Groundhog Day Results: Spring is Near

February 2, 2016

Ground HogThis just in: Famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has failed to see his shadow, meaning that spring is on its way. All the alternate, less noteworthy groundhogs, such as Atlanta's General Beauregard Lee have concurred, so we have something of a groundhog consensus. 

Groundhog Day has always been America's most underappreciated holiday, but not in our house! Our kids saw it on the calendar and have been eagerly anticipating the great day for weeks. We're extra lucky this year in that Groundhog Day coincides with that other unofficial American holiday—the Super Bowl.

Apparently Groundhog Day is derived from an old German superstition brought to America by early immigrants. The groundhog (Marmota monax) is a large rodent common in central and eastern North America. We don't see groundhogs out here, but we have a close relative, the marmot, which lives in the Sierras. There aren't any groundhogs in Germany, either, but marmots are common in alpine areas, so perhaps that's the original groundhog.

10 Wonderful Valentine's Books for Children

February 2, 2016

Love from the Very Hungry Caterpillar My kids always like to go to the library and check out a big stack of books that relate to the current holiday or season. Valentine's Day of course is no exception, so here are some of our choices for great kids' books to read this week. Find them at your local library or bookstore. The links on each title take you to that book's listing on the Marin County Free Library website.

Love from The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Celebrate Valentine's Day with this new release from prolific favorite Eric Carle. It's not in the library colleciton yet, so request it. For all ages.

Love Monster by Rachel Bright
Love Monster is a slightly hairy monster who finds it hard to fit in with the cute and the fluffy in Cutesville. Follow his adventures as he sets out to find someone who will love him just the way he is. For ages 2 and up.

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
One winter day, the postman delivers a mysterious package with a big pink bow to lonely Mr. Hatch. "Somebody loves you," the accompanying note says. Mr. Hatch wonders, who that somebody could be, and eventually discovers who his secret admirer is, much to his surprise! For ages 3 and up.

Longevity Noodles for Chinese New Year

February 1, 2016

longevity noodlesChinese New Year starts next Monday, February 8, so we are making some of the traditional foods associated with the holiday. Foods that are made and eaten during the new year celebration often have symbolic meanings meant to invoke prosperity and good fortune. In this case, the name "longevity noodles" is self-explanatory: the long noodles symbolize a long and happy life. Don't break them up when you're cooking, and try to eat them all in one piece!

This recipe is our adaptation of the traditional dish. We included a variety of kid-friendly Asian veggies like snow peas, napa cabbage, and bean sprouts, and left out the black mushrooms at the request of my daughter, who helped shop for the ingredients. Feel free to vary the ingredients depending on your family's preferences. Our kids both asked for seconds (and ate the vegetables and chicken, not just the noodles).

Ready to Make a Move to Marin? Four Signs You’re Ready for the ‘Burbs

January 31, 2016

Suburban Jungle Marin Mommies presents a sponsored article from The Suburban Jungle Realty Group.

You’re family’s growing, your space is shrinking and you can’t help but feel like maybe it’s time for a serious suburban upgrade? You’re not alone! Countless families are making the leap to Marin County each year, from the Bay Area and beyond. And who can blame them? The weather is amazing (barring the recent rainy weekends—ugh!), the lifestyle is equally incredible, and it’s close enough to the city to get your fix when you need it. Plus, in Marin County you’re surrounded by countless outdoor activities and the area’s stunning beauty, which you used to pack up the family on the weekends to visit, especially during the City’s foggy summer months.

So how do you know when it’s time to consider the Big Move? Here are some signs we hear over and over from city mamas as well as our friends and neighbors in the area. If you’re considering a move to Marin—or have already made the leap—chances are these will sound very familiar…

#1. You’re getting creative with space—a little too creative

Family Hike at Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen

January 31, 2016

Jack London State Historic Park

This weekend, we paid another visit one of our favorite outdoors spots in the Bay Area, Jack London State Historic Park. Located in the small Sonoma Valley town of Glen Ellen, it's about a 45-minute drive north from Marin and a great destination for a family outing.

The park is made up of land that was at one time the Beauty Ranch owned by renowned writer, social reformer, early sustainable agriculture advocate, and rabble-rouser Jack London (1876–1916), author of classic adventure tales like The Sea Wolf, The Call of the Wild, and White Fang. Jack London State Historic Park is always a destination for us in winter and early spring—the wildflowers are in bloom, the weather is cool and clear, and it's breathtakingly beautiful. 2016 is the centennial of London's death, so the park has a full roster of special events scheduled throughout the year.

