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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Coming Up: Cars and Croissants - Free

If you or your kids are car enthusiasts, you'll want to head to Santana Row once a month to check out their program, Cars and Croissants (and if you have an exotic car, bring it). This is a monthly gathering for exotic car owners and car enthusiasts where the exotic cars are invited to park and display them on Santana Row Boulevard from Alyssum Lane to Tatum Boulevard, and hang out with other enthusiasts. The morning meet-up for coffee, croissants and cars drew 400 people and 60 cars during the first event and continues to grow in popularity. This event is free and open to the public.

When:  December 27 from 9-noon
Where: Santana Row (Alyssum Lane to Tatum Blvd)
Cost: free

Monday, December 22, 2014

New Year's Eve with Kids in San Francisco Bay Area - 2014

What to do with the kids on New Year's Eve in the San Francisco Bay Area? Here are some family-friendly options. Goldstar is listing New Year's Eve events (at a discount!)  - some you may need a date for!

What: Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve
When: Wednesday, December 31
, 5-9 p.m
Where: The Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
Details: Live music by local favorites the Bone Drivers, delivering a fun and dance-party-inducing soundtrack with which to ring in the new year. There will also be menu and drink specials all night long, and when the ball drops on the East Coast (9 p.m. West Coast time) the TVs in the bar will be showing it and everyone at the Brewing Company will celebrate like it’s 2015.

What: Noon Year's Eve
Where: Bay Area Discovery Museum - Sausalito

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What to do on Christmas in the San Francisco Bay Area 2014

Looking for something to do on Christmas, other than going to the movies?

One of our favorite traditions is heading to the Contemporary Jewish Museum for their annual event. This is an admission-free, fun-for-all extravaganza with free performances by The Pop Ups, art making for families and a chance to see the new family-friendly exhibition J. Otto Seibold and Mr. Lunch.
Where: 736 Mission Street, SF
When: 11-4
Cost: FREE!

The San Francisco Zoo is open - check out the reindeer!

Go ice skating! If you know your timing, get tickets online first.
--The downtown San Jose ice rink is open from 2 p.m. to midnight on Christmas. Find all the details here. 
--The Union Square Holiday ice rink is open from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Here's a list of other Christmas Day activities from and from Red Tricycle.

Friday, December 19, 2014

All Hail King Julien! New series starts today

If you're looking for some fun stuff to watch as winter break starts, I have good news for you. The first five episodes of All Hail King Julien launch today on Netflix streaming, from DreamWorks! If the character looks familiar, it's because he's from Madagascar.

According to Netflix (I haven't watched yet), this is a "totally original, totally hilarious and totally insane new series... A favorite character from the Madagascar franchise, King Julien will take on the jungle's craziest adventures in the new comedy series, along with his loyal sidekicks Maurice and Mort plus a whole new cast of colorful animals."

Watch it as soon as break starts, or save it up for a marathon night on New Year's Eve. Let me know what you think! I'm saving it up for winter break.

This post is part of the Netflix Stream Team #streamteam

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Free Shipping Day - December 18

If you've been procrastinating about holiday shopping (or really Christmas shopping, since Hanuakkah already started), today is the day. It's the 7th annual Free Shipping Day. This one-day event helps you save some bucks on last-minute holiday gifts (or other purchases) by waiving the shipping costs. You'll get delivery by Christmas eve, and there's no minimum threshold for the free shipping. More than 1,000 retailers are participating.

I already get free shipping at Target, with my Red Card, but Target rolled out free shipping on all orders through December 20, so you have a few more days to take advantage of that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Coming UP: Chronicle Books Warehouse Sale

If you love Chronicle books (I do!) pay attention! They're having a warehouse sale Wednesday through Friday from 9-7, with 80% off everything in the store. Details in the graphic. The store is 680 Second Street, between Townsend and Brannan.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Focus Group: Insurance

Fleishman Field Research has two opinion studies coming up in San Francisco on December 22, on the topic of insurance. The first is 60 minutes and pays $125, the second is 2.5 hours and pays $150. If you're interested, fill out this qualifying survey.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Family Holiday Entertainment in the Bay Area 2014

It's the most magical time of the year! If you haven't started booking up your holiday shows and experiences, now's the time. Here are some great events and performances in San Francisco. Of course there are plenty of holiday activities all over the bay, but this will give you a place to start.

What: Holiday Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz-Carlton
When: November 29-30; December 5-7, 13-14, 19-23. Seatings at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Cost: $110 per guest, inclusive of tax and gratuity for both adults and children.
Details: Children bring their favorite stuffed animals to the Ritz-Carlton Terrace Room for holiday treats and this popular family show featuring an entertaining elf and his animated sidekick and a giant Teddy Bear. Each child will receive a teddy bear gift and photo with the giant Teddy Bear to take home. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish® Greater Bay Area.

What: Peter and the Wolf, Rita Moreno narrating
When: Saturday, December 14 at 1 and 4 p.m.

Thinking about alcohol abuse this holiday season - dedicated post

'Tis the season for making merry, which often includes cheerful holiday cocktails and spirits. While there are lots of parties and good times, it can be a stressful time for many, bringing up difficult family issues and other feelings of distress.

Given the number of festivities, it's a time that many people notice their loved ones' drinking habits. You may even wonder if someone you know and love is a functioning alcoholic.

In fact 7.2% of adults 18+ have an alcohol use disorder, and 10% of kids live with an alcoholic parent, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. That statistic blew me away.

If alcohol is negatively impacting your loved one's life, maybe this is the holiday season to look into treatment options, and to approach him or her with your thoughts and support.

