09 | East Bay

• Accepting applications for children entering Kindergarten, First and Second Grade • High-standard bilingual (German-English) educational concept • Integrated curriculum fosters holistic and individual development

ouses Open H 10am Oct 10, 0pm :3 6 , Nov 10

• 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



fast finds

Quick Change Artists

22 haute stuff


Bay Area Kids

These selections serve a dual purpose: by day they’re stylish school selections; after the bell, they can be slightly altered for afternoon adventures in the wild west, on the high seas, or the nearest construction site.

The most ancient service to the Crown of England is the office of the Sheriff

Cowboy Stack From Top to Bottom: Multi-colored plaid shirt, Target, $9.99. Black and white plaid button down, Lucky Brand Kid’s, SF, $22.50. Black, white and yellow plaid shirt, Target, $9.99. Red and white plaid shirt, Lucky Brand Kid’s, SF, $22.50. Boy on Horse Black and white gingham button down, Zara, $9.99. Levi’s jeans, Sear’s $18.99. Durango cowboy boots, Zappos, $53. White cowboy hat, model’s own.

October/November 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids




Bay Area Kids

Pirate Grey striped shirt, Mossimo for Target, $7.99. Men’s scarf worn as belt, Target, $12.99. Black jeans, Target, $12.99. Pirate stack Red and white striped short sleeve tee, Rugged bear, www., $14.95. Grey and aqua striped long sleeve tee, Land’s End for Sear’s, $10. Lime and white long sleeve tee, Land’s End for Sear’s, $12.50. Green and white stripe short sleeve tee, Rugged bear,, $14.95. Orange and grey stripped, long sleeve tee, Land’s End for Sear’s, $10.

October/November 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids




Bay Area Kids

Short Stack Greendog grey, khaki, and brown cargo shorts, available at Macy’s, $12.98. Engineer stripe cargos, Old Navy, $14.50. Carpenter shorts, Old Navy, $14.50.

October/November 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids



28 school daze

Find more back-toschool articles, tips, and more online at www.


Bay Area Kids

Elise Tan-Roberts, all of two years old, is the youngest member of Mensa

When I Grow up … Cool Schools for Cool Kids

by Kelly Pollard


n this current economic climate, funding for music, arts, and science education is virtually nonexistent. Resourceful parents are dealing with this by turning to alternate educational opportunities that help broaden their children’s outlook. Margaret Grover-Roos, owner of Viva El Español in Lafayette, believes programs such as her Spanish school complement any child’s education—fitting these extra classes into an already busy schedule is easier than one might think. “To me, speaking another language gives children a lifelong ability to communicate with people from other countries and backgrounds,” says Grover-Roos. “There have been numerous studies linking knowledge of a second language to higher standardized test scores and academic achievement.” Many of the programs listed below can also fit into your child’s schedule. What is your child passionate about? Perhaps the perfect school in which they can develop this passion is just a phone call away. These listings are by no means comprehensive, as the Bay Area is home to a variety of amazing schools for children. This is only a starting point for your future research.\

If you want your child to grow up to be a World Traveler, send them to … Viva El Español 3451 Golden Gate Way, Lafayette (925) 962-9177 |

Classes are offered for preschool age through high school. Saturday family classes, and parent and child classes for toddlers are also offered. Emphasis is on a hands-on, multi-sensory approach using music, art, games, and storytelling to learn Spanish. Programs are offered at local elementary schools in Lafayette, Moraga, Walnut Creek, Oakland, Pleasanton, San Leandro, and San Francisco. Check Web site for specific schools. Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley 1009 Heinz Ave., Berkeley (510) 549-3867 |

Bonjour! French immersion programs are offered based on the three primary grade cycles of the French education system: Cycle 1 (preschool and K), Cycle 2 (K-1-2), Cycle 3 (3-4-5); middle school constitues the entrance into Cycle 4. Mandarin Play and Learn 480 Teresita Blvd., San Francisco 415-469-0195 |

Saturday morning classes (ages 3 to 7) are available along with after-school classes for elementary age children. Summer camps offered too.

October/November 09 | East Bay

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

Instruction are available in Japanese for both Japanese and non-Japanese students (ages 3 to adult). Gakuen programs are based on the elite kindergarten and grade school curriculums from Japan, rated one of the highest in the world. Golestan Kids 1808 5th St., Berkeley (510) 704-8541 |

The only immersion program of its kind in the Bay Area, they teach Farsi and Persian languages to Iranian American kids in the Bay Area (ages 18 months and up). If you want your child to grow up to be a Rock Star, send them to … Where Music Begins: Academy of Music Education 5460 Sunol Blvd., Ste 1, Pleasanton (925) 249-0661 |

Music for all ages. Lessons in piano, rhythm, vocals, kindermusik and sign language. They also provide adapted music lessons to children with special needs.

Bay Area Kids



Andrea’s Musical Adventures Check Web site for class locations (925) 280-7364 |

If you want your child to grow up to be an Artistic Genius, send them to …

If you want your child to grow up to be a Rocket Scientist, send them to …

Introduction of music concepts (ages infancy to 7). Pre-piano and group piano classes, as well as parent-child classes

SmartsUnlimited 53 Wright Brothers Way, Livermore (925) 245-0283 |

Sarah’s Science 27525 Knoll Way, Castro Valley (510) 581-3739 | Classes in Berkeley, Oakland and San Ramon

Music Together Check Web site for East Bay locations (925) 551-7722 |

Emphasis is on mixed-age classes with infants attending with older siblings. Classes held at a variety of times and places. Academy of Language and Music Arts 99 Brookwood Road, Orinda (925) 254-5056 |

This school offers group and private lessons in all instruments, and you can also sign up your child for a variety of language classes (ages 3 and up).


