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Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve with Kids - SF

Frisco Kids wishes you a happy, safe, healthy, prosperous new year!

If you missed our list of things to do today with your family, on New Year's Eve, check it out.

See you in 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa Cruz Boardwalk Deal During the Holiday Break

From December 26-31, you can get an all-inclusive ride wristband for the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for $19.95. The rides will be open from noon to 5 p.m.

If you just want to focus on the big coaster there, the Giant Dipper, just pay $5 and ride as many times as you want. The Boardwalk is celebrating its one millionth Giant Dipper rider with this promotion.

Open rides will be the Giant Dipper, the Carousel, Double Shot, Speed Bumps, and kiddie rides the Starfish and Speedway.

To find 14 other things to do this holiday break, click here.

For things to do on and around Christmas in the Bay Area, click here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Santa sightings and more holiday fun

--If you haven't gotten your fix (or photo) with Santa yet, has a list of where you can go to see the jolly guy in the red suit.

--Have you driven around to see the houses all lit up? What are your favorite places? Red Tricycle has a list of theirs here.

--A few ballet companies are still performing the Nutcracker. Find out which ones here.

--Kids around the world are tracking Santa and his sleigh here.

--See how candy canes are made by hand at Disneyland.

--14 things to do with the kids this winter break.

--watch this funny holiday video by which will have you shaking your head at those crazy "other" moms.

Any more ideas? Add them in the comments section!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Coming Up: SF Zoo Winter Goes Wild Holiday Celebration

On the first day of winter, December 21st, the San Francisco Ice Company will blow 10 tons of "snow" into the polar bear's exhibit area at the SF Zoo. The rest of the Winter Goes Wild Holiday Celebration (through 1/2/11), they'll give the animals winter-themed enrichment toys and and treats - including Zoocicles, ice towers and more.

December 21 at 9 a.m. for members only. Open 10-4 to the general public
December 22, 2010 - January 2, 2011 - varied schedule

Where: SF Zoo
When: December 21-22
Cost: free with paid admission

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas-time Events in the SF Bay Area

If you don't celebrate Christmas and are looking for things to do over the December 24-26th time frame, here are some ideas:

Enjoy a Chinese food dinner and get photos with cartoon characters (and your kids) at the PJCC in Foster City.
When: December 24th, 5-6:30 p.m.
Where: Peninsula JCC (800 Foster City Blvd., Foster City)
Cost: $10-20/person
RSVP: Preregistration required - event sells out.

Free on Christmas Day, thanks to Target Family Fun Days. It's the only SF museum open that day. They have an awesome Curious George exhibit.
When: December 25th, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Contemporary Jewish Museum (736 Mission Street, between 3rd and 4th in SF)
Cost: Free
RSVP: none

The San Jose outdoor Downtown Ice Rink is open on Christmas from 2 p.m. until midnight. See their schedule here. The holiday rink at Union Square in San Francisco opens at 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. You can get advanced tickets here.

Here are some more ideas from Bay Area on the Cheap and Travel is More Fun with Kids.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Coming Up: Holiday Movie Night at Serramonte Center

Serramonte Center in Daly City has a fun family movie coming up:

Monday, December 20 - Santa Buddies

All movies are at 6 p.m. at Harvest Food Court (you can pick up food to eat at the movie there). 

The movies are free, but you're encouraged to bring canned food to donate to the North Peninsula Food Pantry.

Coming Up: Gingerbread Houses in Berkeley and Marin

Who needs a gingerbread house cluttering up your own home, when you can decorate a giant one to donate! This Saturday, Habitot in Berkeley is doing just that. They'll have a big gingerbread house for everyone to decorate, and after it will go to Matilda Cleveland Transitional Housing Shelter in Oakland. Bring a bag of candy or cookies to share (no nuts or hard candy choking hazards). They'll give you a free adult admission for doing so.

Where: Habitot - 2065 Kittredge Street, Berkeley
When: Saturday, December 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Cost: it's free admission day (thanks, Wells Fargo)

Or decorate your own to take home at the Bay Area Discovery Museum..

