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Friday, January 31, 2014

San Francisco Zoo: The Scoop on Poop

Kids all love to talk about poop. Now they can learn about it too. See the bottom for some links to good poop books for the kiddos.

The San Francisco Zoo just opened a new exhibit called the Scoop on Poop, and it will be around until May 11, 2014.

At the exhibit you'll get to listen in on an animal's digestive system, learn poop words from different countries, compete in dung beetle races, track wild animals by clues left in their scat (aka poop),and see how long it takes for an elephant to poop its body weight.

The zoo boasts that their exhibit is INTERACTIVE, and with large colorful graphic panels and 3-D models. Before you go, learn some turd trivia.

Inspired by the exhibit? Get some books: The Scoop on PoopPoop - an Natural History of the UnmentionableEverybody Poops 410 Pounds a Year and Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Free Cream Ice Cream Sandwiches in San Jose on Feb 1

Have you seen my review of Cream? Would you like some of that goodness for FREE?

Why, of course you would. Cream is opening in San Jose, and will be giving away free ice cream sandwiches (while they last) on February 1, 2014 from noon to 9 p.m.

They're at 49 South 1st Street, San Jose. Be prepared for long lines. Though they'll have music by WILD 94.9 to keep you pumped up.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Camp Mather Lottery Registration 2014

For San Francisco residents - Camp Mather lottery registration ends on Februrary 7, 2014. Camp Mather is in the High Sierras (outside Yosemite), and offers family camp that looks so awesome - activities and meals included.

Details about proof of residency and how it works is here. Nonresidents can apply as well, and will be processed AFTER residents.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Coming Up: Cinderella Sing-Along in San Jose

Some day my prince will come! Sing that line, and all the other at the RetroDome's sing-along this weekend.

When: Saturday, February 1 at 3 p.m.
Sunday, February 2 at 3 p.m.
How long: 74 minutes plus 30 minute pre-show interactive features
Cost: $12-18 (early order and members both get discounts). Price includes fun pack of props and in-movie enhancements
Where: 3161 Olsen Drive, San Jose
Tickets: here

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Why I Will Never Rent from Payless Car Rental Again

I'm happy to promote businesses who do a good job. I also call out businesses who don't. Over the winter holidays, we rented a car from Payless Car Rental in Phoenix and will never rent from them again. In fact I was so bothered by the experience I'm writing a whole blog post about it. Usually we rent from Enterprise, and have had great experiences with them. Payless had the lowest price by far listed on Travelocity, and car rentals out of Phoenix are very expensive because the city fees are more than 100% of the rental price. But that's beside the point.

Our rental was supposed to be $248 including all fees and taxes, a good price for an eight day rental, especially since so more than half of that was Phoenix taxes/fees. When we arrived at the desk, the very friendly rental agent tried to upsell us a larger car. I said no, and he ended up using some code to upgrade us at no cost, because we had two drivers (yes, a light bulb should have gone off with the mention of two drivers, however other agencies have upgraded us for no reason).

Pinewood Derby Cub Scout Cake

You hopefully saw the awesome entries for our Cub Scout Father-Son Bake-off this year. As I gloated, we won in the best scout category. I only say this because my family makes fun of my cakes, even though I think they're pretty awesome. I'm no professional, but for an average mom, I can make some fun cakes.

We thought of doing a Pinewood Derby cake this year, and thought it was so original. Until we looked online and saw thousands of Pinewood Derby cakes out there. So my son chose the one he liked best to model it after and we got to work. Well, after we went shopping, we got to work.

I really like this picture of the frosting looking marbled as it goes from white to gray. The gray color was pretty nasty, but it looked a little bit like a track. And we didn't have silver, which my son really wanted. The goal was to get as few things at the store as necessary, and only to make one stop. Because I'm lazy and we started planning really late.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cub Scout Bake-Off Cake Ideas

It's that time again when mothers get competitive, trying to win the Father-Son Cub Scout Bake-Off.

This year was a success, I, I mean my son and I won in the best scout theme category and we could not be prouder. Okay, I could not be prouder. He was just happy to enter. Here's our winning cake (which will get another whole blog post later).

