THE BLOG

This is our place to share parenting perspectives, member news, community events and other ideas.


The AFC Blog presents articles written by our members and people from the local community. If you would like to contribute to the blog (just once or regularly), please contact Amber to get involved!

  • Wednesday, May 24, 2017 12:46 PM | Anonymous member

    Bring your shovel, bring your bucket, bring your best friend (and a camera)! The 51st Annual Alameda Sand Castle & Sculpture Contest is just around the corner!

    One of my favorite days in Alameda, this event fulfills every item on my family-fun checklist:

    Local?…Yup!

    Kid friendly?…Super!

    And my favorite…Free!

    Ok, so it’s not the most extensive checklist, but this mom can’t be too picky these days or I’d never leave the house. Anyway, if you haven’t been to this event before, you are in for a big treat. Registration starts at 9am at Crown Beach for those families, groups, or individuals driven to create sand art masterpieces, and there are some amazing pieces. However, if you’re more like my family, then you can also just mosey over whenever you feel like it (read: whenever kids allow), find a shady spot in the sand and have fun.

    This is a great sensory activity for all ages, just don’t forget your beach day essentials:
    Sunscreen/sun hats
    Swimwear and towels (and perhaps a change of clothes)
    Beach blanket (if you’re not into sitting on sand)
    Snacks/water
    Beach toys

    Parking is available, but this event is also easily accessible to pedestrians. Judging begins at noon and the contest wraps up by 1pm, but keep a lookout for fellow friendly AFC faces all day long, because many of us like to make a whole beach day of it. I, for one, will be out and about as long as the kiddos will let me. If you happen to see a mom who looks like she hasn’t seen sunlight, had a haircut, or slept in about 3 years please come say hello, there’s plenty of space on my beach blanket to share.

    The Alameda 51st Annual Sand Castle & Sculpture Contest
    Saturday, June 10, 2017 9am-1pm
    Robert Crown Memorial State Beach
    Cost: FREE!
    Contact: 510-747-7529
    https://alamedaca.gov/recreation-uncategorized/events/4869

    —Jessica Flash

    Jessica is a regular blog contributor and mother of two lovely little ladies. She has been an AFC member for two years.

  • Tuesday, May 16, 2017 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Change, while exciting, also goes hand in hand with trepidation. Few people like change. It can be messy and uncomfortable, but it is required for growth.

    The exciting news is that our organization is making some changes! We are working to consolidate our web presence. As such, we are moving away from Meetup. AFC has been using Meetup for a decade!?! In that time we’ve quadrupled in size! The amount of organization and time required from volunteers to manange membership has increased in kind. So, for the health of the organization a move is necessary. We have decided on Wild Apricot  due to the variety and quality of features currently available. (They're also constantly responding to user feedback by developing new, better content for future iterations.)

    Our goal in making this change is to ensure that AFC thrives without being a drain to manage. We all know the amount of time we do or do not have, as busy parents, to volunteer. This change means that the administrative management will be simpified instead of one person spending many, many hours with a spreadsheet.  

    But it's not just about the administrative piece; Wild Apricot has many benefits for our members too!  Dues will be easy to pay online, via our website. You will be able to register your spouse/partner's account underneath your family membership. The events calendar is color coded! No more massive, difficult-to-read calendar. See what events you’re interested in with ease! We'll be adding Members-Only web content to increase transparency, make volunteering easier, and share things like Promotional Partner discounts. It's going to be great—and convenient!

    The transition team has been hard at work since April on implementation.  There are currently three phases:

    Phase 1: Website
       - Transition from WordPress.com to Wild Apricot
    Phase 2: Events
       - Move Events from Meetup to Wild Apricot
    Phase 3: Members-only website
       - Includes Board Meeting Minutes, sample lesson plans for various activities, Lending Library, etc

    Phase 1 is already complete—surprise! Our website is now hosted by Wild Apricot, which is why you may have noticed some small changes in appearance and content.

    Now we turn our attention to the Events roll-out. As part of this phase, all current AFC members will be receiving emails (Target Date: End of May) with instructions to log in and create your password. You will need to do this ASAP to continue accessing our great events. As each piece of the Events roll-out takes place, we will be reducing the features and content available on Meetup. Events and programs won't be disappearing, they'll just be digitally moving. Don't let your membership get left behind.

