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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Labor Day Weekend - What to Do?

Are you hanging around the Bay Area this weekend, and you're not sure what to do? Here are some sites to check for happenings:

Red Tricycle has events here. 

Ronnie's Awesome List has events for the whole month. has a calendar here. has a calendar of Labor Day events. has a nice list of events

Chatterblock has a list here.

Spotivate has a list of hand-picked events (with beautiful photos). You have to sign up in order to see it, though. You can sign up for the weekly San Jose newsletter here, and the San Francisco one here.

Coming Up: Museums on Us - Free Admission

Bank of America's Museums on Us program runs this weekend, giving B of A cardholders (credit or debit) one free admission per card at participating museums. We've used this program and love it! It's this weekend, September 1-2 (some museums are only one day). The website won't let me give you an individual list of cities to click, so just check the main website and look for California in the pull-down menu. 

Participating museums in San Francisco:
·         Children's Creativity Museum (formerly Zeum)
·         Chabot Space & Science Center
·         Contemporary Jewish Museum
·         de Young Museum
·         Legion of Honor

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Only one more day to vote - please????

The contest is almost over and I haven't even bugged you to vote (much). Please do me a favor and vote for Frisco Kids - there's only a day or so left. I'd like to at least finish #4 (though I know I'm #1 in your hearts, right?). Click on the badge and find Frisco Kids. You can only vote once every 24 hours (and only for one blog - so don't mess up and vote for someone else on accident, like my daughter did).

Bay Area Food Trucks - Where Are They?

Photo courtesy of Muy Yum/Flickr

Food trucks are all the rage, but with so many roaming about, how do you find them? Here's the Frisco Kids' handy guide to Bay Area food truck locations.

SoMa Streat Food Park - the first permanent food truck pod, which opened in June. It's at 428 11th Street at Division in San Francisco. Different vendors every day, including (it's a big list) Bacon, Bacon, Yumsilog, We Sushi, Voodoo Van, the Rib Whip, the Dosa Republic, Senor Sisig, Missing Link, Kung Fu Tacos, and Cookie Time.

They have a covered, heated seating area and large screen projector TV for sporting events. Beer garden to come soon. It's open daily, from 11-3 and 5-10 p.m. on weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends. On Friday and Saturdays it's open until 2 a.m. So there might be a little confusion by how that was all phrased, but I took it from their website. You've been warned.

Hiller Aviation: Fly Me to the Food
When: every Wednesday starting August 29, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Who:  On the rotation, Kara's Cupcakes, Koja Kitchen, Cheese Gone Wild, Adam's Grub Truck, Little Green Cyclo, Whisk on Wheels, Butterscotch Girl and many more.

Off the Grid SF lists weekly markets, including St. Mary's Square, Fifth and Minna, Civic Center, Fort Mason, Alameda, Hayes Valley, Larkspur, McCoppin, Upper Haight, North Berkeley, Southside Berkeley and Hayward. Sign up for email updates on the site.

Roaming Hunger lists 128 food trucks and tracks their locations daily.

Trux Map lists what food trucks are open now (with hours of operation) and a map. Search by location, vendor, hours open, what's open now, what's open tomorrow.

**What's your favorite food truck?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Focus Group: Audio

Fleishman Field Research is hosting a focus group on Audio. Participants get $150. It's Tuesday September 4-7 at various times in downtown San Francisco. To see if you qualify, fill out the survey here.

Day Trip: Tcho Factory Tour in San Francisco

This is a guest post from Jill Engel, awesome mom and a Bay Area native.

Photo courtesy of NiallKennedy/Flickr

Last week, my sister and I took our kids down to the San Francisco Embarcadero (Pier 17 1/2) to a young chocolate factory/store called TCHO (the phonetic spelling for the first syllable in chocolate).  What a delightful hour and a half we had at TCHO!  (please note, TCHO moved to Berkeley in March, 2014)

Our experience began with a video that told us the history of chocolate, showed us the company's various chocolate bean fields and taught us how chocolate candy is made. We then got to put on nifty hair nets so that we could walk around the factory and see the great candy machines in action. Last but totally worth waiting for...the tasting.  
Photo courtesy of Tonx/Flickr

We stood around the table and learned the importance of breaking chocolate in half and giving a sniff before you place the delicious pieces of heaven ever so gently on your tongue. As we let the chocolate melt in our mouths, we would intensely discuss the flavors we were experiencing. The kids were as into this adventure as we were.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Coming Up: Reptiles in San Jose

Python Ron's Reptile Kingdom comes to the San Jose library, making for some fun late summer (or after school) enrichment.

