Hiking with Kids in Marin: Deer Island Open Space Preserve

September 16, 2014

Deer Island Open Space PreserveOne of the great things about living in Marin is that you're never far from open space and nature. A favorite Marin spot for a quick outdoor getaway is Deer Island Open Space Preserve in Novato. Just a few minutes away from Highways 101 and 37 it's a calm oasis of nature that's perfect for a short and easy hike with children.

Despite its name, Deer Island really isn't an island. It used to be one at one time, but now it's a small hill surrounded by grassy meadows and seasonal wetlands. At this 135-acre preserve you'll find two main trails, the Deer Island Loop Trail, which circles the preserve, and the De Borba Trail, which leads up and over the hill. Two short spur trails take you to other parts of the preserve.

The 1.8-mile Deer Island Loop Trail is relatively flat and even with only minor elevation changes and is a great hiking choice for families with kids. It passes through grasslands and oak and bay forest and provides plenty of stunning vistas of northern Marin, including wetlands and Novato Creek. There's even a tumbled-down old farm to look at along the way.

Celebrate the Grand Opening of Teeny Cake Bakery in Novato This Weekend

September 12, 2014

Teeny CakeTeeny Cake is opening this weekend! Your favorite farmer's market cupcake booth is making a move to a permanent home in downtown Novato at 7400 Redwood Boulevard #101. Teeny Cake will hold its grand opening celebration this Saturday and Sunday, September 13 and 14, from 8 am to 4 pm, where they'll be serving coffee, espresso, tea, and of course their signature sweet treats.

Marin Mommies had a chance to take a sneak peek at the new Teeny Cake shop and to chat with owner and master cupcake baker Michelle Mahoney. It's in a great location and really looks beautful. My family is so excited to have this right in our neighborhood.

Michelle is excited to open up and be part of the local community and mentioned they'll be open early for coffee and breakfast treats like biscuits and scones. Of course she'll be offering her signature cupcakes in all her regular flavors, like classic vanilla, red velvet, chocolate, carrot, and salted caramel, as well as monthly featured flavors like organic pumpkin, caramel apple, and white chocolate peppermint.

Spend the Last Days of Summer at the Rolling Hills Club in Novato!

August 3, 2014

Rolling Hills Club Summer CampIt's August, and summer vacation will be over before we know it! But we still have a couple weeks to go, and if you're looking for something for the kids to do in the last days of summer, check out the camps for kids 3 to 13 at Novato's Rolling Hills Club.

You can sign up for the whole week, or attend the club's Sports & Splash Camps and Junior Tennis Camp on a daily basis. Extended camp is available daily from 8:30–9 am and 4–6 pm.

Nestled at the foot of Mt. Burdell, the club's seven-acre campus features two outdoor swimming pools, 12 tennis courts, two racquetball courts, an outdoor sports court, an outdoor playground, grassy fields for outdoor play, and more.

In Sports & Splash Camp for ages 5–12 campers play basketball, tennis, soccer, and wild and wacky games, and of course swimming is offered every day, too. August 4–8 is "Have a Ball" week, and August 11–15 is "Spy Week". Daily fee is $70 ($60 members); weekly is $320 ($270 members).

Explore the Final Frontier at the Space Station Museum in Novato

July 31, 2014

Space Station Museum NovatoBring your budding astronauts to learn about space exploration in a hands-on environment at the Space Station, Novato's free, kid-friendly space museum. Located in a storefront in the newly renovated Pacheco Plaza shopping center, the Space Station is a small but rich little museum that offers families and school groups a chance to explore the history of spaceflight and exploration. The museum also organizes the annual Novato Space Festival, a free family event that offers hands-on activities, interactive displays, and the chance to meet legendary NASA astronauts.

At the Space Station Museum, kids can see, handle, and even try on actual space artifacts, many of which have actually flown in space. You can try on a pair of Russian cosmonaut's space suit gloves, don a prototype space helmet designed for the Apollo missions, and even sit in a seat from a Soyuz spacecraft.

Objects on view are part of the collection of the W Foundation, a non-profit founded by Ken Winans and his wife Debbie Wreyford-Winans, and include American, Russian, and Soviet-era space equipment, clothing, photographs, a meteorite, and more. The W Foundation, which possesses one of the largest private collections of space exploration artifacts in the world, also works with organizations and events like Oakland's Chabot Space and Science Center, the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, and San Francisco Fleet Week to present educational exhibits on the history of space exploration.