There are a lot of ways of getting help. About 8% of those in need get treatment for alcohol use disorders each year at a specialized facility (per NIAAA).

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Where get Santa photos in the Bay Area - 2014

It's that time of the year again - show how your kids have grown compared to Santa. Here are some places to get Santa photos in the Bay Area. You'll also find some places to bring your pets for Santa photos too.

When: now through December 24 -
Where: Westfield San Francisco Centre, 865 Market Street

When: now through December 24 -
Where: Stonestown Galleria, 3251 20th Avenue
More info: save 30% by buying your package ahead of time

When: December 6-7 and December 13-14 from 1-5
Where: Japantown (East Japan Center Mall)
More info: Bring you own camera for photos - no professional photographer available.

Friday, December 5, 2014

What we can learn about sustainability from the rain forest

A few summers ago, my family went the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador. Seeing the dense forests, the foliage and meeting some of the people who live there was a fabulous experience for me and for my kids. Our guide spent a lot of time talking with us about the problems the native people there have had, most of which involve outsiders coming in and cutting down trees and drilling for oil. It’s a constant tug of war between preserving the rain forest and all its benefits, and making a living and providing the world with its constant need for oil-based products (including fuel) and lumber.

While I won’t get into all that here (it’s something I recommend reading more about, especially with your kids.), I was contacted recently by Pure Energies, a North American solar energy company. They wanted to share photos and videos from a recent trip that their CEO and some employees took, along with the International Conservation Fund of Canada, to the Brazilian rain forest.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Focus group on cars

If you are interested in doing focus groups, here's one that is currently qualifying participants. Take the survey (I just did it - it takes 2 minutes) and they'll contact you if you qualify.

"We have a 75/180 minute ($150/$200) in San Francisco or 75 minutes Nationwide ($100) by computer/phone. San Francisco dates are Friday, December 12th and nationally on December 11th." The subject is automobiles. Here's the survey. It's with Fleishman Field Research.

Coming Up: Story Time - Hanukkah - I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel

Hanukkah is later this month. Join in story time with Caryn Yacowitz. She'll be reading from her book I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel on Saturday December 6, at 11:00 a.m. The book is a hilarious take on the world's greatest works of art! You'll love this old lady and will want to visit her every Hanukkah for years to come.

About the book: "A family drives through the snow to visit their beloved bubbe, who spreads out a Hanukkah supper for everyone to enjoy. But one dish goes a little wrong. Beyond the joy of a Jewish take on this most American of folk songs, the illustrations here offer hilarious parodies of great works of art by da Vinci, Rembrandt, Picasso, and other masters."

Where: Kepler's Books (1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park)
When: Saturday, December 6 at 11 a.m.
Cost: free (book is extra, but you don't have to buy the book to attend)

Coming Up: Bank of America's 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, December 6-7 (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, San Jose and East Bay area:
· The Tech Museum of Innovation
· The San Jose Museum of Art
· Chabot Space and Science Center
· Contemporary Jewish Museum
· de Young Museum

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Coming Up: SantaFest

This Saturday is SantaFest. Kids can enjoy gingerbread house decorating, Santa photos, breakfast, balloon artists and crafts.

This is a unique fundraising event to support Children of Shelters, a San Francisco based 501c3 nonprofit organization that works to provide support and education for children living in or being served by the homeless shelter system. They provide unique educational opportunities, cultural experiences and enrichment activities for the children they serve. "Our grants support children’s academic achievement and character development. We believe that education and self-esteem are the keys to breaking the cycle of poverty."

One way to support this organization and mission is by attending SantaFest this weekend. Following SantaFest's morning event, about 100 families they serve will participate in the annual Holiday Shelter Dinner. You can read more about that here.

What: SantaFest
When: Saturday, December 6
Where: Golden Gate Club, the Presidio (135 Fisher Loop)
Tickets: start at $125/child (parent is free).

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giving Tuesday - toy/clothing drive, Passports with Purpose

As you probably know from your mailbox (especially all those charities), today is #givingtuesday. It's a way to call attention to helping others at this time of year. I'll be posting many giving opportunities this month, but wanted to highlight a few for today. If these don't work for you, consider finding some way to get your kids involved in giving today, explaining how while we're shopping for ourselves and our loved ones, that we can take a day and think about others who may not be on our lists.

It doesn't have to be buying things either. It can be volunteering or sending holiday cards to troops overseas. It can be baking something tasty to take to the elderly person in your neighborhood, or calling Grandma to say hi.

Check out our post that just went live today for Passports with Purpose, where bloggers are raising money to help farmers raise crops in a sustainable way, in Honduras. You can win fabulous prizes donated by Bay Area sponsors Schoola and Breathometer, as well as many others, through this contest and fundraiser. More here.

If you have some clothing or toys to donate, Mommy Nearest provided a list of a few clothing/toy drive drop-off locations, which you can see in the graphic below.

Another option is Serramonte Center in Daly City, which is collecting toys and jackets, through One Warm Coat and Operation Santa Claus.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Win $100 Schoola credit - and Help a Family at the Same Time

For the last few years, Frisco Kids has participated in Passports with Purpose, a fundraiser organized by travel bloggers to use our connections to do something impactful in the world. We do so with the help of generous prize sponsors like Schoola (see below for details), who is giving one winner a $100 credit to use on Schoola.

In the past, we've raised:
-$84,000 to build two schools in Mali (2013)
-$116,000 to build 5 wells in Haiti (2012)
-$90,000 to build two libraries in Zambia (2011)
-$60,000 to build houses for 25 families in India (2010)
-$28,000 to build a school in rural Cambodia (2009)
-$7,500 for Heifer International (2008)
You can see how this fundraiser has grown!

