The Downtown Novato Farmers Market Opens Tonight

May 5, 2015

The downtown Novato Farmers Market opens for its 2015 season this evening, Tuesday, May 5. The market takes place from 4 to 8 pm at their new location on Grant Avenue between 1st and 4th Streets. Come check out an abundance of fresh produce from local farms, pony rides, bounce houses, live music, and fresh prepared foods from local vendors.

Bring the family for an evening of fun on Grant Avenue. Each year the Novato Farmers Market grows and improves, and boasts an impressive array of some of the Bay Area’s finest food purveyors, producers, farmers, and ranchers.

The Novato Farmers Market takes place every Tuesday evening from 4 to 8 pm from May 5 through September 29, 2015. Customer parking for the Farmers’ Market will be offered at the old Pini’s lot located at 1107 Grant Avenue. For more info, visit their website.

The Circus is Coming to Town Memorial Day Weekend

May 5, 2015

American Crown Circus as St. Vincent'sIt's not every day that the circus comes to town, but it'll be here in Marin this Memorial Day weekend! American Crown Circus sets up its big top on the grounds of St. Vincent's School for Boys in Marinwood, just south of Novato, on May 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25. American Crown Circus is a family run, bilingual circus that features acrobats, high wire acts, and clowns (but no exotic animals). Read about our visit to the circus here.

The circus is the major fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Novato Sunrise, which has brought a professional traveling tent circus to Marin every year since 1997. Profits from the circus support local community projects.

There will be 10 performances and all, with shows on Thursday, May 21 and Friday, May 22 at 6:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday, May 23 and 24 at 1:30, 4, and 6:30 pm each day; and on Monday, May 26 at 1:30 and 4 pm. Advance tickets are $14; two children under 12 admitted free per paid advance adult ticket. Advance tickets are available online and at Matt & Jeff's Car Wash in Vintage Oaks and Redwood Credit Union in Novato. Tickets at the gate cost $20 for adults and $5 for children. Parking fee $5.

Insider's Guide to the 2015 Mountain Play: Peter Pan!

May 4, 2015

Peter Pan cast 2015 Mountain Play

One of Marin County's most beloved and unique events is the famous Mountain Play—an outdoor theater experience high on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais that's been going strong for over a century! This year's 102nd Mountain Play production is the timeless Broadway musical Peter Pan, based on J.M. Barrie's classic tale of the boy who wouldn't grow up, the villanous Captain Hook, and the Darling children, and Neverland.

Featuring classic songs like, "I Won't Grow Up", "I Gotta Crow", and "I'm Flying", the Mountain Play's production of Peter Pan is directed by Michael Schwartz and features Melissa Wolfklain as Peter Pan, Jeff Wiesen as Captain Hook/Mr. Darline, Susan Zelinsky as Mrs. Darling, and Davide Yen as Smee. Musical direction is, as usual,  Debra Chambliss.

Performances take place at 2 pm at Mt. Tam's Cushing Memorial Amphitheater on May 24 and 31, and June 7, 13, 14, and 21. General seating ticket prices range from $25–$40, and children 3 and under are free. Reserved seats start at $60. Order tickets online here or by phone at (415) 383-1100.

Tacos al Pastor with Homemade Corn Tortillas

May 4, 2015

tacos al pastorThere's something about authentic style tacos that's so delicious, and one of our favorite variations is tacos al pastor, which consist of pork marinated in a red chile sauce with grilled pineapple. In taquerias the pork is usually cooked on one of those vertical spits (like the ones used to cook shawarma or gyros), but we make a simplified version that we cook on the grill and I think it's a great approximation of the real deal. The enzymes in the pineapple help tenderize the pork, and the sweetness plays off the flavor of the red chile and spices.

It's also fun—and surprisingly easy—to make your own corn tortillas, and there's nothing quite like a freshly made tortilla hot out of the pan. It helps to have a cast iron tortilla press, but you can use a rolling pin in a pinch. The kids love to make their own tortillas, although we leave the cooking to a grownup, since they're baked in a hot cast iron pan. Actually, quite a few of the tortillas never make it to the taco part of the meal, since they're so good on their own.

