Get Organized: Win a BusyBodyBook for Back-to-School!

August 2, 2011

Cherry BusyBodyBook personal and family organizerSchool's only a few weeks away, and getting organized both for yourself and the kids is a must. Our favorite way to get organized is with the BusyBodyBook! The BusyBodyBook is a stylish and easy-to-use family organizer designed specifically for families. It allows you to keep track of the entire family's schedules at a glance, and it's something I can't live without. BusyBodyBooks personal and family organizers ($17.95) are available for both 2011–2012 school year (August 2011–August 2012) and traditional January–December, 2011 calendar year versions.

In addition to their organizers,  BusyBodyBook also publishes a neat "family central" wall calendar ($14.95) and an undated weekly grid pad ($12.95) that's handy for the fridge, your desk, a binder, or anywhere else that you need to keep track of your busy life.

Win Tickets to See the Wiggles Big Birthday! Tour at Oakland's Paramount Theatre

August 1, 2011

Wiggle Big Birthday! Tour 2011I think most parents of preschoolers and toddlers agree that the Wiggles are the superstars of the kids' music scene. This Australian foursome is heading to Oakland's Paramount Theatre for their 2011 Big Birthday! Tour on Friday, August 12. Come join the Wiggles, Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus, and the Wiggly Dancers as they celebrate the group's 20th birthday live on stage.

There will be two shows, at 2:30 and 6:30 pm, and we're giving away a four tickets for you and your family to go see the 6:30 pm performance! Read on for details on how to enter.

Every Wiggles show is fun and educational, and features plenty of audience interaction. Make a birthday card or a sign at home and bring it to the show and dress up as your favorite character. You can even greet your favorite Wiggles character as they sing and dance through the audience. And don't forget to yell "Wake up, Jeff!" when Jeff the Purple Wiggle invariably falls asleep on stage. Sing along with favorite songs like Hot Potato, Play Your Ukulele, Fruit Salad, and Rock a Bye Your Bear and wiggle away in the aisles!

Family Finances with Katy Song, CFP

July 31, 2011

Katy SongIf you're a regular reader of Marin Mommies, you've probably read the valuable guest posts on family finance by Marin mom and Certified Financial Planner™ Katy Davis Song. We're pleased to announce that Katy will be a regular contributor to our website, where she'll write about all things financial, with a focus on the needs of parents and families. You can read her latest contributions, as well as browse her past posts, at her page here.

Katy has also recently launched her own business, Katy Song FInancial Planning, where she helps families determine their financial priorities and goals and guides them into making the right financial choices. Visit her online at www.katysong.com or contact her at katy@katysong.com

With a passion for personal finance, Katy has been working as a financial planner since 2008 and passed the CFP® exam in July 2009. She has expertise in financial planning for families with young children and knows first-hand the challenges and opportunities of raising a family in the Bay Area. Katy has extensive expertise in the area of home affordability and how to support a growing family.

Wine Country Swimming Fun at Morton's Warm Springs

July 29, 2011

Morton's Warm SpringsLooking for a great family day trip this summer? Try heading to the Wine Country town of Glen Ellen for a day of swimming fun at Morton's Warm Springs Resort. Morton's Warm Springs is a family resort famous for its three geothermally heated pools filled with natural mineral water. Long thought to have healing benefits, these spring waters have lent their name to numerous communities in the Sonoma area, including Boyes Hot Springs, Agua Caliente, and Fetters Hot Springs.

Morton's Warm Springs is one of those places that looks like it's been around forever. It fact, it's been a Sonoma Valley institution for about a century, and has been run by the Morton family since 1946. Morton's truly has that old-school atmosphere that will probably take you back to your childhood. After all, who didn't spend time at a place like this? At Morton's you feel like you've stepped back into a simpler, carefree time. With its three pools, sprawling lawns, and picnic areas, it's a great place to bring lunch, swim, relax, and soak in that rural Wine Country atmosphere.

Science, Art and Fun at Camp Galileo

July 27, 2011

Camp Galileo art roomLike many parents in Marin and the Bay Area, I'm always looking for summer activities for my children that are not only fun but educational as well. This summer, my eight-year-old son attended Camp Galileo day camp at their Marin location at the beautiful Marin Country Day School in Corte Madera. Camp Galileo offers campers hands-on art, science and outdoor activities as well as fun camp traditions like dress-up day, water day, and the rubber chicken cheer. Furthermore, Camp Galileo boasts impressive curriculum partners, including the de Young Museum, the Tech Museum, and Klutz.