This year the project is through Sustainable Harvest International (SHI), with the goal of providing Central American farmers and their families the tools and training to overcome poverty while farming in a way that doesn't damage the rain forest.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Coming Up: Little Nemo - Free Movie for Kids

Roxie Theater in San Francisco (3117 16th Street) is showing the movie Little Nemo this Sunday, as part of their Roxie Kids free films. These are free for kids 12 and under ($7.50 for adults). They selected films to appeal to kids and adults - and not the typical Hollywood films either. These are more artsy. They want to expose kids and adults to more independent and foreign films.

This film is directed by Chris Columbus, who did Home Alone 2 and Harry Potter. Details about the show at the bottom.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Friendsgiving - the movie

Who do you spend Thanksgiving with? For us, it's usually my in-laws, and maybe some cousins and aunts and uncles too. This year it's with other cousins, and we'll be in New York City checking out the holiday festivities (but alas, not the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, because my kids don't want to get up early to wait in the cold to get a good spot).

Lots of people, though, spend the holiday with friends. I hadn't actually heard the name "Friendsgiving" until this year. Is it new or am I just out of it?

In any case, if you're looking for some friends-based shows and movies to watch this holiday weekend, we have a few suggestions for you.

Charlotte's Web - you read the book (perhaps to your kids) - now watch the movie.

Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends - this Cartoon Network show is from 2005. "When his mother doesn't believe in his best friend, a young boy takes him to Madame Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and they have fun adventures."

Do we think our kids would appreciate Saved by the Bell the way we did? Only one way to find out.

The pickings are awesome for the parents! Did you miss any of Desperate Housewives, the group of neighbors who were (sometimes) close friends? You can catch all eight seasons on Netflix.

And of course there's the Office. We saw the original British version first, so it was a bit hard at first to adjust to the new crew. But we adjusted just fine.

And great news for those who have WAY too much time on their hands - all 10 seasons of the awesome TV show Friends will be available on Netflix streaming, starting in January.

Thanks to Netflix for sponsoring this post!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bay Area Tree Lighting Ceremonies 2014

It's more exciting to watch a giant tree get lit up, than watch your own. So head to these tree lightings for some holiday fun.

What: Rec and Park's 85th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting
When: Thursday, December 4, time TBA (last year it was 4-8)
Where: McLaren Lodge, Golden Gate Park
Activities: TBA - last year they had train rides, live entertainment and Santa visits.

What: Union Square, Macy's 25th annual tree lighting
When: Friday, November 28, 2014 at 6 p.m. for the ceremony, actual tree lighting at 6:40
Where: Union Square
Activities: entertainment; it gets crowded so arrive early

What: Ghirardelli Square Tree Lighting
When: Friday, November 28, 2014 at 5:30 (activities 4-9)
Where; Ghirardelli Square
Activities: live music, kids' entertainment, Santa visit

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gingerbread House Activities in the Bay Area - 2014

My kids are begging me for a gingerbread house kit again this year, but every year they start and don't finish it. And then they don't clean up. So I'm looking into other options. Fortunately the Bay Area has many.


The Mandarin Oriental is hosting "ho-ho-ho homes for the holiday" on Saturday, December 7, which includes gingerbread house making from 2-4. Kids get their own aprons and chef hats, decorating gingerbread houses and sugar cookies. For drinking, there's a hot chocolate bar (parents can hit the adult bar and get small plates on their own dime). Cost is $60/kid. RSVP at or call (415) 276-9784.
St. Francisco sugar tree. Photo by Peter Medilek

Not for your own making (okay, and not gingerbread), but check out the Westin St. Francis' 12 foot tall sugar tree. It has 1,000 pieces of hand-crafted candies and ornaments, including handmade snowmen, sugar ribbons, gift boxes, Christmas trees, candy canes, elves and stars in the rotating tree. It's in the lobby November 26-January 2, at 335 Powell in SF.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Coming Up: Chick Tech Event - free

If you or someone you know has a high school age girl who is interested in technology, check out the Chick Tech 2014 High School Tech event this Sunday. The girls in the organization create their own tech project and will display them in workshops.

Chick Tech's goal is to close the gender imbalance in the technology industry. By showing these girls that coding is fun, this gives them fewer barriers as they decide what they want to pursue after high school.

The event is free

Where: **new location** 88 Colin P Kelly Jr. Street at Brannon, San Francisco
When: Sunday, November 23 from 4:15-5:30

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Coming Up: Storytelling in Music with Joel Ben Izzy - free

The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra is back with a fabulous FREE program for families: Storytelling in Music, with Joel ben Izzy.

This Bay Area storyteller has some tales to share, accompanied by music provided by the SFCO. This program features a reprise of last season’s Main Stage hit Luck or Wisdom?, a folktale paired with an energetic klezmer-style score by Stephen Saxon.

When/Where: Venue info here.
Saturday, November 22 at 2 p.m. - San Francisco Calvary Presbyterian Church
Sunday, November 23 at noon - Oakland Oakland Asian Cultural Center
Sunday, November 23 at 3:30 - San Mateo College of San Mateo Theatre

Coming Up: The Stumpers Book Launch

I don't write about a lot of book launch events, but this one seems very sweet. Local author and artist Karima Cammell created a book called the Stumpers, about the doll family she fashioned, below.

She also owns A Castle in the Air, a crafting store, which will host a fireside chat with her, as well as musician Laura Cortesi, followed by live music and a book signing (they'll be giving away a gift with every book purchase). Hot cider will be provided too. Stop by if you're available! I can see how kids (and adults) would be enchanted with this Stumper world.

