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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Coming Up: Singalong Little Mermaid

Sing along with the Little Mermaid at the Retro Dome

Showtimes: Friday, November 1, at 7
Saturday, November 2, at 3 and 7
Sunday, November 3, at 3

Get tickets here.
Where: Century 21, San Jose

Coming Up: Bank of America Museums on Us - free

Bank of America's Museums on Us program runs this weekend, giving B of A cardholders and Merrill Lynch card holders (credit or debit) one free admission per card at participating museums. We've used this program and love it! It's this weekend, November 2-3 (some museums are only one day). The website won't let me give you an individual list of cities to click, so just check the main website and look for California in the pull-down menu. 

Participating museums in San Francisco and San Jose area:
·         The Tech Museum of Innovation
           The San Jose Museum of Art
·         Chabot Space & Science Center
·         Contemporary Jewish Museum
·         de Young Museum
·         Legion of Honor

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review: the New Exploratorium at Pier 15

We finally had a chance to visit the Exploratorium, which reopened in April, in its new location. Now at Pier 15, it's more convenient to other family attractions for both tourists and locals (unless you live in the Marina, in which case, it's further).

We started our day at Fisherman's Wharf, working our way along the water to Tcho for a factory tour, the Exploratorium, and finally to the Ferry Building.

Unfortunately we only had about 2 hours for the Exploratorium that day - tight scheduling on our part. It was not enough time to see everything. Then again, one of my children was having a melt down so we probably couldn't have stayed much longer anyway. I recommend getting a membership and going several times so you won't feel you missed out!

One of the differences in the new site, is that they have some outdoor fun - that's free - even if you're not going inside. They had several interactive exhibits, and we had to push the kids along to get inside to see the rest. They would have been happy hanging out outside exploring!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween-Themed Science Events in the Bay Area

You may have seen our post a few weeks back about events during the Bay Area Science Festival. Well, here's an update - some Halloween themed science events! There are some other Halloween links at the bottom.

October 31 - Jedi Nights - Tech Museum of Innovation from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. in San Jose (201 South Market Street)

Grab your lightsaber and dress up in your favorite Star Wars costume. Take photos with  stormtroopers, R2-D2, and Jedi Knights, or train for the
Jedi Academy. The science behind Star Wars becomes reality in The Tech's
hands-on workshops. Techsabers - where guests tinker with circuitry, LEDs,
and various light diffusing and reflecting materials - and Skywalker Writing
where guests leverage "The Force" for intergalactic light paintings and
control their own hovercrafts. Engage in the exhibition's hands-on design
labs where you'll defy gravity, engineer Droids(tm), and manipulate robots.
Explore space travel, robotics, and magnetic levitation.

Cost: $22 general entrance, $14 for members, $12 for kids general entrance, $9 for member kids
November 2 - Bay Area Science Festival 2013 FINALE! The Festival's family friendly Finale takes place
on the field at AT&T Park on Saturday, November 2 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The free-for-all science festival explodes as 30,000 people take to the field to explore the field of science. A non-stop program chock-full of more than 150 interactive exhibits, experiments, games, and shows, all meant to entertain and unleash inner scientists of all ages.

Halloween Link Love
Halloween JELL-O Jigglers
Halloween Costumes on the Cheap
Bay Area Halloween Happenings
DIY Halloween Costumes

Coming Up: Free The Home Depot Kids' Workshop - Tabletop Ship

This Saturday, The Home Depot offers its free monthly kids' hands-on workshop. They'll be making a tabletop ship. You'll get a free kit to make, and they'll teach the kids how to do it safely. They'll also get a Home Depot workshop apron and certificate of achievement. 

Who: Kids ages 5-12
When: first Saturday of the month (November 2, 2013) - 9 a.m. to noon (don't come early!) - first come, first served
Where: your local Home Depot
Cost: Free
RSVP: recommended - register here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Coming Up: Water Creatures/Movers Performance and Workshops - Bay Area Discovery Museum

The Bay Area Discovery Museum has a new quarterly artist-in-residence program, and has some great workshops and performances coming up. The new artist is Jukebox Radio, who uses shadow puppetry, singing and illustrated storytelling, in addition to movement and games.

During workshops, families will collaborate on arts activities related to each of the performance themes: water movers, water creatures and water hogs. The final project will be a water sculpture to be installed at the museum.

