Help Homeless Families with Dream Circle Band and Jammie Jam

May 28, 2015

Jammie Jam with Clara Spitz and the Dream Circle Band This Saturday, May 30, from 11 am to noon, Dream Circle presents Jammie Jam, a free benefit concert with favorite local children’s musicians Miss Kitty, Tim Cain, Cindy Cohen, and Christopher Smith as well as a special guest performance by Performing Arts Academy of Marin dancer and middle school student Clara Spitz, who also organized the event. Families with children of all ages are welcome to attend, and admission is free!

Jammie Jam, a morning of singing and dancing in our PJ’s, is a benefit for Project Night Night, a San Francisco-based charity that helps volunteers assemble and distribute comforting Night Night Packages for homeless children. This event is organized by Clara Spitz, a seventh grade student at Marin Montessori School, who hopes to make a difference right here in Marin by putting together 60 bags to give to homeless children in our community.

"Peter Pan" Soars at the 2015 Mountain Play!

May 26, 2015

Peter Pan Mountain Play 2015

When we learned last year that the 2015 Mountain Play production was Peter Pan, we were really excited. We attended the opening performance of Peter Pan on Sunday and we were definitely not disappointed! Sir J.M. Barrie's timeless tale of the Darling Children, the boy who wouldn't grow up, Captain Hook, and the Lost Boys was presented in its 1954 Broadway musical form, with classic songs like "I Gotta Crow", "I'm Flying", and "I Won't Grow Up", among others. This year's production was directed by Michael Schwartz, with musical direction by Debra Chambliss, and choreography by Nicole Helfer.

The Mountain Play's Peter Pan is fast-paced with plenty of singing, dancing, and audience participation. Before the show, groups of pirates and Lost Boys roamed the audience to pose for photos and get the crowd excited for the performance to come.

Read to the Rhythm this Summer at the Marin County Library!

May 26, 2015

summer reading 2015 Marin County Free Library

It's hard to believe that the end of the school year is almost upon us. You can keep the learning—and fun—alive this summer by participating in the Marin County Free Library's 2015 summer reading program, Read to the Rhythm. This summer's reading program is packed with fun activities and events for the family, so get to the library and start reading now—Read to the Rhythm kicks off today, May 26, and runs through September 6.

All you have to do is pick up a summer reading log from your local libarary or download one to print at home. Young readers will earn a Book Buck for each 100 minutes that they read or are read to. Book Bucks can then be redeemed for prizes or donated to the library's giving program. This year the Friends of the Library will donate a dollar to Marin Foster Parent Association for every Book Buck donated.

Also, look for the library's STEAM Activity Book at your local branch. It's full of fun educational activities and games centered around science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

Hands-on Science Fun and Education at the Exploratorium in San Francisco

May 26, 2015

Exploratorium hands-on science museum San Francisco

If you grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, you probably spent some time as a kid at the Exploratorium. This innovative and influential hands-on museum of science, art, and human perception has been educating and entertaining families for over 40 years. The Exploratorium is a perfect place for an outing for families with children of all ages, from toddlers to teens. Parents, grandparents, and most other grownups will find it a lot of fun, too. I used to love coming here as a kid, and now my children love to visit, too.

For most of its life, the Exploratorium was located at the iconic Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco's Marina District, but in 2013 it moved into an all-new, much larger facility at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero. The new Exploratorium is bigger and better, and features all your old favorite exhibits along with 150 new ones, as well as a Bay Observatory that allows visitors to explore the environment of adjacent San Francisco Bay.

Linedrive Baseball and Softball Comes to San Rafael

May 25, 2015

Linedrive Baseball and Softball San RafaelBaseball players of all ages will welcome Linedrive Baseball and Softball, Marin's newest and largest baseball training facility, to San Rafael. This 17,000 square feet facility offers hard ball and softball batting cages; professional pitching, hitting, fielding, and catching lessons; dodgeball tournaments; birthday parties; summer camps, and much more.

Linedrive's four fully automated batting cages allow you to hit real baseballs (and softballs, too). In fact, it's the only facility in the Bay Area that offers this! Cage tokens cost $3.50 ($2.50 for Linedrive members); a pack of 10 tokens costs $30.

Carne Asada with Homemade Flour Tortillas

May 24, 2015

carne asadaAs Memorial Day and summer approach, try this easy recipe for Mexican-style carne asada on the grill. Soak thin slices of beef in a citrus-based marinade, grill it over a charcoal fire, and serve it alongside grilled green onions and hot homemade tortillas. Carne asada is often the centerpiece of a festive occasion, so it's the perfect thing to make for your next backyard BBQ.

This time, we made our own homemade flour tortillas, which are customary in northern Mexico and the American Southwest. They're surprisingly easy to make, and are far more delicious than any store-bought ones we've tried.

Ingredients

For the carne asada

  • 1 1/2 pounds sirloin tips or skirt steak
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 to 6 limes)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Cool Off This Summer with Melon Aguas Frescas

May 23, 2015

Watermelon agua frescaThe unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day Weekend, is here! When the weather warms up, one of the things we often cool off with are aguas frescas, those refreshing traditional Mexican-style drinks made from various kinds of fruit. You don't have to go to your local taqueria to get them, either—they're inexpensive and really easy to make at home. Kids love them, and they're a healthy alternative to sodas and other soft drinks.

We often make aguas frescas with melons like cantaloupe or watermelon; whatever we happen to have on hand. It's a great way to use up all that watermelon that's been sitting in the refrigerator, which is what we made out latest batch out of. You can use other fruits, like strawberries and even pineapple, but melon is an economical choice and a delicious one, too.

