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Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: I am Eleven

We finally had the chance to see I am Eleven, a documentary movie that interviews kids in 15 countries (all age 11) about various aspects of their lives, and gives you a glimpse into how they live and think. Given that my youngest is 11, it was fun for him to see what their peers were like in other places.

My husband didn't love the movie, saying it didn't really have a plot. And that was true. When you are interviewing kids in 15 countries who mostly aren't associated with each other, what kind of plot artifice should you use? The director organized it by theme, having the kids talk about issues like bullying, their family, crushes, hobbies, war, social pressures, animals and their future. In this way, kids can see the universality of experience, like that there are bullies in every country. While it may look or sound different, people in every country sing and dance - you can see the differences and similarities.

Coming Up: Museums on Us - this weekend - free

Bank of America's Museums on Us program runs this weekend, giving B of A cardholders and Merrill Lynch card holders (credit or debit) one free admission per card at participating museums. We've used this program and love it!

It's this weekend, November 1-2 (some museums are only one day). The website won't let me give you an individual list of cities to click, so justcheck the main website and look for California in the pull-down menu. Participating museums in San Francisco and San Jose area:

· The Tech Museum of Innovation
· The San Jose Museum of Art
· Chabot Space and Science Center
· Contemporary Jewish Museum
· de Young Museum

Coming Up: Science Saturday at Heron Head's Park SF

If you like spending time in nature with the kids, check out these Science Saturday afternoon events at the EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park:

Each Saturday from 12:30-3:30 pm, their trained naturalists and partners offer an engaging, hands-on and fun event perfect for young kids to adults. Each week is a different topic or theme.

November 1: EcoCenter Exploration Experience
November 8: Heron's Head Park BioBlitz
November 15: EcoCenter Tour and Native Plant Walk
November 22: Sensational Sharks of the San Francisco Bay

Where: Heron Head's Park, 32 Jennings Street, at the end of Cargo Way. See Google map here.
When: Saturdays from 12:30-3:30
Age: young kids to adults
More info: here

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween 2014!

As I'm sure you haven't forgotten, Halloween is almost here. Just in case you missed any of our Halloween posts, here they are:

Photo by Maryland GovPics/Flickr

Halloween Happenings in the Bay Area - 2014

Halloween at Bay Area Shopping Malls - 2014

Candy-free Halloween treats for this year

I wrote about the hot Halloween costumes this year for Read them here:

Top Halloween Kids' Costumes for 2014

Top Halloween Pet Costumes for 2014

Top Halloween Adult Costumes for 2014

And I didn't write this, but I loved Red Tricycle's Only in SF Kiddie Costumes.

Giants - world Series Champions 2014

Third World Series champions in five years! Go Giants!

Photo by DannyMac15_1999/Flickr

Photo by Scott Mattoon/Flickr
Photo by Scott Mattoon/Flickr

Photo by Matthew Roth/Flickr
Photo by Matthew Roth/Flickr/

Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween at the Bay Area Shopping Malls 2014

We already published a piece on various Halloween happenings around the Bay Area. Here is a separate post for Halloween happenings at Bay Area malls.


What: Parade and costume costume for kids 12 and under
When: Friday, October 31 3-5:30
Where: Serramonte Center, Daly City
Cost: free
More infohere


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Coming Up: Grove on the Road - SF

This Saturday, experience Grove on the Road, a free, pop-up arts festival launched by Stern Grove Festival Association. It's a free family-friendly event featuring performances by local artists LoCura, East Bay Brass Band and Dirty Cello, while you can eat from local food trucks including Bacon Bacon, Lil Burma, Fire Truck Pizza, Kokio Republic, Bobcha, Lei Fend Ramen, Oui Chef, Dusty Buns and Me So Hungry Too.

When: Saturday October 25 from noon to 3 pm
Where: SoMa StrEat Food Park, 428 11th Street, SF
Cost: free

Coming up: Justin Roberts Concert

Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players heads back to the Bay Area for his annual concert sponsored by the Mountain View Parent Nursery School and Foothill College Child Development Department.  This Grammy-nominated performer, and winner of six Parent Choice Gold Awards, is fun for parents and kids (I know because I've been!)

When: Sunday, November 2nd with two concerts: 11 am and 2 pm.
Where: Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills
Who: Great for families with children under 12
Tickets: $13/advance purchase, $15/door. Get them here.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hawaii for Nearly Free? Find out How

Before I had kids, I used to get bumped a lot on planes, getting free airplane tickets which I could use at off-peak times to go on fabulous trips.Well, it's harder now with 4 people traveling and a school schedule to boot! Travel is one of my passions, but it's plenty expensive. Today, we're talking to Summer Hull of on how you can go to Hawaii for nearly nothing. She just launched a new ebook package sharing her secrets and tools to free or almost free travel.

