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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Coming Up: Chronicle Books Warehouse Sale

Everything in the store is 80% off at the Chronicle Books Corporate Headquarters sale. Head over!

Stock up on books and gifts with 80% off hundreds of selected titles. Choose from cookbooks, children’s books, lifestyle, home, arts and crafts, art and design, photography, travel, pop culture, and music titles. Plus, journals, stationery, and much more!

Where: 680 2nd Street San Francisco
When: Thursday, December 14, 9-7, Friday, December 15, 9–7 and Saturday, December 16, 10–3.


Monday, November 13, 2017

2017 Christmas Traditions at the Westin

When looking for holiday things to do this year, check out the Westin in Union Square. They'll have the 12-feet tall Medieval Sugar Castle and the St. Francis Enchanted Castle. Plus, their popular St. Francis Sweet Boutique will be filled with tasty treats, plus holiday décor in both lobbies.



CASTLES
On November 22 at 11 a.m., their executive pastry chef Jean-Francois Houdré and his team will unveil two unique handcrafted castles in the Landmark Lobby. They'll reveal their 12-ft. Medieval sugar castle, originally created in 2005. It resembles a French chateau inspired by Chef Houdre’s travels, and features grand circular towers, individual rooms and colorful illuminated windows.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Coming Up: Fall Holiday Chocolate Salon

You can start drooling now. The fall holiday chocolate salon is coming up - and that means lots of gourmet chocolate eating. Plus demonstrations, celebrity chef and author talks and more.

photo copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan. No reprinting without permission

When: November 19 from 10-5
Where: San Francisco County Fair Building, Golden Gate Park, SF (1199 9th Ave at Lincoln Way)
Tickets: $20/advanced purchase, $25/door. Children ages 6-12 are $10. Children under 6 are free (maximum 2 kids per adult or they'll charge $10 for each additional child). Tickets include chocolate and wine tastings and demonstrations.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Coming Up: IlluminOdyssey – A Winter Light Experience for Kids

Electrify your child’s imagination at CuriOdyssey’s spectacular light exhibition. Be amazed and transfixed by fascinating works of interactive luminosity and kid-friendly, glowing art, at IlluminOdyssey – A Winter Light Experience for Kids.

When: November 10, 2017 - January 7, 2018 (open late November 10, December 1, January 5 until 8 p.m.)

Where: CuriOdyssey - 1651 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo

Cost: Exhibition is free with admission. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Coming Up: Birth and Baby Fair

It's time for the 12th annual Birth and Baby Fair, which helps out expecting, new or fairly new parents across the Bay Area! This locally owned, operated and organized fair features many Bay Area resources, as well as locally made goods. It hosts workshops and demonstrations on popular parenting topics such as sleep techniques, baby sign language, potty training, making your own baby food, etc. They also have a mom pampering area with complimentary mini spa services and some great giveaways during the product showcase and raffle (one prize is a stroller).

The first 100 families receive a special goody bag.

What: San Francisco Birth and Baby Fair
When: Sunday, November 12, 2017 10 am- 4 pm
Where: Golden Gate Club, 135 Fisher Loop, San Francisco
Cost: $12/online, $15/at the door (free for ages 18 and under)
Purchase tickets online and use code "bbfair2017" to get $2 off admission.

Get 'Yer Tickets: Willy Wonka

Bay Area Theater Company is performing
Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka. It follows Charlie's magical adventure, when he wins a tour of Mr. Wonka's chocolate factory. It's been adapted for young audiences.

They offer Friday dinner performances, with free pizza for all. At every Friday night show, everyone gets a free slice of pizza before the show. Juice boxes and extra slices available for purchase.

Ages: 5+
Where/When:
Berkeley - November 10 - December 31
San Francisco - January 5 - January 21

Coming Up: Joy! A Holiday Show with Circus, Dance and Live Music

This holiday show looks like a lot of fun. It's called JOY!, a Holiday Show with Circus, Dance, and Live Music, and features Pickle Family Circus stars Pino and Razz (who are also Cirque du Soleil soloists Jeff Raz and Diane Wasnak). This new show follows last year’s Nutz RE-Mixed! and is set to the live music of award-winning a cappella group SoVoSó. The music accompanies "a magical madcap holiday circus featuring world-class acrobats, dancers, and circus artists in a zany holiday spectacular."
Photo by Jana Marcus, courtesy of JOY!

There's comedy, acrobatics, Mongolian backbending contortionists, hand-balancing from Xiaohong and Jennings, dancers and more.

When: November 24 – 26
Where: Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz

When: December 1 – 3
Where: Hammer Theatre, 101 Paseo De San Antonio, San Jose.

Tickets: $9.75 - $50, plus box office fees
Photo by Jana Marcus, courtesy of JOY!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Coming Up: Patchwork Modern Makers Show

This weekend, check out the Patchwork Show in Oakland. It's a modern makers festival with 150 local makers, crafters, designers and food artisans. They'll also have DIY craft workshops, food trucks and indie music.. It's free and dog friendly too.

When: November 4 from 11-5
Where: Jack London Square 
Cost: free

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Coming Up: David Shannon Introduces Bizzy Mizz Lizzie

David Shannon introduces his exuberant new book Bizzy Mizz Lizzie about over-scheduled children (and adults) with good humor, fun and heart. He'll present it at Kepler's Books - get a ticket (they're free). About the book: "Lizzie is the busiest, buzziest bee in Hivetown. Shannon's vivid artwork and Lizzie's endearing efforts to "do it all" will make children laugh aloud at her frantic antics as she juggles school, multiple sports, dance, violin, and art. With charm and determination, she longs to impress the Queen by winning a spelling contest, but she studies to the point of exhaustion. When she dozes off in the middle of the competition, the only solution is rest and her refreshing visit to the local Garden finally teaches Lizzie to stop and smell the flowers "which is exactly what bees are supposed to do."

