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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What to do during the holiday break in San Francisco Bay Area

Getting a little bored at home already? Have parents visiting and need an outing? Here are a few things to do!

SEE A PLAY

Lemony Snicket's The Lump of Coal is now playing at the Children's Creativity Museum Theater in San Francisco! It's a "hilarious and heartburning, uh, heartwarming holiday adventure of a lump of coal who wants to be an artist." It plays Saturdays and Sundays through January 3rd, 2016. The show is 60 minutes without intermission.

GO TO THE ZOO
San Francisco Zoo Lights go through January 3. "Come enjoy the Zoo under twinkling lights and experience the wonder of the holiday season. This year's Zoo Lights will include the brand new South American Tropical Rainforest and Aviary, the Little Puffer Steam Train and the new Station Café."

GO ICE SKATING
Skate at several outdoor rinks, including the Union Square Ice Rink in San Francisco, Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero CenterDowntown San Jose Ice Rink,


CHECK OUT KIDS' MUSEUMS
The Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose has an Adventures in Light: a Holiday Workshop through January 3. It includes ShadowDreamScape, combining light and movement in surprising ways. Night Light explores bioluminescence, and Through the Lens looks at the world of light and images. That's in addition to the other exhibits, which will keep you busy for hours.

The Lawrence Hall of Science sponsors Winter Weeks Visit every day through January 3, except December 24-25. You'll learn about space exploration in the Planetarium, engineer moving toys in the Ingenuity Lab, and meet real animals in the Animal Discovery Room.

BASS WORLD
Check out the new Bass World in San Jose. It's not just a store selling outdoorsy items, it's a destination. They have a bowling alley, restaurant, giant fish tank, activities, nature murals and a Santa Wonderland with a free photo through December 24.

What to do on December 25

If you're looking for ideas for what to do on Christmas Day in the San Francisco Bay Area, here are a few.

Head to the Contemporary Jewish Museum for their annual event. This is an admission-free, fun-for-all extravaganza with free performances by Alison Faith Levy and her Big Time Tot Rock Band. Explore the galleries, get creative in the Maker Art Lab Studio inspired by the exhibition NEAT: New Experiments in Art and Technology.

Where: 736 Mission Street, SF
When: 11-4
Cost: FREE!

The San Francisco Botanical Garden is open as well on December 25.
Where: 9th Avenue at Lincoln Way, SF
When:  7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free

Ice skating
Where: Union Square Ice Rink
When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. - reserve tickets!
Where: Downtown San Jose Ice Rink
When: 2 p.m. to midnight

Other ideas? Check out Red Tricycle's list and search SFkids.org's calendar.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Noon Year's Eve and Early New Year's Celebrations in the Bay Area 2015-2016

I guess Noon Year's Eve is a thing, since I'm seeing a lot of events around it! Here are some ways to usher in the new year, 12 hours early.

FOSTER CITY
When: December 31 from 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Where: Children's Room of the library, 1000 E. Hillsdale Blvd.
What: Children's activities and a countdown to 12 noon.
Cost: Free


SAN CARLOS
When: December 31 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Where: Hiller Aviation Museum
What:   Live entertainment on stage starting at 10, plus special attractions ranging from face painting to bounce houses. Close to noon, you'll gather for the big balloon drop as hundreds of balloons fall from the rafters to ring in 2016.
Cost: Free with museum admission.

HALF MOON BAY
When: December 31 from 5 - 9 p.m.
Where: Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
What: "Early Bird New Year's Eve" with live music to ring in the New Year. Menu. Celebration when the ball drops in New York City. .
Cost:  Pay for your own drinks/food

SAN FRANCISCO
When: December 31 from 9:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Members only: 9:30 - 11:30
General admission: 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM
Where: Asian Art Museum
What: Japanese New Year's Bell Ringing Ceremony
Ring in the New Year by taking a swing at a 2,100-pound, 16th-century Japanese temple bell
Cost: Free with museum admission.

BERKELEY
When: December 31 from 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Where: Lawrence Hall of Science
What: Lots of scientific activities, culminating in a balloon drop (and apple cider toast) at 2.
Cost: Free with museum admission.

There are lots of other fun New Year's Eve celebrations going on around the San Francisco Bay. Read more about them at:
Red Tricycle
Marin Mommies
SF Fun/Cheap
New Year's Eve San Francisco fireworks
510 Families



Monday, December 21, 2015

A few fun reads and watches

Things have been super crazy at our place. While my husband's work slowed down at year-end, mine is heating up. So not so many posts for Frisco Kids!

I wanted to share a few fun and interesting things to read/watch on the internet. I'm sure you'll need some distractions with the kids home and getting ready for the holidays.


  • Have you been following Humans of New York's series on Syrian refugees? It's been a fascinating and humanizing way to see stories of real people living in limbo and trying to get resettled for a permanent life in the U.S. You can see the series on Instagram or Facebook.
  • Talk like Yoda - here are the grammar rules
Meet your Second Wife





Monday, December 14, 2015

Free shipping day 2015

If you're running behind and still need a few gifts, free shipping day is coming up. It's on Friday, December 18, and its the 8th annual. There are hundreds (perhaps into a thousand) retailers offering free shipping with no minimum order requirements, with many stores offering extra savings of up to 50-percent off. To participate, the retailers also are required to guarantee delivery on or before Christmas Eve for orders placed that day.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

IKEA Christmas video - what kids really want

I've been seeing this Ikea video about gift giving float around the internet for awhile, and wanted to share. It's really a beautiful reminder of what really matters in the holiday seas. Spoiler alert: it's you.



Monday, December 7, 2015

San Francisco Holiday Guide 2015

Those looking for holiday entertainment and shows in the Bay Area will not be disappointed! There are a ton of things to do! We'll be doing our Frisco Kids Holiday Guide for 2015 in installments, so keep an eye out for future posts!

Conservatory of Flowers Garden Railway
Take a trip back in time now through April 10, 2016 at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. The garden railway display celebrates the centennial of the Pan Pacific International Exposition. Model trains make their way through the festive fairgrounds, along tracks past hundreds of dwarf plants, water features and reproductions of the Tower of Jewels, Palace of Fine Arts and more. You'll learn about the history of the exposition in a fun and visual way.
Where: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
When: Now through April 10, 2016
Fee: yes


The Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party
Head back in time to Dickens' era, to a gas-lit 19th-century London. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party takes place at the Cow Palace on weekends through December 20, 2015. That means munching on roasted chestnuts, listening to carolers and seeing Father Christmas (a little different than today's Santa Claus). You'll find plenty to buy and something like seven stages offering live entertainment,
Where: Cow Palace
When: weekends through December 20, 2015
Fee: yes

Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: Old School and What it's Like to Meet Jeff Kinney on Good Morning America

This post is written by one of our younger readers.

