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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

Friday, September 26, 2014

Get 'Yer Tickets: Ivy and Bean

The mischievous second-grade heroines of Annie Barrows' New York Times best-selling Ivy + Bean series are back, with toe-tapping tunes and their special brand of witchcraft.

The Bay Area Children's Theater (BATC) created this original stage adaptation, with book, music and lyrics by Scott Elmegreen.

It's recommended for ages 4 and up.

Where: OSHER STUDIO, Berkeley
When: now through October 26 (Saturday and Sunday matinees)
More info: (510) 296-4433, or visit
Cost: $18-22

Coming up: Treasure Island Flea Market

Check out the Treasure Island Flea Market this weekend! They keep adding more fun to the mix. This weekend they'll have a collection of vintage teardrop trailers to view, with a dozen vintage trailers outfitted with modern amenities like custom-built bars, kitchens, etc.

Other family fun includes a bounce house, face painting, ponies and scavenger hunts (this month look for Rafael Ninja Turtle on a roll). Their Maker's Class is making wooden toys (cost is $1 and up). There's a farmer's market, with at least 15 local farm stand vendors. In addition to the 400 vendors, you'll find 25 food trucks, live music, drinks (cocktails, wine and beer) and a great city view.

When: last weekend of each month - September 27-28 - from 10-4
Where: Treasure Island Cost: $3/person for those 13 and older. Free for 12 and under.
Other: free parking and pet-friendly

Coming Up: Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day - free

Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day makes it possible to visit some great museums - for free! They do this annually, and this year's is on Saturday, September 27th. Download an admission card here, and get into museums like Bay Area Discovery Museum, deYoung, Hiller Aviation Museum, Bedford Gallery,  Legion of Honor, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Chinese Historical Society of America, the Lace Museum, California State Railroad Museum (Sacramento), San Jose Museum of Art, and others.

The card is good for you and one guest - one card per household. Participating Bay Area museums are listed here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Coming Up: Sunday Streets In Excelsior/Mission District

The next San Francisco's Sunday Streets is in the Excelsior district (Mission). Are you going?

Sunday Streets is a "a safe, fun, car-free place for people to get out and get active in San Francisco neighborhoods." In addition to the regular fun stuff (dance performances, climbing wall, live music, free bike rentals, yoga, pilates, arts/crafts), there's a Tricycle Music Festival event at the library there. 

It's this Sunday, September 28, Avalon to Geneva on Mission, from 11-4. Details and map here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Family Movie Nights - What are your Classics?

Do you have a family movie night tradition? We've been trying to bring our kids up to speed on some of the more recent classics. The movies we're watching may not be appropriate for your kids, but if you have some middle schoolers, here are the classics we're starting with:

Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Bueller? Bueller? This refrain is now being heard around our house. My husband had fun reminiscing about the Chicago area, where this movie is filmed, especially since parts were in his home town.

The Muppet Movie - this one is appropriate for the younger ages. My kids love the Muppets, and rightly so. They're freakin' awesome.

Wayne's World - party on! Excellent! The kids missed a lot of the cultural references, but they still found it hilarious. Even the "gratuitous sex scene" was PG rated.

Shana Tovah!

To my Jewish readers, wishing you a sweet new year!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Coming Up: I am Eleven

I AM ELEVEN opens on September 26 in the Bay Area, at the AMC Metreon in San Francisco, the New Parkway Theater (Oakland) and the Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.

I have not seen the movie, but it looks fabulous, including for kids. It's a movie featuring 11 year olds from around the world. You can see the trailer here. And read an interview with director Genevieve Bailey on Marinhood.

The movie runs 94 minutes in English (and multiple languages with English subtitles). Australian filmmaker Genevieve Bailey travelled the world for six years talking with 11-year-olds to create an insightful, funny and moving portrait of childhood. She explores the lives and thoughts of kids around the world, including one from an orphanage in India to a single-parent household in inner-city Melbourne, to bathing with elephants in Thailand.

