Frisco Kids

http://www.friscokids.net/

Your guide to kid-friendly events and trips around the San Francisco Bay Area...and beyond

Debbie is a winner of Top 25 NorCal Moms - 2013

What's the best part of raising a family in NorCal?

The Bay Area is not only beautiful, it's a diverse, inclusive place. It's close to mountains and ocean, and not so far from Disneyland that you can't make an occasional pilgrimage. Plus, it's a creative place, with business and innovation as part of the culture.

What's the biggest misconception about living in NorCal?

That everyone wears Birkenstocks and flowers in their hair.

What do your kids love most about living in NorCal?

Like any kids, they like having friends around. It's also helpful that the weather is good almost year round, which means no walks to school in the snow.

What's the best playground in San Francisco or the Bay Area?

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

We love Magic Mountain playground at Coyote Point in San Mateo. It's very close to the Bay and the airport, so you can watch the airplanes flying low overhead, and have close access to the water. There's a huge field for flying kites, kicking a soccer ball or just running around. And the two adjoining playgrounds serve toddlers on one side, and bigger kids on the other. There's a big dragon to climb on, a tall house with a fast, two or three-story slide, tire swings and many other things to keep the kids busy and happy. Lots of tables too - with grills, and close-by bathrooms and water fountains.
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What's your go-to snack for your kids?

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

My kids love popcorn, preferably with powdered cheese on it. I push the yogurt and cheese sticks on them, for calcium too. And the go-to fruit is the banana. Though it doesn't travel well. I always carry chewy granola bars in my purse for emergencies, and we usually have bags of mixed cereal in the car as well. Here's an even longer list to use for school snacks: http://www.friscokids.net/2011/10/school-snacks.html
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What's an affordable and fun family activity?

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

There are tons of free cultural activities for families, including free museum entrances often once a month, and the first weekend of many museums free for Bank of America holders. Lowe's and Home Depot offer free monthly workshops for kids to make something, with parents attending. The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra presents free "first concerts" for kids, introducing kids (and parents) to different types of music. Stern Grove in San Francisco has amazing free concerts in a beautiful setting. And of course there are many street festivals and cultural festivals year round in the Bay Area. Sunday Streets is starting up soon, offering a free place to ride bikes, walk and be outside without car traffic, in various San Francisco locales.
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How do you keep your kids involved with chores?

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

Like the Little Red Hen, my kids know that if I'm baking, they need to pitch in so they can sample some of the results (no utensil licking unless they help). While it's a constant battle to get them to do even the minimum, they have to pick up their rooms, put their clean clothes away, set or clear the table, etc. Making it fun for them (i.e. letting them get creative by folding the napkins a fancy way) makes it more enjoyable for everyone.
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How did you know you were ready for another baby?

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

Is anyone EVER ready for another baby? My husband is convinced women get amnesia after the first childbirth, because who really would want to go through that again? (Yes, yes, some of you may have loved the experience. I did not). We decided early on we wanted two kids, about two years apart. So when our first turned one, it was time to start trying for the second.
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What's a great spring or summer recipe that uses corn?

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

I love making corn chowder. I seem to collect recipes every time I see one, but I always use low fat milk or soy milk (Silk) instead of cream. It's good with a bit of chile pepper in there too. One of my favorite toppings is Trader Joe's corn relish, which you can get near the salsa. I use it on tacos, eggs, crackers, and mixed in with guacamole.
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What trend (toy, game, clothing style, etc.) are kids your child's age hooked on right now? (Please include your child's age and a link if you can.)

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

Fortunately LEGOS never go out of style, and my almost-9 year old is hooked. The trend otherwise is Bey Blades, though he still plays with his Hex bugs. For the elementary school girls, colorful Duck tape provides hours of craft and lunch-time fun, as the girls make wallets, picture frames, tiny flip flops and other items out of it.
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What's an affordable family summer vacation destination? (please include a link)

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

It's great to visit the national park closest to you. For us, Yosemite has been a favorite (and affordable) vacation destination, as long as you plan ahead. National Parks can book up quickly - especially the camping sites.
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What's your best tip for easing the impact of holiday house guests?