I’m Zachary, and recently I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Kinney, going on Good Morning America, and getting his new book the day it was released. The book is called Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School, and is his tenth book in the series. Old School has two main plots. In one of them, Greg’s mom is trying to make his town go technology-free, but he has other plans. While his mom starts arranging park cleanups and volunteer gardens, Greg is just trying to escape

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Coming Up: Treasure Island Flea - With Reindeer

Check out the Treasure Island Flea Market this weekend! This holiday version features LIVE reindeer you can pet and feed (apparently there are only 20 reindeer in California). Plus they'll have a giant Radio Flyer wagon. Bring new, unwrapped toys for the toy drive.

Giant Radio Flyer wagon, photo courtesy of Joaquin Uy/Flickr.

In addition to the 400 vendors, you'll find 25 food trucks, live music, drinks (cocktails, wine and beer) and a great city view. The Treasure Island Flea is held every last weekend (excluding December).

When: last weekend of each month - November 28-29 - from 10-4
Where: Treasure Island, Great Lawn, Avenue of the Palms
Cost: $3/person for those 13 and older. Free for 12 and under.
Other: free parking and pet-friendly

Monday, November 16, 2015

Get 'Yer Tickets: Family Holiday Concerts at Symphony Hall 2015

One of the great things about this time of year is the number of holiday concerts that are appropriate for kids. The San Francisco Symphony has many - and I'm going to list them here with the hopes that you'll buy tickets for some of them to treat the kids to a wonderful cultural experience and family memories. Buy tickets for any of the San Francisco Symphony holiday shows here.

Tim Burton's the Nightmare Before Christmas at the San Francisco Symphony

Disney in Concert: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
The San Francisco Symphony accompanies the screening of Tim Burton’s Academy Award-nominated film The Nightmare Before Christmas, featuring the Grammy-nominated music by Danny Elfman. One intermission.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Win Great Prizes and Help People Read!

We're part way through the Passports with Purpose fundraiser. Have you checked out the great prizes you can win? Have you seen what good you can do for only $10?

Passports with Purpose is an all-volunteer fundraiser founded and run by travel bloggers, and supported by some great companies like TBEX. Each year, we find sponsors to offer prizes - you get one raffle-type entry to the prize of your choice for each $10 donation you make. This year we're supporting Worldreader, and with the money raised, we'll be donating e-readers to five libraries in Kenya. The donations will help at least 6,500 kids and adults have access to 50,000 books - both fiction and nonfiction, in Swahili and English.



What prizes can you win?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Passports with Purpose: Win a Yurt stay at Yosemite with Thousand Trails

Frisco Kids likes to do its part helping others, which is why we've been participating the past few years with Passports With Purpose. This blogger-run (and all volunteer) fundraiser chooses a new organization and project every year to raise much-needed funds for great projects.

For every $10 you donate, you get a chance to win a fabulous prize, and libraries in Kenya get stocked with e-readers. Photo courtesy of Worldreader.
This year we're working with Worldreader, and we'll be raising funds to bring digital readers (like Kindles) to five libraries in Kenya. Each library will get about 50 e-readers each, providing 6,250 children, teachers and parents with access to more than 50,000 books. The books will be in Swahili and English, with fiction and nonfiction books.The Worldreader program trains the librarians in their use, and also provides field-tested solar chargers to keep the e-readers charged if electricity is scarce. Read more about the Worldreader program here. and on the Worldreader website here. This fundraiser is close to my heart because I love reading, and so does my son. I can't imagine not having access to books.

So you're probably dying to know who is providing an amazing prize for this fundraiser, and what you can win. The answer is:

Thousand Trails Campgrounds and Encore RV Resorts, who is giving away a week's stay in a yurt at Yosemite Lakes Campground!
Imaging staying at this yurt for a week right outside Yosemite. For free! It's only $10 to enter to win. Photo courtesy of Thousand Trails and Encore RV Resorts.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Coming Up: STEAM Carnival in San Francisco

For kids interested in science and engineering, this event looks like fun! It's a STEAM Carnival, the first in the Bay Area. It's run by Two Bit Circus, an engineering entertainment company that is trying to re-imagine the world of play. They call it a "high­ impact, high ­voltage entertainment showcase fun for all ages." STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

They'll have technology-infused games, attractions and immersive hands-on experiences, including high-tech games including:
-rooms of lasers
-walls of buttons and backyard classics made HUGE
-mad science demos
-circus acrobats, aerialists and fire breathers
-VR (virtual reality) lounge
-Trash for Teaching

Plus food, stage shows, lab demos and artists. See the preview video here.

When: November 6-8, 2015 (10-5 Friday, 10-6 Saturday and Sunday)
Where: Pier 48 at AT andT Park in San Francisco
Tickets: $20-30 online - buy them here.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Get 'Yer Tickets - Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

Broadway is again coming to San Francisco, and this time with A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, the Tony award winning musical in 2014 (it won three other Tony awards as well). It's starting its first national tour (and the Broadway show closes the next month). I already saw and reviewed it (you're welcome!) so you can decide if you want to see it and bring the kids. Here's my review of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.


When: December 1-27, 2015
Where: SHN Golden Gate Theatre,
Tickets: $45-212. Get them here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Don't miss these Halloween treats

In the spirit of Halloween (did you know it's coming up this weekend? My kids won't let me forget), I'm sharing some fun Halloween things for my readers in the Bay Area.

FREE IT'S-IT ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
Yes, free! How? Go to the IT’S-IT Factory Shop on Friday, October 30 - and wear a costume. They'll give you a free pumpkin IT’S-IT Ice Cream Sandwich. They're at 865 Burlway Road in Burlingame. You can see their sign from 101. They're open 10-6.

CANDY DELIVERY
Run out of candy or haven't yet bought yours? Get it delivered! The folks at SpoonRocket have you covered. They're offering three types of 40 ounce candy bags with contents that won't get you egged (Milky Way, Milky Way Midnight, Twix, 3 Musketeers and Snickers). And they'll deliver curbside within 15 minutes, good to know if you run out mid-trick or treat cycle. Delivery area is San Francisco and the East Bay. Each bag is $12.99, with a $2.50-$2.75 delivery fee, while supplies last. they'll deliver 8 a.m. through midnight in the East Bay, and and 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. in San Francisco through Saturday night. They deliver food too.