From the press release: "It weaves together deeply personal and at times hilarious portraits of what it means to stand on the cusp between childhood and adolescence, that fleeting moment when childish naiveté has faded, yet teenaged self-consciousness has not yet taken hold. These young minds, still unguarded and remarkably honest, offer a powerful insight into the future of our world."

The film was awarded Best Documentary by the Australian Inside Film Awards numerous awards at other film festivals. Director Genevieve Bailey Genevieve was recently named as one of Australia’s ‘Top Film and TV of directors of 2012′ in the Encore and Mumbrella Annual.

You can see the I am Eleven:
AMC Metreon 16 - San Francisco
Friday, September 26 - 7 p.m. opening night meet the filmmaker Q&A
check the schedule on the link above for additional show times

Smith Rafael Film Center - San Rafael
Sunday, September 28 - 4:30 session with a special guest
check the schedule on the link above for additional show times

The New Parkway Theater - Oakland
Saturday, September 27 - 2:15
check the schedule on the link above for additional show times

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: September 27, October 25, November 22 and December 27 from 9-noon
Where: Santana Row (Alyssum Lane to Tatum Blvd)
Cost: free

Friday, September 19, 2014

Staying Healthy During the School Year

This post is sponsored by LiveHealth Online, but all opinions are my own.

The school year has started. Now it’s time to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep our kids healthy and safe during the cold and flu season ahead of us. Here are some everyday health and wellness tips from Dr. Mia Finkelston, a physician who treats patients through LiveHealth Online, to reduce your family’s risk of getting sick from seasonal and school-borne illnesses this fall and winter:

Rest up: Make sure your kids get between 9.5 - 12 hours of sleep each night to restore their bodies, improve their ability to help fight off germs, and reduce their stress levels.
Hands off: Germs are lurking everywhere during the school year and are transported mostly through our hands. Teach your kids to keep their hands away from their face, and make sure they wash hands often, especially before eating.
Eat for wellness: Stock up on nutritious foods to help kids and parents function at optimum levels. Kids love to snack. Pack nuts, whole grain crackers, and fruit in their school bag so they don’t head to the vending machine.
Don’t skip breakfast: Studies show that eating breakfast helps kids focus better in school, and they are less tired and cranky.
Immunize: Make time to get the flu shot for your family because studies show it safely protects against the most common strains of flu.

Seeing the doctor 
Sometimes with busy school schedules, it can be difficult to get into the doctor’s office or an urgent care center when a medical issue arises. LiveHealth Online is

Coming Up: I Heart Art Celebration at the de Young Museum - free

Join the I Heart Art Celebration this Sunday at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.
It celebrates the launch of the I Heart Art book, which has art activities and journaling specific to the de Young Museum.

The book was awarded an Oppenheim 2014 Toy Portfolio Gold Award that recognizes exceptional new toys and products for children.

As part of the celebration, the de Young is offering free art making activities in Wilsey Court, and interactive kid-friendly tours directly related to the book. The event is hosted by the de Youngsters.

When: Sunday, September 21 at 10
Where: deYoung Art Museum, Golden Gate Park
Cost: the activities are free, but the gallery tours require an admission ticket

Coming Up: Sing-Along with Frozen - SF and Oakland

Are you and your kids sick of Frozen yet? If not, two places are offering Frozen sing-alongs in the next few weeks.

Jack London Square: Feel free to show up in costume! Pre-event festivities include costume contests, games, prizes and more.
What: Sing-Along with Frozen, Outdoors
Where: Jack London Square in Oakland, Clay and Water Streets
When: Friday, September 26 at sundown

The Castro: Dress up for the costume contest. Goody bags at the door.
What: Frozen Sing-Along
WhereCastro Theater, San Francisco
When: Sunday, September 21 and Friday, October 4 at 1 p.m.
Cost: $16/adult, $11/kids 12 and under and seniors. Advance tickets here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Coming Up: Eat Real Festival in Oakland - Free

If you like food, you'll want to go to the 6th annual Eat Real Festival in Oakland. This food festival will attract upwards of 150,000 at Jack London Square. They call is a combination of street festival, block party and state fair - all celebrating good food.

