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Monday, January 31, 2011

Coming Up: Sarah Rose talks about For All the Tea In China

Adult night out! Hear Sarah Rose talking about her book, For all the Tea in China, a fascinating (true) tale about how the British stole tea plants and tea-making secrets from China in the 1800s. I did a mini book review on it last year.

The talk is sponsored by the Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley, the Harvard Club of Silicon Valley, Hadassah, Beth Am Congregation and the Oshman Family JCC.

When: Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 7 p.m.
Where: Oshman Family JCC (3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto)
Info/tickets: 650-233-8664
Cost: $12 (members), $17/nonmembers in advance, $22 at the door (includes TEA and refreshments)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Coming Up: Octopretzel in Concert

You gotta love the name Octopretzel. And an appropriate name it is for a performing group for kids. Original music, puppets, different cultures and more.

See them live at Play Cafe in Oakland, on February 4th, 2011 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $7/person.

Where: 4400 Keller Ave, Oakland
When: Friday, 2/4/11 at 6 p.m.
Cost: $7

Friday, January 28, 2011

Coming Up: Snow Day at Habitot

If you haven't yet made it to Tahoe, take the kids to the Berkeley. Habitot is bringing the snow (theme) to you, from 9:30-4:30 this Sunday, January 30th. You can throw snowballs in the wind tunnel, make snow in the art studio, built an igloo and hug a polar bear.

Cost: free with admission ($9)
Where: Habitot is at 2065 Kittridge Street, Berkeley
When: Sunday, January 30, from 9:30-4:30

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Coming Up: Summer Camp Fair in SF

If you want to get a lot of information about summer camps, in one spot, head over to the Summer Camp Fair in SF. More than 50 camps will be represented, and they'll raffle off three $100 camp scholarships. Some of the camp programs allow kids as young as three.

When: Saturday, February 5th, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: French American International School, 150 Oak Street, SF
Cost: Free

Deals of the Day: Parents Magazine, Oakland Aviation Museum, $2 restaurant cards

Mamapedia is offering $5 one year subscriptions (or $8 for 2 years) for the next five days (through Feb 1). New subscriptions or renewals. You can also purchase it as a gift. Magazine starts arriving in 4-6 weeks. Get the deal here. If you're new to Mamapedia, use the code PARENTS1YR and get $1 off the one year subscription (total: $4), or use the code PARENTS2YR to get $2 off the two year sub (total: $6).

Get a family 4-pack of tickets to this East Bay aviation museum for $18 through today at Mamapedia. Good for any adult/kid combo, and you can buy two sets. Tickets expire July 27, 2011.

Through January 31, get $25 restaurant certificates for $2 at Use code MEAL during checkout. Certificates no longer have an expiration date.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chinese New Year in SF Bay Area with Kids

What: Chinese New Year Parade
When: Saturday, February 19, starting at Market/2nd Street at 5:15 p.m. The parade lasts 2.5 hours
Where: Get the Chinese New Year route map here. It starts on Market/2nd, turns up Geary, right onto Powell, and right again onto Post, then left on Kearny, ending near Columbus.
For more information

What: The Year of the Rabbit Celebration
Where: Asian Art Museum in SF
When: Saturday, Feburary 5, 1-4 p.m.
Hear author Oliver Chin read The Year of the Rabbit, the newest book from his Tales from the Chinese Zodiac series. Then screen print a reusable tote bag with an image from the book or make a button with the rabbit's image.
Cost: Free with museum admission

When: Sunday, February 6 from 12-4
What: Watch the Lion Dance, performed by Chinese American International School dancers from 12-12:45. Listen to Lunar New Year stories from 1-1:45. Do hands-on activities from 1-4.
Where: Asian Art Museum in SF
Cost: Free, thanks to Target First Free Sunday program

What: Chinese Lion Dancers
When: January 22 and January 29
Where: San Francisco libraries - see schedule here
Cost: Free

For a few more ideas, including dim sum and the Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt, click here. For a list of events in San Francisco's Chinatown, click here.