David Shannon is the internationally acclaimed creator of more than thirty picture books, including No, David!, a Caldecott Honor Book and his second New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year, A Bad Case of Stripes, Duck on a Bike, and Too Many Toys! Don't miss this opportunity to meet the ever popular David Shannon and discover a new favorite read.

When: Saturday November 18 at 2:00
Where: Kepler's Books in Menlo Park

Coming Up: Conservatory of Flowers Photosynthesis Exhibit Continued

Cue to popular demand, the Photosynthesis continues through November 26th at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.

This landmark became the canvas for Photosynthesis, an elegant public art installation to honor San Francisco’s citywide celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love. Photosynthesis is a special project presented by Illuminate, the nonprofit arts group behind the Bay Lights, in partnership with San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, and Obscura Digital, a world-renowned creative studio specializing in large-scale light-based art. The installation at Conservatory of Flowers represents the world's most sophisticated use of gobo projectors to transform the all-white 138-year-old structure with a series of exquisitely illuminated scenes inspired by the rare tropical flowers within and the legacy of San Francisco’s flower children.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Bay Area Halloween Events 2017


SAN FRANCISCO
Scaregrove
What:  An "out of this world" Halloween event, this year's event will feature a costume contest and parade, haunted houses, hay rides, carnival rides, giant inflatables, food for sale and live entertainment.
When: October 27 from 3-9
Where: Stern Grove (19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard)
Cost: $10 per person; children under 2 years old are free! Tickets are now available at the McLaren Lodge Annex (501 Stanyan Street in Golden Gate Park) Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., until the day of the event.


Presidio
What: Crafts - Día de Los Muertos Masks
When: October 28-29, 11-4
Where: Presidio Officers’ Club, 50 Moraga Avenue, San Francisco

What: Family Halloween at Fort Point. This family-friendly afternoon is scare-free, but full of global Halloween traditions: 19th Century reenactors tell stories; create Day of the Dead sugar skulls; face painting; s’mores; food trucks; and candlelight tours
When: October 30, 1-6 (4:30 kids' costume parade)
Where: Fort Point National Historic Site, San Francisco
Cost: Free

Treasure Island Flea
What: Free pumpkin patch, trick-or-treating (bring a bucket), vintage costume shopping, design your own pumpkin workshop. Each day the first 1,000 people can pick out a pumpkin of their liking. Costume contest for adults, kids, and dogs at 2:00 each day. Design your own custom Halloween jewelry workshop ($8). Dia de Los Muertos design your own sugar skull workshop ($2). Kid Zone hosts vintage hot rod race tracks, giants bubbles, a building block play house, face painting and bungee jumping. Live music.
When: October 28-29, 10-4
Cost: $3 entry; kids free


EAST BAY
Richmond Art Center
What: Skeletonfest - Make art and celebrate family with a special Community Altar building. The planned art-making activities are free, and children under 12 should be accompanied by an adult. The day’s activities include: Little Piñatas, Metal Nichos/Milagros (originated as a popular adaptation of the Roman Catholic retablo tradition of painting patron saints on wood or tin. They can act as shrines, protection, or devotional objects), Paper Flowers, Screen Printing Bags,
When: October 28 - 12:30 to 3:00
Where:
Cost: Free!

Bay Street Boo Bash
What: Pumpkin decorating, face painting, Halloween treats, spooky haunted carriage rides, festive games, a costume parade for kids, mystical magic shows, doggy costume parade, festive photo booth and more.
When: October 29, 11-2.
Where: Bay Street, Emeryville – Center Plaza 5616 Bay Street

Lawrence Hall of Science
What: Halloween-themed activities in the Ingenuity Lab and Animal Discovery Room. Plus, the annual pumpkin catapult show
When: October 28–29, 10:00–5:00 S
Cost: included with admission

PENINSULA
Hiller Aviation Museum - Halloween Hangar Haunt
What: Helicopter pumpkin drop at noon. Specially-decorated museum gallery, search for hidden clues in a quest to a special reward. Take part in Halloween carnival games amid museum aircraft, and visit eerie Invention Lab to mix Spooky Slime and experiment with the amazing Boo Bubbles! Visit with their witch and sign her pumpkin to prepare it for its final flight! Join the witch’s creepy costume review as she takes flight, not on broomstick, but in a helicopter! Then, count down the seconds to the orange gourd’s fateful fall as the witch drops the pumpkin from her airborne perch, dropping it to the tarmac below.
When: October 28, 10-12:00
Cost: Included with admission.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Coming Up: Open House for the San Mateo Country Crime Lab

Have you ever wanted to check out a crime lab? The San Mateo County Crime Lab opens for tours for two days! They decorate for Halloween and in costumes. You'll see different parts of the labs and talk with criminologists. This is a great opportunity to meet them and ask them questions about their jobs and how they got there.

WHAT: San Mateo County Crime Lab Open House

WHEN: Thursday, October 26th and Friday, October 27th from 2 - 6
Tours start every 10 minutes. No sign-up necessary.

WHERE: 50 Tower Road San Mateo

Info: Robin Foucrault at (650) 312-5307 or RKFoucrault@smcgov.org

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Coming Up: Bay Area Science Festival



The Bay Area Science Festival runs October 26 through November 11, with Discovery Days events all around the San Francisco Bay, like in the North Bay at the Sonoma County Fairground on October 28, at Cal State East Bay on the same day, and at AT and T Park on November 11. With more than 200 hands-on activities plus exhibits and performances, it's a lot of fun. The Discovery Days are aimed at kids 0-14.

Explorer Days include more than 20 tours, like hikes to see the San Andreas fault, with a geologist, or seeing a deep ocean exploration manufacturing center. All are hosted by scientists or engineers. As for performances, look for Radiolab and the Food Network's Alton Brown.

