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Friday, February 27, 2009

Free Entrance to Queen Mary for California Residents

If your spring break is early, or you just need to get away from the rain, the Queen Mary in Long Beach is offering California residents free admission March 1-15, 2009.

Admission includes a self-guided tour of the ship and entrance into a Jet Blue drawing for a free airline ticket. Apparently the ship has the country's largest collection of Art Deco artwork, and there are related tours you can take (guided tours cost extra, as does parking).
The Queen Mary was launched in 1934, and served in World War II. It transported Sir Winston Churchill three times, and also brought more than 12,000 GI war brides and children to the U.S. After completing 1,001 Atlantic crossings, the Queen Mary retired in 1967, when it changed from British ownership, to U.S. (or more specifically, to the City of Long Beach).

The Queen Mary operates a spa (who knew?) run by Dr. Will Rogers. Get a massage, hair cut, man's back wax, European nobility facial, Romanian sports massage and more.
You can also spend the night in one of its staterooms, complete with iPod docking station and pay-per-view movies. Staterooms run $119-660.

Coming Up: Magic at the Symphony

This might be a fun way to get your kids interested in the symphony. This Sunday, magician/mentalist Jay Alexander joins the San Francisco Sinfonietta for Magic at the Symphony. About the show:

“This exciting family concert, uniting the comedy magic and mentalism show of Jay Alexander with the playful sounds of the San Francisco Sinfonietta Orchestra under the baton of charismatic Steiner, will definitely delight the young and the not so young.

Witness the world's only Psychic Symphony, a floating violinist and more! Hear fascinating and familiar orchestral works like the "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", "Can Can", "Flight of the Bumblebee" and other favorites paired with Jay's masterful ability to fool the audience and leave them amazed.”

Alexander claims to be magician to the stars (including Robin Williams, John Cleese, the Rolling Stones) – not sure what that means (he opens for them?) but it can’t be bad.

When: Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 2:00pm
Where: Herbst Theater, San Francisco
Tickets: (415) 392-4400 or
Cost: $25-55 a ticket
Info: Jay Alexander or San Francisco Sinfonietta

Thank you to Carlin for alerting me to this fun show!

Craft: Heritage Dolls

You have to love living in a place with so much diversity. This winter, Dori’s 2nd grade class made Heritage Dolls. The teacher gave them a figure cut out of thick paper (they got to choose the color of paper), and the kids decorated the dolls with fabric relating to their backgrounds. I was amazed at the creativity and the vast diversity of the kids.

There’s not much to tell about the actual craft – cut out a figure in paper and think about what you want your doll to represent. Then use fabric, yarn, buttons and anything else you can think of, to decorate it.

We had a Sammurai warrior, a girl wearing a sari, a boy in Palestinian garb, a girl in an Italian peasant dress, and more.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Focus Group - In-Home Interview for Moms of 3+ Kids

Plaza Research is doing a study for feamles with 3 more more kids living in the house. The study is from Saturday, Feb 28th to Monday, March 2nd. It's a 2 hour in-home interview at a time convenient for you (though really, if you have 3 kids at home, is ANY time convenient? Just a thought).

Requirements: Females who live in San Francisco and who have 3 or more children living in the household.

Incentive: $200.00

If you are interested in the BABY PRODUCTS study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey: or call 415-984-0400 and ask for a recruiter for the Baby Products study

Coming Up: Kid Tour of the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Each Sunday, the Contemporary Jewish Museum hosts tours specifically for families with young kids. The tour includes three stops, with multi-sensory activities in the gallery and quiet time to observe the art.

What: Museum Tour for families (recommended for kids 4-8)
Where: Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St, San Francisco
When: Each Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Cost: free with museum admission ($10/adults, free for kids under 18)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Coming Up: Free Kids’ Workshops at Lowe’s

Get your kid hammering away, while building a wooden race car or Final Four basketball hoop. For free! Lowe’s offers free kids’ workshops at their stores.

