Independence Day & Financial Freedom

June 21, 2011

Financial FreedomMarin Mommies is happy to present another great guest article by Marin mom and financial planner Katy Song, CFP®.

Independence Day brings all things red, white and blue, parades, barbeques and most importantly… a day off from work! While I love the work I do, it is always nice to have an extra day off and enjoy the energy of July 4th. As most of us learned in grade school, Independence Day commemorates the day we declared our independence from Great Britain with the goal of creating the “land of the free”. This got me thinking about the meaning of financial freedom and how to achieve it.

Whether you have a huge investment portfolio or are in debt, most people claim to want “financial freedom” in their lives. I certainly do!

My definition of financial freedom has two parts. First, it means knowing my overall financial position and the impact of all my financial decisions on reaching my goals. These goals range from having a sufficient emergency fund and saving for a month in France next summer to having money for my children’s education and affording a comfortable retirement. Second, it is the ability to work for myself (not being tied to a 9-5 job), and thus spending lots of quality time with my family.

National Parks Go Fee-Free June 21

June 19, 2011

Redwood trees at Muir WoodsTo celebrate the first day of summer, all of the over 100 National Parks that normally charge an entry fee will be free to everyone on Tuesday, June 21! This is the third in this year's series of fee-free days at the National Parks. Other upcoming fee-free days include September 24, 2011 (Public Lands Day) and November 11–13, 2011 (Veterans Day weekend).

In the San Francisco Bay Area, National Parks that charge an entry fee include Marin's own Muir Woods National Monument, San Francisco Maritime National Park, and the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez. Other popular parks within a few hours of the Bay Area include Yosemite and Pinnacles National Monument (south of the Bay Area in Monterey and San Benito counties). A full list of fee-free weekend parks across the USA can be found here.

Let's Get Curious! at the Bay Area Discovery Museum

June 18, 2011

Curious GeorgeThe curious little monkey whose adventures have captivated children and adults for 65 years is at the Bay Area Discovery Museum! Curious George: Let's Get Curious opens Saturday, June 18 and runs through September 11, 2011. The exhibition introduces children to the world of Curious George and leads them on a fun, interactive math, science, and engineering-based adventure.

Explore the neighborhood where George and the Man with the Yellow Hat live, and meet familiar characters from the classic books by Margret and H.A. Rey and the PBS KIDS animated series. Different areas to visit include:

  • The apartment building, where you can operate wheels to move George on pulleys from window to window, climb the fire escape, and play with color, light, and shadow.
  • The sidewalk produce stand, where kids can pretend to sell and shop and us fruits and vegetables to explore shapes, sorting, weighing, and counting.
  • The construction site, where you can design a building and get to work with building materials and machines.

Outdoor Safety for Families: Mountain Lions

June 14, 2011

Mountain lion or cougar looking right at you! When you venture outdoors in California, you run the risk of encountering some of our state's wildlife. While most animals are non-aggressive and harmless (but best left alone anyhow), there are some that can pose a direct threat to both children and adults. One of California's largest predators, the mountain lion, is known to live in Marin and throughout the Bay Area. While they're still extremely rare, it's good to know how to react and what to do in the unlikely event that you do encounter one.

The mountain lion (Puma concolor)—also known as the cougar, puma, or panther—is our own North American big cat, and a predator that can be found over much of the western United States, Mexico, and Canada. The mountain lion is in fact closely related to the domesticated housecat, but it's about the size of an adult human, and a lot stronger. Despite the publicity generated by mountain lion sightings in urban and suburban areas, as well as their rare attacks on humans, the fact is that you'll probably never see one in the wild in your lifetime. It's assumed that 80% of all alleged mountain lion sightings are in fact sightings of bobcats, deer, dogs, or domestic cats.

Hairspray: A Mountain Play Treat—Go See It Before It's Gone!

