Mom's Corner is a special place for Bay Area moms to come together, connect, share, and build community. All articles below were submitted by local Bay Area moms. If you have something you would like to contribute to the conversation you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Taking submissions in the form of upcoming events, write ups about events, tips, advice, fun experiences, travel blogs, information about helpful organizations, mom tips, trips, and awesome deals on fun experiences. The only requirements are that you keep it positive and are respectful to ALL people, no hate or complaints will be tolerated. Thank you to all the wonderful moms who took their time to submit to me- and hope you enjoy the following articles below!
A Local Kid’s Guide to Fun Things to do in the Inner Sunset San Francisco
Contributed by Emily of Henry and Andrew’s Guide
We love this neighborhood because we think it’s one of the most family-friendly places in the city! Next time you are headed to Golden Gate Park, check out these fun spots too.
We love to come here for the kids' section. They have enough seating for at least 4-6 families. It’s a fun place for us to hang out with our kids, and the kids usually make friends here too. They also have gifts and books that are San Francisco themed!
I never thought this place would entertain kids as young as 2 years old, but it’s not just for older kids! They have everything magic related possible. Henry wants to know what everything is and does.
Sakura - Japanese Discount Store
As a part Japanese household (I am half, the kids are quarter), we love coming here! They have Japanese toys, household goods, and food items. If you are a fan of Sanrio (like Hello Kitty), Totoro, or Doraemon, you would love this place! It’s a fun way to introduce some quick culture to your kids too.
This park needs no introductions, but here are our favorite things to do there that is right by the 9th Avenue Inner Sunset entrance!
San Francisco Botanical Gardens - you could spend an entire half a day here hopping into the different trails, looking at fish and ducks in the pond. We like to go find the squirrels too.
Music Concourse - a great place to scoot around or run around. We call it the “lion and snake park” because there is a lion trying to catch a snake in one of the fountains that Henry loves. They also have free concerts throughout the year, which make it a fun surprise if you happen to stumble upon it.
De Young Museum - many won’t think this is particularly a kid-friendly museum, but it is! The exhibits are appreciated by people of any age - maybe just in a different way. Their outdoor area and cafe is nice and spacious too. Kids 17 and under are free!
California Academy of Science - aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, African animals exhibit, and much more. Their kids' room is also a nice place for kids to be kids. We love coming here! Be on the lookout for free days - to take advantage of, or to avoid. We’ve seen the line go all the way around the block on those days!
For more things to do - like where to eat and special events in the Inner Sunset in San Francisco and beyond, check out their guide here.
Cantor Art Museum
Contributed by Erin Amisili
The Stanford campus is packed full of fabulous entertainment for kids, but a lesser known activity is the Second Sunday Family Day program at the Cantor Arts Museum, and it might just be Stanford’s best kept secret. Every 2nd Sunday of the month, the Cantor Arts Museum (which is always free anyways) opens their doors to families with a chosen theme and provides kids a handful of volunteer led hands-on arts and crafts activities that are both amazing and innovative. It is like a high quality free art class every month for your child inside one of the area’s most beautiful museums!
• On top of this, the Museum hands out art packs full of perfectly sharpened Prismacolor colored pencils, paper and a clipboard to draw on. Kids are encouraged to plant themselves in front of favorite drawings and to be artists themselves. Art packs are to be returned at the end of the visit.
• Outside the Museum, the fun continues in the Rodin sculpture garden. Yes, Rodin! There are literally dozens of amazing Rodin sculptures for children to marvel at inside the sculpture garden. My kids spent a lot of time running around out here and being imaginative.
• Across the street, nestled in the grass, you’ll find hidden the famous Andy Goldsworthy’s structure called the Stanford Stone River which is one of my kids’ favorite places to play and run around being imaginative on the Stanford campus.
• There’s a cafe in the museum or you can find several open places to eat on campus. Better yet, bring your own food and have a picnic outside! Parking is a non issue in the spacious museum parking lot.
Best Places for photography sessions in the Bay Area
Submitted by Kimberly Sienkiewicz of K. Sienk Photography
Here's a little blurb about me:
In my opinion, the most precious moments don’t happen in a studio. Real moments happen in real places, which is why, as a location photographer. I will travel to YOUR location to capture the magic of YOUR most priceless family moments.
I don’t just take photos, I tell a story, and as with any story, I need to know how to build it up. I love to learn about your family before the session. I’ve spent the past 8 years telling hundreds of stories for people of all ages, and from all walks of life.
