Vacation Strategies

May 31, 2011

Marin Mommies guest article by Marin marriage and family therapist Kate Brennan.

Summer is just around the corner. Vacations from school can be pleasant times for the entire family, not just the children. The daily pressures of homework or early morning rushing will cease to exist for a few months during the long days of summer. The daily routines will change during vacations but it is reasonable to expect children to follow routines regarding meals, chores, and recreation. If boredom is expressed, a little bit of encouragement from you can motivate her to find interesting things to do on her own. Below are some ideas for both staying at home and for trips.

Staying at Home

  • Plant a vegetable garden. Make a summer salad from vegetables grown in the garden.
  • The daily watering and cultivating of the garden will help your children with responsibility while teaching them about the wonders of nature.
  • Summertime is a wonderful time for pleasure reading. Explore the library's non-fiction section together to find books about hobbies or a summer project that interests your child.

Family Dining in Marin: Celebrate Five Years of Finnegan's Marin

May 30, 2011

Finnegan's Marin exteriorNovato family favorite Finnegan's Marin celebrates its fifth anninversary this month! With its old world atmosphere, Irish-inspired fare, and extensive and inexpensive (everything's $3.99!) children's menu, Finnegan's is a family friendly pub located in the heart of Novato's Old Town. They're also famous among local parents for their kids-eat-free Sunday nights, where children 12 and under can dine for free with the purchase of each adult meal from 5 to 10 pm.

In celebration of their fifth anniversary, Finnegan's is extending their kids-eat-free deal to the entire month of June, 2011. That's right—come on in at any time during the month (Father's Day, June 19, and the Novato Art, Wine and Music Festival weekend, June 11 and 12, excepted) and kids can eat lunch, dinner, or weekend breakfast for free.

Finnegan's Marin was opened by Novato resident Henry Hautau in 2006 and quickly became a gathering spot for families in the community. Finnegan's has the warm inviting atmosphere of a traditional pub, with lots of dark wood, cozy booths, and a large bar dominating the front room. Further back you'll find a more open dining room with tables for larger parties, and a outdoor patio for use on nice days. The walls sport mirrors, and sports memorabilia, as well as plenty of flat-screen TVs for use on game day. You'll also find photos of community sports teams, groups, and schools decorating the rooms—we even found our son in a group photo from his preschool a few years back!

Fun in the Sun at Heart’s Desire Beach

May 28, 2011

Heart's Desire BeachWhen the temperature rises this summer and you need to get away from the inland heat, heading out to the beach is always a popular idea. Unfortunately, the beach experience in Northern California, even on a nice day, can be something of a challenge, and usually involves donning multiple layers of clothing to stave off the cold ocean wind. Swimming at beaches here often involves putting your life at risk, too, with icy water temperatures, pounding surf, and deadly rip currents posing a hazard to even the strongest swimmers.

Let's face it: most Marin beaches are beautiful and dramatic, but you're pretty much limited to walking and playing in the sand.

Fortunately, there are some great local alternatives, if you know where to look. One of our favorite places to hang out at on a sunny day is Heart's Desire Beach at Tomales Bay State Park. On the opposite side of Inverness Ridge from the chillier ocean beaches of Point Reyes, Heart’s Desire is a white stretch of sand running along a calm, sheltered stretch of Tomales Bay. There’s no surf to speak of, and the shallow water is warm and perfect for wading, swimming, and just having fun. The swimming area is surrounded by buoys to keep boat traffic away (except for kayaks and canoes; it's a popular launching and put-in place for those), and there's often an anchored raft to swim out to.

Marin Golf Summer Camps 2011

May 25, 2011

Golf is one of those sports that you have to try at least once, so you learn how to swing the clubs properly and understand the game. A number of Marin County summer camp programs offer golf lessons for kids starting at pre-K. Here are some of the choices:

  • Marinwood Community Center in San Rafael offers a Junior Golf Summer Camp for ages 7–16. There are 9 sessions starting on June 13, Monday–Friday from 9 am–noon or 1–4 pm. The Junior Golf Camp takes place at the McInnis Park Golf Academy in San Rafael. The camp focuses on building the confidence of young athletes through training in proper technique and foundational skills. The cost is $325 per session. Visit their website to sign up or more info.
  • McInnis Park Golf Club Summer Camp in San Rafael offers weekly camps for ages 7 and up Monday–Friday with morning and afternoon sessions. Their golf camps cover all aspects of the game with a low student-to-teacher ratio. Camp ends with a graduation BBQ and presentation of graduation certificates. The price is $325 and includes a daily snacks. For more info, call (415) 492-1800 or go to their website.