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

I find that being prepared is the best way to relax once they arrive. That means finding out ahead of time if they have special food needs (i.e. picky eaters, vegetarians etc.) so you'll have the right food on hand. Make sure you have enough groceries in the house so you won't feel stressed that you need to run out again. Make sure the clean sheets and towels are ready. Check out the holiday happenings so you have options of what you might want to do together. Have a stack of local maps available for them if they plan to explore alone. And make sure you're stocked with plenty of wine and beer. You'll need them, even if they're great house guests.
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You know you're a mom when... (please fill in the blank!) and link to a picture if it's relevant.

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

Someone gives you the nastiest looking birthday cake, and you eat it with a smile, because your kids made it for you with love.
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Does your child's school do lockdown drills, and if so, how does your child feel about them?

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

My kids' schools do them regularly, and did them before Sandy Hook's incident. For them, it's a part of life and just something they do, like fire drills and assemblies.
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How do you keep stuffed animals under control? Do you corall them in a net, arrange them on shelves, periodically get rid of the unloved ones? Please include a picture of your solution.

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

We installed a stuffed animal net (available online) on the ceiling of my daughter's room, where she keeps her stuffed animals. It's above her bed, so she can reach it and swap out animals. Only 5 animals are allowed down at any time, and the rest must fit in the net or be given away.
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What unhealthy eating habits or cravings have you developed since becoming a mom? Please include a picture if it's relevant.

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

I've been snacking a lot on chocolate, which is fine in moderation, but not so good when it's excessive!
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Spring is almost here! What's an activity you love to do with your kids in the springtime? Please include a link to a picture if you have one!

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

We go to Arizona every spring to visit the grandparents. The warm weather and mountain hiking is good for the soul!
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What's your favorite guilty pleasure snack? Please share a link to the item or, if homemade, to your recipe and photo.

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

I love pretty much anything with chocolate - and salt. We chocolate-dipped pretzels and ice cream cones that were surprisingly easy. And they're fun to decorate with sprinkles! They make great goody bag gifts or even teacher gifts, when wrapped nicely.
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For car and plane trips, what are some small toys, games, or other fun tiny surprises to bring along or pack in your child's backpack? Please mention the age range for the item and include a link to a picture if you have one.

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

My 10 year old loves the old fashioned Yes & No books, which are still made. Aside from electronics, we bring a mini deck of Uno cards, regular playing cards and plenty of paper/pens to play hangman and dots. When the kids were toddlers, we brought little bottles of bubbles. It delighted them (and made us a hero to other parents on the flight).
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We're looking for creative ways to teach our kids about July 4th through art activities. If you have a fun July 4th-themed activity, please share a link with pictures we can use.

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

Fortunately there are tons of easy and colorful crafts incorporating our country's patriotic colors and flag, including food ideas. You can make up your own or get easy kits to aid in the fun.
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Does your family have a good way of repurposing empty toilet paper tubes? Please share a link to a how-to with a picture.

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

We use toilet paper tubes in all kinds of craft projects. They work as trees if making a gingerbread house or sukkah, or wrap a few together as binoculars to decorate. For practical use, I cut the tubes in half for gardening, to support a small seedling until it grows large enough.
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Do you have a hobby you share with your child? If so, let us know what it is and at what age kids can start participating, and links to a picture we can use if you have one!

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

My daughter loves making beaded jewelry, and decided to sell her work and donate the proceeds to a charity. We shop together for the beads, pendants and findings, and she's learning entrepreneurial skills from the process. You can see more of her work here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/DoriJewelry. Of course almost any age can string beads - the pieces get more complex as the child gets older. We've taken mother/daughter beading classes at the local bead store.
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If you've re-entered the workforce after being a SAHM, what's your best tip for other moms who are beginning this process?

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

Network, network, network. Also realize how skills you had before having kids, as well as new skills developed while home with kids, make you a strong candidate and a strong worker. Consider taking a Jewish Vocational Service class (you don't need to be Jewish) on reentering the workforce. Here's a list of upcoming classes and workshops: http://www.jvs.org/calendar.php
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Until you're set straight it's pretty easy to install a car seat incorrectly! What's your car seat story? If you have a picture of your efforts gone awry, or even one of your child sitting in the correctly-installed car seat, please share the link!

Debbie Abrams Kaplan

We're now past the car seat stage (whew!) but I highly recommend taking your car in for a professional installation with a trained police officer or car safety expert, so you can learn how to do it yourself. For years, we traveled with extra locking clips for vacations, and I got very good at installing those seats so they wouldn't budge at all. If you can borrow or buy an extra car seat for travels and for grandparents, it's better than having to remove yours from your regular car!
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