Where: Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sasalio
When: December 18-19, 21-23 (11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.)
Registration: recommended - do it online here. It's already sold out for Sunday at 11 a.m.
Cost: $30/kit, which includes museum admission for one adult and one child.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

14 Things to Do with Kids this Winter Break in the San Francisco Bay Area

1. Visit the Golden Gate Express Train Exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.

2. Check out the SF Library’s Holiday Train Exhibit – it’s free! The library has other holiday (free) activities as well.

3. Waste some gas looking at holiday lights. Here’s a good one in Novato, from Frog Mom in California.
4. Go to the Oakland Zoo for Zoolights, through January 2nd. Using LED-lights (those are the efficient ones, by the way), you’ll see animals, candy canes and Santa Clause, shaped by lights. There’s a train ride (Snowball Express), Santa’s workshop, and light show in the meadow. 

5. Gilroy Gardens has nightly weekend light shows, ice skating and rides.

6. Make some crafts! A sock-snowman, an edible snowman , rock candy or chocolate dipped pretzels 

7. Visit a museum you’ve never been to – look at my museum list on the right side and pick one! Favorites include Zeum, the Bay Area Discovery Museum, Lawrence Hall of Science, the Tech Museum of Innovation, the California Academy of Sciences , the SF Museum of Modern Art & the Randall Museum.

8. Go ice skating. Here are several options for outdoor holiday ice skating in the Bay Area:

9. Kiddie Amusement parks! Try Children’s Fairyland in Oaklandor , Pixieland in Concord

10. These Bay Area birthday party locations often have open hours – especially bounce house places like Bounce U and Pump it Up.

11. Go swimming – indoors at Silliman Aquatic Center. Their indoor play structure, slides and Jacuzzi are just thing for cold days. 

12. Holiday tea-time. Check out the list of places/dates at

13. See Shrek the Musical in San Francisco. Read a Frog Mom's review of Shrek here. Get discount tickets to Shrek through Bay Area on the Cheap. Get tickets for $49.50 with the Travelzoo code 3Shrek.

14. Check out Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's Holiday in the Park, and get discount tickets here.

And Travel is More Fun with Kids has a similar post with some different ideas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Year's Eve in San Francisco Bay Area with Kids 2010-2011

Ring in the new year...with your kids.
(Find the 2012 listing of New Year's Eve in the Bay Area here)

Here are some family-friendly options for celebrating the 2009-2010 new year in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Bay Area Discovery Museum - Sausalito
What: Noon Year's Eve
When: December 31 from 10 a.m. to noon (Museum closes at 2 p.m.)
Details: Second annual count down to New Year's. Celebrate the clock striking 12 noon and create your own noisemakers and party hats as the ball drops.
RSVP: Drop-in.

Asian Art Museum - San Francisco
What: Strike a Japanese temple bell to ring in the new year
When: December 31st. 9-11 a.m. bell ringing for museum members. 
11 a.m. bell ringing ceremony 
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. art activites
Details: Good explanation of Japanese bell ringing tradition here.
RSVP: none. Children 12 and under get in free. Get your numbered tickets at the front desk.
Cost: Free with admission

Hiller Aviation Museum - San Carlos
What: Noon Year's Eve Celebration
When: December 31st, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Details: Face painting, Tree Frog Treks petting zoo, games, bounce house, climbing wall, flight simulation game, live entertainment, balloon drop
RSVP: none. Event free with admission.

What: Balloon Drop
When: December 31, noon, 1:00, 2:00. Museum closes at 4 p.m. that day.
Details: create a noisemaker, a party hat and "countdown to noon across the time zones"
RSVP: none.

Oakland Zoolights
What: Zoolights - holiday decorations, lights and music - at night!
When: through January 3rd, 2010, 5:30-9 p.m.
Details: This isn't a special New Year's Eve program, but if you're looking to do something fun that night, check out the Zoolights.
RSVP: none
Cost: $5.50-$7.50 zoo admission.