You can see more about it on this YouTube video.

When: Thursday, November 20 from 5:30-7:30
Where: Castle in the Air, 1805 4th Street, Berkeley

Coming Up: Cars and Croissants - Free

If you or your kids are car enthusiasts, you'll want to head to Santana Row once a month to check out their program, Cars and Croissants (and if you have an exotic car, bring it). This is a monthly gathering for exotic car owners and car enthusiasts where the exotic cars are invited to park and display them on Santana Row Boulevard from Alyssum Lane to Tatum Boulevard, and hang out with other enthusiasts. The morning meet-up for coffee, croissants and cars drew 400 people and 60 cars during the first event and continues to grow in popularity. This event is free and open to the public.

When: Fourth Saturday of the month: November 22 and December 27 from 9-noon
Where: Santana Row (Alyssum Lane to Tatum Blvd)
Cost: free

Monday, November 17, 2014

Make your home more energy efficient - save money for the fun things

While people who don't live in the Bay Area think of it as a warmer place (hey! It's California!) those who live here know that winters (and even summers) can be quite cool. And many of the homes are inefficiently insulated. I remember when we were moving to the Bay Area and stayed in several friends' homes and a hotel, and we froze each time in spite of the heat being cranked up. It was not fun!

That forced us to do a little thinking about how to make our new home more energy efficient so we could not only try to save the environment, but have more money to do fun things. When I was approached about doing this post for PG and E, it was a no brainer, since I'm a big proponent of saving energy.

Here are a few things I've done or recommend:

Seal the doors and windows
Are your doors and windows leaking out your warm air? If you're not getting new ones (those single pane windows with aluminum frames are terrible), then make sure any gaps are sealed. You can use weather stripping or liquid foam, both of which are economical.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Coming Up: Green Festival

Are you green? Do you want to be green? If so, head to the Green Festival today through Sunday at Fort Mason. You'll find vegan/vegetarian cooking demonstrations, educational activities for families/kids, music, entertainment, and 250 green businesses, including our friends from Schoola, plus clothing, jewelry, care products and artisan foods.

When: Friday from 12-6, Saturday and Sunday from 10-6
Where: Fort Mason (you can get shuttles from public transit)
Cost: $15/ticket at the door, but kids 16 and under are free. Get in free by bike, or if you're a member of Sierra Club, Global Exchange or Green America. Several other options for discounted tickets - details here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Coming Up: Science Saturday at Heron's Head Park SF

If you like spending time in nature with the kids, check out these Science Saturday afternoon events at the EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park:

Each Saturday from 12:30-3:30 pm, their trained naturalists and partners offer an engaging, hands-on and fun event perfect for young kids to adults. Each week is a different topic or theme.

November 15: EcoCenter Tour and Native Plant Walk
November 22: Sensational Sharks of the San Francisco Bay

Where: Heron Head's Park, 32 Jennings Street, at the end of Cargo Way. See Google map here.
When: Saturdays from 12:30-3:30
Age: young kids to adults
More info: here

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Coming Up: Chocolate Salon

Who loves chocolate???? Go taste some chocolate under the guise of looking for holiday gifts. You know you want to. You can taste samples from any participants, including wine/spirits (for those of age). You can see the list of speakers/events here.

When: November 22 from 10-5
Where: Fort Mason Center Conference Building A, 1 Fort Mason
Tickets:  Adults: $20 (advanced purchase - recommended); $25 at the door (limited quantity available); Children ages 6-12: $10; Children under 6 are free (2 children per adult - each additional child under 6 is $10). Get Chocolate Salon tickets here.
What's included: all tasting and events are included with the entry

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Coming Up: Patchwork Show - Handmade Goods - Free

Start your holiday shopping, if you haven't already, at the Patchwork Show: Modern Makers Festival, at Jack London Square. It's their largest indoor festival showcasing an eclectic mix of handmade goods from local emerging artists, crafters and designers. From avid knitters to aspiring makers, you'll find more than 100 local independent vendors featuring art, knits, clothing, ceramics, garden finds, paper goods, pet gear, body goodies, housewares, and more.

In addition, the event has curated food trucks, DIY craft workshops, food artisans, live music and DJs. The weekly farmer’s market will also be taking place on the waterfront.

When: November 16, from 11-5
Where: Jack London Square, 55 Harrison Street, Oakland
Cost: Free

Monday, November 10, 2014

Coming Up: Willy Wonka performance

See the Pied Piper Players musical, based on the book Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. This timeless story of the world-famous candy man and his quest to find an heir comes to life in this stage adaptation of “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory,” which features the songs from the classic family film “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.”

When: November 14–23 (various times/dates)
Where: Bayside Performing Arts Center, 2025 Kehoe Avenue, San Mateo
Tickets: Get them here. $18/adult; $13/senior or child (plus $1 ticketing fee).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Get 'Yer Tickets - Discounted Shows for the Holidays

If you're starting to look into holiday shows and holiday gifts, look at the offerings on Goldstar. You'll save 50% on most tickets. (I do get a small commission on bookings through here with my code, but I wouldn't offer them if they weren't a good deal).

Peter and the Starcatcher - in Palo Alto
Peter and the Starcatcher, the multiple Tony Award-winning show that The New York Times called "the most exhilarating storytelling on Broadway in decades," is the swashbuckling, madcap prequel to Peter Pan. Inventive stagecraft and an imaginative story combine to reveal the origins of "the boy who wouldn't grow up" in this madcap music-filled adventure. A hilarious romp through the Neverland you never knew, join in on an action-packed adventure that brings pirates, orphans and secret agents of the Queen together on the high seas. Based on the bestselling novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and written by Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), Peter and the Starcatcher boasts an all-star creative team and weaves an enchanting tale that appeals to both adults and kids.