Upcoming workshops:

#48 Race Car – Saturday, February 28 from 10:00-11:00
Tabletop basketball – Saturday, March 14 from 10:00-11:00

Sign up here for a Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Name the Baby Gorilla Contest

You think YOUR baby was cute as an infant? Your baby can't even compare to the cuteness of the new baby gorilla at the San Francisco Zoo, born last December. Poor thing - already two months old and NO NAME!

Help pick the male western lowland gorilla baby's name by suggesting options (hint: they'd prefer "a distinguished name of African origin"). The contest runs through March 5, 2009. Get inspired by watching the gorilla-cams on the zoo's website. Here's the entry form.

Feel free to send a baby gift, with suggestions on the gorilla's baby shower registry list.

I may not have won the University of Wisconsin Ice Cream Naming Contest 10+ years ago, but I'm going to try to win this one. (For the record, I still think Sesquimintenial was better than Hail to Thee our Almond Roca - not that I'm bitter).

Contest winner receives:

-zoo family membership

-plush large gorilla

-framed photo of the gorilla with a footprint

-30 minute Q&A with a gorilla keeper

-and the chance to test whether the new tiger enclosure is now high enough (I'm just kidding about that last one)
Good luck! And if you win, let me know! If I win, I'll post answers to my Q&A here...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Upcoming Focus Groups

Plaza Research in San Francisco has some upcoming focus groups. I've done focus groups with them before - they're legit. If you're interested, click on the link or call 415-984-0400 to be screened (ask to speak to the recruiter for that study).

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28TH TO MONDAY MARCH 2ND, 2-3.5 hour in-home interview/shop along at a convenient time for you

Requirements: Females who are currently pregnant or have at least 1 child under age 3 living in the household

Incentive: $200.00-$300.00 If you are interested in the BABY PRODUCTS study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Thursday, MARCH 5TH, 30 minute individual interview during morning or afternoon:

Requirements: Males and females who purchase freshly baked breads, rolls, sweet goods or desserts regularlyIncentive: $65.00 If you are interested in the FOOD study, fill out this survey:

Thursday, FEBRUARY 26TH, 60 Minute individual interview at a hotel in downtown SF during the afternoon

Requirements: Males and females between the ages of 35-50 who visit leisure facilities

Incentive: $100.00 If you are interested in the LEISURE FACILITIES study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25TH OR THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26TH, 90 minute focus group evening discussion

Requirements: Males and females at least 18 years old who play a role in the selection and final decision-making regarding computers and computer accessories they use

Incentive: $100.00 If you are interested in the COMPUTERS study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Thursday, MARCH 5TH, 2 Hour & 15 Minute focus group discussion during the evening

Requirements: Males and females who have been diagnosed and are currently treating for one of the following conditions: Multiple Sclerosis, Dry Eye Disease, Fibromyalgia, Macular Degeneration, Gout or Restless Leg Syndrome.

Incentive: $125.00 If you are interested in the HEALTHCARE study, please click on the link below and fill out the survey:

Coming Up: The Comedy of Carol Leifer and Cathy Ladman

Girls’ night out! Or just a date night. Or go solo. Just be prepared to laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

This is a uniquely "female perspective" on comedy, taking place Thursday, February 26, 7 pm at the Bayside Performing Arts Center in San Mateo. Part of the PJCC's Festival of Jewish Humor, "The Comedy of Carol Leifer and Cathy Ladman" features renowned Jewish women comics Carol Leifer, Seinfeld producer and writer, and Cathy Ladman, the American Comedy Award-Winning "Best Female Stand Up Comic" and Tonight Show favorite.
The North Peninsula Women's Alliance of JCF will host a special pre-show reception featuring Cameron Hughes Wine and Peet's Coffee (and desserts). Plus, there will be amazing door prizes.

Leave the kids at home and have some fun. After all, as a Yiddish Proverb says: “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul!"

