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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Awesome San Francisco Bay Area Camps - 2013

If you're like me, you've thought a lot about summer plans and maybe have signed the kids up for some camp. But you're not done! I found some great camps that look interesting, educational and most importantly - are FUN. What are your favorite camps? Post in the comments section.

Gailileo Camps - this one is great because it has 38 Bay Area locations on the Peninsula, East Bay, South Bay, San Francisco and Marin, and it gets rave reviews by parents and kids. Activities includes art, science and outdoor activities. 5th-8th graders can choose photography, film making, cartooning, fashion, inventor camp, video game design, web design, go-karts, cooking, LEGO robotics and more. Spots are filling up quickly (and some have waiting lists), so look now if interested.
Where: 38 campus locations
When: Dates vary by location; full days, though Pre-K and K can by half day.
Age: Pre-K through 8th, broken up into appropriate age groups
Cost: $25 discount through May 31, using code 2013INNOVATE. One week starts around $399 but discounts for additional weeks

La Toque Cooking Camp - pick a theme (chocolate, pizza/pasta, chili) and that's what you'll do that week. Field trips and hands-on cooking lessons for young chefs.
Where: Palo Alto - private home
When: June 3-7, July 1-4, July 15-19; week-long sessions, half-day except for full day field trip
Age: tweens/teens
Cost: $200-250

Hiller Aviation Camp - hands-on experiments, testing robots, model aircraft and rockets, flight simulators and more.
Where: San Carlos
When: June 3 - August 28, week-long sessions; full and half-day options available (mostly full day)
Age: grades K-8
Cost: varies

Dragonfly Jewelry Making Camp -This camp combines an hour of morning yoga or dance moves, jewelry making and local eco-exploration.
Where: South San Francisco, San Francisco and Burlingame
When: June 12 - August 2 at various locations. They offer single days, half days and full days.
Age: 5+
Cost: varies based on option. Camp from 9-3 is $385/week

Chabot Space Center Science Camp - classes at this Galileo camp range include LEGO Robotics, video game design, rocket labs, music and technology, GPS treasure hunts, Mars Explorer and more.
Where: Oakland
When: June 24 - August 2; weekly; half and full day options.
Age: Grades 3-7
Cost: varies depending on option

The Retrodome Musical Theater Conservancy Camp (The Scene) - Lessons in acting, singing, dancing, improv, musical theater history, script analysis and then a full production of School House Rock Live.
Where: Santa Clara University campus
When: July 15 - August 9 from 9-3:30
Age: Grades 3-8
Cost: $1045

Jack London State Park - this one is more for my Marin/Sonoma readers. The park is offering a day camp for one week only, following in the footsteps of Jack London. Activities include creative writing, arts/crafts, hiking, and a Whole Foods lunch. For info call (707) 938-5216 or email
Where: Glen Ellen
When: June 10-14 from 9:30-3:30
Age: 6-8th grades - limited to 20 students only
Cost: $100

This post is sponsored by Gailileo.

Monday, April 29, 2013

New store - the Makery in Los Altos

If you like making things, you must check out the Makery which just opened up in Los Altos. If the store matches up to the beautiful website, I think I'm going to love it!

From the store:

The Makery is an innovative concept DIY studio and retail shop selling a well curated collection of vintage and local artisan made goods as well as do-it-yourself kits to make in the studio or at home. 

They host events as well! Check it out.
Where: 170 State Street, Los Altos

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Coming Up: San Francisco International Film Festival

The San Francisco International Film Festival is coming up, and they have some kid-friendly movies showing. Here's the scoop.