June 12, 2011

Tracy (Kimberly Swanson) and Link (Tyler Costin) on the Corny Collins Show in HairsprayWhere can you see colorful musical theater production with a professional cast in a rustic outdoor setting with panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay Area? The Mountain Play, of course! After a rained-out performance last weekend, we managed to catch the Mountain Play's 2011 production of the popular Broadway musical Hairspray. With an outstanding cast, a fast and furious pace, and loads of infectious song and dance, Hairspray is a must-see on Mount Tam this season. You have two more chances to take in this Marin County outdoor theater tradition: today, June 12, and next Sunday (Father's Day), June 19. Both performances begin at 2 pm. Tickets are still available for both performances.

Based on cult director John Waters' 1988 movie, this musical transports us back to 1962 Baltimore, where hair was big (thanks to plenty of the title substance) and "pleasingly plump" teenager Tracy Turnblad (Kimberly Swanson) longs to not only appear on the Corny Collins show—a TV dance show that's home to the "nicest kids in town"—but to racially integrate it as well. She's

Picasso Comes to the de Young Museum

June 11, 2011

Picasso exhibition at the de YoungThe hot museum ticket this summer is for the de Young's exhibition Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée Picasso, Paris, which opens today and runs through October 9. Spanning the entirety of this 20th-century master's career, the exhibition presents 150 of "Picasso's Picassos"—paintings, sculptures, and works on paper kept by Picasso as part of his own personal collection. The works are part of the collection of the Musée Picasso in Paris, which was established to house the nearly 3,600 works given to the French government after Picasso's death in 1973.

Picasso is a fascinating look into the career of this important artist. Rooms in the exhibition cover every phase in his lengthy career, from his early Blue period in the 1900s to his experimentations with Cubism and Surrealism to late works from the 1960s and '70s. It's a fascinating look at the development of the artist's work over time.

Stuck At A Weight Loss Plateau? Bust Through It!

June 7, 2011

Personal training sessionMarin Mommies is pleased to present another guest article by Marin County fitness expert John Spongberg.

When you started your weight loss routine, you knew it would be a process. After all, you didn’t gain the weight overnight. You couldn’t have expected it to come off that fast. Unfortunately, you’ve hit a bump in the road and your motivation level is starting to wane.

How can you get past a weight loss plateau to see the results you really want? First off, don’t give up! You can bust through your obstacle to see the rewards on the other side. The key is in learning how to keep your motivation high through your plateau and continuing to work in the right direction.

Preserve Tradition at the 2011 Sonoma-Marin Fair

June 6, 2011

Summertime is fair time, and the first fair of the season is Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair, which takes place at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds from Wednesday June 22 through Sunday, June 26. The Sonoma-Marin Fair is not quite but almost a county fair, and offers a wide range of fun and exciting attractions, competitions, events, and activities for the entire family. This year's Sonoma-Marin Fair theme is "Preserve Tradition".

Come see livestock shows, exhibits, chef demonstrations, Hambone Express pig racing, a destruction derby, and even the renowned World's Ugliest Dog Contest! There's also a cowboy boot camp, art, craft, and model-making workshops, wine tasting, and of course traditional carnival rides, including a kiddie carnival for younger children.

And what would a fair be without live music? The Sonoma-Marin Fair has scheduled the ne plus ultra of county fair musical acts, Rick Springfield, along with the Charlie Daniels Band, '70s rock icons Blue Öyster Cult, and more.

Stylish and Eco-Friendly Simple Shoes

June 6, 2011

Simple Take On and Satire children's sneakersA couple weeks ago I noticed a pair of shoes that a friend of mine was wearing. They were exactly what I was looking for—basic white slip-on sneakers for summer. I asked her what kind they were, and she told me they were Simple shoes. I promptly ordered a pair of Take On elastic lace sneakers ($55) online from Simple Shoes' website. They're good looking and with elastic laces, really easy to slip on and off. I was so impressed with them that I had to look into them a little more.

Simple shoes are, as the name implies, simple, basic, stylish, and comfortable shoes. Not only do they look good and feel good on your feet, but you can feel good about wearing them, too. They're made with recycled, eco-friendly, and sustainable materials like recycled car tires, inner tubes, and plastic, organic cotton, natural latex rubber, hemp, and bamboo. Simple Shoes also maintain ethical supply-chain standards, meaning no forced or child labor, and adequate wages, hours, and health and safety conditions for their workers.

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