If you've never had a fresh, hand made tortilla, you're in for a treat. They're really quite unlike the packaged kind you get at the store, and they're really delicious. One more tip: rinse your chopped white onion in cold water and let drain before you use it to top your tacos. This really takes away a lot of the strong raw onion flavor.


for the tacos

Tools for a Natural Birth: Practical Advice from a Home Birth Midwife

May 4, 2015

Home birth midwifeMarin Mommies presents a guest article by local Certfied Licensed Midwife Lea Ritter.

I am frequently asked by the women I work with how they can best prepare for an unmedicated birth. As a home birth midwife I deliver babies born to low-risk women wanting a more natural, low-intervention birth. There is no one type of woman who chooses natural birth, whether at home or hospital. I have attended the births of doctors, lawyers, artists, home makers, teachers, sailors and other midwives. Home birth is not just for the super crunchy among us, but that's a seperate topic. Regardless of where you choose to have your baby, if you are wanting a low or no intervention "natural" birth, preparation is key.

Birth is an experience like no other in our lives. Giving birth is exciting and new and brings with it the most precious gift and greatest challenge: motherhood. There are many known benefits to giving birth as naturally as possible, all of which I will not go into here, but lets assume it is something you are interested in. How do you prepare?

May Classes and Programs at Parents Place Marin

May 3, 2015

Parents Place 2-year-oldParents Place in San Rafael has been a valuable resource for countless Marin County parents and families. They offer a wide variety of programs and classes for parents and children throughout the year. Here are a few of the classes they are offering for the month of May.

Hitting, Biting, and Pushing: Managing Aggressive Behavior in Young Children (1–5 years)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 from 7–9 pm
Young children can quickly and easily become overwhelmed by strong feelings that lead to aggression. As a parent, you can find mortifying to watch your child behave aggressively and not know how to intervene. During this workshop, you will acquire strategies to prevent, manage, and respond to aggressive behaviors, including biting, hitting, and grabbing toys. $40. With Susan Byrd, LCSW. Register here.

Visit a Museum for Free in May

May 2, 2015

ExploratoriumDid you know you can visit most of the Bay Area's major museums and cultural attractions for free every month? Just about all museums have one day a month set aside as a free day. They all aren't on the same day, too, so if you plan it right you can take in several museum outings without having to pay a thing.

Note that most museums charge for admission to special exhibitions and usually only the special exhibition fee is charged on free days; see details with each museum listing below.

Also, groups are generally not admitted on free days; check with each museum for their free day group policy.

Bank of America Museums on Us—May 2 & 3

Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card holders get free general admission on the first full weekend of every month. Present your card and a photo ID for admission (one free general admission per cardholder). Get full details here. Participating museums include:

Marin Family Weekend Fun for May 1, 2, & 3

May 1, 2015
Terra Linda-Sleepy Hollow Divide
Take a family hike at the Terra Linda–Sleepy Hollow Divide this weekend.

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, May 1

  • 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.
  • Kids' Pajama Party with Dev Petty
    Diesel Bookstore, Larkspur
    Friday, 6 pm

    Pull on your PJs and bring your teddy bear to the bookstore! Author Dev Petty will be here to read you a bedtime story. Get cozy in front of the fireplace, listen to a story or two, have some milk and cookies, get your books signed, and then head home for bed. Location: 2419 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur. For more info, call (415) 785-8177 or visit their website.

Saturday, May 2

  • Museums on Us Free Day
    Various Museums
    Saturday & Sunday

    Bank of America cardholders can visit the following Bay Area museums for free! Enjoy the Contemporary Jewish Museum, de Young Museum, and the Legion of Honor. Photo ID and a valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card must be presented. For more information, visit their website.
  • Tour of Novato and FunFair Carnival
    City Hall, Downtown Novato
    Saturday, 6:30 am–2 pm