Some activities are adults-only, and others welcome kids. Some are free, some have a fee. Go through the schedule and see what interests you.




Thursday, October 12, 2017

Coming Up: Opinion Study - $150-300

Probe Market Research is recruiting for personal finances opinion studies. They're paying $150 or $300 depending on the study, and they are 60 or 120 minutes in San Francisco. Here is the survey to see if you qualify: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WB57BTY

When: October 19 and 20
Pay: $150 or $300
Where: San Francisco

Coming Up: Sandcastle Classic - San Francisco

This weekend, get outside for the 35th annual Sandcastle Classic, Northern California's biggest sandcastle competition. The building gets started at 11, and you can wander around watching them build while listening to live music performances. Food trucks will be on hand to feed you. The event benefits arts education for SF youth. Volunteer spots are open for some of the teams, and everyone can help build the community castle.

When: Saturday, October 14 from 11-3:30
Where: Ocean Beach at Balboa Street

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Complete Guide to Paying for College: Q&A with Author Leah Ingram

I've now hit that phase of life - my first child is starting to look at colleges. When I started this blog, she was in 2nd grade. Yes, it goes quickly. Yes, we've been saving money for college, but is it enough? The financials are overwhelming!

I was excited to that my friend and colleague Leah Ingram just published The Complete Guide to Paying for College. Leah writes about useful and practical ways to save and spend money. She's the kind of person who has your back. She's put one kid through school and another is currently enrolled. She knows her stuff.

In addition to reading the book (which I'm doing now), I wanted to do a Q and A with Leah, to give you more info on paying for college and give you some hints about what's in the book.

There's a ton of books out there on paying for college. Why is yours different?

I believe that The Complete Guide to Paying for College is different than other books out there because it focuses exclusively on middle-class families. Pew Research says 51 percent of American families are considered to be middle class. I don't put income limits on my definition of the middle class, because in some places earning six figures still leaves you in the middle class. Rather I like to describe it this way. We are the families that never earned enough to fully fund a 529 college savings plan but we make too much to qualify for traditional need-based financial aid. At the same time we don't make enough to pay for college out of pocket. Given that we need to find creative ways to pay for college, and that's what I believe the book provides.

In your book, you talk about

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bay Area Menorah Lightings 2014

all events are free

SAN FRANCISCO
What:  Rabbi Peretz Mochkin in lighting the 1st candle of the Menorah
When: December 16
Where: Ghirardelli Square
Activities: TBA. http://www.ghirardellisq.com/events/


What: Bill Graham Union Square Menorah Lighting
When: TBA
Where: Union Square
Activities: music, latkes, activities


PENINSULA
What: Latkepalooza
When: Monday, December 14, 2014, 1-3:30 (candle lighting is at 3:30)
Where: PJCC, 800 Foster City Blvd, Foster City
Activities: live music, kids' activities, singalong, latkes and kosher wine tasting (for the adults!). Bring canned food to donate to Second Harvest Food Bank

What: Burlingame Chanukah Celebration
When: Tuesday, December 16 from 6-7
Where: by the Apple Store - 240 Park Road, Burlingame
Activities: live music of Jonathan Bayer, latkes, menorah lighting

What: Festival of Lights Community Hanukkah party
When: Thursday, December 18 from 6-7
Where: Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way in Palo Alto
Activities: puppet show, dreidel workshop for kids, jelly doughnuts, latkes, candle lighting


SOUTH BAY

Menorah Lighting with Chabad Wednesday, December 1, 2010 from 6-8 p.m. at the South Peninsula Hebrew Day School (MP room) in Sunnyvale (1030 Astoria Drive). Free Arts and crafts, candle dipping, lighting the ice menorah, hot cider, balloon twisting, music, latkes, sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), Hanukkah "game show," food (nominal charge), RSVP requested.


When: December 17, 2015 from 4-6
Where: Santana Row (Park Valencia)
Activities: kosher treats, entertainment, dreidel decorating, story time with PJ Library


EAST BAY 
Menorah Lighting with Chabad Sunday, December 5 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Bay Center in Emeryville. Enjoy live music from the Rockin' Rabbis, latkes, gelt, an ice menorah, a sing-along and face painting.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Focus group: Clothing!

Okay, so this isn't a traditional focus group, but rather a clothing thing. I'll just post details and you can see for yourself. This is a legit market research company.

They're looking for a women for a two 2 phase study in San Francisco beginning September 15th and ending October 2nd.

Phase 1: (45 minutes) You must first complete an initial written survey and then participate in a fitting exercise. You'll have to try on a tight-fitting outfit (i.e. leotard, form-fitting tank top with shorts) to help them collection of your exact body measurements (including height and weight) and then be photographed in it by a female researcher. Pay = $125

Phase 2: (90 minutes) requires that you try on multiple garments and be interviewed about the experience. As you’ll be trying on a variety of casual outfit pieces, such as t-shirts, pants, jeans and a dress, you’ll need to wear everyday underwear and the type of bra that you’d wear if you were shopping for a t-shirt. Pay = $200

If interested, fill out their pre-survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/T9XVH39

Friday, September 1, 2017

Review: IFly Indoor Skydiving With Kids

My kids have been wanting to try indoor skydiving for quite awhile. My mother surprised us all with a session at iFly when we were visiting them in Phoenix, though they've had one in the Bay Area for a long time.



What was surprising to me is how much time the whole experience takes, when you're actually only in the chamber for two 1 minute sessions. Our group of nine was there for probably more than an hour. It was a lot of fun, and my son really wants to go back again.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

12 Random Observations About Amsterdam

Two days to spend in Amsterdam isn't a lot of time, but it is enough to get some general observations. (We also wrote about what to do with teens in Amsterdam).

In no particular order:
Bike a boatload of kids in Amsterdam. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

1. No one wears bike helmets.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Coming Up: Treasure Island Flea This Weekend

It's Hawaiian weekend at the Treasure Island Flea.