Tell me a bit about you and your travel-for-free background.
I first dabbled in the miles-and-points hobby as a cash-strapped grad student at New York University. I racked up frequent flyer miles flying back and forth to visit friends and family in Houston. Then, after graduation, while my friends could only muster up the money for a drive to the shore, I was able to use miles and points to take my boyfriend at the time to Hawaii. After that, I was hooked. I didn’t have as much travel occur naturally after grad school, so I had to find ways to earn miles outside of flying. I kept learning more about how to earn and leverage loyalty currency and eventually my husband got sick of hearing me talk about it all the time! He encouraged me to start a blog and that’s how was born in 2011. Since that time I’ve shared tons of tips and strategies that can help just about anyone earn miles they can redeem for a nearly free flight (you still pay tax on award flights) and hotel stay.

How do you get started with choosing the best point programs?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

UCSF Study Recruiting: 7-10 year old kids

From time to time we post focus groups and studies looking for paid subjects. UCSF is conducting one right now, where they're studying 7-10 yr old kids and their parents, on the topic of physiological and social connections of families. You and your kid will complete a few tasks and your physiology will be monitored using skin sensors (to measure heart rate and blood flow) while you do it. You'll also have some questionnaires to complete before the lab visit.

Time commitment: 1.5 hour lab visit
Compensation: $80/cash to the parents, $10/Target card to the kid.
Contact: Helena Rose Karnilowicz (415) 420-0333 or email This is through the Emotion, Health, and Psychophysiology Lab.

Coming Up: Cars and Croissants

If you or your kids are car enthusiasts, you'll want to head to Santana Row once a month to check out their program, Cars and Croissants (and if you have an exotic car, bring it). This is a monthly gathering for exotic car owners and car enthusiasts where the exotic cars are invited to park and display them on Santana Row Boulevard from Alyssum Lane to Tatum Boulevard, and hang out with other enthusiasts. The morning meet-up for coffee, croissants and cars drew 400 people and 60 cars during the first event and continues to grow in popularity. This event is free and open to the public.

When: Fourth Saturday of the month: October 25, November 22 and December 27 from 9-noon
Where: Santana Row (Alyssum Lane to Tatum Blvd)
Cost: free

Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween treats - candy free

Do you always give out Halloween candy? You don't have to, and no one will throw eggs at your house if you give out something good.

I'm an Organizing Junkie wrote a post with the 10 best allergy-safe Halloween treats.

I wrote my own candy-free Halloween post early on. And a few years back, published 8 ways to cut back on candy this Halloween. I also have some great Halloween links here.

Halloween treats don't have to be tricky, is the message behind this Spoonfed blog post, which looks at artificial colors and other junk in candy.

What are we handing out this year? Not candy! It's still not good for you, but we're handing out Glow in the Dark bags of Cheetos (the Cheetos hopefully don't glow in the dark). We also picked up some snack bags of popcorn, that are easy to throw into the lunchbox.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Coming Up: Bay Area Science Festival

10 days - 50 events. You're bound to find something you like! And most events are free.

"The Bay Area will come alive with science and technology activities – lectures, debates, exhibitions, concerts, plays, workshops, and more. This ambitious collaborative public education initiative brings together our leading academic, scientific, corporate, and non-profit institutions to showcase the region as an international leader in innovation. Science happens all around us and directly impacts our daily lives – are you ready to unleash your inner scientist?"

Explorer Days are the family events, and you can find them in green on this schedule. They also have teen events in blue. The hands-on family Explorer Days include events like Marin Headlands Native Plant Science, Hawk Talk and Banding Demo, BioBlitzing at Muir Woods, Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant Tour, Wonders of the Parasite World, and Paleontology and Geology at Brighton State Beach. As you can see, the events are all over the Bay Area. They have adult events too, in case you want a romantic night out.

The festival concludes at AT&T Park for a Discovery Day on November 1, for a free science extravaganza from 11-4. They'll have 150 experiments, shows, games and more. It includes robots, STEM programs, life sciences, marine science, and chances to meet scientists and engineers. They expect 30,000 people to attend!

When: October 23-November 1, 2014
Info: Bay Area Science Festival

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Orange is the New Animal Print: Preparing Teresa Guidice for Prison with Netflix

For those of us who follow reality show crazies, the news of Teresa Guidice getting a prison sentence was BIG NEWS. Since I'm in the middle of the second season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix, of course my first thoughts were that Teresa needs to binge watch this show before showing up in early January for her jail stay. And also that Bravo should consider a new prison TV reality show featuring Teresa. I'm sure I'm not the first to think that.

