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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Focus Group:Moms with Teens

Watchlab (in SF and Berkeley) is recruiting moms with teens for a focus group on teen health. Sessions are one hour and you'll be paid $100 if you qualify and participate.

To see if you qualify, fill out the questionnaire and they'll contact you for the study if you do.

If this one doesn't work for you, but you want to get in their database, fill out their form here.

Coming Up: PJCC Open House

This Sunday, the PJCC in Foster City has an open house. Try out mini exercise classes, including family Zumba, crafts for the kids, play basketball, go swimming and more.

It runs 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Here's the schedule.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Coming Up: Terracotta Warriors at Asian Art Museum - and Display at Westfield San Francisco Centre

The Asian Art Museum is opening its Terracotta Warriors exhibit soon. I did an extensive review of the Terracotta Warriors exhibit when it was in New York. Is it a good one to take the kids to? Find out here.

China's Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor's Legacy runs from February 22-May 27, 2013 at the Asian Art Museum. The show features one of the best archeological discoveries of modern times - it is truly amazing to learn the story of the terracotta warrior army, the size and quantity of the statues found, and how they were found. You'll get to see 10 of these life-size figures along with 120 rare objects from the tomb complex of China's First Emperor (259-210 BCE), and to learn about the Emperor's reign and quest for immortality.

Photo by Deborah Abrams Kaplan - copyright 2012

Westfield San Francisco Centre partnered with the Asian Art Museum for some pre-show fun, storytelling, crafts, learning and related shopping.

On Saturdays in the display area (near Bloomindales on level 2), they will hold storytelling and arts activities - great for kids. Those are at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. (30 minute sessions) in front of Bloomingdale's on level 2 from January 26 - April 27, 2013.

The Asian Art Museum will also have a pop up store there through April, 2013, with jewelry, art, colorful textiles and unique gifts. They'll have Lunar New Year items. Displays will show how the Chinese New Year is celebrated, with details about the 12 zodiac animals (zodiac is displayed January 26-February 28). You'll learn which is your sign and about the characteristics.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Link Love - What's Been Overtaking My Inbox - Good Stuff!

I hope everyone had happy holidays! We were traveling and then I got sick. Now it's back to work (and back to school for the kids), and I'm trying to catch up on...everything!

This post is a mishmash of stuff from my proverbial mail bag (or inbox). I've put so many things in folders for "later" that it's overflowing. Thought I'd share some of them with you. has a deal now - $5 for $25 certificates. I need to stock up. Use code DINE through this Wednesday 11:59 p.m.

How awesome are these hats? A friend made them for my kids. She's selling them. You can find her at By Hook Crocheting on Facebook.

Zack models the LEGO Ninjago hat. The Garfield hat below was made for my daughter.

There's a cool store that opened up in San Francisco this summer called Tantrum (858 Cole Street). Lots of (new and) retro clothes and toys (midcentury) - great vibe. They have lots of hand-made items and housewares too, with a 50s-60s carnival/circus look.

Bubble Bum - my kids are out of car seats (hooray!) but after traveling on planes and rental cars for the holidays I remember the days of lugging around car seats and booster seats. The Bubble Bum is now being introduced - it's a blow-up booster seat that you travels in pouch. My friend got one (she works for AAA) and tried it out. She said it's very quick to blow up and folds into a small pouch. They're available at select Target stores.

There's a new online grocery shopping/delivery service called InstaCart providing at-home delivery within 3 hours (and apparently they text you to update you about delivery time). Normally I wouldn't mention this, except they provide delivery from Trader Joe's, in addition to Safeway. It's currently available in San Francisco, Mountain View and Palo Alto. They're offering $5 off during January, using code BUSYPARENTS during checkout.

I'll have more for you, but I thought this was a good start!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Thank you Dr. King!

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for all he's done.

Here are some ideas for things to do with kids on Martin Luther King Day in the San Francisco Bay Area 2013.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Getting ready for the flu - Some Advice, Some Products, and Some Good Wishes

Fortunately California has not been hit as hard with the flu as other parts of the country.

Suddenly Frugal has a list of free and cheap flu shots. Flu shots this season are thought to be about 60% effective. If you prefer to go the natural route, here are some suggestions from a physician.

RiteAid has some answers to questions/misconceptions you may have about the flu, like whether the flu shot can give you the flu, whether it's too late for the flu shot to be helpful now, and whether pregnant women should get the shot.

The government has a flu website ( you might want to look through.