My son was a member of Camp Galileo's Supernovas group—comprising children entering third, fourth, and fifth grades. The camp theme during the week he attended was Detective in Paris: Impressionism & the Science of Sleuthing. In this adventure centered around a fictitious 19th-century art theft, campers explored Impressionist art and used science to try to find the culprit behind the heist. Camp Galileo offers a unique approach that teaches children to be innovators. Campers learn to innovate, collaborate, identify their goals and audiences, generate ideas, and be creative.

A Family Adventure in San Francisco's Chinatown

July 25, 2011

Dragon Gate at the entrance to San Francisco Chinatown, Grant Avenue and Bush StreetLiving in the Bay Area, we sometimes forget that some of the world's favorite tourist attractions are right in our backyard. So why let visiting Europeans and Midwesterners have all the fun? It's often fun to play tourist as a local, especially with kids in tow. We've found ourselves visiting places in the Bay Area that we ourselves haven't been to since we were kids. Recently, we decided to visit that tourist favorite, San Francisco's Chinatown.

The biggest and oldest settlement of its kind in the United States, San Francisco's Chinatown was established in the late 1840s, and today is roughly contained by Broadway to the north, Kearny Street to the east, Bush Street to the south, and Powell Street to the west. With hundreds of restaurants, shops, and other attractions, Chinatown is a worthwhile destination for a family day trip into the city. It's a way to explore both the past and present of San Francisco, and to experience the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of a different culture without going very far.

New Parent Tot Camp at Marinwood

July 23, 2011

Marinwood Summer Camp has added an all-new camp this summer for parents and new campers. On August 1, 3, and 5 from 9:30 am–12:30 pm, Marinwood will be hosting Parent Tot Camp, especially for three-year-olds and a parent. Fun activities at Parent Tot Camp include playing games, making crafts, singing songs, and swimming in the Marinwood tot pool. It is a perfect way to introduce little ones to camp.

To sign up for Marinwood's Parent Tot Camp, visit www.marinwood.org or call the Marinwood Community Center at (415) 479-0775. Marinwood Community Center is located at 775 Miller Creek Road (near Lucas Valley Road) in the Marinwood area of San Rafael.

Time Is Money

July 22, 2011

Time is MoneyMill Valley mom and Certified Financial Planner™ Katy Song explains how time really is money. Katy is a regular contributor to Marin Mommies—you can read more of her articles about family finance here.

“Time is money,” is something I say when I am trying to get my 4-year-old daughter to hurry up and do something. Today she asked me what it meant. I paused and thought for a few moments. I told her it meant that we have a lot to do and have to move quickly to get everything done. She seemed happy with this response, but it got me thinking about valuing time.

First, if you are gainfully employed your paycheck likely lists your hourly rate. Is this the value of an hour of your time? Hopefully you have a very high opinion of yourself and think your hourly rate undervalues you. So, why don’t you ask for a raise? In this economy you probably feel like you need to keep quiet to keep your job, but I think this is incorrect. Now is the time to show your value to your employer or clients, and to yourself. Life is short, and if you don’t ask you don’t get. (I heard this from a motivational speaker when I was 23 and it has stuck with me!)

How Does Our Garden Grow, Part IV: First Harvest

July 20, 2011

Dragon's Tongue heirloom beansFinally! The Dragon's Tongue heirloom snap beans have been growing like crazy, and many of them are finally big enough to pick. The kids searched through the rows for specimens that looked like they were just about right to harvest. My daughter referred to them as "green beans", but as you can see by the accompanying photo, they aren't really all that green—they're a pale yellow-green with deep purple streaks.

Not only do Dragon's Tongue beans look neat and have a cool name (they sound like something they'd serve up in the dining hall at Hogwarts), but they're absolutely delicious as well. Needless to say, these went into the steamer moments after they were picked from our garden. No real recipe here—I just steamed them until they were crisp-tender and then tossed them with a little butter, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. We grew some more traditional green bush beans, another heirloom variety called Bountiful, and while they're good too, we all agreed that Dragon's Tongue were by far the tastier of the two. The Dragon's Tongue bushes still have plenty of little beans and beautiful little purple-and-white flowers on them, so it looks like we'll be enjoying them for some time yet.

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