For my monthly Netflix post, I thought it would be timely to write about adult shows with a prison theme, and later about kids shows with right versus wrong (and consequences) themes. But first, the adult ones.

Teresa Guidice may be feeling sorry for herself, but it could be worse. She could end up in one of Russia's Toughest Prisons. By watching this National Geographic Special, she can go behind the scenes of these Russian prisons to see how the biggest criminals live in jail there.

Get 'Yer Tickets: Golden Moment Ice Skating with Kristi Yamaguchi and Brian Boitano

Have you or your kids wanted to see Kristi Yamaguchi and Brian Boitano skate? Now's youre chance. Their show Golden Moment is coming to SAP Center at San Jose on Sunday, November 2. The cast includes skating performances by Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Evan Lysacek, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Dorothy Hamill, Tanith Belbina and Ben Agosto, Nancy Kerrigan, Jeremy Abbott and Polina Edmunds. Also featured are Yuka Sato, Ryan Bradley, Karen Chen and many more.

When: Sunday, November 2 at 4 p.m.
Where: SAP Center, San Jose
Tickets: $50-200, though you can get discounted pricing through the Children's Discovery Museum, including a family four-pack for $124. Order here through October 29.

Proceeds support the Always Dream Foundation's early childhood literacy program, Always Reading.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Halloween Happenings 2014 in the Bay Area

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 (we'll have a separate post on Halloween at the malls). Please add your favorites to the list!


What: Celebrate with the creepy-crawlies, including trick-or-treating, face painting, dancing, jugglers, aerial acrobats, costume parade, crafts, magicians, live music, animal shows, giant pumpkin carving demonstrations, planetarium show, food and drinks and more. Come in costume and get a reusable trick-or-treat bag!
Where: California Academy of Sciences, SF
When: Friday 10/24 from 5-9 p.m.
Who: everyone
Cost: adults $50, kids 17 and under $35. Kids one and younger are free. And anything over $30 is tax-deductible

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Books, Apps and Sites To Check Out - My Colleagues are Busy!

Some of my colleagues have been busy publishing books, apps and helpful posts. I wanted to share them with you.

Today, you can get my travel blogging colleague Terri Weeks' book for free. It's called Adventures Around You: a Plan to Create Unforgettable Family Memories While Exploring Locally. It provides ideas on how to find family adventures without needing to travel. Of course the Bay Area is great for that! Today you can download on it Amazon for free, otherwise it's $2.99. I just downloaded mine.

The talented food writer Monica Bhide debuted her first work of fiction - short stories called The Devil In Us. It's a collection of stories about how your life can change in a second. It's gotten some wonderful reviews which you can read here. It publishes October 15 but you can preorder it on Amazon now for $3.99, which I just did!

And this isn't an ebook, but if you're thinking of traveling to Italy with kids, check out Ciao Bambino's 52 things to know before going with your kids.

Another travel blogging colleague just released version 2 of this popular app, now called TripDoc 2. It's a travel organizer that makes it easy to organize all the things you want to do on your trip, in a easy-to-view map form. It's only for the iPhone, so I haven't tried it out, but those who have the earlier version love it. It's free.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Coming Up: Lawrence Hall of Science Fun October Events

The Lawrence Hall of Science has some fun events coming up in October:

Meet the Makers: Xunfeng Zhao
When: Saturday, October 11 12:30–3:30 p.m.

Participate in the Maker movement that's spreading across the country, at the Lawrence Hall of Science. At this event you'll meet Xunfeng Zhao, a noted woodworker, artist, designer, and inventor who designs and builds unique furniture and crafts to inspire kids. Work alongside Xunfeng on exciting and innovative projects, and get inspired by his work.

Partial Solar Eclipse Viewing Party
When: Thursday, October 23, 1:30–4:30 p.m.
Eclipse timing: 1:52–4:32 p.m.

Experience a partial solar eclipse through solar telescopes at the Hall while learning the ins and outs of solar eclipses from Hall experts. Have your questions answered in our Planetarium, watch live demonstrations in Science on a Sphere, and participate in a special lava tile activity designed exclusively for this event.

Their popular Design Quest exhibit is now back, through January 19. You'll act like an engineer as you come up with ideas, build prototypes, and test your designs in a variety of stations, including two brand new activity stations.

The Hall also has a Halloween event the weekend of October 25-26, which Frisco Kids will feature on our Halloween round-up soon!

The Hall has open registration now for their Little Explorers Workshops (ages 3-6), Techtorials (ages 12+), and Homeschool classes. These classes are a great way to get your little one involved with science while participating in fun activities with other like-minded kids.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Get 'Yer Tickets: The Pump and Dump

Coming up: The Pump and Dump: A Parentally Incorrect Comedy Show. Click here to watch the trailer. Get the gang together to watch this funny musical show. You can read an interview with one of the comedians (Shayna Ferm) on Marinhood.

