Sunday, June 02, 2013

SF Bay Area Family Bargains

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, chances are you pay a premium to live here and you could really use a good bargain. That just happens to be my specialty. I'm a homeschooling mom who loves a great deal! Here are the current things I'm taking advantage of:

SF Free Days
Here is a great web site for Free Days at San Francisco Bay Area museums. Free days used to be the first Tuesday or Wednesday of the month, but since several have changed to the first Sunday, I look for other bargains for these because we're Mormon and spend Sundays at church and with family, and we don't shop or go to places of amusement. Anyhow, these are some of the cheap or free things I have planned:

The Tech
To receive up to 9 free general admission tickets to the new summer exhibition at the Tech Museum in San Jose, you must create an account here: Then use promo code Finney for your free general admission tickets into the museum. (Regular price tickets are $15 adult/$10 child)

San Francisco Symphony Concerts for Kids
The SF Symphony Concerts for Kids dates are out for 2014, although tickets aren't available until August. I know it is a jaunt to SF but it is totally worth it. We've gone the past two years to the older group and our family has been seated in the box seats on the side of the concert hall and the concerts have been the perfect length (45 minutes) and hearing them performed in Davies Symphony Hall is amazing. The tickets will be available in August. They are $5 each. You would only need to go to one performance since they are all the same (although they do play different music for the older and younger kids).

Concerts for Kids Grades K-3 (35 minutes)
Tuesday, January 21 - 10 am
Monday, May 5 - 11:30 am
Tuesday, May 6 - 10 am & 11:30 am
Wednesday, May 7 - 10 & 11:30 am
Friday, May 9 - 10 & 11:30

Concerts for Kids Grades 4 - 9 (45 minutes)
Monday, April 28 - 11:30 am
Tuesday, April 29 - 10 & 11:30 am
Thursday, May 1 - 10 & 11:30 am
Friday, May 2 - 10 & 11:30 am

California Academy of Sciences
The next Homeschool Days at the California Academy of Sciences are Monday, December 9, 2013 & Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Tickets will be available here 2 months in advance. This museum is a-ma-zing. And tickets for $6.95 (or free if you're an SF resident) are a great deal since regular price is $34.95 adult/$24.95 child.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Homeschool Days at the Monterey Bay Aquarium sell out fast because they are free! Here is where you can find the latest on this amazing bargain ($34.95 adult/$21.95 child). We love to stop by the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove afterward. Our friends love to go to the Dennis the Menace park. We've driven by it several times and next time we are definitely going to go visit here!

Hope this inspires you to get out and do fun things in the Bay Area. There so much amazing stuff to see and do it's not possible to do it all but that's why I love homeschooling – I now get to do a lot more of it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

a wedding & a funeral

Last month's adventures took us far and wide. We were able to go to Caitlin's wedding in the LA temple on Dec. 17. It was a beautiful wedding and a fun day. It was a warm day for December, so the rain didn't really put a damper on things, especially since the reception was in a tent. Melanie and Lael had a great time in their Italian plum-colored dresses and they even let me curl their hair. Oliver and Henry were very dismayed when they were told it was an all-day event and they weren't going to get to go swimming until the evening. We finally let Henry go swimming during the luncheon after most of the guests had left. The kids all finally did get to swim the next day. They even went in the main pool, which was heated but would have still been way to cold for me (it is December after all). Erik and I got to meet Caitlin's husband Kevin for the first time right after the wedding ceremony. He seems like a really nice guy (hippie hair and all) and hopefully we'll get to spend some time with them in the future. At the reception, the kids loved the candy table and decorating the car. I had forgotten the glass paint so we had to make due with ranch dressing and mini oreos, but we made it work, although when they drove away the car did smell faintly of salad. Caitlin had lots of friends from college who came out for the wedding so the house was very busy. Kevin and Caitlin came back to open gifts on Sunday. We had a nice, relaxing day on Sunday and ate way too much leftover wedding cheesecake (but it was so good it was hard to resist!). The Lamb's bishop came over and called Lynn to be the Relief Society President, which she seemed to take in stride. I think she'll be great at it. We hung around for one extra day so the kids could play with their cousin Melanie and Lael cried (very loudly) that she wanted to go back for the first hour and a half of the car ride home.

When we got back to the Bay Area, we spent lots of time with Ann, Rob, Neil and Allie, Carl and baby Nathaniel. We played a lot of Bang! and went to see a couple movies – Lael loved Tintin and I really enjoyed Mission: Impossible. Ann cooked fabulous meals and we were very well fed that week! We had a very nice Christmas Eve program where everyone got to participate and we opened all the gifts, since Carl and Allie were leaving first thing Christmas morning to go back to Maryland. It was nice to get to see them again and hopefully we'll get to see everyone in August when we have a Swanson family week at the beach scheduled in Oregon.