Sutro Heights Park - This location is my favorite in the city. There are lots of trees, flowers, green areas, views of the ocean, and it's not too crowded. Because it is near to the ocean, there is some risk of morning fog. That being said, it has never been a problem for me, and the clients that I have photographed in the fog have loved it.
Baker Beach - It's a smaller beach with a great view of the Golden Gate bridge. On the beach, there wouldn't be much in the photos besides sand, water, and the bridge. But there are also some wooded nooks right across the parking of the beach. And if you want something that has an urban feel, the barracks provide a great backdrop. The morning or at sunset would be the best times for this location.
Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park - This is the lake with the paddle boats. There are lots of great spots for photos that include water, flowers, bridges and even a waterfall.
Alamo Square - I'd recommend doing this one in the morning since there would be fewer people around. The grassy areas and trees photograph well. In addition to that, we could also do some photos with the painted ladies in the background.
The Legion of Honor - This is a place that I have never photographed at, but always wanted to. The building itself and its pillars provide a great backdrop for photos. There are also spots nearby that have grass and trees, so it's not all about the architecture.
Rincon Park - This is a great place if you want to capture the Embarcadero and the Bay Bridge in the photos. There aren't many shady spots, so this location is best early in the morning. The Cupid’s Span sculpture is there too!
Dolores Park & an alley with street art - I've photographed at the park and the alley in one shoot. They are just a five-minute drive one another, so it's easy enough if you wanted a shoot with a more urban vibe. Dolores Park is beautiful. There are lots of great trees, a wonderful view of the city, and the playground is the perfect spot for candid photos of your child playing.
North Lake in Golden Gate Park - Not a crowded spot at all! Although the location is at the lake, there are not many spots to get the water in the background. This location is all about its beautiful paths, cool bridge, and its wonderful wooded areas.
Roberts Recreational Area - The redwoods are so beautiful at this location. It never gets very busy. In addition to the Redwood forest, there are grassy areas and a great playground to capture candid shots. There is a $5 fee for parking at this location.
Crab Cove in Alameda - This is a great spot on the water. There are nice beachy spots, cool rocky locations, and some more woodsy sections as well.
Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round - It's a merry-go-round. So that's fun in itself. But then there are also some woodsy areas outside the merry go round too.
Little Farm at Tilden Park - At this farm kids can feed the animals. Its a really fun place if you are looking for a more candid photo session. Not far from the farm, there are beautiful stairs and lots of trees. So really you can get two types on of locations in just one spot.
The Gardens at Lake Merritt - This is one of my favorite East Bay locations. Any time of year it is beautiful. The gardens have all types of plants, small structures, little ponds, and so much more. You do have to pay for parking if you want to park real close. Or I am usually able to find street parking with a 5-minute walk.
Morcom Rose Garden - This one is the most beautiful when the roses are in bloom (which I’m not sure of those dates). Aside from the roses, there's lots of great places to take photos including some wooded paths, stairs, and a small pond.
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach - The wooded area is so beautiful! The lighting can be magical at this location. Because of all the trees, it is sheltered from the wind. There is also a beach right there, but that can get windy at times. If you are interested in doing photos that include the beach, the morning is the best time for the session.
Washington Park in Burlingame - This is a great little park that has a lot to offer. Lots of little paths, trees, and open grassy areas. This park is very dog-friendly.
Gamble Gardens in Palo Alto - Beautiful garden. Like most gardens, there are beautiful plants and flowers, a lovely gazebo, and much more.
Rodeo Beach - Such a beautiful and not too crowded location. The beach is great because of the cliffs and giant rocks that surround it.
Oak Hill Park in Petaluma - This one looks like a very simple park, but it has a whole lot to offer. There are lots of little nooks and crannies in this park that beautiful light and beautiful backdrops. Also, if you love photos in an open grassy field, this perfect. There is a playground here. Sometimes playgrounds act as a great source of motivation, or it can be a distraction (this goes for every playground, not just this one). Just know which one it is to your child, and choose accordingly.
Here's a little blurb about the sessions:
On the day of your session, we’ll meet at the agreed time and location and get the fun started! We can take as much time as needed to get your little ones used to the camera, to feel relaxed, safe and comfortable. Be sure to bring some yummy snacks and water for your child and for yourself.
I encourage you and your children to interact, play and have fun during the session. This allows me to capture the natural bond that shines between you. Children are unpredictable, that’s what makes them so lovable! We can always take a little snack or cuddle break.
