12 Days of Holiday Books: It's Christmas, David!

December 19, 2012

It's Christmas, David!"No peeking!"

"Those are not toys!"

"Be patient!"

"Santa's watching!"

Sound familiar? It's common dialogue in our house around this time of year, and it's a big part of the hilarious It's Christmas, David! (32 pages, The Blue Sky Press, 2010).

It's Christmas, David! is part of author and illustrator David Shannon's series of David books, which feature poor little David and the litany of mischievous things he's told not to do (based on the author's real-life childhood experience, no less). With all the admonitions directed toward David in It's Christmas, David!, it might seem like he's an awful kid; but he's not—he's just doing what most children do and feeling the way most children feel around the holidays. OK… maybe David's behavior is a little worse than most kids'—but then that's what makes the book so funny!

Can Money Buy Happiness?

December 19, 2012

TreadmillMarin Mommies presents another great article by Marin mom and financial planner Katy Song, CFP®.

In the last 15 years, positive psychology has tried to tackle the question of “can money buy happiness” by studying people’s happiness levels along with changes in income levels. Also known as the “hedonic treadmill” theory, studies show that once your basic needs are met (clothing, shelter, food) that rich people are not happier than poor people.

As a person makes more money, expectations and desires also increase, which results in no permanent gain in happiness. While a change in fortune may temporarily make you happier, in the long run you are likely to revert back to your normal level of happiness.

However, a big part of happiness is linked to your intentions. Psychologists say that by setting and achieving your goals, you have higher life satisfaction and more sustained happiness than before.

As a financial planner helping my clients navigate their financial future, the hedonic treadmill theory raises two important questions. First, if you have money above your basic living expenses, what should you do with it? And second, how can you make yourself happier? Here are three steps to help answer these questions:

12 Days of Holiday Books: Olive the Other Reindeer

December 18, 2012

Olive, the Other ReindeerWhile listening to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Olive the dog hears the mondegreen "Olive, the other reindeer" (instead of "All of the other reindeer"), and decides that she, in fact is the reindeer in question. So begins the contemporary Christmas classic Olive, the Other Reindeer (40 pages, Chronicle Books, 1997) by local author and illustrator team Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold.

Olive undertakes an arduous journey—involving no fewer than two buses—to the North Pole and assists Santa Claus using the talents that come naturally to a Jack Russell Terrier. Olive, the Other Reindeer pairs Walsh's charming, funny, and inspiring story with Seibold's cool retro style illustrations, in a book that both children and adults will love. For what it's worth, the book is far different, much simpler, and in our opinion better than the animated Christmas special that's based on it.

A Family That Eats Together: Chicken with a Dill, Tomato and Goat Cheese Vinaigrette

December 17, 2012

ChickenMarin Mommies presents this week's guest recipe from Nicole Cibellis, Marin mom and author of the blog A Family that Eats Together, where she shares meal plans and recipes that will please foodies and children alike. Nicole is also the creator of the new Little Froglet line of children's activewear. Here's Nicole's meal plan for this week.

I think this might be our new favorite recipe. Not only is it healthy but also it tastes amazing. We have been eating the left over’s for a few days now and it only gets better. Add it to a salad for lunch and you will impress all your co-workers. The dill and sweet vinegar add a nice acidity to the creaminess that the goat cheese imparts on the vinaigrette. This would also be an amazing sauce for fish. I served this with spaghetti but rice or crunchy bread would also be perfect.

Servings: 4–6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes


  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ¼ inch thick or buy chicken cutlets
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (Trader Joe’s carries it) or use Champaigne vinegar

Win Tickets to the December 30 Penguins+Pajamas Sleepover at the Cal Academy

December 17, 2012

Penguins + Pajamas at the California Academy of SciencesWe had a blast at the California Academy of Sciences' Penguins + Pajamas sleepover when we attended last summer—it's a fantastic family experience that's both fun and educational. The next Penguins+Pajamas sleepover is scheduled for Sunday, December 30, 2012, and we're giving away a pair of tickets to a lucky Marin Mommies reader! This special 'Tis the Season for Science sleepover will include live reindeer, snow flurries, winter-themed programming, and live music and games from Radio Disney!

Experience your own "night at the museum" as you explore the exhibits after-hours, stargaze at a planetarium show, and enjoy a special live animal presentation. Before bedtime, settle in for story time with cookies and milk to learn about Pierre—the Academy’s famous wetsuit-wearing penguin.

