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Friday, June 29, 2012

Coming Up: What to do on July 4 in the Bay Area - 2012

Palo Alto Summer Festival & Chili Cook-off
Live music, line dancing, food vendors and kids' activities, you can plan an afternoon of fun. Free admission, and a nominal fee for "tasting kits" for the cook-off. The festival runs noon to 5 p.m., with the chili tastings starting at 1:30 p.m. Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive

When I lived in Mountain View, I lived on Shoreline Blvd, and could watch the July 4 fireworks from the front steps. Granted, I couldn't hear the San Francisco Symphony playing at the same time, but I had a newborn, so it was okay. But now I'd love to go in person. The Symphony plays each July 4. You can get tickets here.

Pier 39 in San Francisco 
Head to the wharf for the fourth. Festivities run from around 2 to 11, with fireworks starting at 9:30 p.m. Otherwise, there's free live music and street performers.

The Fillmore Jazz Festival runs July 7-8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy in SF. Three stages feature jazz groups, plus you'll find cooking demonstrations and art vendors. Plus food!

Marin County Fair - what's more American than the Preservation Jazz Hall Band? Hear them at the Marin County Fair on July 4th (the Temptations play that day too). The fair runs June 30-July 4.  Enjoy pig races, a lion dance, learn how to grow healthy vegetables (kids will love that one), Kenya safari acrobats, mule driving, goat milking, pie contest, Hawaiian music and fireworks (they have fireworks nightly). And it's one price includes all (except food) - it even includes rides and concerts. $16 for adults, $14 for kids 12 and under.

Gilroy Gardens - If you or someone you know is (or was) in the military, that person can get in free June 30-July 4th at Gilroy Gardens. Plus up to 6 people with that special person will pay only $22 admission. If you go on June 30 - July 4th, Gilroy Gardens is hosting a Independence Day BBQ (separate cost).

Foster City Fireworks - bring a picnic and watch the firework display over the lagoon at Leo Ryan Park. The party goes on all day.

Redwood City Parade - this parade is more than 70 years old! And it's perfect for families with young kids who wake up early. The festival starts at 9 a.m., the parade at 10 a.m. Lots of family-friendly activities. The festival runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. so even if you miss the parade, you can still roll out of bed and make it to the festival.

Great America - fireworks on June 30 and July 1. 

Here are 4th of July events listed at, Red Tricycle and San

Monday, June 25, 2012

Coming Up: Ghirardelli Kids Bash

Kick off summer with KidsBash at Ghirardelli Square. It's sponsored in part by Peekadoodle Kids Club and Plum Organics. They'll have a bounce house, rock wall, visit from firemen, face painting, train rides, live music, Hello Kitty visit, and more.

Where: Ghirardelli Square
When: Saturday, June 30 from 11-3
Age: Games/activities for kids 10 and under
Cost: Free, but games/activities are $20/kid. Get tickets here.  (See discount ticket below). It's only $15 if you make a $10 donation to Help a Mother Out. You'll get a discount code emailed to you after making the donation.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

More Summer Camps

School ended. Are the kids driving you nuts yet? Here are some last minute camps to consider:

Summer Theater Conservancy with Pied Piper Players
June 25-July 14 - Charlotte's Web (San Mateo)
July 16-August 4 - Once on this Island
Registration here.

San Francisco Art Institute's Young Artists Program
July 30-August 10
intensive art program for ages 13-15, with various art classes, open mike sessions, and lots of socializing

Act today - there are summer camp deals at Plum District, including:
Shan Yee Poon Ballet School Camp - 50% off:
SF- Plum Steal: 50% off Summer Camps and Summer Semester Dance Programs at Shan-Yee Poon Ballet School

Plantation Farm Camp - 50% off

SF-Plum Steal: $2,200 for Plantation Farm Camp (Three and a Half Weeks!) - a $4400 Value

and Gymnastics camp

SF- $25-$113 for Gymnastics Open-Play, Weekly Classes and Summer Camp - up to a $225 Value

Friday, June 22, 2012

Coming Up: FroYo for $1 in Burlingame

Yogurtland has a promotion this weekend where you can fill your 4 oz. yogurt cup as high as you want, for only $1. You can purchase up to two cups and also enter to win a $100 gift card as well.

When: June 23 & 24 from noon to 4 p.m.
Where: Yogurtland in Burlingame (225 Primrose Avenue)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Coming Up: Aquanfest in San Mateo

This event posting is sponsored by Spotivate, a website that's creating an activity discovering experience for parents by providing a feed of hyper-local, highly curated, and highly personalized activity suggestions. It's a beautiful website you should check out (read more about the integrated/interactive iPad features coming soon from this well-received start-up at Betakit), and you can sign up for the weekly Spotivate newsletter featuring hand-picked events for the San Francisco or San Jose area. Sign up for the San Jose newsletter here, and the San Francisco one here.