    We’re very excited for this new phase of AFC! If you have any questions or concerns about this transition, please reach out to me at secretary@alamedafamilycollective.org. More information will be shared via our Facebook Group, and we'll make this transition phase as painless as possible. Do not hesitate to reach out! This might not be easy but it's going to make AFC stronger & better, both now and in the long run!

    — Jennifer Weiss

    Jenn is a mother of two and has served on the AFC Exec Board as Secretary for several years.

  • Wednesday, May 10, 2017 12:00 PM | Anonymous member

    Q’s Halal
    Q’s on Yelp
    Good for ages: 2+
    Kid-friendliness: 3/5
    Time to food: 15 minutes
    Highchairs? Yes
    Crayons? No

     At first glance, Q’s doesn’t seem like an obvious choice for children. There are no coloring books, no Nick Jr. in the background (although there is usually a soccer game on), or even a dedicated kids’ menu. But don’t let that scare you off, or you’ll miss out on one of the best-kept secrets on the island.

     Just across the street from the Alameda Theatre and Cineplex, Q’s offers a small menu of made-to-order Afghan and Mediterranean food, plus a few American crowd-pleasers like burgers and fries. The entrees are sized for adults, but you can order sides like falafel, rice, and chicken kabobs a la carte for smaller appetites. There’s a soda fountain with the usual staples, and a small fridge with more interesting drinks for the adults.

     Because everything is made to order, it takes at least 10 minutes to get your food, and up to 20 minutes during busy times, so it’s not ideal for very small (read: very impatient) kids who can’t sit still that long. It’s also a smallish place on a busy street, so there’s not a lot of room to run around and burn off energy. But if you’ve got a slightly older kid who can entertain themselves for a few minutes, you’ll be glad you came. The staff is super kid-friendly, there are several highchairs on hand, and there’s a small outdoor patio for extra-messy eaters. Plus, it’s right in the heart of downtown, so you’re only steps away from a post-lunch movie at the cinema, ice cream from Tuckers, or coffee from Peet’s or Starbucks.

     I’ve been taking my daughter here since she was just a few months old, and I admit the 6-month to 18-month phase wasn’t ideal. But since she’s turned two, we’ve been coming more often, and we see other AFC families with their preschoolers here all the time. So break out of your Chipotle/Five Guys/Lola’s rut (just me?) and come join us sometime!

    — Cari Trease

    Cari is a working mom with two little girls. She serves AFC as a regular blog contributor and Marketing & Communications committee member.


  • Wednesday, April 26, 2017 3:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We might be sitting around waiting for summer, but don’t forget to plan ahead for fall’s best family excursion—there’s another members-only camping trip on the calendar!

    One of the best things about AFC Family Camping is, ‘roughing it’ with your favorite community. Maybe you’re not the best at starting a fire, but you excel at figuring out where that last tent pole goes. Or if you run out of batteries to inflate your air mattress, you have someone there with one to borrow. (Thanks, Brian!) Our children not only learn from us, but from the people we surround them with. Learning new skills and solving new problems not only increases self confidence, but is a huge boost for family bonding. I find the low costs for camping and gains in family bonding are a no brainer—what better way to do it than with other families? And the kids basically all entertain each other, so that’s another bonus!

    It’s all about stepping away from our over-scheduled,  hectic lives and unwinding … relaxing and letting the kids eat smores and play in the dirt. Hopefully at the end of the trip, you’ve all either strengthened or forged new friendships and given your kids amazing experiences. I have fond memories of camping when I was little. I am so excited to give my children the same opportunity!

    For all the above reasons and more, we have AFC Family Camping on the schedule again!!! We will be going from September 22nd -24th. Check-in is 2pm Friday and Check-out is noon on Sunday. It takes about 2 hours to get to the campground, baring any crazy traffic. (Petaluma is a perfect mid-way point to stop and stretch/pee.)