The morning we got back from LA, I found out that my Uncle Larry had passed away and after much agonizing, decided to go to his funeral in South Dakota.
Erik had the week off, so I left him to fend with kids from Tuesday through Saturday and I flew in to Rapid City. My brother Dan drove from Ogden, UT and picked me up on the way. We had to stop by Michael's and pick up a display board and I had sent photos to the Walmart so we picked those up and then we drove the 3 hours to Pierre. We got to see lots of cousins we hadn't seen in decades. We were fed everywhere we went, so that was really nice. My dad arrived at 10:30 pm and I got the rest of the pictures from him and then was up until 1 am putting the pictures together on the display board with my cousin. Her 3-year-old helped by sticking her gum to the display board first thing, so I felt right at home. The next morning was the funeral. It was an unusually warm day for a South Dakota winter, although it was still cold to me! It was nice that the ground was frozen enough that my heels didn't sink at the cemetary. At any rate, it was a very nice service. My Dad gave a talk, we sang several songs and then it was open for anyone to share memories of Larry. His surviving siblings got up and Dan and I got up. Some of the things that were shared were: Uncle Larry was always extremely positive. He was diagnosed with lupus in his early 20s and was on prednisone most of his life, which ate away his teeth and hips, so he had lots of surgeries and fake parts. He had to deal with a lot of constant pain but he always tried to be upbeat. He really enjoyed the time he spent with us the first 8 years of my life when we lived in Iowa with him. He would always call me Emily Dubeen (since I am named after my Aunt Duveen). He told me about how he would drive his Camero with me in one arm and the other on the wheel. He liked his muscle cars. He lived with us in Utah during one of his hip replacement surgeries and Dan was his roommate. His car was pretty dead, so my Dad got him another car to drive back to Iowa. Dan eventually bought a Camero and he and Uncle Larry would talk about the repairs and modifications he could make on it and Uncle Larry really enjoyed that. He was in Utah for my wedding in 1997 and he die cut all my invitations so there was a place for my photo to slide into (he worked in the printing business) and I was glad he was able to be at my wedding. In 2005, he came out to California to visit us and we took him on what was his last camping trip. We got him a cot and put an air mattress on top. He enjoyed being outdoors but I know that trip was tough for him physically. But he was a trooper and didn't complain. After he visited us, he had his leg amputated and after that his mobility decreased and he went back and forth between the rehabilitation center and the hospital. He always talked about what he would do when he got out. The last time I saw him was at the South Dakota reunion in 2007. I would talk to him a couple times a year and tried to remember Christmas and his birthday, which is the same as Henry's - June 10. He always remembered people's birthdays and other dates and although he wasn't able to have kids of his own, he truly enjoyed his nieces and nephews. He loved to make people, especially kids, laugh. Even though I'm glad he's not in pain anymore, I wish I could have done more for him and I do miss him.

I got to spend time with my cousin KD, who I haven't spent hardly any time with in the past 20 years. But it was fun to be together again. She is the only cousin I have who is my age. She is the youngest child of the oldest brother and I am the oldest child of the youngest brother. I look a lot like her family and it was funny when we stopped to get fast food, the cashier asked us if we were twins. We used to get asked that all the time but I had forgotten. She has 5 kids and works full time but was willing to take a day off work to spend with me. We went Goodwill shopping and I bought things like bolo ties and other Western wear, so it was fun. We have been trying to get back since the reunion and we are planning to go back out to South Dakota in the summer of 2013.

I flew back into Oakland New Year's Eve and we went to the City to see the lights and eat at McDonald's. There is now a law in San Francisco that says a child's meal cannot be offered with a toy. So McDonald's did an end-run around the law and is offering the toy for purchase for 10 cents extra that is donated to the Ronald McDonald House. McDonald's is paying me for my opinion about how my children are affected by this law, but it meant we had to eat out at an SF McDonald's. Since the toy is still offered separately, it wasn't any different to the kids, since I just asked them if they wanted it or not. McDonald's also has had to cut down the fries and add apples to meet nutrition requirements. Oliver of course won't eat the apples, but it's a good thing they get less fries. At any rate, the weather was perfect. We walked around and then ate in the very narrow, overcrowded restaurant on Market Street, walked back to our car and went to our friend's house in El Cerrito where we played Bang! and ate Silk Fudge from South Dakota until midnight.