They'll have demonstrations, DIY areas, markets, food trucks, tastings, drinks, contests and more. It's family-friendly and has a Kid Zone, with activities, demos and fun educational guides on how to eat well.

What to expect:

Kids' Zone: They'll have a Kids' Zone, and the kids can participate in interactive activities like making ice cream by hand (and crank) and pickling.

Blender Battle: hosted by Sprouts Cooking Club Sunday from 12-1, 3 young audience members will battle 3 young Sprouts members to make smoothies and ice cream.

Oyster Shuck-Off: who can shuck the most oysters in 5 minutes?

Booths/demonstrations on: Fermentation, FarmCraft, Grains and Milling, Confections, Meat and Butchery, Preserves and Sauces and Craft Beverages.

Food and drinks are for sale.

When: September 19-21
Friday September 19 from 1-9
Saturday, September 20 from 10:30-9
Sunday, September 21 from 10:30-5
Where: Oakland, Jack London Square
Cost: Free (though you'll pay to eat); some events require tickets

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Coming Up: Three Blonde Moms

I know this is last minute, but if you don't have plans tomorrow night and want an adult evening out, check out Three Blonde Moms in Marin.

Here's the description:
"Take three very desperate housewives, throw in plenty of humor around motherhood then top it off with some free Ahh Bras, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect at the 3 Blonde Moms show! 3 Blonde Moms is the hysterical semi-scripted PG-13 stand up comedy show starring some really Desperate Housewives! From television, stage and screen, these unlikely friends from the cul-de-sac bring you their unique, diverse and hysterical tales from the 'burbs. Each Mom holds an impressive repertoire of credits, but most the most important role they've all played to date is that of being a Mom! In addition to selling out venues around the country, 3 Blonde Moms was the "hit of the festival" and "most buzzworthy" at Montreal's Just For Laughs and they've beeen seen on E!, CMT and more! This show is jam-packed full of uproarious material about being a Mom, having a Mom, kids, schools, husbands, neighbors, in-laws and more. If you have a family, know a family, or need a family, this show is for you."

You can read an interview with them on Marinhood.

When: Thursday, September 18 at 8 p.m.
Where: Throckmorton Theater, Mill Valley
Tickets are: 
$20 General Admission
$25 General Day of Show
$35 Reserved Seating

Maidologie - Maid Service Made Easy - Dedicated Post

I do many things well, but cleaning house is not one of them. We’ve always found our house cleaners through word of mouth, though trying to ask around and then schedule someone who already has a mostly full schedule can be difficult. And there’s the awkward walk-through, when they come to your house, poke around and give you a price. But the price may change after they clean once or twice to see if it’s more work than they thought. Or maybe they charge by the hour, but you don’t know how quickly they work, so the price is open-ended.

I found out about Maidologie, a company that recently started up in the Bay Area. It was co-founded by a Cal grad who was sick of using a rotating group of sub-par cleaners in her own apartment. She decided to start a cleaning service that paid its cleaners a decent wage, used green products and streamlined the booking process for customers.

What she came up with is a transparent system focusing on three areas to make it better than other cleaning services:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fun Classes in the Bay Area

There are a ton of classes in the Bay Area for adults and kids. I wanted to share a few that I came across.

Our friends at a Little Yumminess offer 2-3 hour cooking classes for adults and families. You can check out the list here.

If you're looking for some parenting tips, a number of classes are taught in the East Bay, under the umbrella of parenting with positive discipline. They're taught by Marcilie Smith Boyle, and I can't vouch for her, but the topics look good. The classes are evenings in Oakland.

I did a long post earlier this year about Bay Area kids' art classes. I'll add one more to the list: Sketch Collective, which offers a variety of classes for kids in San Francisco. This includes a one day camp on Columbus Day from 9-3, which visits the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. Don't worry about transportation - they'll start at the studio on Geary and Commonwealth and take Muni together.
They offer kids and adult drawing classes on weekends as well.

