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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Debbie's Fabulous Caramel Chocolate Popcorn

What do you do with an uneaten bag of popcorn? Turn it into this:

I know you're thinking - wow - that looks so difficult and I could never make that. Well, you're wrong. The hardest part was unwrapping the individual caramels.

Here's how to make Debbie's fabulous caramel chocolate popcorn:

You'll need:
Popcorn (I made two bags which was too much )
Caramel - I used one bag from the grocery store - maybe 12 ounces for both bags
Chocolate chips (I didn't measure, but used a few handfuls)
Pretzels (I used a few small snack bags from Southwest Airlines)
Nuts (I used a combination of Southwest Airlines honey-roasted peanuts, and mixed nuts left over from a party we had)
I would add salt in the future
Optional: mini marshmallows and mini M&Ms

1. Put the popcorn on greased tin foil or waxed paper (easier if you put that in a jelly roll cookie sheet).
2. Chop the nuts and pretzels.
3. Unwrap, then melt the caramel (I tried doing this over a double boiler but it took too long. The microwave worked just fine).
4. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix it up.
5. Mix in the nuts and pretzels and salt
6. Melt the chocolate chips and pour that over the popcorn
7. Mix that well - I used my hands and it did a much better job.
8. Let it cool/harden
If you want to make it even prettier, drizzle melted white chocolate over the top as well.

The caramel will not harden completely.

Friday, October 28, 2011

San Francisco's New Alternative School, the Schoolhouse

I have a lot of writer friends who homeschool. And have many other friends with kids in private school. We're fortunate to be in a good public school district where our needs are being met. But I'm fascinated by all the options and the reasons why people chose the schools they choose. Especially in SF, for which it's competitive to get into the public school of your choice.

There's a new alternative school that opened up in San Francisco called the Schoolhouse. I haven't done much research on it (though it was profiled in the Wall Street Journal). This looks like a mix between private school and co-op - where you pay something like $7-9,000 a year (according to the WSJ article), with a max of $10,000 according to the website. The parents volunteer as well.

If you're interested in learning more, they are having two intro sessions on November 2 and December 1, 2011 at 6:30 at 301 14th Avenue (@Clement). You can learn more about their philosophy here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More Halloween Happenings

I just added a new event to the Halloween calendar - spooky fun and spooky music for the family - live! It's the Bellavente Wind Quintet, performing in Berkeley on Halloween night. Click here for details.

Check out other Halloween happenings here at Frisco Kids. 
More posts on what to do on Halloween.

Ways to cut back on candy this Halloween.

Get 'Yer Tickets: You're a Good Man Charlie Brown

The Retrodome is doing the live musical You're a Good Man Charlie Brown and is offering a deal until November 1st. For $100, You'll get:
1 adult tickets
2 child tickets
2 popcorns
2 fountain drinks
a keepsake autograph from the cast

Use code SNOOPYNOV through November 1.
The show runs December 2-18th in San Jose (Friday-Sundays, with matinees on Sundays)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

8 Ways to Cut Back on Candy this Halloween

Too much candy is something we all think about at Halloween. I'm running an article that was sent to me by the MindStream Academy, a boarding school for teens and tweens who want to focus on healthy living, weight loss and other issues. (And read to the bottom, because there a few links about what other people do with the candy).

The Trick to Fewer Treats: 
Eight Ways for Cutting Back on the Candy This Halloween
We’re well into October, which means that a gaggle of witches, ghosts, vampires, and more are about to descend on neighborhoods around the country. For kids, Halloween is a dream come true: the chance to dress up, stay out late, and—best of all—fill their bellies with candy. For parents, though, Halloween can seem like more of a trick than a treat. In the age of childhood obesity, it’s already a huge struggle to get our kids to live healthy lives; the last thing we need is to compete with a bag bursting with candy bars.
 Relax—you don’t have to resign yourself to weeks of sticky fingers and chocolaty smudges as your children gorge on the wrong kinds of food. According to Sarah Stone, your family can enjoy this holiday without consuming ghoulish amounts of calories.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Coming Up: Boo at the Zoo

Lots of Boo at the Zoo events this weekend in the SF Bay Area.