TOP TRICK OR TREAT NEIGHBORHOODS
Did you know that San Francisco and San Jose are the top two trick or treating cities in the U.S., according to Zillow? They break it down by individual neighborhood too, so check out their posting and see if your neighborhood is included (or alternately, find out where to bring the kids).

Looking for San Francisco Bay Area things to do on Halloween in 2015? Check out our posting!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Amazing Deal to go to Israel via Groupon

We went to Israel this summer with our family. It was my fourth trip there, but the first for my kids. I know that now is not the time everyone wants to go - the random acts of violence are certainly scary. This is probably why Groupon and Israel introduced an amazingly priced deal to go to Israel in January and February. They are offering tours which INCLUDE airfare from JFK, for $999. We paid more than per person for our airfare last summer and flew out of Philly because JFK airfares were several hundred dollars more per person. This tour, though, includes hotels, some meals and the tours many days as well.
The Western Wall and Dome of the Rock in the old city of Jerusalem. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

If you've ever wanted to go to Israel (and pretty much everyone I've ever talked to said they do - regardless of their religion), I'd encourage you to look into this deal. You can read more of the details on the Groupon site. This is a great price.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Halloween 2015 events for families in the Bay Area

In case you weren't aware, Halloween is coming up! I wanted to add some more to this post but realize that I'm running out of time. So I'll add more as it comes in, but I wanted to make sure none of these events passed!

Here are some Halloween 2015 events for families in the Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO
What: Stern Grove's Scaregrove
When: Friday, October 23 from 3-9
What: Haunted house, hay rides, arts and crafts, inflatables, carnival rides
Cost: $8/person - all inclusive (free ages 2 and under)
Who: the whole family
More info: Scaregrove

Friday, October 9, 2015

Dedicated Post: Who Has Time for the Flu? What's the Flu and Where can you get Vaccinated?

Every fall, the kids and I get our flu shots (hubby gets his at work). We've been fortunate not to have caught the flu, though I have memories from growing up of days laid up in bed feeling horrible. A (hopefully) preventative shot is totally worth avoiding that.

And in case you were wondering, this post is brought to you by MinuteClinic.
I got a flu shot but this isn't me. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

What IS the flu? Sometimes it gets confusing to know the difference between the the flu and a cold (see below for some common symptoms of both). The flu is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. It can develop very quickly and often comes with a fever, and possibly headache, sore throat, dry cough, stuffy or runny nose and muscle aches.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Coming Up: Fleet Week

If you haven't noticed the Blue Angels flying around, then I'll tell you that it's Fleet Week. If you have seen them, you already know this!

Here are some Fleet Week activities for this weekend:

What: Fleet Fest - Ship tours, food trucks, live music, military displays and art
When: Saturday and Sunday - 10-6
Where: Pier 80
Schedule: see the Fleet Week schedule here

Ship Tours:
Actually ship tours go on Saturday through Monday. Here are ship tour details. They're at various piers around San Francisco, not in one spot!

Parade of Ships
Watch the parade of ships Friday from 11-12:30. They'll start out by the Golden Gate Bridge.

Air Show
The Air Show is on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12:30-3. See the schedule of who performs when. You can get premium box seats here. The Blue Angels perform last.

What to do Columbus Day weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area

What to do on Columbus Day weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area? Here are some ideas:

-Check out Art SV/SF, an international contemporary and modern art fair at the San Mateo County Event Center October 8-11. They'll have more than 70 international art galleries and artists, and the fair is for all ages. There's a Kids' Center, a supervised playroom on-site for kids ages 3-13, where they'll be introduced to art and can participate in art explorations, games, puzzles and storytelling. High school/college and art students can attend panels and discussions about art (GoPro’s President Tony Bates will be on the Architecture, Art and Interior Design panel). It's a big fair, with more than 12,500 attendees, collectors and buyers last year, including George Lucas!

-Jack of All Trades Market, with 90+ local artists, collectors, makers and more, plus games, live music and workshops for all ages. It's at Historic Jack London Square in  Oakland on Saturday from 11 to 5. It's free and pet friendly.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Coming Up: Kids' Festival at McLaren Park Concert Series - Free

This Saturday is part of the Saturday in the Park McLaren concert series. It's Kids' Festival, with Charity and the JAMBand, the Alphabet Rockers and, from 11-3, a day for the whole family of art, music, magic, science, hikes and dance and more.

When: Saturday, October 10
WhereMcLaren Park, San Francisco
Parking: free

Monday, October 5, 2015

Coming Up: DIY Felt Mask Workshop

Fall is here, and so is a workshop to make gorgeous felt animal masks. Check out the creation below, which you can make at the MiniMakers workshop later in October. See more masks at the bottom.



In the workshop you'll make felt woodland animal masks which you can use for Halloween, dress-up or as wall-art (you'll get wall plaques to hang them if you want). The workshop is put on by Chelsea from Lovely Indeed, Amber from Damask Love, and the Land of Nod.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Coming Up: Museums on Us - Free Admission

Bank of America's Museums on Us program runs this weekend, October 3-4 (some museums are only one day), 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! 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, East Bay 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
· Legion of Honor

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Get 'Yer Tickets: DJ MacHale in Menlo Park - Free

My tween son and niece are huge DJ MacHale fans. He writes the Pendragon series and is introducing the new Voyagers series, part sci-fi, part eco-mystery, plus action/adventure. You can learn more about it (and buy it) at Machale's appearance at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park.

Get your free ticket here to see MacHale here.

When: Thursday, October 15 at 7 p.m.
Where; Kepler's Books (1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Get 'Yer Tickets: If/Then


SHN made an exciting announcement that the touring production of If/Then includes not only Idina Menzel, but original castmates Tony Award-winner LaChanze (The Color Purple, Once on This Island), Anthony Rapp (Rent, Six Degrees of Separation, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) and James Snyder (Cry-Baby, Rock of Ages), the original Broadway stars of the show.

I reviewed the show for Jersey Kids with these castmates, and you can read the If/Then review here (and see whether it might be good for your kids, or better as a date night).

What: If/Then
When: November 10 – December 6
Where: SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco
Tickets: get them at the SHN website
Ages: recommended for 12+

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Coming Up: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Head to Golden Gate Park for a weekend of free concerts and the festival. You can see the complete lineup for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass here. As of this writing, the times/dates for each performer weren't yet available.

