Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Coming Up: Gustafer Yellowgold Performance - Free

The small, yellow, cone-headed fellow from the sun will be doing some performances during his winter tour. He'll be in San Francisco on March 1st, and it's free.

This live performance will feature new songs and videos from the new DVD/CD set “Gustafer Yellowgold's Wisdom Tooth of Wisdom,” along with plenty of fan favorites from the five previous Gustafer Yellowgold releases, as well as the Sirius/XM Kids’ radio smash single, "Cakenstein."

Gustafer Yellowgold is reportedly unlike anything in family entertainment. Morgan Taylor’s story-songs about Gustafer and his pals is performed against a backdrop of large-screen animations done up with karaoke-style subtitles, and creates a world as deep and original as it is beautiful. It’s equal parts pop rock concert and minimally animated movie, but mellow.

What: Gustafer Yellowgold’s Show
Where: San Francisco Public Library - Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco
When: Sunday, March 1st - 3:00
Tickets: Admission is free
Info: (415) 557-4400, http://www.sfpl.org

Monday, February 23, 2015

Coming Up: Carnival of the Animals - Concert, Ballet, Crafts

The Palo Alto JCC is putting on a concert great for kids and adults, Camille Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals.” Each movement represents different beasts of land, sea, and sky, and will be accompanied by a lively ballet performance. In addition to a concert, there will be animal mask making and instrument "petting zoo" for the kids.

Symphony Napa Valley Assistant Conductor Derek Tam conducts the two performances featuring a string ensemble and two grand pianos (read more about the work at the bottom). Bay Pointe Ballet is a professional ballet company serving the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

When: Sunday March 1 at 10 a.m. and noon (2 concerts)
Where: Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto (3921 Fabian Way)
Tickets: $15-20 online or by calling (650) 223-8664. $15 is for members and kids ages 3-12. $18 general admission in advance. $20 tickets at the door.

From the JCC: "One of Camille Saint-Saens’ best-known works, “Carnival of the Animals” was first written in the wake of a failed concert tour of Germany. Embarrassed by his failure, Saint-Saens turned his sights on something more lighthearted and became immersed in writing this charming musical suite, declaring “mais c’est si amusant!” (“but this is such fun!”). The choruses of wild creatures are infused with comedic allusions to more serious fare, running the gamut from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld to Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust. “Carnival of the Animals” premiered in 1886 at a private concert in Paris and has since become a favorite in children’s repertoire for both small ensembles and full string orchestras."

Coming Up: Box Project at Asian Art Museum - Free

The Asian Art Museum is hosting a box building day, where you can build a cardboard world with childhood educator Nancy Gapasin Gnass and local artist Eliza Gregory. The Box Project is a workshop for parents and kids. Participants alter and play with cardboard boxes as they would at home, but on an unusually grand scale. Materials include reused cardboard donated by local businesses, which are recycled at the end of the day.


Professional parenting educator Nancy curates information about parenting and creativity for participants to take home, and is on hand to answer questions and provide an intellectual framework for the experience. The Box Project celebrates acts of creativity that take place in the home by temporarily placing them in a museum context to catalyze a conversation about creativity, parenting and the gallery space as a creative hub. The project asks: Can we teach creativity? What does that look like? When is parenting itself fundamentally about creativity? How can we become better parents by acknowledging those times? And how can the museum support families in this endeavor?

When: Sunday, March 1 from 11-2.
Where: Asian Art Museum
Admission: Free, courtesy of Target

Photo courtesy of Eliza Gregory

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Newsies Opens in San Francisco

The Broadway musical Newsies just opened last night in SF, and it's totally a family-friendly show. Read a Newsies review here. Those who loved the show tell me they were most impressed with the choreography and dancing, and that the male cast was so strong for a musical and dancing show. Traditionally a lot of dancing is done by women in these shows, so this is a great example to set for boys interested in theater and dance. Of course girls will enjoy that too!


When: February 18 - March 15, 2015 (includes matinees at 2 on Saturdays and Sundays)
Where: SHN Orpheum Theatre, SF
Tickets:  online or via phone (888) 746-1799

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Budget Travel for Families - a Q&A with Author Cynthia Drake

As a travel writer, I'm always on the hunt for books to share which encourage families to do more traveling. Budget Travel for the Genius by Cynthia J. Drake was just published, and I'm excited to share a Q&A I did with her about the book. I think you'll find a lot of helpful hints for your own travels, and I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book!

Frisco Kids: Can you share some frugal travel tips for traveling with kids?

Cynthia Drake: My favorite tip for traveling with kids is to bring your family museum and zoo memberships from home. Check to see if there are zoos, museums, science or art centers that participate in a reciprocal membership program with your home institution. If they do, it will save you a ton of money on admission.

While we're talking about admission prices, beware of "bundling," which is what a lot of attractions do to upsell visitors by combining things like 3-D movies, petting zoos and other extras on top of the base price of the ticket. If you're visiting an attraction for the first time, chances are there will be plenty for you to do and see without buying these extras.

Finally, set some ground rules for souvenirs. Your strategy will vary depending on your kids' ages, but perhaps you set a spending limit or institute a "one souvenir rule." This will hopefully help your kids put some thought into what they would really value or use. Another idea to try is "free souvenirs" — challenge your kids instead to take photos, keep journals, collect rocks or seashells.

How do you do frugal in a big city?

One of the things I love most about big cities is the prevalence of cheap public transportation. In my book, I strongly advocate for using subways, trains and buses to save not only on the cost of renting a car, but all the related costs, such as parking, not to mention the stress of driving in a big city. Plus, kids who aren't used to riding on buses and subways tend to think there's a cool factor there.

As for where you stay, look for hotels just outside of the city limits for the best deals — these hotels can go for half the price of more centrally located ones. Plus, you'll probably enjoy added amenities such as complimentary breakfast, wi-fi and parking when you stay on the outskirts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Coming Up: Lunar New Year Celebration and Kids' Activities at SF Botanical Garden - Free for Residents

There's a free Lunar New Year celebration at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. There are special performances and hands-on activities to celebrate the Year of the Sheep and the many magnolias from China blooming in the Garden. Performances by the White Crane Lion Dancers, lively folk dances by The San Francisco Sunset Recreation Center Dance Troupe, tai chi performances with dazzling sword forms by Jing Cai Tai Chi Team and more.

Family-friendly children’s activities include garden crafts and special story times in the library with Oliver Chin that celebrate the customs, traditions, food and lore of the Lunar New Year. See the full schedule here.

When: February 21 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Performances and activities take place in and around the County Fair Building near the Garden entrance at 9th Ave and Lincoln Way.
Cost: free with admission to the garden (garden entrance is free for SF residents with proof of residency). Nonresidents: $7 general, $5 youth 12-17 and seniors; $2 children 5-11; children 4 and under free. Families of 2 adults and one or more child pay just $15

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day - Movies at Home

Nothing planned for Valentine's Day with your loved ones? How bout a movie night! Here are some Valentine's Day flicks you can see from the comfort of your couch on Netflix.

I Hate Valentine's Day - yup, that's me! This is a PG-13 movie and romantic comedy with Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

Every Day is Valentine - a Chinese romantic comedy

Before Valentine - a Thai movie (they celebrate Valentine's Day there too?) about 4 couples in various stages of a relationship, and how they celebrate that special day.

Of course there are plenty of romantic movies without the word Valentine in them. Like Dirty Dancing, Pretty in Pink, Romancing the Stone, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love (with that Goop lady), a Room with a View...I could go on.

What are your favorite romantic movies?

I am a Netflix Stream Team member.