Have a Love2Dance Birthday Party

May 16, 2012

Do your children love to dance? Most kids do, so why not consider a dance birthday party when that time of the year rolls around. Both of my children (ages 5 and 8) recently went to birthday parties at Novato's Love2Dance dance studio. I attended both parties and have to say both of them were an absolute blast.

While Love2Dance is a serious dance studio—owner Tara-Caprice Broadwater is a former Golden State Warrior dancer with over two decades of dance experience—their birthday parties are for children with little or no dance experience who just want to have fun. Of course if you know how to dance, that makes things even better.

A Visit to Farm Girl Nursery in Novato

April 30, 2012

Farm Girl Nursery in NovatoThis Saturday we finally got a chance to stop by the new Farm Girl Nursery in Novato's Indian Valley neighborhood. This charming little nursery and farm is the perfect place to visit with the kids. You can meet some animals, including pigs, chickens, rabbits, horses, and a baby goat; shop for heirloom seeds and seedlings, produce, and gardening tools; and see exactly where your food comes from.

A trip to Farm Girl Nursery is a fun outing. The kids had a great time meeing the animals, seeing all the different types of vegetables, fruits, and flowers growing, and even got to snack on carrots pulled right out of the ground.

Owner Lisa Marvier is delightful and takes pleasure in showing visitors around the small farm. She introduced us her heritage chickens and pot-bellied pigs, and even dug some carrots out of the ground that she gave to our kids to eat. She also has numerous educational activities for kids planned at the nursery, including upcoming classes and a summer day camp that sounds like it's going to be a blast (for updates, sign up for their email list at the nursery or follow Farm Girl Nursery on Facebook).

Creative Hands-on Birthday Parties at Studio 4 Art

March 20, 2012

Art birthday party at Studio 4 Art in NovatoMy kids have been getting creative at Novato's Studio 4 Art since it opened on Grant Avenue a few years ago. We've all enjoyed their hands-on art workshops and classes. Studio owner Kebby McInroy recently opened the Studio 4 Art Annex around the corner from the main storefront, and we decided to hold my daughter's recent birthday party there. Needless to say, it was a big hit with all who attended!

The Annex is a cute little cottage that Studio 4 Art uses to hold parties, special events, and summer camps. It holds up to 20 children, who can work on a variety of different art projects around the two large tables in the space. The Annex space has bamboo floors, track lighting, kids' art on the walls, lots of natural light, and a warm, welcoming ambience.

For our party, we chose mosaic nameplates, which the girls crafted out of colorful ceramic letters and pieces of glazed ceramic tile. Each project was totally unique, and everyone was really proud of their creations. When everything's dry, you can hang them on the wall—they make great decorations for children's rooms.

Day Out in Downtown Novato

February 26, 2012

Novato City HallThis is the second in our series of "Day Out" articles profiling family-friendly shopping, dining, and activities in Marin's communities. Read our first article in the series: Day Out in Point Reyes Station.

While Novato doesn't have the upscale cachet of its southern neighbors like Mill Valley or Tiburon, you'll find that there's more to Marin's northernmost town than just Target and Costco. Look beyond the suburban sprawl and big-box stores and you'll find a charming family-friendly community with a small-town atmosphere that belies its large size.

Novato has much to offer for families, from its parks and open space areas to locally-run family-friendly restaurants and shops. Novato also boasts great weather—giving it its nickname of "Valley of the Gentle Seasons"—so if you wish is to escape the summer fog of southern Marin, Novato is the place to go for a little sunshine.

A great place to see what Novato is all about is in its downtown in and around Grant Avenue. Start in the Old Town neighborhood at Grant and Reichert Avenues, home to Novato's iconic city hall (housed in a a red 1890s Carpenter Gothic church), the Novato History Museum, and a number of locally run businesses and restaurants.

Powell's Sweet Shoppe: Marin's Ultimate Candy Store

February 26, 2012

Powell's Sweet Shoppe: The Ultimate Candy StorePowell's Sweet Shoppe has been a fixture in Novato's Old Town neighborhood for years. For a while, it looked like it was ready to close its doors, but with a new owner on board Powell's back, restocked and better than ever! If you've haven't been in for a while, or if you're never visited at all, now's the time to check it out.

