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Monday, August 31, 2009

Coming Up: Sea Chanty in SF - Free

Thanks to Cynthia for this guest blog post. She's an awesome resource for great things to do in SF. And she's a teacher - check out her blog on English (she teaches ESL and memoir writing through the Adult School).

"Step aboard a real sailing ship and sing along with rollicking sea chanties the first Saturday evening of every month down at the Hyde Street Pier.

Down below the Balclutha, Ranger Peter Kasin leads a monthly sea chanty sing-along. The event is free but reservations are required and suggested.

Singing starts at 8 pm, children are welcome, and the songs get bawdier after the break for hot apple cider later in the evening. I’d recommend the program as best for older kids – ages 6 and up or so, simply for the “sit still” factor, but if your kids of any age like music, bring them along. (No worries about the bawdy factor early on, by the way.) And Ranger Kasin not only has a beautiful tenor voice, but is also a storehouse of historical information

It’s warm below deck but sometimes cold above – this is San Francisco ! – so bring a jacket, even in the warmer months. The San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park's website will give you more information about the program.

The Hyde Street Pier has many other wonderful programs and tours - check out the park's website for more on that. The park offers a wide variety of programs, including school field trips where kids spend the night on the Balclutha and perform the work of sailors. (No, the ship doesn’t leave the pier!)

Call 415-561-7171 or email Ranger Kasin at to make a reservation for Sea Chanty."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Trade in used baby items at Toys R Us and Babys R Us and get 20% off

Starting now through Sunday, September 20, Babies“R”Us and Toys“R”Us stores nationwide are holding the “Great Trade-In” event, allowing you to trade-in any used cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, travel systems, play yards or high chairs in exchange for a 20% savings on the purchase of any new baby item (in any of these product categories), from select manufacturers.

The “Great Trade-In” event emphasizes baby products, such as cribs and car seats that, due to safety concerns, may not be the best candidates to be handed down or resold - or even given away to charities. Beyond recalls, certain older and used baby items can be potentially unsafe for a variety of reasons, including damage or lack of compliance with recent advances in product safety standards.

Visit your local Babies“R”Us or Toys“R”Us store to trade-in your used crib or baby product. Day care centers or other organizations who wish to exchange items in bulk are encouraged to contact their local store prior to returning their used items to ensure adequate availability of new merchandise.

Im unclear whether you can just drop off the used items without purchasing something new.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Coming Up: Storybook Box and Puppet Performances at Children's Fairyland

This weekend, Children's Fairyland in Oakland celebrates the unveiling of newly restored storybook boxes, plus the 53rd annual Puppet Fair. That's a lot of celebrating.

First the storybook boxes - using a magic key, each storybook box tells a fairytale. The boxes, more than 50 years old, were refurbished and modernized, and rerecorded by Emmy Award-winning songwriters and children's entertainers, Lori and R.J. with Cotton Candy Express. They'll be unveiled this weekend.

The San Francisco Bay Area Puppeteers Guild's 53rd Annual Puppet Fair also takes place - and kids can make their own puppets (free), watch puppet shows. and check out the historical display of puppets.
Fairyland is the country's oldest storybook theme park. It has some cute rides (best for the preschool/toddler set).

Where: Children's Fairyland (699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland - on the shores of Lake Merritt)

When: August 29-30 (Sat-Sun) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Coming Up: Circus Bella in SF - FREE

What: Circus Bella - one-ring circus

When: Saturday, August 29, noon AND 2:00

Where: Fort Mason in SF (Marina Blvd and Buchanan)

Cost: Free

Bring the kids for a free, outdoor one-ring circus! Circus Bella is performing its full-length show DOINK! on Saturday, August 29th in San Francisco.

If you remember Pickle Family Circus and Make*A*Circus, you'll love this home-grown circus show. Circus Bella is a one-year old Bay Area circus, run though the San Francisco Circus Center. Enjoy original music (performed by live musicians), trapeze and other aerial artistry, clowns, contortionists, jugglers and more.