Win Tickets to a Family Friendly Lunar New Year Concert with Kronos Quartet

January 30, 2016

Vân-Ánh Võ - Kronos Quartet Join the celebrated Kronos Quartet on Sunday, February 7, for Around the World with Kronos and Friends, a family-friendly celebration of Lunar New Year, featuring Kronos performing with special guests from musical traditions around the globe. Guest performers include Vietnam-born dàn tranh player Vân-Ánh Võ, UK-born multi-instrumentalist David Coulter, and Malian balafon player Fodé Lassana Diabaté, with a lion dance performed by San Francisco’s own Chung Ngai Dance Troupe, whicj has been part of the Bay Area’s cultural landscape for 50 years as a proponent of Chinese performing arts.

The concert, part of the Kronos Festival 2016, takes place in the Robert N. Miner Auditorium at SFJAZZ Center. Before the concert, the VA’V Young Ensemble, directed by Vân-Ánh Võ, will perform in the Fisher Family Lobby. The ensemble features students from San Francisco, San Jose, and Fremont playing traditional Vietnamese instruments, and performing a selection of Vietnamese folk songs, medleys, arrangements of pop music, and more.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for January 29, 30 & 31

January 29, 2016
Fort Point Civil War Days
Civil War Living History Day takes place his Saturday at Fort Point in San Francisco.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, January 29

  • Breakfast with Enzo
    Sports Basement, San Francisco Presidio
    Friday, 10 & 11 am

    Enzo Garcia plays guitar, banjo, accordion, musical saw, Jew's harp, enzotar, appalachian dulcimer, slide flute, percussion and more. Recommended for children 7 and under. Drop in any time. Cost: $7 per person; siblings under 7 months free. For more info, call (415) 652-2474 or visit his website.
  • Once Upon A Mattress
    Showcase Theatre, San Rafael
    Friday and Saturday, 7:30 pm

    Good Shepherd Lutheran Middle School’s young actors do a fantastic job performing this rollicking spin on the familiar classic of royal courtship and comeuppance. Chances are, you’ll never look at fairy tales quite the same way again. Tickets: $25 adults, $15 student 8th grade and under. Purchase tickets here. Location: 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, January 30

  • STEM Superhero Series
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday, 9 am–5 pm
    Get ready for some serious fun! Kicking off on January 30, our new STEM Superhero Series invites young visitors to use their STEM superpowers to solve real world challenges. All STEM Superheroes will receive capes to adorn with badges earned at each event; attend all four to complete the mission! Events include special facilitated programs for all ages and performances, all free with admission. For more info, visit their website.
  • Whale Watching at Point Reyes Lighthouse
    Point Reyes National Seashore
    Weekends, 9:30 am–3:30 pm
    Go see the whales out at the Point Reyes Light House and Chimney Rock. Shuttle buses leave Drakes Beach every 15–20 minutes. Cost: $7 per person; children under 16 free. No cars allowed at Point Reyes Light House on weekends and holidays through late March. For more info, visit their website.
  • Civil War Living History Day
    Fort Point, San Francisco
    Saturday, 10 am–5 pm

    Join reenactors from the American Civil War Association as they bring this 150-year-old fort to life with period uniforms, military music, talks, and demonstrations. We attended this event last year—read our article here. Free admission. For information, call (415) 556-1693 or visit their website.
  • Free Junior Chef Classes
    Williams-Sonoma, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am
    Who doesn’t love an apple! In this class we’ll transform apples into awesome snacks and treats that you and your family will love. Suitable for ages 5–13. Call the store to reserve your spot: (415) 924-6799. Location: The Village Corte Madera. For more info, visit their website.
  • Chinese New Year Flower Fair
    Chinatown, San Francisco
    Saturday, 10 am–8 pm & Sunday, 9 am–6 pm

    The Chinese New Year Flower Fair is set in the heart of San Francisco Chinatown and provides a festive atmosphere in which the community can purchase their annual lunar new year flowers and produce while enjoying traditional Chinese dance, music, art and cultural displays. The Children's Area features a petting zoo, photo area, and other fun activities. Free. Location: Grant Avenue from Clay to Broadway and Pacific Avenue from Kearny to Stockton. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio: A Family Musical
    Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, San Francisco
    Saturday, 10:30 am and 1 pm