Bay Area Kids

This school has it all for the aspiring artist: classes in musical instruments, theater, opera, film making, drawing, painting, and mixed media art. Check out the Kindersmart class (ages 2 to 6), where they are exposed to various arts over the course of the class. Lamorinda Academy of Music and Arts 3381 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette (925) 299-1240 | www.musicandart.corg Locations also in Moraga, Orinda, Walnut Creek and other East Bay locations.

This studio offers art classes (ages 6 and up), with student exhibitions. Music classes in various instruments and on composition. Students are trained for recitals or to compete.

This program features hands-on science projects for kids (ages 5 to 15) that teach complex science concepts. The school offers camps over holiday breaks and summer camps, as well as science nights and Saturday classes throughout the year. Mad Science Mount Diablo 1150 Burnett Ave, Ste A, Concord (925) 687-1900

Kids learn and get to participate in unique experiments and dazzling demonstrations of science in action. Take classes, workshops, and summer camps. Offered at over one hundred schools and recreation sites in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties; check Web site for locations (preschool age and up). Scouts can also earn badges through specific projects in the program. BAK

» Open House/Parent Info Session Calendar Academy at Berkeley 2722 Benvenue Ave., Berkeley, (510) 549-0605 Sunday, Oct 25, 1–3pm Tuesday, Nov 10, 7–8:30pm

Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley 1009 Heinz Ave., Berkeley (510) 549-3867 Nov 12, 6:30pm

Diablo Valley Montessori School 3390 Deer Hill Rd., Lafayette (925) 283-8036 Montessori 101 Oct 21, 6pm: For parents of PreK/Kindergartners Montessori in the Home: Nov 19, 5pm: For parents of Infants and Toddlers

Renaissance School 3668 Dimond Ave., Oakland (510) 531-8566 Pre-primary/Primary Oct 6, 2009 – 9:30am Oct 29, 2009 – 9:30am Nov 18, 2009 – 9:30am Dec 2, 2009 – 9:30am K/Elementary/Middle School Nov 17, 2009 – 9:30am Dec 3, 2009 – 9:30am

German International School of Silicon Valley, Berkeley Campus 1 Lawson Rd., Berkeley/ Kensington, (650) 254-0748 Oct 10, 10am to 2 pm Nov 10, 6:30–8pm Dec 8, 6:30–8pm Sakura Gakuen 6850 Regional St., Ste 110, Dublin, (925) 556-9555

Open house week for Japanese classes and abacus (soroban) classes Oct 19—Oct 24

Growing Light Montessori Schools 4700 Lincoln Ave., Oakland (510) 336-9897 52 Arlington Ave., Kensington (510) 527-1278 1450 Moraga Rd., Moraga (925) 377-0407 Nov 6, 6:30–8pm: For Pre K / K & 1st-3rd grades. Seven Hills School 975 North San Carlos Dr., Walnut Creek 925) 933-0666 Oct 27, 9:15am Jan. 20, 9:15 am.

PRESCHOOL FAIRS Lamorinda Moms Preschool Fair Nov 12, 6:30-9 PM, Oakwood Athletic Club, Lafayette East Bay Moms Preschool & Childhood Resource Fair Jan 23, Scottish Rite Center, Oakland

Family Matters



For advertising opportunities, call (510) 325-1689 or e-mail October/November 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids


Diablo Valley Montessori School

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

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.

Mai Angsupanich

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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.

Sakura Gakuen Japanese/Chinese Language School

6850 Regional St., Ste 110, Dublin • (925) 556-9555 • 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 soon. Call for more information.

Diablo Hills Country School 1453 San Ramon Valley Blvd, Danville • (925) 820-8523 50 Creekside Dr, San Ramon • (925) 831-1210 Chosen as a PACE Child Care Center of the Year in 2006, Diablo Hills Country School provides safe, educational experiences that last a lifetime. Low student-to-teacher ratios help best develop each child. Smaller classrooms provide a warm, home-like learning center. We are licensed for children 2 year-olds and older and they do not need to be potty trained. Snacks and hot lunches provided. Our curriculum prepares children for Kindergarten while having fun. Our goal is to have children develop a positive self image while honoring each family’s unique cultural situation. Fully licensed by the State of California Department of Social Services. Admissions: Currently registering for our 2009/2010 school year. We will register for summer camp and 2010 - 2011 in March 2010. We would love to answer any questions you have or set up a tour whenever is convenient for you.


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Calvary Christian Preschool 3425 Concord Blvd., Concord (925) 682-6728

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

1009 Heinz Ave., Berkeley • (510) 549-3867 •

The Renaissance School 3668 Dimond Ave., Oakland • (510) 531-8566 The Renaissance School is a Montessori school for children aged 2 years through grade 8. Our school is a warm and supportive community of students, teachers, and parents. We are an international school, and as such our curriculum, faculty, and student body reflect a global perspective. Completely integrated within our Montessori curriculum are Spanish, French and English immersion, as well as Fine Art and Kodály choral instruction. At The Renaissance School, learning is not focused on rote drill and memorization. Our goal is to develop students who really understand their schoolwork. Our students learn through hands-on experience, investigation, and research. They become actively engaged in their studies, rather than passively waiting to be spoon-fed. Our educational program is consciously designed to recognize and address different learning styles, helping students learn to study most effectively. We challenge and set high expectations for all our students, not only a special few. Our students develop self-discipline and an internal sense of purpose and motivation. Our students learn to collaborate and work together in learning and on major projects. They strive for their personal best, rather than compete against one another for the highest grade in their class. We are located in the heart of the Dimond District in Oakland, immediately adjacent to Dimond Park. Please feel free to call us and come take a tour of our school. Admissions: Please visit our website to learn more about our admissions philosophy and application process today Upcoming Tours: Pre-primary/Primary October 6, 2009 – 9:30am October 29, 2009 – 9:30am November 18, 2009 – 9:30am December 2, 2009 – 9:30am

