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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Coming Up: Bay Area Science Festival Finale

Somehow I've managed to not post about the huge Bay Area Science Festival that's going on (there's still time to experience it). But at least I'll post about the finale, this Saturday, November 3rd from 11-4.

With the Giants World Series win (yay Giants!) it's extra exciting to finish up the festival at AT&T Park. This is the largest educational event in the Bay Area and it's free and open to the public.

There will be more than 200 interactive demonstrations, games and exhibits, as well as your chance to run the bases and checkout the dug outs. That and science - very cool. Exhibits include Chevron's STEM Zone, where you'll see a whole whale skeleton on display and a 25 foot blow-up replica of a human cell. I know, that's high on your list. So wear your Giants colors and come for a fun day.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Focus Group: Fathers and Sons

Fleishman Field Research is recruiting for a 2 hour study in SF on November 5th. Pay is $200. If interested, complete the info below and wend to

1) Name:

2) Age:
3) Phone Number:
4) Do you have children? If yes, what are their genders and ages?
5) Which of the following activities do you do at least once a week with your child/ren?
Watch TV shows
Watch movies
Play video games
Play board games
Play sports

Get 'Yer Tickets - Dan Zanes

Dan Zanes & Friends is coming to Livermore. You can get seats for $14 using the password FAMILY.

Where: Bankhead Theater (Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, 2400 First Street, Livermore)
When: Saturday, November 3 at 10 a.m.
Tickets: call (925) 373-6800 or get them online. Buy in person at the ticket office and avoid the $3.50 handling fee.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Link Love - What I'm Reading

A friend posted this website link on Facebook (have you "liked" Frisco Kids yet?). You can insert the tooth fairy's picture on your own - and it's free for one photo if you use the code FAIRYFUN. Otherwise it's $10 for four pictures.

I met the writer of the Underachieving Domestic Goddess at the BlogHer conference and liked her immediately. This post is one reason one - though normally she's a no-nonsense funny gal, this piece is an inspirational story about why need to believe in yourself, and thank those who believed in you. If you want to read a funny post by her, here's one where she talks about why she'd make a terrible product reviewer.

This apple cheese pizza looks divine. So does this maple pumpkin biscuit recipe with candied bacon.

There's a whole subculture of families who travel full time (or for several years at a time). Fascinating people and much to think about! Here's a list of 100 lessons from 1000 days of travel from the Escape Artist.

Hotels with awesome kids rooms from Red Tricycle

A behind the scene look at Candlestick Park - video

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Coming Up: First Stage for Families Series - Cal Performances

Cal Performances has a great program called First Stage for Families. They're hour-long performances, with music, acrobatics or theater geared toward families. They're budget-friendly as well.

The first performances this season, on November 4, at 11 and 3, is the Dell' Arte Company, with 7 actors combining theater, music and acrobatics in a show called the Fish in My Head. You'll see circus skills, physical comedy and music, blended in fantasy show.

Ticket/more info at the bottom. All performances cost $20/adult, $10/kid and are at the Wheeler Auditorium at University of California, Berkeley.

Other upcoming performances in the series:
When: Sunday, February 24, 2013
What: Oakland Folkharmonic - 5 string band. "Known for her work in various folk traditions from around the world, including Jewish klezmer music and Turkish folk music, Flexer’s concerts will showcase her ensembles’ eclectic repertoire, ranging from traditional modal music of Greece, Turkey and the Middle East to medieval music to original compositions by Flexer, Kammen, Hegedus and Ross Daly"

When: Sunday, April 4, 2013 at 11 and 3

What: Trout Fishing in America. “Embody[ing] a kind of goofball gestalt at odds with the sugary-sweet format of so much other music for the younger crowd” (The New York Times), bassist Keith Grimwood and guitarist Ezra Idlet create an broad mix of folk and rock music that is family-friendly."