We made a Pinewood Derby cake using one real Pinewood Derby car. We couldn't find the others, but did find a wooden car from a Michael's kit that he painted at the last minute as a stand-in.

As always,

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How to Pack for a Ski Trip When You Fly and Other Ski Planning Tips

*This is part of a series on Keystone in winter. For more posts in the series, see links at the bottom.*

Normally when we go skiing, we drive. We don't have to worry about what to pack, because we have a minivan. We bring everything. But we recently flew to Colorado for a ski trip at Keystone. My goal was to bring carry on, partly to save the bag check fee, and partly because of fear of them losing our bags. And I can't believe it, but we actually did it.

Here's how to pack for a ski trip when you fly.

I have one word for you: Space Bags. Okay, that's two words.

Space Bags help you vacuum out the air and condense your bulky clothes into smaller packages.
Carry on or checked luggage?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Keystone Resort - Springs Condo Review and River Run Village

*This is part of a series on Keystone in winter. For more posts in the series, see links at the bottom.*

When we were at Keystone, we stayed at the Springs, one of many condo units at the resort. There are lots of advantages to staying on site, of course, including parking, close proximity to the lifts, close proximity to the hot tubs, and kids skiing free - ages 12 and under.

The Springs #8876
So this was our Springs condo.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Keystone Resort Fun for NonSkiers: Ice Fort, Tubing, Spa, Sleigh Ride Dinner, Ice Skating

*This is part of a series on Keystone in winter. For more posts in the series, see links at the bottom.*

While we skied during the three days we were at Keystone, there were a lot of other activities to do when not on the slopes. Even for nonskiers. Here are some we did (warning - it's a LONG post):


Every year, Keystone hosts a different ice fort that kids and adults can wander in, on and around. They hire fort makers from elsewhere in Colorado and it takes around two weeks to construct it. This year the fort is relatively open, so you can walk around it to get inside. Adults can't climb up on top, nor fit in both of the slides/tunnels. I recommend you send your kid in first to see if you'll fit!

Kids can climb on top of this fort, and slide out through a tunnel at the door on the left.
The fort is on top of the summit,

Monday, January 20, 2014

Keystone Resort - Camp Keystone Kids Ski Lessons

Our kids only skied one day last year, and two years before that, they learned to ski over a week. So we wanted to make sure to enroll them in ski school for two of the three days we were at Keystone. Their Camp Keystone was adorable, located in a cute building with lots of fun things for the kids to do inside. You can sign up for half day or full day of camp/ski lessons, in addition to private lessons.

Inside Camp Keystone, kids can play on the snowmobile and CAT machine (not pictured).
Keystone has a kids' ski free program, where kids 12 and under ski free as long as you stay in resort housing for two+ nights. Adults don't even have to ski.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Coming Up: Marin Real Estate Seminar - Free

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:

1/29/14 (Wednesday) 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.

Coming Up: Boat Show in SF - Free for Kids

If you like boats, check out the Progressive Insurance San Francisco Boat Show at McCovey Cove and Pier 48. This San Francisco boat show features hundreds of the newest boats both on land and in water. There will be luxury yachts, sport fishing vessels, sailboats and entry level cruisers, plus outdoor gear and marine accessories. 

They'll also have free boat lessons in the San Francisco Bay, stand-up paddleboarding in McCovey Cove, sailing seminars, hands-on demos, family fun and more.

When: Thursday, January 23, noon to 7 p.m.
                            Friday, January 24, noon to 7 p.m.
                            Saturday, January 25, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
                            Sunday, January 26, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: McCovey Come and Pier 48 (adjacent to AT&T Park) - 24 Willie Mays Plaza, SF
                            Friday, January 24, noon to 7 p.m.
                            Saturday, January 25, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
                            Sunday, January 26, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cost: $12/adults (ages 16+); Free for youth 15 and under, with paying adult. $2 discount for BART ticket holders. 50% off for Giants season ticket holders. Free for active military personnel, firemen, police officers, with ID.

