Photo courtesy of Clever Cupcakes, some rights reserved
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Photo courtesy of Clever Cupcakes, some rights reserved
Friday, January 30, 2009
In this economy, freebies are even more exciting than ever. Especially on your birthday. I posted awhile back on getting a free Cold Stone treat on your birthday (and thanks to my friend Loren who also said that Baskin Robbins does the same thing).
It turns out there’s a whole industry of things you can get for free on your birthday.
Like a free ticket to Disneyland on your birthday – in 2009. Of course when we went to Disneyland last summer, very close to my husband’s special day, he had one request: that we did NOT spend his day there (he’s not a fan). But personally, that would be one of my favorite celebrations (hint hint).
Birthday freebies are such a special industry, that there’s a whole web site devoted to them. I thought I’d point you in that direction.
A few examples: on your kids’ birthday, get them free food at California Pizza Kitchen, Denny’s, Marble Slab Creamery, Red Robin, Sonic Drive-In, the Old Spaghetti Factory and more.
Olan Mills offers a free portrait sheet, Limited Too gives you 20% off a birth day purchase, and Diddams gives you a free package of invitations (but who needs invitations ON their birthday???? Presumably the party is already planned).
Most of these offers you have to sign for online. And there’s a separate section for adult birthdays too – it’s not all about the kids you know!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Cynthia's post is a call to action, so make sure to read down to see what you can do to help maintain the Adult School system.
Here is Cynthia's post:
Adult Schools are one of the most cost-effective educational systems around. And we are in jeopardy. Here’s what Adult Schools do:
· We teach immigrants English, citizenship skills, job skills, how to get involved in their communities, help their children succeed in school, and get involved in their children’s education.
· We provide job skills classes to anyone over 18. We provide free or low-cost classes which help re-employ and re-train people in an extremely cost-effective way. (We save the state money: we create taxpayers, not unemployment numbers.)
· We help young adults aged 18 to 22 get their GED or High School Diploma. We give them job skills and vocational counseling. (We help kids who might be in trouble get on the right path to success. We save the state money: someone with a job who pays taxes… not someone in prison we’re paying taxes for.)
· We provide parents and childcare providers with education about child development and safe childcare. We promote literacy, school involvement, and health. (We save the state money: kids do well in school… versus failing and needing extra help and state involvement. Child abuse rates go down. Mental and physical health increases.)
· We provide Older Adults with classes that keep them mentally, physically, and socially active, which keeps them healthier and lowers for their need for medical interventions. (We lower medical costs for people over fifty.)
Sounds pretty good, right? It is. Adult Education has been around in California for 150 years.
We serve 1.5 million students and employ 15,000 people. And we do so in an extremely cost effective way.
Adult Schools are funded at a lower rate per student hour than K-12 or community college and therefore are a very cost effective way to serve the most difficult to serve communities, such as immigrant communities and young adults who did not finish high school, in order to prepare them for jobs, college, etc.
So what’s going on?
Well, we have a budget crisis. You know about that. We’re one of the top economies in the world – for now. But when both our K-12 educational system and our Adult Education program receive less money than almost every state in the nation, that’s not going to last.
Right now, the state gives Adult Ed money and Adult Ed manages it very well. Schwartzenegger wants to let K-12 districts do whatever they want or need to do with categorical money (the Adult School runs on categorical funds).
That means that a high school, which might be desperate for money because it is not properly funded and because property taxes are dropping, might need or choose to close the local Adult School and use that money to keep the K-12 system going. Asking people to choose between kids and adults is asking the wrong question. Educational systems serve each other.
For a low cost, we help parents help their children succeed in K-12. We put parents to work. We help young adults get back on track, finish their high school education, and get a job or enroll in Community College, vocational school, or a 4 year college or university. We give immigrants the English skills they need so they can go to a Community College or 4 year school and take academic classes and succeed, getting a job and/or a degree. Keeping ESL within Adult Schools frees up community colleges to focus on the impacted programs that help students transfer to 4 year schools. Both Community Colleges and 4 year colleges are upset that students are not prepared for college work. We prepare them.
We don’t need to be pitted against each other.
Adult School funds should not be used to “fix” the K-12 system. We are willing to make changes to survive this crisis… we’re not asking for special treatment… we’re not taking an entitled stance.