And since the show runs about an hour, the kids should be able to sit through it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Coming Up: Free Movie in the Park

Free movies in the park this Wednesday at 8:00 p.m.

August 26 - Grease

Where: Leo Ryan Park (take Hillsdale off 101 and go east) in Foster City
When: 8-10 p.m.
Cost: Free

Friday, August 21, 2009

Focus Groups: Beer, Laptops, Ophthalmologists

More great focus groups coming up with Plaza Research. I've worked with them before - they're a good company.

Requirements: Males and females ages 25-39
Incentive: $85.00-$100.00

If you are interested in the BEER study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Requirements: Males and females ages 25-55 who own a laptop
Incentive: $150.00

If you are interested in the LAPTOPS study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

And one more - very specific!
Requirements: Ophthalmologists doctors
Incentive: $250.00

If you or someone you know may be interested in the OPHTHALMOLOGISTS study, please call us at 415-984-0400 and ask to speak with a recruiter working on the OPHTHALMOLOGISTS study.

Coming Up: Free Sippy Cups Concert at the SF Zoo

This Sunday, celebrate Bay Area Parent Magazine's 25th birthday, with a free Sippy Cups concert at the SF Zoo.

What: Sippy Cups Concert
Where: SF Zoo
When: 1:30, Sunday, August 23rd
Cost: free with zoo admission

Coming Up: Palo Alto Festival of the Arts

This weekend, head to Palo Alto for its annual Festival of the Arts. It's free and outdoors, and has lots to keep you busy:

-kids art/craft area
-wine/beer for you
-3 entertainment stages
-300 craft booths
-Italian street painting (with 70 chalk artists creating masterpieces)

The fun happens on Saturday-Sunday, August 22-23 on University Ave (from 10-6). Take Caltrain there! It's the Palo Alto stop.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Coming Up: Free Saturday Concerts in Antioch

Get your picnic blanket and dinner (but no wine/beer, unfortunately) for Antioch's free Saturday Summer Concerts.

Where: Prewett Family Water Park (4701 Lone Tree Way, Antioch)
When: Saturdays in August from 6p.m. - 9 p.m.
Cost: Free
Date: August 22 - Miss Jane (6-6:45) and The Love Handles (7-9:00)

Donate Your Used Stroller and Get a $25 Coupon this Sunday

You know you have 5 extra strollers in your garage. Do you need them all? If not, do a good deed and donate one or more them this Sunday in Oakland. The mom-owned store Let's Go Strolling is holding its annual stroller donation day and store-wide sale.

Donated strollers will go to two Oakland non-profits supporting low-income families. As a perk, you'll get a $25 certificate to spend at Let's Go Strolling that day...on top of the sale prices!

The store sells baby gear and will have hourly free raffled prizes as well. Even if you don't need any baby items, if you can drop off a stroller, it will find a good home!

When: Sunday, August 23rd from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Let's Go Strolling - 344 Thomas L. Berkley Way (20th and Webster) - Oakland

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Free Shakespere in the Park - San Francisco, Cupertino and Saratoga

Shakespere in the Park is something I remember from my single, childless days. I still don't think my kids would sit though a performance, but if yours will...or if you can wrangle a babysitter, here's where to go for free Shakespere in the Park!

Shady Shakespere - Saratoga
As You Like It
August 22, 23, 28
September 5, 6, 11

Richard III
August 21, 29, 30
September 4, 12, 13

Location: Sanborn Park in Saratoga (click for directions)
Time: 7 p.m.
Seats: 400 (they have 280 chairs - you can bring your own)
Cost: free, but parking is $6
Food: snacks/drinks available. You can picnic in the park before the show.