Let’s keep it simple. Sessions include 30+ fully edited digital images. They are revered in a private online gallery for download. Additional ordering can be done once you have viewed your images.
Family SessionOne hour session at a location of your choice
Newborn Session2-hour session in your own home . I provide a variety of props and backgrounds for the photos.
The Single Parent’s Guide to Fitness
Contributed by Alexis Hall
If you’re a single parent, it can be difficult finding time for yourself. There will be long, sleepless nights, frustrations of trying to arrange childcare, and time spent tending to the inevitable fever or stomach flu. While balancing all of this along with a job and financial stability, your own self-care and fitness might become afterthoughts.
As tempting as it might be to postpone your own needs while single-handedly caring for your child, staying fit and healthy can actually help you cope with the stress of parenting (and everyday life). Physical fitness, exercise, and healthy activities such as yoga and meditation have been shown to boost your mood and help you tolerate stressful situations. For those who have ever struggled with past addictions, it can also promote long-term healing and recovery.
Seeing and feeling the results of your efforts will boost your self-esteem. In addition to helping fight postpartum depression among new mothers, this may also lead to better parenting. By loving and caring for yourself, you teach your child to do the same.
Here’s some advice on how to find the time, energy, and money to stay in shape:
Mommy- or Daddy-and-Me Yoga
Some parents find that fitness is not only a great way to cope with the stresses of parenthood; it’s also a way to teach healthy habits to your little one. The American Psychological Association lists finding opportunities for quality time with children as one of the biggest concerns among single parents. Why not combine quality time with fitness-related activities?
“Babies pick up more than you think,” says yoga instructor, Dana McGowan, who began practicing yoga while watching over her infant when he was just six weeks old. These days, her baby has his own tiny yoga mat (which can be purchased for as little as $5-$10) and videos of their mommy-and-baby yoga sessions have gone viral, being featured across the internet, news outlets, and even by Ellen DeGeneres.
Finding time to exercise can seem daunting when you’re a single parent juggling a full-time job, childcare, and countless other responsibilities. Here’s a tip: start small. Even if you only have five minutes to spare, take those five minutes to yourself. Do some yoga, push-ups, or do crunches. Eventually, you can try to work your way up to fifteen minutes, and then thirty minutes.
Exercise While the Kids Sleep
You know how they say parents should sleep when the baby is sleeping? The same can be true of fitness. Many parents - even single parents - see some success with getting into a workout routine when they start planning their workouts first thing in the morning or last thing at night. This way, the children are asleep and you have a precious few minutes to yourself.
Whether you’re a single parent or not, there will inevitably be unexpected situations that pop up or stressors that you’ll need to cope with. I promise, you will get through it and it will be worth it in the long run. In the meantime, be sure to prioritize your own self-care. The better you take care of yourself, the better you’ll be able to care for your family.
Spring has Sprung!?
Contributed by Kristen Smeal
In Oakland, it looks like Spring has already found us. There are buds and blooms on the trees and the grass is noticeably greener. If the nicer weather makes you want to get out in the fresh Spring air, how about volunteering at a public garden? Try a couple hours for some mama-time or bring the kids along for some civic engagement and outdoor vibes. If getting your hands dirty isn’t your thing, stop by for a visit anyway and enjoy a little slice of farm and outdoor life right here in Oakland.
Gardens at Lake Merritt
666 Bellevue Ave
Oakland, CA 94610
The gardens at Lake Merritt is a seven-acre plot of land located in Oakland’s Lakeside Park. There are several themes to the gardens, including a bonsai garden, a Bay-friendly garden, and edible garden, to name a few. There is even a self-guided tour around the pollinator garden and Master Gardener trials garden. The garden is open daily from 9am-3pm and entry is free. Volunteer days vary, but it’s as simple as dropping in on the designated day. Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat! More information on volunteer opportunities can be found at the gardens website.
City Slicker Farms
West Oakland Farm Park
2847 Peralta St.
Oakland, CA 94608
City Slicker Farms is not only a designated public park in West Oakland, but it is an actual urban farm! There are several acres of gardens, chickens, and even a resident bunny rabbit. They have a 4-H program, Opened the Summer of 2016, the mission is food justice, bringing fresh vegetables to people with the least access. Since the farm park is relatively new, the programs are still under development. The best way to get involved (and a tour) is to participate in a volunteer day is to sign up on their website.
