Marin Mommies interviewed Lauren Mueller of JumpStart!, the Marin-based nanny and tutor network, to find out more about their approach to childcare and education. Lauren is a Marin County native with over 15 years of experience in childcare and academics. JumpStart! understands the values and priorities associated with finding an exceptional caregiver or educator.
Having grown up with a nanny, Lauren personally understands the importance of finding the right childcare provider. Partnering with her Marin mom, Leslie, both bring to JumpStart! in-depth, first-hand knowledge of the requisite qualities needed to cultivate an environment which fosters both children’s well-being as well as parents’ satisfaction. Extensive screening is the backbone in the selection of dedicated individuals who are an across-the-board match with JumpStart’s mission and ideals.
Please tell us a little about you and your business. How did you get started?
My passion is kids. As a young girl, I used to plead with my parents to have another child so that I could be a “big sister”. Though that never occurred, I at first looked to babysitting as a way to nurture, educate, and play with children. Beginning at age 12, I have
Stock up on waste-free lunch gear from Fabkins, Mimi the Sardine and Lunchbots tonight Wednesday, August 15 at Mimi the Sardine's Corte Madera Store. They'll have items up to 40% off, including organic cotton napkins, stainless steel containers, Mimi Kids items (lunchbugs, backpacks and more!), and the entire Mimi Home Spring/Summer Collection.
Enjoy wine and nibbles while you shop! It all takes place from 3–6 pm at 305 Montecito Ave A, Corte Madera.
We're also giving away a fabulous Mimi the Sardine lunch clutch to one lucky Marin Mommies reader! To enter to win, send an email with "Mimi" in the subject line to email@example.com by 11:59 pm on Friday, August 17. We'll choose a winner at random. See our full giveway rules and terms here.
When it comes to back-to-school, green is the way to go! Instead of throwing away plastic and paper products in the trash every day, invest in some reusable eco-friendly lunch box supplies for your kids this school year. The ones listed below are durable and will last for years. Our family owns several of the items that I’ve listed here and use them all the time for school lunches, snacks, and picnics.
Here are some of the green items that my kids’ lunch boxes are never without:
Reusable cloth lunch bags:
Mimi the Sardine's lunch bags, like their signature Lunchbug (shown here), are made right here in the Bay Area from cotton fabrics designed and produced in Sweden. Their fabrics are spill-resistant, machine-washable, meet the Oeko-Tex 100 Standard, and are made without harmful chemicals. They even come in colorful patterns that mom and dad might even consider taking to work! Prices range from $18.55 to $26.50. Visit their retail store in Corte Madera at 305-A Montecito Avenue.
LunchSkins sandwich bags are perfect for holding sandwiches, chips, vegetables, or any other lunch item. LunchSkins are made from a thick cotton fabric that is coated with a food-safe polyurethane liner. They’re dishwater-safe, durable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns like pink berry flower, green lizard, navy shark, red bird, mango slice, and red apple. Snack bags are $7.85 and LunchSkins are $8.95.
Graze Organic sandwich and snack bags are made of washable and durable organic cotton, so they'll last for countless uses and eliminate the need for disposable plastic baggies. A velcro closure keeps contents secure and fresh. Designs are suited for both kids and adults—original artwork is screen printed by hand with water-based ink. Prices start at $ 24.00 for a set of 3 bags.
Like many families, we like to know exactly where our food is coming from. So when we learned about the new "u-pick" Sundays at Bloomfield Farms in western Sonoma County, we knew we had to give it a try. My kids love the opportunity to pick their own food, whether it's in our own backyard garden or at a local farm. While there are plenty of local farms that offer farmstands and sell at various farmers markets around the Bay Area, this is the first we'd heard of a farm offering pick-it-yourself veggies.
Bloomfield Farms is a certfied organic family farm located just west of Petaluma in Sonoma County. It's easy to get to, and makes for a fun Sunday outing for the family. They sell produce at farmers markets, supply local markets, and provide CSA boxes to subscribers, but decided to offer a u-pick event so consumers could come experience how their food is grown and harvested.
Pull into to the farm and register with Nick Papadopoulos, one of the owners of Bloomfield Farms. He's welcoming and enthusiastic, and he'll explain how the farm's u-pick Sunday works: head out into the fields, pick and cut vegetables, and fill your crate. It costs $25 for everything that you can fit into the box. Wagons are available, too, which makes carrying your crate of veggies a lot easier (there's a limited number of wagons, so bring your own if you can). While we were there we also got a chance to chat with Mike Collins, founder and farmer at Bloomfield Farms. He's extremely knowledgable and passionate about what he grows.
My kids love keeping busy with hands-on activities, whether they're crafts or science projects, or art. While I try to keep a good stock of supplies for creative activities on hand, sometimes it's a stretch to come up with something new and put it together with what I have. That's one of the reasons we were so excited to get our hands on a sample of the new Kiwi Crates—activity kits designed to keep kids engaged and busy.
Created by Bay Area mom Sandra Lin, Kiwi Crates operate on a subscription service: for $19.95 a month, you get a crate of creativity appropriate for kids ages 3–7 delivered to your door. Themes include "Colorful Inspiration", "Dig into Dinosaurs", and "Growing Gardens".
Our sample was the Growing Gardens crate, the contents of which are pictured below. It contained three projects: a window garden kit to plant and grow beans and squash indoors, supplies to create our own one-of-a-kind veggie pots, and some recipe cards to write down the tasty creations that we'll eventually make with our vegetables.
Sometimes it seems like the days of the old fashioned ice cream parlor are a thing of the past, but then you run across a place like Petaluma's Lala's Creamery. Located right downtown on Petaluma Boulevard North (across from Starbucks Coffee), Lala's is a retro temple to all things ice cream, and it's definitely worth a visit if you're in the area. Heck, it's probably worth a trip up to Petaluma just to go there!
Step through Lala's Victorian façade and into their cool and clean ice cream parlor. In keeping with the exterior architecture, the indside of Lala's makes you feel like you've stepped back into the 1890s, with crisp white paintwork, marble tables, exposed brick walls, swiveling stools at the counter, and a black-and-white checked tile floor.
Step up to the counter and order your treats. Your choices, including a selection of seasonal ice cream flavors and a variety of soda fountain creations, are written on chalkboards. Lala's makes their ice cream in small batches on-site from local ingredients, and uses it in old school indulgences that you and your family probably have never had before (but your parents and grandparents might recognize some of them).
Marin Mommies presents another guest article by Marin Mom and writer Gabrielle Cullen.
Ahhh… Date Night, the elusive moments in time when parents can actually enjoy their dinner or (gasp!) take in a movie or a concert or show. In the busy blur of life it is important for partners not to sweep this under the bed with the dust bunnies, Barbie shoes and dinosaurs. It should be a regular event because as adults, we need to have some alone time during which the conversation doesn’t revolve around after-school schedules, Dora, or LEGOs.
As much as we love our sticky, dirty little adventurers, there is something to be said about wearing a nice outfit for at least two hours without finding it to be covered in peanut butter or glue or Play-Doh. There is also something to be said about reconnecting with your spouse or partner, reminding each other why the two of you decided to take the family journey together. Marin is full of great restaurants, theater and musical venues so don’t hesitate a day longer, call the sitter and make Date Night happen this weekend!
This 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).
My 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.