You know that phrase "Like a kid in a candy store"? Whenever I walk into Powell’s Sweet Shoppe I feel like I'm re-living my childhood. It's a nostalgic, old-time candy wonderland—wander the jam-packed aisles and explore different varities of candy bars licorice, chewing gum, chocolate, hard candy, gummies, suckers, and more. You name it—they probably have it. You'll probably run across something you haven't seen, or tasted, in years.

Powell's also has a variety of regional favorite candies and chocolates, such as Moon Pies and GooGoo Clusters from the South, our own local Jelly Bellies, and even candy from Britain and Europe. If you're looking for something a little fancier, try one of the hand-made chocolate truffles they offer.

Fundraisers for Kayla Rose

January 16, 2012

Kayla Rose DehnertKayla Rose Dehnert, a second-grade student at Novato's Lu Sutton Elementary School, was diagnosed on November 11 with a brain tumor after experiencing weeks of migraine headaches. Within six days, she underwent surgery to remove the tumor and the family received notice that it was cancerous just two days before Thanksgiving. Kayla Rose is currently receiving treatment at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

The community has rallied behind Kayla Rose with numerous benefit fundraisers and events. Local restaurants Las Guitarras de Novato and Moylan's offer Dine & Donate events where a portion of the proceeds go to help the Dehnert family. Las Guitarras' event takes place from 11 am to 11 pm on Thursday, January 19, and Moylan's is on Monday, January 23 from 5 pm to 11 pm. Simply show up to dine on those dates and mention to your server that you're there in support of Kayla and they'll donate a portion of your check to her fund.

The Novato Mothers Club 2012 Preschool Fair

January 9, 2012

Kids Place of NovatoAre you planning on sending your child to preschool within the next two years? If so, you'll want to attend the Novato Mothers Club 2012 Preschool Fair this Thursday, January 12, from 6:30–8:30 pm in the Key Room at Homeward Bound at 1385 North Hamilton Parkway in Novato.

Meet local preschool representatives and learn about the programs their schools have to offer. The Novato Mothers Club (NMC) only hosts a preschool fair every two years, so try not to miss this one!

This year, 21 preschools, primarily from Novato and San Rafael, will be represented at the NMC Preschool Fair. Schools attending the fair include:

  • Montessori for Toddlers
  • T.L.C. Preschool
  • Kid's Place of Novato
  • San Marin Montessori
  • San Domenico School
  • Bright Horizons at Marin Commons
  • St. Francis Preschool

December Family Happenings at Novato's Rolling Hills Club

December 14, 2011

If you haven't had a chance to visit Novato's Rolling Hills Club lately, you might want to this holiday season. This month, this family-oriented fitness club in Novato's San Marin neighborhood offers fun events and programs for the entire family.

This Saturday from 11 am to 12:30 pm, Santa Claus arrives at the club by sleigh, and little ones can climb aboard and tell him their Christmas wishes. Cookies and hot cocoa will be provided and the San Marin High School Choir will entertain with Christmas carols. This festive community event is free to everyone, and all ages are welcome.

Rolling Hills is also offering a holiday Polar Bear Camp for children ages 5–10 during the weeks of December 19–22 (Monday–Thursday) and 27–30 (Tuesday–Friday). Kids can spend their winter break with fun, active, and exciting activities, including tennis, racquetball, swimming, basketball, and arts and crafts. Make some new friends and have a great time before heading back to school.

Get a Jump on Holiday Crafts at Studio4Art

October 25, 2011

Clay gingerbread house at Studio4ArtHandmade holiday crafts make great gifts, so make sure you check out Studio4Art's creative Saturday workshops in November and December. All Saturday workshops take place from 11 am to 12:30 pm.

  • Create an imaginative clay gingerbread house on November 5 and December 3 ($40). It will last a life time and is sure to become a family heirloom. Many families come to this workshop year after year and create their own villages! Begin your house with slab construction, then add clay molded to look like candy and end with a finished piece that is sure to dazzle.
  • On November 12 make cards with handmade papers, fabric, sewing machines, block printing, printmaking and stamps ($20). Your cards will be beautiful enough to be framed! Each student receives 6 cards to create.
  • Make your own clay Christmas tree ornaments on November 19 ($30). It's amazing what you can create with a pound of clay! Creating and glazing will be completed in this one-day workshop. Families are welcome to work together.  Extra clay is available at additional cost.
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