Chinese New Year takes place this year on January 23, and one way you can get ready for the Year of the Dragon is by reading Oliver Chin's new book of the same name with your kids. The Year of the Dragon: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac (36 pages, Immedium, 2012) is the seventh book in this series by Chin, a local San Francisco writer and dad, and follows the adventures of Dominic the young dragon as he meets the emperor and empress, befriends a boy named Bo, and enters a paddle boat (a literal "dragon boat") race with a crew made up of Bo and the other 11 animals from the Chinese zodiac.
The Year of the Dragon does a great job introducing kids to the dragons of Chinese lore, and offers a gentle tale of friendship, teamwork, bravery, and acceptance. The illustrations by illustrator and cartoon character designer Jennifer Wood, who's done work for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, are colorful and dynamic and add a lot of appeal for both kids and grownups.
School's only a few weeks away, and getting organized both for yourself and the kids is a must. Our favorite way to get organized is with the BusyBodyBook!The BusyBodyBook is a stylish and easy-to-use family organizer designed specifically for families. It allows you to keep track of the entire family's schedules at a glance, and it's something I can't live without. BusyBodyBooks personal and family organizers ($17.95) are available for both 2011–2012 school year (August 2011–August 2012) and traditional January–December, 2011 calendar yearversions.
In addition to their organizers, BusyBodyBook also publishes a neat "family central" wall calendar ($14.95) and an undated weekly grid pad ($12.95) that's handy for the fridge, your desk, a binder, or anywhere else that you need to keep track of your busy life.
It's something of a tradition to make Mom breakfast in bed on Mother's Day. Instead of soggy cereal or burned toast, why not try out a delicious recipe that the kids can even help make? Dad will have to get up early and get into the kitchen to supervise, but the results—and the look on Mom's face when she tastes the finished product—are worth it.
The recipe in question is the ABC Fritatta from our friend and fellow Marin mom Michelle Stern's new cookbook, The Whole Family Cookbook: Celebrate the goodness of locally grown foods(182 pages, Adams Media, 2011; $17.95). Try whipping up this combination of fresh eggs, sweet apples, crisp bacon, and cheddar cheese (the "ABC" of the recipe title), and it may very well become a favorite in your house.
Veteran parents will probably remember joking about forgetting to pick up the manual for their new baby when leaving the hospital. Of course there isn't a baby user manual, but the Secrets of a Baby Nurse: How to Have a Happy, Healthy, and SLEEPING Baby from Birth(185 pages, Rising Star, 2011; $17.95), the new book by seasoned maternal-infant nurse and "baby sleep wizard" Marsha Podd, RN, might just be the next best thing! Marsha has over 20 years of experience working with parents and small children, and is the author of numerous articles, including guest posts on Marin Mommies.
In Secrets of a Baby Nurse, Marsha provides new parents with just about everything they need to know about their new baby, especially when it comes to sleep (both yours and the baby's). Her helpful advice and tips are the product of years of experience and plenty of scientific research. It's kind of like having your own personal baby nurse on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I really really wish I had this book when my kids were babies—I don't think my son slept at all until he was three (at least it seemed like it at the time).
Marin Mommies contributor, cooking teacher, and award-winning blogger Michelle Stern has just released her first cookbook, titled The Whole Family Cookbook: Celebrate the Goodness of Locally Grown Foods (182 pages, Adams Media, 2011; $17.95). If you and your kids love to cook together, then this is the book you've been waiting for! The Whole Family Cookbook contains over 75 family-friendly, kid-approved recipes, illustrated with beautiful color photos, that are easy to make, delicious, and healthy. Recipes are clear and concise, with color-coded instructions for kids of all ages. The book is also filled with Michelle's practical advice and tips on cooking with kids, culinary techniques, finding the best local and natural foods, green living, and more.
Chapters are divided into different cooking concepts: breakfasts, including crunchy granola, sweet potato biscuits, and an breakfast burritos; dinner fare like chicken pot pie with biscuit topping, miso-glazed salmon, and pumpkin ravioli; side dishes including oven-fried zucchini sticks, Mediterranean quinoa salad, and kale chips, mom-approved treats and desserts like lemon buttermilk sherbet, peaches and cream cobbler, and chocolate chip pumpkin bread; and finally, a collection of recipes for making your own pantry and refrigerator staples such as pancake mix, hummus, hot chocolate, and pesto.
Marin Mommies is happy to present the first in a series of book reviews by guest contributor Todd Pratum, literacy expert and founder of the the Pratum Children's Library in Ross.
Could it be, that in certain fundamental ways, ways heretofore never imagined by modern thinkers—but well imagined and known in times past, especially in pre-medieval and indigenous cultures—that babies and young infants are more loving, more sensitive, more altruistic than adults? That they are, in the words of author and psychologist Alison Gopnik inThe Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life (288 pages, Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2009), “smarter, more conscious, more thoughtful than adults.”
Impossible? Preposterous? Delusional? Scientifically proven? This reminds of a famous line from Wordsworth, “The child is the father of the man.” While there are clunky dry passages where Gopnik is necessarily forced to present some particularly pedantic—but key experimental results, the bulk of this revolutionary book is wonderfully written, unveiling the most recent results of experimental child physiology, neurology and psychology, experiments most of which have only been conceived of in the last five years.
In today's economy, families are always looking for ways to maximize their budgets without skimping on the fun. That's why a resource like Free San Francisco: The Ultimate Free Fun Guide to the Bay Area (Corley Publications, 326 pages, $15.95) is a great thing to have around. While it's small enough to fit into a coat pocket, purse, or backpack, this pocket guide is filled with over 400 things for families to do all over the Bay Area without breaking the bank.
The book's sections cover the city of San Francisco itself, Bay Area venues ranging from art museums and galleries to nature centers and zoos to parks and historic sites, free activities like art walks, hikes, bike rides, concerts, and film screenings, and a roster of free or almost-free Bay Area events for every month of the year. It's a lot of fun to read to discover a new place to go or activity to do, and it's indespensible when out-of-town guests make an appearance.
I think all mothers, especially those with daughters, will agree that there's something extremely special about the mother-daughter bond. That is the premise for a new book of essays on the subject titled Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond.Because I Love Her was edited by Marin mom and writer Nicki Richesin, and includes short pieces by authors including Joyce Maynard, Sheila Kohler, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Ericka Lutz, and others.
The essays are in turns poignant, profound, funny, uplifting, and comforting. They're all short, and it's the perfect volume for a busy mom to pick up during one of her all-too-rare breaks and take in a story or two. Many of the works included in Because I Love Her remind me of my relationship growing up (and to this day) with my mother, and of course make me consider my relationship with my own 3-year-old daughter and how it will evolve over time.