Here are the upcoming performances and workshops:

Water Movers Performances & Workshops
--Saturday, November 2, 3 - 4:30 p.m.
--Sunday, November 3, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.
During the 45 minute Water Movers performances, the artists will perform songs, share illustrated stories, and lead families in activities and games to explore concepts of how water moves. Workshops will challenge families to design a Rube Goldberg device using recycled and everyday materials and toys to transfer water from one vessel to another.

Water Creatures Performance & Workshop
--Sunday, November 24, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.
In the second installation of the series, the performance will feature a variety of real and imaginary water creatures, including fish, mermaids, sea lions, and more in these aquatic adventures. The performers will explore how moving water affects aquatic creatures using the Jukebox puppet theater and special water creature shadow puppets.

After the show, families can construct their own shadow-puppet sea creatures using chopsticks, scissors, tape and paper, and will engage in dramatic play with them in the Jukebox Radio.

These workshops and performances are free with admission.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Get 'Yer Tickets: Laurie Berkner in SF - Solo Tour

Even though my kids have outgrown Laurie Berkner, I haven't! Her songs are so catchy and fun, they're still in my head and I still secretly sing them.

Laurie is coming to San Francisco for her solo concert tour, The You and Me Tour. It will be Laurie, her guitar, and you!

This former preschool teacher turned her indie band night job into her day job, which is good for all of us.

Get tickets to the show. You won't be disappointed.

When: November 2, 2013 (1:00 show)
Where: Palace of Fine Arts - 3301 Lyon Street, SF
Tickets: $25-35 (with $100 VIP packages available, with meet and greet). Get tickets at Ticketmaster.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Get 'Yer Tickets: Potted Potter in San Francisco

If your kids are Harry Potter fans, Potted Potter is supposed to be a GREAT show to see (I've heard from friends who have seen it). It condenses all 7 books into a funny, 70 minute show.

"Written and created by former BBC Television hosts Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, the play takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing, or “potting” all seven Harry Potter books into 70 madcap minutes, aided only by multiple costume changes, brilliant songs, ridiculous props and a generous helping of Hogwarts magic. The show also invites audiences to engage with a real life game of Quidditch, according to Clarkson and Turner’s unique set of rules. 
Whether you camped outside a bookstore for three days awaiting the release of the Deathly Hallows or you don’t know the difference between a Horcrux and a Hufflepuff, the comedy, magic and mayhem of Potted Potter makes for an entertaining and hilarious visit to the theatre. The fast-paced show, which has made audiences aged six to Dumbledore (who is very old indeed) roar with laughter all over the world, is perfect for the entire family."
When: December 3-8, 2013 (including Saturday and Sunday matinees)
Where: Marines' Memorial Theater (609 Sutter Street, SF)
Tickets: $56.50-$101.50 available online or by calling 888-746-1799

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Coming Up: Soap Box Derby - Free

The Friends of Larsen Playground are hosting their second annual Soap Box Derby. The derby is open, but all cars must have brakes. Enter or just come and watch. There will be food, fun and games.

When: Sunday, October 27 from 11-3
Where: 20th Avenue between Wawona and Vicente
Cost: free

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Coming Up: American Girl and Container Stores open in Palo Alto

Normally I don't announce big store openings, but these are family favorites.

American Girl Store
The San Francisco Bay Area gets its first American Girl store on November 16, opening at Palo Alto's Stanford Shopping Center. The only other California location is Los Angeles.

If you're familiar with these stores, you'll know they're much more than just a place to buy dolls, clothing and accessories. They're enormous, sensory overload places where you can also dine (lunch, dinner, tea or dessert in their bistro), treat the doll to a new hair-do in the salon, or host a birthday party or special event. The kids can design their own t-shirts for themselves and their dolls at the "Creativi-tees" boutique. And they have anything American Girl you could ever want.

This store will be two level and 15,000 square feet. I've been in the New York City store - take my advice and don't go there on a Saturday afternoon in December!

My daughter had a good collection of American Girl things. She's no longer a doll kid, and we managed to sell everything on eBay last winter. Advice: keep the doll boxes and any boxes - and if you want to sell, do it around Christmas. We did quite well. The stuff holds its value, especially if the hair and doll are in good shape. And especially if the items you're selling are on back-order from American Girl!

The Container Store
You'll need somewhere to store all the American Girl things that will take over your house. Fortunately for you, the Container Store is opening up, also at Stanford Shopping Center. Kaching for the mall! Opening weekend is October 26-27. They'll be donating 10% of sales that weekend to TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. The store does have a lot of great organizing solutions. I got a closet system there for my son's room years ago, and they have some great products you didn't know you needed until you saw them.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween link love

Hopefully you saw my previous post on Halloween Happenings in the Bay Area for 2013. Here are some additional links I wanted to share.