This link will take you to all the Bay Area Nutcracker offerings.

The MeshugaNutcracker! in Campbell
This show (which I'm featuring later in the season) combines Tchaikovsky's score and Chanukah lore. It's good for the family. Their description:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Coming Up: Musical Journeys With Frank Levy: Around the World in 88 Keys

The Palo Alto JCC is presenting "Musical Journeys With Frank Levy: Around the World in 88 Keys." This musical voyage will take young listeners around the globe through poetic melodies, magically transfigured nursery rhymes and lullabies by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninov, and Glinka. Audiences will travel to Israel, Russia, China, Germany, England, France, Spain, Austria, and Poland through the universal language of music.

This program is the first of three Musical Journeys with Frank Lévy to be presented by the Oshman Family JCC; Lévy will return January 11 to present “Animals, Seasons and Other Musical Fantasies” and April 19 with “Children’s Corner and Some of Our Favorite Things.”

What: Musical Journeys With Frank Levy: Around the World in 88 Keys
When: Sunday, November 16 at 3
Where: Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto (Schultz Cultural Arts Hall), 3921 Fabian Way
Tickets:  Tickets are $20 each in advance ($25/door), or $50 for a series of three (other concerts are on January 11, 2015 and April 19, 2015)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Coming Up: James and the Giant Peach

The Bay Area Children's Theatre presents a new musical inspired by Roald Dahl's classic tale, James and the Giant Peach. The book is about the orphaned boy who escapes from his wicked aunts aboard an enormous enchanted peach inhabited by a bunch of large bugs. Music and lyrics for this show are by the Tony Award-nominated team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, with the adaptation by playwright and educator Timothy Allen McDonald.

The show is recommended for ages 4 and up, and the show is 90 minutes long with an intermission.

Mill Valley - at the Marin Theatre Company - November 6 - 9
Berkeley - at the Freight and Salvage - November 16 - December 14
San Ramon - at the Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center - December 20 - 21
San Francisco - at the Children's Creativity Museum Theater - December 27 - January 4
Tickets: $22/adult, $18/child, $20/senior, $13/group price for 15 or more

More info: call (510) 296-4433, or visit 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Coming Up: The Birth and Baby Fair

If you're expecting a baby or already have one, plan to attend the Birth and Baby Fair

The Birth and Baby Fair showcases local businesses and resources plus independent designers, to educate and expose new and expecting parents and young families to local pregnancy, birth, baby and parenting services like: doulas, midwives, massage therapists, fitness instructors, childbirth educators, lactation consultants and photographers.

They'll also have free workshops and demonstrations on baby baby sign language, vaccines, cloth diapering, ecofriendly options, baby wearing/slings, making your own baby food, pre and post natal yoga, and breastfeeding. You can register in advance for the workshops.

Enjoy some free pampering and rejuvenating treatments including massage, mocktails and beauty treatments. And bring the kids to the play area for fun and arts and crafts activities. They'll have a cafe and a nursing area, and photo booths for fun.

When: November 9, 2014 from 10-4
Where: Fort Mason, Herbst Pavilion
Tickets: find discount passes at the stores on this page (left side). Tickets are $10/online, $12/door. Kids 18 and under are free.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: I am Eleven

We finally had the chance to see I am Eleven, a documentary movie that interviews kids in 15 countries (all age 11) about various aspects of their lives, and gives you a glimpse into how they live and think. Given that my youngest is 11, it was fun for him to see what their peers were like in other places.

My husband didn't love the movie, saying it didn't really have a plot. And that was true. When you are interviewing kids in 15 countries who mostly aren't associated with each other, what kind of plot artifice should you use? The director organized it by theme, having the kids talk about issues like bullying, their family, crushes, hobbies, war, social pressures, animals and their future. In this way, kids can see the universality of experience, like that there are bullies in every country. While it may look or sound different, people in every country sing and dance - you can see the differences and similarities.

Coming Up: Museums on Us - this weekend - 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 1-2 (some museums are only one day). The website won't let me give you an individual list of cities to click, so justcheck 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 and Science Center
· Contemporary Jewish Museum
· de Young Museum

Coming Up: Science Saturday at Heron Head's Park SF

If you like spending time in nature with the kids, check out these Science Saturday afternoon events at the EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park:

Each Saturday from 12:30-3:30 pm, their trained naturalists and partners offer an engaging, hands-on and fun event perfect for young kids to adults. Each week is a different topic or theme.

November 1: EcoCenter Exploration Experience
November 8: Heron's Head Park BioBlitz
November 15: EcoCenter Tour and Native Plant Walk
November 22: Sensational Sharks of the San Francisco Bay

Where: Heron Head's Park, 32 Jennings Street, at the end of Cargo Way. See Google map here.
When: Saturdays from 12:30-3:30
Age: young kids to adults
More info: here

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween 2014!

As I'm sure you haven't forgotten, Halloween is almost here. Just in case you missed any of our Halloween posts, here they are:

Photo by Maryland GovPics/Flickr

Halloween Happenings in the Bay Area - 2014

Halloween at Bay Area Shopping Malls - 2014

Candy-free Halloween treats for this year

I wrote about the hot Halloween costumes this year for Read them here:

Top Halloween Kids' Costumes for 2014

Top Halloween Pet Costumes for 2014

Top Halloween Adult Costumes for 2014

And I didn't write this, but I loved Red Tricycle's Only in SF Kiddie Costumes.