-The first 1000 attendees each day get a raffle to win a Hawaiian vacation
-The first 1000 attendees each day get a lei
-Three different Tiki Bar stations, featuring Treasure Island Mai Tais, PainKillers and Fresh Young Coconuts (try adding a shot of rum!), Kona and Maui beers and more!
-Several Hawaiian vendors
-Each food vendor will have a Hawaiian option
-Silent disco!

When: July 29-30 from 10-4
Where: Pier 1, Treasure Island
Cost: $3 general entry; free for kids 12 and under; parking free
Deal: Get 2 admissions and 2 sangrias for $11 (or 4 for $20)



Thursday, July 27, 2017

48 Hours in Amsterdam with Kids

We recently transferred through Amsterdam on our way from Tanzania. It would be a shame to miss spending time in this wonderful city, so we planned 2+ days in Amsterdam. With so little time, we really had to maximize our hours. (After this, read 12 random observations about Amsterdam)

The famous Iamsterdam sculpture in front of the Rijksmuseum. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan


So here are our recommendations for what to do in Amsterdam with 2 (or 2.5) days, in no particular order.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Coming Up: Science Supermarket

Get ready for some STEM before school start again, with Science Supermarket. This is a one-day event that includes a range of companies and organizations offering educational resources. Exhibitors include educational games, apps, software, robotics, virtual reality, coding, programming, artificial intelligence, toys, gadgets, tutors, science, camps, schools, academic counselors, prep schools, biotech, sports and fitness.

Tickets: free to $7 in advance
Where: San Francisco
When: August 6, 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Coming Up: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Children's Musical Theater San Jose is presenting the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Several casts (of 112 kids total - ages 14-20) will perform in this show

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is based on the Victor Hugo novel and the Disney animated film. It beginat the stately cathedral in 15th century Paris where Quasimodo, the lonely bell-ringer, is held captive in his tower. He's enchanted by the kind and beautiful gypsy girl Esmeralda, but has two rivals for her attention—one of whom is his devious keeper, Frollo, who will stop at nothing to have what he wants. The show has a powerful Oscar-nominated score. The epic and unforgettable love story redefines what it means to be a hero.

When: July 28-August 6 (various times - including matinees)
Where: Montgomery Theater (271 Market Street - San Jose)
Tickets: $20-25

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Coming Up: Girls Who Code Founder and Author Reshma Saujani Speaks

Kids have a chance to meet Reshma Saujani , the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit organization championed by Sheryl Sandberg, Malala Yousafzai and John Legend. She is a former Deputy Public Advocate of New York City who galvanized industry leaders to close the gender gap in STEM education and empower girls to pursue careers in technology and engineering. In 2010, she became the first South Asian woman to run for Congress. Since 2012, Girls Who Code has taught computing skills to and inspired over 10,000 girls across America.

The book (Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World) shows what a huge role computer science plays in our lives and how much fun it can be. It's part how-to and part girl-empowerment.

Tickets are free, but they ask for an RSVP.
When: August 25 at 7.00 p.m.
RSVP: here
Where: Kepler's Books in Menlo Park (1010 El Camino Real)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Coming Up: Sunday Streets in the Mission

This Sunday is Sunday Streets! It's in the Mission district neighborhood. Look for activity hubs will be located between 14th and 16th and 24th and 26th, with dozens of free activities in between offered by local merchants. Combined with the always festive atmosphere of the Valencia Corridor, July 16th will be a special day to explore old and new.

When:  July 16 from 11-4
Where: Duboce to 26th Street on Valencia

Monday, July 3, 2017

Coming Up: Tarzan at Berkeley Playhouse

The Berkeley Playhouse presents Tarzan, the the musical adventure based on Disney's Oscar-winning animated film and the classic novel, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The score is by Phil Collins (and includes the 2000 Oscar winner for Best Song, "You'll Be In My Heart"), and the book by Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Yellow Face),

Tarzan is the story of a unique family drawn together by fate and bound by love. You'll journey to the African jungles in this production that explores what it means to be a family.

Tickets: $22-40 - call (510) 845-8542 x351 or by visiting berkeleyplayhouse.org. Pay what you can performances are on Friday, July 7 at 7 pm and Thursday, July 13 at 7 pm. That promotion is cash only at the door one hour prior to performance time. They request a donation of $20 per ticket but are able to accept a minimum of $5 per ticket.
When: July 7 - August 13 (various times)
Where: Julia Morgan Theater (2640 College Ave., Berkeley)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Coming Up: Stern Grove 2017

The Stern Grove festival started last Sunday. That's one down, with plenty of free summer concerts to go! This is Stern Grove's 80th season. Here's what's happening there this summer:

July 2 - Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers plus FantasticAMADOU & MARIAM Ibibio Sound Machine Negrito
July 9 - San Francisco Symphony (Mozart and More)
July 16 - Eric Burden and the Animals, plus the Stone Foxes
July 23 - Los Angeles Azules
July 30 - the San Francisco Ballet
August 6 - Amadou and Mariam plus Ibibio Sound Machine
August 13 - War plus Malo
August 20 - Brazilian Girls plus Moon Hooch
August 27 - Mavis Staples plus Key Choice Ensemble

Here's a guide to Stern Grove with kids. Of course the dates have changed, but it will give you an idea of other things going on there, like kids days, kids stage and kids camp.

Monday, June 26, 2017

$500 Youth Grants for Volunteer Projects - Disney Summer of Service


Youth Service America (YSA) and Disney are sponsoring $500 grants to support youth community volunteer projects. It's part of the Summer of Service youth campaign.

Use fun summer activities including arts, sports, reading and doing outdoor activities to make the world better. Kids in the U.S., ages 5-18 can apply for a $500 Be Inspired Summer of Service grant to create a project or expand an existing project throughout the rest of the year. They'll be awarding 250 grants for youth-led service projects. The money will be awarded to the organization to support that project.