43 Vyssi Brod 13.8.07 Kids in front 1

Aquanfest in San Mateo is the Bay Area's largest paddlefest/adventure sport green fair. Fair admission is free, but there's a fee if you want to participate in the clinics and demonstrations. Clinics/demos include kayaking with kids, stand up paddle, intro to kayak, stroking and kayak fishing. You can see the schedule here. The fair features environmental groups, and there's a BBQ to benefit the Burn Foundation, held by the San Mateo County Firefighters.

Where: Parkside Aquatics Park in San Mateo (100 Seal Court)
When: Saturday-Sunday, June 22-23, 2012 from 10-4
Cost: Fair admission is free. A superpass is $10/person, $25/family.

Photo by Donald Judge/Flickr

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Link Love - What I'm Reading Now

Some links I've been reading lately:

Thank you Red Tricycle for including Frisco Kids on their list of Best Family Travel Blogs. We're in good company, with some other wonderful blogs and websites you should check out.

Sweet baked treats in Dolores Park, thanks to A Little Yumminess.

Fun ways to pose for a family photo by Apartment Therapy.

I'm always trying to figure out how to squeeze more hours into the day and how to be present with my kids while also getting my things done. I loved reading Emma Johnson's account of her time makeover with author Laura Vanderkam, of 168 Hours and What Most Successful People do Before Breakfast.

Have you had a horrible airline experience with your kids? Read this one from Have Sippy will Travel about a mom and her 4 year old who were delayed three days due to overbooking etc.

Are you selling a house this summer? Here are some staging ideas (and beautiful pictures to drool over). It's from my new favorite home site, Houzz.

More info on why popcorn is really good for you.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Get 'Yer Tickets: SF Symphony Music for the Family and Pixar Concert (Special Discount Code)

The San Francisco Symphony's Music For the Family series is a great way to introduce the kids to "kid size classical concerts." Plus, the Pixar in Concert symphony is not only a world premier, it's combined with movie clips - also great for the family.

Get adult tickets for both shows at 50% off - details below.

For the Music for the Family series (it's great - we've been) - you'll get a free concert guide that the kids can read at home - don't worry, they're fun. The concerts are recommended for ages 7+. Kids tickets (ages 17 and under) are half price. The concert is about 90 minutes.

Music for Families season finale is on July 1 - titled "Musical Mavericks" and features:

Biber  Battalia
Haydn  Prestissimo—Finale from Symphony No. 60 in C major, Il DistrattoThe Absent-Minded One
Beethoven  Allegro con brio from Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Opus 67
Wagner  Overture to The Flying Dutchman
Stravinsky  Russian Dance from Petrushka
Ives (orch. Schuman) Variations on America
Christopher Rouse  Infernal Machine
Philip Glass  Movement I from Symphony No. 3
Mason Bates  Warehouse Medicine from The B-Sides  for Electronica and Orchestra

WHEN: Sunday July 1, 2012 at 2 p.m.
WHERE: Davies Symphony Hall, SF
TICKETS: Use promo code SFSKidFriendly50 for adult tickets. Tickets for kids 17 and under are already 50% off - this discount code will not work for kid tickets. Offer is valid in all sections except Loge, Side Box, and Center Terrace. Discount cannot be combined with any other offers. Not valid on previously purchased tickets.  Other restrictions may apply. Subject to availability.

Pixar in Concert - July 28 and 29

From the Toy Story trilogy to The Incredibles and UP, Pixar movies are a favorite of all ages. For the first time ever, the San Francisco Symphony presents the world premiere of Pixar in Concert, with visually stunning clips and memorable scores from each of Pixar's movies, including their latest release, Brave, performed live by the Symphony. Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter will introduce the program from the stage on  July 28, and Director Pete Docter will introduce the program on July 29.

The program will feature 5-7 minute selections from the individual scores of all of Pixar's films, accompanied by specially edited visual sequences from each one.

WHEN: Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 29 at 2 p.m.
WHERE: Davies Symphony Hall, SF
TICKETS: Use promo code SFSKidFriendly50 for adult tickets. Tickets for kids 17 and under are already 50% off - this discount code will not work for kid tickets. Offer is valid in all sections except Loge, Side Box, and Center Terrace. Discount cannot be combined with any other offers. Not valid on previously purchased tickets.  Other restrictions may apply. Subject to availability.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Get 'Yer Tickets: Olympic Gymnastics Tryouts

Can't make it to London? Watch the tryouts for the U.S. Olympic Gymnastic Team - right in San Jose.