What: Comedy of Carol Leifer and Cathy Ladman
When: Thursday, February 26, 7 p.m.
Where: Bayside Performing Arts Center – San Mateo
Tickets: $20 for PJCC members/$25 non-members/$30 Door. Mention JCF Women's Alliance for the member price.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Free Pancakes at IHOP on Tuesday, Feb 2/24

Ah, IHOP. My dad's favorite restaurant. And it's offering a short stack (three pancakes) for free on Tuesday, February 24. All day! 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

They are raising money for the Children's Miracle Network, so get your free stack and make a donation. According to the Children's Miracle Network, Pancake Day is also Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. They say National Pancake Day dates back several centuries to when the English prepped for fasting during Lent. Strict rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products during Lent, so pancakes were made to use up the supply of eggs, milk, butter and other dairy products… hence the name Pancake Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday."

Children's Miracle Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals. Each year the 170 Children's Miracle Network hospitals provide the finest medical care, life-saving research and preventative education to help millions of kids overcome diseases and injuries of every kind

Click here for an IHOP near you.

Saturday, February 21, 2009 certificates 80% off - coupon here

If you haven't used, you're in for a treat. Browse the restaurants in range of where you want to eat (i.e. 15 miles of your home), and then purchase a gift certificate for $10, $25 or $50 off your meal, for much less than the face value. And right now they're offering 80% off THAT cost. So while a $25 certificate would normally cost you $10, now is costs you $2. Yes, two dollars.

Of course there are conditions attached - set by the restaurant. It might mean a minimum order or dining Sunday-Thursday. Or it might not. Tipping would be based on the normal meal price. Fair enough.

I've used these coupons before, and just bought three more before posting this. After picking out the coupons you want on, enter the promo code DINE in the promomotions box, and it will show your new low total. Pay and then print the coupons. The promotion ends February 28, but the coupons can be used for a year. And even without the discount, the price is still good!

Help stimulate the economy with a night out - at a discount!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Coming Up: Physics Of Toys: Survival Of The Funnest

Do toys and games evolve? Are there games based on theories of evolution? Find out with Physics of Toys as the team celebrates Charles Darwin's 200th birthday-and the 150th anniversary of his famous book, The Origin of Species.

Where: The Exploratorium
When: Saturday, February 21 from 11:00-3:00 p.m.
Cost: regular admission price

Coming Up: Cartoon Art Museum - How to Draw with your Kid

This Saturday, the Cartoon Art Museum offers its popular cartooning workshop: How to Draw with Your Kid; How to Draw with Your Grownup. Taught by Betsy Streeter, here's the museum's description of the class:

Everybody knows that it’s great to read together… well, it’s great to draw together, too! Too often, though, grownups will say, “I can’t draw” and that’s the end of it. Well, enough! You don’t have to be “good” at drawing for drawing to be good for you. Drawing is a wonderful way for kids and grownups to spend time together, tell each other stories, share feelings, and be silly and laugh. In this class we’ll do drawing and cartooning games and activities that you can use to build confidence and to try at home. Kids and grownups should attend the class together.

Also at the museum, through Sunday, the art of Coraline, with drawings, storyboards, puppets and sets from the movie.

When: Saturday, February 21 from noon to 2:00
For: kids age 7 and up (plus their grownup)
Cost: $10/person
Register: email or call 415-227-8666 x 303
Where: 655 Mission, San Francisco

Coming Up: Planetarium Fun

Head over to the Belmont Library for some constellation fun, in the portable planetarium. Registration is required, but the event is free. It’s for kids ages six and up.

What: Portable Planetarium
Where: Belmont Library (1110 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont)
When: Saturday, February 28 at 2:00 and 3:30
Register: or call 650-591-8286
Cost: FREE!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Movie Buffs: Get a Babysitter for Marathon Movies this Saturday!

If like most parents of young kids, you haven't seen most of the Oscar-nominated films, here's your chance. Get your mom, your spouse or your favorite sitter for a marathon session this Saturday. Then get yourself to the AMC theater for the Best Picture Showcase and see all five best-picture nominees in ONE DAY for $30.

-Milk (10:30 a.m.)
-The Reader (1:00 p.m.)
-The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (3:45 p.m.)
-Slumdog Millionaire (7:15 p.m.)
-Frost/Nixon (9:45 p.m.)

Participating Bay Area AMC theaters are in San Francisco and Santa Clara.