Keystone Resort - Kidtopia and Family-Friendly Ski Resort

We recently visited Keystone Resort in Colorado for a long weekend. Having skied mostly in Tahoe, it's always fun to visit a different area. Last time I skied Colorado was pre-children, and even pre-husband - a girlfriend getaway many years ago!

So this is the first in our Keystone/skiing series. Keystone is part of the Vail group of resorts. As one employee told me, "All the Vail resorts are family-friendly, but Keystone is family-focused." Indeed there's plenty for kids and families to love, which we're focusing on in this post. And we met tons of people skiing and hanging out at Keystone without kids - so no fears if you're childless and heading out there. Keystone is the home of the Keystone Symposia, which my husband attends as frequently as he can. The conferences boast afternoons open for skiing, with mornings and evenings reserved for the learning. That was his first trip to Keystone - kid-less (and wife-less) - in Colorado on business. #jealous!

I'll be talking about skiing and ski school in future posts. I wanted to start out the series with their official Kidtopia program.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Coming Up: San Francisco Chamber Orchestra Family "First" Concerts - Free

This Monday and next Saturday, January 20 and 25, 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 "The Mysterious Maestro: What does a Conductor Do?" Guess what it's about?

When: Monday, January 20 (10:30, 11:15 and 12)

Where: The Crowden School, 1475 Rose Street, Berkley 

WhenSaturday, January 25 (10:45 and 11:30 a.m.)

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

WhenSaturday, January 25 (2, 2:45 and 3:30)
Where: 199 Museum Way, San Francisco (the Randall Museum)

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

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

5 Things to do in New York City with Kids

I know we usually cover San Francisco, but I'm taking you on a diversion today. Going to New York City with kids is a huge - and fun - adventure. When friends ask me where to take their kids, I tailor my recommendations to their interests and personalities. Do they like art? History? Culture? Food? Here are five things to do with the kids in New York City.

1.  Museums. You have tons of options. If you like art and archeology, check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Have the kids read From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler first. The American Museum of Natural History is also huge, and child-friendly. The Museum of Modern Art has great family programming. For something quirkier, visit the New York Transit Museum, with history on the subway in New York City. It's fun!

2. See the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Plan a whole day for this. You'll be waiting in lines for ferries and for access to the pedestal, if you can get tickets. You don't want to feel rushed. Purchase your tickets in advanced for timed slots, to guarantee getting in and seeing the most that you can.

3. A day in Times Square. It's crowded, but there's a lot to do in the Times Square area. See a show. Get your picture with the Naked Cowboy (or avoid him if your kids are really young). Pose with a character (you'll have to pony up some money). Shop. Visit Toys R Us and ride the Ferris Wheel.

4. See a Broadway showThere are usually a handful of family-friendly Broadway shows, like Mamma Mia (review here)Newsies (review here), Spiderman the Musical (review here), Matilda the Musical (review here)Billy Elliot (not currently showing, but review here),  the Lion King and others. Don’t forget about off-Broadway shows, which also have some family value.
Learn more about Broadway for Kids here. Get the TKTS appnofollow for free here – it tells you what’s on sale at the booth without you having to go there
5. Walk around. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge on foot. Meander through neighborhoods like SOHO, the High Line, Central Park and 5th Avenue. It gives you a great way to the city and discover new things.

You'll need a place to stayFind a New York City hotel here.

Looking for reading material to prepare you for the trip? Find some great books for the family and the kids about New York City on - left sidebar.

This post is sponsored by ThinkHotels. All opinions and information are mine.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Target Data Breach - How to Get Free Credit Monitoring

If you shopped at Target during the data breach (and I'm pretty sure that is all of you), here's the link to get one year of free credit monitoring from Experian.

In case you don't normally do so, you can get a free credit report annually from the three credit agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) even if you aren't getting the free credit monitoring service. Make sure you go to the right site, because some look official, but then ask for your credit card and charge you. You will not need to enter your credit card information on this site,

If you are organized, you can schedule these out to get one report every four months - from a different company. That way you are monitoring your credit all year long. But if you're lazy like me, you'll get all three reports at the same time, because you know you're not that organized! Lucky me, I got my reports about a week before the data breach, so I used up all mine for the year (but I'll be signing up for the free year of credit monitoring).