So… what am I asking you to do?
I am asking you to write a letter – not an email. One letter is worth twenty five emails.
Can you tell that story of someone impacted by the Adult School? Someone who benefitted from ESL classes or citizenship classes? Someone who had help getting a GED?
Please look up your State Senator and Assembly Member and write them a letter or call them.
We need to act because the Legislature must come to a decision now. The pressure is on them – and us – to act.
There is no “Big Government” to complain about here. We are the government.
We, the people, elect and must communicate to our elected officials.
Speak up now. It’s your future.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
And if you leave the kids with a babysitter, or enroll them in Minor’s Camp (starting at age two), you can take free adult lessons (blue diamond level and up) in off-peak season. These lessons are from 1:30 to 3:45 p.m, Monday through Friday.
Here’s my posting on other things to do with kids at Lake Tahoe. Happy winter!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
So for all you High School Musical fans out there, be it HSM 1, HSM 2 or HSM 3, you’re in luck. The ice show is coming to the Bay Area for performances in both San Jose AND Oakland.
Act 1 = High School Musical
Act 2 = High School Musical 2
Special Bonus = High School Musical 3!!!!!!!
What: High School Musical the Ice Tour
When/Where: HP Arena in San Jose from February 25-March 1. Oracle Arena in Oakland from March 4-8
Cost: Opening night tickets are $15. Otherwise they cost $16 or $25 (plus fees)
The tour is from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The event is sponsored by the Redwood City Mother’s Club, Redwood City Parks, Recreation and Community Services and Bay Area Parent Magazine.
What: Preschool Preview Night
Where: Community Activities Building, 1400 Roosevelt Ave., Redwood City
When: Wed, January 28, 2009 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Info: 650-780-7311 or 415-846-9521
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
This past December we went to Gilroy Garden’s Holiday Lights. Did it cost us a fortune? No – we only paid for parking, thanks to Finney’s Friday Free Stuff, the local ABC reporter who posts every Friday with coupons for free products and events in the Bay Area.
Last week it was a coupon for a free McDonalds Happy Meal and a coupon for a free admission to the Aquarium of the Bay. Not bad!
Just check back every Friday to see what Finney is offering. This week it's baby food (we'll take a pass) and a sample package of natural snacks.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Where: Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, San Francisco
When: Saturday, January 24 from 1:00-4:00
Cost: $3/child or $5/parent/child combo.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Where: Redwood City Library (1044 Middlefield Road)
When: Wednesday, January 21 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
But you can celebrate with your community at the San Francisco Civic Center, from 7 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, January 20. The gathering is at Civic Center Plaza in front of City Hall.
Be a good citizen and bring new socks and/or underwear (price tags still attached, so they know they’re not used), to be given out to the homeless.
Friday, January 16, 2009
A six-week career exploration group for moms who are looking to re-establish satisfying careers. Whether you’ve been out of the workforce while raising children or have continued to work but are looking for a career change, this group is for you! Led by a seasoned career coach (and mom!), this group will share ideas and feedback, contacts and strategies to help each member define and reach her career goals. It’s just the push you need to get started!
Admission: $150 for six-week series
Instructor: Barbara Gottesman
Location: 2001 Winward Way, Ste 200, San Mateo
Mondays: January 26, February 2, 9, 16, 23, and March 9
9:30 - 11:30 am
Preregister here, and when you get confirmation, bring a check for $150 to JVS on the first session.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The timing of this is perfect, since I just started reading A Thousand Splendid Suns (granted it's been on my bookshelf for a year).
New York Times #1 bestselling author, and a local author and physician Khaled Hosseini, is speaking at an event to raise funds for a Trust in Education. The evens features a discussion with Hosseini, who wrote the Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. I heard him speak a few years ago on his books, and he was a pleasure to listen to.
The event is a benefit for a Trust in Education, a grass roots,non-profit organization founded in 2003 to provide healthcare, education and economic developmentprograms in Afghanistan.
If your kids are old enough to read the books (high school, maybe even younger), this would be a great chance for them to connect what they've read with the person writing it.
When: January 23, 2009 from 7:30-9:00
Where: Smithwick Theater at Foothill College (12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos)
Cost: $15 for students, $25 for reserved seating, $50 for priority seats and pre-registration event reception with Dr. Hosseini from 6:00-7:00 (with Afghan hors d’oeuvres).
