bay area

Party Ideas for a Toddler’s Birthday


I often receive phone calls from parents of young toddlers wanting to book a character for their child’s 2nd or 3rd birthday. When hiring a character, that can be a bit tricky due to the young age group involved. This is why Jennifer and I introduced our Magical Music Tour a couple of years ago. Children love music, so we designed our program with our performer singing and leading the children in music and movement. Even if children are too young to follow the simple directions on their own, parents are always on hand to help and encourage them. We have chosen to sing popular favorites and old nursery rhymes such as Old MacDonald, I’m a Little Tea pot, The Itsy Bitsy Spider to name just a few.

As parents, you have many different options though for this age.  Below is a list of frequently asked questions.



Where’s the best place to have a toddler’s birthday?

This really comes down to preference.  If you have the space, your house or a park is generally an easy place to have your child’s party for this age group. You can either hire a character company to come in and help or hire a local petting zoo to come over as children love animals. Parks are so convenient because of the play structures; cleanup is minimal and permits are quite inexpensive.

If your home or local park is not an option, there are many alternatives for you such as children’s museums, zoos, recreation centers, gymnastics schools, etc.  When my kids were little, one of the places I enjoyed most in having a party was a children’s museum. A discovery museum or indoor playground is the ideal spot that offers young crawlers, early walkers and toddlers a multi sensory experience as they explore different things. They are packed with tactile activities to engage their minds.



Children’s Museums:

Below is a list of some of the children’s museums in the Northern California

Bay Area Discovery Museum
557 McReynolds Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 339-3900

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 298-5437

180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 298-5437

Sacramento Children’s Museum
2701 Prospect Park
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670




Babies and toddlers are drawn to animals!  Researcher say that as young babies begin looking around their world, they are automatically attracted to things that move, are brightly colored, and are easy to see. They are fascinated by things that make interesting noises, are capable of interacting with them and are unpredictable in what they do and how they behave.



What’s the best time to have a toddler’s birthday?

Most children at this age still take an afternoon nap, so take that into consideration when scheduling your party.  Children this age can go from excitement to anger in a matter of seconds. Therefore, you want children celebrating while they’re at their best, so you probably want to pick a morning or late afternoon, and keep it short and sweet — an hour or two is the most time that I would recommend.

Do I serve food at a toddler’s party?

For such a young age group, I don’t personally believe in serving food because children at that age are all eating differently. I personally believe in keeping it simple. You can serve healthy snacks though such as bite-sized fruit or muffins.

Do I hire a Mascot character?:

We don’t deal with mascot characters, but I do get a ton of requests for Elmo.  You know your child best.  In my opinion, toddlers tend to be easily spooked by costumed characters.




Alternate entertainment?  

Unless there are older children at the party that you want to entertain, do not bother to higher a face painter or balloon twister.  Balloons present a choking hazard to small children and the popping noise startles them.  Children do love bubbles though!

By |September 20th, 2014|Birthday Party Ideas and Tips|0 Comments

Apple Picking in the North Bay Area


 If the weather here in the North Bay decides to start cooling ever so slightly, I will be ready to go apple picking with my kids!  Apple-picking season in the Bay Area starts in late July or August and runs throughout the fall. Local favorite Gravensteins kick off the season, and you can work your way through Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Rome, Braeburn, Fuji, and other varieties through the course of the fall.  I’m not one to have many sweets in the house, but that idea goes out the window during the fall and the winter holiday season when I start baking. We always end up with plenty of apples for making things like apple pie, apple crisp, home made apple sauce, and of course including them in school lunches, too.

Easy Homemade Apple Butter 2

 Here are some tips and places for apple picking with kids.
Apples are one of the easiest fruits to gather – even for little hands. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your apple picking experience:

When going to pick your own apple, choose firm, bruise-free fruit and place it gently in your basket (just throwing them in will make them bruise and go bad more quickly).
Apples on the outside of the tree tend to ripen first. Because there are so many varieties, color isn’t necessarily an indication of ripeness.
To make your apple stay longer, keep your apple in a cool, dry place, like a basement. Or put them in closed plastic bags and store them in a refrigerator. Don’t wash them until you use them.

After you go apple picking, amaze the kids with this trick: when you slice an apple in half, the core resembles a star.
It’s good to know that Johnny Appleseed was a real person, he did plant a lot of apple trees, and his birthday was on September 26.


There are many apple farms around the Bay Area. However, only a few let you pick your own apple. Here are some of them:

Gizdich Ranch
55 Peckham Road,
Watsonville, CA 95076
Phone: (831)722-1056
Open: 9-5 daily
Description: U-pick apple starts September 8th and lasts 4 weeks. APPLES AVAILABLE FOR PIK-YOR-SEF INCLUDE: Red Delicious, Newton Pippins, and Golden Delicious. Other varieties available for sale only at the Barn. After picking, take a self guided tour of our apple orchard and berry farms. If you’re here on Saturdays (September-May only), you can watch the apples get pressed for juice! The Apple Butter Festival has been cancelled this year.

Gabriel Farm
3175 Sullivan Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Sonoma County
Phone: (707) 829-0617
Open: Sat/Sun: 10am -3pm, Weekdays By Appointment Only
Description: Eight varieties each of Certified Organic Apples and Asian Pears. Also harvesting sweet Organic Fuyu Persimmons, Organic Fresh Frozen Apple and Pear Juice, Asian Pear and Ginger Marmalade, Organic Dried Lavender and more! Enjoy the gorgeous orchard as you pick your own apples. Apples available at Berkeley Farmer’s Market every Saturday. Apple picking season starts on August 25th. Gabriel Farm is part of the Sonoma County “Weekend Along Farm Trail” on weekend from Sept 29th to Oct 28th

Chileno Valley Ranch
5105 Chileno Valley Road, Petaluma
Phone: (707) 765-6664
Open: Sundays: 10:30-4, else by Appointment.
Description: Organic apple orchard, with Orin, Pinova, Molly’s Delicious and Jonathan’s Pride. All the apples varieties are blind taste test winners. Chileno Valey is open for U Pick apple during the months of September and October, Sundays only, from 10 a.m to 4 p.m.

Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch
13128 Occidental Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Sonoma County
Phone: (707) 823-0538
Open: All year 8-5 Daily. Closed Sat.
Description: Apples: Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, Rome (Aug-Feb.) Bartlett pears:( Aug. 15-Nov.1). Fresh frozen apple juice all year. U-Pick. Call first. Apple-A-Day Ranch is part of the Sonoma County “Weekend Along Farm Trail” on weekend from Sept 29th to Oct 28th. Read reviews for this farm on yelp.

Pleasant Hill Farm:

Certified organic Pleasant Hill Farm in Sebastopol offers a u-pick experience for groups by appointment. This beautiful farm has five acres of semi-dwarf organic apple trees, including Fujis, Royal Galas, Red Delicious, Arkansas Black, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith, too.

U-pick season here starts in late August or early September, and it’s an ideal place for school groups or groups of family and friends (8 minimum) who want to try their hands at apple picking. Two large picnic tables (which seat about 40 people), made from cypress and redwood trees, make this an appealing place for groups to relax and have a picnic after apple picking. There’s even a tree swing to play on! Make sure you wear closed-toe shoes for the orchard.

Call Victoria at (415) 306-1413 for information on prices and seasonality, or to make an appointment. She also runs a vacation rental on the property in a restored turn-of-the century barn and tank house. Pleasant Hill Farm is located on Pleasant Hill Road in Sebastopol.

By |September 17th, 2014|life|0 Comments