Bel Mateo Bowling (on the border of San Mateo and Belmont) is offering free bowling game passes you can give out for Halloween treats. Stop by their front desk by Friday, October 25 for your free passes. Limit one packet per household. 4330 Olympic Avenue, San Mateo.

Do you want your kids to be seen by car lights on Halloween, to keep them safe? Pick up some FlashBrite/LunaTagz stick-on reflective patches. They have Halloween styles available, and some for the rest of the year (think: bike helmet, jacket). The glue is supposed to hold up through gentle washings. They're $4.95 with shipping - and if you use code SPOOKY25, you save 25%.

What to do with your leftover Halloween candy? Unclutterer tells you.

16 easy do-it-yourself costumes (okay, shamless promotion - I wrote this).

On Halloween, go to Chipotle in costume from 4 until closing, and you can get a burrito, bowl, salad or tacos for $3. All proceeds, up to $1 million, will go to Chipotle Cultivate Foundation.

101 Halloween Craft Ideas from EverythingEtsy.

Nonedible treats to give out on Halloween from MommyPoppins. And candy-free Halloween - one of our previous posts.

Easy Halloween Ghost Craft

Make your own pumpkin cake

Coming Up: San Francisco Chamber Orchestra Concerts - Free

This weekend, October 25-27, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra is offering its mainstay concert #1 - the Masters. They'll perform Kernis Dreamsongs for Cello & Orchestra (a Bay Area premiere), with Joshua Roman as cello soloist, and Haydn Symphony #100. Admission is FREE. These are not specifically family concerts, so you be the judge whether your child/children can sit through it. Family concerts are November 23-24. Stay tuned to Frisco Kids for more info.

WhenFriday, October 25 at 8
Where: 275 Hayes Street, San Francisco (Nourse Theater)

When: Saturday, October 26 at 8
Where: 625 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto (United Methodist Church of Palo Alto
When: Sunday, October 27 at 3
Where: 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley (First Congregational Church

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween Fun Craft: JELL-O JIGGLERS

My neighbor has two cat eyes in her upstairs windows. At night, when the lights are on and it's dark outside, you can see the these enormous eyes staring back at you. It's very creepy and very awesome. It looks better in the dark, but the picture wouldn't come out.

So when looking for some fun Halloween things to do with the kids, I was excited to try this JELL-O JIGGLER cat eyes creation, making my own cat eyes out of JELL-O. It was easy. This recipe used Lemon JELL-O, tonic water (or you can just use water), plus tap water, and red grapes. What do you think?

Since I'm a class mom almost every year, planning the holiday parties is a big part of the job. My kids usually help me make cupcakes and other treats for class. But I'm always searching out something else that the kids haven't seen. I think these would be a hit.

(Check my Pinterest page for more of my Halloween food ideas and pins that I'm drawing from this year.) Here are some other JIGGLERS ideas:

Creepy crawly JIGGLERS - made with Grape and Lime flavored JELL-O, blackberries and black licorice.

MMMMMMonster Creepy Crawly JIGGLERS, also made with Lime and Grape flavored JELLO and licorice, plus decorating gel.

These would be easy to make too. Let me know if you try it!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Coming Up: Chronicle Books Warehouse Sale

If you love Chronicle Books (I do), you'll want to get over to their warehouse sale next week, where everything is 65% off. Great books for holiday gifts! Details below. The store is at 680 Second Street, between Townsend and Brannan.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bay Area Halloween Happenings 2013

Halloween is coming up. And if your kids are anything like mine, they've been talking about it since school began. Here's a list of activities to consider. Please add your favorites to the list!


What: Celebrate with the creepy-crawlies, including trick-or-treating, face painting, dancing, costume parade,  photo booth, stiltwalkers, magicians, live music, animal shows, pumpkin carving demonstrtions, photo booths, planetarium show, food and drinks and more. Come in costume.
Where: California Academy of Sciences, SF
When: Saturday 10/26 from 5-9 p.m.
Who: everyone
Cost: adults $50, kids 17 and under $35. Kids one and younger are free. And anything over $30 is tax-deductible
More info: here

When: Friday, October 25 from 3-9
What: Haunted house, hay rides, arts & crafts, inflatables, carnival rides
Cost: $8/person - all inclusive
Who: the whole family
More infoScaregrove

What: Lots of activities including candy stations, take-home crafts, pictures with Casper the Friendly Ghost, pumpkin stomp and chomp (animals get treats), haunted nature trails, animal feedings, and critter encounters (snakes and owls) and creepy, crawly adventures at the critter zoo.
When: October 19-20, 26-27, from 11-3
Cost: free with paid zoo admission
Who: anyone
WhereSan Francisco Zoo
More Info: Costumes are fine, but no rubber masks so you don't scare the animals.