Giants - world Series Champions 2014

Third World Series champions in five years! Go Giants!

Photo by DannyMac15_1999/Flickr

Photo by Scott Mattoon/Flickr
Photo by Scott Mattoon/Flickr

Photo by Matthew Roth/Flickr
Photo by Matthew Roth/Flickr/

Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween at the Bay Area Shopping Malls 2014

We already published a piece on various Halloween happenings around the Bay Area. Here is a separate post for Halloween happenings at Bay Area malls.


What: Parade and costume costume for kids 12 and under
When: Friday, October 31 3-5:30
Where: Serramonte Center, Daly City
Cost: free
More infohere


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Coming Up: Grove on the Road - SF

This Saturday, experience Grove on the Road, a free, pop-up arts festival launched by Stern Grove Festival Association. It's a free family-friendly event featuring performances by local artists LoCura, East Bay Brass Band and Dirty Cello, while you can eat from local food trucks including Bacon Bacon, Lil Burma, Fire Truck Pizza, Kokio Republic, Bobcha, Lei Fend Ramen, Oui Chef, Dusty Buns and Me So Hungry Too.

When: Saturday October 25 from noon to 3 pm
Where: SoMa StrEat Food Park, 428 11th Street, SF
Cost: free

Coming up: Justin Roberts Concert

Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players heads back to the Bay Area for his annual concert sponsored by the Mountain View Parent Nursery School and Foothill College Child Development Department.  This Grammy-nominated performer, and winner of six Parent Choice Gold Awards, is fun for parents and kids (I know because I've been!)

When: Sunday, November 2nd with two concerts: 11 am and 2 pm.
Where: Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills
Who: Great for families with children under 12
Tickets: $13/advance purchase, $15/door. Get them here.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hawaii for Nearly Free? Find out How

Before I had kids, I used to get bumped a lot on planes, getting free airplane tickets which I could use at off-peak times to go on fabulous trips.Well, it's harder now with 4 people traveling and a school schedule to boot! Travel is one of my passions, but it's plenty expensive. Today, we're talking to Summer Hull of on how you can go to Hawaii for nearly nothing. She just launched a new ebook package sharing her secrets and tools to free or almost free travel.

Tell me a bit about you and your travel-for-free background.
I first dabbled in the miles-and-points hobby as a cash-strapped grad student at New York University. I racked up frequent flyer miles flying back and forth to visit friends and family in Houston. Then, after graduation, while my friends could only muster up the money for a drive to the shore, I was able to use miles and points to take my boyfriend at the time to Hawaii. After that, I was hooked. I didn’t have as much travel occur naturally after grad school, so I had to find ways to earn miles outside of flying. I kept learning more about how to earn and leverage loyalty currency and eventually my husband got sick of hearing me talk about it all the time! He encouraged me to start a blog and that’s how was born in 2011. Since that time I’ve shared tons of tips and strategies that can help just about anyone earn miles they can redeem for a nearly free flight (you still pay tax on award flights) and hotel stay.

How do you get started with choosing the best point programs?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

UCSF Study Recruiting: 7-10 year old kids

From time to time we post focus groups and studies looking for paid subjects. UCSF is conducting one right now, where they're studying 7-10 yr old kids and their parents, on the topic of physiological and social connections of families. You and your kid will complete a few tasks and your physiology will be monitored using skin sensors (to measure heart rate and blood flow) while you do it. You'll also have some questionnaires to complete before the lab visit.

Time commitment: 1.5 hour lab visit
Compensation: $80/cash to the parents, $10/Target card to the kid.
Contact: Helena Rose Karnilowicz (415) 420-0333 or email This is through the Emotion, Health, and Psychophysiology Lab.

Coming Up: Cars and Croissants

If you or your kids are car enthusiasts, you'll want to head to Santana Row once a month to check out their program, Cars and Croissants (and if you have an exotic car, bring it). This is a monthly gathering for exotic car owners and car enthusiasts where the exotic cars are invited to park and display them on Santana Row Boulevard from Alyssum Lane to Tatum Boulevard, and hang out with other enthusiasts. The morning meet-up for coffee, croissants and cars drew 400 people and 60 cars during the first event and continues to grow in popularity. This event is free and open to the public.

When: Fourth Saturday of the month: October 25, November 22 and December 27 from 9-noon
Where: Santana Row (Alyssum Lane to Tatum Blvd)
Cost: free

Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween treats - candy free

Do you always give out Halloween candy? You don't have to, and no one will throw eggs at your house if you give out something good.

I'm an Organizing Junkie wrote a post with the 10 best allergy-safe Halloween treats.

I wrote my own candy-free Halloween post early on. And a few years back, published 8 ways to cut back on candy this Halloween. I also have some great Halloween links here.

Halloween treats don't have to be tricky, is the message behind this Spoonfed blog post, which looks at artificial colors and other junk in candy.

What are we handing out this year? Not candy! It's still not good for you, but we're handing out Glow in the Dark bags of Cheetos (the Cheetos hopefully don't glow in the dark). We also picked up some snack bags of popcorn, that are easy to throw into the lunchbox.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Coming Up: Bay Area Science Festival

10 days - 50 events. You're bound to find something you like! And most events are free.

"The Bay Area will come alive with science and technology activities – lectures, debates, exhibitions, concerts, plays, workshops, and more. This ambitious collaborative public education initiative brings together our leading academic, scientific, corporate, and non-profit institutions to showcase the region as an international leader in innovation. Science happens all around us and directly impacts our daily lives – are you ready to unleash your inner scientist?"

