Safety online

“Mommy bloggers” generally have a strong dislike of that term, but blogs and various social media offer moms a safe haven for expression.

When moms contribute online, the community becomes a place where they can express themselves honestly. After all, when few people know your real name, you can admit you forgot to pack the sunscreen.

If society didn’t hold up moms to impossible standards of perfection – and we gave ourselves permission to admit we’re not perfect – moms could have the same type of honest communications in realtime that they have online.

Mouse footprint grows

The Universe of Mouse has grown again: Shanghai is the location of the new Disney store, with features that include-

A musical and projection show that plays every hour at the castle.

Sculpted statues of superheroes include an 8 foot tall Hulk.

Miss Tinker Bell who sprinkles Pixie Dust from a crystal chandelier.

And outdoors, the Mickey-shaped roof is lit with 8,000 LED lights, visible from nearby skyscrapers and high-flying planes.

“Clean tween” reading

I didn’t know how to respond.

A mom asked me how to help her daughter choose “safe” books for her ten-year old to take on vacation. The mom said book covers were no help. “Sometimes they show a scary scene or sexy character on the cover, but the story is fine. Other books look OK, but they have drug use or language I don’t want her reading.”

It’s a problem.

In addition to asking librarians and booksellers, and following the summer reading list sent home from school, I suggested the student and her mom check online reviews and talk to friends. After all, we depend on trusted recommendations for so many things, we might as well ask the same sources to identify good books to read.

Disney’s newest smart toy

Although Disney made headlines with the announcement of their new smart toy, observers are waiting to see if the Playmation wearable toys will generate the cool reaction earned by Mattel’s “eavesdropping” Barbie earlier this year.

Playmation combines motion sensors and Bluetooth technology. As a result, kids get a high-tech play experience that isn’t in front of a screen. (The toys also fit adult arms, so parents can play, too.)

If your kids aren’t into superheroes – the first theme is Avengers – just wait. Star Wars themed toys release in 2016 and Frozen is scheduled for the following year.

For a preview:

Superheroines unleashed

Are you ready for a new universe?

This fall, female superheroines will land on digital devices, followed by all kinds of books, toys and other products in 2016.

Targeted to girls from 6-12, each teen superheroine will break down the gender stereotypes that have existed historically.

The DC Super Hero Girls will include Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumble Bee and Poison Ivy. Warner Bros. plans to give full blockbuster treatment to Wonder Woman, through a feature version in the summer of 2017.

Opting out

New tests aligned to Common Core State Standards resulted in a growing number of parents who refused to let their student take the standardized tests this spring.

Federal law requires schools to validate that at least 95 percent of students are tested, but this percentage was not met in some areas. Educators argue that the large population is necessary to make sure test results are valid; shrinking the testing pool might sabotage the validity.

Low participation could mean some districts will not receive full federal funding, but no action has been taken as of this posting.

“Year of the Dinosaur”

No wonder marketing execs. are calling 2015 the “Year of the Dinosaur.”

With the fourth installment of Jurassic Park now, and Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” scheduled to release for Thanksgiving, a wave of big creatures is adding balance to the “Frozen” store aisles.