East Bay Momma

A Frugal Momma Providing a Rich Childhood

Sunol Wilderness Wildflower Festival

Normally I would never post about an event that already happened but this one was so great I want you all to know about it for next year! The Sunol Wilderness Wildflower Festival yesterday was such a wonderful family free event. The only cost is parking ($5) which is free if you have a park membership. (Seriously one of the best deals I have found ever is the park membership – free parking, swimming, discounts on camping, a great newsletter letting you know about all these events, etc.)

There were twelve booths of crafts for kids. Crafts ranged from paper making to making wildflower seed bombs to crowns of flower. These were really well thought out, beautiful crafts. And free! (Donation jars were around.) If your child completes at least eight crafts then they could go to the ranger station and pick out a gift! Our kiddo chose a large fabric pinwheel for the garden.

There were other booths with info on bees, on conserving water, on gardening using native plants and on the park system. Ranger led hikes to see wildflowers occurred throughout the day. There was live music at times and a BBQ truck. The bathrooms were clean and there were free spring water stations.

Our family goes to a lot of festivals and this one was so lovely and laid back – really nice for families with toddlers/preschoolers and younger school age children. Keep your eye out for it next year and do check out the East Bay Parks Website – the park system and the programs they are offer are such treasures for frugal families!

I didn’t take pics of the actual festival but here are some pics from our mini hike around the fair area. Gorgeous area for a picnic and hike, festival or no festival !







San Ramon Playgrounds: road trip!

We had heard about a new park with a toddler-appropriate zip line in San Ramon. Zip line??? We were ready for a road trip!

The first park in San Ramon we visited was by the community center. It’s small but great. A rock wall, all sorts of climbing structures and a man-made stream with just a trickle running through – great for toddler splashing and rock climbing. No zip line though; we went to the wrong park!

After being guided to the correct park, Rancho San Ramon Community Park, there was still no zip line! Well, it’s there but only a week or so in operation and it was broken. But the rest of the park was great. A wonderful water feature, lots of climbing structures, a sand area, good slides, etc. They have clean bathrooms and a nice picnic spot. The rolling hills and big sky is a nice break from more urban areas. One word of caution: there is very little shade. Lots of hats and sunscreen is a must. Dogs are allowed everywhere except the water play area.

Happy road-tripping it! If you come in/leave via 680 you can stop for groceries at whole foods or Safeway. And there’s a Target. (Sometimes I guiltily appreciate the convenience and selection in a suburban big box store!)


Free Star Gazing in the City

We just got back from Chabot Science and Space Center in the Oakland hills. SO FUN. It was a free day if you have an account with Bank of America.

This morning it was surprisingly (and pleasantly) uncrowded, especially considering the chilly, wet weather that usually drives families to indoor spots. Anyways, the exhibits are great – good for all ages really. There is such a variety to choose from and many if not most are interactive. There is so much to learn about! The planetarium films are fun and really remind you about our fragile place in the gigantic universe… Really cool. The cafe is pricey but makes sandwiches for the kids in fun spider, butterfly and flower shapes so we splurged. You can easily bring your own food in to eat indoors or outdoors. Parking is free and the bathrooms are clean and plentiful.

In between a very busy and happy time with our three year old exploring like crazy we learned from a volunteer that the center’s namesake, Chabot, donated a telescope to the city of Oakland 100+ years ago on the condition it would always be accessible to the public for free. Every weekend night, weather permitting, you can come stargaze through the many telescopes, for free! You know this is on our to do list!


A Few Upcoming Free Events

I haven’t been blogging since before the holidays because of all the holidays, birthdays and a frantic search to find a preschool for my daughter because an unexpected job was offered to me. I hope you and your family had a GREAT holiday season. There are so many fun free/cheap things to do that time of year here in the Bay Area. And, there will be much more for more upcoming holidays such as Chinese New Year which is just around the corner.

I know I have plugged the awesome Berkeley Parents Network list serve here on this blog previously. The online public archives alone are invaluable from childcare and school reviews to trusted handymen recommendations to advice on how to travel with kids in Belize. An amazing resource! I pulled a few free events they had listed in their most recent email for you all. Here you go and belated Happy New Year to you and yours:

Jan 26: Magic Show with Magic Dan (free)
Come enjoy a comedy filled children’s magic show by one of the Bay
Area’s most popular children’s magicians, Magic Dan.

Free on-street parking in adjoining neighborhoods. Please arrive early
and allow ample time for parking and walking to venue.

Appropriate for ages 3.5 and up.

Berkeley Public Library South Branch
1901 Russell St
Berkeley CA 94703
11:00 AM.
Thursday January 29th @ 7pm
FREE Family Education Series (hosted by Alameda Family Collective)

”Immune Health for the Whole Family,” presented by Dr. Todd Born, ND.

Come learn how to keep your whole family healthy during cold/flu season!