Sadiedey's 5th Annual New Year's Pre Eve Party
What: party for kids and parents
When: December 31st from 4-7 p.m.
Details: live music (Diamano Coura West African Dance Company/drumming/dance lesson/dance parade), treats, reindeer games,  and countdown to "midnight" (6 p.m.)
Tickets: $15 in advance, or 4 ticket for $50. At the door, cost is $20/ticket. Space is limited, so buy in advance if possible.
Where: 4210 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley

Embarcadero Fireworks
I found several mentions of this midnight fireworks display online, but couldn't find an official looking website to point you to. The fireworks happened in the past, near the Ferry Plaza. Head to the Embarcadero and watch outdoors - they start around 9:30.

No special programming, but the museum is open December 31st until 5 p.m. (it's also open New Year's Day).

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Stay the night at the Monterey Aquarium! This family sleepover starts at 7 p.m. on December 31st, and runs until the next morning. Price is $75/person for members, $95/person for nonmembers. has a list of things to do that day as well.

I'm sure there's more happening - please comment with more ideas!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Frisco Kids Book Club

Champions for Change: Athletes Making a World of Difference by Jane Poynter.
 Jane Poynter may not be a household name, but she's famous. Famous for living in Biosphere 2, the enclosed structure outside of Tucson where for two years, eight "biospherians" grew their own food, recycled their waste, water and air and conducted environmental experiments (her book, The Human Experiment, is fascinating). After leaving the Biosphere 2 structure, Jane continued her ecological interest (read the profile I wrote about her for Continental airlines magazine).

And recently, she recently wrote Champions for Change, a beautiful book profiling athletes' takes on environmental issues. While that may sound like a celebrity latching onto the cause of the day, it's not. The athletes have real ties and understanding of the issues they talk about. Like marathon swimmer Tammy van Wisse, who holds six world records in swimming. As someone who swims in open water, she sees the pollution (and even the human waste) at eye level, and sometimes ingests it.

It's a book filled with live-action photos, profiles of athletes and international ecological issues, along with solutions.

Puzzle Baron's Logic Puzzles
I planned to give this Puzzle Baron's Logic Puzzles book as a gift to Mark (he's great at puzzles), but in the end decided to keep it for myself (and maybe share with him). I love doing puzzles on plane rides (especially sudoku), and tried one of these online first (you can print a few out here). You can make yourself feel bad by looking at the statistics for the fastest solver and the average time. If I'm on the plane with kids, you can bet that average time will double. But it makes you really think, which I don't feel like I do enough these days (put that down! Eat your dinner! Put your clothes away! Wash the dishes...)

Fits Starts & Matters of the Heart - I got a copy of this book as a gift, though I had it on my Amazon wish list anyway. It's a compilation of essays about relationships (ranging from love to kids to dogs) - written by a lot of awesome professional writers I'm privileged to know from my online writers group, Freelance Success. The authors in this book have written essays for O, the Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, National Public Radio, and just about any other top magazine you've heard of. This book is hard to put down because you read one essay, just a few pages, and then you want to read one more. And because it's only a few more pages, one more. And soon you've devoured the whole book.

Walt Disney World Resort Extreme Vacation Guide for Kids - as you may know, we recently took our first trip to Walt Disney World (here's the top 15 things I learned at Disney World, and here are some vacation planning tips for kids at Disney World). The kids were not interested in reading any guide books (nor was my husband, for that matter). This book came out just as we were leaving for our trip. It gets the KIDS ready for Disney World. How? Giving them tips on earning their own spending money there (instead of "can I buy this?" they'll just consult their own wallet). They can make their own autograph books (saving about $10 in the process). They can explore some of the science behind Disney World, like making their own geodesic dome. And it includes a park guide for kids - so they'll know what to expect without having to read through the helpful, but way too plentiful information in adult guide books. Plus there are projects to do after they return home, so they can continue living the memories. Get a good look inside the book here - and you can buy it from the authors!