The San Francisco Shakespere Festival (Cupertino and San Francisco)
The Comedy of Errors

Where: Cupertino's Memorial Park Amphitheater (Stevens Creek Blvd & Mary Ave, across from De Anza College). Here's a map.
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Aug 21 - 7:30 PM
Saturday, Aug 22 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, Aug 23 - 7:30 PM

Where: The Presidio's Main Post Parade Ground Lawn (between Graham St & Keyes Ave). Here's a map.
Sunday, Aug 30 - 2:30 PM
Saturday, Sept 5 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, Sept 6 - 2:30 PM
Monday, Sept 7 (Labor Day) - 2:30 PM
Saturday, Sept 12 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, Sept 13 - 2:30 PM
Saturday, Sept 19 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, Sept 20 - 2:30 PM

Seats: Bring a blanket or low chair. You'll be on the lawn.
Food: snacks/drinks available for sale. Bring a picnic. Here are tips on how to enjoy the day.
Cost: Free

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Coming Up: Serramonte Back to School Party Today

It's almost time to go back to school, so the mall is throwing a party. Take the kids to Serramonte Mall today for a fun party - a Jonas Brothers Party with Radio Disney. Get set for singing, dancing, crafts, games - and it's free.

Now, before you get too excited, I don't think the Jonas Brothers will actually be there. But you can play some "JoBro" games and win some "JoBro" prizes. (Egad, is that what people actually cll this group for short?).

The party starts at 5:30 in the Mervyn's wing. Remember Mervyn's?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Focus Groups - High Paying Gigs!

Some awesome focus groups coming up from Plaza Research.

Requirements: Parents of at least one child between 2.5 years old (30 months) and up to exactly 4 years old (48 months or less; their 4th birthday). This study requires the attendance of the parent, child, and child's grandparent.
Incentive: $200.00 per family

If you are interested in the FAMILIES study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Requirements: Males and females at least 18 years old who train internal employees and/or contractors/installers or customers
Incentive: $150.00

If you are interested in the TRAINING TOOLS study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Requirements: Males and females at least 18 years old
Incentive: $125.00

If you are interested in the ONLINE SHOPPING study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Requirements: Males and females ages 50-65 who live in San Mateo County
Incentive: $200.00- $275.00

If you are interested in the GROCERY SHOPPING study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Coming Up: Free Movie in the Park

Free movies in the park this Wednesday at 8:00 p.m.

August 19 - Journey to the Center of the Earth
August 26 - Grease

Where: Leo Ryan Park (take Hillsdale off 101 and go east) in Foster City
When: 8-10 p.m.
Cost: Free

Volunteers: Science is Elementary

Last year I blogged about a great volunteer program, Science is Elementary, an elementary school science program where volunteers go into the classroom to teach fun (but educational) science lessons that kids wouldn't get otherwise. I don't think I have to tell you about the budgetary issues in California. And how kids in the U.S. are thought to be far beyond those in other countries in science education.

In their words, "Volunteer groups of engineers and scientists (1 adult per 5 children) bring "cool" hands-on experiments to the classroom and allow children to explore on their own while asking directed questions to guide their thought processes and investigations. Experiments draw on children’s everyday experiences to show them that science is all around them and is fun."

Science is Elementary is recruiting volunteers (scientists and engineers) for the upcoming school year. If you, or someone you know, could volunteer only TWO HOURS a month, it would make a huge difference in kids' lives. (Many jobs allow employees time off to do this kind of volunteer work). And the curriculum is already planned.

The schools involved are in Mountain View, Sunnyvale and East Palo Alto. See the FAQ's about the program here. Volunteer sign up is here.

Please forward this to anyone you know who might be interested!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Coming Up: Free Saturday Concerts in Antioch

Get your picnic blanket and dinner (but no wine/beer, unfortunately) for Antioch's free Saturday Summer Concerts.

Where: Prewett Family Water Park (4701 Lone Tree Way, Antioch)
When: Saturdays in August from 6p.m. - 9 p.m.
Cost: Free

August 15 - Asheba (6-6:45) and Big Rain (7-9:00)
August 22 - Miss Jane (6-6:45) and The Love Handles (7-9:00)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

King Tut Review and Coupon Codes

(If you're looking for New York City King Tut discounts, coupon codes and info, click here) (If you're looking for a review of King Tut in NYC with Kids, click here).