Here are some recommendations we got from a county agency. Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person, through coughing, sneezing, or talking with someone with the  flu. They also spread when people touch something with the flu virus on it and then touch their eyes, mouth or nose.

You can infect someone (you're contagious) with your flu virus 1 day before symptoms develop and you know you're sick, and up to 5-7 days after getting sick/symptoms. Young kids who are really sick, and those with severely weakened immune systems, might be contagious longer than 7 days.

To help prevent the spread of flu germs, here are some steps you can take
1. Get a flu shot (see above for free/cheap flu shots)
2. Wash your hands often and when applicable
3. Cover your mouth when you cough (preferably with your elbow so you don't get germs on your hands)
4. Stay home if you feel sick!!!!
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
6. Try to avoid close contact with sick people (good luck if it's your kids or spouse)
7. If your kid gets sick, keep them out of school and limit contact with others as much as possible. Keep your kid home at least 24 hours after fever ends, unless you need medical care.

The Giant Microbes company (they make adorable plush microbes like the one featured here) sent me a handwashing kit to try out.

Inside is a small common cold microbe (key chain size - my kids are so going to fight over who gets this). There's also a special flashlight, germ detection lotion and germ detection powder (plus an booklet and some stickers). Basically it's a way to teach kids how washing your hands takes the germs away. You're supposed to sprinkle some of the germ powder on your hands and then shake hands with your friends/family. Then ask everyone to wash their hands normally. Then you use the UV light to see how the germs spread. You can also sprinkle powder or gel on the counter and see it with the UV light. Wipe it with a sponge, check it with the light. Now wash with cleaning products and look at the difference.

Now admittedly I haven't actually TRIED it yet. Last week when my son was home (5 days in a row) with a stomach ache would have been the perfect time to try. But alas we didn't. There is enough powder and gel to bring this to class or a scout troop to try with a larger group of people.

If you're interested in getting the kit, you can find it here

The last thing that might be helpful in hand washing, is the musical hand wash timer. We got one of these at the toy fair. You put it over the handle of your soap bottle, and when you push it down, it plays a song. You're supposed to wash your hands as long as the song is going. Now if your kids are 9 and 11, the song is EXTEREMELY annoying and you'll want to take it off immediately. However if your kids are younger (and really, this is who it's aimed at), it's a fun way to teach them how long to wash their hands (the one above plays If You're Happy and You Know it). And at $4, you really can't complain too much. It comes in two designs, the one above, and one of a little boy. Not sure why they don't have a little girl, but oh well.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What to do on MLK Day 2013

Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and celebration comes up this weekend. Learn more about his life and how you can teach your kids his values, with resources from the Bay Area Discovery Museum's site. Monday is also a day of service, so do something with your kids to help them give back to the community.

The Yerba Buena area has a lot planned! On January 19 (today!) be a member for the day at all Yerba Buena related museums, including the Asian Art Museum, Cartoon Art Museum, deYoung Museum, Contemporary Jewish Museum, Legion of Honor, Museum of the African Diaspora, SFMOMA and more. You'll get reciprocal admissions - read the fine print.

Museum of the Africa Diaspora (MOAD) has a family day on Monday, January 21 from 11-5 (actually free for everyone). Lots on the agenda, from drumming to side walk chalk art, art projects and more. 

Golden Gate Parks National Conservancy has a day of service - January 21 - in several locations. Bring the kids and come volunteer!

Playland not-at-the-Beach is celebrating MLK's birthday all weekend, January 19-21, with games, special events and even learning - all weekend. Playland not-at-the-Beach is in El Cerrito. Fee applies.

Volunteer in the East Bay Regional Parks as part of the Day of Service.

The Bay Area Discovery Museum has a celebration on Monday, January 21 from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. You can create a self-portrait to add to their Freedom Bus, listen to a special story time, and learn from his quotes, posted around the museum. Their webpage also has ideas on how you can teach MLK's values to your kids.

It's free National Park entrance day on January 21 at 100 National Parks.  If you don't want to go too far, you can try Yosemite, Muir Woods, Pinnacles or San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Coming Up: San Francisco Chamber Orchestra - free concert

This weekend, January 19 and 21, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra is offering free family-friendly concerts for its "Very First Concerts" series, in San Francisco and Berkeley. This one is entitled The Art of Listening.