Tickets: Get them through Trust in Education or Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park. Or call TIE at (925) 283-8057 or call Kepler's Books at (650) 324-4321 (or better yet, visit them at 1010 El Camino Road, Menlo Park)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Fluid Entertainment is looking for kids to test their new eco-themed online game, Emerald Island. They’re paying kids $10.
Who: Kids age 8-12
What: One hour workshops of playtime and sharing feedback with the team behind the game
When: Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 3 pm and 4 pm
Where: The Fluid Entertainment offices are in downtown Mill Valley - across from the Greenwood school at 16 Buena Vista Ave Mill Valley 94941
How often: Just once although they may invite the testers back in for follow up testing
How to get started: email Sarah West: firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for a workshop
Can friends come? They encourage friends to come together, but ALL children must but be scheduled for workshops in advance. They can host up to 4 kids at each workshop.
Monday, January 12, 2009
But in the age of Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace, social networking is more important than ever, so I joined CityMommy, a San Francisco Bay Area site with message boards, directories, neighborhood groups, events and more (it's free to join). I check in daily for gossip (like Ben and Jen had a girl!), for event info, debates and news affecting families.
I know they have some competition, like Bay Area Mama, Mamasource, Moms Like Me.
What groups do you belong to? What do you love about them?
Saturday, January 10, 2009
In my vast amounts of spare time, between writing, raising the kids, and making meals, I dissect tomes like War and Peace and The Fountainhead. And if I still have spare time, I translate the Odyssey from its original Greek (I’m kidding, since I can’t even spell it in English and had to look it up online).
Once in a great awhile, I change from my intellectual ways and read chick lit. And of course I want to share my reviews with you. War and Peace – it already has Cliff’s Notes and scholarly research. It doesn’t need me.
While I was in New York a few months ago, I was digging through the stacks and stacks of books at the Strand and I randomly happened upon The Ivy Chronicles by Karen Quinn. Very random because a few days after buying it (it was literally shoved into one of dozens of massive bookshelves with only the spines showing), I saw a review of it in People. (No, I don’t subscribe to People. My friend’s cat Lolita does. It gets passed down to me after my friend, her husband, their babysitter and of course, the cat, reads it).
In another moment of massive coincidence, I also just happened to read a San Francisco Magazine story on getting into kindergarten in San Francisco. You see I’m usually months and months behind in my magazines. But for some reason I flipped through the magazine when it arrived, and out popped this story. It centers on Amy Graff, a San Francisco mom and fellow magazine and blog writer who actually gets PAID to write her blog posts (please please click on my ads!).
Reading this story made me realize how lucky I am to live in a suburb with good public schools. Okay, lucky isn’t the right word, since our move to a suburb with good public schools was intentional. I wasn’t aware of Amy’s K files blog until this magazine story appeared. I never had to go through the angst of evaluating dozens of San Francisco public schools and then ranking them, hoping to get one of my top seven choices. I didn’t have to apply to unaffordable private schools to ensure my children got a quality education.
And now you’re wondering whether I mislabeled my blog title, reviewing The Ivy Chronicles, which you don’t even know yet, is about getting children into private kindergartens in Manhattan. I find this all fascinating since my youngest entered kindergarten this year.
All I did was pick up the forms on the first day of registration, and then turn them in a few days later. Granted, friends at the popular Baywood School in San Mateo had to wait in line for days…in the rain. I didn’t feel too sorry for them, since their houses are worth more than mine.
The Ivy Chronicles is an over-the-top book, none too subtle with the names. The protagonist, Ivy, is a private admissions consultant trying to get Manhattan’s finest into the “baby Ivies” (if you’re dense, these are top notch private schools that give your child a better chance to go to the college Ivies). This cracks me up, since I went to an Ivy League school, and was clueless about the process of getting in during high school, let alone in preschool where I stuffed bugs up my nose and my parents thought I’d be lucky to make it through high school. Of course the main reason I got in was because I was geographically desirable (i.e.from Arizona).