Coming up: San Francisco Chamber Orchestra – Free Family Concert

Join the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra (with storyteller Joel ben Izzy) in free family-friendly concerts in San Francisco, Berkeley and San Mateo. They’re doing “Stories in Music” using the story of Ferdinand. This book has a special place in my heart, since my sister had a giant stuffed Ferdinand growing up (and she got Zack the book when he was born).

This concert is intended to be a great introduction to classical music for anyone – kids to adults. It lasts one hour, so the kids won’t get too antsy. And it's free!

Three shows, in three places:
San FranciscoSaturday, February 21 at 2 p.m. (San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street)
BerkeleySunday, February 22 at noon (Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Avenue)
San MateoSunday, February 22 at 3:00 (Hillsdale High School Auditorium, 3115 Del Monte Street, San Mateo)

Pump it Up: Buy one drop-in session - get two free

If you love taking your kids to Pump it Up for their drop-in sessions, here's a coupon you need! Buy one admission, and get two other kids in free (the same day). Coupon expires on 3/1/09, and is offered at

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Coming Up: Jewish Humor for Kids

Join storyteller Liora Brosbe as she regales us with jokes and stories, as part of the Peninsula Jewish Community Center’s Festival of Jewish Humor. During this free program, aimed at kids, she’ll share jokes and stories from the upside-down mythical world of Chelm (funny stories about people with no sense).

What: Humor for Kids with storyteller Liora Brosbe
Where: PJCC (800 Foster City Blvd. in Foster City)
When: Friday, February 20 from 2:30-3:00
Cost: Free

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Looking for a cheap work-out?

I was looking at the Costco website, and was surprised to find a really good deal on a gym membership. Costco is offering a two year membership to 24 Hour Fitness for $299. That works out to $12.50 a month. This includes access to most 24 Hour Fitness Clubs (except the highest level ones).

I've been a member of 24 Hour Fitness for 8 years in the Bay Area (and I though I had a good deal, paying about $16/month). The classes are good, and most of them have kids' clubs (hours can be slightly restrictive, in that the kids' club is closed mid-day and on Sundays) . My kids have a love/hate relationship with the kids' club, but it's an inexpensive place to leave them while you're on site ($2/visit per kid if you buy a 20 visit card, otherwise it's $3/visit/kid).

Most of the clubs have pools, a co-ed jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, as well as locker rooms. Of course there's a weight room and cardio equipment. The staff is friendly (though turnover can be high). And they're generally clean. The regular clubs aren't very fancy, but if you're only paying $12.50 a month, who cares?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Day Trip: Silliman Family Aquatic Center in Newark

On these cold, wet days…no sense in staying dry. Head to the Silliman Family Aquatic Center in Newark for some indoor water play. There’s something for everyone here – a hot tub for the parents, a play structure in the water for tots – and two exciting slides for those 48” and taller. And a lazy river for those of us who are…lazy.
The play structure is the first place we head, and it’s good for toddlers up to age 8 or 9. The structure has water spurting out of different areas, and lots of ropes and steering wheels kids can manipulate to control the water coming out. There’s a mini slide, and slightly longer covered one, for a good splash entry. Plus rope ladders, random dump buckets and more. The beach-type entry means no stairs to trip on, and there’s plenty of very shallow water here (enough so that it gets a bit chilly for adults).
The water structure area is connected to a slightly deeper pool, with plenty of room to give the kids horsey rides or shoot mini hoops with the ball and hoop provided.
The lazy river has some inner tubes (one person per tube - no kids riding on your lap), or you can just swim it, with the water pushing you along. Zachary had a great time trying to escape my watch, and he could swim it much faster than me (perhaps since he weighs less!). With the inner tubes floating past, though, it was a little scary to let him do it alone. It’s easy for those in the tubes not to see little ones swimming, and accidently hit them against the pool edge. Not that there’s huge danger here, but still...a mom worries (a dad doesn’t, apparently).

Mark and I took turns watching the kids, so we could also do the 20 foot high slides. One is a shorter, closed (purple) chute, which is very fast and ends with a large splash (or at least I did – maybe I need to loose a few pounds…). The other (blue) is open on the top, and tended to make me a little dizzy. It’s better for the more cautious kids, because it’s slower (if they sit up, which they’re not supposed to do), and they can see. It took Dori awhile to agree to go up, but once she did, she went over and over again.