This weekend, the SF Boo at the Zoo has:

  • Trick-or-Treating
  • Take-home crafts
  • Puppet shows
  • Story time with “Witch Hazelnut”
  • Haunted nature trail
  • Creepy Crawly Critter Encounter at the Insect Zoo
Read Travel is More Fun with Kids for what the other zoos are doing, and tips on going with kids.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Roller Derby!

I haven’t seen Whip It, the roller derby movie with Drew Barrymore, but now I want to. We’ve been to our first roller derby match, and it was awesome!

Big Bertha
You gotta love a sport where the players have names like: Mental Block, Divine Wreckage, Assay Kicker, Clara Form, Crimes New Roman, Judy Additudy, Hellen Bed, Ashlee Juggz (#34DD), Jane Scayre, Katherine Hipburn, Asalt N Pepper…
This indoor track sport has a set of rules that is easy to understand on a basic level. What’s harder is to figure out what’s legal and what’s not legal.
Basically, there are two teams. Each team starts with four blockers (or rather, three blockers and a pivot), and one jammer. The jammers start skating behind the blockers, and try to pass them. For each blocker from the other team that the jammer passes, the jammer’s team gets a point. The match consists of two 30 minute rounds, and within each round is a series of two minute (or less) “jams.” The lead jammer (the one who gets out first) can end the jam by flapping her arms like a chicken. 
While they are skating around, the blockers do their thing by hip checking, elbowing, holding hands, and doing what they can to prevent the other team’s jammer from passing.
If you're looking for roller derby in California, there are teams in San Jose and San Francisco, as well as Redwood City, Antioch, Monterey, Modesto, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Stockton and more. The kids had a blast watching too.

Ashley Juggs (#34DD) races around the track

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rent a Bike or Surrey in San Francisco

If you're visiting San Francisco or live here and don't have your own bike, you can now rent one at Golden Gate Park. And soon you can rent them at three other SF areas as well (Justin Herman Plaza, the Marina/Fort Mason, and Union Square Plaza).

In addition to bikes, you can rent a tandem bike, a two or four person surrey (without a fringe on top), tagalongs (pull your kid who is big enough to sit on a bike, but not ride alone), or a bike trailer. Get more info on San Francisco park bike rentals here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Link Love - What I'm reading

Some links for you to check out:

Favorite hiking spots in the Bay Area  - a reader's list by Frog Mom

Where to milk a cow or goat in the Bay Area - from Red Tricycle

Read to Succeed - get free tickets to Great America - from Cookies & Clogs

Do one nice thing - some ideas to do nice things for others (and ideas for people who would appreciate all that Halloween candy you don't need). Thanks for the link, Cynthia!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Halloween - what to do in the Bay Area

Did you forget that Halloween is coming up???

Of course not! Here are a few previous posts to get you ready for the holiday.

Halloween Events in the Bay Area

Still not sure what to give out to Trick or Treaters? Try a candy-free Halloween.

Still don't know what to wear for Halloween? Try some Halloween costumes on the cheap.

Free Scary Face Pancakes at IHOP on 10/28, and at a low price otherwise.

Favorite Halloween baby costumes

Create a dazzling "witching hour" at your house

Make a pumpkin cake!

Make easy Halloween ghosts.

Red Tricycle has a list of local costume stores (that include thrift and consignment stores).

Halloween deals and coupons online - by Bargain Babe. Some of the discounts might be gone by the time this posts, but many are still good.

Pumpkin carving stencils - and more here

Coming Up: Kids Music Festival

It's concert day! Check out the Kids Music Festival in San Francisco this Sunday. This is an all-day music festival performed by kids - 10 kids' bands from local schools. Plus a festival atmosphere, Tree Frog Treks, de Young Museum artists, the SF Fire Dept, and local food trucks. Expect a crowd - around 2,000. The concert benefits SF public schools.