Morcom Rose Garden
700 Jean Street
Oakland, CA 94610
Established in 1932, the Morcom Rose Garden is truly a hidden gem. The Amphitheater of Roses contains thousands of roses of different varieties of roses. There is even a Children’s Garden with miniature tea roses. A cascading fountain and large reflecting pool bring a nice water element to the garden. The garden is primarily maintained by the Friends of Morcom Rose Garden, or Dedicated Deadheaders (you deadhead spent roses, get it?). They have public volunteer days from 9am-12pm every Wednesday and every 2nd Saturday of the month. Look for the people in the tie-dyed vests to get your started!
Dover Street Edible Park
5707 Dover Street
Oakland, CA 94609
With a mission of sustainable food practices and education, the Dover Street Edible Park offers fresh food to the surrounding community. There are over 70 fruit trees and hundreds of varieties of edible plants, all free to the community. In partnership with Phat Beets Produce company, the ¼ acre plot of land is maintained by volunteers on Sundays (11am-2pm) and Wednesdays (3pm-6pm).
One Day in Yosemite with Kids
Contributed by Preethi of Local Passports
So let's just start with the disclaimer that one day in Yosemite is NOT enough. But obviously that's sometimes all you have! So event hough you know it's not enough, you go anyway, because you figure experiencing it for a day is better than not experiencing it at all. That's what happened to us last summer.
Here's what we felt comfortable enjoying with a day at Yosemite, with the caveat that we had 3 kids in tow as well as one almost-9-months-pregnant lady. ;)
We started our time at the Yosemite Visitors' Center and watched the excellent and moving video there. I am NOT a crier, but even I got a little misty at how meaningful that place is. From there, we popped into the museum and learned a little about the history and background of the park.
After that, we walked over to the Yosemite Valley Chapel. We happened to be there on a Sunday, and we attended a brief LDS service. It was really fun being in that historic building, and there are gorgeous views of Yosemite Falls from there, as well. The kids loved climbing atop a huge rock out in the meadow behind the chapel. We had a picnic lunch in the shade there.
Then we walked through Cook's Meadow, which has spectacular views of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome. The kids loved running through the meadow and across the Merced River. Since we were there in early August, this was a perfect stop to splash in the water and throw rocks. Is it just my kids, or can other families spend hours just throwing stones in water? If you have more time, it would be really fun to do some floating down the river.
From there, we hiked the Lower Falls trail, which is very kid-friendly. It's pretty short and offers great views of the falls. Plus, once you get to the base of the falls, you can scale some rocks if you're feeling intrepid. Our kids love to climb, well, anything, so this was a big hit and we climbed right up to the spray, which was very fun. It wasn't particularly strenuous and all of us could manage it (even me with my giant belly and maternity dress...).
We stopped back by the visitors' center to turn in Junior Ranger booklets and get badges (be sure to get them right at the beginning of the day so the kids can be working on them throughout), got some dinner in the village, then headed to pick up our car (we walked pretty much this entire time as we were there during the summer and even the shuttle bus waits were insane). After that, we drove to Bridal Veil Falls, which was gorgeous in the waning light, and provided those perfect rainbows in the mist.
Then on our way out, we stopped at Tunnel View for a spectacular view of the entire valley at sunset. While it had been very hazy on our way into the valley in the morning, it was absolutely perfect on the way out. We had some gorgeous views of Half Dome and El Capitan on our drive out, and we left feeling very appreciative of all the beauty we'd experienced.
Contributed by Erin Amisili
Dear Peninsula Tiny Trekkers,
This week we are at Clarkia Trail in Redwood City. You actually park on Canada Rd and walk across to the entrance that is not obvious, but teacher Andrea will be waving you in. It should be gorgeous this week as the wildflowers are starting to bloom.
It may rain during the week, so please look for any changes by 8:30AM the morning of class.
Clarkia Trail Redwood City
The Clarkia Trail leads from a safe pullout along Canada Road
•Take 280-S to Edgewood Rd exit and turn right.
•Turn left at Canada Rd.
•Follow the road as it curves back under Hwy 280
•Park on the right hand side of the road opposite the
trail head and right before the PG&E power
If you are part of any parenting Facebook Groups, Next Door Facebook, clubs, schools etc…we invite you to share Tiny Treks with them. We are offering on March 1st and March 2nd for new families to check out a "Taste of Tiny Treks”. New families only can sign up for the open houses on our website www.tinytreks.com. Space is limited. If you have any friends experiencing financial hardship we will work with them to make Tiny Treks part of their families lives. That is why we ask our parents to be our best advertisers, so we can give out as many scholarships as needed.