I've written before about Laurel Street Arts in San Carlos, which I know from painting pottery there. But they have other art instruction too, including classes on Italian-style painting techniques, canvas painting, Halloween spiders (for kids), and more. The adult classes are in the evening, and if you get on their email list you'll find some discounts listed.

Wonderbug Adventures sounds like fun, doesn't it? These San Francisco classes explore ecology, plus play, art and song for kids ages 2-5. They have a new program called Adventure Yoga, which sounds so much better than regular yoga! This class is for kids ages 2-10, and is at Stern Grove (October 18 at 10:30 a.m.). It's a family-friendly 45 minute yoga class in the meadow - sounds like my kind of yoga!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Coming Up: Author Rick Riordan Talk in Redwood City

Are your kids obsessed with Rick Riordan books? Mine is. Not sure who he is? Ever heard of Percy Jackson? Yeah, I thought you had!

Rick Riordan will be talking about The Blood of Olympus, the finale in his Heroes of Olympus series. He'll answer questions as well. You can hear the talk, and buy copies of his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, as well as the Kane Chronicles series, that night, but he will not be signing books, so don't drag them in. It's sponsored by Kepler's Books.

When: October 15 at 7 p.m.
Where: Fox Theater in Redwood City
More info: here
Tickets: here or at Kepler's. Tickets are $15 for the talk, or $30 for the talk and a pre-signed copy of Blood of the Olympians.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Get 'Yer Tickets - Sail for Free on Seaward in San Francisco's Bay

Want to learn about sailing? The Call of the Sea, the St. Francis Yacht Club and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department are offering free three-hour tours of the Bay on Seaward, an 82 foot ship. All youth will become sailors and scientists for the day, learning about ecology, marine life, sailing skills and teamwork. Space is limited.

Age: 9-15
Register: call (415) 831-6800 with your choice of date and time.
Dates, Times and course numbers: 
Saturday September 20, 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM - Course #37537
Saturday September 20, 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM - Course #37538
Sunday September 21, 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM - Course #37539
Sunday September 21, 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM - Course #37540

Friday, September 12, 2014

Coming Up: 6th Annual Tricycle Music Fest

The Sixth Annual Tricycle Music Fest kicks off this Saturday, September 13.

These Grammy winners rally for early literacy during the library's sixth annual free festival.

What's the schedule?

Allison Faith Levy Big Time Tot Rock
Saturday, Sept. 13
Foster City Library/Leo Ryan Park (across from the library), 11:30 a.m. (Red Panda Acrobats are at 10)

Sunday, Sept. 28
Sunday Streets Dance Party- Excelsior Branch, SF 1 p.m.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Coming Up: Programs for Young Artists - Class - Free

This Sunday, Berkeley Arts Center has a free kids program through Programs for Young Artists.
Make Space artist Nancy Ivanhoe will lead participants in a series of drawing experiments in response to the play of light and shadow on everyday materials. You'll make drawings that re-examine what it means to make a drawing. This workshop is appropriate for all ages, all levels of skill, and is free and open to the public.

When: Sunday, September 14, 12-2pm
Where: Berkeley Arts Center, 1275 Walnut Street
Ages: all
Cost: free
RSVP: here

Remembering 9/11

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Book Club: What I'm Reading and Should You Read it Too?

I've been reading a lot this summer, so it's time for a book club! And like many book clubs, I haven't finished reading all the books covered here. I promise to finish some of them!

Gillian Flynn

I'm using her name as the headline of this section, because I'm now on her third novel. I started with Gone Girl, and felt like I was coming late to the game, since so many of my friends already loved and raved about this book. And I can see why. Without getting into any spoilers, it's a psychological thriller about a couple where the woman disappears. Who did it and why? That's what you'll find out about, but it is not what you might think. The author slowly pulls back the curtain revealing only a little at a time, and it's truly an original and captivating book. The one downside is that I didn't like the ending (and I wasn't alone). It's being made into a movie, so if you like to read your books before the movie comes out, get on it!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Coming Up: Comedy Day - Free

The 34th annual Comedy Day is coming up. Forty comedians will entertain, and this year's event is in Robin Williams' honor. Not sure if the comedy is child friendly, though they say it's rated PG-13. Bueller? Bueller? You can see a list of comedians performing here.

