Looking for a unique gift? Local illustrator and cartoonist Michael Capozzola creates fun and whimsical hand-painted name art that's perfect for the nursery or a child's room. Each personalized creation is made with pen and ink and watercolor on cold-press paper. Inspired by vintage playbills and concert posters, they're bright and colorful, with each letter made out of different objects and shapes.
Michael is a San Francisco-based cartoonist whose work has appeared in Mad Magazine, McSweeney's, and WIRED. His cartoon, "Surveillance Caricatures," ran in the San Francisco Chronicle, for four years, too. He started creating name art as gifts for friends, and soon the commissions and requests came pouring in. You can see examples of Michael's name art work on his website. www.paintedbabynames.com, where you can order your own creation, too! While he refers to them as baby names, they're really gifts delightful for kids of all ages.
Here in Marin, we're fortunate to able to choose from many unique and often independent locally owned toy stores. A place where the person behind the counter is usually the owner, a member of the owner’s family, or a longtime manager who knows everything there is to know about toys. There are usually samples out and about—great for play-testing—and there are items guaranteed to bring back a major sense of nostalgia.
Yes, the toy store of yore still exists, despite the arrivals of gigantic big-box retail monsters in the neighborhood. We love visiting our local independent toy stores for birthday and holiday gifts or for a special treat, and a visit to one is usually a lot of fun for everyone in the family, too. Also, many of these stores offer gift wrapping, too, making getting that special gift even easier.
Five Little Monkeys
852 Grant Ave, Novato 94945
(415) 898-4411 www.5littlemonkeys.com
Starting at the northern tip of Marin, nestled in cozy downtown Novato is Five Little Monkeys and this shop means toy business. From puppets and dolls to dress-up and books, there is something for kids of every age. They have locations in Albany, Walnut Creek, and Burlingame, too.
Traditionally, our first holiday outing in Marin is always to the famous Christmas House at West End Nursery in San Rafael. We checked out this season's edition yesterday during its opening weekend and, once again, it's a spectacular as ever. As a matter of fact, I think it might be the best version to date—it just keeps getting better every year.
Want to tour Novato's spectacular holiday lights the old fashioned way this winter? Book a trip via horse-drawn carriage or wagon from Gary Sello and Indian Valley Carriage. Novato residents have probably seen Gary and his team cruising the streets at Christmas time, especially near the famous Rombeiro Christmas House on Devonshire Drive.
50-minute tours start at Center Road and Wilson Avenue (across from Miss Sandie's School) at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 pm, and include a pass by the famous Rombeiro house on Devonshire Drive (and maybe even a stop to tour the inside, depending on schedule and how busy the house is). Gary's carriage seats six average size adults, and his large covered wagon seats twelve. The wagon also has rain protection, although tours will be canceled in the event of heavy rain or wind. Reservations are required, and tours do sell out during the holiday season, so reserve your spot early!
We've ridden in Gary's covered wagon before, and it's spacious and comfortable with plenty of room, and it's also a lot of fun. So get your friends and family together and book a tour before they're sold out.
Marin Mommies presents a sponsored article by Shannon Chiminiello Photography. Book a Marin or Maui photo session now by calling (415) 497-6054 or visiting www.shannoncphotography.com.
Family photo essays in Maui or Marin—you choose!
Like a family heirloom, timeless images with Shannon Chiminiello Photography just get more and more valuable over time…. Book your Marin/Bay Area family session or Maui vacation session (November, December, and January) now! Gift certificates are available.
Contact Shannon soon and receive 50% off Maui Thanksgiving sessions with all edited digital images. Limited Availability!
PlayLand Sausalito offers fun active birthday parties in the MLK Gym
After the wet weather starts up, planning a fall or winter birthday party can get a little challenging. Fortunately, there are plenty of venues throughout Marin that offer great options for active indoor birthday parties. From dancing and gymnastics to bounce-house fun, there's something for everyone. Here are some of Marin's most popular indoor active birthday party venues, plus a few futher afield that are worth the drive.
This indoor bounce house experience at the MLK Gym in Sausalito features bounce houses, a 40-by-20-foot sports arena, a 15-foot slide, and a toddler bounce zone. PlayLand offers birthday parties for up to 14 kids, complete with balloons and a private cake room. We've attended parties here and it's a blast! Other party options, including outdoor parties, are available, too. Find out more here.
Halloween is one of our favorite holidays of year, and there's so much family fun to be found in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area. Find a variety of family-friendly Halloween events that's right for you! We'll keep updating our list of events for Marin and beyond as we find more this fall. If you have an event you'd like to see added to the list, please contact us.
Marin and Sonoma Events
The Amazing Maze
Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
Children experience the joys and surprises of black light in this glow-in-the-dark hay maze. In this special exhibit, children are challenged to navigate a 150-bale hay maze—complete with tunnels, netting, and a slide—all under black light! In addition to the winding maze, there is a glow-in-the-dark dress-up station with white clothes and accessories for kids to try on, as well as a fluorescent Shoot-A-Hoop game. (Note: The hay used in our maze is seed-free rice straw.) Admisson applies. Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Fort Baker, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
Spooky Sound Stories with Trombonist Andy Strain
San Anselmo Library, Counsel Chambers
Wednesday, October 26, 3–3:45 pm Get in the Halloween spirit with scary stories presented by two talented musicians. Andy Strain is a professional trombonist and educator and Aaron is a master percussionist. Location: 110 Tunstead Ave, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
This fall, Speak to Me, Marin's inspiring speaking series for women, launches its new Video Speaker Series. Beginning October 17, you can access each presentation for free for a full 48 hours. You can also purchase each video event for on-demand access for $45.
This October, the series focus is on breast cancer and our current political climate, with Leah Kelley, MD, breast and gynecological surgeon at Marin General Hospital and expert in breast cancer and gynecological care; and Rebecca Costa, sociobiologist, futurist, nationally syndicated radio host, and author of The Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction.
October 17: Breast Cancer in Marin: The Myths, the Facts, and the Science
Learn how to separate fact from fiction about the risks of breast cancer and how you can play an active role in your health. Plus hear about incidence rates in Marin and get answers to questions on every women’s mind about their breast health. RSVP
GymWorld offers fantastic Birthday Parties for little gymnasts and their friends! We also offer great programs for our youngest gymnasts ages 18 months to 4 years during the week. We have Open Gyms for Toddlers on a drop in basis three days a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10:30 am–12:30 pm. Come run, jump, bounce, swing, use the foam pit and trampoline!
GymWorld also has great instructors teaching classes for ages 2–4 years. Classes are on Tuesday and Friday mornings and at 2:45pm Mon,Tues,Thurs.