What: The Pump and Dump: A Parentally Incorrect Comedy Show, with a local guest comedian
Where: Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley
When: October 15, 8 p.m. (doors open at 7)
Tickets: $20 buy them here

Friday, October 3, 2014

Coming Up: Museums on Us - Free

Bank of America's Museums on Us program runs this weekend, giving B of A cardholders and Merrill Lynch card holders (credit or debit) one free admission per card at participating museums. We've used this program and love it!

It's this weekend, October 4-5 (some museums are only one day). The website won't let me give you an individual list of cities to click, so justcheck the main website and look for California in the pull-down menu. Participating museums in San Francisco and San Jose area:

· The Tech Museum of Innovation
· The San Jose Museum of Art
· Chabot Space & Science Center
· Contemporary Jewish Museum
· de Young Museum

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Coming Up: Jack London Sustainability Farm Festival - Free

A Sustainability Festival doesn't sound inherently fun to me, but after reading the description, I got a lot more interested. The Jack London Sustainability Farm Festival will highlight Jack London’s legacy as a farming pioneer and connect with today's innovators and their vision to preserve the land for tomorrow. This is crucial in Sonoma County, where the park is, and practiced today.

The park used to be famous writer Jack London's “Beauty Ranch,” where he experimented with many of these same sustainable farming ideas, which weren't common then.

The free family-friendly festival brings together the today’s sustainable farming culture to share ideas and celebrate good farming and food. The festival includes music, food, “DIY fun learning” activities for kids and adults, plus information stations staffed by park docents explaining Jack’s early farming techniques. It will be a time capsule-like experience. In 1915, Jack London experimented with groundbreaking methods of farming, along with more humane methods of dealing with farm livestock. A recent Modern Farming article said that “Jack London has been called many things throughout history, among them, an author, explorer, visionary and a socialist. He has even been called the greatest romantic of his time. However, above all these fancy titles, he was a farmer – and an inventive one at that.”

If you want to see rare footage of Jack London working with his farm animals a few days before he died, check out this YouTube video.

Schedule highlights:
11 a.m. “Autumn Farm Forum,” about food and farming in Sonoma County, presented by Marcy Smothers and Clark Wolf.
12 noon - Information stations open. Participants include Benziger Family Winery, Fiber Arts, Luther Burbank Experimental Gardens, Nana Maes Organics, Oak Hill Farms, Quarryhill Botanical Gardens, Quarter Acre Farms, Sonoma County Beekeepers Association, Sonoma County Waste Management, Sonoma Water Agency, The Green Team – Sonoma Valley High School Wolf Pack Recycling Team, Two Moon Farm as well as Breck Parkman, Senior Archaeologist California State Parks, Jack London State Historic Park Master Gardner, and other current local innovators in the sustainability movement.

What: Jack London Park Sustainability Farm Festival
Where: Jack London State Historic Park, 2400 London Ranch Road in Glen Ellen
When: Sunday, October 5 from 11-4
Cost: Free (except for $10 per car parking fee)
More info: website or call (707) 938-5216

Coming Up: Lift Off Festival - CuriOdyssey

CuriOdyssey is hosting it's first Lift Off Festival on Saturday, October 4, where families can see firing rockets, flying discs, floating bubbles, soaring falcons, and other things that go up in the air.

View demonstrations of “lift” by the San Jose Spiders Ultimate (Frisbee) Team, Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company (ribbon dancing), and Rebels Elite cheer team. You can also see new CuriOdysssey exhibits, including a Pneumatic Ball Launcher, which allows visitors to explore air pressure by launching a ping-pong ball high into the air. And also their massive pinwheel installation of more than 100 weather vanes, that highlights the chaotic wind patterns present on the San Francisco Bay.

What: Lift Off Festival
Where: CuriOdyssey - 1651 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo
When: Saturday, October 4 from 10-5
Cost: Free with admission ($9/adult, $6/kids 2-12, $7/kids 13-17 and seniors

Coming Up: Diwali Festival at Santana Row

Celebrate Diwali,  “the Festival of Lights” at Santana Row Park. This ancient Hindu festival is celebrated on October 4, signifying the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair. It's presented by WomenNow. Diwali Utsav 2014 will be the first Diwali carnival at Santana Row and will feature Indian cultural
 activities for all ages. The entertainment program includes chef demonstrations by Amber India, Bollywood dances and dramatic performances depicting the significance of Diwali.

When: Saturday, October 4, noon to 7 p.m
Where: Santana Row Park
Cost: free