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Short Stuff

Short, newsy items for kids – from 18-million-year-old armadillos to squirrels that smell like rattlesnakes.

Melanie Stetson Freeman – staff/file

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A White House holiday

Have you ever wondered what the holiday season is like for the president of the United States and his family? Well, it includes lots of parties. And there are decorations such as giant Christmas trees and even a gingerbread replica of the White House! The 2007 gingerbread house was coated in white chocolate so it would be the same color as the real thing. The whole structure weighed 300 pounds!

Each year, the president and first lady also host a children's holiday reception. President and Mrs. Bush had special guests this year: some of the kids whose moms or dads are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. The kids got to see the play, "A Christmas Carol." And they listened while Mrs. Bush talked about the theme for the 2007 decorations: America's national parks.

Ancient armadillo

An armadillo is a small animal in the Southwest that has gray, bony plates of armor on its body. But the armadillos in the United States aren't the only ones. There are several kinds that live in the Americas. And these creatures' ancestors date back millions of years.

In fact, scientists recently identified a brand new species of prehistoric armadillo from fossils they found in the Andes mountains of northern Chile in South America.

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