Merry merry! We hope you and yours have been staying dry during these cold and rainy days. Winter is nipping at our noses, Chanukah is here, and Christmas is right around the corner. Take some time out and savor the holidays with one of these festive activities San Francisco has to offer.
The ceremonies continue for the lighting of the fourth, fifth and sixth candle on the 25-foot-tall Menorah in Union Square. This weekend will feature crafts and musical performances. Lighting ceremonies take place this Friday at 3pm, Saturday at 7:00pm and Sunday at 4:30pm.
This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday bundle up the clan and head to Civic Center to hear the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Brass Quintet. The series of performances named “Holiday Fanfare” is bringing holiday cheer to Bay Area residents. Each performance will take place outside, in different locations and at different times. Click here for the details.
This Saturday celebrate the Winter Solstice and our little ones at the Shambhala Meditation Center of San Francisco. Parents may want to bring gifts for their children and children should bring a gift to donate. The event includes shrine decoration and a potluck banquet. Children’s activities start at 3pm.
Well, it’s here. That time of year when we are in the holiday sprint. Yes, sprint. Oh, and spirit. But back to the sprint part. Have you figured out the how and the what for gifting? Only about two more weeks of sleeps until Christmas.
There are many approaches for how to exchange gifts: secret santas, white elephant, books-only exchanges, kids-only gifting, etc. You probably have experienced the same type of gift exchange over the years. Maybe this is the year to change it up and try a different approach.
The other challenge at holiday time is WHAT to get the grandparents, the spouse, the friends, the kids. A quick peek at the interwebs reveal that photo books are popular for grandparents, massages are a go-to for tired parents and there is an endless list of toys for the kids. But how about trying something slightly different?
How about giving the gift of an experience? Parenthoods recommends these nifty and original ideas:
Experiences create memories. And they are the best gift ever.
Guest Blogger Heidi Oelman is hoping her husband gives her the gift of an uninterrupted 15 minute shower while he diverts the kids. Seriously, no amount of dry shampoo is going to fix the hot mess on her head.
Want to relive the magic of the Parenthoods holiday party? Obebe Organic put together this awesome video just for you!
It’s raining, it’s pouring, and by the time the weekend rolls around we’ll have cabin fever so bad we’ll be begging to get out of the house.
We know this rain won’t put a damper on your holiday happenings, but just to be sure we’ve personally contacted each one of these merry makers to ensure all systems are a HO HO HO! Too much?
This Friday, December 12, head to Fisherman’s Wharf for the lighted boat parade from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. The boat parade is best viewed from Pier 39 or Aquatic Park. While you’re there check out the menorah lighting and get a bit of shopping in!
Bring the kids to the Maritime Park to visit costumed players that transport your entire family back to 1901. Be sure to take a lamplit tour of the Balclutha where you can meet the crew and the captain, see the passengers on the Eureka ferryboat in their holiday garb, and tour the Ark houseboat. The event starts on December 13th, at 6:00pm and goes until 9:00pm. Best part, it’s free, but does require a reservation which can be made by calling (415) 447-5000.
Sprout is an organic and natural kid’s boutique in San Francisco. This Sunday, December 14th, they will be throwing a holiday party with music, organic treats and champagne for the grown-ups. A professional photographer will also be there to take pictures of the littles with Santa himself. Attendees also receive 20% off purchases made during the party. Score! The party runs from 3:30pm to 5:00pm.
Like most parenting gems, we learned about littlelane through the Parenthoods community. Moms and dads were sharing and buzzing about littlelane’s blog posts – from The Best Jogging Stroller Trails in the Presidio to Where to Get Your Christmas Tree in SF. So naturally we knew we had to meet the mama behind it. What we learned – these helpful posts are just the beginning.
Maren Bannon, the mom behind littlelane takes some time to chat with us about building a stellar resource for local parents while being a parent herself.
9 Questions With Maren Bannon from littlelane
Tell us a bit about you.
I am a mother to a wild but wonderful little girl, wife to a patient, thoughtful husband and Founder/CEO of littlelane.