Explorer Days are the family events, and you can find them in green on this schedule. They also have teen events in blue. The hands-on family Explorer Days include events like Marin Headlands Native Plant Science, Hawk Talk and Banding Demo, BioBlitzing at Muir Woods, Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant Tour, Wonders of the Parasite World, and Paleontology and Geology at Brighton State Beach. As you can see, the events are all over the Bay Area. They have adult events too, in case you want a romantic night out.

The festival concludes at AT&T Park for a Discovery Day on November 1, for a free science extravaganza from 11-4. They'll have 150 experiments, shows, games and more. It includes robots, STEM programs, life sciences, marine science, and chances to meet scientists and engineers. They expect 30,000 people to attend!

When: October 23-November 1, 2014
Info: Bay Area Science Festival

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Orange is the New Animal Print: Preparing Teresa Guidice for Prison with Netflix

For those of us who follow reality show crazies, the news of Teresa Guidice getting a prison sentence was BIG NEWS. Since I'm in the middle of the second season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix, of course my first thoughts were that Teresa needs to binge watch this show before showing up in early January for her jail stay. And also that Bravo should consider a new prison TV reality show featuring Teresa. I'm sure I'm not the first to think that.

For my monthly Netflix post, I thought it would be timely to write about adult shows with a prison theme, and later about kids shows with right versus wrong (and consequences) themes. But first, the adult ones.

Teresa Guidice may be feeling sorry for herself, but it could be worse. She could end up in one of Russia's Toughest Prisons. By watching this National Geographic Special, she can go behind the scenes of these Russian prisons to see how the biggest criminals live in jail there.

Get 'Yer Tickets: Golden Moment Ice Skating with Kristi Yamaguchi and Brian Boitano

Have you or your kids wanted to see Kristi Yamaguchi and Brian Boitano skate? Now's youre chance. Their show Golden Moment is coming to SAP Center at San Jose on Sunday, November 2. The cast includes skating performances by Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Evan Lysacek, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Dorothy Hamill, Tanith Belbina and Ben Agosto, Nancy Kerrigan, Jeremy Abbott and Polina Edmunds. Also featured are Yuka Sato, Ryan Bradley, Karen Chen and many more.

When: Sunday, November 2 at 4 p.m.
Where: SAP Center, San Jose
Tickets: $50-200, though you can get discounted pricing through the Children's Discovery Museum, including a family four-pack for $124. Order here through October 29.

Proceeds support the Always Dream Foundation's early childhood literacy program, Always Reading.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Halloween Happenings 2014 in the Bay Area

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 (we'll have a separate post on Halloween at the malls). Please add your favorites to the list!


What: Celebrate with the creepy-crawlies, including trick-or-treating, face painting, dancing, jugglers, aerial acrobats, costume parade, crafts, magicians, live music, animal shows, giant pumpkin carving demonstrations, planetarium show, food and drinks and more. Come in costume and get a reusable trick-or-treat bag!
Where: California Academy of Sciences, SF
When: Friday 10/24 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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Books, Apps and Sites To Check Out - My Colleagues are Busy!

Some of my colleagues have been busy publishing books, apps and helpful posts. I wanted to share them with you.

Today, you can get my travel blogging colleague Terri Weeks' book for free. It's called Adventures Around You: a Plan to Create Unforgettable Family Memories While Exploring Locally. It provides ideas on how to find family adventures without needing to travel. Of course the Bay Area is great for that! Today you can download on it Amazon for free, otherwise it's $2.99. I just downloaded mine.

The talented food writer Monica Bhide debuted her first work of fiction - short stories called The Devil In Us. It's a collection of stories about how your life can change in a second. It's gotten some wonderful reviews which you can read here. It publishes October 15 but you can preorder it on Amazon now for $3.99, which I just did!

And this isn't an ebook, but if you're thinking of traveling to Italy with kids, check out Ciao Bambino's 52 things to know before going with your kids.

Another travel blogging colleague just released version 2 of this popular app, now called TripDoc 2. It's a travel organizer that makes it easy to organize all the things you want to do on your trip, in a easy-to-view map form. It's only for the iPhone, so I haven't tried it out, but those who have the earlier version love it. It's free.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Coming Up: Lawrence Hall of Science Fun October Events

The Lawrence Hall of Science has some fun events coming up in October:

Meet the Makers: Xunfeng Zhao
When: Saturday, October 11 12:30–3:30 p.m.

Participate in the Maker movement that's spreading across the country, at the Lawrence Hall of Science. At this event you'll meet Xunfeng Zhao, a noted woodworker, artist, designer, and inventor who designs and builds unique furniture and crafts to inspire kids. Work alongside Xunfeng on exciting and innovative projects, and get inspired by his work.

Partial Solar Eclipse Viewing Party
When: Thursday, October 23, 1:30–4:30 p.m.
Eclipse timing: 1:52–4:32 p.m.

Experience a partial solar eclipse through solar telescopes at the Hall while learning the ins and outs of solar eclipses from Hall experts. Have your questions answered in our Planetarium, watch live demonstrations in Science on a Sphere, and participate in a special lava tile activity designed exclusively for this event.

Their popular Design Quest exhibit is now back, through January 19. You'll act like an engineer as you come up with ideas, build prototypes, and test your designs in a variety of stations, including two brand new activity stations.

The Hall also has a Halloween event the weekend of October 25-26, which Frisco Kids will feature on our Halloween round-up soon!

The Hall has open registration now for their Little Explorers Workshops (ages 3-6), Techtorials (ages 12+), and Homeschool classes. These classes are a great way to get your little one involved with science while participating in fun activities with other like-minded kids.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Get 'Yer Tickets: The Pump and Dump

Coming up: The Pump and Dump: A Parentally Incorrect Comedy Show. Click here to watch the trailer. Get the gang together to watch this funny musical show. You can read an interview with one of the comedians (Shayna Ferm) on Marinhood.