    Man making giant bubbles for five toddlers at a camp site

    To maximize fun and minimize stress, we’ll all be sharing responsibilities and resources during this trip. For meals, we split off into teams, dividing the cost and workload. If you’re a morning person and know you’ll be up with the sun, a breakfast shift won’t be as big of a deal for you as for those who need 3 coffees to function after daybreak. (Coffee is always important, copious. amounts. needed!) We found this is great because you’re only responsible for one meal, set-up and clean-up, and get to enjoy the rest of your camping trip in leisure (well parenting leisure…) You and your team are responsible to connect, discuss, coordinate and execute your team’s meals. It’s cooperative and fun.

    Toddler girl wearing a bike helmet while eating a snack

    You’ll need a tent & camping gear, supplies for mealtime (including your preparation shift AND family placesettings—green options preferred), loads of wipes and soap, adult beverages (kid ones too) and s’mores sticks. We’ve arranged a spreadsheet to request and loan gear… so we can all work together to create a pool of activities and supplies. Bring along any outdoor awesomeness you’ve got including bicycles, hiking carriers, soccer balls, hyali equipment, extra tents or sleeping bags, and basically whatever!

    RSVP on Meetup as soon as possible and submit your $25 deposit (with $25 more due before the trip) to reserve your campsite. For more information, email me at creativity@alamedafamilycollective.org.

    Let’s get ready to (mostly, kinda) rough it!

    – Sharon Ross

    Sharon, mom of two, is AFC’s Creativity Chair and helps to make being a member as uniquely fun-filled as possible by organizing activities for moms, dads, kids and the whole family. 


  • Wednesday, April 19, 2017 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Every year, the AFC Board welcomes members to join us for a casual Open Board meeting. This year, we’re doing things a little differently. We want to hear directly from our members about how we can make our organization into the best possible version of itself. Join us on May 11 @ 7pm at Phoenix Alameda for our first ever Info Night.

    This event is for all AFC members—especially those who want to become more actively involved. Come join us for a lively evening of discussion, planning and collaboration. You can suggest events and programs that you’d like to see developed within our organization. Let’s talk about where there is room for improvement. We will work together to establish our goals for the coming fiscal year. We’ll also share some news about exciting changes and opportunities happening in our community. The heart and soul of AFC are the families that make up this organization—this information night is all about empowering and including all of our members at a higher, more engaging level.

    Current board members will be in attendance to discuss upcoming plans and to meet potential committee members and volunteers (like you). There are opportunities to volunteer with any level of time commitment, so don’t be shy about getting involved even if you have a busy schedule. The best way to have an awesome experience as an AFC member is to really get involved! Attending more events and volunteering helps forge deeper relationships within our community. You might be surprised how helping on one small project opens up the doors to new friendships and experiences.

    So, folks, it’s time to mark your calendars because…the upcoming Info Night is all about YOU, our members! Check out the event details HERE and RSVP. We’ll be sure to have plenty of treats and coffee (and wine) for everyone. We can’t wait to see you there!

    – The AFC Board


  • Wednesday, April 05, 2017 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We often hear people joke about it. What’s one more? – they say, with a laugh.

    Well, one more means about another $65 a month on diapers… bringing the total in we’ll over $100 if your first isn’t potty-trained yet. It may mean a major increase in childcare costs too, or further delaying one parent’s return to the workforce. It means dragging all the baby stuff back out (or buying it on the swap if you thought you were all done having babies but now you’re having another one anyway). And, of course, it means starting all over from scratch.

    But, what does it really mean?

    It means basically giving up hope of ever sleeping again. It means the endless mountain of laundry has now multipled exponentially somehow. It means all that relationship stress of adjusting to a baby is happening all over again – somehow no easier than the first time around. It means when you’re alone with your kids, they outnumber you and they know it. Any already somewhat neglected household pets will become even more neglected and will resent you twice as much as they did when you brought home the first baby. And that To-Do list of household projects you’ve had since Baby One was born? Just burn it. That stuff is never happening. At least not until they’re both in preschool.

    There’s something else, though. Something nobody told me.

    That love you feel for your kid? It more than doubles when you have another. The end result, it turns out, it equal to way more than just the sum of the parts. The love I feel for my first son just explodes and grows in ways I never knew when he makes his baby brother laugh. When I was pregnant, I worried that I could never love another human as much as I love Owen. Well, I could. I could love another baby just as much. And I could love them both together even more.