What: San Francisco International Film Festival
When: April 25-May 9
Where: various theaters around SF
Cost: $10/kids 10 and under; $14/student; $15/adult - more ticket info here

The movies and what the festival says about them:

Ernest & Celestine – A warm and funny adventure of the improbable friendship between a humble, street busking bear and a spunky, young mouse. Based on the popular children’s books by Gabrielle Vincent, this sumptuous-looking animated fairy tale is told with Old World charm that will delight children and adults alike. Showing at the Sundance Kabuki Theatre on Sunday, April 28 at 12:30 pm and Wednesday, May 1 at 7:00 pm. Recommended ages: 6+
Shorts 6: Family Films -- Everyone wants to find friendship, love and happiness, whether you’re a bug or a boy, an umbrella or a trumpet player. From Argentina to New Zealand, Turkey to Mexico, these dazzling live-action and animated stories are both universal and inter-generational. It’s a global exploration for the whole family, as well as a chance to see Pixar’s newest animated short The Blue Umbrella. Showing at the Sundance Kabuki Theatre Sunday, May 5 at 10:30 am. Recommended ages: 6+
Shorts 7: Youth Works – It would be no exaggeration to say that the quality of work produced by teen filmmakers improves year upon year, from their technical prowess to the quality of their storytelling. And this year’s crop of emerging young filmmakers includes many SFIFF alumni, demonstrating both their consistency and their commitment to the form. Join us in celebrating today’s rising talents! Showing at the New People Cinema Saturday, April 27 at 1 pm. Recommended ages: 13+

The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival is fast approaching, running this year April 25 – May 9. I'm working in the Publicity Department for the festival and would love to get acquainted and work with you to facilitate coverage of SFIFF56 on Frisco Kids, specifically covering the family-friendly films and events that the festival will be hosting.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Link Love with LEGOS and lots more

I've been collecting links for awhile now and wanted to share these with you.

The New York Times recently ran an article on taking a budget family vacation. Only their idea of budget vacation STARTED at more than $4,000. That's not budget to me, nor to my fellow travel bloggers. Walking on Travels asked other travel bloggers to account for their budget trips, and recorded them on her post. It's should be a great wake-up call to the New York Times. It's worth a read.

Have you seen the Dove video which shows how our view of ourselves isn't the same positive view that others have of us? The three minutes you spend watching this is worth it. The parody about men is pretty funny - watch it after.

Things I Carry - a LinkedIn feature about what high power people bring with them each day.

I realize it's past Easter, but save this link for next year. Make a paper strip Easter egg art piece - so cute! By Julip,'s design blog.

Bay Area family restaurants with a view - by Red Tricycle

Creating a "to do" shelf. I love this idea!

Paint Roller Printed Walls - check out this cute roller and what a difference it makes to the wall design! From Apartment Therapy.

And while we're talking about wall design, my latest obsession is with chalkboard paint. I haven't dipped into it myself, but I want to.

Did you know that many of the products and services we take for granted were developed in Israel? Things like flash drives, amniocentesis, drip irrigation, desalination, computer security, baby monitors, office printers, pill cameras, and various medical treatments. A fascinating read.

If you need something brainless and very funny, check out the pictorials of women laughing alone with salad, or women struggling to drink water. 

And now for LEGOS.
Are your kids into LEGOs? If so, and even if not, you'll love these amazing LEGO creations.

The new Legoland Hotel just opened up. Here are a few links, including the Los Angeles Times take on it, Gizmodo's take (with lots of photos), and Legoland Hotel works of art. And here's the official site.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Toy Testing in the Bay Area

As you probably know from reading this blog, I'm a big fan of participating in focus groups and usability studies. My kids have participated as well. Here are two local companies that look for kids to test toys. If interested, you can register on their website to get notified of testing opportunities.

Creativity, Inc. and Creativity Mobile is a creative service provider in the toy industry. They design, develop and produce audio, and also engineer electronic toys, games and apps for all kinds of toy manufacturers and have been part of developing 5,000 toys and learning products. They are always looking for kids to test toys! You can sign up here. They're located in San Carlos.

You've probably heard of Leapfrog and perhaps even own some of their products. You can get on their testing panel, which I believe is in the East Bay (though some testing is done at home or via email). To register for their program, fill out the form here.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Disney World Primer

I grew up in Arizona (and later lived in California). Disneyland has always been my park. I finally made it to Disney World to check it out the differences. People on the East Coast have no clue what Disneyland is like, and I think many on the West Coast similarly have no clue about Disney World.