When: Tuesday, August 28 at 3:30
Where: Vineland Branch Library (1450 Blossom Hill Road, San Jose)
Cost: Free

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Make a Difference - Women, Kids and Schools

This is the first of several posts coming out of my BlogHer conference. A number of companies and foundations there are doing good things in the community and I thought I'd share a few with you.

This Text4Baby private/public partnership (which I found out about through Johnson & Johnson) aims to reach pregnant women and new moms who may not have as much access to prenatal information and baby rearing information. It's a free health text messaging service providing information in English or Spanish. You enter your baby's due date or birth date, and you'll get free (date/age appropriate) health messages with tips on caring for your body during pregnancy or your baby. No worries if you don't have a text messaging plan (i.e. you have to pay for each message). Many carriers (including the major ones) deliver them for free. Details here. Please spread the word about this program!

Every Mother Counts
Every Mother Counts was founded by Christy Turlington Burns, who spoke about the foundation at the conference. The goal is to make childbirth safer for women around the world. There are many things you can do to help, whether it's signing a pledge that women have the right to a safe pregnancy and delivery, to getting notifications from Facebook or Twitter @EveryMotherCounts, donating your old phone, shop for a cause, donate or become an expert yourself.

Power a Bright Future
Clorox just launched a K-12 grant program (year 4) where they'll award 7 grants in all, $200,000 total, to help fund new or existing school programs. You can nominating a new or existing K-12 school program by visiting, and choose a category that best represents your idea (Play, Create or Explore). You'll need to upload a photo and submit a short summary of how the grant would make a difference. Each winning school will get $25,000 to $50,000. Nominations end October 17, 2012.

Teacher Lists
Does your child's teacher have a wish list of items needed in the classroom? Your teacher can post a list on Parents can "follow" the list and automatic notification any time the list is updated. The lists can be shared on FAcebook, email or a school website badge, and they're printable.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Coming Up: Circus Vargas (and get a deal through Thursday)

Circus Vargas is coming to town!

This circus has no animals, which means no PETA protesters out front and no PETA people sending me harassing emails after I post this. Hooray!

There's a pre-show 30 minutes before, where your kids get to be featured in the center ring, learning how to do circus tricks like juggling.

Here's the schedule:

Tracy - August 23-27
Milpitas - August 30-September 3
Hayward - September 6-10
Newark - September 13-17

Get discounted Circus Vargas tickets through Thursday, August 23 on Groupon. You'll get an adult bleacher seat ticket for $12 (normally $25). Make sure to read the fine print.

Groupon tickets are good for:

West Valley Mall in Tracy
  • Thursday, August 23, at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, August 24, at 5 p.m.
  • Monday, August 27, at 7 p.m.
Great Mall in Milpitas
  • Thursday, August 30, at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, August 31, at 5 p.m.
  • Monday, September 3, at 6 p.m.
Southland Mall in Hayward
  • Thursday, September 6, at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, September 7, at 5 p.m.
  • Monday, September 10, at 7 p.m.
NewPark Mall in Newark
  • Thursday, September 13, at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, September 14, at 5 p.m.
  • Monday, September 17, at 7 p.m.

Speed-Sitting Program for SF Parents

If you're a San Francisco parent in need of additional sitters, Peekadoodle is hosting a "speed-sitting: event on Wednesday, August 29. Like speed-dating (have you ever done that? I have), you'll meet potential sitters for 3 minutes at a time. Anyone you want to hire, you do through Urban Sitters.

The event is free, but RSVP is mandatory. Email your RSVP at or call (415) 440-7335. The event is from 7-9 p.m. More info here. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Burning Man with Kids - Should You Do It?

Have you been to Burning Man? How about with kids? My friend Rachel brought her toddler daughter last and had a blast, though it required a lot of preparation. I've not been myself, so I found some links that will help you decide if you should (and could) go to Burning Man with your kids.

The official Burning Man site has information on bringing the kids.

Red Tricycle has an excellent post (with pictures) as well.

Here are other blog posts about it, mostly positive. But not everyone is supportive of people bringing kids to Burning Man

Camping with kids at Burning Man

Black Rock Kids

The Mommy Files

Burning Family

The Intrepid Mompreneur

Worldwide Hippies (not so supportive of bringing kids)

Theme camps and villages at Burning Man (official site)

Should you bring your kids to Burning Man?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Coming Up: America's Cup in San Francisco

San Francisco is certainly a beautiful spot for sailing, so what a treat to have the city host two America's Cup World Series regattas. See the maps here which show where events are happening on the land. You can read about the schedules here. Racing on Wednesday through Saturdays start at 2:05. On Sunday, it starts at 11:30 a.m. The official schedule is here. There are some kids events on the Embarcadero in South Beach, along Seawall 330.