What: Comedy Day
When: Sunday, September 14 from noon to 5:30
Where: Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park
Cost: Free

Coming Up: Get your Child's Silhouette Cut-Out Portrait Made

Have you ever wanted to get your kids' silhouette portraits done? Artist Karl Johnson will be making an appearance at several spots in the Bay Area. Check out his website - great art and interesting stories.

To schedule your five minute appointment, call the store you're interested in or go to the link. All ages are welcome.

When: Thursday, September 25th from  11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Soiree - 3366 Sacramento Street,  San Francisco
Call: (415) 447-9771

When: Friday, September 26th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Fiddlesticks, 540 Hayes Street, San Francisco
Call: (415) 565-0508

When: Saturday, September 27th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: The Podolls, 251 Primrose Road, Burlingame
Call: (650) 389-2346

When: Sunday, September 28th from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Small Fry’s, 4066 24th Street, San Francisco,
Call: (415) 648-3954

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Coming Up: Family Safety Fun at Santana Row - Free

Santana Row is hosting a Mommy and Me and Daddies, Too “Family Safety” event, where you can learn about family safety from professionals and meet those who keep us safe! Enjoy live entertainment, arts and crafts, face painting, music, balloon art, story time and more.

These types of events are held on the second Tuesday of every month, May through December.

When: Tuesday, September 9, from 10 - noon
Where: Park Valencia - find it on the map here
Cost: free

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Review: Dark Hope by Monica McGurk - Young Adult Book

When we were given the opportunity to do a sponsored review of a young adult book, I thought this was the perfect opportunity - to have my middle school age adult daughter do it, that is. After all, she's the target audience! Here is her review. I have not yet read the book, but it's on my nightstand now.

"I reviewed Dark Hope by Monica McGurk. This is the first book in the Archangels Prophesy series.

The book follows a girl named Hope who was abducted as a little girl. After the abduction, her father becomes super overprotective, causing her parents to divorce. Hope’s dad gets custody and she goes to live with him. Years later, Hope asks for a change in custody and moves in with her mom to starts high school. She meets a boy named Michael who turns out to be an angel protecting her from a group of angels he called the fallen ones, who believe she is the “bearer of the key” and want to capture Hope and use her to destroy heaven.

Dark Hope was interesting and I enjoyed reading it. I loved the characters and there were a lot of twists in the plot so it never got boring. One thing I didn’t like about it though is there were a lot of references to Christianity and the bible, so I feel I would have understood the plot and maybe even the characters in more depth if I was Christian.

I think the book is definitely more of a girl’s book and is probably best for middle school kids. This book is book one in a trilogy. I would read the other books.

You can read more about Dark Angel at the author's website here.

One thing I like about this author is that she's trying to help stop human trafficking (it's mentioned in the book), and a portion of her book sales money will go to help organizations doing this. I am also raising money to help stop human trafficking. For my Bat Mitzvah project, I have been raising money to free child slaves in Ghana through an organization called Breaking the Chain Through Education. You can read more about my project and the organization here. Through sales of my hand-made jewelry, I've already raised about $3,000, which was matched dollar-for-dollar by my dad's employer. I am continuing to sell my jewelry, with all proceeds going to end child slavery in Ghana. I like that Monica McGurk and I are interested in the same cause!"

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

Coming Up: Friday Night Market - SF - Free

This Friday is the opening of the Friday Night Market, which will run 8 consecutive Friday nights. The free event features:
-DJ music and live music
-12 food trucks
-45 local vendors selling homemade foods, clothing, antiques, art, etc.
-beer garden (with wine and cocktails too)
And it's pet friendly.

Where: UN Plaza (7th and Market), SF
When: Friday, September 5 from 4-9 p.m.
Cost: Free