When: October 2-4
Where: Golden Gate Park, Hellman Hollow and Lindley Meadows

Friday, September 25, 2015

Amazon Prime Sale Today - $67 for One Year

If you've been on the fence about getting Amazon Prime, today is your day to buy. From 12 a.m. Eastern time until midnight Pacific time today (September 25), Amazon Prime is $67 (a $32 savings from its normal rate). They are offering it on sale as a way to celebrate Transparent winning an Emmy. If you're interested in in buying, use this link as it has the sale info mentioned on it. It's also an affiliate link, but that won't cost you anything extra. It's still $67 for one year (presumably the second year it goes back up to the regular price).

With Amazon Prime you'll get free two day shipping in addition to access to all their streaming movies and television shows (like Transparent!). There are other benefits as well, like access to 800,000 free ebooks via a lending library, and access to music and playlists.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Coming Up: Glass Pumpkin Patches in the Bay Area

Glass pumpkin by Upupa4me/Flickr.
I already have a full patch of glass pumpkins in my house (plus a glass-blown apple) but I'm always tempted to add more. Here are several places to get some pumpkins that won't rot!

Palo Alto
What: Great Glass Pumpkin Patch
Where: Palo Alto Art Center (1313 Newell Road)
When: Exhibition: September 29-October 2 (10-7 or 10-5), Sales October 3-4 (10-5)
Details: After several days of previews, you can purchase pumpkins! This is the largest glass pumpkin patch in California, with more than 10,000 hand-blown pumpkins for sale by 29 artists.

San Jose
What: Glass Pumpkin Festival at Santana Row
Where: Santana Row Park, across from Left Bank Brasserie
When: Saturday and Sunday, October 10 (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and October 11 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Details: Stroll through thousands of hand-blown glass pumpkins crafted by BAGI (Bay Area Glass Institute) artists and renowned glass artisans from around the country. The pumpkins will be available in an assortment of colors, sizes and a range of prices.

Half Moon Bay
What: Hand blown art glass pumpkin patch
Where: La Nebbia Winery, 12341 San Mateo Road on Highway 92
When: October 10-11 (10-5)
Details: Hundreds of hand blown pumpkins by artist Douglass C. Brown

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fun science projects to do at home with Project MC2

As a StreamTeam member, Netflix sent me a really fun package earlier this month, related to their original series Project MC2. If you're not familiar with the show, it's about four girls who team up as teenage spies, to become secret agents. The tag line is "smart is the new cool."

As part of the package, Netflix sent us some science experiments to do at home. Lucky us - school hadn't started yet, and my kids ripped into them. You may have some of the items needed in your home already, and here are the instruction sheets they gave us, which are pictured below.


We made a glitter tornado in a test tube, using water, glitter, dish soap and food coloring.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Coming Up: Superhero Training Academy

For your kids who aspire to be superheroes, there's the Superhero Training Academy this Saturday in Milpitas.

Event highlights include:
-Superhero Photo Meet and Greet
-Superhero Training Stations
-Arts and Crafts Stations
-Retailer Discounts
-Superhero Prize Pack Drawing

Where: Great Mall (entrance 2, 447 Great Mall Drive in Milpitas)
When: Saturday, September 19 at 1 p.m.
Fee: free with $5 Simon Kidgits Club membership (it lasts a year)
Sign up: at the Great Mall Guest Services desk

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Coming Up: Come out and Play Festival

We're at the tail end of the Come out and Play Festival in San Francisco. But that's okay, because Saturday is Family Day. It's sponsored by Poppy Cat, so the main audience is preschoolers. Poppy Cat is a TV show on Sprout and Netflix. There will be several family games to choose from!

When: Saturday, September 19 from 11-4
Where: Gray Area Art & Technology, San Francisco (2665 Mission Street)
Cost: free

Coming Up: California Coastal Clean-Up Day

This Saturday is California Coastal Clean-up Day, which runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Join with 67,000 other volunteers all over California to help clean up what might be almost 1.2 million pounds of trash and recylables. There are many participating sites, and you should contact the coordinator in advance. (I know, I didn't give you much warning). Find out more here.

Coming Up: Focus Group on Shopping

What's better than getting paid to shop? Getting paid to talk about shopping! Fleishman Field Research is doing opinion studies in San Francisco on Friday September 25. /2015. They're in downtown San Francisco. If you qualify and participate, you'll get paid $100 or $150 depending on the length of your study. If interested, fill out their pre-survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Y2MDNTB

They'll contact you for more info if you qualify.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Shana Tova - Happy New Year!

I want to wish all my Jewish readers a shana tova, a happy new year. I'm about to start cooking for the holiday, but wanted to share a post from the past, with some links and explanations for the holiday!

If you're not Jewish, the holiday of Rosh Hashana may be something of a mystery. It's the Jewish new year! Instead of blowing party horns, we blow the shofar, a ram's horn, to wake us all up and make us look at our lives and how we are living them. It's a time for reflection and change - for the better.

Between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, we're supposed to be introspective and figure out how we want to improve ourselves. We give more charity. We ask others for their forgiveness for anything we've done wrong in the past year. We start the year with a clean slate and part of that is making sure we've worked out any issues with other humans.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What to do in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend

A few fun activities for the upcoming weekend:

-For the football and Stanford fans out there, head to Stanford for Cardinal Kids Day at Stanford Football, a day of family fun on September 12. Enjoy interactive and educational activities, the chance to meet Stanford student-athletes, and then get ready for the Stanford Football home opener against Central Florida at 7:30 p.m. All kids 8th grade and under receive free admission with advance registration - use the promotional code CDM-STANFORD when getting tickets here. More info on Cardinal Kids Day at Stanford Football here.

-Combine a farmer's market with country dancing this Saturday, September 12 at Bay Street in the East Bay. Along with the farmer's market you can take free dance lessons, which they're calling the Country Dance Hoe Down. Professional Dance Instructor Tytus Bergtrom provides country dance lessons from 11-1, while the market goes from 10-2.The farmer's market offers produce, fish, baked goods, flowers, cheese, organics and oils. It's at Bay Street Emeryville, 5616 Bay Street.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Date Night: The Middleman Economy at Kepler's Books - and Giveaway

If you're looking for a night out with or without the partner, here's one to check out. Bay Area author Marina Krakovsky will talk about her new book "The Middleman Economy: How Brokers, Agents, Dealers, and Everyday Matchmakers Create Value and Profit." Given how the internet makes it much easier to do many purchases and deals directly, why go through a middleman, like a broker, agent or dealer? For the book, Krakovsky interviews people like:

-Drew Rosenhaus, apparently the most powerful agent in the NFL who gets better deals for clients but angers team owners.
-LaJuan Stoxstill-Diggs, an appliance flipper on Craigslist who makes money by buying used washers and dryers and selling them for profit, making happy both the people who want to get rid of their junk, and those looking to buy used.