Marin Memorial Day Weekend Family Events 2015

May 22, 2015
American Crown Circus comes to Marin on Memorial Day Weekend
American Crown Circus brings its big top to Marinwood this Memorial Day weekend.

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

Friday, May 22

  • Meet Kids' Author Kelly Jones
    San Anselmo LIbrary
    Friday, 3:30–4:30 pm

    Create your own superpet with Kelly Jones, author of the new book Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer. You'll use your five senses (and a few secret questions) to think about how to describe your pet to someone special. Location: 110 Tunstead Avenue in the Council Chambers. For more info, call (415) 258-4656 or visit their website.
  • American Crown Circus
    St. Vincent's, Marinwood
    Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday, various times

    This family run bilingual circus, presented by Rotary Club of Novato Sunrise, is centered around acrobats, performers, and clowns, with no exotic animals. Performances are on Friday, May 22 at 6:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday, May 23 and 24 at 1:30, 4, and 6:30 pm; and Monday, May 25 at 1:30 and 4 pm. Advance tickets are $12 and are good for any performance; two children under 12 admitted free per paid advance adult ticket. Tickets at the gate $18. For more info or to order tickets, vist their website.
  • Kiddo Family Carnival
    Mill Valley Community Center
    Friday, 4–10 pm, Saturday & Sunday, noon–10 pm & Monday, noon–5 pm

    Bring the family for a four-day real old-fashioned carnival. There will be rides for all ages, plus food and games. The littlest ones in your family will love the Berry-Go-Round and the Tune Train, while your teenagers will be thrilled with the Sizzler, Zipper, Century Wheel, and the Typhoon. Advance discounted ticket books will be available in the Kiddo! office and Mill Valley Community Center while they last. Books are $20 advance, $30 once the carnival begins. Books may be turned in for a one-day wrist band for unlimited rides. Food and games extra. Location: 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, May 23

  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy the best local and organic produce, flowers, pastured meats, seafood, organic cheeses, yogurt and milk, breads, baked goods, pasta, confections, olive oil, and brunch and lunch offerings! Kids can take a pony ride and visit the petting zoo (10 am–2 pm), try out some arts and crafts (9 am–2 pm) and listen to music (9:30–10:30 am). For more info, visit their website.
  • The 37th Annual San Francisco Carnaval
    Harrison Street, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–6 pm

    Come celebrate at the 37th annual Carnaval San Francisco, a free two–day family festival in San Francisco’s Mission District over Memorial Day weekend on Harrison Street between 16th and 24th Streets and experience global cuisine, international music, dance, arts and crafts, and other fun activities and entertainment on every street corner for the entire family to enjoy. For more info, visit their website.
  • 52 New Foods presents: Ice Cream Shop
    Williams-Sonoma, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am

    Scream for ice cream! Discover how easy it is to create unique ice cream flavors with just a few ingredients and easy techniques. Use your imagination and come up with your own tasty blends. Suitable for ages 5 –13. Call the store to reserve your spot (415) 924-6799. Location: The Village at Corte Madera. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Greek Festival
    Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Church, Novato
    Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–10 pm
    Come celebrate the culture of Greece with fabulous authentic Greek cuisine, live Greek music and dance, children's activities, cooking demonstrations, and more. Adults $5, seniors 55+ $4, children 16 and under free. The Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Church is at 1110 Dickson Drive in Novato. For more info, call (415) 883-1998 or visit their website.
  • Komodo Karnival
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–4 pm

    Komodo Karnival will feature good ol' fashioned fun with a nod to Big Daddy Bahasa, the zoo's charismatic Komodo dragon. After you stop by and see him at Komodo Alley, try your luck at fun games like Crazy Ball, Ring the Bottle, Hoop Shot, Milk Can, Fat Cats, and Fish Are Jumping; you may even win a prize. After some cotton candy and a hot dog and soda, show your strength on the Komodo Klimbing Wall. There's no better way to welcome summer than the Komodo Karnival! Free after zoo admission. For more info, visit their website.
  • Creative Family Fun: Memorial Day Paper Poppies
    Presidio Officers' Club, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–4 pm

    Bring the kids to make Memorial Day paper poppies. Best for kids aged 5 to 12. Drop in anytime between 11 am and 4 pm. Free. Read about our visit to the Officers' Club here. Location: 50 Moraga Avenue, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Kiddo Family Carnival
    Mill Valley Community Center
    Saturday & Sunday, noon–10 pm & Monday, noon–5 pm

    Bring the family for a four-day real old-fashioned carnival. There will be rides for all ages, plus food and games. The littlest ones in your family will love the Berry-Go-Round and the Tune Train, while your teenagers will be thrilled with the Sizzler, Zipper, Century Wheel, and the Typhoon. Advance discounted ticket books will be available in the Kiddo! office and Mill Valley Community Center while they last. Books are $20 advance, $30 once the carnival begins. Books may be turned in for a one-day wrist band for unlimited rides. Food and games extra. Location: 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.

Find the Most Effective Sunscreens with EWG's 2015 Sunscreen Guide

May 21, 2015

Fun in the sun at the beachSummer is almost here, and that means you and your family will spend a lot of time outside—at the beach, by the pool, playing sports, or enjoying the outdoors. It goes without saying that your family needs adequate sun protection. While the only sure-fire way for you and your family to avoid all the sun's damaging UV rays is by covering up with shirts and hats and hanging out in the shade, that may not always be an option, so we need to resort to using sunscreen. What would summer be, after all, without the ritual of slathering up the children with gobs of UV-blocking goo?

While many sunscreens promise a lot to the consumer (especially those with sky-high SPF 50+ ratings), do they really deliver the protection the advertise? Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group's 2015 Sunscreen Guide is available to help sort the good sunscreens from those that won't help much.

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