They're accepting applications through September 30, 2017, but you must begin the application process by September 15. Find details about the Disney Be Inspired Summer of Service program here. Also, here are some examples of projects that were awarded grants last year:


  • Splish Splash, led by a 13-year-old in Clayton, Missouri, engages experienced youth swimmers to teach swimming to and form friendships with kids with autism.

  • Hack Night, created by a 17-year-old in New York, is an initiative to introduce middle and high school students in underprivileged communities to the computer science industry through panels, workshops, and demos of software development projects.

  • Peace, Love, and Chess, organized by a 12-year-old in Sturgis, South Dakota, aims to build a supportive learning community based on love of chess, composed of students who might not normally know each other or socialize together.

  • Make Good Decisions Soccer Game, an effort of a 16-year-old and his teammates from Carmel, Indiana, uses soccer to raise awareness about the dangers of underage drinking.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Kid-Friendly SF Symphony Concerts in July

If you're symphony fans and want to take your kids to a family-friendly concert with the symphony, here are a few summer options:

Stern Grove
The SF Symphony performs yearly at Stern Grove, in a free concert in this gorgeous outdoor location. While you'll be packed in with your picnic blanket, you'll still be comfortable (and able to leave if the kids need to go). They're performing on July 9 at 2 p.m. The program is still TBA.

John Williams Music
Listen to the Symphony perform John Williams music, ranging from Star Wars to Jurassic Park to Harry Potter and Indiana Jones movies. Note that there will be no film clips playing. Plus a special 40th anniversary celebration of Star Wars. Tickets are $20-85. This is at Davies Symphony Hall on July 6 and July 7 at 7:30.

It's Jaws! Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan


Jaws - Feature Film with Live Orchestra
Probably not for the young ones! Enjoy a screening of Jaws with the live orchestra. Did you know the shark used in the film is named Bruce, after Steven Spielberg's lawyer? You can see Bruce at Universal Studios Hollywood (look for our review!). Jaws will be on July 13 and July 14 at 7:30. Tickets are $39-139.

Pixar in Concert
Enjoy a musical celebration of the entire canon of Pixar’s feature length films, including selections from Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars and Inside Out. It's on Saturday, July 15 at 7:00 and Sunday, July 16 at 2. Tickets are $35-139, with half-price tickets for kids.

Waterfront Free Symphony Concert
Listen to the Symphony in the great outdoors, at James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27. The concert is free (program TBA) on July 23 at 12 noon. No tickets required.

For concerts requiring tickets, you can get them at San Francisco Symphony's website or box office.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Coming Up: USA Football Protection Tour - Free Half-Day Camp

USA Football has a Protection Tour to make football safer for players. They're hosting a free half-day football camp to get youth players on an NFL field to learn the fundamentals, get their helmet fitted and more.

Where: Santa Clara
When: July 18, 2017 from 9-12
Who: ages 7-14
Register: begins June 15, 2017
Register here.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Horseback Riding at Golden Gate Park

SF Rec and Park is exploring whether to offer horseback riding in Golden Gate Park. Sign up to try it until June 30th. They're evaluating public interest in it, and it's run by the concessionaire who provides horseback rides at Camp Mather. The rides are guided. They'll have 15 horses available at the Bercut Equitation Field for guided trail rides.

Where: Golden Gate Park at Bercut Equitation Field (Chain of Lakes Drive East, near JFK)
When:  7 days a week, 8 am to 7 pm, weather permitting.
Age: 5 and older
Call for current availability: 844-967-4653 or visit the website
Rates:
Golden Gate Park
30 minutes: $40
60 minutes $60
90 minutes $80

McLaren Park
30 minutes: $35
60 minutes $55
90 minutes $75

25% discount for SF residents - must show valid I.D.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Great Wolf Lodge with Teens

Come check us out at TheVacationGals.com, where we posted about taking teens to the Great Wolf Lodge. No fear, though, there's plenty of information for those of you with tots and slightly older kids too.


Have you been to Great Wolf Lodge, in Anaheim or the other 13 locations? Let us know what you thought about it in the comments section!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Focus Group: $200+ in San Bruno

Probe Market Research is looking for families (same household) to do an opinion study in San Bruno.

Here's what they need: "We have an opinion study taking place in San Bruno on 5/24/2017 from 5:45pm - 8pm. We are looking for families in the same household to come to our facility in San Bruno. Pay is $200 for the first 2 members of the household, $25 per additional child and $50 per additional adult member of the household (extended family living with the family - like grandparent, etc.) We will also provide a pizza dinner for the entire family. If interested, please fill out the pre-survey."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Free Peet's coffee today

Free Peet's coffee today between 1-3! Stop by any participating Peet's retail or Capital One Cafe locations on Friday, May 12. You can get one non-bottled beverage, any size, for free! No coupon needed. One free drink per transaction. You're welcome!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Universal Studios Hollywood v. Disneyland

Guest post by Dori Kaplan

Both Disneyland and Universal Studios are popular theme parks in California, but what are the differences? This year, we skipped our usual day at California Adventure and substituted it for Universal Studios. After two consecutive days of Disneyland and Universal, I noticed many striking differences between the parks.

Disneyland has lots of kids' rides, unlike Universal. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Friday, April 28, 2017

Hacks for Universal Studios Hollywood

Guest post by Dori Kaplan

This spring break, our family headed to Universal Studios Hollywood for our first time, and I can comfortably say it will be our last. While we enjoyed ourselves, we found the lines to be too long, and there wasn't that much to do. The few rides they had were mostly simulators (note: anyone who gets motion sick easily should probably not go. My mom and aunt get nauseous on spinning rides and boats, so they were done with most of the rides pretty quickly. Even the Studio Tour included several 3D simulators that shook us around). Here are some nuggets of wisdom we can pass on after visiting the park.