Are you My Guru by Wendy Shanker
As a medical writer, there's nothing better to me than a medical mystery - what is this disease and how do we treat it? But in an entertaining, engaging way. That's what Wendy Shanker does. In her mid-30s, she gets an auto-immune disease (Wegener's granulomatosis - try saying that five times fast). To treat it she seeks out any kind of healer and spiritual adviser out there - from orthodox rabbis to meditation and traditional medicine. From colonics to tarot cards. And she writes about her journey in a funny way. Shanker also wrote The Fat Girl's Guide to Life, and she's made quite a name for herself as a writer for magazines, books and television.

What books do you recommend this holiday season?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Coming Up: Holiday Movie Night at Serramonte Center

Serramonte Center in Daly City has some fun family movies coming up:

Tuesday, December 14 - a Christmas Carol
Monday, December 20 - Santa Buddies

All movies are at 6 p.m. at Harvest Food Court (you can pick up food to eat at the movie there). 

The movies are free, but you're encouraged to bring canned food to donate to the North Peninsula Food Pantry.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Jewish Nutcrackers

Hanukkah may be over, but there are still Hanukkah performances to be seen!

Check out Maccabee: The Jewish Nutcracker, A Hanukkah Story coming up at the San Francisco JCC. It's produced by World Dance Fusion and will include Spanish, Arabian, Chinese and Russian dance styles, while trying to "illustrate global unity and the universal struggle of oppression." That said, the production tries to stick close to the Nutcracker's theme and music, to bring together something unifying Jews from different places.

Three shows:
Thursday, December 16 from 7-8:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 19 from 2-3:30 (for kids)
Sunday, December 19 from 7-8:30 p.m.

Cost: $25-60/ticket
Where: SFJCC (3200 California Street, SF)
Info/tickets: The Jewish Nutcracker or call 415-292-1233

There's the Meshugah Nutcracker playing at the Retro Dome in San Jose through December 19th. With a traditional Nutcracker score and new Jewish songs, it's a lot of fun. Tickets are $24-36. Or get a family 4-pack for $100. It includes four tickets, refillable popcorn, two fountain drinks and a gift bag with Ghirardelli chocolate (the chocolate happens to be one of the gifts I gave my kids for Hanukkah - and it was by far one of their favorites). To get the family four pack, email the Retro Dome at, and put "I want the family 4-pack in the subject line.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Events at the SF Library

Lots of holiday fun at the San Francisco Library. All events are free - here's a list:

HOLIDAY TRAIN - 12/3/10-1/7/11
The Library’s 5th annual Holiday Train exhibit returns to the display cases outside the Fisher Children’s Center at the Main Library, 100 Larkin St., and this year it’s bigger than ever. Look for three separate tracks carrying three of literature’s favorite trains -- the Polar Express, from the book by Chris Van Allsburg, Thomas the Tank Engine, from the book series by W. Awdry, and the Hogwarts Express from the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling.  Children love visiting the interactive display which features buttons that they can push to power the electric toy trains.

The trains will be on view from Dec. 3, 2010 through Jan. 7, 2011, at the Main Library, 100 Larkin St.

The Ingleside Branch Library will host a Mexican Food cooking and demonstration program.  Learn how to prepare, cook and serve tamales, as well as to discover the history, culture, and traditions behind the food.  Samples of the food will be served.  All adults are welcome.
Dec. 16, at 4:30 p.m., Ingleside Branch Library, 1298 Ocean Avenue (at Plymouth)
Children can listen to holiday-themed stories and decorate tasty gingerbread cookies with Felicia Martin at three branch libraries this month.
  • Dec. 15, at 4 p.m., Visitacion Valley Branch Library, 45 Leland Ave.
  • Dec. 18, at 4 p.m., Potrero Branch Library, 1616 20th St.
  • Dec. 21, at 3:30 p.m., Ocean View Branch Library, 345 Randolph St.