What: Chinese New Year Celebration
When: Sunday, February 6 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Foster City Recreation Center (610 Foster City Blvd.)
Cost: free
Themed "temple fair", there will be a Chinese American recreation of a traditional village street fair, with decorations, dancing, acrobatic performances, traditional tea ceremony, martial arts, crafts (try calligraphy, Chinese knot-tying, paper cutting, clay figure making, paper folding)

What: Chinese New Year Story Time
When: Wednesday, February 2 at 7 p.m.
Who: Children's author Oliver Chin will read from The Year of the Rabbit
Cost: Free
Where: Foster City library (1000 E. Hillsdale Ave., Foster City)

What: Chinese New Year Celebration (traditional Chinese dance, calligraphy demonstrations, hands-on crafts,
When: Sunday, January 30 from 2-4 p.m.
Where: Castro Valley library (3600 Norbridge Ave.)
Cost: free

What: Chinese New Year Celebration (crafts, martial arts, Lion dance, music, story telling)
When: Saturday, February 12 from 1-4 p.m.
Where: Fremont library (2400 Stevenson Blvd., Fremont)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The perfect house

Growing up, I had a dollhouse that was a Victorian. Which was appropriate given that I later moved to San Francisco.

Now check out THIS dollhouse. This is the one I want as an adult.

Here's the kiddie version.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sponsored Post: Australia with Kids

Paige Greens writes for quickbeds.

If you're looking for a great kid-friendly destination overseas, you can't go wrong with a trip down under. Australia is a true family haven with plenty of natural wonders to explore and great entertainment options for any age. If you're planning a visit for your brood, here are some of the must see and do items on any family itinerary:

-          Sydney - this is a city that was made for kids! Catch a ferry to the famous Taronga Zoo where you can visit the newborn baby animals, born this year. There are plenty of beaches to visit and the nearby Blue Mountains are a great place to go bush walking and let the kids enjoy a bit of nature. Plus there are plenty of family-friendly events year-round, so check the local paper for great ideas for your stay.

-          Melbourne - while this trendy fashion capital is known for its shopping and dining establishments, there's also plenty to offer when it comes to the kids. In addition to the Royal Melbourne Zoo, kids will love the Surf World Surf Museum to learn about all things surfing. Hire a bike and enjoy the tranquillity of a day spent cycling idly along the Yarra River. And of course, no visit to Melbourne is complete without a visit to Phillip Island to see the amazing Penguin Parade.

-          The Outback - when it comes to experiences that are uniquely Australian, few match up to the great Outback, where kids and adults alike can get in touch with nature. Learn more about the Aborigines and hear their colorful stories about their native land. Consider a station or farm stay for your family and learn what it's like to be a cattle or sheep farmer in the harsh climate. Or try your hand at fossicking for opals or panning for gold - definite fun for everyone - with a bit of history thrown in.

-          The Great Barrier Reef - this is bar none one of the most idyllic natural attractions in the world. Take the kids snorkelling in this amazing marine habitat or enjoy any number of aquatic activities including kayaking, sailing or just spending a great day at the beach. Stay in the area or head north and stay in Townsville accommodation or even Cairns.

If you're looking for family-friendly accommodation, self-contained apartments are a great idea. They offer you all the conveniences of home so you can prepare meals for even the fussiest eaters. Tip: Australia's school holidays are from December to February, so if you're planning on travelling during this time, book early for the best hotel deals and cheap accommodation options. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pinewood Derby cars - how far do you go?

So these were our Cub Scout Pinewood Derby cars last year. Can you tell the kids decorated them by themselves?

This was the competition:

So I took special interest that Michael's Arts and Crafts is now selling Pinewood Derby decoration kits and decals. On second thought, nahhhhh. My kids LOVE their cars.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Get 'Yer Tickets - Holes

Foster City's Hillbarn Theater is producing the family-friendly show Holes. We recently got the book at home, and can't wait to read it, because it's written by one of our favorite authors, Louis Sachar. He wrote Sideways Stories from the Wayside School among others. They're brilliantly funny for both adults and kids.

Holes is a "modern grown-up fairy tale" featuring Stanley Yelnats (you'll notice that his name is the same backwards and forwards). The story involves a family curse and Camp Green Lake. The book was turned into a movie, and now a play, so it's got to be good!

When: January 27 - February 13, 2011
Where: Hillbarn Theater (1285 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City)
Cost: $10 youth (17 and under), $30/adults (all the seats are good - it's a small theater)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Preschool Open Houses - South Bay on Saturday

This weekend there are two preschool open house events open to the public, in the South Bay.