Where: Little Marina Green
When: Sunday, October 23 from 11:30 - 5
Tickets: $10/each. Children's tickets include free event t-shirt. Family pack (2 adult, 2 kids) for $30, including two kids' t-shirts. Tickets are $5 for kids under 5, and free for kids 2 and under. Get tickets here or at the Sports Basement (ticket fees waived)

Coming Up: Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Prime Time Players

It's almost time for Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players.

Brief synopsis: rare West Coast performance. Sing along together to tunes like Meltdown, My Brother Did It, Taking off my Training Wheels and Stay at Home Dad. Listen to tunes here. See video here. Tickets are only $13 in advance (it benefits the Mountain View Parent Nursery School - it's a co-op). Who isn't behind a preschool education?

We've been to this concert before - very fun!

When: Sunday, October 23 at 11 a.m. or 2:00 p.m. (each show is one hour)
Where: Spangenberg Theater, Gunn High School (780 Arasteradero, Palo Alto)
Cost: $13 each in advance, $14 online, $15 at door. Buy tickets here or by mail (same link for info). Or at Linden Tree Bookstore in Los Altos.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gilroy Gardens Holiday Light Event, Harvest Family Day, Botox, That Takes the Cake

Some deals for today...

For $16 ($30 value), get admission to the Gilroy Gardens Holiday Light Event. We've been, and it's fun! The event is during December. Get it here.

Get a family package to this Treasure Island event - including BBQ and wine - for $52 ($104 value) for 2 adults, 2 kids, on October 29. Includes bouncy houses, face painting, pumpkins and more. Get it here.

I questioned whether to put this here because I have such mixed feelings about Botox. But in case you're interested, you can get it for half off - $169 ($340 value) for the next few days on Plum District Deals.

Get $40 in cupcakes/cake for $20 at That Takes the Cake today. Get it here.

Get a cheapie Vegas vacation for $99 - including 3 nights at the Luxor or Stratosphere. There is an additional booking cost ($50) - and a bunch of fine print - be sure to read it all if you buy it. It's an Everything Deal here and you can get it for the next few days.

Get $25 certificates for $4 today, using code TREAT at checkout.

Using these links supports Frisco Kids.

Coming Up: Lowe's Build a Monster Truck

Build a free monster truck at Lowes Build and Grow Clinic on Saturday, October 22 at 10 a.m. Sign up here.

Coming Up: Tricycle Music Fest in San Francisco - free!

The second annual Tricycle Music Fest is coming to San Francisco, sponsored by the public library. All concerts are free and open to the public.


Sunday, October 23
11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Main Library (100 Larkin St.) Larkin Street Steps
Presented in Partnership with Sunday Streets Mission
Featuring:  *Lucky Diaz and the Family Jazz Band and The Time Outs

3 p.m.
Merced Branch Library
155 Winston Drive
Featuring:  The Monkeybutts

3 p.m.
Ortega Branch Library
3223 Ortega St.
Featuring: Rhythm Child

11 a.m.
Park Branch Library
1833 Page St.
Featuring:  The Sippy Cups –
Rudy Trubitt and Alison Faith Levy
11 a.m.
Main Library
100 Larkin St.
Featuring: *Lucky Diaz and The Family Jazz Band

3 p.m.
Presidio Branch Library
3150 Sacramento St.
Featuring:  The Hipwaders

3 p.m.
Bernal Heights Branch Library
500 Cortland Ave.
Featuring: *Lucky Diaz and The Family Jazz Band

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Coming Up: Very First Concerts (for kids) - FREE

San Francisco Chamber Concerts presents Very First Concerts - a 20 minute (free) concert designed with little ones in mind. Plus, you don't have to sit still. They want you get get up and dance. They're geared toward ages 0-7. Two concerts coming up at Crowden Music Center in Berkeley (1475 Rose Street):

“What Does a Conductor Do?”

Community Music Day, October 23, 2011
Repeat performances at 11:00 a.m., 11:40 a.m., and 12:20 p.m.

Unravel the mystery of the maestro in this 20-minute concert. What’s the magic in that little wooden stick, and why is that guy standing in front of all those musicians in the first place? Come find out!

“The Rhythms of Life”

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 16, 2012
Repeat performances at 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

Clocks, footsteps, cadences of speech, the rhythms of daily life are all around us. Come explore these and more in a special musical presentation featuring the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra’s own amazing rhythm section, the percussionists.