So here’s a primer.

Disney World consists of four theme parks and two water parks. They’re based in Lake Buena Vista, FL (bordering Orlando), but in a much (MUCH) larger area of land – like 30,000 acres versus Disneyland’s 85 acres. Yes, you read that correctly. Disney World is basically its own city, and the resort opened in 1971 (versus Disneyland’s 1955 opening).

The theme parks are Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. The water parks are Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. These properties are spread around, and you need to take a bus to them, which means if you want to park hop, you need to plan the bus trip into the agenda.
Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Magic Kingdom is the basic equivalent of Disneyland. Don’t call Magic Kingdom “Disney World” because it’s not and people will get very confused. Magic Kingdom is very similar in rides and layout to Disneyland. Though the rides are mostly the same, it does not have

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Coming Up: Built for Speed - California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences has a new exhibit coming up - Built for Speed. They are affiliated as the official education partner with Oracle's America Cup team, and one of the 45 foot long racing boats will be on display. But they'll also show the ocean's fastest animals., like models of a sailfish, mako shark, yellowfin tuna and Humboldt Squid (no clue they were fast!).

The exhibit runs May 10-September 29.

Coming Up: The Biggest Baby Shower Ever

Well, I'm sure it will at least be bigger than your personal baby shower. The event includes around 50 vendors featuring baby gear, accessories, furniture, skin care, parenting services, retailers etc. Plus gift bags, giveaways, treats and mocktails. And some seminars too.

What: The Biggest Baby Shower Ever
When: Thursday, April 25, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Where: St. Mary's Cathedral, 1111 Gough Street, SF
Cost: Not cheap! Multiple ticket options starting at $65/single, $115/couple

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Exploratorium Opening!

Have you been following the rebuilding and move of the Exploratorium from the Palace of Fine Arts to Piers 15/17? The grand opening is tomorrow, April 17 - see what's happening here.

What's new?
-Location! It's between the Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf
-Pier 15 opens tomorrow. The work on Pier 17 follws.
-Energy efficiency. Is it surprising the facility is aiming for a LEED Gold designation, with net zero energy consumption (and possibly the first net-zero energy science center in the world)? Solar panels will provide 100% of electrical needs. Radiant floors provide heating/cooling using Bay water. Runoff water for the roof provides toilet water.
-They'll have a cafe!
-Huge, bay views
-on-site outdoor exhibits
-second story rooftop terrace
-easily accessible by public transportation
-triples the exhibit space
-over nine acres of waterfront space, and almost five times larger raw space than they had at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Let us know what you think of the changes. After you go to the new location, make some comments below!

The Best Disney Park Apps (and where to charge your phone at Disneyland and Disney World)

This trip to a Disney park was the first I made with a smart phone. What a difference! I tested out four apps and review them here for you. If you have an extra phone battery, bring it with you! I had to switch batteries late in the day, and I didn’t use my phone for much more than checking line times. An iPad would be ideal – if you have a data plan. We also had my brother in law save his phone battery by not using it during the day (only leaving it on if the group split up for FastPass retrieval) so he’d have a fresh battery if mine died. If you go that route, turn off the data plan (use airplane mode) to save on battery drain.

FYI: Disneyland DOES now have official charging station lockers. It’s $2/hour. Here’s the scoop on charging stations at Disney. We didn’t check it out while there, but it’s nice to know it’s available. Here’s a list of outlets at Disneyland/California Adventure

It does not appear at present time that Disney World has the same charging systems. Here are some places to charge your phone at Disney World and here.

I’d recommend spending time on the apps before you get there so you know what you’ll need and where you’ll find it and won’t drain your battery looking. There are a lot of tips and good planning information you can find there as well, which can make time in line go faster as you share these with your fellow travelers.

If you’re not familiar with, it comes from the authors of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland (and the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World). It’s a fabulous book I recommend you buy. They have a touring plan that helps save you time by helping you avoid the lines by going to the attractions in a certain order. I’ve used it – it works.