October/November 09 | East Bay

(adults only, please) K/Elementary/Middle School November 17, 2009 – 9:30am December 3, 2009 – 9:30am

Since 1977, EB has offered a challenging, creative curriculum in an international environment to students from preschool through eighth grades. With 520 students and over 40 nationalities represented, our school provides daily opportunities to appreciate a greater world view while producing students who are confident, academically prepared, and fully bilingual. Our carefully structured French-American curriculum offers an emphasis on technology (Middle School has a 1:1 laptop program), world languages (Spanish & Chinese are taught in grades 6-8), travel, community service and extracurricular activities. Accredited by the French Ministry of Education, CAIS, WASC. For more details or to fill out an Admissions application, visit our website at

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

Our goal at Growing Light Montessori 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. 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.

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Absolutely essential back to school guide

Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley

Absolutely essential back to school guide

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The Academy at Berkeley 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 it’s diverse school community. Information Events: Your entire family is welcome to attend one of our Information Events on Sunday, October 25 from 1pm-3pm and Tuesday, November 10 from 7pm-8:30pm.

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

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. 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


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We Care Services for Children 2191 Kirker Pass Road, Concord (925) 671-0777 •

We Care Services for Children is a private, nonprofit agency that serves young children, including those who may be at-risk or have special needs. For 50 years, We Care has a proven record of success. Their team of highly-qualified and caring professionals works with each child to reach his or her full potential. Currently, We Care has openings in their “Mommy and Me” classes, teaching creative learning to children of all abilities, along with their caregivers & siblings. Developmental assessments, individual occupational & speech therapy, and parent education are also offered. Admissions: To schedule a free consultation, call Darcie Azzolini, Director of Developmental Services, at (925) 671-0777, X26.

Applied Scholastics Academy East Bay 2050 Lincoln Ave., Alameda (510) 748-0428

Applied Scholastics Academy East Bay (formerly Golden Gate Apple School) is a private, nonsectarian school, located in Alameda. The school builds a strong foundation for learning by assuring mastery of the basics in reading, writing, math, spelling and handwriting. We offer small class sizes aimed at harnessing the power of the students’ personal interests and goals, aligned to their education. Individualized programs and remedial assistance are provided to get kids caught up, fully engaged and winning. Students are taught how to learn and study, embracing an “I can do it” attitude that makes them confident in their ability to learn anything and achieve their own true goals in life. Admissions: Students are admitted based on test scores, interviews and available openings. Call for a free educational analysis of your child or to arrange an interview and/or tour of our facility.

Information Evening Thursday, November 12 6:30 p.m.

PACE 2006 Center e r a C Child e Year of th

Diablo Hills Country School “Educational Experiences that Last a Lifetime” • Low student-to-teacher ratios • Smaller classrooms • Licensed for two and older, no potty-training needed • Snacks and hot lunches • Licensed by state of California • Undergoing NAEYC accreditation process

EB educates children to become fully bilingual and well-prepared for our rapidly changing world.

Currently registering for the 2009/2010 school year. Register for our summer camp in March 2010.

Diablo Hills Country School

1453 San Ramon Valley Blvd., Danville (925) 820-8523

1009 Heinz Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94710 - (510) 549-3867

50 Creekside Dr., San Ramon (925) 831-1210


Ask What We Care Services For Children Can Do For Your Family Free Consultations Developmental Assessments Individual Occupational Therapy Individual Speech Therapy Parent Education Mommy & Me Classes - Creative Learning For Children Of All Abilities

10% Off First Service With This Ad (925) 671.0777, Ext. 26 2191 Kirker Pass Road, Concord

October/November 09 | East Bay

© 2009 Applied Scholastics Academy East Bay. All Rights Reserved. Applied Scholastics Academy East Bay is licensed by Applied Scholastics International to use education services and materials based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard. Applied Scholastics, the Applied Scholastics Academy design and the Applied Scholastics open book design are trademarks and service marks owned by the Association for Better Living and Education International and are used with its permission.

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Far Out! inspirational styles for interplanetary travel (or just going to school)

Grey and green jacket, $34.50; grey and green jogging pants, $24.50; shoes, $49.95. Puma.

Photography Christina Fabbri Photography; Styling Courtney Jo; Assistant Carolyn Carcione; Studio Teacher Chris Bloomingdale; ; Hair and make-up Catherine Bui; Models Caden (4), Brandon (4), and Sally (5), J E Model (, San Francisco. Shot on location at Chabot Space and Science Center, Oakland,


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Chabot has several telescopes available for public viewing. Come after k dusk and pee n, oo at the m stars, distant planets, and other galactic bodies.

Background bomber jacket, $56, Hawks and Company; grey pants, $69, Diesel; dog tags, $80, Diesel; brown suede shoes, $49.95, Merrell Foreground Black racing jacket, $56, Guess; white pants, $92, 7 for all Mankind; shoes, $49.95, Puma

Chabot has this cool mission control simulator and rooms that resemble the inside of a space ship. You can act as a guide on land or a scientist in space.

October/November 09 | East Bay

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Chabot has this ro om that lets you learn all ab out the physics, sizes, an d weather conditions on othe r planets with lots of handson experiments and learning tools (like dry ice— we like dry ice.)