Celebrate the fifth principle of Kwanzaa with friends, family and neighbors in a program featuring food, musical performance and an explanation of the Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
Dec. 28, 3-6 p.m., Bayview Branch Library, 5075 3rd St.

The San Francisco Forest Choir will perform English and Japanese holiday songs and chorale songs with tone chimes. The Forest Choir is a female chorus group founded in 2003. This concert will be at the
Dec. 18 at 4 p.m., Western Addition Branch Library, 1550 Scott St.

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music is offering special holiday concerts for children of all ages at the Mission Bay and Chinatown Branch Libraries.
  • Dec. 11, at 4 p.m., Mission Bay Branch Library, 960 Fourth St.
  • Dec. 18, at 11 a.m., Chinatown Branch Library, 1135 Powell St.

Children of all ages can enjoy the harmonies and holiday sounds presented by Excelsior Children’s Librarians Marianne and Karla. 
Dec. 14, at 3 p.m. Excelsior Branch Library, 4400 Mission St.

Family music night featuring original and classic tunes from around the world with singer Bonnie Lockhart.
Dec. 15, at 7 p.m., Parkside Branch Library, 1200 Taraval St.

British actor Martin Harris plays Charles Dickens in a dramatic reading of this beloved story. Mr. Harris also appears as Ebenezer Scrooge at the annual Dickens Christmas Fair while on his American Tour.  This program is for ages 8 and older. Space limited, call (415) 557-4549 for class reservations.
Dec. 9, at 10:30 a.m., Main Library, Fisher Children’s Center, 100 Larkin St.

Card Workshop: Children can create unique holiday cards.
  • Dec. 3, at 3 p.m., Bernal Heights Branch Library, 500 Cortland Ave.
  • Dec. 9 at 3:30 p.m., Ocean View Branch Library, 345 Randolph St.
Make & Take Crafts:  Make crepe paper flower wreaths and needle-felted angels or ornaments. Take your masterpiece home in a new Glen Park reusable bag (while supplies last).  Refreshments served.
Dec. 4, 2-4 p.m. Glen Park Branch Library, 2825 Diamond St.

Jewelry-making with Chelsee Robinson: A fun, hands-on, jewelry workshop with local designer and entrepreneur Chelsee Robinson to create a  beautiful bracelet, necklace, or earrings for the holidays. Materials provided. Pre-registration is required. For teens & tweens, ages 8 to 18. For more information, please contact Jewel at (415) 355-2888 or
  • Dec. 4, 3-4:30 p.m., Chinatown Branch Library, 1135 Powell St.
  • Dec. 21, 3:30-5 p.m., North Beach Branch Library, held at DiMaggio Playground Clubhouse, 661 Lombard St.
  • Dec. 22, 3-4:30 p.m., Chinatown Branch Library, 1135 Powell St.

Pens with Bling: Fashion and decorate your own pen and paper set. Great for holiday gifts!  For ages 12-18. For information or to register, contact Marla at (415) 355-2868 or
Dec. 8, 4-5:30 p.m., Excelsior Branch Library, 4400 Mission St.

Recycled paper wreath: Use recycled paper to make a tiny stars paper wreath or a knot paper wreath. Materials provided or bring your own sturdy recycled paper. For teens and tweens, ages 8 to 18.
Dec. 10, 3:30-5:30 p.m., Chinatown Branch Library, 1135 Powell St.

Charms & Ornaments: Children can make shrink charms and ornaments with Mary Jane’s Attic.
Dec. 14, at 4 p.m., Ocean View Branch Library, 345 Randolph St.

Drop-in craft program:  Children 7 and under can make something nice to give away as a gift or to decorate their home.  
Dec. 17, 3:30-5 p.m., Western Addition Branch Library, 1550 Scott St.
Trash mash-up crafts: The creative wizards from Trash Mash-Up show children  how to make cool holiday crafts using recycled materials.  
Dec. 18, at 1:15 p.m., Bernal Heights Branch Library, 500 Cortland Ave.