The entrance for the Simpsons Ride. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
1. Buy your tickets online 

Disneyland Tips: How to Make the Most out of Your Day at Disney with the Family

This is a guest post by Dori Kaplan.

My family is not one to dilly dally when it comes to Disney. Our motto is: structured, organized fun. In our most recent visit, we managed to go on all of the best rides within three hours of arriving at the park. Not only that, but we did not wait in a single line longer than half an hour. Those of you familiar with Disney lines will understand how big of an accomplishment this is, especially for a beautiful day during spring break. To help out other families who are hoping the maximize their day at Disney, here are some tips from my family.
Every 15 minutes, It's a Small World has a little clock show. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
**Note: usually we go to California Adventure and Disneyland - each for one day - but this year we just went to Disneyland. These tips apply for both parks.

Sephora Focus Group for Teen Girls

This one is right on the money for my teen girl! Sephora is looking for girls ages 13-18 for a 90 minute opinion study on May 8, 9 or 10 - at 6 or 7 p.m. in San Francisco. They're offering a $100 Sephora gift card for participating.

Parents or daughters can fill them out (one survey per child). You'll be contacted if you qualify. Here's the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SHLZPTL

Friday, April 21, 2017

iD Tech Discount Code for Summer 2017: Why Should Your Child Attend iD Tech?

This post offers an iD Tech discount code for summer 2017 at the bottom. Read why you should consider iD Tech this summer.


Last year we signed my son up for a computer game programming day camp at a community college. It’s an understatement to say that he was bored and frustrated by the inferior level of education and experience in general. A friend of mine told me about her son’s positive experience at iD Tech camp in Palo Alto, one of the few camps her son really liked and was excited to return to. He’s a really smart kid and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Her recommendation counted for a lot, so when my son was looking into week-long summer camp options, iD Tech came to mind.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Focus Group: $175 for moms of infants

Pregnant in the City is hosting a focus group in the Bay Area right now (through 4/20). They're looking for moms of babies 1-6 months old. The focus group lasts two hours, and will cover issues with being a mom to an infant. You'll get $175 if you qualify and participate. For more info, contact Gabriela at info@pregnantinthecity.guru.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Butterflies and Blooms - Release Your Own Butterflies

Would you and your kids like to release a newly emerged butterfly? You can do this at the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. In this exhibit you'll see 20 species of butterflies, including monarchs. They'll be flying all around you. You'll also see butterflies in all the different life stages.

You'll get a docent-led show and tell of butterfly metamorphosis, and a pair of people-sized antennae to wear and take home (pictured). The experience is available at any time during their regular hours which are now longer for the spring/summer season, .
 
When: through June 30, 2017, 10-6 Tuesday through Sunday
Where: Conservatory of Flowers
Cost: $20 plus regular admission of $8 or less depending on age (discounts for SF residents)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Coming Up: Family Day at Contemporary Jewish Museum

This Sunday, the Contemporary Jewish Museum celebrates authors with free admission for SF Public Library card holders - and they'll have lots of family-friendly activities.

The event encourages a love of books and reading. The Green Bookmobile will be parked in front of The Museum throughout the event so families can sign up for new library cards and check out books.
They'll have a special Book Arts activity with the San Francisco Center for the Book in the Art Studio. Families can work together to design and make their very own book art.

Here's the schedule:
11:00 - free performance of Kate and the Beanstalk by Acrolele—part acrobatics, part storytelling, part ukulele
12:30 and 1:30 - storytimes with Puppy Dog Tales. Listen to a variety of children’s books and meet the lovable canines from the SPCA’s Puppy Dog Tales program
11–1 - stand-up comedians ages 5–18 can tell their best jokes for a chance to be included in the first ever Museum Kid Comics video, which will be screened in the Zim Zoom Family Room through the run of the upcoming exhibition Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs.
11­–2 - view the enchanting collection of books created by San Francisco public school students as part of the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition.

When: April 9 from 11-3
Cost: cardholders will receive free admission for themselves and one guest.
Where: Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Easter Activities in the San Francisco Bay Area 2017

If you're looking for some fun things to do to celebrate Easter with the family in the San Francisco Bay Area, here's the place to start.

Please add your favorites in the comments section!

SAN FRANCISCO 
What: Spring Eggstravaganza (egg hunt, inflatables, carnival rides, entertainment, carnival rides, food for sale, rib cook-off)
Where: Sharon Meadow at Golden Gate Park
When: Saturday, April 15, 2017 from 11-3 Cost: $8/person (free 2 and under)

What: Union Street Easter Parade (and festival with face painting, climbing wall, activities, characters)
Where: Union Street in Cow Hollow, San Francisco
When: April 16, 2017 from 10-5, parade at 2
Cost: Free

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Coming Up: Sunday Streets

This Sunday is Sunday Streets! It's in the Bayview Dogpatch neighborhood. Come for 3 miles of car-free fun on with free activities for the whole family. Look for activity hubs (and GOATS) on 22nd Street, Cargo Way, Oakdale, and Bancroft Streets, with dozens of free activities in between, from local merchants. This is  one of the longest routes in the Sunday Streets season!

When:  April 9th from 11-4
Where: Southbound lanes of 3rd Street from 22nd Street to Donner Avenue

 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Coming Up: Fly Guy the Musical

Bay Area Children’s Theatre (BACT) opens its world premiere production of Fly Guy, the Musical, this Saturday, April 8.

"An insect for a pet? Flies are pests, not pets, right? Well, young Buzz and his new friend, Liz, know otherwise, and their adventures with their zippy, winged companions have the whole town, umm, buzzing! Inspired by the popular Fly Guy books by author and illustrator Tedd Arnold, this rollicking new musical will have families cheering for Fly Guy and his pal, Fly Girl, and delighting in their antics, as their caring friendships help them overcome all the challenges they face. "

Where: Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley
When: Weekends through May 7, 10:30 and 1:30.