The book and lecture might get you thinking about different ways to run your life, or your business. This talk is part of the Peninsula Arts & Letters series.

And you can possibly win a free copy at a Goodreads giveaway.

Where: Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park
Where: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: free, but get them here

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Coming Up: Kevin Henkes comes to Kepler's in Menlo Park

Kevin Henkes is one of my favorite children's authors. Our favorites of his include Lily's Purple Plastic Purse and  Julius: Baby of the World, but he's also written Chrysanthemum, Kittens Last Full Moon, The Little White Rabbit, Owen,, Good Day and Lily's Big Day. He's a Caldecott Medalist too (I love the illustrations). Well, he's coming to Kepler's Books on October 1 and you can see him - with or without your kiddos. Ha ha! He'll be talking about his new book Waiting. Read more about the book here.

When: Thursday, October 1 at 6 p.m.
Where: Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Road, Menlo Park
Tickets: tickets are free, but RSVP here. Maybe they'll close the event if it's full.

Go to the National Parks for Free with Every Kid in a Park Program

If you have a fourth grader, you're in luck. The National Park System is offering a new Every Kid in a Park pass this year.

The program, which started September 1 and goes through this school year, allows fourth grade students to obtain a special pass good for them and their families to visit any federally managed land/water site. This includes more than 2,000 national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries. For this program, the pass allows in the fourth grader and three adults, or a car full of people for drive-in parks. This all leads up to the National Park Service's 100th birthday in 2016.

Here's where to get the Every Kid in a Park pass and more information.

Friday, September 4, 2015

What to Labor Day weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area

If you're like me, Labor Day weekend snuck up on you and you're trying to figure out what to do. Here are a few ideas!

-Bank of America's free Museums on Us program offers free museum entry per B of A (or Merrill Lynch) card on Saturday and/or Sunday. See a full list of participating Museums on Us sites here (you'll need to do a little clicking, since they don't have permalinks to regional museums).

-Chabot Space and Science Center is hosting a LEGO Laboratories event. This takes place every Sunday and has an engineering challenge focus. This quarter (through October) they're doing a space theme, a scale model of a Saturn V rocket. Challenges are based on age. The fee is $7/nonmember, $5/member plus admission, and you can get tickets in advance.

-Go to the Cartoon Art Museum for their exhibit on Darth Vader and Friends.

-Check out the Begonia Festival in Capitola. There's a sand sculpture contest, you can help create a mural made entirely of begonias, watch a nautical parade featuring begonia covered floats, take a workshop to create wearable begonia creations, participate in a fishing derby, rowboat races, watch a film screening on the beach, do arts and crafts projects, eat, listen to music and more.

-Shakespeare in the Park is free on weekends through September 27. This year it's Romeo and Juliet. For Bay Area Shakespeare in the Park performance locations, dates and times, click here.

-Outdoor movie night tonight at the Oakland Zoo at 6:30. The movie is Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Remember that BART service between San Francisco and the East Bay is halted this weekend (September 5-7) for track repairs.

Check out the calendar of events for families at SFKids.org.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Coming Up: Superhero Day at Santana Row

Santana Row is hosting a Mommy & Me and Daddies Too, event called “Superhero Day!” This kids’ club features free entertainment, interactive games, hands-on activities and educational activities designed for parents and their preschool aged children. Dress as your favorite superhero and meet other superheroes. They'll have live musical performances by Andy Z, Silicon Valley Ballet School and Action Day Primary Plus. Plus, arts and crafts, face painting, music, balloon art, story time and more. Meet at Park Valencia in front of Maggiano’s to pick up your activity sheet.

When: Tuesday, September 8, 10 a.m. to noon,
Other kids' club activities are held on the second Tuesday of every month, May-December
Where: Park Valencia at Santana Row, San Jose

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Coming Up: Barbie Rock 'N Royals Concert in Milpitas - Free

If your kids are into Barbie, head to the Great Mall in Milpitas this Sunday for a Barbie in Rock ‘N Royals Comes to Life interactive concert experience. The new Barbie movie Rock ‘N Royals debuts nationwide on September 8. The concert features live performances of songs from the movie, and you can meet Princess Courtney and Rockstar Erika. There will also be a sing-along with interactive karaoke, a Barbie photo-opp, and kids can play with the new Barbie in Rock ‘N Royals dolls and toys.

For more info available now To learn more about the movie or tour, visit their site BeSuper.com 

When: Sunday, August 30 from 12-6
noon - the activity area opens
1 and 4 - live concerts
6 - activity area closes
Where: Great Mall Grand Court, Entrance 2 (447 Great Mall Drive) Milpitas

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Get 'Yer Tickets: Once the Musical


You've seen the movie. Should you see the musical? I reviewed the show for Jersey Kids and you can read my Once the Musical review here and see whether it might be good for your kids, or better as a date night.

What: Once the Musical
When: October 27 - November 1
Where: SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco
Tickets: get them at the SHN website 
Ages: recommended for 10+

Monday, August 24, 2015

Coming Up: Proud of my Family Weekend at Children's Discovery Museum

film projector graphicChildren's Discovery Museum is hosting activities to celebrate Bay Area family diversity this weekend with activities throughout the museum. You and the kids can make rainbow friendship bracelets, explore what family means to you, learn the meanings of the colors in the rainbow flag, and more.

CDM representatives will also be at the Silicon Valley Pride Festival on Sunday, August 30 at Almaden Boulevard. Look for the Museum activity "Bubbles are Rainbows" between noon and 4 p.m. in the Family Garden area.

When: August 29-30
Where: Children's Discovery Museum, San Jose
Cost: free with admission

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Coming Up: Free Concert in Foster City Friday Night

This Friday, grab your picnic blankets and head to Leo Ryan Park in Foster City for a fun concert. You'll hear Rick Reynolds and his 37 piece orchestra play Broadway music. Bring a dinner, or buy from the food trucks. The concert runs from 6-8.

Sign up with ESTA Before Buying Airplane Tickets

This post is brought to you by Estapermits.org, a professional US consular service provider.

When travelling to the USA, there’s a range of rules that travelers who need visas have to follow before even arriving. Things are easier for travelers who can visit the U.S under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) through ESTA. Those who want to travel to the U.S under VWP through ESTA still have to pass the security requirements and will also have to pay the required administrative fee. Unfortunately for now, only a select number of countries have been approved to have its citizens and nationals eligible for the ESTA application. The advantage of ESTA is that it’s a process done completely online, so there’s no need to wait at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and there’s no need for any forms to be printed out. In a way, ESTA helps to save both time and money.