When: June 26-July 1, 2012
Where:  HP Pavilion - San Jose; San Jose McEnry Convention Center
Tickets: Get them here. Buy a 1 or 2 day package. It's not cheap. The cheapest ticket I saw was $70 (upper level, 1 day), but it's less expensive than going to the Olympics!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dedicated Post: UK with the Kids: Summer in Edinburgh

When you really want a sense of summer escape, whisking the children off to Edinburgh over the summer holidays will feel a million miles away from home.

Bargain hotelsin Edinburgh from Travelodge ensure you can spend longer in the city to make the most of your stay and visit an array of local attractions.

Edinburgh is unlike anywhere else in the UK - a break here is a cultural experience with all the elements of an extraordinary summer stint.

Educate the kids on the history of the area visiting sites such as Edinburgh Castle and lesser-known, medieval Craigmillar Castle.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sail Boat and Beach Cake

Yesterday you saw my personal cake wreck, the sand castle cake. This cake was Plan B, and much simpler. For this cake, Zack wanted a sail boat cake and beach. I wrapped a board with tin foil, and covered half of it with white frosting. After grounding up graham crackers in the food processor, I spread them out on the frosting. The little sand castles are mini Bundt cakes, drizzled with microwaved frosting and rolled in the graham cracker crumbs. My kids thought they looked more like sand hills rather than sand castles. Whatever.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Coming Up: Brady Bunch Quote and Singalong

How fun is this? The Brady Bunch Quote and Singalong at the Retrodome this weekend. "When it's time to change - it's time to rearrange...who we are and what we're gonna do. Shalallalalall..." It's a good thing you can't hear me singing right now!

When: June 15-17
Friday - 7:30
Saturday - 7:30 and 10
Sunday - 2:30

Where: Retrodome (San Jose)
Cost: $15
Ages: The movie is PG-13 and 90 minutes. Use your discretion.

What to do on Father's Day in the Bay Area - 2012

Looking for things to do in the San Francisco Bay Area this Father's Day? Here's a list:

Roaring Camp - Steam trains from the forest to the Santa Cruz beach (or around the mountains), live country music, BBQ, handcar races, free engineer's hats for dad and hiking.

Michael's Arts & Crafts has a number of father's day craft activities:
June 15 - make a duct tape wallet (6-8 pm) - free

June 16 - t-shirt/tie make it - take it (10-3) - free with purchase of t-shirt or tie

Arrrgghhhh! Talk like a pirate at the Northern California Pirate Festival in Vallejo next Saturday and Sunday.

San Mateo County Fair - Father's Day is the last day!

Visit a museum.
-California Academy of Sciences - Check out their new earthquake exhibit.
-Family Sunday at SFMOMA 11-3 with a family tour at 1:00 - kids get in free. 
-Drop-in art at the Jewish Contemporary Museum from 1-3. You'll make 3-D story cubes

USS Hornet -meet WWII vets and hear their stories.

Chabot Space Center - BBQ and Solar Car Challenge (I assume it's happening - the date on the website is from last year)

North Beach Festival - Saturday and Sunday from 10-6

Hidden Villa -  Banana Slug Band. On Father's Day. Or go the day before and make ice cream with the kids!

Juneteenth Festival in SF- lectures, family art activity, workshops and performances - June 17 from noon to 5. Free

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sand Castle Cake Disaster - My Own Cake Wreck

I make cakes for my kids' birthdays. Usually they turn out really well. Like this caterpillar cake, the racetrack cake, the aquarium fish cake, the Cars movie cake, and the princess castle cake and flower cupcakes. I've never had to dump a cake and start over.

Until now.

My son wanted a sand castle cake. How hard could that be? Especially when I borrowed a castle mold. All I'd have to do is frost it and cover it with graham cracker crumbs.

Okay, where I went wrong.

1. I did not use an entire tub of Crisco inside the cake mold. I sprayed it with oil. This is how it came out. You can see the front left tower has a chunk missing from it. And the back right tower separated from the back wall. Icing would not hold it together. And washing the cake pan took me half an hour (plus dishwasher time).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Historables - Check it Out

I don't post much (okay at all) on apps, but I do want to point this one out - Historables. It's almost ready to launch, and the creators are seeking comments, suggestions (and yes, a few dollars) before it launches. Watch the video below about a few of the characters, Marie Ant-toinette, Teddy Bear Roosevelt, Spaniel Boone and Lionardo Da Vinci. Using music, humor and very cute characters, this app is aimed at the 3-6 year old crowd and is fun AND educational (yes, my kids and I tried it out - they were giggling and fighting over the mouse). Historables is seeking grass-roots funding ($1 or more) for this advertising-free app.

I just become a small-time backer. I do know the creators, and I'm posting this here because I trust them and have been hearing about its development for awhile now. After watching the video, head over to the website to learn more about it, make comments and support the efforts if interested. The app will be for both iPad and Android. You can try some of the games online at

Friday, June 8, 2012

Coming Up: San Mateo County Fair

The San Mateo County Fair is EARLY this year - usually it's in August. This year it's June 9-17th.