There’s a deeper pool for laps and water polo, but we avoided that one. And then the hot tub (cleverly shapled like a clover, Newark's symbol), where they allow kids age 5 and over (with a parent), however it was too hot for my kids.

The teen lifeguards here take their jobs seriously and will whistle at you (unfortunately not for the reasons this mom of 2 in a sexy black bathing suit would like). They will call you out on ANYTHING you’re apparently doing wrong. It bodes well, though, that they’re trying to enforce safety.
The crowd this weekend was pretty big, though there was still plenty of room to move around in the water. There were a lot of teens there, but I have to say they were very polite and well-behaved (though Mark didn’t particularly like being called “sir” by one of them – it made him feel old). The locker rooms felt claustrophobic with so many people, and the floors were wet, but it was clean. They have showers, which you’ll need to wash off the huge concentration of chlorine in the water.
Bring a towel, flip flops and a lock for the locker room. They provide life jackets for the little ones. They also have a snack bar there, though you can eat your own food (presumably in the lobby area – I didn’t see anyone eating near the pool). They host birthday parties there, and it would be a fun place for a birthday.
Check the hours before you go, since they change depending on the season. On weekends they generally open at noon or 1:00 p.m., making it a tough trip for those with afternoon nappers.

Where: Silliman Family Aquatic Center in Newark, 6800 Mowry Ave, Newark
Cost: free for kids 2 and under; $4-$5 ages 3-18; $7 for those 18 and up.
Hours: Check the website.
Find Frisco Kids on Facebook!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Day Trip: Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory Tour

I’m surprised when I hear of women of a certain age (i.e. a few years past egg donation age) who don’t know Mrs. Grossman’s stickers. These are the stickers that started the sticker business. Does Stickers by the Yard ring a bell? Bring back any memories? I spent a lot of my allowance on these cute stickers of hearts, bears, clouds, crocodiles, jelly beans and more.

So when I found out that Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory is not only in the Bay Area but open to the public, I had to go. And drag my kids of course. They’ve grown up with stickers, but just don’t appreciate for what Mrs. Grossman did for the industry. Fortunately I do!

We went to the factory in Petaluma on a weekday when the kids had no school.
The tour starts in the waiting area, which has a year-by-year display of stickers produced in that time frame. Ah, the nostalgia of looking at the first few years, starting in 1979, with the stickers I remember best. I even have some of the originals at home – and all but the ducks are still in good shape. The kids got a bit antsy waiting, so we had them choose their favorite stickers on the walls - this ate up a good five minutes.

We headed into the video room, where we listened to Angus, Mrs. Grossman’s dog, narrate the 20 minute film. The kids liked the movie, which explained how the stickers are designed, the dies made, print plates developed, and how the stickers are printed and packaged.
A few facts: **Each roll of stickers is 5,000 feet long.
**The printers are 150 feet long from the beginning to the end of the printing process.
**They only buy 11 colors of ink, and then custom mix them.
**They are the only company in the world with a laser that specially cuts some of the stickers (and you can tell they’re laser cut because the back of the sticker is slightly brown).
**The laser shoots out 10,000 degrees of heat (hotter than the sun), and sparks fly during the process.
**They make 58 million sheets of stickers a year, and 12 million packages.
**They print their own bar codes for the sticker packages.

After the video, we took a 20 minute tour through the factory. On Fridays (when we went), the sticker machines are not running (we saw some getting cleaned, and the smell of ammonia was strong). However we did notice a lot of wine labels, making us wonder what kind of operation they were running! It turns out there are two companies there – Mrs. Grossman’s Stickers and Paragon Labels, for wine (I won’t name their customers, but we did see labels for a famous film director who has his own winery).

The company prides itself on being a company with heart, which is evident in their actions. We saw some employees packaging some stickers by hand, and they were individuals with mental disabilities. The company allows employees to bring their (well-behaved) dogs to work. And they give tons of stickers to children’s hospitals. They showed us some of the thank you notes at the end of the tour. They also recycle their sticker waste into pellets that burn clean fuel.

