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Families

Game review: ‘Mega Man 11,’ fast, fun, and challenging

Parents need to know that "Mega Man 11" is a side-scrolling action game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, and is the latest installment in the long running franchise. It stars a humanoid robot who fights enemy robots using a variety of weapons, ranging from an energy-blasting arm cannon to a gun that fires pink bouncy balls. The art style is cartoonish, and there's nothing more graphic than robots that explode in flashes of light. Parents should be aware that the "Mega Man" games are known for their difficulty, and this one is no different, though there is an "easy" skill level that offers aids such as infinite lives, which should help kids avoid frustration.

Families

App review: Big Big Baller, charming genre-defying game is fun for all ages

Parents need to know that Big Big Baller is a multiplayer adventure game for iOS and Android devices. Players attempt to increase the size of their onscreen orbs and defeat other players. It's a charming concept that borrows heavily from the Katamari Damacy games, but focuses on multiplayer gameplay. The violence is notable only because you roll over a town's citizens, but no blood or gore is shown. There's no sex, drugs, drinking or objectionable language. But there are a lot of video ads, which play between rounds and force you to watch them for notable periods. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

Families

12 old-school skills children shouldn’t lose

School is officially in session. And while kids are constantly learning new skills in the classroom, there are a few tried and true talents we shouldn't let fall by the wayside. Here are some life skills worth keeping around – no matter how old school they may seem.

Families

Moms Gear: Hand-carved ‘Elephant Realm’ necklace signifies strength and wisdom

In fact, more than 2,000 artisans sell jewelry, clothing, and decor of all types on the website. The "Elephant Realm" necklace, hand-carved by Indian Chander Kant, is made of kadam wood, that comes from a tropical sustainable tree in Asia and Southeast Asia. According to the card that comes with the necklace's packaging, Kant learned his trade from his father and grandfather, making the craft a multi-generational source of income.

Living

Capital wonders: Mexico City for beginners

Like a lot of Californians, I've made dozens of trips to Mexico over the decades – beach resorts in Baja, Maya ruins in the Yucatan, colonial towns in the interior. Yet I'd never made time to explore the capital's top museums and landmarks, even though their global popularity has boomed in recent years. When I finally gave myself a good look at Mexico City this year, most of those attractions surprised me.

Living

Experiencing the magic of Northern Italy’s lakes

The lakes of Northern Italy, nestled near the foothills of the Alps, are magical, especially, I think, on one's first visit. It was mine – a birthday celebration that I chose to spend with a dozen strangers from the United States, Canada and Brazil.

Living

Turkey’s terrain, people, history make colorful trip

I've either been pixie dusted or turned into Barney Rubble. Everywhere I look, towering rock "fairy chimneys" dot Turkey's fantastical wonderland of Cappadocia. I'll also explore mystical age-old cave churches, sleep in a "cave hotel" that entombs guests and wine, and scoot-duck-gasp my way through a spooky ancient underground city, one of dozens burrowed here. And wait until I dreamily float over it all in an Oz-like flame-breathing balloon.

Families

9 essential books to inspire young activists

Activism is in the air. Kids are hearing about marches and protests, boycotts and fundraising campaigns for all kinds of causes, from local to global. And increasing numbers of children's books are showing kids and teens how it's done. From stories of the authors' own activist experiences to how-to guides with tips on everything from organizing a rally to using social media to get the word out, these books offer a glimpse into the planning and passion that go into youthful activism.

Movie News & Reviews

Movie review: ‘Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween,’ funny creepfest is a perfectly frightful treat for tweens

Parents need to know that "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween" is a sometimes-scary but frequently funny adventure for tweens and up based on R.L. Stine's same-named book series. Definitely more creepy than terrifying (and a little milder than the first movie), the bulk of the movie's frights stem from the idea of the Halloween decorations in stores and lawns coming to life. That means ghosts, witches, monsters, and a house-size spider made of balloons go into motion and terrorize a neighborhood. If that sounds kind of funny, it is; the humor and ridiculousness minimize the fright factor. That said, the villain – a menacing, weathered ventriloquist dummy that just won't die – is genuinely creepy in a way that could linger with younger kids. But most of the rest of the content is very mild: There's no substance use, language tops out at "jerk" and "shut up," and nothing beyond kissing and flirting is shown. Really, a bully getting pantsed and a Jack-o'-lantern spitting seeds like a machine gun is as iffy as it gets. Plus, the movie has a diverse cast and a clear teamwork theme, and it taps into relatable situations for kids: squabbling with siblings, treasure hunting with friends, struggling over school assignments, interacting with friendly but quirky neighbors, and dealing with bullies. It may be a hand-clencher in the theater, but it's the kind that lets kids rest easily as soon as the credits roll.

Living

Design Recipes: The do’s and don’ts of fall fragrances

What does your home say about you? What is the first or lasting impression? In many instances, the unseen can make a lasting impression, whether positive or negative. We are talking about scent. Fragrance can be powerful when it comes to either attracting or distracting. And for many, infusing scents is part of the experience for guests. When looking for ways to infuse fragrance and scent into your home, here are some tips.

Here’s Taylor Swift, the Eastern bongo at Sacramento Zoo, at 1 day old

A bongo calf named Taylor Swift escaped her enclosure Sunday at the Sacramento Zoo, surprising visitors and prompting a quick response by the zoo’s staff to corral the young antelope.