When: August 21-26 and October 2-7 (which is also Fleet Week, October 4-8)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to School Lunches

All summer my kids have gotten sandwiches packed for lunch. I'm thinking of some other ideas for fall. Something other than chicken nuggets (which is in the rotation). 

Make your own Lunchable: I won't buy Lunchables (too much packaging, sugar, fat and lack of nutrition). That said, I will make my own, using low-fat salami and crackers (yeah, the salt content is pretty high), or low-fat string cheese and crackers, along with apple slices or applesauce. 

Wraps: You can do meat/cheese wraps without the bread, or inside a whole wheat tortilla. Or skip the meat and do cheese and grilled veggies.

Leftovers: This is usually my kids' favorite lunch, providing they liked it the night before! It can be as simple as leftover pasta with parmesan, rice and tofu or teriyaki chicken, or hearty soup in a thermos.

Breakfast: I sometimes send oatmeal in a thermos, or a bagel with peanut butter. I've done leftover breakfast waffles and soy sausage.

Sandwiches: FamilyFun has a list of creative sandwich ideas, like sandwich on a stick, PB and J blossom sandwiches, sandwich art, and spiral sandwiches

Microwaveable Pasta: Don't know if your kids have access to a microwave at school (mine don't), but these are good for parents too - at work or at home. Barilla sent me some of their microwaveable meals (basically pasta/sauce) to try, and I agreed because the pasta they use is high fiber (6 grams per container). They're also not frozen, which is good because my freezer space is limited. The stats: 320 calories, 5 grams of fat, 9-11 grams of protein and they're ready in a minute. The cost is $3.29 a package and the shelf life is a year.  They're not paying me to say this, and I liked the pasta. There is the packaging issue (like Lunchables).

Fruit Cups: Dole has a new product, single serving frozen fruit cups. I saw these at the BlogHer conference (but alas, was too full from lunch to try them). They have frozen pineapple, blueberries and strawberries (all single fruit types, not mixed). You can eat them frozen or put them in a lunch box and they'll thaw by lunch. The benefit: no syrup in the bottom and minimal texture loss when thawing (according to them). It's just fruit, with no added sugar or preservatives. Each cup is 50 or less and one fruit serving. They'll retail for around $2 for a 3 pack.

I did a post on School Snacks some time back - check it out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back to school organizing

I was doing some shopping at Target recently, and found some fun back-to-school organizing things found in the dollar section.

But first, you might be interested in this article on getting your kids to do your homework. I was quoted in it, so I'm a little biased. Take a look.

This wipe-off board is good for kids to track what they need to do the next day, what things to pack in the backpack, or list what needs to be done during the afternoon. It is $1.

This owl is a chalkboard, and it hangs on the wall. There were several other styles as well, including a non-animal shape one. It's $2.50.

This mini corkboard can be used for notes, school permission slips and more. $2.50.

Decorate hooks. Probably not sturdy enough for backpacks or heavy jackets, but it would work for lighter items. There were other designs as well. $2.50.

These labels are very cute and good for all kinds of labeling. $1 each.

This week-at-a-glance pad has lines for every day of the week. Good for a kid with a kid-sized schedule, or an adult who likes to track at max, 10 things at day. $1.

I couldn't resist buying this cute little metal chair, that's used to hold a cell phone. Good for me when I want to play Words with Friends. $1.

This isn't really organizing, but it could come in handy. It's a lined plastic-coated board so your little one can practice writing and then wipe the slate clean. It was $1.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Volunteer! Build a Playground in Oakland with Kaboom

Join more than 200 volunteers from JetBlue Airways and Community School for Creative Education, organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of the Oakland community to build a new playground at Community School for Creative Education. The new playground’s design is based on drawings created by children.

Have you heard of KaBOOM? They are a national nonprofit that helps communities build playgrounds, with the philosophy that kids need a place to play daily, to be active and healthy. They say that only 20% of kids live in walking distance of a park or playground, and this is creating a play deficit that is impacting kids in many ways.

This playground is the 15th collaboration between KaBOOM! and JetBlue Airways, and is one of more than 150 playground the organization is lading nationwide THIS YEAR. They've built more than 2,000 since the nonprofit started in 1996. Join in the fun!

When: Saturday, August 18
8:30-9 a.m. - Kick off ceremony and volunteer deployment
11-1 - Best viewing of playground construction
1-2:30 - Final construction phase and adjustments
2:30-3 -  Ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate new play area
(Note: all times approximate)

Where: Community School for Creative Education (2111 International Blvd. Oakland)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

San Francisco Book Reviews

I recently read three books written by San Francisco area authors and thought I'd share them with you.