After the factory floor tour, they led us at last into the craft room, where they gave each of us a package of random stickers (a couple dollars worth) and a postcard to make a project. The kids had a great time trading stickers and designing postcards. We were the last ones in there.

Of course we ended up at the company store. They have a good selection, not surprisingly, as well as a great sale area with discontinued stickers. We stocked up.

As for other things to do in Petaluma, I checked Petaluma’s website but didn’t see much of interest for a wet, winter day. One friend suggested I look into egg farms, but that didn’t happen.

Wikipedia listed some interesting facts, like parts of the films American Graffiti, Cujo, Basic Instinct and Howard the Duck were filmed here. Petaluma also hosted the world arm wrestling championship from 1952-2003. Film critic Pauline Kael was born here. Sadly the city is probably best known as the place Polly Klass was abducted.

It turns out that the Jelly Belly Factory is only 30-40 minutes away in Fairfield. If I realized it was this close, we would have done a double header and hit them both in one day. We did a Jelly Belly “factory tour” in Wisconsin, and I’m still steaming mad that it wasn’t actually a factory tour, but rather a warehouse tour. The boxes of jelly bellies were stacked on the inside, and the little train taking us around the perimeter had us look at exhibits on the walls. That didn’t stop me from purchasing the candy at the company store, which I guess is their point, but I still want to tour the actual factory.

As for Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory, they offer tours Monday - Friday. Apparently the tour costs $3 a person (and includes a $3 coupon for the company store), but no one mentioned money while we were there, or during the phone reservation.
Now I'm off to trade stickers with my kids.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Coming Up: Ferryboat Engine Room Tour

What makes a steam ferry run? Of course, it’s steam (trick question). But learn how it all works during a tour of the Eureka’s engine room at Fisherman's Wharf.

What: Ferryboat Engine Room Tour
Where: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Hyde Street Pier
When: Sunday, February 15 from 3:00-3:45
Cost: $5 for adults, free for kids under 16
Info: 415-561-6662

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Review: Tucson Children's Museum

We recently spent a few days in Tucson visiting family. We ended up at the Tucson Children’s Museum, which was surprisingly good.

We started off in the Enchanted Rainforest, which is limited to toddlers (though we didn’t see that sign until we left). The poor kids there had to deal with my older ones going crazy with the large foam blocks, climbing on them and making an igloo.

The market room was a lot of fun, with a cute grocery story (featuring plastic vegetables, carts and a check out aisle), pint size medical office for dolls, lifesize Operation game (I loved this!) and a Dance Dance Revolution game (I love this even more). Sadly, I can never figure out how to program the DDR machine so I’m not on hypermode. Still, it was a good workout and I’m proud to say I beat my five year old son.

Though we didn’t try it, a small rock climbing wall was a popular stop for many.

We walked through Dinosaur World, which was like a walk-through diorama. Nothing interactive here – dinosaurs behind a fence. But Zack liked it.

The Ocean Discovery Center was another hit. They had a submarine type room, where you drove the sub underwater. Zack was quite interested. In the same area, was a music station, a laser pointer thing on a white board, and crafts.

In the next room was a train set-up you could watch behind glass (though you could push some buttons), and a magnetic wall where you could arrange tubes and put a ping pong ball through. And a block table.

I thought Zack would be really interested in the emergency vehicle room, but it didn’t hold his interest for long. You can climb on a police motorcycle and into the driver’s seat of a fire truck.
We missed a couple of exhibits, but would be happy to go back. The place probably is geared more toward kindergarten and under, though 7 year old Dori managed to hang on for an hour plus. She really loved the Operation game and the DDR.

Tucson Children’s Museum is in downtown Tucson (200 South 6th Avenue). It’s open daily except for Monday, and admission runs $5-$7 (free under age 2).