Ticket information: Zellerbach Hall ticket office at (510) 642-9988 or at; and at the door. $20/adult, $10/kid
More information: visit here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Focus Groups: Food, Brands

Two focus groups from Plaza Research:

WhatBrand Study (men and women, ages 25-60)
When: Starting Nov 5
Payment: 3-day blog ($75) plus possibility of focus group ($125) and workshop ($250)
Are you qualified? Fill out survey

What:  Food Products Study! (women, ages 25-50)
When: October 29-30
Payment: $85-$125 for 2 hours
Are you qualified? fill out survey

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kids and the Election

As you may have heard, election day is coming up. Here are a few ways to involve the kids (aside from bringing them to the polls, and having them help me vote, which is what I do).

Habitot in Berkeley is holding its own election day on Tuesday, November 6 from 9:30 to 12:30. The kids can learn about the voting process by voting for their favorite people or friends on their own ballots (not sure if that includes presidential candidates. Otherwise it just sounds like a popularity contest!). Event is free with admission.

The website has a lot of information you can use when discussing the election and the candidates' views. There's a teachers's section as well as a quiz you can do where you answer to your beliefs on various issues, and you can see where voters for the different candidates stand on the same issues. The website is nonprofit and promotes critical thinking, not specific stands on issues. I've just begun looking through it but it looks like a good site.

Review: Kollar Chocolates

My friend Stephanie brought me some Kollar Chocolates from Yountville. Yes, they taste as good as they look. The box below features passion fruit, vanilla rum, Grand Marnier orange, extra virgin olive oil, ginger, coffee, and a couple I'm not sure of (but they were fabulous)

The one at the bottom is white/strawberry chocolate with pop rocks mixed in (Strawberry Fizz). We also got a dark chocolate one with pop rocks (aptly named Kollar Krack). Very cool design on top, yes? This was supposed to be for my kids, but they didn't fully appreciate the wonder of sucking on the chocolate and having the pop rocks explode, so I ate it all myself. If you're not heading to Yountville, you can order online.

I accept Kollar Chocolates as holiday or thank you gifts. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween crafts and decorating ideas

I've been having fun sifting through emails with craft and decorating ideas, so I thought I'd share a couple of them with you:

30 DIY craft ideas from Apartment Therapy (I like the frozen ice hand in the punch bowl)

Monster jars and monster hands from A Little Yumminess (great for class party!)

Tons of Halloween food fun ideas with Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Focus Groups: various

Some Plaza Research Focus Groups recruiting:

1) Small Business Owners Study (any gender & age, incentive is $150)
2) Clothing Study (females ages 25-45, incentive is $200)
3) Entertainment Activities study (males and females ages 18-54, incentive is $100)
For the 3 studies above, please fill out this link.

4) Food Products Study (females 25-44 years old)
October 29-30 - Incentive is $85-$125 for 2 hours
For the Food Products study, please fill out this link.

5) Online Videos (males and females, ages 18-50)
October 24-25 - Incentive is $75 for one hour
For the Online Videos study, please fill out this link.

Coming Up: Disney on Ice

Get 'yer tickets! Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic in the Bay Area.

When/where: October 24-28 at the HP Pavilion (San Jose)
Tickets: here

Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: iPieces for the iPad - and a contest!

We finally got an iPad, much to the kids' delight. We're busy figuring out how to use it, but I thought I'd share one of the toys we got to review, for the iPad. It's from Pressman, and it allows you to play games like air hockey, pool, "snakes and ladders," "game of goose," and a fishing game using external pieces (works on all iPad versions). We tried out air hockey and pool. Read to the bottom, and you can enter to win your own set.

How it works:
You buy the pieces in this chunky plastic box, and the game download is free (the download is free regardless of whether you buy the pieces, but I think it would be harder to play without the pieces). The sets retail for $12.99 at toy stores though can be cheaper online (Amazon currently has fishing for $8, and air hockey for $10.29, though probably other games are coming there soon). Toysrus online has four of the games for $10 each.