Your Guide to Visit San Francisco for Free: Includes 10 Paid Activities You do Not Want to Miss and 10 Free Activities Outside San Francisco - by Lydie Thomas

You might know Lydie from her site, Travel is More Fun with Kids. She's French, and wrote a guide to visiting Paris for free as well (check it out).

Now I'm sure you're wondering why a local San Francisco Bay Area resident would buy a book on visiting San Francisco. Well, duh! Because there are plenty of activities for you to do AS A RESIDENT and lots for your friends/family who visit to do as well.

For your visitors: information on how to travel in/around San Francisco (including airport transport so you don't have to pick them up); how the bridge tolls work; movies to watch before coming (also good for residents); tourist resources (medical, helpful apps, local blogs (like Frisco Kids!), and how to get free lodging (home exchange programs, couch surfing programs)

For you (and your visitors): lots of ideas of things to do (some free, some not), including many things I haven't done (the Wells Fargo History Museum, walking tours, the maze at Grace Cathedral, GLBT History Museum, the Walt Disney Family Museum, the Yoda statue, Tcho factory, Federal Reserve tours...). Plus it has lists of what museums are closed on what day - listed by day, which is quite convenient if you're looking for something to do on say, a Monday. And there's lots about the public art in the City - good history, and things to look out for. There's a listing of the steepest streets by grade, and a list of the best views. I learned a lot from this book and it will be a handy resource for me.

San Francisco, The Alphabet Book by Matt Weber
This hardcover book is again, good for locals or visitors. It's written by a Bay Area teacher. It goes through the alphabet, covering 26 cultural, historical and geographical aspects of the City. Each letter gets one full page photograph and the other side has a 4 stanza rhyme, with some additional "did you know" facts. For example,

"A is for Alcatraz
A lighthouse, fort, and jail
An escape-proof island rock
It maybe once did fail."

It has some facts about Alcatraz having the first lighthouse and American fort on the West Coast (the oldest working U.S. lighthouse is in New Jersey, though that's not part of the book). And that Alcatraz is from "Alcatraces" meaning pelicans in Spanish!

The book is probably best for preschoolers to 2nd grade or so, though the facts in there are quite interesting even for older kids. Younger kids would be better for this format, though.

California's Missions from A to Z by Matt Weber
Like the previous book, this A to Z format features a different topic on every page. It is for kids slightly older though, as it doesn't have the 4 stanza rhymes (actually it's 8 stanza here), and gives a bit more information rather than just a few facts per page. You'll learn about everything from vaqueros (cowboys) to olives, from animal hides to quadrangles. This is a good book for those 4th graders studying missions as part of their school curriculum.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Top 25 NorCal Moms - Vote for Me!

Frisco Kids has been nominated for another Circle of Moms award - this one is the Top 25 NorCal moms. Now I have to laugh because I used to work for a company called NORCAL, so being called a NorCal mom cracks me up. In any case, please vote for me! You can vote once a day through the end of August.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Focus Group: Healthy Snacks - At the ZOO Friday

Calling all San Francisco Moms! If you have a child ages 3-17, you could earn $50 plus free admission to the San Francisco Zoo! Focus Pointe Global is looking for moms and kids to share their opinions on Healthy Snacks in a paid focus group taking place at the zoo tomorrow, August 10, at 1:30 pm. 

Fill out this quick survey to see if you’re eligible ( ) or call 1-800-220-3730 and give reference number 47648CO. 

You can sign up to get information about other paid research opportunities at

Coming Up: Summer Fitness Jam at PJCC

This Saturday, the PJCC in Foster City is having a summer fitness jam, which includes dancing with U-Jam and Zumba. It's free and open to the community. So take a few hours for yourself! It's from 2-4 p.m.

More info: call 650-378-2771 or check here.

Coming Up: National Bowling Day - Free

I recently returned from BlogHer, where they set up a bowling alley at one of the parties! Unfortunately I only knocked down 9 pins (it's hard bowling in a dress!). Anyway, this Saturday, August 11 is National Bowling Day. Your whole family can bowl for free by going to and downloading the coupon.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Coming Up: Marine Mammal Science Sunday - Free

The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito is having its monthly Marine Science Sundays on August 12. These are held the second Sunday of every month, with family-friendly tours, classroom activities and different themes. This month the theme is "where have all the marine mammals gone?" They'll be looking at marine mammals along the California coast, and efforts to save them, like the Blue whale, fur seals, sea lions and the Hawaiian monk seal (photo above!). You'll get to see their "patients" they care for. The classroom presentations involve interactive activities and multimedia presentations.
Where: The Marine Mammal Center (2000 Bunker Road, Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito)
When: August 12, 2012 from 10-5
More info: here


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Coming Up: Singalongs - Grease, Princess Bride, Xanadu, Monty Python

There's nothing worse for my kids than hearing me sing in public. Which is why I love to sing in public. Here's my chance! 