Pros: You want this app mainly for the Lines feature.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Q&A with Jennifer Margulis - Business of Baby

You may have seen my review of The Business of Baby yesterday. If not, go back and read it when you're done with this.

Buy the Business of Baby here.
Just a brief intro, because I blabbered on yesterday about how much respect I have for Jennifer and her work. The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don't Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Before Their Bottom Line publishes today (!). I'm so excited to have Jennifer here, answering a few of my questions about her book. 

Frisco Kids: Your section on ultrasound and a possible connection to autism was the first I heard on that topic. Also it's the first I heard that ultrasound may not be a benign test (and I write for radiologists as a regular gig!). Is ultrasound something that pregnant moms should protest or worry about?
Jennifer Margulis: We are lulled into thinking the scanning helps us have a healthy pregnancy. It does not.

The largest study to date -- of over 15,000 pregnant women -- showed that multiple ultrasound scans did not improve fetal outcomes. Most women don't realize that the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists does not explicitly recommend ultrasound scans (link added by Frisco Kids). They've become the "standard of care," which means that almost every doctor does them, often at every appointment, even though there is often no medical indication to do so. If you tell your doctor you don't want one, he or she might be astonished. Medical practices make more money at every appointment where they perform a scan. But, honestly, unless you are going to have an abortion,

Earth Day in San Francisco Bay Area 2013

Earth Day is coming up. Here are some things to do with the kids to celebrate.

Bernal Hill - SF
Join up with SF Rec and Parks and also REI to restore habitat and trails at Bernal Hill.

When: April 20 from 9-noon
What: Remove invasive radish from hillside or repair trail tread. For kids there's watershed activities with Kids in Parks, where they'll learn about erosion.
Wear: long sleeves, pants and sturdy, closed toed shoes.

California Academy of Sciences Earth Day Work Parties - SF
Partnering with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and several other major organizations, you'll volunteer with one of several projects in Golden Gate Park.
Bison Paddock Cleanup on April 20
Earth Day at Rhododendron Dell/Music Concourse on April 27
Alvord Lake Cleanup on April 27

SF Zoo
Lots of earth day activities and presentations at the SF Zoo's Slow Down for the Planet Earth Day, from animal keeper talks to a bird walk and family bike-about. Several hands-on stations too.
What: Slow down for the planet
Where: SF Zoo
When: Sunday, April 21 from 10-3
Cost: free with admission

Jack London Square - Oakland
Join the Earth Day Festival where they'll have free popsicles from a solar powered ice pop truck, plus sustainable living exhibits focused on food, waste, composting, alternative transportation, etc. In addition, there's an interactive craft station for kids, plus gardening and homesteading activities, cooking demos, giveaway and free yoga classes. All this is in conjunction with their weekly farmer's market.
What: Earth Day Festival
Where: Jack London Square (Broadway and Embarcadero) Oakland
When: Sunday, April 21, 9-2
Cost: free

Red Tricycle posted 8 other Earth Day events.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don't Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Baby Before Their Bottom Line

how cute is this baby?
--Can ultrasounds cause autism? Possibly.
--Does fetal monitoring prevent/accurately depict fetal distress? No.
--Should gestational diabetes be prevented with diet or treated reactionarily?
--Why does the U.S. have one of the highest infant death rates in the industrialized world?
--Why does the CDC's vaccine schedule include a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease (even if you/your partner don't have it) - at infancy?
--Why is Iceland's C-section rate 14.6% while the U.S. rate is 32.8%? Correspondingly, why does Iceland have a much lower maternal and infant mortality rates?
--Why are some hospitals selling baby foreskins?
--Why are more than 50% of kids in the world potty trained by age 1, whereas U.S. babies are about two years behind them?
--And what chemicals and processed materials are in those absorbent diapers? (my kids were cloth diaper babies)

I hope these issues have you scratching your head.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hidden Mickeys at Disneyland and California Adventure

To make the days at Disneyland and California Adventure even MORE fun, I bought the book Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys: a Field Guide to Disneyland Resort's Best Kept Secrets.

