Quick hits of news and fresh ideas for busy parents.

A Room of Their Own

Maybe it wasn't Karyn Clark's favorite way to spend a Saturday evening, but at least she was near her 13-year-old daughter Haley Clement and Haley's friend Victoria Cowden. Not near enough to get her ear drums blasted by the pop-rock stylings of Justin Bieber and the screaming tweens who surrounded him at the Schottenstein Center, but close enough.

That's because Clark was one of many parents who took the Schott's offer to hang out in a "parents' quiet room" during the Bieber concert on Aug. 14. It's an amenity the arena has provided for several years, "any time there's an event where there are younger kids who might just be dropped off," said marketing director Lesley Lane.

"It wasn't exactly quiet," Frazeysburg resident Clark said after the concert, "but it was fine. It just wasn't a concert I wanted to go to, but I didn't really want to just drop them off or wait in the car all that time."

At no cost to her (other than her daughter's $67 ticket), Clark and the other parents had the Fred Taylor Room on the ground level to themselves. High demand quickly required that a second room be opened.
Clark's room was stocked with a TV tuned to sports, magazines, and free pop and chips while the 200-plus parents hung out for more than four hours. And with wristbands issued to them all, they were free to use restrooms, visit the concession stands and even quickly check up on the kids in the arena.

"I knew where she was sitting and that made me feel a lot better," Clark said.
-- Jane Hawes

Animal House: Pet Separation Anxiety

Not everyone in the family was happy to see the kids head back to school. Do you know that separation anxiety affects nearly one out of 15 dogs, plus cats and other pets?

Separation anxiety generally occurs when pets are left alone. One way to determine whether your pet suffers from it is to see when the behavior occurs. Is it consistent? Does it occur shortly after you leave the house?

Some signs are drooling, panting, excessive barking or meowing, soiling in the house or destructive behavior. Some pets may even try to escape the house.

To help your pet adjust, try filling a toy with kibble or treats and give it to him before you leave - activity can replace anxiety. Some company in the form of doggie day care or a pet sitter can also help him with his solitude. And make exits and entrances drama free.

-- Marguerite Marsh

Columbus Kids Riding COTA Again

It was one of the bigger stories in Central Ohio this summer. On July 24, Columbus City Schools Superintendent Gene Harris announced that COTA bus passes for high-school students were revoked, even though the taxpayer-funded passes were paid for through Sept. 20.

Public outcry was swift and loud. Ten days later, the Columbus school board voted to override Harris's decision and announced the passes could be used again, though only for transportation to and from school-related activities and only by public-school students (previously private and parochial students had bus passes).

Two days after that, Harris explained that her decision was prompted by student misbehavior on buses. But COTA authorities said that out of an estimated 2 million rides by 17,400 students in the past year, only 36 passes had been revoked for bad behavior.

While this might not be the last chapter of this saga, it does appear that students will again be able to ride COTA buses this school year.

How unusual is the Columbus arrangement? Not very, when you look at other school districts across the country. Though COTA spokeswoman Beth Berkemer said the transit system does not have the resources to replace the yellow-bus system entirely, a number of cities have.

In New York City, high-school students ride public transit for free, thanks to city and state subsidies. The Oregon cities of Portland and Eugene also provide this service, as does Roanoke, Virginia.
More often, though, students receive reduced-fare passes, generally for about 50 percent off the usual fares.
-- Jane Hawes

39 Clues Mystery Ends in Columbus
The 10th book in The 39 Clues series came out on Aug. 31, but fans might not know about the final chapter's local connection: It was written by Columbus' very own kid-lit star Margaret Peterson Haddix.

If you've got a kid in the 8- to 12-year-old age range, you're probably familiar with the wildly popular tales of the dysfunctional Cahill clan's quest for world power. In addition to the adventure books, The 39 Clues universe includes trading cards, a website for gamers - there's even a Steven Spielberg movie in the works.

Haddix is also a household name if your tweens and teens have devoured her previous books like "Running Out of Time," "Just Ella" and the new "Sabotaged."

What lured Haddix into joining The 39 Clues franchise?

"Well, I kind of wanted to know how it would end," said Haddix, "but they said I had to write it if I wanted to find out."

So she signed up for a stint, joining an enterprise that has seen 8.5 million books published in 24 languages. Haddix worked off a very rough guideline provided by Rick Riordan and relied on the detailed eye of series editor Rachel Griffiths.

"I had to write most of it before the ninth book was done," Haddix said, "so Rachel could remind me of what was happening with the books, the cards and online."

We couldn't find out how it all wraps up from Haddix. Just like you, we'll be diving into our own copy. But if you'd like to meet Haddix and have her sign "Book 10: Into the Gauntlet," she'll be appearing at Cover to Cover Books, 3560 N. High St. in Clintonville, at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 2, and at the Easton Barnes & Noble at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8. -Jane Hawes

We call it "pop" around here.
What do they call it elsewhere?
"Soda" in Philadelphia
"Soft drink" in Sydney
"Coke" (regardless of brand or flavor) in Atlanta

A "milkshake" here is
"Frappe" in Boston
"Egg cream" in New York City
"Cabinet" in Providence
"Malted" in Minneapolis

We call them "sprinkles," but they're
"Jimmies" in Washington, D.C.
"Ants" in Denver
"Hundreds and thousands" in London

WHAT'S BIG IN... Osaka, Japan
From our branch office in Osaka (second only to Tokyo for population in Japan) comes an interesting report about what kids are into there:

Bread-scented key chain?
Well, of course, and we've actually acquired one that we're giving away. Just go to ColumbusParent.com and enter by Sept. 15 to win it!

The Japanese culture has always had a special love for scary, ghouly things. That extends to candy. But not just any candy. The most sour-tasting candy on the planet.

And who says candy has to taste like, uh, candy? In Osaka, sushi-flavored candy drops are also all the rage. Yum?