Weeknight Recipe: Easy Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup

March 3, 2014

Mexican chicken and rice soupAt this time of year, my family and I love making a warm pot of comforting soup for dinner. The kids love chicken soup in all its forms, so I created this Mexican-inspired version of chicken and rice soup to mix things up a bit.

This definitely isn't your run-of-the-mill bowl of chicken soup—it's simple but delicious and everyone loved it. Filled with chicken, rice, and vegetables, you can also mix in garnishes to personalize your bowl.

While the "right" way to make this is probably to simmer a whole chicken for a long time, this weeknight one-pot-meal is easy and quick to put together with boneless skinless chicken breasts and good quality chicken broth.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders (frozen is OK)
  • 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup long grain white rice

Time Change and Babies/Toddlers: How to Help Your Little One Adjust

March 2, 2014

Sleeping toddlerMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin parent coach, infant/toddler sleep researcher, and family therapist Angelique Millette.

With the time change approaching, I have received many e-mails and phone calls from parents asking how they can help their babies and toddlers transition to the new time without upsetting their child’s sleep.

Starting Sunday, March 9, at 2 am, clocks will be set forward one hour—“spring forward.”

You can help your baby/toddler by starting to adjust ahead of the time change. Starting Tuesday night (March 4) begin to put baby down 10 minutes earlier for bed. You can do this by comforting, singing or reading, and starting the bedtime ritual/routine 10 minutes earlier. Do this for the rest of the week, so when the time change does happen, your baby or toddler will have slowly adjusted to the new time.

If your baby or toddler’s bedtime is 7 pm, it will look like this:

A Family That Eats Together: Tofu and Bok Choy Stir Fry

March 2, 2014

Tofu and bok choy stir fryMarin 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.

Are you looking for a simple vegetarian stir-fry your kids will love? This one, they will inhale! It has all the nutrition you want from veggies and tofu with a savory sauce that they will lap up. Serve this with your favorite brown rice!

Serves: 6
Prep time:
10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 containers of firm tofu, cubed
  • 2 heads of bok choy, chopped
  • 6 scallions, chopped

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

March 1, 2014

Ted Geisel, AKA Dr. SeussTomorrow, March 2, 2014, is the 110th birthday of celebrated children's author Theodore Geisel, better known to everyone as Dr. Seuss. The good doctor is no longer with us, of course (he passed away in 1991), but he's left us with a nearly unprecedented body of work that includes some of the most playful and imaginative books for children ever written.

As a parent, I suppose the most obvious difference between Dr. Seuss books and a lot of other children's books—especially books for early readers and small children—is that the Seuss books are usually as fun for adults to read as they are for kids to listen to. There are some books on the kids' bookshelf that we simply dread to read (I'm not going to name names, but Dora the Explorer figures highly in a few), but the Dr. Seuss books are not among them. Furthermore, Dr. Seuss' "Beginner Books " are some of the first books for beginning readers that are really fun and exciting to read, teaching important concepts and skills while entertaining and delighting. Fun with Dick and Jane? Bah! Bring on The Cat in the Hat!

March Classes and Programs at Parents Place Marin

February 28, 2014

Parent Place MarinParents Place in San Rafael has been a valuable resource for countless Marin County parents and families. This March, they offer a wide variety of programs, from childbirth education to classes for parents and children. Here are a few of the programs they offer starting in March:

JAMaROO Music Time, plus bonus free play! (9 months–4 years)

A fun-packed, 40-minute class that combines music, creative movement, and storytelling. Children will sing, play simple instruments, listen to stories, balance bean bags, and dance with streamers to a variety of music from around the world. Class themes relate to nature and the outside world. Parental supervision is required. (As a bonus, the playroom will be available for free play from 10:40 am until noon after each session.) Tuesdays, March 4–18, 10–10:45 am. $39 per child, $22.50 for each additional sibling, for three-week series. Register here.

Marin Family-Friendly Weekend Events for February 28, March 1 & 2

February 28, 2014
Xtreme Bugs at the Lawrence Hall of Science
Experience Xtreme Bugs at Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science this weekend.

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, February 28

  • Disney On Ice Presents Rockin' Ever After
    Oracle Arena, Oakland

    Friday, 10:30 am & 7:30 pm, Saturday, 11 am, 3 pm & 7 pm, and Sunday, 11 am, 3 pm & 6:30 pm
    Get ready to rock out with your favorite Disney heroes and heroines, including Ariel and Sebastian, Rapunzel and Flynn, the Beast and Belle, and Merida from Disney/Pixar's Brave. Shows run from February 26–March 2. Tickets start at $20. Purchase tickets here. Location: 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland. To purchase tickets, visit their website.
  • Young Performers Theatre: Fantastic Mr. Fox
    Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
    Friday, 6:30 pm, Saturday, 1 pm & 3:30 pm, Sunday, 2:30 pm

    Roald Dahl’s much-loved story follows the vain attempts of three farmers, Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, one fat, one short, one lean, to get rid of the fox who regularly steals food from their farms. Outwitted at every turn, the farmer’s ploys backfire. Fantastic Mr. Fox devises a plan, which will ensure full stomachs for not only his family but all his friends, who celebrate with a sumptuous feast. Tickets: $10. Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Wizards of Wonderland
    Dance Place, Pt. Reyes
    Friday, 7:30 pm

    Shows are all ages welcome, start at 7:30 pm, and are only $10 with the proceeds going directly to the artists! Think of it as the local farmers market for the soul! Come on down, put your dancing shoes in your produce basket, and join the fun! Wizards of Wonderland is a new musical. For more info, visit their website.
  • Cabaret 2014: Alice in Wonderland
    Mill Valley Middle School
    Friday, 8 pm, Saturday, 1 & 8 pm

    This year's MVMS Cabaret will tell the timeless tale of Alice in Wonderland. But in true MVMS style, this story is embellished with a wild and fun musical score and some creative twists to the classic tale. Tickets at the door only $15 adults, $10 for MVMS students and younger. Doors open 30 minutes prior to show time. Location: MVMS Gym, 425 Sycamore Avenue, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, March 1

  • Museums on Us
    Saturday & Sunday
    Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card holders get free general admission on the first full weekend of every month. Present your card and a photo ID for admission (one free general admission per cardholder). Get full details here. Participating museums include the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum.
  • Junior Ranger Day at Alcatraz Island
    Alcatraz Island, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday

    On Saturday, March 1 and Sunday, March 2, Alcatraz Island will host two Junior Ranger Day events and provide special interpretive programs. A limited number of free tickets are available only for children between 5–11 years old, maximum 4 per family or group. Children must be accompanied by at least one adult age 18 or older. Tickets must be purchased 3 days in advance and are not available online or at the Pier 33 ticket booth. To book Junior Ranger Day tickets, please call the Alcatraz Cruises Group Services Department at (415) 438-8361. 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.
  • McInnis Family Fun Mile
    McInnis Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–noon

    Come out and enjoy a beautiful morning and gorgeous views while participating in an easygoing, mile-long, walk/hike/run with the family. This will be a low-pressure event and a great way to bond as a family. All participants will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win a Marin County Parks annual pass, day pass, or a pool pass!  Water, snacks, and hot chocolate will be provided. Heavy rain will cancel. Meet at the Hillside Picnic Area in McInnis Park in San Rafael (310 Smith Ranch Rd). For more info, call (415) 446-4423 or visit their website.
  • Hamilton Pre-K/Tiny Tots/Teeny Tots Programs Open House
    Hamilton Community Center
    Saturday, 10–11:30 am

    If you are looking for a fantastic preschool option for now or for the Fall, come check out the Novato Parks and Rec Hamilton Pre-K/Tiny Tots/Teeny Tots Programs at their open house this Saturday. Come and meet the teachers and find out more about the program. Location: 503 S. Palm Drive, Novato. For more info, call Leslie at (415) 328-2684 or visit their website.
  • The LEGO Movie Building Event: Hands-On Learning
    Barnes & Noble, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 1–1:45 pm

    Barnes & Noble Corte Madera Invites The LEGO Movie fans to a fun, free hands-on learning LEGO build event on Saturday. For ages 4–8. Space is limited for this event. Attendees are required to RSVP to Laurel Kidd, Community Relations Manager at the Corte Madera store, crm2274@bn.com, with their name, phone, and email. For more info, visit their website.

Get Back to Nature at Summer Camp

February 25, 2014

NatureBridge Coastal Camp Marin HeadlandsLiving in Marin, you don't have to look far for a summer camp that takes advantage of some of the amazing natural resources we have right in our own backyard. Parents have several outstanding nature and outdoors oriented summer camps to choose from. Here is a selection of some of our favorite day camps in Marin that have an emphasis on the outdoors and the natural world around us. To find more fantastic summer camps, visit our 2014 Marin Summer Camp Guide.

  • Audubon Summer Adventures Camp is located at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Tiburon. Camp sessions start June 10 and run through August 16. Week-long sessions for kids 4–9 take place from 9 am–2 pm, include themes like Amazing Predators, The Mighty Bay, Survivor, Shark Week, and A Bug's Lide. Fees for these sessions are $330 per week. They also offer Expedition Camp ($375 per week) and On the Fly Camp ($330 per week) for children in grades 4–6, where campers deliver a little deeper into the varied habitats of Marin County and visit environments like the bay, ocean, redwood forest, and more. Extended hours untiil 5 pm are available for another $85 per week or $20 per day. Visit their website for more information and to register.

A Family That Eats Together: Butternut Squash Carbonara

February 24, 2014

Butternut squash carbonaraMarin 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.

Carbonara is our ultimate comfort food. When I ran across this recipe in the latest edition of Bon Appétit, I adapted it to fit our family. What I love about this recipe is that it replaces the cholesterol (from traditional carbonara) and adds vitamin-rich butternut squash. When I served it for dinner, a hush took the table and then came all the hums and a big yummy!

Serves: 4–6
Prep time:
20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Tips for a Sensational Spa Birthday Party

February 24, 2014

Spa PartyMy daughter recently turned eight, and she decided on a spa theme for her birthday party. I wasn't sure where to begin, but we made a list together of things she wanted for her party, and with a little research and planning, it all came together. When the day of the party arrived we were both thrilled with the results, and her friends were, too! I forgot how much work it was to plan a party like this, but I wouldn't have done it any other way.

I thought I'd share a few or our tips and must-haves for a successful kids' spa-themed birthday party. Much of what we did was inexpensive and easy to put together, and everyone really had a good time.

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