Him black t-shirt, black pants, $99, Diesel; shoes $29.95, Converse Her Dress, $69, Aqua; cotton tights, $8.95, Peek-aBootique; purple boots, $24.99, Crocs


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If you’re looking for a kid your ere wh n tio friendly destina d an , ch tou y, children can pla ng rni lea o explore while als others). about their world (and se tho all Chabot supplies qualifications.

Grey and pink dress, $59, Diesel

October/November 09 | East Bay

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wild animal park

40 travel

San Diego

Finding family-friendly fun in the sun by Kelly Pollard


FOR MORE INFORMATION Find out more about Kelly Pollard’s trip to San Diego, including a listing of places to eat, stay, and play, online at www.


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s Pollards are a weekend getaway kind of family, so when the stars aligned for an opportunity to spend six days in San Diego, there was no hesitation. We took off early one Tuesday morning with our sons Bobby, age 6, and Shane, age 4, pumped to discover what the area had to offer. Stopping only twice on the road, we made it into Carlsbad in less than seven hours, the extra time allowing us to spend a lazy afternoon at the hotel pool or wandering across the street to play in the sands of Carlsbad Beach. The next morning, as we stepped inside Legoland, Bobby and Shane’s eyes lit up as they took in sculptures of life-sized people and vehicles, all built using only Lego bricks. We doused out a pretend fire on a fire truck and the boys earned their ‘driver’s license’ on separate race tracks designated by age. Shane, admittedly tall for his size, was big enough to ride the massive Techno rollercoaster, experiencing the same thrills that my husband, Bobby and I shared (though he was a bit scared). We took a pause at the Knight’s Table Barbecue, where we munched on some not-to-bemissed Granny’s Apple Fries, battered fresh apple slices that are fried and dusted with cinnamon sugar. Inside Miniland USA, surrounded by replicas of famous towns such as San Francisco and Las Vegas, Bobby loudly proclaimed: “When I grow up, I want to be a master builder for Legoland.” Legoland was such a

hit that we decided not to visit the adjoining Aquarium Sea Life (requiring a separate entrance fee), staying on instead, making sure each boy got to chose a Lego set of their own from the massive gift shop before finally leaving the park. The next morning, we headed off to San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park in Escondido to get in touch with our wild side. Child and adult alike were fascinated by the site of lions, giraffes, rhinos, and other endangered animals living a more natural habitat while also learning about all the steps the park takes to breed the animals. Admission to the Park includes a twenty minute tram ride through the wild life habitat, which ends up to be just the right amount of time needed for younger kids. If your kids are six and up, splurging on a Photo Caravan tour takes you even closer to the animals. At our next stop, La Jolla, we checked into the elegant Hotel Parisi, in the heart of San Diego, decom– pressing with takeout food from Karl Strauss Brewing Company (gourmet mac and cheese anyone?). The next morning, we walked down to La Jolla Cove, boasting the softest sand my toes ever touched, matched by sweeping views of the deep blue Pacific and a coast peppered with mountains of shells washed up into the rocks. Children’s Pool Beach, unofficially called Seal Beach, was closed to the public during our visit, though we did spot some frolicking seals from our walkway above. For our next adventure we headed south, to Sea World. The park sprawls in all directions (parents be warned, virtually every exhibit funnels you through to a gift shop). This layout proved disastrous to our children. As the afternoon wore on, so did the boys’ whining, which grew to fevered pitches. After missing the muchhyped Shamu Show, Robbie and I decided it was time to pack up the two tired boys and trek the Keating Hotel, in downtown San Diego.

San Diego was one of the first European settlements on the West Coast

October/November 09 | East Bay

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san diego zoo

The Keating boasts an urban-chic décor inspired and designed by the PiniFarina design group, best know for their exotic car styles, paired with a prime location in the city’s Gas Lamp Quarter. We corralled the boys downstairs and hit the Hard Rock Café where they dug the loud music and rock star memorabilia adorning the walls. While the boys were star-gazing, Robbie and I took the edge off our SeaWorld blues with some signature cocktails. After dark, we witnessed the streets in the Quarter come alive with live music; hundreds of people taking to the streets to check out the clubs, sidestepping bicycles carting around passengers in rickshaws. The boys (thankfully) slept blissfully through the noise, but we adults listened wistfully, longing for a sitter to relieve us for a few hours so we could go down and check out the action. The last leg of our San Diego journey saw us hit the new Children’s Museum, which provided sweet relief from the sticker shock and crowds of other highpriced attractions we had looked into. Bobby and Shane gleefully painted a Volkswagen and tumbled around a room filled with mattresses and pillows. Our final stop before heading home was Balboa Park, and the world famous San Diego Zoo. The Natural History Museum sparked Bobby’s interest with its dinosaur bones, and Shane loved the pendulum swaying with the Earth’s rotation. Arriving at the zoo in the evening, we took advantage of the sky tram and the doubledecker tour bus for some relaxed sight-seeing. A visit to the San Diego Zoo isn’t complete without saying hello to their famous black-and-white residents, the giant pandas. Only one panda was on display that day, but we got to get a really good close-up look of her, and watch as she adorably gnawed on her bamboo shoots. 42

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San Diego offers family-friendy attractions and accommodations that will bring parents back again and again.. Bobby and Shane still ask when we are going back to Legoland, and while we all talk about the possibility of a family overnight stay at the Wild Animal Park, Robbie and secretly muse over the idea of a return escape to the Gaslamp Quarter; this time, however, for an adults-only romp. Hmmm … I need to start planting the idea for that trip in my editor’s head. San Diego, we’ll be back. BAK

» Before you go Visit the San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, online at Request their official planning guide that comes with pre-planned itineraries and coupons.