What: Costume contest
When: Thursday, October 31 from 3-5:30
WhereSerramonte Center, Daly City
Cost: free
More info: For kids 12 and under, win prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place costumes

What: Howl-o-ween at the Flea Market and pumpkin patch; trick-or-treating at the 300+ flea market booths
Where: Treasure Island
When: October 26-27, 10-4
Cost: $3/ages 12+, free under age 12
More info: Bring socks for a sock drive. More info here.

What: Halloween story time and treasure hunt with goodies
Where: Old Navy Flagship store, 4th and Market
When: Saturday, October 26 from 1-5
Cost: Free
More info: All Halloween merchandise will be 50% off.


WhatGreat America has a number of kid-friendly Halloween activities, including Snoopy's Costume Party where kids can trick-or-treat with Snoopy and the gang. This is not a scary event (unless your kids are freaked out by giant versions of the Peanuts characters, which to be honest, I am). They'll have pumpkin decorating, and a "foam-tastic pumpkin patch" which does look like fun. There's a talking plastic pumpkin, and a few of the rides have been transformed into scarier versions of what they already are, which means they added some cobwebs and spiders to them.   
When: weekends in October through October 27
Cost: free with park admission
Who: kids 12 and under
More infohere

WhatGreat America Halloween Haunt. For the older kids, there are haunted mazes, sinister stage shows, themed scare zones, a twisted attraction plus rides.
When: now through October 27; 7 midnight
Cost: $27.99+

When: Friday, October 25, 6-8pm
What: Slither and Squeak -Discover the science behind the spooky things you see at Halloween! Museum educators will expose haunted house tricks of the trade and reveal to visitors how those creepy, scary things happen. Wear your costume and meet CuriOdyssey’s nocturnal animals, experiment hands-on with spooky science, and take part in science-inspired trick-or-treating. Watch the debut of their new wildlife show - Night and Day. Buy cupcakes from Kara's Cupcakes Karavan.
Tickets: limited, must purchase in advance Here
Cost: $12-$15 (free for those under age 2)
More infohere
Where: CuriOdyssey, 1651 Coyote Point Dr., San Mateo

What: Halloween event and helicopter pumpkin drop (crafts, exhibits, carnival, candy, prizes)
When: Saturday, October 26 from 10-12:30 (pumpkin drop is at 12:15)
Where: Hillier Aviation Museum in San Carlos
Cost: free with museum admission
Who: everyone
More infohere

What: Trick-or-treating, magician, puppet show,balloons, and crafts
Where: Hillsdale Mall, 60 31st Avenue, San Mateo
When: Thursday, 10/31 from 5-6 p.m. (trick-or-treating is 5-6 only)
More info: Here
Cost: Free

What: Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival (street fair)
Where: Main Street - downtown Half Moon Bay
When: Saturday/Sunday, October 18-19 from 9-5
More info: here
Cost: Free (though you may have to pay for parking)

What: Spellbound - a celebration of books and make-believe; wear costumes and go to healthy treat stations, learn about chemistry, and maybe you'll win a book.
Where: Children's Discovery Museum, San Jose
When: Thursday, October 31 from 10-4:30
More info: here
Cost: free with admission

Check Ronnie's Awesome List for October. It's now Halloween specific, but there are tons of Marin events.

What: Marine Science Sunday - Creatures of the Deep. Docent-led tours at 11, 1 and 3. Trick-or-treat marine mammal trivia, wander through the haunted whale bone graveyard, mystery box touch stations, Halloween costumes encouraged.
Where: Marine Mammal Center, Marin Headlands, 2000 Bunker Road, Sausalito
When: Sunday, October 27 from 10-5
Cost: free
More info: 


What: Rides, parades, goody bags, treats, crafts, jumpy houses, pirate school, balloon animals, clowns and more
Where: Children's Fairyland, Oakland
When: Saturday and Sunday, 10/26 and 27
Cost: $10 ($5/members)
More infohere

Coming Up: Marin Real Estate Seminar

If you and your family have been considering a move to or within Marin County, California but want to understand about the towns, schools and communities, this seminar is for you! Given by a Marin mom and Realtor, you'll learn about:

-Marin Preschools

-Marin Schools
-Micro climates within Marin County
-Marin communities and towns
-Average home prices per town
-Marin summer camps
-Mortgage update

This informative two-hour seminar is well worth your time. Presenter, Liz McCarthy has been holding this seminar to rave reviews for over three years and continues to receive requests for the next seminar date.