What is ESTA?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Coming Up: Saturday in the Park McLaren Concert Series - Free

This Saturday launches the Saturday in the Park McLaren concert series and Acoustic Soul Festival. Rebel Soul Records, Friends of the AMP Jerry Garcia Amphitheater and Saturday in the Park McLaren presents the festival, which features San Francisco native Martin Luther McCoy with Faye Carol (Jazz vocalist), YouNique Girl, The Three Bells and Viveca Hawkins. You'll also see youth dance performers, poets and other family fun. Bring lunch. They'll have small snacks available for purchase.

When: Saturday, August 22
Where: McLaren Park, San Francisco
When: Pre-show starts at noon. Live Acoustic Soul starts at 1 p.m
Parking: free


Other concerts in the series:

August 29 – Flavor of the South Side – A day of bluegrass, classic rock, folk and jazz music featuring, Pucci and the Pups, Back Porch Band and Delmarva.

October 10 – The Kids’ Festival – with Charity and the JAMBand, the Alphabet Rockers and, from 11-3, a day for the whole family of art, music, magic, science, hikes and dance and more.

October 17 – The Blues Show – season finale concert presenting: a Tribute to B. B. King presented by SFArtsEverywhere. It celebrates 44 years of the Amphitheater with their annual Birthday Party celebration and 10 years honoring the naming of the Amphitheater after Jerry Garcia, frontman for the Grateful Dead Band.



Monday, August 17, 2015

Prolong Summer With Movies and TV Shows

Unlike most Bay Area kids, mine are still in camp! We are starting big school years this year, so life will be full of exciting changes. We're not ready to let summer go, so we're keeping a few things on the agenda to keep summer in mind.

Have you been watching the new Netflix show Wet Hot American Summer - First Day of Camp series? This campy show (truly) has some bizarre moments that leave you shaking your head and thinking "did they really just do that?" (I'm mean about you, talking vegetable can, and you girl who came out of the bathroom stall in an unexpected way). I don't recommend you put this show on for your kids, but we will be screening the 2001 movie with my kids when they return. The cast is phenomenol: Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, and the list goes on. Most of these actors are in the television series 14 years later, still playing camp counselors, which is hilarious.

To get the kids in the mood for school (and let them watch TV, which they haven't done for a month), there's School of Rock with Jack Black and a new Netflix series, Project MC2 (that's supposed to be a "squared" mark but I can't do that on my blog). The show features four supercool teen spies who show how girls can use their science smarts and math problem-solving skills to save the world. Not a bad premise!


Disclosure: I am a Netflix StreamTeam member.

Coming Up: Hello Kitty Cafe truck Coming to Santana Row


In case you missed the last Hello Kitty Cafe truck at Santana Row in San Jose this spring, they're making a return appearance August 22-23 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. They'll be by Santana Row Park and Left Bank Brasserie. Expect lines.

The truck is selling Hello Kitty themed treats, which may include pettit fours, doughnuts, macaroons and some non-food items as well. You can see some of the cute offerings on their Instagram account. They're on tour to promote the first mainland Hello Kitty Cafe opening some time in the near future in Orange County. If you go, post a picture on Twitter and tag us @friscokids!
Photo courtesy of Porcupiny/Flickr

Friday, August 14, 2015

Coming Up: Sunday Streets - Free

This Sunday is Sunday Streets, joining forces with The Excelsior Festival and The Excelsior Art Walk. The streets will be transformed into a safe space for community to gather, kids to play, and neighbors to socialize. You'll find healthy activities, music, performances, and arts, Look for activities from the Excelsior Branch Library. They include drumming and dancing, free bike rentals, bookmark making, a MommyNearest play zone, an interactive art installation and more.

When: Sunday, August 16th between 11-4
Where: Mission Street between Theresa and Geneva

Coming up: Taiwanese Hand Puppet Fantasy - in Mandarin - Free

For the Mandarin speaking kids and parents in the crowd, come to the Taiwanese Hand Puppet Fantasy show this Sunday in Foster City. The Chiao Wan Jan Puppet Troupe from Taiwan's hand puppet fantasy show includes Chinese folklore. The troupe is made of students of Taipei Pingdeng Elementary School, touring the Bay Area this summer,

When: Sunday, August 16, at 2 p.m.
Where: Children's Room, Foster City Public Library
Cost: free

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Coming Up: Kidgits Club Carnival Event at Stoneridge

Coming Up, the Simon Kidgits Club Carnival event. There will be a balloon artist, magical bubble act, and a meet and greet with The Sheriff of Fun, plus carnival games and activities, contest and giveaways!

You have to be a Kidgits member (cost $5 for annual membership - register here or at Simon Guest Services).

When: Saturday, August 15th starting at 11
Where: Stoneridge Shopping Center starting at 11.
Cost: Free to Kidgits members

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Coming Up: Off Broadway Summer Pop Up Festival

Check out the free family festival coming up, the Off Broadway Summer Pop Up. It's to celebrate San Francisco’s Broadway District by featuring more than 100 artists, makers, designers, antique collectors, live music, food and more. It's curated by the folks who bring you Treasure Island Flea and Jack of All Trades Market.

They'll have DIY activities, art stations for kids, community games like corn hole and giant Jenga.

When: August 15, noon to 6
Where: Kearny Street and Pacific Avenue, San Francisco
Cost: Free

Monday, August 10, 2015

Coming Up: California Symphony Presents The Wizard of Oz

I have many happy memories of watching the Wizard of Oz on television with my sister. How fun would it be to see it outdoors, with live music? So fun!

The California Symphony is accompanying the 1939 movie with a live concert, as it's shown on a large screen. You'll still be able to hear the singing, with original vocal performances preserved and enhanced.

When: Friday, August 21 at 8:30 p.m.
Where: Concord Pavilion
Tickets: $25 to $75 for adults, $10 for students 18 years old and younger. Buy them at California Symphony.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Coming Up: Jack of All Trades Market

This weekend, head to Jack London Square for their Jack of All Trades Market. The fun includes about 100 vendors, food trucks, live music, DIY workshops and kids' activities. The kids' activities are run by Planet Xone and are free before noon. Look for giant sumo wrestling and Nerf gun tag.

Where: Jack London Square, Oakland
When: Saturday, August 8 from 11-5
Cost: free

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Coming Up: Ultimate Frisbee Championship Weekend

This weekend is the Championship Weekend for Ultimate Frisbee. If you want to show your child what Ultimate Frisbee is, this is a great opportunity. More than 5 million people played ultimate in 2013, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. The biggest increase has been those starting to play in middle school and high school. It's a great non-contact alternative to other sports.

