Hiking with Kids in Marin: Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space Preserve

April 26, 2015

Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space PreserveMarin's geography can be pretty astounding at times. Who would have thought that the San Anselmo neighborhood of Sleepy Hollow was just a stone's throw from the northern San Rafael enclave of Terra Linda? If you try to drive from one of these locations to another, it will take you a good half hour, minimum, but if you take a walk at the Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space Preserve, you can go from one to the other in just a few minutes!

This 1,100-acre preserve encompasses the ridge that separates these two areas. It's perfect for a family hike, and the views are spectacular. You really get the feeling that you're on top of the world. The path that connects Terra Linda and Sleepy Hollow was at one point destined to be a road, but community members fought to preserve the area and now the only vehicles traversing the ridge are the human-powered, two-wheeled kind.

Placenta Pills and Birth Doulas: What's It All About?!

April 26, 2015

Ozzie Ozkay-VillaMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Ozzie Ozkay-Villa, founder and president of the Alternative Mothers Group, Marin Placenta Services and a birth post-partum doula and placenta processor.

What exactly is a doula anyway?

Well, doulas are trained and experienced in childbirth and breastfeeding. They know the physiology of birth and the emotional and physical needs of a woman in labor. She works on the basis of keeping birth normal and positive. They provide balanced information so clients can make their own decisions. Doulas do not replace the partner's role in birth but rather add an extra layer of support and guide the partner when they are feeling overwhelmed. She does not leave the laboring woman. Additionally, postpartum (or PP) doulas fill a large gap in our culture, and are able to facilitate a smooth transition to parenthood. PP doulas focus on the needs of the new mother as well as the newborn. She is there to nurture the mother by offering practical assistance as well as emotional support, enabling her to recover faster and feel more confident in meeting the challenges a new baby brings.

Marin Family Weekend Events for April 24, 25 & 26

April 25, 2015
Spring Fling at Slide Ranch
Family fun on the farm at Slide Ranch's Spring Fling this Saturday. Photo courtesy Slide Ranch.

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, April 24

  • Parents Night Out
    Marinwood Community Center, San Rafael
    Friday, 5–10 pm

    Drop off the kids and enjoy a night out! While you relax, the kids will be having fun with the Marinwood camp staff playing games, park time, arts, crafts, snacks & more! This event often sells out—register early! For ages 2–10. Cost: $22; $18 sibling (same family) discount. For more info and registration call (415) 479-0775 or visit their website.
  • Date Night Yoga
    Pomegranate, San Anselmo
    Friday, 6:30–8:30 pm
    A unique way to share the love and connection in an intimate candlelit setting. Unwind and de-stress in this evening class while igniting the heat and passion from within. Led by Loren Altura. $45 per couple. Location: 25 Tamalpais Avenue, San Anselmo. For more info and to register, visit their website.
  • Anything Goes 2015
    The Playhouse, San Anselmo
    Friday, 7:30 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 1 pm

    The zany plot of Cole Porter's Anything Goes centers around the self-styled gangster Moonface Martin, his side kick Bonnie, the "famous celebrity" Reno Sweeney, her old friend Billy Crocker, and his girlfriend Hope. The show is filled with Cole Porter's well-known musical numbers, "You're the Top," "Friendship," "Blow Gabriel Blow," just to name a few. General admission: $15. Location: 27 Kensington Road, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, April 25

  • San Geronimo Preschool Pancake Breakfast
    San Geronimo Preschool
    Saturday, 8–11 am

    Come enjoy breakfast in the beautiful San Geronimo Valley, while supporting preschool scholarships for low income families. This delicious tradition is lovingly prepared by annual volunteers. $11 adults, $6 children. Location: 6001 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Geronimo. For more info, visit their Facebook page.
  • Mt. Tam Earth Day
    Mountain Theater on Mt. Tam
    Saturday, 8:30 am–noon