Holiday craft workshop: Last minute present!? Need something to do now that school's closed for vacation? Come to the children's room and make something! For children ages 4-up. 
Dec. 21, 2-5 p.m., Bernal Heights Branch Library, 500 Cortland Ave.

Needle-Felted Ornaments:  Learn how to needle-felt, a fun and easy dry-felting method. Use a needle, wool and other basic tools to make a lovely holiday ornament. For ages 8 and older; tweens & teens welcome. Limited enrollment: call the children's librarian to reserve a space, (415) 355-5616.
Dec. 21, 4-5 p.m., Eureka Valley Branch Library, 1 Jose Sarria Court

Celebrate the holidays with Game Night at the Excelsior Branch Library!  Lots of games to play, for families and individuals of all ages, plus light holiday refreshments.
Dec. 15, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Excelsior Branch Library, 4400 Mission St.

How it works: Beginning Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010, teens can visit a participating library and pick up a reading log. One reading log for every five hours read, then return the logs to a participating library by Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011.  For every five hours read, a name will be automatically entered into a raffle for cool prizes! The more books that teens read, the more chances they have to win! Teens must be between 12 and 18 and have a San Francisco Public Library card to enter. Participation is free and prizes are funded by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Coming Up: Screening of Pink Skies documentary

Coming up - a private screening of the movie Pink Skies, an inspirational documentary about the 
empowerment of women. This film covers the “Jump for the Cause” event that brought together 181 women from 31 countries to create a World Record All-Women’s Skydiving Formation -- and raised nearly $1 million dollars for breast cancer research and prevention. 

Apparently the film will make you laugh and cry; and the skydiving footage is supposed to be incredible. Here's a trailer. The film features breast cancer survivors, researchers, healers and activists including talking 
about the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and explores what’s working and what needs to be changed in the seismic shift toward breast cancer prevention.

The private screening is free, though it's also a fundraiser. There will be r
affles, vendor booths for holiday shopping and a silent auction will raise money for breast cancer prevention efforts.

What: Pink Skies documentary
WhenDecember 16 from 6-10 p.m.
Where: Marsh Theater in Berkeley, 2010 Allston Way
Cost: Free
RSVP: here

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fun Holiday Family Food Events in SF

Check out these fun family (mostly) food events in San Francisco this month:


Make cookies with your little ones and build your own fabulous Holiday Cookie Plate. A sweet tooth soirĂ©e! With cookies of all shapes, sizes, and origins will be exchanged. A Little Yumminess is co-hosting with Seesaw. Come with 2-4 dozen of your favorite holiday cookies to swap with your fellow swappers and leave with a beautiful cookie assortment! 

RSVP: preferred - details here.
WhenThursday, December 9, 2010 from 4-5 pm


Bring copies of your recipe, along with one meal (enough for four other families) and go home with a cornucopia. Note: this SWAP is geared towards families, if you are interested in making food for adults only, check out SWAP: Homemade Dinner for Two. For this event, make one complete meal for four families (two adults, two kids).

When: Sunday, December 12, 4:30-5 pm
Where: 18 Reasons in SF

Cost: $5RSVP:

Cost: $15 for 18 Reasons members, $25 for general public, $10 for kids ages 7-18

For: Kids 7+ and adults with or without kids
When: Sun, December 12, 1pm – 3pm
Where: 18 Reasons  in SF

Tickets: get them here

Healthy holiday treats for the whole family. Personal chef and mom Zoe Philips and certified nutritionist Deb Zambetti are here to help! Join them for a 2 hour hands-on cooking class for grown-ups and kids, and walk away with the tools needed to fuel your celebrations with a little more nourishment.

When: Sat, December 11, 2pm – 4pm
Where: 18 Reasons  in SF

Cost: $25 for adult members of 18 Reasons (includes one child), $35 for each nonmember adult (includes one child)
For: Kids 5-12
Tickets: get them here