Monday, February 9, 2009

Free Harlequin Book downloads

I don't know how many of you are into Harlequin romance novels, but if you are, you can download 16 free Harlequin books, to celebrate Harlequin's 60th anniversary. What are you waiting for? Get a cup of coffee and curl up with your computer to start reading.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Get 'Yer Tickets: The Comedy of Carol Leifer and Cathy Ladman

Girls’ Night Out! Okay, it doesn’t have to be just a girls’ night out. Make it a date night. Or go solo. Just be prepared to laugh. And laugh. And laugh.
This is a uniquely "female perspective" on comedy, taking place Thursday, February 26, 7 pm at the Bayside Performing Arts Center in San Mateo. Part of the PJCC's Festival of Jewish Humor, "The Comedy of Carol Leifer and Cathy Ladman" features renowned Jewish women comics Carol Leifer, Seinfeld producer and writer, and Cathy Ladman, the American Comedy Award-Winning "Best Female Stand Up Comic" and Tonight Show favorite.
The North Peninsula Women's Alliance of JCF will host a special pre-show reception featuring Cameron Hughes Wine and Peet's Coffee (and desserts). Plus, there will be amazing door prizes.
Leave the kids at home and have some fun. After all, as a Yiddish Proverb says: “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul!"
What: Comedy of Carol Leifer and Cathy Ladman
When: Thursday, February 26, 7 p.m.
Where: Bayside Performing Arts Center – San Mateo
Tickets: $20 for PJCC members/$25 non-members/$30 Door. Mention JCF Women's Alliance for the member price.

Friday, February 6, 2009

10 Tips to enjoy the Chinese Parade with your kids

Today, welcome guest blogger Lydie Thomas from Travel is More Fun with Kids. She covers a lot of great San Francisco area events, especially cultural ones. Check out her site!

I went to the Chinese New Year Parade years ago; my children must have been 2 and 5. I remember it as a very enjoyable experience with lots of colors, dragons, animations, firecrackers, and happy people. I am planning to take them again this year.

The Chinese Parade will unroll from Market and Second Street to Kearny and Jackson starting at 5:15 pm and going on til 8:00 pm

There are no more seats in the bleachers so if you did not get them beforehand; you will just have to enjoy it in the streets

Here are my 10 Tips to enjoy the Chinese Parade with your kids

Tip 1 Make it an afternoon in the city, arrive early and just enjoy long walks in Chinatown. Visit the Golden Gate cookie factory along the way! It is located down the oldest alley in San Francisco: Ross Alley at number 56. While you are there, grab a bag or two of fortune cookies for snacks. It is a hole in the wall, you will be done in 5 minutes but I am sure the kids and you will love that little place.

Tip 2 Do not arrive after 4:45 pm. You do not want to rush and you want to be first in line, especially with children.

Tip 3 Bring foldable chairs for you or your little ones to rest while waiting. If you are driving, just retrieve them at the last moment if you are spending the afternoon in Chinatown.

Tip 4 Print the Parade route: click here to see it. You will also find information about public transportation and nearby parking garages. The Parade organizers warn that the Chinatown area is the most crowded one.

Tip 5 Be prepared for cold weather: dress warm, good shoes, umbrellas (the parade will not be cancelled if it rains). Let your kids know that if it rains a lot, you may decide to postpone viewing the parade another year.

Tip 6 Bring food and drinks. You do not want to have kids waiting on an empty stomach (reread tip 1 if you forgot to bring snacks).

Tip 7 Do not forget to bring toys to keep kids entertained before the parade starts.

Tip 8 Prepare your children for what they are going to see and hear: firecrackers, lions dancing, and dragons can be very impressive for children. Tell them the meaning of each one: Dragon is the symbol of the courage and prosperity. It is made of the eyes of the rabbit, ears of a cow, antlers of a deer, mouth of a camel, whiskers of a catfish, body of a serpent, paws of the tiger, talons of an eagle, and scales of a carp. Guess who is under the dragon??? Spy each part of the dragon

Firecrackers: they keep the evil away
Lion dance: they bring joy and happiness. Two people form the lion: one for the head, the other one for the rear. They will be dancing all along the parade so look for them!

Tip 9 You do not have to stay and watch the whole parade, when everybody is done, just pack and go. It is a very long parade so it is normal if your little ones become antsy. Better leave before nerves break down and bring home happy memories.