    The Tour of Novato and FunFair is a bicycling event and family fun day held annually to raise money for Novato schools. The Tour of Novato bike or walk takes place from 7:30 am–1 pm and the FunFair from 10 am–2 pm. There will be live entertainment provided by the talented students of Novato, crafts, games, jumpee, giant slide, sticky wall, and much more. Tickets: $10 per person or $25 per family. For more info, visit their website.
  • Water Safety Day and Firefighters Pancake Breakfast
    Terra Linda Community Center & Pool
    Saturday, 8–11 am

    Come join City of San Rafael Firefighters for a free/donation pancake breakfast. After enjoying breakfast, come meet Josh the Otter and learn about water safety. There will be fun games and activities pool side to teach young children about being safe around the pool. Dress up like a lifeguard, go for a raft ride in the pool with a lifeguard, bounce in the bounce house or get your face painted. Location: 670 Del Ganado Road, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 485-3344 or visit their website.
  • Petaluma Kids Gran Fondo
    Lucchesi Park Community Center
    Saturday, 8 am–1 pm
    The Petaluma Kids Gran Fondo gives youth and their families the opportunity to donate and/or fundraise for children with disabilities, local schools, and other groups. Individuals and families will celebrate together by biking, running, walking, skating, skateboarding or rolling (wheelchairs) on one of the four course options. Participants will enjoy a complimentary lunch and a kids expo filled with bounce houses, a climbing wall, balance bike races, clowns/balloons, face painting, Three Twins Ice Cream, Clo the Cow, and much more. Registration fee: $10 per event. Location: 320 N McDowell Blvd, Petaluma. For more info, visit their website.
  • Children's Day Festival in Japantown
    Japantown Peace Plaza, San Francisco
    Saturday, 9 am–4 pm
    There will be entertainment, food and hands-on craft activities for children in recognition of Japan's national holiday to celebrate children. Free and open to the public; additional fee for food. Location: 1610 Geary Boulevard, Japan Center, Nihonmachi Mall, San Francisco. For more info call (415) 567-5505 or visit their website.
  • Mt. Tam Healthy Parks Family Hike
    Pantoll, Mt. Tam State Park
    Saturday, 9:05 am

    Breathe the fresh air and enjoy the sights, sounds and scents of nature on this easy guided hike on Mt. Tam. Designed especially for beginning hikers and those who are unfamiliar with the parks, this walk starts and ends at the Pantoll Kiosk and takes approximately 1-1.5 hours. Healthy sweets and tea or hot cocoa are provided after the walk. Parking is available for $8. For more info, visit their website.
  • Touch a Truck
    Oak View Nursery School, San Rafael
    Saturday, 9:30 am–noon
    Kids (and grownups, too) will get a chance to get behind the wheel of some amazing vehicles and rub elbows with their hometown heroes. Admission is $5 per person, and kids under 1 are free. Baked goods and beverages will be available for sale (cash only please). Participate in crafts and face painting, sponsored by UrbanSitter. All proceeds from this event will fund special programing for Oak View Nursery School students. Location: 70 Skyview Terrace in San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marinovators STEM-STEAM Make Day
    Marin County Office of Education.
    Saturday, 10 am-3 pm

    Come celebrate with the curious open minded youth of Marin who design, make, create, and code. See how the future is being imagined, programmed, invented, manufactured, and 3D printed by Marin County students. You can see robots in action, state-of-the-art technology, flying quadracopters, and hands-on demostrations of the coolest hardware and software from Autodesk and Microsoft. Free. Location: 1111 Las Gallinas Ave., San Rafael. Register online for this free event here.

Fun, Sun, and Sand at Pismo Beach and the SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel

April 30, 2015

SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel Pismo Beach

One of the great things about living in California is that you don't have to go far for an amazing family getaway. Whether it's up to the mountains or down to the seashore, you can get where you want to go in just a few hours at most. We love to visit new places along California's coast, and for our most recent family trip we decided to head south to the Central Coast town of Pismo Beach.

Located about four hours south of the San Francisco Bay Area on Highway One, Pismo Beach is one of those classic California beach towns that encourages you to just unwind and take things a little slower. I've driven through it many times on the way down to Southern California, and never really stopped there other than to admire the amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. I'm glad we decided to stop and stay awhile—we had a fantastic time!

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