Where: San Ramon, at the Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center, 10550 Albion Road
When: May 13-14 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m

Where: San Francisco, at the Children's Creativity Museum Theater, 221 4th Street
When: Weekends, May 20-June 11, at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Ages 4+
Tickets: $25/adults, $23/seniors, $20/kids, $15/groups (minimum 15)
Online at www.bactheatre.org or call (510) 296-4433

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Coming Up: Art Sale from UESF and Sharon Art Studio

Looking for some new art for your home? The United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) and Sharon Studio’s is hosting its Retired Teacher's Sale. To me that sounds like they're selling retired teachers, but I won't go there. Oops, already did.

The retired teachers will be selling hand-made art and crafts in like jewelry, textiles, photography, glass and mixed media.

Plus, there's FREE ceramics hand-building in the ceramics studio open to all ages, from 11-3. Children under age 10 should be accompanied by a parent.

When: Sunday, March 19 from 10-5
Where: Sharon Art Studio, 300 Bowling Green Drive, SF


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Grand Opening: STEMful San Francisco

A local mom is opening a community play and education space, called STEMful - San Francisco

Check out the 2,475 SF facility on opening day, Saturday, March 11 starting at 9:30 a.m. 

It's a two-level community space designed with as a play space for parents and kids ages 3.5-12 years old, to enjoy STEM toys, STEM books (there's a reading nook), a classroom for learning STEM concepts, and a kitchen/private party room (1,000 sq ft) for parties and events. 

They'll be offering Spring Break and summer camps for 3.5-5 year olds, and are developing programs for those in the 6-12 year range for the fall session. Get a $40 discount for their upcoming Spring Break or summer camps for 3.5-5 years old, plus party bookings through May 1, by entering in “STEMful Opening” online or when ordering by phone.

Where: 30 29th St between Mission St and San Jose St.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Get 'Yer Tickets: The Teenage Brain with Frances Jensen

For those of you with teenagers or kids who will someday be teenagers, this looks interesting.

"For years, scientists were driven by the assumption that brain growth was nearly complete by the time a child began kindergarten, leading them to believe that the adolescent brain was essentially identical to that of an adult—only with less mileage. However, new research shows the importance of formative teen years for brain development. Motivated by personal parenting experience (as the mother of two teenage boys), renowned neurologist Dr. Frances E. Jensen gathers discoveries about adolescent brain function, wiring, and capacity in a groundbreaking new book, The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents. Jensen explains how these eye-opening findings dispel commonly held myths about the teenage years and provides practical suggestions to help adults and teenagers negotiate the mysterious world of adolescent neurobiology.

Frances E. Jensen, MD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. She was Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Director of Translational Neuroscience and Director of Epilepsy Research at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Senior Neurologist at Boston Children’s and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals. She lectures widely about the teen brain at science museums, TEDMED, and high schools. Adam Savage is an industrial special effects designer and former co-host of The Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters with Jamie Hyneman."

This is part of the Conversations on Science series at City Arts and Lectures.

What: The Teenage Brain with Frances Jensen in conversation with Adam Savage
When: Monday, May 15, 2017, 7:30 pm
Where: Nourse Theater
Tickets: (415) 392-4400 or online

Thursday, March 2, 2017

National Day of Unplugging

A little more than a year ago, I wrote about the benefits of unplugging for Rodale's Organic Life. As I talked to experts and did some research, I realized how important this actually is - for adults AND for kids.



The National Day of Unplugging is coming up, March 3-4. Consider doing this with your family. With your free time you can play games, read, explore outside (hopefully the weather cooperates), cook together, bake some cookies, do some crafts or come up with your own ideas!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Pier 39's 39 Week Anniversary Celebration

Turns out that Pier 39 is celebrating its 39th Anniversary. They have some upcoming fun in March, so take advantage!

39 Free Caricatures – Friday, March 3; Personally I hate when there's a limited number available and you have to fight to get there first, but that's what Pier 39 is doing for this. So if you're one of the first 39 people to present a special coupon/redeem the coupon at the Caricatures Cart, you'll get a free cartoon portrait drawing. The Caricature Cart is on Level 1 near the Carousel. Here's the coupon. You have to print it out.

Buy One Scoop, Get Second Scoop Free – Friday, March 10; Buy one scoop and get a second scoop on the same cup or cone free at Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Shop or the Waffle Cone Shop. Here's the coupon. (one offer per person)

Bring a Friend for Free – Friday, March 24; Bring a friend (or your kid?) and play for free on Friday, March 24! Buy one admission ticket at participating Pier 39 attractions and get a second admission ticket of equal or lesser value free. Here's the coupon.

Outdoor Movie Night – Forrest Gump – Friday, March 31; Life is like a box of chocolates! The free outdoor movie night is at the bay end of the Pier, and the movie starts at 7:45, weather permitting. Before the show, stop by the Carousel Stage for Forrest Gump trivia, special coupons and prizes from Bubba Gump, and a chance to take a souvenir picture with Louis the Shrimp.

Monday, February 27, 2017

SF Rec and Park Summer Resource Fair 2017

I used to have summer camps all figured out by early February. I'm not so organized anymore. So in case you're not so organized either, check out the check out the San Francisco Recreation and parks
Spring Program and Summer Day Camp Registration day.


Their Summer Day Camp registration begins March 18 at 10 a.m.-- online and at 13 sites around the city. They have more than 80 different camps, including traditional camps like Pine Lake and Silver Tree, as well as  new camps like Rock Climbing, Urban Pickers Camp at Alemany Farm, and girls sports camps.