What will happen this weekend? The Bay Area Disc Association is hosting a youth clinic that will teach basic throwing and catching skills, and run through two short drills and hold a contest for prizes. And then there are the championship games, of course.

Where: Avaya Stadium, 1123 Coleman Ave., San Jose
When: August 8-9
The youth clinic is from 3-350 on August 8
Semifinal championship games will be played August 8 at 4 and 7 p.m. The final game will be played August 9 at 2 p.m.
Tickets: Range from $18 to $45, and a 16-and-under day pass is $12, available through Ticketmaster.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Coming Up: Chronicle Books Warehouse Sale

Chronicle Books is having a warehouse sale, where everything in the store will be 65% off. This is a great time to start shopping for the holidays. They'll have cookbooks, kids' books, lifestyle and home, art/craft/design, photography, travel, pop culture and music titles. And journals and stationery. 

Where: Chronicle Books Corporate Headquarters - 680 Second Street, San Francisco
When: August 5-7, from 9-7

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wednesday Summer Fun Days at Lawrence Hall of Science

There are still a few Wednesday Summer Fun Days left at Lawrence Hall of Science this summer. These add-on science fun projects are free with admission. Here's what's coming up this month:

August 5 - Space, the Final Frontier

Is there life on other planets? Are there more Earths in our universe? Get up close and personal with some of the most exciting space explorations, as you find answers to these and other questions. Interact with planets in Science On a Sphere® or take to the stars in their Kepler-inspired Planetarium shows.

August 12 - Real-life Robotics

Scientists are making robots more human every day. Catch a free screening of Robots 3D and learn how scientists are working to make complex and humanoid robots that can tackle human challenges. A robotic cast member from Robots 3D may show up! Free showings at noon, 1 and 2 p.m.

August 19 - Fizzy Foamy Science

Learn to make fizzy paint and create beautiful artworks on the hall plaza. Use vinegar, pigment, and baking soda to bring your art to life. Take the science with you and re-create this fun and nonpermanent painting activity at home.

All Summer Fun Day activities run from noon to 2, and they're included with admission price. The Lawrence Hall of Science is in Berkeley.

SCRAP giveaways - school supplies for teachers and students

If you or your kids like doing craft projects, you probably know about SCRAP. This nonprofit group collects all kinds of awesome new and reuseable things that might otherwise end up in the garbage. And they sell it for cheap or give it away.

They have an annual giant Teachers' Give Away for supplies, and it's coming up on Saturday, August 15th. All Bay Area teachers are welcome. Just bring your teacher ID and get supplies for your classes. What can you get? Paper, cloth, markers, pens, easels, pads, and all sorts of handy materials - and it's all free if you're a teacher. Come between 10-5 on August 15th.

And for those going back to school (non-teachers), there's a sale going on all of August. Bring a student ID or Teacher ID (if you can't make the teacher day) and get 25% off all items. The Back to School Sale runs now through August 31.

You can see some of the recent finds on their Instagram page, including colored tape, fancy wrapping paper, art supplies, yarn, glass vases and more.

What: SCRAP (Scroungers' Center for Reusable Art Parts)
Where: 801 Toland Street (Entrance on Newcomb), San Francisco

Friday, July 31, 2015

Kindle freebie today: YA Book 89 Walls

If you're looking for a Young Adult book, my college pal's new release is available on Kindle today for free! Then you have to pay (but it's only $5.99). I've already read a few chapters and downloaded it myself. It's called 89 Walls by Katie Pierson, and it's a coming of age story about a high school romance (in the late 1980s, hence the name), with themes of sexuality, politics, religion and first love explored. Download it and let me know what you think!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Chicago: Embassy Suites with Kids Review

**This is the last in our series on Chicago. In this series are our reviews of the Shedd Aquarium, the Willis (Sears) Tower or the Museum of Science and Industry). **

When we stay in a hotel, our preference is a suite - that includes breakfast (and even better for one that includes happy hour). We really enjoy having our kids sleep in a separate area, but not necessarily next door. We often end up at the Embassy Suites in downtown Chicago (600 N. State Street). (While we sometimes get rooms to review for the blog, we paid for this one ourselves).

The Embassy Suites in Chicago
We were very happy with the rooms, though we did pay the $10/night extra for the city view and weren't impressed with the view. Next time we won't pony up for the extra. Not worth it, even being on the 9th floor.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chicago: Museum of Science and Industry with Kids

**This is part of our series on Chicago**
We flew into Chicago early morning, and took a taxi straight to the Museum of Science and Industry (as for luggage - we sent that ahead with my husband who had other plans for the day). We planned to spend the day there but I didn't realize we would spend the ENTIRE day there. So much to see and do. And we still missed out on some of the exhibits. My kids are tween/teen age, and they loved it as much as I did. Plenty for the younger set too.

The motion simulator ride
Some planes "flew" over the miniature set with trains below.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Still time for summer adventure

The summer is halfway over for many of us (maybe more than halfway for others!). Have you lost your momentum for creating some fun and adventure? Are the kids glued to the television? Even if they are, there are ways to get their creative side out with inspiration from the shows you're watching.

This summer Netflix introduced a new original series: Dragons: Race to the Edge. Sound somewhat familiar? It includes Hiccup and Toothless from How to Train Your Dragons film. To get ready to watch the television show, try coming up with some crafts (or let you kids do the brainstorming) for snacks and props you can use while watching the show or acting out scenes during play time.

Need some ideas?

Make labels like "Dragon Scales" or "Dragon Claws" to put on bags of Doritos or Bugles. Use inflatable or plastic swords (do you have those around from Halloween or in the dress-up bin?). Make your own dragon wings with a black blanket or pantyhose stretched over bent hangers. Draw dragons and castles with sidewalk chalk on the driveway. Make some JELL-O Jigglers dragon eyes (I did some Halloween ones a few years back that fit the bill - check out the eyes - they're just like the dragon's!).

Of course you can come up with creative ideas for any TV show or movie. What are your ideas?

Disclosure: I'm a Netflix StreamTeam member.

Coming Up: American Craft Council San Francisco Show

Interior design lovers - don't miss the American Craft Council's 40th annual San Francisco Show. It features 225 top contemporary jewelry, clothing, furniture, and home décor artists from across the country. It's the largest juried fine craft show on the West Coast. They expect 12,000 attendees.


They'll feature two special showcases:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Chicago: Willis (Sears) Tower with Kids

**This is part of our series on Chicago.**
I've been to Chicago many times, and finally made it to the top of the Willis Tower, the Sky Deck, better known to you probably as the Sears Tower. The view from the 110 floor top is amazing - as you'll see in my beautiful pictures below!