» Eat Knockout Pizzeria 2937 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad New York-style pizza pies and slices Karl Strauss Brewing 1044 Wall St., La Jolla Delicious pub style food

Apple Green Yogurt Wall St., La Jolla Frozen yogurt, coffees and pastries. Powell’s Sweet Shoppe 1000 Prospect Place, La Jolla Old fashioned candy store. The Merk at The Keating Hotel 432 F St., San Diego California cuisine and gourmet pizzas. Hard Rock Café 801 4th St., San Diego Kids menu, fun atmosphere.

October/November 09 | East Bay

» Stay Best Western Beach View 3180 Carlsbad Boulevard, Carlsbad, (800) 535-5588 Family friendly, pool and spa, across the street from beach. Hotel Parisi 1111 Prospect Place, La Jolla (877) 4PARISI Stellar service and amenities like in-room massage. Prime location in La Jolla. Pay nightly parking fee.

The Keating 432 F Street, San Diego (619) 814-5700 Historic building in Gaslamp Quarter walking distance to great restaurants and nightlife.

» Play Legoland California Resort 1 Legoland Dr, Carlsbad San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park 155500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido

SeaWorld San Diego 500 SeaWorld Drive, San Diego www.seaworldsandiego. com Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego

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44 thought for food

Grateful for Garlic It’s not just for warding off vampires anymore (it scares off werewolves too) by Elise Cooke

Y Author Elise Cooke will be teaching a Winter Gardening class with the City of Walnut Creek Parks and Recreation Department this fall. Go to www. SimpletonSolutions. com for more information.


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ou are tramping along a lonely road, bordered by brittle fields growing misty in the gathering darkness, the last of October’s daylight slipping beneath the Apuseni Mountain range in the distance, You’re in the northwestern region of Romania, an area many of the locals call Ardeal. The crunch of your steps quickens to keep time with the hammering in your chest. You sense that you’re being watched. The steady hum of bats overhead does nothing to lessen the eeriness of the scene around you. All warmth and color seems to have drained away from the landscape like … suddenly, a tall, cloaked figure stands in the road ahead. At first he appears as just another black profile of a leafless tree that dots the countryside, but as you get closer, his white face becomes luminescent in the moonlight. Even creepier are his eyes; there’s hunger in them. Uh-oh. Now you remember that the other name for Ardeal is Transylvania. You fumble through your pockets for the

crucifix the villagers gave you. Smacking your forehead, you remember that it’s in your other jacket. The stranger seems to read your thoughts, and smiles widely, flashing those signature sharp canines in the process. Trying to outrun him is pointless, but there’s no talking your way out of this one, either, so you make a dash for the nearest field, in hopes that there’s a farmhouse somewhere on the other side of it. When next you look up, he’s directly in front of you again, so you cut to the left before he can pounce. No matter where you go, he can get there faster, without effort. You realize that he’s just letting you tire yourself out. You dodge him a few more times, racking your brains for a better plan. Nothing presents itself, until you notice several long slender blades poking out of the ground a few yards ahead. Could it be? With the last of your strength, you make a desperate lunge, sliding headfirst into the field. The stranger’s black leather boots plant deftly on either side of you, but you’re the quicker one this time, firmly grasping the thickest stem you can reach, wrenching the bulb up out of the ground, and holding it in front of your face like a talisman. Congratulations, you’ve just given a vampire a face full of garlic. With a gasp and a sputter, one very angry bat flies away, hissing into the night. Before you get up, be sure to grab some more. It’s a full moon, and, as luck would have it, werewolves don’t like garlic, either. In ancient lore, garlic is almost always the good guy. Roman soldiers consumed it before battle to give them strength. Egyptian slaves ate it to work harder. The Scandinavians, Greeks, Germans and Norse peoples all used it to ward off various manifestations of evil. Ancient Hindus revered it as having originated from heavenly nectar, after the goddess Sachi overindulged and upchucked onto the earth, from whence garlic sprouted. Garlic (Allium Sativum) is a member of the lily family, Liliaceae, which includes onions, leeks, chives and shallots. Health advocates from ancient times to the modern day appreciate garlic’s curative powers. Its famous pungent odor is a highly volatile compound called allyl sulphide, which has been shown to have antibiotic, decongestive and other medicinal uses. Foodies love garlic, too. When heated, the harsh odor gives way to a rich aroma that flavors all kinds of savory dishes, from soups to roasts. Whole cookbooks are devoted to this herb. Gardeners also revere garlic. Most insect pests and even fungus are repelled by this herb, so gardeners interplant it with other, more vulnerable crops. A spray made with crushed garlic steeped in water will also do wonders. Even rats and mice will give the plot a wide berth. Garlic is very easy to grow, which is a salient topic for even this time of year. Many gardening books assume a “spring planting , fall harvest” formula, but that isn’t how it’s done in Gilroy, California, the self-proclaimed “Garlic Capital of the World.” Garlic thrives on our mild winters so farmers often plant it in

To get rid of garlic breath, chew on fresh parsley

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

September and October, for a late spring, early summer harvest. You can buy bulbs at a grocery store, split them apart into individual cloves, then bury the cloves about six inches apart in loose, fertile soil. Put them in the ground with the pointy tip of the clove facing upward, then cover with a couple of inches of soil. A light mulch of fallen leaves does a good job keeping moisture from evaporating after watering. So long as the cloves don’t dry out, thin stalk-like shoots will appear within a couple of weeks. The leaves of the garlic plant are every bit as edible as the bulb you’ll harvest later, so pick a leaf or two from each plant as you need them. They add excellent flavor and color to your winter sautés, stew and stir fries. As spring wanes, garlic planted the previous fall will signal harvest-readiness when their stalks start to brown and fold over. Stop watering at that point and leave them alone for another week or so, to allow their bulbs to dry in the ground. Pull them up and let them finish curing in a dry shady place for a few more days. At this point, the stalks will be brown, and the skin of the bulbs will be flaky and translucent. They will store for weeks or even months at 65-70F (18-21C). Don’t keep them in the refrigerator, as they will go bad quickly in the cold. Plant now and you’ll have a good supply of garlic leaves by Halloween. Should one of those costumed ghouls and goblins coming to your door turn out to be the real thing, you’ll be ready. BAK

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.