Coming Up: Author Talk - Brian Selznick

If you have a tween kid who likes Brian Selznick books, you'll be interested in this. Brian Selznick, Caldecott Medal winner and author of The Houdini Box, The Invention of Hugo Cabret and more, makes his only San Francisco appearance at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Selznick will read and show illustrations
from Wonderstruck, his new novel for young adults.

The story, told alternately in words and picture, is about two 12-year-old runaways, a girl in 1927, and a boy in 1977, whose stories intersect at the American Museum of Natural History. They have one thing in common: she is deaf, and he loses his hearing when he is struck by lightning. Selznick will sign books after the talk.

When: Sunday, October 23rd from 3-5 p.m.

Where: Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street (between Third and Fourth streets)
RSVP: Recommended - or online or call (415) 655-7800
Cost: free for members and youth 18 and under, $12 general admission otherwise, $10 for seniors and students over 18 with valid ID

Monday, October 17, 2011

Coming Up: Free Cooking Class and Meal

This looks like a fun cooking class and free lunch too! You have to RSVP (space is limited) so if interested, grab a friend and RSVP for both of you.

It's called Miele, Moms and Meals, and they're offering it for free ($85 value) with RSVP. Here's what they say about it. "Join Chef Chris Krotke, Culinary Director, educator and official gourmet baby food taster of the gorgeous Miele Gallery, and Chef Rachelle Boucher, Culinary Marketing Manager of Standards of Excellence, blogger and family private chef, for a class for moms (or moms to be) who have kids of all ages.

Chris and Rachelle will share their combined passion for food and fun to give moms new, healthy & time saving ideas for foods and techniques that work for all ages and all palates. Fall flavors abound with a menu for adults that is easily made kid-friendly as well.

From convection cooking to steaming, canning and sanitizing, our chefs will bring forth an interactive experience you will love!

Harvest Menu, Small Bite Hors d’oeuvres:
Roasted Sweet Potato Chips with Celery Root puree and Maple Roasted Pear
Braised Fennel and Sun choke Shots
Oven “Fried” Chicken & Fish
Maple Baked Apples with Toasted Hazelnut Yogurt Semifreddo
and more!"

When: Saturday, October 22 from 11-2
Where: Miele Gallery in the Sobel Building (680 8th Street, SF)
RSVP: Mandatory. Print out your ticket here, then call (415) 431-8682 to RSVP.

They said the cooking techniques apply to any appliance, and their goal is to show off the showroom so you'll want to come back in the future.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Coming Up: Pedalfest in Oakland

For you bikers out there, this Oakland event looks like fun. It's called Pedalfest - and it celebrates bicycles. If you're coming from SF, you can take the ferry for free. It's at Jack London Square on October 22, 2011 from 10-5.

Highlights include:
·         A kids’ bike parade, hosted by Red Tricycle
      ·     Kids' Zone 
·         A Bicycle rodeo
·         A Rock-the-Bike pedal-powered sound stage will provide live music by DJs
·         A New Belgium beer garden by New Belgium Brewing Company (All proceeds from the New Belgium Beer Garden will be donated to Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and East Bay Bicycle Coalition)
·         A handmade and a vintage bike show

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Coming Up: Discovery Days Science Activities

Discovery Days are coming up, with hundreds of hands-on activities, performances, interactive demonstrations and family-oriented science enterainment. Look for events:

Cal State East Bay - Hayward - 10/29/11
Infineon Raceway - Sonoma on 11/5/11
Festival Finale at AT&T Park San Francisco on 11/6/11

Friday, October 14, 2011

Halloween in the Bay Area 2011


When: Friday, October 28 from 4-9
What: Haunted house, hay rides, arts & crafts, inflatables, carnival rides
Cost: $8/person - all inclusive
Who: the whole family

What: Celebrate with the creepy-crawlies, including trick-or-treating, face painting, dancing, costume parade,  photo booth, movie in the planetarium, food and drinks and more
Where: California Academy of Sciences, SF
When: Saturday 10/29 from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Who: everyone
Cost: adults $50 ($45/adult member), kids 17 and under $35 ($30/child member). And anything over $30 is tax-deductible