To learn more about how to protect yourself during a data breach, check these links:
Data breach? Now what - from
Target's response with Q andA
Data breach protection: 10 tips - from

Monday, January 13, 2014

Coming Up: Restaurant Week in San Francisco

Looking for an excuse to eat out in San Francisco? It's time for Dine About Town” – San Francisco’s Restaurant Week. It's January 15-31, 2014 (with another round on June 1-15).

More than 100 of San Francisco’s restaurants are participating, with two or three-course lunch menus for $18.95 and/or three-course dinner menus for $36.95. Prices are up to 25 percent off  regularly priced a la carte items. 

For foodies, there are two restaurants participating who earned Michelin stars (Luce and Spruce), and twelve that are Michelin rated (Absinthe, CafĂ© de la Presse, Chapeau!, Chaya Brasserie, Dosa on Fillmore, Fringale, Georges, Marlowe, One Market, Skool, Sociale and Waterbar).

See the complete Dine about Town San Francisco restaurant list here. You can make reservations there as well, in cooperation with Open Table. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Help Sponsor a Birthday Party for a Homeless Child

Indiegogo CampaignI know that planning a kids' birthday party can be expensive. So imagine planning one for your child if you're homeless, and want your child to feel special. Two Habitot board members launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for local homeless children to have special birthday parties at Habitot in 2014.

They're trying to raise $7,500 and are more than $3,600 there as of this writing. The party would include cake, gifts and party favors for the child and friends. Habitot already helps homeless families, and have been doing outreach and sponsoring family visits here for five years. I just contributed myself.

I've been seeing families on my various email groups and Facebook groups asking how their kids could volunteer and make a difference. This is one way. How great would it be for a child to participate in helping a less fortunate child have a great birthday party when they may not get to celebrate otherwise.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tucson Wildlife Center - Tour with Kids Review

When we were in Tucson recently we visited the Tucson Wildlife Center, which is the only large animal rescue center in the area (there are others that take smaller animals). We had a great tour, that the kids enjoyed too. This place takes javalinas, birds, racoons, bobcats, Cooper Hawk, Harris hawks, bunny, Great Horn owls, barn owls, coatis, ringtails, skunk, chickens and coyotes. They treated 982 animals in 2013, and had 50 on site when we were there.

Our first stop was the animal surgery room, where we saw an x-ray of a recently treated bat. Yes, that's a bat x-ray! Below you can see the operating table. The bat was found in a Gatorade bottle with a tortilla (and another dead bat). Not sure how they got in there, but you can guess that there was a human involved.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

5 Kid-Friendly Things to do in Phoenix

If you're been reading Frisco Kids for awhile, you'll see that we have a fair number of posts about Arizona, which we visit frequently because we have family there.

This post is about five things to do with kids in Phoenix. My friends who go there usually hang out at the resort pools with their kids, maybe do a hike or two. But there are a lot of fun family things if you want to venture out.

Hall of Flame
This firefighter museum is interesting even if you're not interested in the field of firefighting. With more than 90 fully restored pieces of firefighting apparatus to see, you'll find vehicles, hoses, ladders, uniforms, 400 international helmets, tons of patches from various fire stations, movies, and some hands-on exhibits for the kids to play with/on.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cooking Activity: Chocolate-Covered Crackers with Candy

Sorry for the lapse in activity recently. Had a busy holiday break and a lot of other work to do. Over the break we had some fun with chocolate. Thought I'd share! My mother found this recipe I think in O, the Oprah Magazine, and it was a huge hit with the kids. It's for chocolate-covered crackers which you decorate with whatever treats you want.

Step one: choose your chocolate. We had a mixture of white, bittersweet and milk chocolate. The kids wanted to marble it, but we stuck with one flavor per cracker, since they'd be covering the chocolate with other things and they'd never actually see the marbeling. Here's a hint: melt each type in a different bowl. At the end, you can still marble them by dipping the spatula into one and then the other type of chocolate and smearing them on a pretty way.