Car Seat Inspection and Installation in Marin

September 2, 2014

Rear-facing car seatOne of the most daunting things that new parents face, is… installing the car seat! Believe it or not, four out of five car safety seats are actually installed incorrectly. Before my son was born, my husband spent what seemed like many frustrating hours installing the car seat in the back of our car. Eventually he was pretty happy with the job that he did. That is, until we took the car to the CHP for a car seat inspection, where it was declared incorrect. In fact, the officer took out the seat and reinstalled it correctly in just a few minutes!

I've heard similar stories from fellow parents, so it's definitely a must to get your car seat inspected by a qualified agency or individual before you use it for your precious cargo. They'll check your installation and, if needed, show you how to properly install the seat.

Infant CPR Class Events at Whole Foods San Rafael and Mill Valley

September 1, 2014

Mill Valley Whole Foods EventAttention new parents! This week, Whole Foods Markets in San Rafael and Mill Valley will offer events for new moms and dads with an infant and child CPR class followed by a vendor fair featuring community partners including SoulCycle, fitmob, Stroller Strides, Urban Sitter, and Mill Valley Recreation, among others. There will also be free samples and a raffle for gift baskets and other prizes.

One-year CPR certification is included with the course. For both classes, the fee for the certificate has been reduced to $30 (regularly $45) for this special community event. Space for both events is limited, so register to reserve your spot now (reservation links below).

The Mill Valley event takes place at the original Whole Foods Market at 414 Miller Avenue on Friday, September 5, with the class from 9:30–11 am and the vendor fair from 11 am–1 pm. Register for the Mill Valley event here.

Fantastic Family-Friendly Labor Day Recipes

September 1, 2014

Grilled Mediterranean chickenToday is Labor Day, the traditional last gasp of summer vacation. The weather is wonderful, so we've rounded up a selection of our most popular family-friendly grilling recipes, along with a few great summer sides, desserts, and other treats. So fire up the grill and cook a feast for family and friends today!

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken

This Mediterranean-inspired grilled chicken, marinated in fresh herbs and citrus, is a hit with everyone.

Santa Maria-Style Tri Tip

Cooked slowly over charcoal with plenty of wood smoking chips, this traditional Santa Maria-style tri tip is simple to make and really delicious.

Visit a Museum for Free in September

August 31, 2014

Fun at the 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, although the general admission fee is usually deducted from the total; 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.

Hands-on Fun for Fall at Slide Ranch

August 30, 2014

Slide Ranch is a great place for family members of all ages. We tried out one of their family farm days in the past and my kids had a great time petting the sheep planting a seed, milking a goat and making nature crafts. They offer guided tours and lots of hands-on activities, including collecting eggs from chickens, planting seeds, sampling from their organic garden, learning to make crafts and food just like the early farmers, and exploring the nearby tide pools.

Slide Ranch is located off of Shoreline Highway at Muir Beach. Below is a list of their upcoming fall events. Their programs do fill up quickly, so you need to plan ahead if you are interested in participating. Register for programs online at www.slideranch.org.

Family Farm Days (10 am–2 pm for all farm days)

$30 per person; age 2 and under free. 15% discount for families of 4 or more.

  • Halloween/El Dia de los Muerto Family Farm Day
    Saturday, November 1

Marin Family-Friendly Events for Labor Day Weekend

August 29, 2014

Sausalito Art Festival

The 62nd Sausalito Art Festival takes place this weekend at Marinship Park.

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

Friday, August 29

  • Picnics on the Plaza
    San Anselmo Town Hall Lawn
    Friday, 5–8 pm

    Picnics feature music and family fun. Bring your picnic basket or buy food at the event. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights on Main: Main Street USA
    Tiburon

    Friday, 6–9 pm
    Bring the family to some outdoor dining, live music and dancing on Main Street in downtown Tiburon. This Friday: a salute to Disney, with some of your favorite characters in attendance and the music of the Kyle Martin Band performing contemporary and classic rock favorites. For more info, visit their website.
  • 18th Annual Nostalgia Days Rod and Kustom Car Show
    Downtown Novato
    Friday, 4–8 pm & Saturday, 10 am–5 pm

    Novato's annual celebration of all things automotive features a salute to American Graffiti with a special appearance by actress Candy Clark ("Debbie" in the movie). Friday night cruise takes place on a loop through Novato, and Saturday features a car show, live music, raffle, and vendors. Free. For more info, visit their website.
  • Family Movie Night: Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Stafford Lake, Novato
    Friday, 7:30–10 pm

    The lawn at pastoral Stafford Lake Park sets the perfect stage for this classic outdoor summer event, featuring a screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Marin Parks will host the show and provide the popcorn; bring your family, a blanket, chairs, and a picnic dinner or snacks (portable BBQs are allowed). The show will begin 15 minutes after sunset. For more info, call (415) 897-0618 or visit their website.