Sweet Charlie Boutique
1513 Webster Ave, Alameda
Submitted by: Jennifer (afconbpn@gmail.com)


Staying Attuned to Your Young Child – parent class (free)
Increase your ability to engage and stay connected without reacting
during moments of stress. Learn to reflect on your child’s inner
emotional experiences while developing your understanding of their
behaviors & feelings.
@ Habitot: Wed. Jan. 28 6:30-8pm
Register: AttunedParenting.eventbrite.com
Submitted by: Rachel Kadner (parented@habitot.org)

Talking to your kids about their donor origins (free)
01/28/2015 06:00 PM – 08:00
@BANANAS in Oakland

Learn developmentally appropriate language to help children of all ages
integrate knowledge of the donor side of their origins while
strengthening their life-long bond with their parents.

To register: http://www.ourfamily.org/
Submitted by: Alice Ruby (aliceruby@mindspring.com)

Free Carriage Rides by Lake Merritt today

Hey folks,

This just in:

There will be free carriage rides and face painting on Lakeshore today,
Saturday Dec. 20th from 2-4pm.

The face painting will be at Silver Moon.

Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday and a Great New Year!

Silver Moon Kids
3233 Lakeshore Ave
Oakland Ca 94610

Mon-Sat 10-6

Model Train Fun

Today we had a fun mini road trip to the Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society. Super fun! It is located by a nice park with ample picnic spots and five minutes from the Walnut Creek shopping district so in warm weather make a day out of it. Entrance fee is $3. It is in a warehouse type structure with many trains going at once with different scenes such as traveling circuses, mountain scenes, train yards, etc. My two year old sure was mesmerized. Check the website for hours of operation. The folks running the place are extremely friendly and happy to talk trains with young and old!

Free Family Yoga

There are so many fun, free things happening for the holidays so be sure to keep an eye out for them on places like Berkeley Parents Network, 510 Families or Fun Cheap SF East Bay.

Sick of the holiday already? Here’s a non-holiday free event that caught my eye:

A yoga class where adults connect with their children 2-5yrs through song/movement.
Full of de-stressing fun and end with rest/relaxation. No previous yoga experience
needed. Wear comfy clothing. Taught by Misty Finney, MFTI, Early Head Start
Consultant/Case Management Specialist at FamilyPaths.org
Submitted by: Shay Black (sblack@familypaths.org)

Free Parking!

We are simultaneously in the midst of fighting nasty colds and of a do-it-yourself kitchen redo so the toddler and I haven’t been out and about much this week. But, here’s something to look forward to this holiday season: free parking! Check it out Oakland:

Free Holiday Parking on Plaid Friday & Saturdays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s
Public Information Officer Harry Hamilton, City Administrator’s Office CITY

In the spirit of the holidays and to stimulate shopping in Oakland’s commercial districts in support of local merchants, the City of Oakland will offer free parking every Saturday between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, plus Plaid Friday which is November 28. Free parking is at meters on streets throughout Oakland and at four City-owned parking lots for the time period posted on the meter or multi-space kiosk (30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours or 5 hours). Motorists should note and follow the maximum time limits posted. The program will also provide free parking at four city-owned garages. Visit http://www.oaklandnet.com/parking for more information.

We Rock The Spectrum in Berkeley – nice splurge

Have you done the rounds of the indoor play spots? So have we. I rarely splurge on going back to them more than once or twice but We Rock the Spectrum is going to be the exception. Wow this place is great!

There is a puzzle and craft room, a train room, a room filled with different kinds of swings, a zip line, trampolines and so much more! I highly recommend it for a fun, special treat.

They offer classes for an additional $5. We took a dance class. Barbara, the instructor really connected with my kiddo and I think everyone had a blast. I believe there are a bunch of packages you can buy for various classes that are for the whole family and/or just the kids or parents.

You can bring in snacks for the break room. The whole place feels very clean and well run. They have camps and date night options as well. We were there just as they opened and it didn’t get crowded until about 11am. It’s an easy on/off the highway too. Another bonus is that it caters to all kids – those with developmental differences especially included. I don’t usually plug outings that aren’t free but this one is great!

Parks and Rec, I love thee

We just finished watching all six seasons of Parks and Rec on netflix. Such a good show! However, the real Oakland Parks and Rec Dept is blowing my mind!

We just got home from a FREE parks and rec play date. 930-1230 on Wednesdays and Fridays at Willie Keyes Rec Center led by two wonderful teachers. My daughter played her heart out and loved circle time, the crafts, etc. So awesome.

As she naps I am spending time perusing the different classes and meetups that the Oakland park and rec department offers and I am blown away. Most are for a fee but are more affordable then I would have thought. For instance, gymnastics for toddlers is half the price than the classes elsewhere. I have long touted how amazing the public library is for kid-friendly and frugal resources. I am adding the park and rec department to my list. Check it out!