App review: Fruit Punch Music delivers tunes parents and preschoolers will truly enjoy together

Parents need to know that Fruit Punch Music is a kid-friendly music-streaming service with music that can appeal to older kids and parents, too. Stations include themes like "Popcorn and Candy" for movie soundtracks "Top 40: Pop" for current radio-hits (filtered for kid-appropriateness), as well as stations devoted to music from Disney stars or Nickelodeon shows. For more parent- and teen-friendly music, there are stations with music from the '70s, '80s '90s, and '00s. Users can only skip six songs per hour, but you can switch channels as often as desired. Parents can filter stations and set a daily time limit (up to two hours), and they can reset the day's usage. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.


Game review: 'God of War,' bloody myth-based adventure is a 5-star experience for mature players only

Parents need to know that "God of War" is a violent and bloody action game for the PS4. Using sharp weapons, his fists and feet, and his son's bow and arrow, the main character kills numerous people, monsters, and animals, sometimes in brutal fashion, resulting in bloodshed, gore, and dismemberment. Profanity in the game includes "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole." One character constantly uses crude language when interacting with other characters, mainly in a store setting. This is the latest installment in the popular franchise, and the first one on the PS4. While controls are different than previous games, they're easy to learn, and there are multiple difficulty levels to reduce frustration for players.


Why the best parental control is you

If your kid's online, there have probably been times when you've wanted to track everything they've texted, see their entire social media history, or just shut off the internet entirely. Those are the times you wish for the perfect parental controls – something that will grant you all the access and authority you want without making a bad situation worse. The truth is, while clicking a few buttons on a hardware device or downloading a monitoring service seem like no-brainers, the most effective parental control is free and knows your kid very well. That's right: It's you. Digital tools and settings can help you stay on top of your kid's online life, but can't replace staying involved, having conversations, and helping them make responsible choices. Need more convincing? Here are the key reasons why you are the best parental control around:


Book review: 'The Poet X,' stunning, haunting story about finding your voice and power

Parents need to know that Elizabeth Acevedo's New York Times bestseller "The Poet X" is a coming-of-age story that deals with a teen girl, Xiomara, growing up as a thoroughly American young woman with a developed body in a deeply religious immigrant home. There are instances of street harassment, parental abuse, religious discussions, sexual exploration (some kissing, and one scene of heavy petting), and the revelation of a character being gay. Xiomara hits boys who ogle and grope her and also fights boys who threaten her brother. As punishment, her mother makes her kneel on uncooked rice and hits Xiomara, causing injury. Parents should be prepared to talk about agency, finding your voice, religious texts and meaning.


Un-bore your chores

Mary Poppins got Jane and Michael to pitch in by making work fun. You can too! Just channel your own mommy magic with these ideas.

Home & Garden

Yardsmart: 3 common mulching problems

There is no single panacea to the ravages of drought. The most popular practice for water conservation that protects existing gardens is to mulch. It's adding a layer of organic material around each plant to reduce surface soil evaporation rates. That layer also shades the soil so it and the roots remain cool on the hottest days. Mulches also prevent pernicious grasses and weeds from sprouting where they compete with our landscape plants for irrigation. In times of too little rain, mulching is one of the few measures we have to reduce its effect on our expensive plants.

Home & Garden

Plumber: The right medicine for your bathroom

Q: Dear Ed: Very often I'm surprised by all the new bathroom technology you mention in your column that's now available in the bathroom. Wile I love my bathroom, I do want to replace the medicine cabinet. Can you please update me on what's new in medicine cabinets?

Home & Garden

Here's why you shouldn't microwave these 11 things

I learned earlier than most that there are things you should never put in the oven – when I was a pre-teen, I heated a plastic wrap-covered meal in the oven only to watch it burst into flames (shout-out to my older brother who helped me eradicate the mini fire before it spread). After that occasion, my mother sat me down to remind me of the dos and don'ts in the kitchen, including all the things you should never – ever – put in the microwave. At first glance, you'd think this appliance was the least likely to be dangerous because you never actually see its heating mechanism. But just because it's not as obvious doesn't mean that the potential for danger is any less (after all, we can still get a sunburn on a cloudy day).


Inn-Escapable: Seattle's sleek Thompson Hotel at Pike Place

Seattle's award-winning architects Olson Kundig are behind the Thompson Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel with a stunning glass facade that sits at the edge of downtown's Pike Place Market. The hotel, and particularly its rooftop bar, The Nest, have become a bit of a landmark since they opened in 2016 – a place, dare we say, to see and be seen.

Charlie the husky is ready to be adopted in SLO County

Charlie the husky is ready to be adopted at the San Luis Obispo County Animal Services' shelter in California. The dog loves people, enjoys being petted, and adores exercise.
Ellen Perryess