Enjoy livestock weigh-ins, music competitions, learn to crochet, pig races, penny boats, turkey judging, entertainment (hypnotists!), treasure hunts, Guittard chocolate obsession, demos (solar cooking!), crafts, lectures, puzzle contests, and don't forget rides and games. See the schedule here.

And don't forget - June 11 is kids' day (kids 12 and under get in free). Bring new clothes to donate to foster kids, and get half off .

June 9 - Pointer Sisters

June 10 - Foghat
June 11 - Boys II Men
June 13-14 - Tower of Power
June 15 - Evolution (Journey tribute band)

June 16 - Night Ranger
and more

WhatSan Mateo County Fair
When: June 9-17 - opens at 11 or noon daily, open til 10 p.m.
Cost: Adults $10; Kids (5-12) $8. Kids 5 and under - free. Parking is $8

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Coming Up: Israel in the Gardens

This family-friendly event is a great time! Join up to 20,000 people to celebrate Israel's culture and heritage at Israel in the Gardens at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. Free crafts, music and booths, plus food for sale and arts to browse. The weekend forecast looks gorgeous - sunny and 70s. 

The party is from 11 to 5. Take public transit so you don't have to deal with parking!

Coming Up: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

Okay, I'm not expecting you to actually particpate in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon (though I'm sure there are a few parents out there who do). But you can take the kids to see the excitement - and for a free Fitness Festival & Expo that weekend too.

You'll see 2,000 triatheletes swim 1.5 miles from Alcatraz to the shore, an 18 mile bike race and an 8 mile run through the Golden Gate Recreation Area.

The Fitness Festival & Expo takes place on Marina Green, Saturday, June 9 starting at 11.

The race itself starts at 7:30 a.m. on June 10 with the swim portion. You'll want to be at Marina Green - it's where the athletes start and end the swim, the staging area for the other portions, and the finish line.

This is the triathlon's 32nd anniversary.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Coming Up: World Oceans Day

June 8 is World Oceans Day, a day to celebrate our oceans. Tons of activities happening from June 7-9. I only listed one here, but many Bay Area organizations are hosting events, including the California Academy of Sciences, Seymour Marine Center in Santa Cruz, Aquarium of the Bay in SF and more. Plus there are beach clean-ups and sand-castle building contests (East Bay Regional Parks) great for kids. See a full list here.

World Oceans Day at Marine Science Institute - this Redwood City organization is offering 2 hour bay voyages on Saturday. Sign up in advance (fee). Inside they're hosting an open house for their summer marine camp in Redwood City from 1-5.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Molecular Mixology - Cuba Libre

If you remember my last attempt at making a molecular mixology drink, I tried the screwdriver and the mojito.  Well I had to try another. This time it's the Cuba Libre, otherwise known as a rum and Coke.

This drink called for rum, Coke (duh!), three different sachets of chemicals, sugar and water. Here's the recipe.

I used the immersion blender to mix up the coke and one of the sachets (sodium alginate), and let it sit for an hour. I mixed another sachet (xanthan gum) with sugar, water and rum and mixed with the immersion blender. This went into the refrigerator for an hour.

When our guinea pigs guests arrived, I brought everything out to make it in front of them. A little scary since I didn't want to look like an idiot. Especially since our guests were all scientists - and I'm not. The rum mixture goes into shot glasses, which I didn't have enough of, so I improvised. The rum liquid was cloudy and kind of gelatinous.

Using the provided plastic pipette (aka eye dropper), we dropped the Coke liquid into a prepared bath of water and calcium lactate. The balls formed quickly like tapioca. Removing them with the slotted spoon provided was time consuming, especially with 5 sets of eyes watching me. My daughter manned the pipette while I did the scooping. Hubby figured that a strainer would be more efficient, and as usual, he was right.

The result? Better than the first two drinks. But still a little too alcoholic tasting for my taste. Maybe if I used a better brand of rum...

The Coke "caviar" was interesting, but less intense than I'd hoped. We tried some of the balls on their own. After a few sips, I gave up on my drink, though two of the guests had seconds. So it didn't go to waste, but I won't be making it again.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Camping with Kids in the Bay Area

It's almost time to go camping! I thought I'd do a round-up of things to think about when camping with kids.

Here's a great post on what to make for breakfast while camping, from our friend at a Frog Mom in California. She has a book out on Best Hikes with Kids in the San Francisco area.

Some great Bay Area campgrounds for families.

The basics on camping with kids.

Rob Hill Campground in the Presidio

If you need to convince your kids about how fun camping is, check out these Chipper items - my kids are still singing one of the Chipper songs, several years after they listened to the CD and watched the video.

Free National Park Entrance Days - June 9, September 29, November 10-12. Check out which parks are included.