The 2017 Summer Resource Fair is coming up too. It's on March 11, 2017 from 10-2. It's at the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. That's 1199 9th Avenue, SF. They'll have representatives from 150+ summer programs, plus a Kid Zone, book giveaway, food trucks and entertainment.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Coming Up: Lunar New Year Celebration at SF Zoo

Celebrate the Year of the Rooster this weekend at the San Francisco Zoo.

Activities include:
--traditional Chinese lion and folk dance performances at 11:00 and 1:30 (Saturday) and 12:30 (Sunday) near the Lion Fountain.
--Zodiac Scavenger Hunt through the Zoo to learn fun facts about the animals found on the Chinese calendar.
--See "Mac" the Zoo rooster at the Family Farm

Plus, those born in the Year of the Rooster (1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017) will receive free Zoo admission that day.

Cost: free with admission


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Coming Up: Free Family Concerts - SF Chamber Orchestra

Travel back in time with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra to say hello to Mr. Bach and Mr. Mozart, two famous composers from the music history books. Then, head back to 2017 and meet a soon-to-be-famous composer of today—UC Davis professor of composition Laurie San Martin! Actor/clown Tristan Cunningham brings Bach and Mozart to life in this Family Concert, which also features our three young Debut Artists.

Here's where the free family concerts are:

January 21 - 2 p.m. at the Noe Valley Ministry (1021 Sanchez St, San Francisco). Doors open at 1:30 (general admission, first-come first-served).

January 22 - 12 noon at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center (388 9th St (Suite 290), Oakland). Doors open at 11:30 (general admission, first-come first-served).

January 22 - 3:30 p.m. at Hillsdale High School Theatre (3115 Del Monte St, San Mateo). Doors open at 3:00 (general admission, first come first-served)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Coming Up: SF Symphony Celebrates Lunar New Year

Celebrate the Year of the Rooster with the San Francisco Symphony. Kids will love the festival reception included for all with tickets. The pre-concert festivities start at 3, and include crafts, lion dancing, games, free food (including dessert) and a tea bar. The concert starts at 4, with the Chinese Dragon Dance and traditional folk music, along with orchestral works by Asian composers.

Preconcert crafts, included with your ticket. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony

When: February 4, 2017
Where: Davies Symphony Hall on Van Ness in SF
Tickets: $32-$76 at sfsymphony.org or by phone at (415) 864-6000.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Coming Up: Pippi Longstocking

The Bay Area Children’s Theatre presents Pippi Longstocking, which opens January 21.

"Annika and Tommy are in for some excitement when they meet their new neighbor, Pippi Longstocking, who has crazy red pigtails, a horse, a pet monkey named Mr. Nilsson, and a tendency to get caught up in one outrageous adventure after another. Families can join in Pippi ‘s adventures when revered Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s classic heroine comes to the Bay Area in a rollicking production of Pippi Longstocking."


When: January 21-February 12
Where: Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley. Weekends at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

When: February 18-19
Where: San Ramon. Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center, 10550 Albion Road. Performances at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

When: February 25-March 19
Where: San Francisco, Children's Creativity Museum Theater, 221 4th Street. Weekends at 0:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Who: Recommended for age 5 and up.
Tickets: $25/adults, $23/seniors, $20/children, $15 groups (minimum 15). Tickets online or call (510) 296-4433.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A few things to do on MLK Day 2017 in the San Francisco Bay Area

Teach the kids about what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for and how he helped our country. Here are a few things going on in the San Francisco Bay Area for MLK Day 2017.

Museum of the African Diaspora
Visit MOAD for free on Monday, 1/16/17. They'll offer related programs throughout the day, including art (including family drop-in art activities) film and musical performances. See the schedule here.

Playland Not at The Beach
They're offering a freedom-themed treasure hunt and special quiz testing your knowledge of our country's Civil Rights leader. These activieis take place 1/14-16 (they're normally not open on Mondays, but are for the holiday). Fees are $15/adult, $10/child or senior. Fabulous Frank will be on hand to perform "funny" magic.

East Bay Regional Parks Day
The parks offers a day of service on Monday, 1/16, from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will help restore Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Grove and their marshes by cleaning and removing invasive plants in order to support and care for wildlife and their natural habitat. Your efforts will benefit the environment and our community. Wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothes and closed-toed shoes. To cut down on the use of plastic, please bring a refillable water bottle and a bucket to pick up litter. For more information, please email volunteers@ebparks.org and register on the website.

San Francisco Rec and Park
Volunteer for MLK Day of Service with SF Rec and Park, Habitat for Humanity and the Bayview YMCA. You'll be beautifying and maintaining Youngblood Coleman Park (Hudson Ave. and Mandell St.) on Saturday, January 14, 9 a.m. to noon. Snacks and lunch will be provided. Contact Laurel Caplan at (415) 919-4050 or email lcaplan@habitatgsf.org for more information. You may also signup online here. Note that all volunteers must 16 or older.

National Parks
It's free National Park entrance day on January 16 at 100 National Parks. If you don't want to go too far, you can try Yosemite, Muir Woods, Pinnacles or San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park. More info on National Park MLK activities here.

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
Lots of volunteer opportunities for all ages!

More Resources
Check out more MLK activities:
Norcal MLK site
Bay Area Parent

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Coming Up: Free Workshop - Talking to Your Kids About Sex

At some point, you'll have to talk to your kids about sex. If that time is coming up, check out the free workshop "how to talk to your kids about sex without freaking out" at the Portrero Branch library in SF.

It's lead by Anya Manes, a parent coach and educator from talkingaboutsex.com. Here's what she covers: "Are you ready to answer your children’s questions about sex with calm confidence? Do you know what conversations to initiate and how to start them so that everyone feels comfortable? Join us for a skill-building workshop in which you’ll learn how to start conversations about sex and how to answer zinger questions - without gagging!"

When: Saturday, January 14th, 2017, at 2 pm
Where: Potrero Branch, San Francisco Public Library - 1616 20th Street (near Connecticut), San Francisco
Cost: Free, no registration required