What: Great America's kid Halloween party. Planet Snoopy is transformed into Planet Spooky, and kids can wear their costumes and trick-or-treat with Snoopy and the gang. This is not a scary event (unless your kids are freaked out by giant versions of the Peanuts characters, which to be honest, I am). Oh, and if you're scout, there's a special scout trick-or-treating event with special pricing on Oct. 22.
When: weekends in October, from noon to 4
Cost: free with park admission
Who: kids 12 and under
More info: here

When: Friday, October 28, 6-8pm
What: Slither & Squeak (Discover the science behind the spooky things you see at Halloween! Museum educators will expose haunted house tricks of the trade and reveal to visitors how those creepy, scary things happen. Wear your costume and meet CuriOdyssey’s nocturnal animals, experiment hands-on with spooky science, and take part in science-inspired trick-or-treating. Food will be available for purchase from gourmet food trucks. Everyone will receive a sweet treat for attending the event
Tickets: limited, must purchase in advance Here
Cost: $5-$15 (free for those under age 2)
More info: here
Where: CuriOdyssey, 1651 Coyote Point Dr., San Mateo

What: Halloween event and helicopter pumpkin drop (crafts, exhibits, carnival, candy, prizes)
When: Saturday and Sunday, 10/29 & 10/30 from 11-2 (pumpkin drop is at 2)
Where: Hillier Aviation Museum in San Carlos
Cost: free with museum admission
Who: everyone
More infohere

What: Dog Costume Contest
When: Saturday, October 22 10-1 (registration) 2-4 (contest)
Cost: Free
Who: Pets in costume
Where: Serramonte and Gellert Blvd, Daly City
More info: here

When: October 18 from 5:30-6:30
Where: Serramonte and Gellert Blvd, Daly City
Who: 12 and under
More info: here

When: October 31 from 3:00-6:00
Where: Serramonte and Gellert Blvd, Daly City
Who: 12 and under
More info: here

What: Trick-or-treating, costume parade, face painting, balloon animals, pirate show, slime booth, cookie decorating and crafts
Where: Hillsdale Mall, 60 31st Avenue, San Mateo
When: Monday, 10/31 from 5-7 p.m. (trick-or-treating is 5-6, while supplies last)
More info: Here
Cost: Free

What: street fair, crafts, pumpkin weighing contest, pumpkin carving contest, etc.
When: Saturday and Sunday, 10/15 & 10/16, 9-5
Where: downtown Half Moon Bay
Cost: Free
More info: here


What: Goblin Jamboree - entertainment, pony rides, games, activities, make witch's potion, petting zoo and more
Where: Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
When: Saturday and Sunday, 10/15 and 10/16 from 10-4
Cost: $15 ($13 for members)
More info: here


What: Rides, parades, goody bags, treats, crafts, jumpy houses, pirate school, balloon animals, clowns and more
Where: Children's Fairyland, Oakland
When: Saturday and Sunday, 10/29 & 10/30
Cost: $10 ($5/members)
More info: here

What: Bellavente Woodwind Quintet - spooky and adventurous music - family fun!
Where: Freight & Salvage Coffee House, Berkeley
When: Monday, October 31 at 6:30 p.m.
Cost: Free for kids 12 and under. For all others, $8.50 in advance, $10.50 at the door
More info: here

I posted a big list of SF Bay Halloween events last year, and many are occurring this year, though you'll need to check out the updated dates and details using links. I didn't have time to do a complete overhaul of the list this year.

Michael's Arts and Crafts - has lots of craft events this month

Trick or Treating in the Bay Area - Red Tricycle has a great posting about where to go

Red Tricycle has a list of Halloween activities here.

Frog Mom: Fantastic Halloween Events for Families: 2011 Edition list of Halloween events

Boo at the Bay Area Zoos - by Travel is More Fun with Kids

I'll update this list as time goes on.

