Fewer children: California’s birth rate has fallen to its lowest levels in modern history, according to new Department of Finance estimates. The state’s next-lowest birth rate was in 1933, during the Great Depression. The birth rate of 12.42 live births per 1,000 people is down from a rate of 13.69 per 1,000 people in 2010. While the births among native-born residents is slowing, net migration to California from other parts of the U.S. and countries continues to add to the state’s population, however. Researchers guess at several reasons, most centered around residents marrying later. tinyurl.com/gvhjd7w
Free shipping to Goodwill: If you bought your children lots of gifts via Amazon this Christmas you might consider participating in its Give Back Box program. You can use your leftover Amazon boxes to ship donations for free to Goodwill Industries. Goodwill not only operates retail thrift stores, but also has extensive employment support and training programs for the disadvantaged and disabled, funded by the sale of donated items. To participate, simply pack a box with the items you no longer need (no electronics, liquids, or fragile or hazardous items), print off a pre-paid shipping label at Give Back Box, and then either drop them off at the post office or UPS location. There is no limit to the number of boxes (and no weight limit), but each box requires its own shipping label. givebackbox.com/
New public TV for kids: A new channel running 24/7 will replace KQED Kids in the Bay Area beginning Jan. 16. In addition to the new on-air channel, PBS KIDS on KQED features free services including a live video stream and interactive games for children on various digital platforms. The effort is KQED’s initiative to support early learning in the community. KQED will broadcast PBS KIDS on channel 54.4 and 25.3 or live streamed at pbskids.org. The site promises that games offered online will align with the learning goals of each TV series, deepening children’s involvement and supporting learning. The shows to be aired include Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Odd Squad, Wild Kratts, Dinosaur Train, Splash and Bubbles, Nature Cat and Ready Jet. kqed.org/tv/.
Most popular college in the U.S: UCLA is the first U.S. university ever to receive 100,000 freshman applications. 102,177 students are seeking a spot in the Class of 2021, up 5 percent from last year. The target size for the entering class is about 6,500. Those figures don’t include tens of thousands of expected transfer applicants. tinyurl.com/glkarct
Book sale: The Friends of the Sonoma Valley Library is hosting a mini book sale on Friday, Jan. 6 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturday, Jan. 7 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. These sales are limited in size and scope and presented in a way that hopefully allows the “locals” to browse and buy books in a more relaxed manner than the sometimes crowded quarterly book sales. The usual pricing will be in place, $2 for hardcover, $1 for paperbacks.
Check list for college kids: I can’t resist a good list by which to rate my parenting. Psychology Today recently ran an article of 40 things students need to know by the time they leave college. Some are obvious (how to do laundry and how often to change bed linens), but here are a few that might be commonly overlooked (tinyurl.com/hy459v4)