    Bring the family to celebrate Earth Day on Mt. Tam! In the morning, we’ll be leading projects to protect sensitive natural habitat, improve our trail systems, and preserve the historic Mountain Theater in preparation for the upcoming Mountain Play. Later in the day they will be offering a wildflower hike (1–3:15 pm)  and stargazing (8:30 pm). Visit their website for more info.
  • PV Rummage Sale
    Pleasant Valley Elementary School, Novato
    Saturday, 9 am–3 pm

    If you go to one rummage sale this year, this is the one you do not want to miss! This is the third major rummage sale for the school, and the PV's families have dug through closets, kids' rooms, and garages and contributed their treasures to this fundraiser. Sale closes from 1–1:30 pm in preparation for the half-price sale, which starts at 1:30 pm. Location: 755 Sutro Avenue (between Vineyard and Center), Novato.
  • Mill Valley Beautification Day
    Multiple locations throughout Mill Valley
    Saturday, 9 am–noon
    All ages and ability levels are welcome to come and help with the beautification projects all over Mill Valley. You can help make Mill Valley both clean and green by participating in litter brigades and beautification projects at area parks, schools, and designated locations around town. Find out more here.
  • Novato Clean & Green Day
    City of Novato Civic Green
    Saturday, 9 am–1 pm

    Bring the family and celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up our beautiful town. Help remove litter from streets, bike path, parks, creek banks and more. Some supplies will be provided. Location: Meet at Novato Civic Green, next to Novato City Hall. Find out more here.
  • Birding Abbott's Lagoon for Families
    Point Reyes National Seashore
    Saturday, 9 am–1 pm

    Join Sharon Heron and Kevin Kestrel for an interactive and fun day of observing and game-playing that teach us about the fascinating life of birds! Look for California quail, sparrows, hawks, herons, snowy plovers and other bird species that inhabit the area. Searching for birds, butterflies, tracks, scat, and, if we are lucky, river otters will make this a great outing for families! Easy walking. Carpools meet at the Dance Palace at Point Reyes at 8:30 am. $25 per adult, kids 8–17 free with adult. For more info, visit their website.
  • Earth Day at Hal Brown Park
    Saturday, 10 am–12:30 pm

    In celebration of Earth Day, join Marin County Parks ranger Kirk Schroeder in some beautification and restoration around the Creekside Marsh and Corte Madera Creek in Hal Brown Park, followed by an easy walk around the creek. Find out more here.
  • Sowing Seeds for Salmon
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm

    All ages and abilities are welcome. Come and support salmon habitat restoration on a floodplain of the Lagunitas Creek Watershed. We have the largest remaining run of Coho in California, and we need you to help protect their fragile habitat. Propagate plants in the nursery and help remove invasives for the sake of healthy salmon populations in the future. Location: 9255 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Olema. To RSVP, visit their website.
  • Slide Ranch Spring Fling
    Muir Beach
    Saturday, 10 am–4 pm

    Celebrate springtime on the farm with live music, local organic cuisine, and hands-on farm and craft activities for all ages. Learn where your food comes from by milking goats, feeding chickens, touring the organic garden, or making bread, butter, and cheese. Cost: $30 per person; ages 2 and under are free. Discounts apply for families of 4 or more. Find more info here.
  • Annual Butter & Egg Days Parade & Festival
    Dowtown Petaluma
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    Bring the family to this year's old-fashioned Petaluma Butter and Egg Days Parade. On Saturday, don't miss Petaluma Farm's Cutest Little Chick in the World Contest at 10:15 am on Kentucky Street, Clover kids' pre-parade at 11:30 am, and main parade at noon, as well as arts and crafts exhibitors, food vendors, sponsor booths, community and non-profit booths, and a kids' area with inflatables, rides, and activities. For more info, visit their website.

Why Save for a Rainy Day?

April 25, 2015

Tanya SteinhoferMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin mom and financial planner Tanya Steinhofer, CFA,CFP®. 

Whether or not the groundhog saw his shadow back on February 2, it makes good financial sense to plan for a rainy day. Life has a way of throwing curve balls into the best laid plans, be it job loss or unexpected expenses. One of the easiest and most emotionally satisfying ways to be ready for the next curve ball is to have a cash cushion to draw on if something unforeseen happens.