WhatLas Madres Education Fair - Attendee Registration
When: Saturday, January 22, 2011, 9-5
Where: Scottish Rite Center (2455 Masonic Drive, San Jose)
Contact: Shilpi Agarwal,
Open to the public

What: Open House - Los Altos Parent Preschool
When: Saturday, January 22, from 10-1
Where: Los Altos Parent Preschool (199 Almond Ave, Los Altos)

Meet the teachers, talk to currently enrolled parents, and bring your kids to come and play. They are accepting applications for fall 2011 classes: Young 3's, 3s and 4s, and Pre-K. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Coming Up: Winterfest at CuriOdyssey (formerly Coyote Point)

Celebrate Winterfest at CuriOdyssey this Saturday. You can play with prisms and lights, create ice cube art, build structures from newspaper, and check out the renovated animal habitats. You will know CuriOdyssey as the former Coyote Point Museum. They changed the name!

When: Saturday, January 22nd, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: CuriOdyssey
Cost: Winterfest is free with museum admission ($8/adults, $4/children)

Coming Up: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap

If you're feeling too busy, maybe you should take some time in your schedule to attend this speaker event.

Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap - with Edward (Ned) Hallowell, MD.

Hallowell has written several books with similar titles (like CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap! Strategies for Handling Your Fast-Paced Life).

He'll be speaking at three locations/dates:
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 from 9-11 a.m.
The Nueva School (6565 Skyline Blvd., Hillsborough)

Wednesday, January 26 from 7-9 p.m.
Harker Upper School (500 Saratoga Avenue, San Jose)

Thursday, January 27 from 7-9 p.m.
Homer Science and Student Life Center
Sacred Heart Prep (150 Valparaiso, Atherton)

Tickets are $20 each at the door. This is part of the Common Ground Speaker Series.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What to do MLK weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area

Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and celebration comes up this weekend. Learn more about his life and how you can teach your kids his values, with resources from the Bay Area Discovery Museum's site. Monday is also a day of service, so do something with your kids to help them give back to the community.

The Yerba Buena area has a lot planned! See the full MLK calendar here. In addition to museum events, there's a children's reading festival all day January 17th, a march/parade starting at 11 a.m., and a Mind, Body & Soul Festival. Here's info on the museums:

Museum of the Africa Diaspora (MOAD) has a family day on Saturday, January 15th from noon to 4. You and the kids can create your own screenprints of Dr. King and jazz musicians. They're also screening the film King: Montgomery to Memphis. Free admission.

Also get in free to MOAD on Monday, January 17th. It's also the National Day of Service. At MOAD, you can take part in a number of programs, including hearing author Rose Watson talk about her book Purposeful Parenting: Strategies for Raising Children who Achieve.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum will be open, and free to the public on Monday, January 17th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can explore the exhibit "Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black Jewish Relations" and write your own "Poem from a Mountaintop" to take home, combining your own poetry with song lyrics.

This isn't a MLK event, but the Museum of Craft & Folk Art (MOCFA), also in the Yerba Buena area, has a family day on Saturday, January 15th from 11-1. As part of their Volver: Mexican Folk Art into Play exhibit, you can press animal designs into wet clay, for a personalized wall hanging. Admission/craft is $5.

Playland not-at-the-Beach is celebrating MLK's birthday all weekend, January 15-17, with games, special events and even learning - all weekend. Playland not-at-the-Beach is in El Cerrito. Fee applies.


The Bay Area Discovery Museum has a celebration on Monday, January 17th from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. You can create a self-portrait to add to their Freedom Bus, listen to a special story time, and learn from his quotes, posted around the museum. Their webpage also has ideas on how you can teach MLK's values to your kids.

It's free National Park entrance weekend January 15-17th at 100 National Parks. Get the full list here. If you don't want to go too far, you can try Yosemite, Muir Woods, Pinnacles or San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park

Friday, January 7, 2011

Coming Up: Story time with Elisa Kleven

If you haven't read Elisa Kleven's books, you're in for a treat. This Bay Area author and illustrator produces beautiful books for preschoolers, including her new one, Welcome Home, Mouse. She's written almost 30 books, including my favorites the Paper Princesss and the Apple Doll. And such beautiful illustrations in The City by the Bay: A Magical Journey Around San Francisco (by Tricia Brown).

Elisa will be reading from her new book on Sunday, January 9th at 11:30 a.m. at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park (1010 El Camino Real).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Coming Up: 7 Steps to Financial Mastery for Women - free seminar

Part of getting organized in the new year is organizing your finances. I've got my list of things to do to get ready for my annual financial review (which my hubby and I conduct on a date, over cocktails after hours spent sorting through bank statements, investment statements and pie charts). I'll help you kick-start your financial review by telling you about this free seminar!