Garlic Ice Cream Here’s a recipe for more adventurous palettes from the Gilroy Garlic Festival. (Makes 1 quart) Ingredients 2 cups whole milk 1 clove garlic, minced 1 cup heavy cream 8 egg yolks 1 vanilla bean, split in half, seeds scraped out and reserved 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar Preparation Put milk, garlic, vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and remove immediately. In mixing bowl, whisk the cream, sugar and egg yolks until combined. Whisking constantly, slowly strain the hot milk mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Return the mixture to the pan and stir continuously over low heat until it thickens slightly, and coats the back of a spoon, about 10-12 minutes. Do not boil! Pour in a bowl and chill over an ice bath. Pour into ice cream machine and churn until done. Freeze until ready to serve.

October/November 09 | East Bay

Try this little experiment with your kids: Slice a fresh clove of garlic and rub the cut side against the webbing between the first and second toe of your child’s foot. In a few seconds, ask them if they can taste the garlic. Allyl sulphide is so volatile, herbalists insist that it can penetrate the skin and flow through the body.

Bay Area Kids



Cake Wrecks

by Jen Yates

do we have to spell it out?

C 46 cake and bake

ake is really “in” right now. First there was the nationwide obsession with cupcakes, which had cupcake shops vying with Starbucks for every street corner. Then the TV shows started. Cake challenges, wedding cake specials, bakery reality shows … cake artists are the new rock stars, and even your average twelve-year-old knows what “fondant” means. As a huge fan of cake, I happen to think all of this is A Very Good Thing. However, I also know that every light has its shadow, every up has its down, and every gorgeously piped rosette has its sloppily slapped-together icing blob. Enter … [dramatic pause] … the Cake Wreck! On my blog and in my book, I catalog professional cake-tastrophes. The misspellings, the misunderstandings, the overly ambitious, the unintentionally creepy, the out-and-out ugly—you’d be surprised at how many ways there are to Wreck a cake. In fact, let’s take a look at some general types of Cake Wreckage and the best ways you can avoid them. First, and perhaps most common, is the misspelling. Not a big deal, you say? Ah, well it depends on which word gets misspelled:

Exhibit A This is an actual proposal cake, and was supposed to read “Marry this dork.”

These kinds of Wrecks are easily fixed, if you catch them before leaving the bakery. Proofread everything before you walk out the door, and you’ll save yourself a lot of potential grief (and teasing from friends) later. Next issue we’ll introduce the three dreaded C’s: Cup Cake Cakes. Stay tuned!

Exhibit B A Freudian slip, perhaps?

Next is what I’ve dubbed the Literal LOLs. These cakes pretty much speak for themselves:

Exhibit C This is a tough Wreck to avoid since even clear instructions can be misinterpreted


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Exhibit D Can figure out what this baker was trying to say? (Hint, it’s supposed to say “Fatherhood.”)

Jen Yates is the author of Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes go Hilariously Wrong (available through Keep up with her ongoing blog at cakewrecks. Send your cake wrecks to


this Mention ceive re d n a d a custom 25 free photo y a d li o h ith cards w ! session

Now booking holiday portrait sessions


October/November 09 | East Bay


Be a part of our Holiday Issue. Special rates available E-mail for more information today!

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dining guide 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 family-friendly dining spot? Send your review to and we might print it in our next issue.

Danville 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, www. 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 spa-


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ghetti and meatballs and Caesar salad—and cleaned their plates.

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.

Pasta Gondola 664 San Ramon Valley Blvd., (925) 820-1144, www. Mon-Thurs 11:00am–9:00pm, Fri-Sat 11:00am9:30pm, Sun 11:00am-9:00pm. Don’t be fooled by the child-friendly 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 Dublin would stand alone without all the bells and whistles of the flashing Hana Japan Steak House kid distractions. The tradi7298 San Ramon Rd., e tional pasta dishes are (925) 829-7491, www. r o find m onportioned big enough (los for two, the calzone is review w w. cation in Berkeley tw always satisfying, but a line a maga- too). Lunch: Mon–Fri s salad constructed from 11:30am–2:00pm; BAKid com the forty item salad bar Dinner: Mon–Thu zine. can be a meal, and a work 5:00–10.00pm, Fri 5:00– of art. 11.00pm, Sat 4:00–11:00pm, Sun 4:00–9.30pm Get ready for Pete’s Brass Rail and Car the sing alongs, because joining in Wash 201 Hartz Ave. (925) 820a chorus or two of “Happy Birth8281, day” is a requisite part of the fun. Mon–Thu 11:00am-9:30pm, A favorite celebration destination Fri-Sat 11:00am-10:00pm, Sun for kids and adults, Hana Japan 11:00am-8:30pm. is all about the presentation, and Though we’ve tried on more than who doesn’t love a “volcano of one occasion, we’ve never found onions” and attempting to catch anyone to clean the car while we the appetizer shrimp as they come dine at Pete’s. In fact, we’ve never flying from the chef. Dinner comes even been able to find Pete. This with salad, soup, rice and vegetareality blow is greatly softened by bles. It’s warm, crowded and unthe burgers and fries and beer— believably popular with the valley twenty different taps last time we crowd who make Hana Japan part checked. Plenty for kids to choose of their birthday tradition. Reservafrom—PB&J, grilled cheese and tions are strongly recommended. our favorite—hot dogs. Top one Matsu Sushi 4930 Dublin Blvd., with the homemade chili, a little Suite 800, (925) 833-3966, www. cheese and a few onions. The Beer, wine. citrus chicken salad is big enough lunch, dinner daily. Mon-Sun, for two, the homemade citrus vinai11:30am–10:00pm. Located a few grette is not too sweet. steps and around the corner from the Regal Theater, the restaurant The Crown 331 Hartz Ave. (925) is as cheery and clean as it is ef855-2185, ficient. Sushi comes in all those Open daily, 11:30 until late. Full bar, popular, funny name varieties; you’ll outdoor dining, private room. Fish 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 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. 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 child’s world to the flavors and spices found in popular Indian dishes. Favorites include the chicken tikka masala, tandoori mixed grill and vegetable samosas. Garlic naan bread comes hot from the clay oven—when the dipping sauces arrive, go ahead and ask for more, you’ll need it. simply fondue 2300 First St., Suite 110, (925) 3378581, Sun-Thurs 5:00–10:00pm, Fri-Sat 5:00–11:00pm. Whether it’s a first date, third date or twentyfifth wedding anniversary, there’s something intimate about all the dipping, swirling, and sharing that goes on over a silky pot of melted swiss cheese. Little ones may be overwhelmed by the lengthy dinner process, but the eight and up crowd will go wild for any of the thirteen chocolate fondue options: we recommend Chocolate Bliss—it’s simply delicious.