If you plan to go, make sure to read details at the bottom to save yourself some time and hassle. You will be in for a major wait most likely, so minimize that!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Chicago: Shedd Aquarium with Kids

This is first in a series of posts about taking the family to Chicago. There's still time to go this summer, and fall is a great time to visit too. One stop on the family list is the Shedd Aquarium. Situated on Lake Michigan, It's the world's largest indoor aquarium though we still like the Monterey Bay Aquarium better!


If you plan to go to the aquarium, plan ahead or you'll be waiting in the huge line like you see in the photo above. More info on strategies to get in quickly at the bottom - trust me, you'll need it!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Games for Kids - Niya and Wink

I wanted to share a couple of games we tried recently. We're big fan of Blue Orange Games, as we play Spot It and Gobblet frequently. You can read our reviews Spot It and Gobblet here, as well as some other kid-friendly games). Here are two more games from Blue Orange that our family has now adopted.


Niya by Blue Orange Games  $13.99 (or less)
Ages 7-adult
This is a strategy game where you have 8 qualities (maple leaf, rising sun, birds etc.) and you put your clan token in the space where a garden tile is, calling out the two qualities that square has. Your goal is kind of like tic-tac-toe, only need 4 in a row, or a square of 4. Your opponent then has to put their marker down on another square that has one of the qualities you just mentioned. Then it's your turn - again, using one of the qualities called out. You try to get 4 in a row and block them from getting it. My 11 year old loved it, and it's challenging, though very quick to learn and the games are short. And it's good for adults too.

Wink by Blue Orange Games - $14-16
Ages 8-adult
I'll admit that my husband was not eager to play this game, though the kids couldn't wait. Here's the concept. You set up the cards like you see below, in a big grid. You have your own set of cards, and you pick a number on the board that is not in your hand. Before it gets to your turn again, the person at the table who has that number card in their hand has to wink at you without getting caught. When it's your turn again, if you successfully identify the person, you each get a point. If someone catches them winking at you, they accuse the person. If right, the accuser gets two points. "This was surprisingly fun" my husband said, which is a huge endorsement. The game was pretty silly and resulted in a lot of laughing. We played with people, though it would be even more fun with a bigger crowd. And you should play at a square table, not a rectangular one, to make it more fair. I can see this one getting taken out of the cabinet many more times in our future.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

7 practical ideas to entertain your kids this summer

Thank you to Tesco for writing and bringing you this post.

Summer is the time of year when your family can put aside some of the stresses of the school year and spend some quality time together. Whether you’re the type of family that enjoys an outdoor adventure or relaxing in the comfort of your own home, here are seven ideas to not only entertain your kids this summer, but to bring your family closer together.

1. Backyard camping 
Camping is a great family experience, but it can also involve an overwhelming amount of preparation and the stresses of keeping an eye on your little ones can become quite chaotic. Moving your adventure to your own backyard doesn’t have to make for an inauthentic experience, just be sure to use of a real tent and sleeping bags, and include activities like traditional camping barbeque and events like orienteering and stargazing.

2. Movie nights 
The backbone of family hangouts is the movie night, which can last for a single viewing of a classic family favorite, or a marathon of Disney and Pixar flicks. There are lots of great entertainment Blu ray DVDs options that you can pick up from retailers like Tesco and other stores, that can keep you and the kids entertained.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Get 'Yer Tickets: Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions Concert


Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions is coming to San Jose on July 12. If you haven't heard of it, you're not alone. This is a full symphony performance of Pokemon video game songs. Even if you're not a Pokemon fan (but your kid is) you will love this concert, speaking from personal experience. The symphony plays around 20 different orchestral versions of Pokemon songs from video games, while large screens show matching Pokemon video game play and battles. The music is fantastic, even from someone who never heard the music before (like me).

Here's our review of Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions. It tells you more about the concert and what to expect.

If you're interested in going, you can get Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions tickets for San Jose here. Tickets are $61-116.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

What we're watching this month

I'm behind (as usual) on my shows. We finally caught up on the Survivor finale and Amazing Race finale as a family. So then it was time for me to finally finish the first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. I was sad to finish, because that means there's no more until they release the new season. The show reminds me a bit of Ally McBeal, not because the awesome Jane Krakowski is in both (she is) but because they're both weird and quirky. You think, "did they really just say (or do) that?" And yes, they did.

Netflix released Orange is the New Black - season 3 - early! I have only watched a few minutes so far of season 3, but I'm excited. I plan to string it out and not binge watch it.

The kids have been busy watching their own shows on Netflix. My son has been busy watching Supernatural and catching up on Family guy. My daughter is into comedians now, and there are a ton of stand up shows on Netflix.

I'm coming up with my own list of family shows for movie nights this summer, including some kids' movies I haven't seen (The Nut Job, The Box Trolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, though I still haven't seen 1, Mulan - which it's hard to believe I haven't seen, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2). My son is interested in the Nightmare before Christmas, which is a classic.

And then there are some movies from before their time I'll force them to watch, like Titanic, Cast Away, Grease and maybe Footloose (so I can sing).

What do you plan to watch this summer?


Disclosure: I am a Netflix #streamteam member.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Coming Up: The Day the Crayons Quit

This weekend, a new Bay Area Children's Theatre (BACT) opens, called The Day the Crayons Quit: The Musical. It's based on the book of the same name.

The plot: "Coloring is Duncan’s favorite thing to do—so you can imagine how he feels when his crayons announce, “We’re done, we’re through, WE QUIT.” Red and blue are exhausted from all those oceans, skies and fire engines, and they want a break. Black yearns to do more than mere outlines. And yellow and orange have stopped talking to each other, because they both claim to be the color of the sun. Uh oh. Duncan better think out of the box—and fast!"

Where: Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland,
When: Saturdays at 10:30 and 2 p.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., June 20 through July 26 (no shows July 4).

Where: Theatre at the Children's Creativity Museum, 221 4th Street, San Francisco
When: Weekends at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., August 1 – 23.
Ages: all

Tickets: BATC or call  visit or call (510) 296-4433. Tickets for Children's Fairyland show include all day admission to the park: General admission (1 and up need a ticket) - $18; Children’s Fairyland member - $14; Group (minimum of 15) - $13

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Coming Up: Bank of America's Museums on Us - free

Bank of America's Museums on Us program runs this weekend, June 6-7 (some museums are only one day), 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! The website won't let me give you an individual list of cities to click, so just check the main website and look for California in the pull-down menu.

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Coming Up: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

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



You'll see 2,000 triathletes (including those on relay teams) swim 1.5 miles