When the lights go out, unroll your sleeping bag in African Hall, next to the swaying kelp of the aquarium's California Coast tank, or even at the Swamp window, face-to-face with Claude, the albino alligator. In the morning, rise and shine, then head over to the Academy Café for a continental breakfast.

Holiday Gift Guide: Organic Produce from Bloomfield Farms

December 16, 2012

Bloomfield Farms CSA shareThis holiday season, why not give the gift of fresh organic produce? This Christmas, our friends at Bloomfield Farms, a family-run certified organic farm outside Petaluma, are offering CSA gift certificates for you to give to family, friends, and colleagues. It's the perfect gift for a family that enjoys delicious, healthy, and locally grown food!

Gift certificates are available in amounts of $75, $100, and $150, and the recipients can redeem them at one the convenient drop-off locations in Marin or Sonoma Counties. Learn more about giving a CSA gift from Bloomfield Farms here.

Bloomfield Farms is also offering an "80 for 80" holiday special—80 pounds of certified organic, dry-farmed Yukon Gold potatoes for $80. Yes, this is a large amount of potatoes, but the price is much lower than what you'll pay at a market like Whole Foods for the same thing (Bloomfield Farms supplies Whole Foods in addition to a number of other local grocery stores).

Go in with friends and neighbors and split up a bag! After all, it wouldn't be the holidays without mashed potatoes, would it?

12 Days of Holiday Books: Llama Llama Holiday Drama

December 15, 2012

Llama Llama Holiday DramaEvery parent knows that while the holidays are a magical time for children, they can be a difficult time to be patient, too (heck, many adults we know feel that way). Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama Holiday Drama (40 pages, Viking Juvenile, 2010) addresses the joys and frustrations felt by children during the holiday season in a heartfelt and humorous way.

Llama Llama, the eponymous protagonist of Anna Dewdney's popular series of books, finds it hard to wait until Christmas is finally here, especially with all the shopping, activities, cookie baking, decorating, and more. Finally, it's up to Mama Llama to set things right and help her child understand not only the need for patience but what's really important during the holiday season.

Give the Gift of TLC this Holiday Season!

December 14, 2012

The Gift of TLC

This holiday season, Marin Mommies is partnering with local Marin County business Dhana EcoKids and other community organizations to help promote the Gift of T.L.C—Thoughts, Love, and Care. All kids are invited to send an original doodle to the children impacted by Hurricane Sandy this holiday season, including those from the New Jersey town of Lavellete, which was especially hard-hit by the storm, and whose residents are only being allowed to move back home this weekend!

So go ahead, make a child's day and share your thoughts, love and care and doodle the Gift of T.L.C. on a plain piece of paper. Make sure you sign your kid’s first name, age, city, and state on the front of the paper with the doodle. Submissions can be a photo of the doodle, the original paper, or a scanned image of the doodle.

Kids are encouraged to send up to three doodles of their creation. Please send them via email to TLC@DhanaEcoKids.com, or post it on the Dhana Eco Kids Facebook page, or mail it to Dhana EcoKids, P.O. Box 1634, Mill Valley, CA 94942. All doodle submissions must be received by Monday, December 17, 2012 to be part of this wonderful campaign.

Holiday Gift Guide: Ugly Dolls

December 13, 2012

Our current roster of Ugly DollsIf you're like us, you're still out there looking for Christmas gifts, and one of our picks this holiday season is the Ugly Doll. These hip and huggable stuffed toys are favorites with many kids, ours included. They're not really ugly, even with their fangs, buck teeth, and missing eyes—they're actually pretty cute—and each one has its own distinct look, personality, and back story. Designed by a husband-and-wife artist team, these adorable and hilarious plush toys are even a hit with older kids who wouldn't be caught dead lugging around a teddy bear.

Ugly Dolls are available in a range of sizes, including clip-ons (about 4 inches tall, ideal for clipping to a backpack zipper pull, and perfect for a stocking stuffer), Little Uglys (about 7 inches), Classic (12 inches), and Jumbo (24 inches). Prices range from $6 to $40, depending on size and availability.

You'll find literally dozens of different Ugly Doll characters in different sizes, shapes, and colors, and part of the fun of shopping for them is trying to figure out which ones best fit your children's personalities. That's our ever-expanding team of Ugly Dolls in the photo above, hanging out on our living room sofa. From left to right: Gerry Berry, clip-on Ninja Batty Shogun, Little Ugly Suddy, Classic Brip, and clip-on Puglee .

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