Marin Youth Performers Presents Singin' in the Rain

May 25, 2011

Singin' in the RainJoin 142 Throckmorton Theatre for a production of the classic musical Singin' in the Rain by their youth program, Marin Youth Performers. 1920s Hollywood is the setting for this stage adaptation of one of the most beloved movie musicals of all-time, a zany, light-hearted, romantic comedy about the early days of sound film, when many a movie studio found itself scrambling to salvage the career of its chipmunk-voiced silent movie star.

Singin’ in the Rain brings to life a memorable score that includes Make ‘Em Laugh, Good Morning, Broadway Ballet (Gotta Dance) and of course the signature title song.

This production of Singin’ in the Rain is performed by an all-youth cast, in 4th through 12th grade, from 20 different schools in Marin County and San Francisco, accompanied by an orchestra of young musicians, all aged 14 to 20 years old, from all over Southern Marin and San Francisco. Marin Youth Performers, 142 Throckmorton Theatre's youth division, provides affordable, engaging, and educational theatrical experiences for young people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities and produces high quality theatrical productions with performers of exceptional potential and talent.

Outdoor Safety for Families: The Tiny and Terrible Tick

May 24, 2011

Adult deer tickWe just got back from our first camping trip of the season, and ran into a notorious and ubiquitous outdoor pest—the tick. We managed to get up-close-and-personal with one of the nasty little critters when we found one hanging out on my son's shoulder when we were getting him ready for bed. Fortunately, it hadn't bitten him yet, and we caught and disposed of the tick quickly and easily. It did reinforce for us the need to be vigilant in looking for ticks after most outdoor activities.

Often as small as a sesame seed, these nasty little parasites can be found all over California—you've no doubt seen the tick warning signs at many trailheads throughout Marin and the Bay Area. While in times past they were regarded as more of a nuisance than anything else, in the last 20 years or so they’ve become vectors for serious health problems, including the infamous Lyme disease. Of course, this article should not be a substitute for genuine medical advice, so if you suspect a real health problem, talk to your pediatrician.

Language Development and Possible Causes for Concern

May 23, 2011

Baby talkingHow should your child's language development be progressing? Marin Speech Pathologist Cydney Doerres, MS, CCC, fills us in on children's important developmental milestones and potential causes for concern in this guest article.

Do you recall how excited you were when your child said his first word? Talking and walking are two of the most important developmental milestones in a child’s and a parent’s life. We, as parents, often gage our children’s overall development based on the language that he understands and is producing. Catching a speech or language delay early is important as the ability to communicate helps your child to develop learning, play and social skills in preschool and earlier.

As a Speech and Language Pathologist/Therapist the most frequent question I hear from professionals, family, friends and parents is “Is my child talking at the right level for his/her age?” If I feel that I have observed the child well enough, then I can provide a confident answer, however, I have often only just met the child!

A Taste of Spring with Strawberry Pie

May 21, 2011

Strawberry pieIn case you haven't noticed, it's strawberry season, and the delicious red berries and popping up in farmers' fields and markets all over. We've been getting especially sweet and tasty strawberries from vendors at the Marin Civic Center farmer's market, as well as at local stores. Recently, we found ourselves with a surplus of strawberries, and wondered momentarily what to do with them. Fortunately, an answer was immediately at hand—strawberry pie.

Unlike our equally delicious strawberry rhubarb pie, this refrigerated pie requires little baking or cooking, and is something that the kids can help with in the kitchen safely and easily. Here's what you'll need:

The Insider's Guide to the 2011 Mountain Play: Hairspray

May 20, 2011

Hairspray at the 2011 Mountain PlayOne of Marin County's most beloved and unique events is the famous Mountain Play—an outdoor theater experience on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais that's been going strong for 98 years. 2011's Mountain Play production is the Tony Award-winning Hairspray, the story of self-proclaimed "pleasantly plump" teenager Tracy Turnblad as she simultaneously pursues stardom as a dancer on a local TV show and rallies against racial segregation in 1962 Baltimore. Winner of 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Hairspray features a heart pounding score of such favorites as Welcome to the '60s, Good Morning, Baltimore, Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now and You Can’t Stop the Beat. Hairspray is based on the 1988 movie of the same name written and directed by cult filmmaker John Waters.

The Mountain Play's production of Hairspray features a professional cast (including local singer/songwriter and children's performer Susan Zelinsky, AKA Susan Z, as Velma Von Tussle), and is directed by Marin drama legend and Mountain Play veteran James Dunn.

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