Air hockey is a thing in our family - it's always a grudge match between the hubby and I, so I was most excited to try this out. We attracted quite a bit of attention where we were playing - kids and adults were curious to see how this worked. It's fun, but definitely does not match up to real air hockey. The little sliders are easy to use (and come with an additional felt pad set), but the iPad size is no match for a large hand (even mine), and my hand/wrist was often covering up the goalie area, making it hard to see. We also kept accidentally pushing our hand over the center line. It had some funky -2 points or +2 point things which you also don't have in real air hockey. I couldn't figure out how that worked, but it sometimes created what seemed like a water hole, and if the puck went in there, you lost points. The screen froze a few times, so we had to pause the game and restart to get the puck working again. That said, we still had fun playing it.

We preferred the pool game more (it's coming out soon). The set comes with little cue sticks. It takes a minute to figure out how it works, but it works well. You put your cue pad down on the iPad, and you'll see a ghost ball below. You hit that ghost ball into the cue ball, which then hits the other balls. It was tough to always get good control, and I'm not sure whether that was my hand or the program. The game rules were traditional - you have to hit your ball (stripes/solid) before your opponent's or your opponent got 2 turns. If you hit the 8 ball first, your opponent got 2 turns. We liked pool the best and look forward to playing again.

Want to win a game of your choice? Leave a comment below, along with your email address (if you aren't comfortable leaving your email address, still leave a comment, then email me at contest (at) friscokids (dot) net and tell me which comment was yours). Enter by Wednesday, October 24 at 8 p.m. PST. I'll choose a winner using, and email you. If you don't respond within 24 hours, I'll go to the next in line. They can only send to U.S. addresses. Shipping will take 4-6 weeks, still plenty of time to give as a holiday gift if you want!

Disclosure: Pressman gave me the 2 sets to review and no compensation. All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Coming Up: Dogtoberfest - free

For all you dog lovers, bring the pup to Dogtoberfest at Upper Douglass Dog Park (27th and Douglass Street, SF). There will be costume contests, pet photography, an obedience contest, dog and human treats, and a prize drawing/silen auction.

When: Saturday, October 20 from 11-2
Cost: free

Book Reviews: End of Normal, Nanny Returns, Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn

It's time for the Frisco Kids' book club! Here's what I've been reading of late.

The End of Normal by Stephanie Madoff Mack
Of course we know what happens in this book about the Madoff clan, from the viewpoint of Bernie Madoff's son and his wife. So it won't be ruining the story by telling you that Stephanie's husband, Mark Madoff killed himself in the wake of his father's scandal. What a ballsy book to intimately share your life during a time of tragedy, giving honest (and negative) opinions about your husband's family. Stephanie says she wrote the book to tell their side of the story, to clear Mark's name and for her children, so they'll ultimately understand when they're older. It's a warts-and-all book, author included. One can't help but sympathize with what she's going through. She makes a convincing case that her husband Mark and his brother knew nothing of the illegal acts of their father. And the living hell they went through after, trying to fight off paparazzi, lawsuits and nasty articles while struggling to keep their marriage healthy. Add into it family complications - Ruth Madoff failing to take her sons' sides and other family members with their own interests. Mark took it all personally and it finally pushed him over the edge. What is it like to lose your husband to suicide while still facing these other demons? You'll find out in this book which was well written. I wish Stephanie all the best moving forward in her life.

Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
I loved read the Nanny Diaries, so when I saw this book at the book store, I had to get it. What fun! Nanny is married and back in the U.S. after some stints with her husband overseas for his work. They come back, buy a dumpy fixer-upper, and she reconnects with a pseudo-friend from her prep school days, and gets a consulting gig working for a private school. All is good, right? Wrong. Still tormented about how she left her charge Grayer all those years ago, she gets a second chance when he shows up on her rotting doorstep asking questions. He's now in high school, and has a 7 year old brother Stilton (like the cheese) in need of assistance.