School Snacks

I don't know about you, but figuring out what to send my kids for snack (let alone lunch), is the bane of my existence. Okay, that's being a little dramatic. I know there are many worse problems out there than what my kids eat between meals. But I have a picky eater at home (I'm the only one, right?) and he won't eat fruit or cheese sent for snack. I know you're saying that if he's hungry enough, he'll eat it. No. He won't. And he's a stick. He'd eat chips and cookies if I sent that, but I won't.

So here's my list of snack foods, not all of which my kids will eat, but I'm trying to be thorough in case yours will. I also need snacks to be finger foods (they have a "working snack" and no recess - don't get me started) and contain no nuts or sesame seeds. Sigh. Glad my kids aren't allergic, but there are a rash of kids at school who are.

DAIRY: cheese, tubes of yogurt, container of milk
FRUIT/VEGGIES: banana, apple slices, grapes, berries, raisins, carrots, dried fruit, snapea crisps, edamame,
STARCH: crackers, bag of high fiber/lower fat cereal, bars (Nature Valley or chewy granola), popcorn, pretzels (I like the honey wheat ones from Trader Joe's), goldfish, rice cakes (preferably with cheese), graham crackers
PROTEIN: Beef or turkey jerky, and the following if your school isn't nut free: mixed nuts, honey roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds (these are banned from our school as well)
BAKED: I make pumpkin muffins from scratch (or with TJ's mix - seasonal), or banana muffins with chocolate chips (no nuts, unfortunately).

What school snacks are in your regular line-up?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Coming Up: Yerba Buena Family Day

Yerba Buena Family Fun Day is coming up - it's free! It includes admission and hands-on art activities from four museums there, and two stages with live performances.

Museums include:
-Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM)
-Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)
-Children's Creativity Museum (formerly Zeum)
-Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

**Exhibit on Harry Houdini at the CJM
**Imagination Lab - new at Children's Creativity Museum
**Performance by the Magic of Chin Chin
**Make your own optical illusions
**Decoupage your own memory box
**hula dancers, Japanese drummers
**carousel rides
Thank you Target for sponsoring.

When: Sunday, October 16, 2011 from 11-4
Where: Yerba Buena gardens
Cost: Free
More info: see the Yerba Buena website

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Coming Up: Grape Stomp for Kids

When I think of grape stomping, I think of Lucy and Ethel.

Your kids can stomp grapes too - this Sunday from noon to 2 at Coppola Winery in Geyserville. FYI - if you miss this they have weekly family events!

Thank you to Sonoma on the Cheap for the tip.

Coming Up: Mini Maker Faire East Bay

If you missed the Maker Faire this past May, check out the East Bay Mini Maker Faire this Sunday in Oakland. Frog Mom gives the scoop on what to expect, and shares a discount code as well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coming Up: Harvest Festival and Edible Sukkah

Sukkot starts this Wednesday night. This is a Jewish harvest festival, and my daughter's favorite holiday - more explanation on Sukkot here here. If you and the kids haven't yet done anything for the holiday, here's how to make an easy edible sukkah - whether you're Jewish or not. It's easy and fun.

The Palo Alto JCC is sponsoring a harvest festival this Sunday, October 16 from 11-5. They'll have food, cooking demonstrations, music, art and family-friendly activities. It's free, and it's at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center (3941 Fabian Way, Palo Alto).

Monday, October 10, 2011

My favorite baby costumes

I've been known to dress my kids up in really lame Halloween outfits. We were looking online for costumes this year and were having fun poking around the baby and kid costumes. Here are our favorites:

This baby bunting Heinz ketchup packet is hilarious.

Gene Simmons anyone? Make your little rock star a Kiss demon!

This Kiss one is even more hilarious.

Sorta sweet, really dorky gnome.

And a funny looking Christmas tree baby.

The hot dog baby bunting...

And last, the seahorse baby bunting.

What are your favorites???

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Q&A with Mary Ellen O'Toole - FBI profiler

I have a special treat for everyone today. It's a Q&A with Mary Ellen O'Toole, PhD, whose book Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us was just published. She's a retired FBI profiler who worked on the Unabomber case, as well as Columbine, Elizabeth Smart, Polly Klaas and others you've no doubtedly heard of. I just started reading the book, but didn't want to hold this up until I finished and reviewed it (I'm not the fastest reader).