Preschool Profile: St. Francis Preschool in Novato

June 3, 2014

St. Francis PreschoolNestled among tall oak and pine trees, St. Francis Preschool has been serving families in the North Bay Area for over 45 years. A semi-structured play-based program offers children the opportunity to become curious learners who are socially competent, co-operative, motivated, capable, self-reliant and considerate. We strive to prepare children to be independent and self-reliant so they are ready for elementary school. Learn more about the school and its programs at

Please describe your school's educational philosophy. What’s it all about?

At St. Francis, we provide a developmentally appropriate education with an excellent balance between structure, play, socialization and kindergarten readiness. Our semi-structured program includes periods of self-directed time where children learn and discover through their play, as well as teacher-directed activities. Our curriculum encourages problem solving, exploration, decision-making, creativity, self-expression, dramatic play, and group interaction.

Novato's La Michoacana Serves Up Mexican Style Ice Cream and Fruit Bars

March 15, 2014

La Michoacana ice cream NovatoA few weeks ago, my kids noticed that the new La Michoacana ice cream store in Novato was almost ready to open, so we made sure to come check it out on its grand opening weekend around Valentine's Day. Since then, we've been back a few times to this shop selling delicious Mexican-style ice cream, frozen fruit bars (paletas), and other sweet treats. La Michoacana offers plenty of well-crafted ice cream standards, as well as a lot of flavors that you won't find at other ice cream stores, so it's well worth a visit if you're in Novato.

Located on Grant Avenue, downtown Novato's main drag, La Michoacana occupies a brightly colored stylish storefront. The interior is equally bright and cheerful, with a clean, modern feel. There's plenty of seating, and even a kids' area with small-scale tables and chairs for the little ones.

La Michoacana offers so many choices on its menu that it's almost overwhelming. Perhaps the first thing to do is to decide what you want: ice cream or a paleta? Ice cream flavors include familiar offerings like strawberry, pistachio, and cookies and cream, as well as more exotic options like Mexican vanilla, pine nut, mamey (a fruit native to Central America), and piña colada.

Vote Yes on Measure A for Novato Schools!

March 8, 2014

Yes on Measure A for Novato SchoolsNovato residents may have heard by now that Measure A is up for renewal soon. What is Measure A? It's a parcel tax that's been in place since 1992 that helps fund Novato's fantastic public schools. Renewing Measure A will not raise taxes—it just renews a source of existing school funding (and the State of California can't touch a penny of it). And as most Novato parents know, our local schools need all the funds they can get.

Measure A will help maintain comptetitive science, engineering, and math programs; help attract and retain high-quality teachers and maintain managable class sizes; and protect important music, arts, library, and athletic programs. None of the funds generated by Measure A can be taken by the state or used for administrator salaries.

Sing with the Marin Girls Chorus - Start Young, Sing Forever!

January 14, 2014

Marin Girls ChorusMarin Mommies presents a sponsored article from Marin Girls Chorus, which begins its 2014 Spring Session this month. Enrollment is taking place now!

Calling all young singers—come sing with the Marin Girls Chorus! Classes begin this month for the 2014 Spring Session, and the enrollment deadline is January 31. Classes culminate with a Spring Concert in May. The Marin Girls Chorus classes are open to all girls entering grades K–12. Weekly classes for grades K–1 and 2–3 take place four days a week: Monday–Thursday in Larkspur, San Anselmo, San Rafael, and Novato. Weekly classes for older girls take place on Thursdays in San Rafael.

Singers will have fun each week while learning vocal technique, harmony, music theory, rhythms, and the art of choral performance. But more than that, singing has many helpful benefits in your child’s learning including language development, increased concentration, improved memory and visual and listening skills. As part of the chorus singers learn cooperation and teamwork, improve their musicianship, develop leadership skills, and gain a sense of self.

Through public performances, artistic collaborations, and pro-bono outreach concerts in the community, the Marin Girls Chorus strengthens the cultural fabric of Marin County, and offers girls a place to belong and become their most vibrant selves.

Katia & Company Present "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

December 1, 2013

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryPerformances of Katia & Company's fall production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory take place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, December 6, 7, and 8 at the Hamilton Community Center West Wing Auditorium in Novato and December 13, 14, and 15 at Hall Middle School in Larkspur.

Featuring a cast of talented Marin County kids ages 5–14, this musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's novel takes you on a trip through Willy Wonka's fantastical chocolate factory with memorable characters like Charlie Bucket, Grandpa Joe, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, and Mike Teevee. The show runs approximately 90 minutes with an intermission, and is suitable for the entire family.

Tickets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cost $10–$11 and are available online for Novato and Larkspur performances. Tickets may be available at the door (cash only), if not sold out in advance; check the ticketing site first. You can take $1 off each ticket online (and pay no service fee!) for Saturday performances only at both locations by entering coupon code MOMMIE (all caps) at checkout.

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