Tip 10 Bring your camera and your camcorder and be prepared to be dazzled!

For more information, here's the parade's official website.

Thank you Lydie! And don't forget to check out Travel is More Fun with Kids.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Get 'Yer Tickets: Denise Pope speaks on Avoiding Stress & Overscheduling in Kids

All of us insane parents who overprogram our children, should take a night out to hear Denise Pope speak. For those who haven't heard of her, Dr. Pope is a Stanford professor of education, and her book Doing School: How we are Creating a Generation of Stressed-out, Materialistic and Miseducated Students has gotten a lot of attention. Especially in the high-pressure Bay Area. (The woman does not mince her words, judged on her book title!)

For this lecture, the topic is The Well Balanced Child: Avoiding Stress and Overscheduling. Here's the blurb about the program: "Children today live in a culture that is increasingly characterized by a “more is more” and “earlier is better” mindset, both in and out of school. Dr. Pope’s program is a must for parents seeking a healthy balance between achievement and personal fulfillment for their children."

Little Wonders Preschool and St. Paul's Nursery School, co-sponsor the event.

What: Denise Pope - The Well Balanced Child: Avoiding Stress and Overscheduling
When: Wednesday, February 25 from 7-9 p.m.
Where: San Mateo Performing Arts Center, 600 Delaware Street, San Mateo
Tickets: $15 in advance ($20 at the door).

Coming Up: School Camp Fair in San Francisco

It’s never too early to think about summer camp. So check out 75 camps for kids ages 5-17 at this San Francisco camp fair. Though I'm not sure what a "school" camp fair is. Camp at school?

What: School Camp Fair in San Francisco
Where: French American International School Gym, 151 Oak Street, SF
When: Saturday, February 7, 2009 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hornblower Cruise Coupon Giveaway

I have one $50 coupon for a Hornblower Cruise to give away. It can be used toward any regularly scheduled brunch or dinner cruise for two people in San Francisco. It expires 4/30/09. There are some fine print things on there as well - nothing shocking.

Just a word about the coupon - I got it for (almost) donating blood through Blood Centers of the Pacific. (Unfortunately my iron was too low, though I'll try again soon). Please consider donating blood if you can! They're always in need, and they offer great snacks after!

If you want the coupon, email me at with your address. I assume I'll get more than one response, so if you don't hear from me by email that I'm sending it, you can assume that you'll just have to enter another Frisco Kids giveaway to win. I will not be saving your addresses (email or snail mail) and will definitely not be passing them on to anyone else.

Happy cruising!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Craft Day: Michael’s in February - Free!

Time to take the kids to a free craft class at Michael’s.

Bead Make-it Take-it by Jolees Jewels, Saturday, February 7, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. FREE

Science Fair Demo, Saturday, February 14, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. FREE

Yarn Necklace & Tassel Make-it Take-it by Lion Brand Yarn, Saturday, February 21, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. FREE

Click here to find a Michael’s near you.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Free Denny's Grand Slam Breakfast this Tuesday

This Tuesday, breakfast is on Denny's. Well, a Denny's Grand Slam breakfast that is. From 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Click here to find a Denny's near you.

Mmmmm. Pancakes. Eggs. Sausage. Bacon. All yours. For free. Tuesday, February 3.

Announcing: Cities on the Cheap

I wanted to let you know about a group of blogs making a splash nationwide (as well as in California). They are the Cities on the Cheap blogs, offering ideas and resources for free or low cost things to in various locales.

In California, please check out:

Bay Area on the Cheap

Gold Country on the Cheap

Sonoma on the Cheap

Los Angeles on the Cheap

If you’re traveling outside California, make sure to check out the main Cities on the Cheap site, to see the deals in other cities. On the Cheap blogs include Albuquerque, Atlanta, the Big Island (Hawaii), Charlotte, Des Moines, Florida Keys, Gaitlenburg, Kansas City, Miami, New Orleans, Santa Fe, Tucson and West North Carolina.

And internationally: Auckland and Montreal

More cities are still being added, so if you don't see one you want, keep checking back!