Note that the book is a few years old so it's a bit outdated (Cars Land isn't in there and it covers the time before the renovation of Buena Vista street and the entrance). We had fun reading through the scavenger hunt and additional clues to find the Hidden Mickeys. We found the scavenger hunt way too difficult and preferred to just read the hints and look for them (we would have missed everything otherwise!). There's also a Hidden Mickeys book for Disney World.

Like in the book, I'll separate these out between actual Hidden Mickeys and mere decorative Mickeys. Unfamiliar with a Hidden Mickey? It's a representation of Mickey in a place you might not look for it or expect it. You can read more about it here and here.

Here are a few we saw at Disneyland and California Adventure.

This one is in the exit area of Astro Blasters, the Buzz Lightyear ride, on a larger picture.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Treat of the day: Tammy Coe cakes

Okay, so this isn't local but if you make it to the Phoenix, Arizona area, stop by Tammy Coe and check out their cakes (they make pastries too). My mom ordered two cakes for my anniversary and my sister's (we got married on the same day a year apart).
Look at the draping and frosting!
Look at the draping and frosting!
Inside is

How to use a FastPass at Disney Parks

Disney parks have the most awesome thing since all-inclusive tickets: the FastPass. While parks like Six Flags and Universal Studios charge for these “get to the front of the line” passes, everyone has access to FastPasses at Disney for no extra cost. Democracy!

(Please read at the bottom for changes to the FastPass system at Disney World - at this time there are no changes at Disneyland)

I always assumed that everyone knew about FastPasses and how to use them, but it turns out there are a lot of curious folks out there. So here's a primer.

What are they?
A FastPass is a timed ticket to get you into a special, faster line during a one hour period. Otherwise you ride “standby” which is Disney lingo for “huge long line.” The FastPass line sometimes get you in immediately, but more likely you have to wait a few minutes (though we’ve never waited more than 15-20 minutes unless the ride was broken down).

Whenever we walk through the FastPass line, which is usually empty – we look at the poor souls crowded and waiting in packed lines for long periods of time. We think “suckers!” and we high five each other when we’re out of eye sight of the losers in line. Occasionally we are those losers, and then we feel like suckers ourselves.

These people are in the "standby" line for Indiana Jones.
This was our FastPass line for Indiana Jones.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Coming Up: Sail Boat Show

Check out the West Coast's largest all-sailboat boat show. In addition to free sailboat rides and a kids fun zone, there are interactive workshops and you'll see new sailboats, gear, accessories, hardware, and of course, sailboats like racers and luxury yachts. You don't have to be an expert sailer to appreciate it. Get the scoop on the America's Cup World Series races planned for San Francisco in August.

What: Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show
When: 10-6 on April 11-12, 10-7 on April 13, 10-5 on April 14
Where: Jack London Square (70 Washington Street - Broadway @ Embarcadero, Oakland)
Tickets: $15/one-day adult pass, $24/two-day adult pass, $45/four-day adult pass. Kids 15 and under are free when with a paid adult. Get advance tickets here.
More info: here

Disney Tips You Won't Read Elsewhere - Adventures in Disneyland and California Adventure

I did a lot of reading before heading to Disneyland and California Adventure. Some might say too much reading. But since it was going to be crowded (spring break) and I wanted to maximize our time there (and minimize lines), it was totally worthwhile. Here are some tips you likely won’t read in other Disney guides.

FYI – this is part of a Disneyland/CaliforniaAdventure series. See the bottom for links to other posts in the series.

Being nice pays off
Twice, being nice to the Disney cast member during a problem (a ticket purchase snafu, and a ride breakdown) caused the cast member to give us an extra “readmission pass”

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What Happens When a Disney Ride Breaks Down

In my many years going to Disney parks, we’d never been on a ride when it broke down. Sure, we’d be in line when it broke down, but not actually on the ride. How did we get so lucky on this trip? Not only did we experience five ride breakdowns, but we were evacuated from Grizzly River Run. Do you get your FastPass back if you’re stuck on a ride? If you’re in line but it closes? If you’re evacuated? Read on for answers below: