2016 Best Books for Kids from the American Library Association

January 12, 2016

Last Stop on Market StreetIt's awards season, with the Golden Globes taking place last Sunday and the Oscars coming up next month. But did you know it was awards season for kids' books, too? This week the American Library Association (ALA) announced the winners of its annual youth media awards for 2016, including the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott medals for children's books.

Since 1922, the John Newbery Medal has been awarded to the author of the most distinguished American children's book by the Association for Library Service for Children (ALSC), a division of the ALA. This year, the medal goes to Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2015). In this book, a young boy name CJ rides the bus with his Nana, where he discovers music, nature, and the people around him. Find it at a local Marin library here.

The 2016 runner-up Newbery Honor Books include The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (one of our recent favorites!), and Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Classes for New & Expectant Parents at Marin General Hospital

January 11, 2016

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 $230 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.

Four Easy Waterfall Hikes for Families in Marin

January 11, 2016

Fairway waterfall Novato

One of the things I love most about winter and early spring in Marin is being able to hike to a beautiful waterfall, and when it rains (as it's doing things season… finally) families have many to choose from. The waterfalls in our list here all involve hikes of varying length, and all are perfect destinations for a family outdoor outing. There's something for hikers of every ability here.

All of these waterfalls are at their most spectacular after a big rainstorm like the one we had last week. This also means the trails will be pretty muddy, so make sure you put on the rain boots and dress the kiddos in something that you don't mind getting dirty. Here are four of our favorite Marin waterfall hikes, in order of difficulty (although all of them are family friendly). All but one of these hikes (Cataract Falls on Mt. Tamalpais) are on lands administered by Marin County Parks; visit their website for more info and to download printable trail maps for each preserve.

Classic Chicken Paprikash

January 10, 2016

Chicken paprikashA classic central European comfort food dish, chicken paprikash is a great recipe to add to your winter cooking repertoire. Essentially chicken braised in a paprika-laden sauce finished with some sour cream, chicken paprikash is popular in Hungary and its neighbors like Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia.

Make sure you use sweet paprika—preferably Hungarian or Hungarian-style, not the hot or smoked varieties. Dark meat chicken pieces, bone-in and skin-on, work best in this slow-cooked dish. You can use bone-in chicken breasts, too, if you like or even a whole cut-up chicken. Also make sure you serve this with lots of noodles, mashed potatoes, or spätzle to soak up the delicious sauce (it's the best part).


  • 2–3 lbs chicken thighs or leg quarters, bone-in and skin-on
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

January Classes and Programs at Parents Place Marin

January 10, 2016

Girls LeadershipParents Place in San Rafael has been a valuable resource for countless Marin County parents and families. They offer a wide variety of programs and classes for parents and children throughout the year. Here are a few of the classes they are offering for the month of January, including a Girls Leadership Parent and Daughter series, a free New Moms' Tea, and a free webinar on navigating technology for parents of school-age children.

Positive and Effective Discipline: A Crash Course (3–5 years)

Tuesday, January 12, 7–9 pm
Starting with a basic understanding of developmental norms for 3- to 5-year-olds, we will break down the components of discipline-communication, listening, modeling, consequences, and more-to learn about improving limit-setting, encouraging responsibility, and fostering communication. With Susan Byrd, LCSW. $45. Register here.

Your One-Year Old: What to Expect (6–24 months)

Thursday, January 14, 7–9 pm

Developmental milestones, sleeping and eating behaviors, social and emotional development, and beginning limit-setting. With Bonnie Romanow, BA, childhood development specialist. $45. Register here.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for January 8, 9 & 10

January 8, 2016
Mochi pounding at the Asian Art Museum in San Francsico
Celebrate the New Year, Japanese-style, with traditional mochi pounding at the Asian Art Museum.

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

Friday, January 8

  • Sing and Dance with Miss Kitty
    San Rafael Public Library
    Friday, 10:30–11:15 am

    Join Marin County favorite Miss Kitty for a series of fun family concerts just right for children aged birth to 8 years old. Free, no registration required! Location: 1100 E Street, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 485-3322 or visit their website.
  • Last Weekend for Ice Skating: Marin on Ice
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Friday-Sunday, noon–10 pm

    This is the last weekend for Marin on Ice, an outdoor skating rink in San Rafael's Northgate Mall. Bring the kiddos out to for a day of ice skating. Skating costs $15 per person, which includes skate rental, and "Skate Buddies" (the blue plastic chair-like supports) are available for beginnners. For more info, call (707) 738-8496 or visit onicemarin.com
  • de Youngsters Family Art Party 2016
    de Young Museum, San Francisco
    Friday, 6–9 pm

    Join other Bay Area families in putting the "art" in "party" at the de Youngsters third annual benefit bash for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Guests both young and "young at art" will enjoy a fun-filled evening at the de Young exploring color and line fun-filled evening at the de Young exploring art and innovation in the true spirit of San Francisco. Creative thinkers will be inspired by Jewel City: Art from San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Activities will include hands-on art making, live performances, cutting edge technology, and more surprises! For info and tickets, visit their website.

Saturday, January 9

  • Family Fun Run/Health & Wellness Fair
    Mill Valley Recreation Center
    Saturday, 8–2 pm

    Jump start your New Years resolution with a fun and exciting way to experience health, wellness and community in Mill Valley. Family fun run/walk (around the large lawn area behind community center), bounce house, airbrush tattoos, face painting, and food tasting. Health & Wellness Fair takes place from 10 am-2 pm. Preregister for fun run here. Free admission to fair. Location: 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy the best local and organic produce, flowers, pastured meats, seafood, organic cheeses, yogurt and milk, breads, baked goods, pasta, confections, olive oil, and brunch and lunch offerings! Kids can take a pony ride and visit the petting zoo (10 am–2 pm), try out some arts and crafts (9 am–2 pm) and listen to music (9:30–10:30 am). For more info, visit their website.
  • Whale Watching at Point Reyes Lighthouse
    Point Reyes National Seashore
    Weekends, 9:30 am–3:30 pm
    Go see the whales out at the Point Reyes Light House and Chimney Rock. Shuttle buses leave Drakes Beach every 15–20 minutes. Cost: $7 per person; children under 16 free. No cars allowed at Point Reyes Light House on weekends and holidays through late March. For more info, visit their website.
  • Free Junior Chef Classes
    Williams-Sonoma, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am
    A spiralizer turns fruits and vegetables into all kinds of shapes, from noodles to spiral cuts. We’ll teach you how to make fun foods with this cool tool. Suitable for ages 8–13. Suitable for ages 8–13. Location: The Village Corte Madera. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Montessori Open House
    Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am–noon

    Get to know Marin Montessori at an open house at their Corte Madera Campus, 5200 Paradise Drive. RSVP required; call (415) 924-5388 ext. 0. More information
  • Marin Waldorf School Open House
    San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–12:30 pm
    Marin Waldorf School, which offers eduction for children from early childhood to 8th grade, holds its open house at its San Rafael campus, 755 Idylberry Road, from 10 am–12:30 pm. RSVP required at (415) 479-8190 or on their website. More information

The 2016 Marin Summer Camp Guide is Coming!

January 8, 2016

Avid 4 Adventure summer camp

The 2016 edition of our annual Marin Summer Camp Guide is coming soon! Marin Mommies' Marin Summer Camp Guide is a comprehensive directory of summer camps in Marin County, with select camps from elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California, including Sonoma County, San Francisco, the East Bay, and the Peninsula.

Marin Fitness Classes with Childcare

January 7, 2016

working out at pomegranate in san anselmo

Pomegranate Prenatal Yoga & Parent Center, San Anselmo; photo by Fluid Frame

It's the New Year, and with it usually comes the resolution to finally get in shape. Getting a good workout in can sometimes be difficult with little ones around, so we've put together this list of Marin County drop-in fitness classes that offer childcare at the same time. Some of these fitness centers require memberships, but those that do often offer day passes so you can give it a try; check their websites or give them a call for complete details and class schedules.

  • Pomegranate Prenatal Yoga & Parent Center
    25 Tamalpais Avenue
    San Anselmo
    (415) 785-3173

    Pomegranate in San Anselmo offers a variety of pre and postnatal yoga classes. Onsite childcare is $8 per child per class and is available for the following classes: Mondays, Vinyasa Flow from 11am-12:15 pm; Tuesdays, Core Essentials: Mat Pilates for Women from 9:30–10:45 am;Thursdays for Prenatal Yoga from 9:30–10:45; Thursdays for Core Essentials: Mat Pilates for Women from 11 am–noon; Fridays for Prenatal Yoga from 9:30–10:45 am; Vibrant Flow from 12:30-1:45 pm; Sundays for Nurturing Flow from 9:30–10:45 am. For more info, visit their website.

A Marin Winter Waterfall Hike at Cascade Canyon

January 5, 2016

Cascade Falls Fairfax Marin CountyOur family really loves hiking in Marin during the winter, especially when there's a waterfall involved. One of Marin's favorite family hikes is at Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve near Fairfax. The trail here winds through Elliott Nature Preserve, along San Anselmo Creek, to the 20-foot Cascade Falls. It's particularly popular during the winter and spring when the creek is flowing, but it's a great place for a fun family hike at any time of year. This easy out-and-back hike is about 1.5 miles round trip.

Start out at the trailhead on Cascade Drive in Fairfax and head onto Cascade Fire Road. San Anselmo Creek burbles along to your left, and you'll find a couple good flat spots for the kids to walk down and explore the creek. Ordinarily you'll follow Cascade Fire Road for approximately a half mile until it meets with Cascade Falls Trail, fording shallow parts of the creek in a couple spots.

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