The story weaves her horrific experience consulting for a $50,000/year private school where the kids are atrocious and the parents are even worse, her delicate reentry with job undefined in the X's family, and her relationship with her old prep school friend, who is in the same social circle as the Xs, albeit a younger generation. It's a witty social commentary, though we can't really relate to anyone but Nanny and the school teachers, because they're the only ones grounded in reality. The rest are caricatures (albeit fun to laugh at) of what you think of when you think of ridiculous rich society members. It's all good fun, and wraps up nicely.

I just finished reading Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn by Jamie Maslin. I love a good arm chair travel book that takes me into the heart of where I'll probably never go. Iran is that place, and Maslin was a good tour guide. It's not that I wouldn't go to Iran, but it's not at the top of my list alone, or even with kids. I traveled alone in Egypt for a week, and as a female, let alone a Westerner, it was an interesting experience. Maslin is a male Brit, and it was good to hear about the others travelers he met along the way, including one adventurous Aussie female. I appreciated most the adventures he had meeting locals, who were so hospitable they would invite him to stay in their homes without even having a conversation with him first. Being a foreigner in Iran has its advantages. Maslin over and over again, showed the hospitality of the people living there, as he was treated to tea, meals, coffee, housing, and tour guides from locals who were excited to speak English with him and show him around. Some of my favorite parts were hearing what Iranians want to know from foreigners, and about their odd obsession for singer Chris de Burgh. So telling that when I went to add the link to the singer's fan website (I don't think it's an official site), the lyrics are available in English and Persian. It's great to see how learning the simple phrase "You are beautiful" in Farsi can lead to such pleasure on the part of the recipients, how a cheeseburger can be a love gift, and how whiskey is sold in cans. I learned a bit about Iranian politics as well, and how the locals see their government and its religious leaders versus how we expect they see it (summary - they go along with the religious and social conservatism because to do otherwise is dangerous, but at least the ones that this author met are not big fans of the Iranian government). I'd recommend the book and am now looking forward to reading his other book Socialist Dreams and Beauty Queens: a Couchsurfer's Memoir of Venezuela (I haven't been there either).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Coming Up: Babes & Babies Shopping Event - Giveaway

Coming up: Babes and Babies shopping event, with 65 designers and companies offering baby and toddler clothing, accessories, toys and more, plus local resources. Seminars include sleep training, cord blood registry, hiring and caregiver plus others. The first 200 families in get gift bags. They'll also have on-site photo shoots, play spaces and kid activities run by MyGym and Peekadoodle. Raffle prizes are awesome - Stokke high chair, Joovy stroller and Medela Pump in Style.

If you want free tickets, shoot me an email at contest (at) friscokids (dot) net, and the first few respondents will get them.

When: Saturday, November 3 from 9:30-2
Where: St. Mary's Cathedral, Patron's Hall (1111 Gough Street at Geary), SF
Cost: $8 for 2 admissions (in advance), or $5/person at the door

Coming Up: BMX/Skateboarding Competitions & Festival - Free

Starting today, the Dew Tour Toyota City Championships is taking place in San Francisco, and on Sunday it's a community day. There will be athlete appearances, skate and BMX clinics, athlete demos are more. On all days, there are BMX and FMX competitions, skateboarding and live music. Fans can get autographs, play games and ride on the fan courses.

When: October 18-21
Where: San Francisco Civic Center Plaza
Cost: free
More info: here

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Coming Up: San Francisco Chamber Orchestra - for kids

This weekend, October 20-21, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra is offering free family-friendly concerts for its "Very First Concerts" series, in San Mateo and Berkeley. The concerts only last 20 minutes, making them accessible for kids (and wary adults).

When: Saturday, October 20 (10:30, 11:10 and 11:50 a.m.)
Where: 105 N. Ellsworth Avenue, San Mateo (upstairs youth room of the Congregational Church)

When: Sunday, October 21 (10:40, 11:20 a.m. and noon)
Where: 1475 Rose Street, Berkeley (the Crowden School, as part of the Community Music Day

For details, check the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra website.