  1. How much is enough? Standard advice is that you should have three to six months’ living expenses in an emergency savings account. Reality is a bit more nuanced. The ideal target is sometimes a matter of personal risk tolerance and your circumstances. I ask clients about their job security and job search history. I advise clients who have a family depending only on their income to err on the high side. Younger, two-income couples might be comfortable on the lower side. Some risk-adverse clients might need a years’ worth of living expenses in cash to feel comfortable.

Raspberry Almond Oatmeal Bars

April 24, 2015

raspberry almond oatmeal barsMy kids love to have a sweet treat when they come home from school, and I always try to make them as healthy as I can. These berry-filled oatmeal bars are really delicious, and I sometimes even use whole-wheat flour in them. Use either strawberry or raspberry preserves—they're both equally delicious. Even apricot would work! The sliced almonds can be replaced with chopped walnuts, too.


  • 1 3/4 cups unsalted butter, cut into pieces (plus more for greasing the pan)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Celebrate Springtime at Slide Ranch's Spring Fling

April 23, 2015

Slide Ranch Spring FlingIf you haven't been to check out the beautiful and picturesque Slide Ranch in Muir Beach, now is your chance! Come to this non-profit teaching farm overlooking the ocean this Saturday to celebrate food, family, and fun at this year's Spring Fling. It all takes place on April 25, 2015 from 10 am to 4 pm.

This year's Spring Fling features live kid-friendly music, local organic cuisine, hikes and tours, and hands-on farm and craft activities for all ages. Learn where your food comes from by milking goats, feeding chickens, and touring the garden, or making bread, butter, and cheese. See how a sweater is made through sheep shearing, carding and spinning wool, and other wool crafts.

Come reconnect with the land on a guided coastal hike, listen to the music of Marin's favorite kids' musician Tim Cain, or simply relax on a picnic blanket while eating delicious local organic food.

Fantastic Family Camping in Marin

April 21, 2015

Family camping in MarinKids love to go camping, and to many people there's nothing quite like sleeping in a tent, toasting marshmallows over a campfire, and spending some time in the great outdoors. Fortunately, here in Marin County we have quite a few fantastic campgrounds right in our backyard. Here are five of our favorites that are perfect for family camping.

Many of these campgrounds are booked up for summer weekends months in advance, but you can often find reservations during the week, and cancellations are common, too. Most of the California state parks, like China Camp and Samuel P. Taylor require reservations through the ReserveAmerica website. Some of these camp sites are first-come, first served, so if you're lucky you can score a great spot to pitch your tent and enjoy the outdoors.

Don't Miss the Fourth Annual Pleasant Valley Elementary School Rummage Sale!

April 21, 2015

Pleasant Valley Rummage SaleIf you go to one rummage sale this year, this is the one you do not want to miss! The fourth annual Pleasant Valley Elementary School Rummage Sale takes place this Saturday, April 25, 2015 from 9 am–3 pm. This is the fourth major rummage sale for the school, and the PV's families have dug through closets, kids' rooms, and garages and contributed their treasures to this fundraiser. Rummage sale volunteers have weeded through the donations so only quality items will be available for sale—but at rummage sale prices, of course.

Some of the great items offered will include gently used children's clothing, sporting goods, toys and games, bikes, strollers, baby and toddler equipment and gear, housewares, electronics, furniture, and more. You never know what other amazing treasures will be donated.

Doors open at 9 am sharp. Early birds can enjoy treats from the bake sale while they wait for the doors to open. The sale closes from 1 to 1:30 pm in preparation for the half-price sale, which starts at 1:30. The doors close at 3 pm.

Easy Chinese Cashew Chicken

April 20, 2015

cashew chickenWhenever we get Chinese take-out, my kids love to order cashew chicken. Like many Chinese-American restaurant staples, cashew chicken is actually easy to make at home, and requires only a couple special ingredients, which you should be able to find in the Asian foods aisle of your local supermarket. Accompany this with stir-fried green beans and steamed brown rice for a healthy weeknight meal.


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
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