Upcoming dates in Mill Valley:

10/23/13 (Wednesday) 6:45 p.m. - 9:15 p.m. (official start time: 7:00)

11/12/13 (Tuesday) 6:45 p.m. - 9:15 p.m. (official start time: 7:00)

It's at 1040 Redwood Highway, Frontage Road in Mill Valley, in the McGuire Real Estate room.

There's no cost to attend, and you can RSVP here 

To find the upcoming seminar dates and times, go to

Questions? Please contact Liz McCarthy at (415) 250-4929 or email

This post is sponsored Liz McCarthy.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Get 'Yer Tickets: The Wizard of Oz - Andrew Lloyd Webber's New Show

We're off to see the Wizard! This new Andrew Lloyd musical theater show is now playing at the Orpheum, but not for long.

Did you know that Dorothy's last name is "Gale?" As in gale force wind?
Did you know that the Kansas state name comes from the Native American tribe Kansa, who used to live there? Kansa roughly means "people of the wind."

When: October 16-27, 2013
Where: Orpheum Theater, San Francisco
Tickets: $45-160. Get them here.

Coming Up: Clean up SF Park with the Warriors

Any Warriors fans out there? Spend some time cleaning up McLaren Park in SF with Warriors players. You'll remove invasive plant species, pick up litter and debris or help paint the structures. It's part of the NBA Cares Day of Service. If return you'll get a Warriors t-shirt

When: Monday, October 21 from 1-4 (hey, aren't the kids in school most of that time???)
Where: McLaren Park, SF (Shelley Drive and Mansell Streets)
RSVP: here

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Coming Up: SF Chamber Orchestra Free First Concerts - 20 Minutes

This weekend, October 19-20, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra is offering free family-friendly "first" concerts in San Francisco, San Mateo and Oakland. These are 20 minute concerts aimed at the wee one, mean to be one of their first introductions to orchestra. This one is called "Small Instruments, Tall Instruments: The Highs and Lows of an Orchestra." Music director Ben Simon will lead the audience on a tour of the orchestra and its instruments.

WhenSaturday, October 19 (10, 10:45 and 11:30 a.m.)

Where: Congregational Church of San Mateo (225 Tilton Avenue - Kloss Hall)

WhenSaturday, October 19 (2, 2:45 and 3:30)
Where: 199 Museum Way, San Francisco (the Randall Museum)

When: Sunday, October 20 (10:15, 11 and 11:45 a.m.)
Where: The Crowden School, 1475 Rose Street, Berekely 

The concerts are free, and doors open 30 minutes before the performance.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Favorite Milestone Birthday

Beau-Coup asked me what my favorite milestone birthday memory was. I was torn between two. One already happened (duh - it's a memory). One happens next year and I'm in the planning process.

First, the one that happened. My 40th. My husband was going to be out of town for work and was not able to reschedule his trip. Normally we don't make a big deal out of each other's birthdays, but come on. This was 40. And we were going through a lot of job stress at home. I realized I could not sit back and wait for him to plan something special for my birthday.

I had to do it myself.

And so I did. I secured a private room in an Italian restaurant and invited all my girlfriends for dinner. Though the restaurant didn't normally serve family style, I insisted. Friends would be arriving at various times depending on their babysitter or husband's schedules, and some wouldn't stay the entire time. I didn't want them spending time staring at the menu and waiting for their food to arrive - especially if they weren't on the same schedule. We had a huge table, lots of wine, great food and conversation. Though I didn't decorate, I did come up with some table questions, placed at each plate, since those coming didn't all know each other. It was a perfect evening.

So next year my daughter turns 13, which is a big deal if you're Jewish. She's studying for her bat mitzvah. While we're not doing anything over-the-top to celebrate, I'm still having fun looking at the details to make them special.

She is making beaded jewelry to sell, with proceeds going to Breaking the Chain through Education (BTCTE),