What: 7 Steps to Financial Mastery For Women: Becoming Your Own Prince Charming
Presented by Emilie Goldman (based on the book Prince Charming Isn’t Coming, How Women Get Smart With Money by Barbara Stanny)

During this women-only interactive seminar, you will:
-Learn basic investing concepts
-Be inspired to take action with our 7-step process
-Create your own personalized action plan

When: Tuesday, January 11
6-8 p.m.

Where: Peninsula Jewish Community Center
800 Foster City Blvd.,  Foster City 

RSVP: online or by email at

Cost: Free, but suggested donation of $35 (you can bring a check to the workshop, payable to Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, a Bay Area non-profit that provides high-potential, lower-income women the training, resources and on-going support to start and grow their business.

Thank you to June at for the tip. She recommends the seminar (and has no affiliation with it).

Coming Up: Swap Baby/Kids items in Emeryville

The  nonprofit organization, peace. love. swap. is hosting a kids' swap this Sunday, January 9th. No, don't swap your kids. Swap their stuff. Clothes, high chairs. Strollers. Come and bring your stuff (clothes on hangers, except 0-18 month clothes). It's like a giant garage sale where everything is free! Bring/get stuff for ages 0-14, plus maternity clothes.

Anything not taken will be donated to charity afterwards.

Whatpeace. love. swap - see their website for more info and FAQ on how it works
Where: Head over Heels Gymnast
4701 Doyle Street, Building F, Emeryville (no parking in that lot - see website for parking info)
When: Sunday, January 9, 2011. Drop off between 11 a.m. & noon. The swap is 12:30 p.m. to 1:30.
Cost: $5 (free for volunteers) - plus your stuff. There's open play for the kids for $5.

Find Frisco Kids on Facebook!

Coming Up: Homemade dinner swap

If you want something new to eat at home, check out this food swap. You'll get to eat someone else's food for a change, while giving them some of yours. You cook once, and then get several meals in return.
Bring copies of your recipe, along with one meal (enough for two adults) and go home with more! Note: this SWAP is geared towards couples, though if your child/children are young and don't eat what you eat, it could be perfect.

When: Sunday, January 9, 4:30-5 pm
Where18 Reasons in SF

Cost: $5

And if you're looking for some good restaurant coupons, now is a good time to stock up on ones. Through Sunday, get a $25 restaurant gift certificate for $3 using the code "plate" at checkout. Click on the ad below. Get the coupons here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Win a free closet makeover

You must know that January is Get Organized month, as well as get fit and start on all those new year's resolutions and start watching Oprah's new OWN cable network. My resolution was to start blogging again and I did it! Sorry for the absence. It got crazy toward the end of the year with the holidays, kids off school, and travel.

But now I'm back. And I plan to clean up my office, which is a huge disaster. Especially since my printer died yesterday and I spent time buying a new one and getting it set up. It's wireless (woo hoo!) with printing, copying, scanning and I think faxing from my computer capabilities. All for $60 (thanks for the sale, Target!). Now my daughter can print her poems (like today's, titled "The Toilet is Clogged") remotely, from her bedroom.

All this talk, though, is a prelude to the cluttered closet makeover contest sponsored this month by the National Association of Professional Organizer's Bay Area Chapter (NAPO-SFBA, for short). The winner gets his/her closet transformed into an island of tranquility and pretty boxes, compliments of NAPO and $500 in a gift certifcate to the Closet Factory.

The total package is worth $2300 and includes 6 hours of the organizer team's service.

Sign me up! Here's how. Send a photo of your disasterous closet (like the one above, thanks to Apreche/Flickr) to, along with up to 500 words describing how pathetic your closet is. Send it by 8 p.m. on  January 17th, and include your name, address and phone number, and where you heard about the contest (no, I don't win anything if you tell them about Frisco Kids AND you win). You also agree to let them use before and after photos, and your first name and city. Winners are announced January 26th.

The Bay Area borders for winning are San Rafael (north), San Jose (south) and Concord (east). Your closet can't be deeper than six feet. If that's not enough rules, you can view them all here.

Maybe after the contest, your closet will look like this (and you'll thank me).

Thanks, Dansays/Flickr, for the photo!