Stay tuned for details on Frisco Kids of the Meet the Orchestra Family Concert - November 3-4.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Coming Up: San Francisco Preschool Preview Night

The popular San Francisco 20th Annual Preschool Preview Night is coming up! You'll find more than 100 preschools, childcare centers, resource agencies, and child-related service providers and vendors. Around 1,500 parents attend.

The Preschool Preview Night is presented by Parents Place of Jewish Family and Children’s Services and Bay Area Parent magazine. 

When: Wednesday, October 17th from 5:30 – 8:00 pm
Where: San Francisco County Fair Building (Hall of Flowers) at the 9th and Lincoln entrance to Golden Gate Park.
Cost: $10 in advance, $15 at the door
More infoParents Place or call  (415) 359-2454

The Great California Shakeout Drill - and Earthquake Preparedness

Did you know that Thursday is the Great California Shakeout Drill? This is a good opportunity to think about the Big One and make some preparation plans. What kinds of plans? Here are some resources:

Where will you meet up with your loved ones? Do your kids know where to go if they're in the house and a quake hits? Here are some information sheets on doing your own earthquake drills, as well as safety plans for families. The government has earthquake resources/information here.

You'll need some emergency supplies at home - providing they are easy to reach and haven't been covered in rubble. Some companies provide ready-made kits you can buy like this one or this one. Of course you can make your own as well. I just saw in the Costco Connection magazine that they sell buckets of emergency food packets. These might be a little big for your family (do you really need 270 servings of macaroni pasta or 300 servings of tropical fruit varieties in a 6 gallon weatherproof bucket?) but they'd be good for a work place or community center.

Some items that are good to keep in stock at home: containers of water (like the 1-2.5 gallon jugs you can cheaply buy at the grocery store); spare cash; keep your tank of gas filled (or at least not close to empty), and batteries/flashlights.

Even if your car and house title are safely stored at the bank vault, you'll still want to know where your important papers are at home. Consider scanning important documents and uploading them to your computer. And make a folder that holds everything, so you can grab it in a hurry if needed. Backing up your computer to an external hard drive is great, but if you lose that in an earthquake it doesn't help much. Companies like Mozy, Carbonite and Dropbox are three companies who do that for you in the cloud.

What are your emergency preparedness tips?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween Costume Deals

If you're looking for deals on costumes, there are plenty to be had. sent out this list, which I added to/modified. If you shop through ebates, you'll get additional cash back on many of the deals. I use this affiliate site to shop, and have gotten checks, so I know it works! Very easy.

Take up to 60% off Halloween Boo-tique through Oct. 31. No coupon needed.
Take 15% off costumes through Oct. 19 with promo code GHOSTLY15. If you shop Kohls through ebates, you get an additional 3% back.
Halloween costumes are on sale, plus they're offering 20% off through October 16 using code ONTAKE20. Shop through ebates and get an additional 2% cash back. Old Navy offers free shipping over $50.
Spirit Halloween
Take 20% off any order through Oct. 31 with code CATSPREE. If you shop through ebates you get an additional 13% cash back.
Costume Discounters
Save $20 on orders of $80 or more through Oct. 15 with code SAVE80. Or take 20% off $25 or more with GOBLIN20. Get an additional 10% cash back when shopping through ebates.
Pottery Barn Kids
Click here to save up to 40% on select costumes and decor through Oct. 30.
The Children's Place
Receive as much as 50% off Halloween costumes through Oct. 31. Get an additional 2.5% cash back when shopping through ebates. Shipping is only $5.
Save 20% on Bret Michaels and Martha Stewart-brand pet costumes through Oct. 22. Get 4% cash back when shopping through ebates.
Get 50% off Halloween products through Oct. 15 with code TREAT. Get an additional 5.5% cash back when shopping through ebates.
Hot Topic
Take 50% off select costumes, masks and accessories through Oct. 31. Get an additional 4% cash back when shopping through ebates.
Costume Kingdom
Save 10% on any order with code CK10, or 15% off orders of $75 or more through Oct. 31 with code 15OFF75CK. Get an additional 6.5% cash back when shopping through ebates.
Save 25% on Halloween contact lenses through Oct. 31 with code VERYSCARY. 
 (they offer theatrical lenses - very cool). Get 16% cash back when shopping through ebates.
Take 25% off any order through Oct. 16 with code 25october. Get 7.5 back when shopping through ebates.