And we've been recovering from everything since then! At any rate, it looks like we've got more weddings coming up, starting with Emily's sister Sarah's wedding in Utah on March 24, so it should be an exciting Spring! Hope you all survived your holidays.


Sunday, December 04, 2011

Monday, November 15, 2010

World Series Champions!

Erik and I took Oliver and Lael to the Giants Tickertape Victory Parade in San Francisco. Yes, it was crazy. But it was a Wednesday, which was the kids' early day, so they only played hooky from school for 3 hours. The picture to the right was the view we had. There were tons (hundreds of thousands) of people there at Civic Center. We saw the cable cars go by with the names of the players on top. We put the kids on our shoulders so they could see the players inside the cable cars. We then braved the crowd milling about in front of City Hall and bought a pin and pennant and left to make our 2 pm dentist appointments. The BART system was overloaded and we had to go down a station and get lucky, but we made it to our dentist appointments in Sunnyvale only 20 minutes late. It was an experience at any rate! But we were glad we left Henry with a friend. We didn't know if they would ever get the chance again so we had to do it!

We have kittens!

We have now officially adopted two kittens! Our best pets so far (Mr. Bunny & Lulu) have all been rescue pets, so I'm hoping our trend holds. These kittens were born in a driveway in our neighborhood. Their mom turned up dead in the driveway a couple weeks later, so a friend took them in and found a home for Smudge, the black and white girl kitten. We kept the other girl and boy and at FHE last week, we decided on the names Tinkerbell and Pan. They are now 7 weeks old and very cute tabby cats. Thankfully they are very smart and figured out the litterbox immediately. They sleep with Lael and the kids are loving it right now. The kittens even get along with Lulu. I am hoping for two things out of these cats: That they catch mice (please!) and that they keep Lulu company. If they can do those things, then they will be worth the things I'm sure they will destroy. At any rate, I think 5 people, 1 dog and 2 cats in 925 square feet is quite a full house!

Monday, February 08, 2010

First Ski Lessons

Oliver and Lael finally had their first ski lessons at the Grandlibakken Resort in Tahoe. The price was right: $50 for the equipment rental, hour lesson and all-day tow rope lift pass. They did really well in their lesson but afterward they promptly shed their skis and went for the sledding hill, where they spent the rest of the day. They had a great time. Erik took his first snowboarding lesson and hardly got up and I took a ski lesson since it had been like a decade since I've been and didn't fall once, although it means I didn't do anything exciting either. So that was our snow trip for the year it looks like. Next year: Utah!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Missing Grandma Pugh

I loved my Grandma Pugh. My family would often go over to her house Sunday evenings, where we always celebrated the holidays. She loved to decorate for them. She was an expert seamstress and kept an immaculate house. She was a talented artist who was willing to share her talents with others. She studied with several famous artists but she was also willing to give art lessons to local children and to donate a painting to raise money for a good cause. She died last week at Age 80 of complications from heart surgery. I wish she could have finished the piece she was working on. It was a portrait of a little Chinese girl with a handkerchief. She mostly did watercolors, and had started working with oils the past couple years. I was really looking forward to seeing what she would do with the portraits. Grandma Pugh was always thinking about what book to present next at her Book Club and this is sometimes what we would discuss at her house on Sunday nights. At her funeral, her Book Club was kind enough to give us a list of the books she had presented over the past 17 years, so I am posting them below. Eventually I will get a chance to read them. A discussion about books was the last conversation I had with her in July. I'm so grateful we were able to have the Fourth of July celebration on the property on 13th East and around 45th South in Salt Lake City that was sold to the city but has been in my family since pioneer times. It was a really fun night and the last time we were truly all together as a family. I was sad as we drove back to California because I had a feeling that something would change before we could do it again, but I didn't know who it would be or how soon the change would come. I'm grateful we had 80 years to enjoy her spirit and talents. I love you Grandma! I miss you!

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oliver & Lael's 1st swim meet

Oliver and Lael had their first swim meet - the timed trials to set their starting times for the season. They both competed in four strokes and did great. They each did one lap of freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and the butterfly. I was quite concerned about the last two strokes, and about battling Lael over wearing the swim cap but they did great. I'm not sure how competitive they'll be this year but so far they are having fun. We have a break for the holiday weekend and then we have meets almost every Saturday through the end of July. The only downside is that we have to be there at 7 am, which is brutal for us. This summer Erik will be dropping them off at 8:30 every morning to practice and then I'll pick them up at 9:15. Right now is a tad crazy with baseball and swimming, but we're down to our last four games. Yay! I think next year Oliver will be the only one doing baseball but we'll see how it goes. Gotta survive the last month of school first.