    Toddler and baby boys laying on floor

    About half a year into being a Stay-at-Home-Mom with two under three… I can tell you that it’s worth every major increase in spending, stress, and worry. It’s worth the lost sleep, the total chaos, and the endless occurrence of “Oh, crap!” moments. And after six months of getting used to our new arrangement, I got brave and took them to the zoo – all on my own, totally outnumbered. It was the best ever.

    With my ever-growing personal mental library of motherhood war stories expanding (at least) twice as fast…I can honestly say that it is both so much harder and so much better than I ever imagined.

    – Marissa Ramirez

    Marissa serves on the AFC Board as Marketing & Communications chair, managing the website and blog, and is mom to two wild little men.


  • Wednesday, April 05, 2017 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Toddlers are constantly learning and processing information. Part of that learning is about boundaries. Enforced boundaries can often lead to yelling, tears, mean words or some horrible combination. When my patience is tested with difficult behavior or my little one needs help calming down, we use some breathing techniques that help us both get centered and able to communicate better.

    Mom and daughter reaching for the sky

    A Cooling Breath

    When tempers flare and one of us or both of us are feeling hot headed we take a cooling breathe to chill us out.

    Slowly inhale through pursed lips or a curled tongue, hold the chilled air in for a few seconds and then slowly exhale through the nose.

    Dragon’s Breath or Fire Breathing

    Mom and daughter sitting with fists up thumbs pointed inward

    When sadness consumes us and the world feels like it’s falling apart we take a warming breath to strengthen ourselves.

    Make a fist and raise them above your head while sticking your thumbs out towards each other. Slowly inhale through the nose and exhale either over your teeth to make a “ch” sound or through your nose, in short burst so that your stomach is making a series of quick contractions.

    Lion’s Breath

    Mom and daughter sitting sticking tongues out

    When everything is annoying and there is no physical way my eyeballs can roll into the back of my head enough we let it all out.

    Slowly inhale through your nose, forward fold and open your mouth as big as you can while sticking out your tongue and releasing all the air at once with a big “ha” noise.

    Dancing Candle

    For moments of deep sadness we dance with the flame of a candle.

    Light a candle and slowly blow on the flame just enough to make it dance but not enough to blow it out to.

    — Molly McGee

    Molly is a holistic personal trainer and fitness instructor. She also serves on the AFC board as chair of the education series.

    Photos by Violaine Lenoir, also an AFC member.


  • Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Everyone loves a good Easter Egg Hunt and the Alameda Family Collective is no exception. Every year, we use the holiday as a fun excuse for a low-key gathering. So, mark your calendars because this member-exclusive event is right around the corner.

    Toddler boy on a blanket with jelly beans

    This year, we’ll be meeting at Lincoln Park for a potluck lunch and fun for the kids. We’ll be organizing two egg scrambles, one for new walkers & tiny toddlers and one for older kiddos. The Special Events Committee takes care of filling the eggs with a variety of candies and non-food items. For the potluck, bring your favorite savory or sweet shareable delights. It’s helpful to label foods with any major allergens or to indicate if something is gluten-free or vegetarian. You can use this as a chance to show off your culinary skills OR wow us with your ability to order great takeout if cooking isn’t your thing.

    The whole family is invited to attend this event and you can feel free to include grandparents or visiting relatives. For babies celebrating their first Easter, the egg scramble makes for some awesome memory-book photos. After enjoying the hunt and lunch, children can take advantage of the park’s playground while the adults have some social time. It’s always a ton of fun and we can’t wait to see you there!

    Visit the event page here on Meetup to RSVP for your family.

    – Marissa Ramirez

    Marissa serves on the AFC Board as the Marketing & Communications Chair, managing the website and blog, in addition to mothering to wild little men.


  • Wednesday, March 22, 2017 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Spring is upon us and somebody forgot to tell the weather man! As we face yet another bout of rain, it’s time to break out the big guns with indoor fun. Here are a few easy indoor activities to keep your kid occupied when the weather is wet.

    Go Camping

    Rainy weather is a great time to try some indoor adventuring. Set up w tent (or build a fort) in the living room, break out the sleeping bags, and do your favorite camp activities. Sing camp songs. Craft a fire using toilet paper rolls and colored paper, ribbons or felt. Make S’Mores using your broiler for marshmallow charring. Bringing a great outdoor adventure inside can be even more fun than the real thing when kids get to exercise their imaginations!