Focus Group: Entertainment

Plaza Research is recruiting for a new focus group. Here are the details:

Topic: Entertainment Activities
Who: Males and females 18-54 years old
When: October 25
Length/Pay: 2 hours / $100
Where: Downtown San Francisco
If you are interested, fill out the survey here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Halloween 2012 Bay Area - What to do with the Kids

Halloween is coming up. And if your kids are anything like mine, they've been talking about it since school began. Here's a list of activities to consider. Please add your favorites to the list!


What: Celebrate with the creepy-crawlies, including trick-or-treating, face painting, dancing, costume parade,  photo booth, stiltwalkers, magicians, live music, animal shows, pumpkin carving demonstartions, planetarium show, food and drinks and more
Where: California Academy of Sciences, SF
When: Saturday 10/27 from 5-9:30 p.m.
Who: everyone
Cost: adults $50 ($45/adult member), kids 17 and under $35 ($30/child member). Kids one and younger are free. And anything over $30 is tax-deductible
More info: here

When: Saturday, October 27 from 3-9
What: Haunted house, hay rides, arts & crafts, inflatables, carnival rides
Cost: $8/person - all inclusive
Who: the whole family
More infoScaregrove (note, I was not able to find info on the site)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Coming Up: Marine Science Sundays - Free

The Marine Mammal Center has several monthly Marine Science Sundays coming up this fall, so set your schedule! These involve family-friendly tours, classroom activities and more, centered around a different theme each month. Docent-led tours will take you around the hospital showcasing some of the patients they care for, and you'll learn how the vets help the animals. Classroom presentations showcase the animals the Marine Mammal Center has cared for, focusing on interactive activities and multimedia that show easy, daily behaviors that you can do to help prevent ocean trash which harms the animals. 


October 14: Creatures of the Deep
November 11: Wonderful Whales
December 9: Seal and Sea Lion Superstars of 2012

WhereMarine Mammal Center (2000 Bunker Road, Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito)
When: 10-5 (dates above)
Cost: free
More information: here


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Coming Up: Donate Stuffed Animals at the Zoo

Got a few too many stuffed animals in your house? Yeah, I thought so! Bring a gently-loved bear to the San Francisco Zoo on Saturday, October 13 for the Travelodge Great Sleepy Bear Swap. It's from 10-1, and benefits Stuffed Animals for Emergencies, and also the Starlight Children's Foundation.

The first 100 kids who donate a stuffed animal get free admission. But even without the free admission, some child will benefit from your generosity (teaching lesson!). And they'll have activities including face painting, drawing contests, bear tattoos, National Geographic activity books, Sleepy Bear masks and some education from zoo keepers.

Don't worry - that stuffed animal will be cleaned before being given to a kid in need. And Travelodge will donate up to 1,500 bears, matching these donations 3:1. Win-win!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Relaunching Your Career - Free Workshop

My friend recently told me about this panel she's speaking on, and you might be interested. Are you looking to get back into the workforce?

JVS (Jewish Vocational Services) is offering a free panel discussion and networking opportunity for parents relaunching their careers. It's open to the public. And it's free! 

Here's their description: 

"Are you wondering how other parents manage to juggle all the demands of parenthood, while also looking for work? Attend this panel discussion and networking lab to learn key job search strategies from parents who have successfully re-launched their careers in the following fields: technology, government, healthcare, finance and nonprofit. Topics will include work/life balance, addressing gaps on your resume, networking, marketing yourself, as well as how to showcase your transferable skills. After the panel discussion, you will have the opportunity to network with other participants and the panelists."

In case you can't attend this, they have many other workshops available. 

 October 23, from 1-3
Where: Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto (3921 Fabian Way)
Cost: free
Register: here