    Come join this magical musical of Gepetto, the master puppet maker and his puppet Pinocchio, who embark on a journey to pursue their dream of turning Pinocchio into a real boy so he can become the son Gepetto dreams of having. They meet many amazing characters along the way, including a Blue Fairy, the Land of the Toys and even escape from a giant whale. Dreams can come true! Admission: $13 plus $2 processing fee. To purchase tickets, visit their website.
  • Super Bowl City
    Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco
    Saturday, 11 am–10 pm & Sunday, 11 am–9 pm
    Centered in Justin Herman Plaza, on the Embarcadero at the foot of San Francisco’s famed Market Street, Super Bowl City will feature family-friendly activities for fans of all ages. It will offer a fun—and free—way for locals and visitors alike to enjoy the extravaganza that is the sporting world’s biggest annual event. For more info, visit their website.
  • Learn to Freshwater Fish
    McInnis Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, noon–2 pm

    Join us at McInnis Park where rangers will teach the tips and tricks of the trade of freshwater fishing. This event requires a short walk uphill and downhill to reach the park's pond. All skill levels are welcome and no experience is necessary. Dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes. Don’t forget to bring a fishing pole. We will provide bait and a limited amount of fishing poles, thanks to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. A fishing license is required for participants 16 and over. Friendly dogs are welcome, but must be leashed. Rain will cancel. Park entrance is free. Location: 310 Smith Ranch Rd., San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Creative Family Fun: Scaly Sidekicks
    Presidio Officers' Club, San Francisco
    Saturday, 11 am–4 pm
    February 1 is National Serpent Day! The Presidio is home to slithering snakes and lovely lizards. Learn about some of our reptile friends by making your own finger puppet. Drop-in anytime between 11 am–4 pm. Free. Location: 50 Moraga Avenue, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Bay Area Children's Theatre presents Bad Kitty On Stage!
    Freight & Salvage, Berkeley
    Saturday and Sunday, 11 am & 2 pm

    Straight from the pages of the wildly popular Bad Kitty comic book series, here she sprawls, in solitary splendor, until one day … (loud hissing) PUPPY! Uh oh.  And then … (hair on back standing on end) MOUSE! And then … well, let’s just say life gets complicated.  A world premiere. Recommended for ages 4 and up. Tickets: $22 adults, $18 children, $20 seniors, $13 groups (10 or more). Location: 2020 Addison Street Berkeley. For more info, call (510) 524-2941 or visit their website.
  • Year of the Monkey: Chinese New Year Celebration
    San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch
    Saturday, 1–3 pm
    Join us to celebrate the Year of the Monkey. Performances include lion dance, folk dance, singing, traditional Chinese dress show, and more. Location: Koret Auditorium, Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.

Make a Beautiful Valentine's Day Tissue Paper Wreath

January 29, 2016

Valentine's Day Tissue Paper WreathLooking for a cool kids' craft for Valentine's Day? This tissue paper wreath looks beautiful and is easy to make for all ages, with a parent's or caregiver's help. To make the tissue paper puffs clustered on the wreath, we wrapped tissue squares around our fingers, but you can also just crumple them up, too. It makes for a fun craft for a rainy day or group activity for playgroups, classes, or scouts.

To make this craft you'll need:

  • Paper plates
  • Scissors
  • White glue
  • Paint (optional)
  • Ribbon
  • Hole punch
  • Mixed red and pink tissue paper

The Past Comes Alive This Saturday at Fort Point Civil War Living History Day

January 28, 2016

Fort Point Civil War Living History Day

This Saturday, the 155-year-old walls of Fort Point will again echo with the sounds of fifes and drums and tramp of boots as this San Francisco landmark celebrates Civil War Living History Day. Come watch and interact with dozens of reenactors from the American Civil War Association portraying Union soldiers and civilians from the time of the War Between the States at the only Civil War-era brick fort west of the Mississippi.

Fort Point's Civil War Living History Day takes place Saturday, January 30, 2016, from 10 am to 5 pm. Activities include infantry and artillery demonstrations, flag raising and lowering ceremonies, performances by period military musicians, and more. Reenactors are happy to answer questions about history and various aspects of life during the Civil War.

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