Xtreme Bugs at Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science

February 20, 2014

Xtreme Bugs at the Lawrence Hall of ScienceOne of our favorite Bay Area destinations for hand-on science fun Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science. Located in the hills high above the UC Berkeley campus, this science center has entertained and educated generations of kids, and continues to offer fun science exhibits and activities. We visited this week to check out their awesome new exhibit Xtreme Bugs and had a great time.

Xtreme Bugs, on view at the Lawrence Hall of Science through September 1, 2014, allows visitors to get an up-close view of the fascinating world of bugs through giant insect and arthropod models that move and buzz. You'll find over 100 of these enormous animatronic bugs situated throughout the museum and even outside, and you'll encounter such critters as an orchid mantis, a monarch butterfly, a tarantula, honeybees, and a 15-foot-long Japanese hornet.

Not only can you examine these big bugs up close, but you can listen to the sounds they make, watch them move and learn how they play a critical role in our environment. My kids loved the extreme size and realistic look of these amazing bugs. It's truly fascinating and engaging for kids and grownups of all ages. Some of the bugs were accompanied by an interactive iPad component, too. This part of the exhibit is located in one of the rooms in the back of the building on the first floor. You can visit some of the giant robotic bugs' real-life counterparts in the Backyard Zoo, which features a tarantula, a scorpion, a giant Madagascar hissing cockroach, and an Argentine ant colony.

Hiking with Kids: Explore the Wetlands at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma

February 18, 2014

Shollenberger Park PetalumaFamilies looking for an easy, scenic, and educational hike should check out Shollenberger Park in Petaluma. Located just a short drive from Marin, the 165-acre Shollenberger Park lies alongside the Petaluma River, and offers miles of hiking trails that run through the wetlands and hook up to other trail systems in the area.

Park in the lot off Cader Lane in an industrial park off Lakeville Highway in southern Petaluma. While it seems a little odd that this outdoor recreation spot is located in the middle of an office park, it definitely feels a world away once you hit the trail. Trails are flat and even and hikers, cyclists, and walkers of on-leash dogs are all welcome.

Being in the middle of a wetland area, expect to see a ton of waterfowl and other birds on your walk. We saw Canada geese (of course), several diffferent kinds of ducks, coots, Red Tailed Hawks, and even a pair of Northern Harriers. If you have binoculars, definitely bring them along on your walk. You'll also enjoy sweeping views of the Petaluma River as well as Mount Burdell to the south.

What's for Dinner: Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry

February 17, 2014

chicken and broccoli stir fryI love it when I find a dish that everyone in the family loves and that's healthy, economical, and easy to make, too. This Chinese-inspired chicken and broccoli stir fry is all of those things. Serve it with some plain rice or Asian noodles and it's a complete dinner that comes together quickly.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Summer Fun at the Bay Area Discovery Museum's 2014 Discovery Camps

February 17, 2014

BADM Summer CampThis summer, the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito offers a variety of exciting summer Discovery Camps for children ages 3 to 8. Weekly camps start June 2 and run through August 22. Kids can sign up for a different camp each week and enjoy guided exploration and open-ended creative play. The museum's experienced educators and camp counselors will be on hand to help provide direction and guidance for the campers. General registration starts Tuesday, February 18, 2014.

New offerings for 2014 include a Junior Counselor program for kids ages 9–12 and a new camp theme, Inventing with Art. There's also an additional extended care hours for morning sessions, as well as the an option to order lunch for your child from the museum's Bean Sprouts Cafe & Cooking School.

The museum's 2014 camps include an expanded Big Discovery Camp for three-year-olds, an afternoon Summer Camp Sampler featuring some of the most popular camp themes, and a multiple week discount—get an extra $25 off when you sign up for four weeks, $50 off or five weeks, $75 off for six weeks, and $100 off for seven or more weeks.

Celebrate the Year of the Horse at the Bay Area Discovery Museum Today!

February 17, 2014

Dragon and Golden Gate BridgeGung hay fat choy! Sausalito's Bay Area Discovery Museum opens on a Monday (something that happens rarely) for its annual Chinese New Year Festival. The festivities take place today, February 17 (Presidents' Day) from 9 am to 5 pm. At the this celebration of the Year of the Horse, the whole family can find something to do. Try your hand at traditional Chinese calligraphy, construct a kite, see a vibrant performance by the Chinese Performing Arts of America Youth Group, dine on delicious Chinese food, or make your own sweet wonton (they’ll even cook them for you).