I did a luxurious things. I went to a museum. By myself. There, I said it. I saw the King Tut exhibit at the de Young while the kids were in camp. And you know what? I enjoyed it much more that way. I feel like a slightly bad mom for not exposing my kids to the grandeur and history that is Egypt. But I also saved my sanity.

You see, it was very crowded in there. Very very crowded. And there were lines. And more lines. Kind of like Disneyland. You're done with one line and think you're in the door. But no. There's another line. And I bought my timed ticket in advance, for the morning. For a weekday. And it was still very very crowded.

A few highlights:

-On display - two children's seats (one from Tut's tomb, one from a relatives') - with gorgeous inlay and all original materials. Including the mesh seat.

-An ivory box of King Tut's that held some gold rings. The box looks so perfect and modern it's hard to belive it's from 1300 BCE.

-a coffin from King Tut's 5 month old stillborn baby girl.

-Some of the jewels and the gold sword he wore in his coffin. He wore more than 150 jeweled amulets in death.

-While his coffins weren't there, the display in the last room showed the size of the four outer containers (the largest being 16 feet long and 9 feet hight), which covered the three internal coffins - each with gold and inlaid stones.

-Did you know that Egyptians removed the deceased's liver, stomach and intestines? They were dried with salt and wrapped in linen, and put in decorative boxes in the tomb. Okay, so you knew that.

-But did you know that King Tut's brain was removed by the ancient Egyptians with a hook THROUGH HIS NOSE during the burial process??? Yuck!

-Photos taken during discovery showed the tomb chambers stacked with his items. Kind of like my garage. Not put in a fancy way, but just stuck in there.

-King Tut's tomb wasn't meant for a king - it was smaller, and not meant for royalty. Since he died so young (age 19), they weren't prepared for his death. They think his tomb was originally for his advisor, who then took over after King Tut died.

-A CT scan found a fracture in one of Tut's legs. They think maybe he had an accident a few days before he died, leading to his death. But they don't know how he died.

-While you won't see any of King Tut's caskets, there was a gorgeous gold-leaf covered casket from one of his female relatives. It's beautiful. The amount of detail on the gold work displayed in this exhibit is mind-boggling.

-They showed an ancient dog collar. Yes, a dog collar. Leather and bronze, and covered with drawings of dogs. Go figure.

-A glass headrest. Granted, it's decorative and in King Tut's tomb, but still - can you imagine sleeping on a glass headrest?

While kids were in there (and most were generally well behaved), I'd make sure you think deeply about your kids' ability to handle a museum show if you decide to bring them. It's not cheap (a family 4-pack is $99), it's dark and very crowded. I had visions of my kids going crazy in there and Mark dragging us out early.
It took me about 90 minutes, from getting in line (and my initial line wasn't that long) to getting through the gift shop. You can do it faster - I had the audio tour, which has about 45 mintues of narrative.

To get discounted tickets, check out Bay Area on the Cheap, where there are three discounts posted. If you're a member, you'll be treated to shorter lines and cheaper tickets.
Or make it a date night or moms' night out - go on a Wednesday night through September 30 (5-9 p.m.) when the museum offers a discount ($20 tickets for adults, $15/youth). They have a pre fixe menu at the cafe and evening views in the museum's cool observation tower.

Jamie Pearson wrote an excellent account of seeing the exhibit with kids at Travel Savvy Mom. She's much braver than I.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Coming Up: Movies in the Park - Free

Free movies in the park this Wednesday at 8:00 p.m.