    Hunting for Elephants

    Four elephant toys

    Find any elephant toys or stuffed animals you own (or just cut a few elephants from paper) and hide them all over the house. Dress your little one in Safari gear with a floppy hat, bandana, binoculars, and khaki shorts. Then let them “hunt” for elephants. Let them know of they are getting hotter or colder to indicate how the hunt is progressing. Conclude the hunt with an educational story time session and make up a tale or read a book that includes fun facts about elephants.

    Make “Murals”

    Toddler coloring on long piece of paper

    Cover your wall in taped-together sheets of paper to make a giant canvas for coloring. Washable markers are especially great for this to make cleanup easy if any artists accidentally go off-canvas. You can also do this with crayons or paint and offer fun extra materials like stickers or paper shapes & tape to enchance the final product. Working on a huge surface is way more fun than the average coloring book.

    Sensory Session

    Sometimes it’s ok to play with your food! Get out your bowls, spoons, and measuring tools. Then give the kids various dry goods like rice, beans, and lentils to play. They can count, weigh, and mix their materials. Exploring the feel of small, dry edibles is very similar to playing in a sandbox. Feel free to bring their sand tools inside for this activity. It’s not a day at the beach but it can be just as fun!

    Spaghetti Swim

    Bring your kiddie pool indoors for an activity so fun and wild that your kid will think their parents have finally gone off the deep end! Cook a few boxes of spaghetti and rinse them thoroughly once they’re done. Then toss all that lovely pasta into the pool! Dress the little for an afternoon of swimming fun and then let them play to their heart’s content. It’s a little messy and a little weird but sure to make your rainy day stuck at home one for memory books!

    Give Up, Get Wet

    Stack of blocks next to two pairs of rain boots

    And, of course, when all else fails… don’t let the weather hold you back. Throw on your rain gear, pack a Thermos of hot cocoa, and head to the park like you would any other day of week. You may even have the place all to yourselves while little one gets in some serious puddle jumping!

    Sometimes rainy days can be the best of all when we use it as an opportunity to do something extra special. For kids who are used to spending lots of time running around outdoors, staying inside can be a chance for family bonding while you create beautiful memories together. Let us know how you’re spending your rain day this week in the comments below!

    – Marissa Ramirez

    Marissa is a mom to two wild little men and also serves on the AFC Board of Directors. She’s maybe gonna let her kids swim in spaghetti this week.


  • Wednesday, March 15, 2017 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Like books? Love wine?* Then get yourself to the library, pick up some two-buck Chuck, and join us for our monthly AFC book club!

    Coffee table with books, snacks, and wine glasses

    AFC’s book club is one of our longest-running event series, and one of my favorites. Once a month, anywhere from 5-10 bookish ladies (it’s always ladies, although gentlemen are welcome) meet at a member’s house to discuss that month’s book and catch up over snacks & drinks. It’s very laid-back, not at all snooty, and always a great time. But if getting through an entire book that doesn’t feature lift-the-flaps sounds daunting, don’t worry—only about half of us actually finish the book any given month. (Hey, we all have kids.) So come anyway! You’ll meet some great people, and you’ll get the Cliff’s Notes version of the book you didn’t finish during the discussion. Win-win.

    Four people reading

    Because the person who hosts that month’s meet-up gets to pick the next book, we end up reading a great variety of different things. In 2016, we read everything from Orwellian fables to J.K. Rowling’s pseudonymous mystery thriller to Upper East Side anthropology, so there’s a little something for everyone.

    Four people discussing a book

    Have I talked you into it yet? Great! We tend to meet once a month, so check out our event calendar for our next meet-up and join us. (You can also follow along on Goodreads, if you’re into that kind of thing.) Lately, we’ve been meeting on Mondays at 8pm, but the day of the week changes to accommodate everyone’s schedules, so if Mondays don’t work for you just let us know. See you there!

    *You don’t actually have to drink to participate, of course. But if you do, we generally end up with more bottles of wine than people in attendance, so you’ll have plenty of options.

    – Cari Trease

    Cari serves on the Marketing & Communications committee and is a regular AFC blog contributor. She has two awesome little ladies who keep her busy in addition to her full-time career.


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