WhenSaturday, January 19 (10:30, 11:10, 11:50 a.m.)
Where: 105 N. Ellsworth, San Mateo (Congregational Church of San Mateo, upstairs youth lounge)

When: Monday, January 21 (11 a.m. and noon)
Where: 1475 Rose Street, Berkeley (the Crowden School) 

For details, check the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra website.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Cub Scout Bake-Off

Unless your name is Buddy Valastro, it's unlikely that you're a male father figure and participating in our Cub Scout pack's father/son bake-off. Not that Buddy made an appearance. The father-son bake-off is my favorite Scout meeting of the year. Not that it's a close call. With our annual bake-off approaching, my son and I wanted to get some ideas from last year's bake-off.

This was our entry last year. Zack wanted to make a cake that looked like one of his African masks. And I think it turned out well!

The Angry Birds cake was made by the Martha Stewart of the pack and her son, who helped with the cake pops (crushed up Oreos mixed with cream cheese, rolled into a ball and covered with melted Wilton candy melts.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: The Templeton Twins Have an Idea

I have a confession to make. I get many of my book recommendations from People magazine. And they're really good recommendations. They recently mentioned the book The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner (illustrated by Jeremy Holmes) as being a great book for kids who have outgrown the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Now personally I don't see how anyone outgrows that series, because it's hilarious and awesome. And I always have to wait until my kids are done with the book (three times) before I'm allowed to read it. (Yes, I could read it while they're in school, but I'm WORKING).

So this time I got The Templeton Twins book and didn't let my kids see it until I finished. And it's a hilarious, awesome book I highly recommend. The Templeton Twins are 12 year old and live with their awkward inventor/professor father (yes, a stereotype, and yes the mother is dead - another children's literature stereotype). They get kidnapped and have to get out of the situation (don't worry - it won't give your kids nightmares). Your kids will love how clever the protagonists are, and also the humor. You'll love the humor. Like naming the buildings at the university (Tickeridge-Baltock Institute of Technology, i.e. Tick-Tock Tech) Jerry Hall, Daryl Hall, Annie Hall and the like. The kids won't get that, but you will. The narrator has a very distinctive voice, and puts review questions at the end of each chapter. Unlike the review questions kids have to answer in school, these are - you guessed it - VERY funny and don't always have to do with the actual chapter.

About Weiner, he's written (or co-written) lots of funny books including Yiddish with George and Laura (Bush) whose very title is funny. The book is funny too - if you know some Yiddish. And a new one on my list: How to Profit from the Coming Rapture: Getting Ahead when You're Left Behind. Yes, he used to edit National Lampoon.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Coming Up: Scout Saturday at Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos - Free

As the mom of both a Cub Scout and a Girl Scout, I'm constantly on the lookout for scouting field trips and activities. Here's one for both groups!

Hiller Aviation Museum is hosting Scout Saturday this weekend, Saturday January 12th, with special talks at 11 and 11:45 a.m.

All scouts and leaders in uniform, or with scout ID, will get in free all day.

At 11, Retired USAF Col. William Wardwell will describe his experience in scouts, rising to the Eagle Scout rank. He later became an Air Force aviator and flew supersonic Northrop T-38 and Lockheed C-141s.

At 11:45, Hiller presents A Girl With Wings, where former Girl Scout Gail Turner Bauer will talk about her times growing up with horses, earning a pilot license and building her own experimental aircraft.

The museum will have badge and patch programs, and you can pay an additional fee to participate in their Flight Sim Zone, from 11-2.

Hiller is at 601 Skyway Road in San Carlos. Anyone participating with the scouts, who is not in scout uniform or with scout ID, will need to pay admission.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thinking of Moving to Marin?

I've blogged here before on the San Francisco school system. Some parents are happy with it, others aren't. We have some friends who tried doing the public school thing with their three kids for six or seven years (three kids in three different schools), and they finally ended up going the private option.

Anyway, one of Frisco Kids' readers runs monthly seminars, giving information on moving to Marin. If you're curious, read on.

If you have been considering a move to Marin County but want to understand more about the county...

This informational presentation given by a Marin Mom and Realtor (Liz McCarthy) will include:
1.   Marin Schools
2.   Preschool information
3.   Microclimates of Marin
4.   Commuting to and from San Francisco
5.   Marin communities and towns
6.   Average home prices in different Marin towns
7.   Marin summer camps
8.  Current Mortgage Market update (given by  a banking expert)

Tuesday 1/15/13 from 6:30-9 p.m. at McGuire Real Estate Room (1040 Redwood Highway Frontage Rd., Mill Valley)

Tuesday 2/13/13 from 6:30-9 pm - same place. 

RSVP:  here