I started littlelane because when I had a baby, I felt like I had to rediscover San Francisco through the eyes of a parent. The hardest things to figure out were the local ones. I spent hours looking up things like, “where do I get a stroller repaired”, “how do I find a lactation consultant” and “how do a find a baby swim class”. I was surprised that no good local resources existed, so I set out to build one.
Tell us more about what you’re building.
Littlelane is a platform to help parents find trusted recommendations for the best classes, activities and services for families. Parenting is hard work, and we want to make it easier (and more fun!) by helping you find the best resources in your area. We currently have a digital guide for SF/Marin and a recommendations platform launching soon in SF/Marin.
At Parenthoods we like to let it all out by discussing and laughing at some of the more difficult things. What do you find hard right now?
I could write a novel on this. But what pops to mind first is there are SO many peas stuck in our highchair.
How do you make it work?
I try to say no. I don’t participate in things I should do but don’t feel strongly about – holiday decorations, networking events, etc. And I even say no to things I do feel passionate about but just don’t have time for, like working out. You can’t do it all. Pick a few things that matter, and do them well.
What was the biggest surprise to you after becoming a mother?
Becoming a mother raised my standards. For instance, I liked my job, but I didn’t want to miss out on time with my daughter for something I ranked as an “8.” It had to be a “10.”
Life is too short to settle, so I decided to create something I’m passionate about. I wake up thinking about work, and I’m excited for Mondays. But this is so much harder than any of my past jobs! My life has never busier.
What is the most useful piece of parenting advice you’ve received?
Someone on a plane once took a look at my toddler running up the aisle squealing and said, “It gets easier… but it doesn’t get better.”
This stuck with me. It’s easy to get wrapped up in anticipating the next milestone, or just a shower without interruption, but I try to remember to enjoy the little moments with my daughter.
What do you hope your daughter remembers about the kind of mom you’re trying to be for her?
I want to teach my daughter to be kind. Our society places a lot of emphasis on achievement. Kids are under so much pressure. It’s okay if our daughter doesn’t go to a top college, but it’s not okay if she’s a jerk. I want her to be kind and compassionate to those around her. Now I’d better stop cutting people off in traffic! (jk…).
What’s on the horizon for littlelane?
We are launching our littlelane recommendations platform soon! Sign up here if you would like to be one of our first users. It’s for parents to share tips, help others, and get much needed advice on things to do locally with kids.
You might think you don’t know very much, but think about how clueless you were when your first child was born! You have so much to offer other parents. As they say, it takes a village, and we want to help parents find theirs.
How can people reach you?
Please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or just to say hello.
Santa has been spotted all around San Francisco! If you didn’t score tickets to the Parenthoods party, here are a few awesome alternatives to get your Santa fix that’s NOT the mall.
This Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th, from 8:00am until 12:00pm Santa will be at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco for breakfast. He will be making stops at every table to ensure your kids get a picture and get their gift requests in.
For the ultimate holiday experience head to The Dickens Christmas Fair. In between getting lost in the winding paths of Old London, painting ornaments, and listening to carolers, visit Father Christmas and collect a keepsake photo. This unique adventure will be this Saturday and Sunday from 10am until 7pm.
Okay, we said no mall, but the Japan Center Mall is not your typical holiday mad house. This Saturday and Sunday from 1pm until 5pm kids can have their pictures taken with Old Saint Nick and then head to Santa’s workshop where they can create cards and other crafts for gift giving. Recommended by fellow Hooders, it’s the perfect meet and greet, with no crazy lines and fun stores to visit afterwards.
Photo by Stephen Downes
The adoption process is a procedural labyrinth, one which can intimidate prospective parents to the point of giving up. Felicia Curcuru and Julia Chou wanted to change this with Binti, a company dedicated to helping future moms and dads navigate the paperwork maze that lays between them and welcoming a child into their home. From providing comprehensive adoption information to streamlining applications to connecting people with local social workers, they’ve created a service that cuts out the guesswork of adopting and gets new families settled faster and easier.
Felicia and Julia took a little time to stop by and say hello.
Tell us about you both.