You can also learn about the Chinese zodiac and enjoy an exciting performance by the Dragon Horse Lion Dance Team (10 am) and the lion dancers of the Marin Chinese Cultural Group (2 pm). Lion dance performances take place in the museum's Festival Plaza (performances will be in the Discovery Theater if it's raining).

New Moms Support Group: Awakening into Motherhood

February 16, 2014

Awakening into MotherhoodAre you a new mom in Marin looking for some emotional support? Awakening into Motherhood is a new group in San Anselmo that helps new moms to navigate the full range of motherhood in a safe, non-judgemental space. The group seeks to provide a nurturing environment of connection and support that helps each mom find more power, pleasure, and balance in her life.

The group begins on March 1, 2014 and runs for six weeks. The cost is $65 per group. Sessions are held on Saturdays from 10 am to noon at the Essex Center, 412 Red Hill Avenue, 2nd Floor, Suite 17 in San Anselmo.

Awakening into Motherhood is facilitated by Sophie Darch McEntee, MA, LMFT, a Marin mother and psychotherapist with over a decade of experience helping women connect more deeply with themselves.

For more information on this workshop, contact Sophie Darch McEntee at sophiedmcentee@gmail.com or (415) 816-7086.

10 Fun Family Activities for Mid-Winter Break

February 15, 2014

Snow play for mid-winter breakWhether you're heading up to Lake Tahoe or hanging around home for "Ski Week", there are plenty of fun things to do with the kids during their time off! Check out our list of 10 fun family activities and outings in Marin and beyond for mid-winter break.

Lake Tahoe Ski, Snowboard, & Snow Play Family Fun

February 14, 2014

Ski lesson at Northstar Lake TahoeNext week is "Ski Week" (or Mid-Winter Break) for many kids in Marin. What could be more appropriate than to head up to the mountains for a day of ski and snow fun? Fortunately, last weekend's storm left quite a bit of snow up in Lake Tahoe, so skiing conditions should be fantastic.

Our favorite mountain destination is Northstar California Resort near Truckee, but the Tahoe area boasts numerous resorts and ski areas to suit anyone's taste and budget.

Here's our guide to places to ski, snowboard, tube, sled, and play in the snow around Tahoe. We're tried to focus on spots that offer not only skiing and snowboarding, but tubing, snow play, and other winter activities, as well. If we've omitted your favorite, please let us know!

Go Play in the Snow! Great Places for Family Snow Play in Northern California

February 13, 2014

Tubing in the Sierras

Most schools have off next week for mid-winter break, so it's great time to getaway and go play in the snow. While we love the skiing and winter fun at Lake Tahoe, we know that not everyone's a skiier, and sometimes families just want to go up and play in the snow. While many of the Tahoe ski resorts like Northstar, Squaw Valley, and Heavenly have tubing parks, ice skating, and other winter non-skiing activities for the family, there are plenty of places in the Sierras where you can get your snow play fix without the ski resort hustle and bustle (and price tag).

Most of these snow play sites are within a few hours' drive from Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area. While some have tubes and sleds to rent, others, most notably the California State Sno-Parks, offer little more than a place to park your car so you can go play in the snow. For a list of Lake Tahoe ski resorts that offer both skiiing and snow play activities, read our article here.

Snow Play Resorts

While not as numerous as ski resorts, you'll find a few snow play resorts throughout the Sierras. These places usually boast a lodge or clubhouse, dining, restrooms, and other activities. You'll probably have to rent a tube or sled while you're there, as many of these facilities don't allow outside equipment. Most open around mid-December, although opening dates are dependent on weather and snowfall. Make sure you call or check their website before you go.

Adventure Mountain

South Lake Tahoe's Adventure Mountain is all snow play, all the time! They offer tubing, sledding, saucers, snow play, snowshoeing, sled and tube rentals, and beginner snowboard lessons for kids, as well as dining and a gift shop. Adventure Mountain is open now for the 2013–2014 season. Hours: Weekdays, 10 am–4:30 pm and weekends and holidays 9 am–4:30 pm, weather permitting. Location 21200 Highway 50, South Lake Tahoe (at Echo Summit), 96150. More info: adventuremountaintahoe.com or (530) 659-7217

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