Note that this is not a light-hearted Q&A and it's not appropriate for your kids to be reading without your supervision. Also note that I made up the questions - they're not indicative of my personal life (e.g. I LOVE my neighbors and they are not in the least bit creepy).

Q: We're new to the neighborhood. The next-door-neighbor seems kind of creepy. Should I trust my instinct and tell the kids to stay away, or am I unfairly judging the person?

A: That depends on your definition of creepy. Some people define “creepy” as someone with long hair, tattoos, nose rings or some other physical trait. But those visual characteristics really tell you nothing about whether your neighbor is dangerous. People who appear perfectly normal – who dress nicely, drive nice cars, care for their homes and lawns, and who have a spouse, children and dog—are just as likely to be dangerous as someone who has long hair and rides a Harley.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Get 'Yer Tickets: Circus for the Arts in Schools

Get 'yer tickets for the Circus for the Arts in School show! It features former stars from Cirque du Soleil and the Pickle Family Circus, as well as other amazing acts from the circus world.

The performers donate their time and talent to put on the circus, and it's run by volunteers, so all proceeds from the Circus go directly to funding arts education. Over the years, the show has raised more than $130,000 for arts education in the public schools and brought a world class circus to Alameda.

The circus funded successful arts programs at Paden, Otis and Washington Schools in Alameda. Centered around live, professional works of art, this program brings classroom teachers and teaching artists together to create vibrant, curriculum-rich lessons that enrich and challenge students. Proceeds from the 2011 Circus for Arts in the Schools will continue to support the Creative Education Program in the Alameda Unified School District.

WHAT: 7th Annual Circus for Arts in the Schools
WHERE: Kofman Auditorium, 2200 Central Avenue, Alameda
WHEN: Sunday, November 6, 2011 Two shows – 1pm and 4pm
COST: Adults - $15 ($18 at the door); Youth/Senior - $10
MORE INFO: ; (510) 337-1238 Facebook Page: Circus for Arts
TICKETS: Buy your tickets here

Friday, October 7, 2011

Coming Up: Decorate your Own Scary Pancake at ihop

This month at IHOP you can have Halloween fun with the kids. Your kids can decorate their own Scary Face pancake. They'll get a big buttermilk pancake, with whipped topping and a strawberry nose, and your kid can decorate the face with little Oreo cookies and candy corn. It's for kids 12 and under. Last year they chose the name Count Spatula for the Scary Face Pancake - I have to admit that's an awesome name.

Kids can get a free Count Spatula pancake on October 28, and you can sign up to get a free wake-up call from Count Spatula on that day. Which will remind you to go to ihop. You can sign up here for the free phone call. Hopefully it will be on their website by the time this posts. It wasn't on in September.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Coming Up: the Bubble Lady

Coming up at the Play Cafe in Oakland (4400 Keller Ave):

Date: Oct. 8th 
Time: 11am
Price: $8 per child

Coming Up: Concert for Families - You can Join In!

Here's something different - a concert where the audience is invited to join in. I love it!

Here's what the Philharmonica Baroque Orchestra says about their family concert: "Featuring recorder virtuoso Marion Verbruggen and conductor Ottavio Dantone, the program includes excerpts from two Baroque-era concertos for recorder (Vivaldi and Sammartini) in a special interactive presentation. Musicians from the orchestra will talk about the music they are performing and utilize visual accompaniment to create an engaging, lively family event. 

As a grand finale, audience members at the Family Concert will be offered the unique opportunity to join the orchestra in performance on the stage. Anyone wishing to participate should bring their own instrument to play in the concert and sheet music for this piece will be available on the orchestra’s website at prior to the concert."

What: Philharmonica Baroque Orchestra - Special Concerts for Families
When: Saturday, November 19 at 4 p.m.
Where: Berkeley - First Congregational Church (2345 Channing Way)
Tickets: $5 for under 17, $10 for adults. Get them at City Box Office at (415) 392-4400 or online at