August 12 - Kung Fu Panda
August 19 - Journey to the Center of the Earth
August 26 - Grease

Where: Leo Ryan Park (take Hillsdale off 101 and go east) in Foster City
When: 8-10 p.m.
Cost: Free

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Coming Up: San Mateo County Fair

I love the county fair...and you should too! Animals, rides, nasty food, home ec contests, food demonstrations and fun promotions. Here's what's going on this year at the San Mato County Fair:

August 17th - kids' day (kids 12 and under get in free)
August 18th - senior day (62+ are free - bring the grandparents!)
August 19th - everyone free until 3:00
August 20th - green transportation day - Adults $7
August 21th - food bank day - Adults $7 til 5:00

August 15 - Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular
August 16 - Arrested Development
August 17 - Shane Dwight
August 18 - War
August 19-20 - Tower of Power
Aguust 21 - Boys II Men
August 22 - the Guess Who
August 23 - Dia de la Feria

What: San Mateo County Fair
When: August 15-23 - opens at noon daily
Cost: Adults $7-10; Kids (12 and under) $5-8. Parking is $8
Buy online before fair starts, and get the cheaper price.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Coming Up: Sunday Streets in SF

Friends keep telling me how awesome San Francisco's Sunday Streets are, so I'm posting about the next two.

Sunday Streets says its a "a safe, fun, car-free place for people to get out and get active in San Francisco neighborhoods." Last year, the event drew more than 15,000 people each weekend. The streets are open for people to "participate in a wide variety of activities, including: dancing, biking, skating, walking, hula hooping, yoga, and just people watching."

This Sunday, August 9th, take to the street on the Great Highway from Golden Gate Park to the SF Zoo along Ocean Beach, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Get the map here.

The last Sunday Streets is in the same location, Sunday, September 6th.

Free Second Sunday at the Tech Museum in San Jose

Cool museum for free! Visit the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose the second Sunday of each month, for free!

This Sunday, August 9th is the date.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Coming Up: Free Saturday Concerts in Antioch

Get your picnic blanket and dinner (but no wine/beer, unfortunately) for Antioch's free Saturday Summer Concerts.

Where: Prewett Family Water Park (4701 Lone Tree Way, Antioch)
When: Saturdays in August from 6p.m. - 9 p.m.
Cost: Free

August 8 - Betsy Stern (6-6:45) and PhDs (7-9:00)
August 15 - Asheba (6-6:45) and Big Rain (7-9:00)
August 22 - Miss Jane (6-6:45) and The Love Handles (7-9:00)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Free Movie Monday - Redbox free code here

Haven't yet seen Defiance, Revolutionary Road, Fired Up, Scooby Doo, Pink Panther 2, Inkheart, Coraline or Race to Witch Mountain (the new one, not the original)? Well, head over to your nearest Redbox kiosk to rent one now!

Good through midnight tonight, use the code 27HZ4KT to get your free movie rental.

You're welcome!

Coming Up: HIller Aviation Museum's Happy Birds Show

While Hiller Aviation Museum features airplanes and helicopters, their upcoming show instead focuses on feathered flight.

At the Happy Birds show, you'll see macaws, parrots and cockatoos, perform and demonstrate flight in the Museum's Atrium. Learn how the birds uniquely adapt to survive in the wild.

Shows are included with museum admission.

When: August 5th at 11 a.m.
Where: Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Coming Up: AMC Movies for $1 - Star Wars the Clone Wars

Getting bored with the kids at home? Take them to Star Wars: The Clone Wars at an AMC theater for $1. AMC's Summer Moviecamp offers movies this summer for $1, and kid-packs of treats for $3. Money raised from these shows goes to AMC's charitable partners.

August 5, 2009 - Star Wars: The Clone Wars (PG)
Shows are Wednesdays at 10 a.m. at participating theaters. In the Bay Area, you can see these shows for a buck at three theaters in Emeryville and San Jose.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Free National Park Weekend August 15-16

Just one more weekend left! August 15-16 is the last fee-free National Park weekend of the summer. Too busy during the other two? Start your planning! August 15-16th is a free entrance weekend at 100 national parks, including a dozen or so in California.

Where can you go? Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Death Valley, Sequoia, Lassen, Lava Beds...and that's just in California. Many parks also have special activities those weekend (in addition to ranger talks).

Check it out!