What: The Pump and Dump: A Parentally Incorrect Comedy Show, with a local guest comedian
Where: Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley
When: October 15, 8 p.m. (doors open at 7)
Tickets: $20 buy them here

Friday, October 3, 2014

Coming Up: 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, October 4-5 (some museums are only one day). The website won't let me give you an individual list of cities to click, so justcheck 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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Coming Up: Jack London Sustainability Farm Festival - Free

A Sustainability Festival doesn't sound inherently fun to me, but after reading the description, I got a lot more interested. The Jack London Sustainability Farm Festival will highlight Jack London’s legacy as a farming pioneer and connect with today's innovators and their vision to preserve the land for tomorrow. This is crucial in Sonoma County, where the park is, and practiced today.

The park used to be famous writer Jack London's “Beauty Ranch,” where he experimented with many of these same sustainable farming ideas, which weren't common then.

The free family-friendly festival brings together the today’s sustainable farming culture to share ideas and celebrate good farming and food. The festival includes music, food, “DIY fun learning” activities for kids and adults, plus information stations staffed by park docents explaining Jack’s early farming techniques. It will be a time capsule-like experience. In 1915, Jack London experimented with groundbreaking methods of farming, along with more humane methods of dealing with farm livestock. A recent Modern Farming article said that “Jack London has been called many things throughout history, among them, an author, explorer, visionary and a socialist. He has even been called the greatest romantic of his time. However, above all these fancy titles, he was a farmer – and an inventive one at that.”

If you want to see rare footage of Jack London working with his farm animals a few days before he died, check out this YouTube video.

Schedule highlights:
11 a.m. “Autumn Farm Forum,” about food and farming in Sonoma County, presented by Marcy Smothers and Clark Wolf.
12 noon - Information stations open. Participants include Benziger Family Winery, Fiber Arts, Luther Burbank Experimental Gardens, Nana Maes Organics, Oak Hill Farms, Quarryhill Botanical Gardens, Quarter Acre Farms, Sonoma County Beekeepers Association, Sonoma County Waste Management, Sonoma Water Agency, The Green Team – Sonoma Valley High School Wolf Pack Recycling Team, Two Moon Farm as well as Breck Parkman, Senior Archaeologist California State Parks, Jack London State Historic Park Master Gardner, and other current local innovators in the sustainability movement.

What: Jack London Park Sustainability Farm Festival
Where: Jack London State Historic Park, 2400 London Ranch Road in Glen Ellen
When: Sunday, October 5 from 11-4
Cost: Free (except for $10 per car parking fee)
More info: website or call (707) 938-5216

Coming Up: Lift Off Festival - CuriOdyssey

CuriOdyssey is hosting it's first Lift Off Festival on Saturday, October 4, where families can see firing rockets, flying discs, floating bubbles, soaring falcons, and other things that go up in the air.

View demonstrations of “lift” by the San Jose Spiders Ultimate (Frisbee) Team, Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company (ribbon dancing), and Rebels Elite cheer team. You can also see new CuriOdysssey exhibits, including a Pneumatic Ball Launcher, which allows visitors to explore air pressure by launching a ping-pong ball high into the air. And also their massive pinwheel installation of more than 100 weather vanes, that highlights the chaotic wind patterns present on the San Francisco Bay.

What: Lift Off Festival
Where: CuriOdyssey - 1651 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo
When: Saturday, October 4 from 10-5
Cost: Free with admission ($9/adult, $6/kids 2-12, $7/kids 13-17 and seniors

Coming Up: Diwali Festival at Santana Row

Celebrate Diwali,  “the Festival of Lights” at Santana Row Park. This ancient Hindu festival is celebrated on October 4, signifying the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair. It's presented by WomenNow. Diwali Utsav 2014 will be the first Diwali carnival at Santana Row and will feature Indian cultural
 activities for all ages. The entertainment program includes chef demonstrations by Amber India, Bollywood dances and dramatic performances depicting the significance of Diwali.

When: Saturday, October 4, noon to 7 p.m
Where: Santana Row Park
Cost: free

Monday, September 29, 2014

Coming Up: Paws on the Square - free

Jack London Square is hosting a Wednesday evening event series in October. Dogs and their families can enjoy festive four-legged fun including free tips, tricks and puppy pampering – doggy treats, pet caricature artists, canine massages, dog walkers, doggie musical chairs, pet behavior, educational pet programming, Oakland Police Department K-9 demos, patio pooch drink specials and more. 

When: Wednesdays in October from 5-7 p.m. (October 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29)
Where: Jack London Square (Broadway and Embarcadero)
Cost: free

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Get 'Yer Tickets: Pippin In San Francisco

If you love Broadway theater, you probably know that Pippin is playing at the SHN Golden Gate Theater right now. While I don't recommend you take the kids to see it (read my "Is Pippin appropriate for kids?" Broadway Pippin review here and you'll see why), I do highly recommend that you go on a date night.

Andrea Martin will perform as Berthe in Pippin's last two weeks of the run, October 7-19. I saw her in the role on Broadway and she was amazing and a show stealer. I'm sure the actress Lucie Arnaz, performing the role until then is also great, but I haven't seen her in it. Matthew James Thomas, who performed the Pippin role on Broadway, is also performing in San Francisco.

For more about Pippin, read my review, which is comprehensive.

When: now through October 19 (Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m., Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.)
Where: SHN Golden Gate Theater,
Tickets: $45-210. Buy online here or call (888) 746-1799