The Retrodome is running singalongs to several fabulous movies in the next month, like...

The Princess Bride - August 10-12 (to be fair, it's a "quote along")
Grease - August 17-19
Xanadu - August 17-19
Monty Python and the Holy Grail - August 24-26

Where: Retrodome (San Jose)
Cost: $15

Monday, August 6, 2012

New Historables iPad App for 3-6 year olds

I mentioned the Historables app a month or so ago. It's ready for download on iTunes, and it's free (and has no advertising). It's good for the 3-6 year old set.

Watch the video below about a few of the characters, Marie Ant-toinette, Teddy Bear Roosevelt, Spaniel Boone and Lionardo Da Vinci. Using music, humor and very cute characters, this app is aimed at the 3-6 year old crowd and is fun AND educational (yes, my kids and I tried it out - they were giggling and fighting over the mouse). 

Disclosure: I do know the creators, and I'm posting this here because I trust them and have been hearing about its development for awhile now. The app will be for both iPad and Android, but it was launched first for the Apple market. You can try some of the games online at

Link Love - What I'm Reading

Homemade Twix. No way I'll ever make these, but they look delish.

Meals and recipes to deliver to friends, from A Little Yumminess.

I write a lot about radiology. So this item found me in my inbox. Make a chocolate brain from an MRI scan. So quirky and weird. And kind of gross.

Check out this awesome house in a converted church. Love it!

And also in a church theme (or Moroccan arch theme - you take your pick) is this fabulous wine cellar.

Cheap fun summer activities with the kids - a great list by Bargain Babe.

Looking for some fun but cheap things to do with the kiddies this summer? Read 5 places for free or cheap staycations from Suddenly Frugal

8 truths I learned about organizing from the Berenstain Bears - from Apartment Therapy

Cool, funky LEGO things - that aren't just LEGOs, by Red Tricycle

U-Pick Fruit Farms - go fruit picking with A Little Yumminess. I know, it's a little late. But I'm very behind on email.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Coming Up: Olympic Game Viewing Party

Watch the Olympics outdoors, with other fun activities like Olympic skills games, gourmet food, arts and crafts (for the kids) and other fun.

It's free and run by the San Francisco Rec and Park Dept.

Where: Civic Center, SF
When: Tuesday, August 7 and Saturday, August 11 from 9-4 p.m.
Cost: Free

Friday, August 3, 2012

Coming Up: Corazon Under the Dome - SF - Free

The Westfield Shopping Centre in San Francisco has a new 3-D light show that looks fun. Stop by if you're in the area. It starts at 5 p.m. nightly, when the mall's dome turns into a multi-media surround theater, and goes every half hour until closing. It's called Corazon Under the Dome, and it features iconic SF landmarks and features, along with SF-centric songs. Every Friday and Saturday night, on level 4, you'll find a 12 year old tap dancing trumpeter performing, before each Corazon show. You can see him here on Ellen - impressive!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Coming Up: Free Museums on Us

This weekend is the monthly Bank of America Museums on Us program. Get in free to these museums with your B of A credit or debit card. Usually only one entrance per card. If you're traveling out of the area, check the website because they cover other cities.

Children's Creativity Museum
Chabot Space & Science Center
Contemporary Jewish Museum
de Young Museum
Legion of Honor

Coming Up: Sunday Streets - Mission

This Sunday is Sunday Streets in San Francisco. From 11-4, streets will be closed to traffic on Valencia Street from 14th to 24th Streets, and Valencia to Hampshire on 24th. There will be a kids' music festival, art projects, other live music, free bike repairs, dancers, free Zumba class, pet programming (some free services) and more. Read the entire schedule here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Coming Up: How to Eat Like a Child

Pied Piper Players' Summer Conservatory is putting on the show Hot to Eat Like a Child and Other Lessons in Not Being a Grown-Up, which looks at:

-how to beg for a dog
-how to torture your sister
-how to act after being sent to your room
-how to laugh hysterically

It's fun for kids to see other kids on stage, and these kids designed the sets, props and costumes too.

When: Friday, August 3 at 7 p.m. or Saturday, August 4 at 1 p.m.
Where: Borel Middle School (425 Barneson Ave., San Mateo)
Cost: suggested donation: $5/adult, $2/kids