Saturday, August 30

  • Sausalito Art Festival
    Marinship Park, Sausalito
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–7 pm and Monday, 10 am–5 pm
    The country’s best art and most exciting artists, a top-name music line-up, gourmet food, and fine wines and premium beers all bring more than 30,000 art lovers together in an electrifying atmosphere of creativity, fun, discovery, and magic every Labor Day Weekend. A children and families area features hands-on activities and entertainment for all ages. Featuring local children’s music with local Tim Cain and performers including Benny and Bebe's Magic Circus. Tickets to the Sausalito Art Festival are $25 for general admission, $20 for seniors 62+, and $5 for juniors ages 6–12, and free for children under 6. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Baby food cooking and nutrition demonstration with Baby Bites and NewboRN Solutions from 10:30 am–noon. Enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids from 10 am–2 pm, children's music or storytelling from 9:30–10:30 am, and more live music from 11 am–12:30 pm, as well as fresh produce, prepared foods, and great local restaurants. For more info, visit their website.
  • Muir Woods Family Walk
    Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley
    Saturday, 9:30 am–12:30 pm
    Can't stand to see vacation end but too tired to travel? Spend quality time with the family in an ancient redwood forest just 25 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge. Before letting the long, lazy days of summer slip away, take a leisurely walk through an ancient redwood forest. Wear sturdy shoes, dress in layers and bring lunch, snacks and water. Entrance fees apply. All ages welcome. Strollers not advised; backpack baby carriers OK. Reservations required; call (415) 388-2596. For more info, visit their website.
  • Petaluma Reptile Expo
    Petaluma Community Center
    Saturday, 10 am-5 pm

    Open to the public. All ages welcome. Join us as we welcome a variety of vendors and exhibitors offering hundreds of snakes, lizards, geckos, turtles, tortoises, tarantulas, scorpions, supplies, jewelry, and more at this year's Petaluma Reptile Expo presented by North Bay Herpetological Society. Cost: $5.00 for Adults, Kids 12 and under $2. Location: 320 McDowell Blvd., Petaluma. For more info, visit their website.
  • Theater for Young Audiences: Five Little Monkeys
    Marin Theatre Company, Mill Valley
    Saturday, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm & 3 pm and Sunday, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm & 5 pm

    Those five little monkeys will get into as much mischief on stage as they do in their namesake picture books. Take cover when they make that birthday cake for Mama, meet up with a crocodile, and disappear in the store! The play’s all in rhyme, so you’ll have a great time! Recommended for ages 2–7, 45 minutes. Tickets are $18 for children under 14 and $22 for adults. Order online at tickets.marintheatre.org, by phone at  (415) 388-5208, or in person at the MTC box office, 397 Miller Avenue in Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Komodo Karnival
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 11 am–3 pm

    Komodo Karnival will feature good ol' fashioned fun with a nod to the Big Daddy Bahasa, the Zoo's resident Komodo dragon. After you stop by and see him at Komodo Alley, try your luck at 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 off your strength on the Komodo High Striker then make like a dragon and head up our Komodo Klimbing Wall. Free after zoo admission. For more info, visit their website.

Ten Terrific Family Outings for Labor Day Weekend

August 28, 2014

Hamilton Community Pool NovatoLabor day weekend is summer vacation's last hurrah (even if most kids are in school already). Make the most of this last long weekend of summer with a fun family outing or activity in Marin or elsewhere in the Bay Area.

For more fun family events for this weekend, check out the special Labor Day Weekend edition of our weekly event guide.

Fall Classes for New & Expectant Parents at Marin General Hospital

August 26, 2014

Both my children were born at Marin General Hospital. Overall, it was a great experience—their staff is awesome and they’re a great resource for new parents. Not only were we well taken care of, but we were also able to take advantage of the wide variety of classes offered by MGH to help smooth things along for new and expectant parents. These classes are offered to the public.

Some of the classes available at Marin General include prenatal and postnatal instruction classes for expectant parents, infant care, CPR, breastfeeding help, a father class, a free mom’s support group, and help for siblings adjusting to a new brother or sister.

They also offer a childbirth and infant-care “value package” for $200 per couple. This seven-class series covers pretty much everything you need to know about bringing home a new baby, and includes topics like breastfeeding, post partum expectations and realities, care of your newborn, and home and car safety. Classes are two hours each, and the first three classes can be taken as a single one-day childbirth class. Programs take place in MGH’s convenient location at 250 Bon Air Road in Greenbrae.

Kids Eat for Free in Marin

August 26, 2014

Like many families these days, we find ourselves grabbing lunch or dinner on the go probably more than we should. Of course all this dining out adds up after a while and has the potential to be a major drain on the wallet. Fortunately, there are plenty of great family-friendly restaurants in Marin that offer free dining for kids—usually with the purchase of an adult entree (and only when dining in)—one or more days during the week.

Here's our list of kids-eat-free offers, broken down by location. Please note that all information presented here has been confirmed and is, to our knowledge, correct at the time of publishing, but deals come and deals go, so you should confirm with the restaurant before you go, just in case.

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