Pleasanton girasole grill 3180 Santa Rita Rd., (925) 484-1001, www. Lunch, MonFri 11:00am–2:00pm; Dinner, Sun-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

October/November 09 | East Bay

scoozzi bread, the spicy Absolut! Prawns or the prosciuttostuffed chicken California ‘Cordon-Blu’. Reward good behavior with an ice cream sundae—and keep the Tuxedo Chocolate Mousse Cake all to yourself.

ono filet to 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 Gay Nineties Pizza 286 Main St., (925) 846-2520, Open daily at 11:00am.Long before Pleasanton’s Main Street became the restaurant row we know and love, Gay Nineties Pizza was serving slices of pizza pie to residents who really had very few other choices. Fifty years and plenty of options later, you’ll find the award winning pizza still has them lined up and out the door waiting for a table. The secrets, they say, are the handmade sauces and sourdough crusts…and a specialty pizza that has been known to induce labor for overdue mamas-tobe. Walls full of memorabilia make the time till you’re seated fly by. Be sure to glance in the mirror before you leave... the permanent “Boo” is said to have been etched by a ghostly hand. Stacey’s Cafe 310 Main St., (925) 461-3113, Sun–Thurs 11:30am–9pm, Fri–Sat until 10 PM. If there were an award for Best Restaurant to Eat at Alone and Without a Book, Stacey’s would be installing extra shelves to hold the trophies. The ironic, sarcastic, and fairly irreverent menu is such good reading material 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

Zachary’s Chicago Pizza 3110 Crow Canyon Pl., (925) 244-1222, locations in Oakland and Berkeley too, Sun-Thurs 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

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Bay Area Kids



the clean plate club

by Jake S.

for the love of sushi

50 restaurant review

Yoshi’s Oakland 510 Embarcadero West Jack London Square Oakland (510) 238-9200


Bay Area Kids


onfession: I admit the initial reason for my family’s recent trip down to Yoshi’s Japanese Restaurant at a corner of Oakland’s Jack London Square was purely selfish: I was craving sushi— really good sushi—and sake to help wash it down. Living out in the ‘burbs, quality sushi is not a menu item one encounters on a regular basis, and withdrawal does set in. I justified the excursion by thinking it might be a good opportunity to have our young one get a taste of new cuisine. Truth is, I never thought of sushi—in all of its forms—as being that kid-friendly of a food choice. (Once again) I was proven wrong. While I viewed our time at Yoshi’s as a really nice dining experience, looking through the eyes of my four-year-old child, I realized that to her, the evening was so much more. If you’ve never been to Yoshi’s, the restaurant sits on a corner by Jack London Square, which abuts the strip of ocean that separates Oakland from Alameda. So to get to Yoshi’s you walk by boats—big ones, parked ones, sailing ones, small ones—and seagulls, and people and shops and water fountains and open grassy areas and other distractions. Second, upon entering the dining hall, you are met with exotic wood carvings, high ceilings, and a view of chefs cutting strange things up behind the sushi bar. Third—the clincher—in order to get into the dining area, you have to take your shoes off, and climb into your recessed booth. By providing something out of the ordinary without even sitting down, my daughter was already entranced. After digging the whole no-shoes thing and wiggling her feet in pure pleasure, our daughter was presented with a hand-drawn menu—which featured such remarks as “You need eat Veggie!! Ask Mom” underneath a line drawing of a tempura plate, and “Kiiiddss!!!! I wanna see Empty Plate!!” next to a drawing of head chef Sho. With crayons in hand (also provided) she lost herself in coloring the teriyaki chicken a nice shade of blue, only to be interrupted—and then to be awe-struck—by an