So Ivy is married to Cadmon (Cad for short), who like his name, is a lying, cheating ass (I hope I didn’t spoil the book for you). When we start the book, they live the $2 million yearly salary high life in NYC that few of us will ever understand, let alone experience (damn!). And then she gets canned and her life falls apart. THIS we can relate to.
She musters her resources and becomes a kindergarten admissions counselor to mostly rich and jaw-droppingly odd characters. Hilarity ensues. I’m serious. This book is laugh out loud funny, and you can’t help but like Ivy. She’s fun and she’s real (except for her rich days, when her kids had $22,000 birthday parties at FAO Schwartz. Our last one was at Chuck E. Cheese. And I thought THAT was expensive.)
So I’m now in search of Karen’s two other books, one with the awesome title Wife in the Fast Lane. How can you not want to buy a book with that title?
As for me, I'll be the wife in the carpool lane.
Friday, January 9, 2009
-California Academy of Science
-Asian Art Museum
-Cable Car Museum
-Chinatown Alleyway Tours
-Golden Gate Park Carousel
-Museum of the Africa Diaspora
-Tree Frog Trek
-San Francisco Zoo
-S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien
Plus…kids ride Muni and the Culture Bus for free (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
What: Family Appreciation Day
When: Sunday, January 11, 2009
Cost: Free (with SF proof of residency)
Thursday, January 8, 2009
What: Big Kids/Little Kids tour at DeYoung Museum
When: Saturday, January 10, 2009 from 10:30 to noon
Where: DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park, SF
Cost: Free for kids, $10 for adults
Monday, January 5, 2009
I got a lot of interest when I posted about mystery shopping. And I frequently get peppered with questions from friends about getting paid to participate in focus groups and usability studies.
So - here's one for you. I do usabilty studies for a software company that's looking for more guinea pigs. This company uses people like me to try out new products, and I’ve provided oh-so-valuable insight in exchange for oh-so-valuable cash (or rather, AmEx gift certificates plus free software sometimes). You sit in a room with their researcher, who shows you screen shots of a new or revised product. Then you tell them how you would use it, what you think the links do, and whether it's intuitive. Basically, you give your opinion for a fee. And there is no right answer.
I vouch for them, having done several myself. The studies are one-on-one (one reasearcher and you, though they have a mirror where several other people watch what happens), and it usually take place in their office. Occasionally, though, they come to your house (but don't drink your coffee when offered).
Pay is around $150-200 for 90 minutes.
They're recruiting for usability studies and focus groups in the San Francisco Bay Area, Tucson, Boston, San Diego, Plano and some other USA and Canadian cities as well.
I'm happy to refer you to them if you're interested. If so, please comment below with the requested info, or email me (email@example.com) with the requested info, and I'll forward it to them.
They’ll call you or email you to see if qualify for a particular study. You may have to fill out more info and send it back.
Disclosure: I will not use your information for anything else (if you email it to me, I will delete it from my email once you're referred). Also, I get a $15 gift card if you do a study through this referral.
Here's what I need (post a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Your name (REQUIRED):
Daytime phone (REQUIRED):
Methods for tracking personal finances:
E.g. Quicken, MS Money, Excel, pen and paper, etc.
Methods for tracking business finances:
E.g. Quicken, MS Money, Excel, pen and paper, QuickBooks, an accountant, Peachtree, ADP, etc.
Location (Bay Area, San Diego, Tucson, Plano, Boston, other (please list))
Sunday, January 4, 2009
To register for the Family Activity Day, call (415) 227 4888 x 10.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I looked online, and the recipe I found is pretty close to simple syrup, which I use to make a fabulous lemon drop (handy, since I usually need at the end of our home craft projects).
So we did it again. Or rather I did it again when the kids were at school (I had to save face, you know). But in honesty, I made all the mistake so you wouldn’t have to. Nice of me, huh?
Boil the water and dissolve the sugar in it. Let it cool a little and color it with food coloring, if you want, after you’ve poured it into glass jars. Wrap a piece of string around a pencil, and weight the end of the string down with something like a screw (wash it first). The recipe I saw called for dipping the string into the solution and letting it dry for a day or two, to help “seed” the string so crystals will grow faster.
Do not let the screw touch the bottom, or you will have to ram a knife down there to break it apart, like I did. Perhaps you can start with a taller jar. But it should be wide enough to get the crystals out.