Felicia: Julia and I met three years ago on a camping trip with mutual friends and have been close ever since. Prior to founding Binti I was the head of User Experience at FundersClub, and Julia worked on user growth strategy for Google and Youtube. We’re both passionate about finding loving homes for children, and that extends into our personal lives as well. In addition to our day jobs running Binti we’re both court appointed Special Advocates, representing the best interests of foster youth in San Francisco.
How did you come up with the idea for Binti?
Felicia: When my sister adopted a couple of children I lived through the adoption process vicariously. It’s extremely difficult—the typical adoption requires between 50 and 200 documents, can take 1-3 years, and costs between $30,000 and $50,000. Years later I was working in tech and saw that there was a huge opportunity for technology to streamline the process and to make it easier for qualified parents to adopt.
Is there a Binti success story which you can share?
Julia: We talk to parents every day and feel extremely grateful to be able to spend our days helping families through the adoption process. Recently we had a single parent in New Jersey call us after her adoption went through, just to let us know that we totally exceeded her expectations. She had heard horror stories about the home study process from other adoptive parents and friends, and had expected that it would take months. Instead she was able to finish the home study paperwork in a few days, and couldn’t believe how quick and seamless the process was with Binti. We love generating customer love!
How else can you help parents besides with their paperwork?
Julia: In addition to streamline the adoption paperwork process we’re also putting together resources to help parents who are looking into the possibility of adoption. We’ve created a comprehensive list of strategies on how to finance an adoption, as well as what to expect during a home study. We want to empower parents with the knowledge needed to ensure a successful adoption.
Located in Golden Gate Park, the Conservatory of Flowers is the oldest public wood-and-glass conservatory in North America. Currently featuring Aquascapes: The Art of Underwater Gardening, the Conservatory lets kids of all ages dive into the world of underwater gardens. The Conservatory includes plants and flowers from all over the world and you can click here to see what is currently in bloom. Tuesday hours are from 10:00am to 4:30pm with the last entry at 4pm.
Located in Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum has been an SF favorite since 1895. Take a spin around the joint and visit the current exhibit, Lines on the Horizon: Native American Art form the Weisel Family Collection. Afterwards let the kids loose in the outdoor garden. Doors open at 9:30am and close at 5:15pm.
The Legion of Honor overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge and displays a collection of 4,000 years of ancient and European art. Currently on exhibit is the Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House. The Legion of Honor also features Masters of Fire: The Copper Age in the Holy Land until January. Parents, you’ll find some grand photo op potential here. Doors open at 9:30pm and close at 5:15pm.
On Friday head to Ghirardelli Square from 4:00pm to 9:00pm for the tree lighting. The square will be alive with musical performances, and a visit from Santa. Also La Cocina will be opening up a temporary holiday market in the Fountain Plaza area of the square featuring local vendors.
Ghirardelli Square not your speed? Head over to Union Square to catch Macy’s tree lighting at 6pm taking place between Sutter and Post, and Geary and Stockton Streets. For the best viewing location, head to Union Square early to stake out a good spot.
This weekend the Fairmont in San Francisco is hosting their annual Gingerbread House Party. This year’s event features a gingerbread house that the Fairmont culinary elves say will stand more than 22 feet high and 23 feet wide. Saturday, November 29 from 11:00am to 2:00pm, join in the holiday fun, that includes delicious refreshments and heart-warming music in the Main Lobby.
Thanksgiving is literally days away and Parenthoods is all abuzz with ideas on how to celebrate and survive the holiday. Leave it to the community to come up with these handy suggestions.
If it stresses you out, outsource it!
Thanksgiving is meant to be spent having a good time with your family, so if the thought of cooking Turkey dinner is stressing you out, make it easier on yourself. Hooders suggest buying Turkey breasts instead of a whole bird and getting sides from your local delicatessen.
Busy hands are happy hands
Activities are essential for this four day holiday that calls for rain. A few winning activities recently shared on Parenthoods include A Thankful Heart coloring activity, A Thanks Book, and the Mess-Free Fingerpainting Project.
Let’s make a deal
It isn’t Thanksgiving weekend without a few good deals. Parents are sharing their killer finds as they see them. Keep checking back for the latest and greatest!