approaching Amtrak train that rolled along ... about 15 feet from our window (there’s an Amtrak terminal at one end of the Square). While she was occupied with the Choo Choo, my wife and I decided to experiment and see if our daughter might actually like some “adult dishes” and appetizers. First though, my wife and I indulged in our own desires, me with a glass of Kirin beer and a cup of Sho Chiku Bai Nigori Sake, her with a Rockitt martini. Based on recommendations from our server and the Maitre’d, our dinner choices showcased a variety of menu items: a mixed tempura plate (she devoured), blue fin/Akami sashimi (she ate the rice and the avocado, but nibbled on the fish), Japanese seaweed salad (she made a valiant effort, but in the end gave up—I had no problem eating her share), a tasty tuna tower (ditto), an order of the Shichimi Lime edamame (see below), some chicken fried appetizers, and a geisha roll. Though she didn’t seem to mind the chicken or the geisha roll, she was too engrossed with the edamame to eat anything else. The concept of popping the peas out of the pods (and being allowed to do this), and then into her mouth kept her busy for the rest of the meal, allowing us adults to actually enjoy our food (a rarity). My kudos then to Yoshi’s for providing what I didn’t consider before: a new dining experience in a true kid-friendly environment that allowed the act of eating to be what it ultimately is supposed to be … fun.

Looking for our kid-friendly restaurant reviews? They’re included in the online version of Bay Area Kids magazine, and also posted at

What we know as sushi was originally a Chinese method of keeping raw fish edible for a long time


Chocolate Mousse with Whipped Cream Ghosts chocolate MOUSSE 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 1/2 cup water, divided 2 tbsp butter 3 egg yolks 2 tbsp sugar 1-¼ heavy whipping cream, whipped Whipped Cream Ghosts for garnish (see instructions below) In a microwave or double boiler, heat chocolate chips, ¼ cup water and butter until the chocolate and butter are melted. Cool for 10 minutes. In a small heavy saucepan, whisk egg yolks, sugar and remaining water. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture reaches 1600 F, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; whisk in chocolate mixture. Set saucepan in ice and stir until cooled, about 5 to 10 minutes. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon into dessert dishes. Garnish with Whipped Cream Ghosts. Whipped Cream Ghosts 1 Cup heavy whipping cream ¼ C powdered sugar or to taste 1 tspn vanilla extract Mini semisweet chocolate chips (for the ghosts’ eyes) Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar a little at a time then add vanilla. Whip so the cream holds its shape but isn’t too stiff. Garnish chocolate mousse as follows: 2 tablespoons (give or take) of whipped cream on top of each other; then top off with a good teaspoon on top of that. You should now have a ghost shape. To finish: add two mini semisweet chocolate chips for the eyes. Recipe courtesy Clover Stornetta Farms

Did you make this recipe? Send us photos to, and we’ll post them online.

October/November 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids



diary of a suburban queen

in gratitude

I 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

always thought of myself as a glass half-full kind of girl. Yet, as I stumble through parenting my sons through their various ages and sometimes not-sogreat stages, I often forget the simple act of gratitude. I find myself zeroing in on the destruction the boys have blitzed through my household, the brotherly wrestling matches and the hum of whines on those days that seem to stick in the memory far longer than those blissfully mellow ones. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m shifting my focus to count my blessings as I did as a child around the holiday table. Yes, my boys fight and at times I want to lock myself in a room and hide. These fights are the physical proof of their health. Proof is in the not so nice shove during an argument, the speed they run on the soccer fields, the way a gummy worm bribe can tease another mile out of them on the hiking trail and the swift maneuvering of their bikes and scooters in the backyard. I grumble sometimes, usually in my head, about the endless school and sports obligations, the pressure to volunteer my dwindling free time for their activities. Then I remind myself how grateful I am to be a fixture in their lives, that I can get by working on a few writing assignments and devoting a majority of my time to growing these boys into good men. (I hope.) I complain about my house that needs updating, the popcorn ceilings that need scraping and the weeds overtaking my yards. How easy to forget that we are lucky to have a house big enough to hold us and our accumulation of things. We have a massive orange tree that feeds us throughout the winter, a lemon tree that freshens up recipes year round and a wildly tended vegetable garden that sustains us in the summer and fall months. In this economy, we still pay our bills and keep that outdated popcorn ceiling over our heads, living in a town we love. My husband’s job is stable; we still can make our mortgage payment and afford my younger son’s preschool so he can hold off on kindergarten one more year. Our cars are paid off and still running us around to various sports practices, shopping trips, birthday parties and school events around town. Thanksgiving took on more significance than I thought possible when I became a mother and celebrated my first holiday with my son rocking lazily in his portable swing while my loud and fun family ate and chatted around him, admiring what a handsome addition he was to our clan.

The boys have shot up like weeds over the years, their growing bodies and maturing minds leave me speechless at times. They bring me Thanksgiving turkeys concocted out of traced hands and construction paper and autumn inspired place mats home from school. I collect these treasures, building up a collection of mementos to display like hard won trophies at this time of year.

“I’m thankful for this eclectic mix of family and friends that gathers every November to eat and yell at the football game.” I’m thankful for this eclectic mix of family and friends that gathers every November to eat and yell at the football game and uncork yet another bottle of wine to pass around. The holiday takes the sting out of those days that I feel like a failure as a mother, like the boys are too wild and I can’t possibly rein them in. The simple act of gathering around a table set with enough places for the loved ones that enrich my life puts the everyday drudgery in perspective. Years from now I’ll be laughing with my sacred circle of family about memories of baby powder dousing all corners of the nursery by a sneaky toddler, at the red food coloring incident traced to the permanent stain on my carpet and the succession of broken windows during one pricey season. As a writer, I’m grateful for the endless material the boys provide me with. And for all of these reasons and more that could never fit on this page, I’m incredibly thankful. BAK

Congress passed a proclamation in 1941 making Thanksgiving a legal holiday

October/November 09 | East Bay

Bay Area Kids


Bay Area Kids Oct/Nov issue  

Bay Area Kids magazine, October/November 2009.