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Tomatomania at Cornerstone Festival of Gardens

tomatoesThe whole family, or at least the ones that like tomatoes, will enjoy this special event at Cornerstone Festival of Gardens near Sonoma this weekend, April 14-15. Tomatomania will include a huge heirloom tomato seedling sale, with colorful varieties like Green Zebras, Cherokee Purples, Black Krims, and Dixie Golden Giants. Children can learn about all the varieties of tomatoes and how to maintain a wonderful vegetable garden. Some of the free activities for children will include crafts, making vegetable garden markers, and making a scarecrow for the organic vegetable garden.

Wildflower Season and a Beach Hike in Point Reyes

california poppies at point reyesSpring naturally brings a bounty of beautiful wildflowers to Marin, but the window of time in which to see them is short. Perhaps the best place to see them in the county, if not the Bay Area, is Point Reyes National Seashore. Take a drive out to the beach at Point Reyes and see stunning wildflowers that blanket the hills in colors such as yellow, purple, pink, orange, and white. I always like to point them out to my kids and talk about the beauty of them, in hopes that they grow to appreciate them too.

Kids Birthday Parties

It’s time to start planning for my son’s 4th Birthday party. I’m always looking for a fun and easy place to have my sons party every year. Last year we had two parties for him at the Round Table Pizza with Merlin’s Magical Kingdom in Novato. An indoor playland with tubes for the kids to crawl through, this is also a great location for any type of get together on a rainy day. Another great place for this age range is the Redwood Empire Gymnastics in Petaluma. We went there for my niece’s birthday a couple years ago and all the kids had a blast. They offer a gymnastics session and they have an area for food, cake and gift opening.

Toddler Hiking and Adventure Outing

It’s never too early to start hiking and exposing your children to nature, but sometimes it can be a challenge to hike with a toddler. Adventures with Toddlers is a program that focuses on hiking “toddler style.” This program explores some of our local beaches, lakes, and creeks through short nature walks, where stopping to look at things like ladybugs and any other creepy-crawlies is encouraged. Social interaction and making friends is also part of the program. Adventures with Toddlers is led by Lonnie Greenfied, who was trained at Audubon Canyon Ranch as a nature guide, and Donna Simonsen, who has led numerous hikes with Adventures for Women. These classes are for children 18 months to 5 years. You need to bring a picnic lunch and one parent. You can sign up for this class by contacting your local recreation department or by calling 707.933.8882. The classes are $90-$115 per child accompanied by one parent.

More Hip Kids' Music: Wee Hairy Beasties

Wee Hairy Beasties: Animal CrackersI'm always on the search for kids' music that's more than your average Raffi-Barney-Wiggles stuff, so when I stumbled across the Wee Hairy Beasties on iTunes I was pretty excited. So were the kids, too, when they heard the music! Wee Hairy Beasties is a product of former Mekons punkers and subsequent alt-country gurus Sally Timms and Jon Langford, so they've got plenty of "coolness" credibility for parents who need that kind of thing.

An Outing to Pierce Point Ranch

When the rain stops and you simply have to get out of the house and back to nature, head to Pierce Point Ranch on the Pt. Reyes peninsula for a perfect day outing. At the north end of Pt. Reyes, Pierce Point Ranch dates back to 1858 and was at one time a successful dairy ranch. It's been preserved by the park service, and it's a great place to take the kids to see some wildlife and learn about ranching life in the old days.

Those looking for more to do can head out on nearby Tomales Point Trail, which affords breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Tomales Bay as seen in the picture above. It's about 9 miles round trip to Tomales Point, so it's probably not suitable for little kids. Also nearby is McClure's Beach, located at the end of a short trail.

You'll see a variety of wildlife out there, including tule elk (there's a large herd that lives out there), as well as bobcats, hawks, deer, and more.

Frances England "Fascinating Creatures"

It's so refreshing to find some kids' music that doesn't make you want to run screaming from the room. Thanks to The Poop parenting blog on for pointing out Frances England and her album "Fascinating Creatures". An indie- and folk-inspired take on music for children, it's a lot of fun. Plus, she's a mom herself! You can buy Fascinating Creatures on iTunes.

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