'No Matter What' Book Review & 'Fresh Choice' in Novato Review

As November arrives we should embrace this week’s warm weather and get out and about to festivals, parks and other outdoor spaces before the sunshine disappears! You can take a look at my past play date ideas such as Tilden Park, Schoonmaker Beach, Marinwood and Terra Linda Park under the archive or popular posts sections.

This week I review a wonderful book that teaches children about unconditional love, and suggest somewhere to fill your kids up on healthy hot and cold food for a great price! Giving our kids nutritional food is so important and some parents have asked; “how can we get their kids to eat vegetables in a less obvious way?” I will start a forum for readers next week to offer tips and recipes, so please participate by emailing me recipes and advice at sophialdavies@gmail.com or leave tips in the comments box at the end.

Weekend Events

Friday November 5th

‘Craft Fair’ from 11.00 – 8.00 pm, San Rafael Community Center, 618 B Street, San Rafael, free, call 415 485 3348.
Crafts for sale from over 60 vendors that will make great holiday gifts including jewelry, ornaments, gift baskets, holiday decorations, ceramics, and if you or a friend are expecting a baby over the winter there are great baby blankets and quilts. There is a café and bakery goods available too.

Saturday November 6th

‘Marinwood Farmer’s Market’, Marinwood Plaza, corner of Miller Creek Road & Marinwood Avenue.
A small farmers market with local musicians playing most weeks, grab a delicious chocolate & pumpkin muffin from the bakery and a coffee from “Maddie’s Mud’ and watch the kids bouncing in the jumpy house.

‘Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy with the Brian Waite Band’ at 11.00 am, Bay Area Discovery Musuem, Fort Baker, Sausalito, child $10, adult $12, members $5; www.baykidsmuseum.org
A concert for age 1 & up in the Madison Square KinderGarten filled with funny props, antics and appearances by the Rocktopus, Harlin the wizard and reggae musician Skankin’ Ja Toddeh.

Prenatal Yoga’ every Saturday at 10.45 – 12.00 pm (until Jul 2nd 2011), The Yoga Source, 1570 Fourth Street (at F St), San Rafael; www.theyogasource.net
Wendy Heneghan teaches women of all levels of yoga experience and stages of pregnancy. Your first class can be a drop in at $17, and then you can sign up for a five week class card ($75) to use throughout your pregnancy.

‘Marin County Parks K-9 Carnival’ from 11.00 – 1.00 pm, McInnis Park, 310 Smith Ranch Road, San Rafael
Take your family dog along to the first Marin County Parks K-9 carnival!

‘Ivy & Bean Celebration Day’, at 4.00 pm, Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera: www.bookpassage.com
Author Annie Barrows will host an Ivy & Bean celebration at the store and read from the latest book; “What’s the Big Idea?”

‘Big Turkey’ Marin Food Bank from 9.00 – 9.00 pm til Dec 31st, Town Center Corte Madera; www.shoptowncenter.com 
Every year children can enjoy feeding the giant turkey and donating canned, non-perishable food items and toiletries that will be distributed by the Marin Food Bank.

Sunday November 7th

‘Children’s Garden – Haunted Harvest Fall Festival’ from 12.00 – 4.00 pm, Edna Maguire School, 80 Lomita Drive, Mill Valley; www.ednamaguire.org
Featured last week but rescheduled for this Sunday due to weather forecast, featuring a wicked tea party, witches brew stew-off, potion making, recycled sculpture contest and games such as barrel apple bobbing and wrap the mummy.

Family Sundays’ from 11.00 – 3.00 pm, 1st & 3rd Sunday of every month, SF MOMA, address, San Francisco
Explore art and create your own by getting hands-on with Mod-erators guide participatory art activities, book readings and movie screenings.

3rd Annual Harvest Crafts Fair’ from 10.00 – 6.00 pm, Los Robles Community Clubhouse, 100 Roblar Drive, Novato; www.irnovato.com
Stock up on holiday gifts from over 30 vendors including toys, bath & body products, hand crafted ornaments, holiday wreaths and baked goods available.

Restaurant of the Week

Fresh Choice, 124 Vintage Way, Novato; www.freshchoice.com

Less of a restaurant review this week and more of a recommendation for a great place to fill the kids and yourself up on a budget, with a wide choice of healthy hot and cold food that is mostly local and organic!

Fresh Choice is located by the entrance of Vintage Oaks Shopping Center at the Rowland Way, Novato exit off Highway 101 so a great place to stop off for food on your way home from ‘Power Play’ at Cal Star in Ignacio, or if you are heading home from ‘Jack and Jill' in Petaluma, or even from a big shop at Target or Costco!

For under $9.00 you can purchase an adult or kid’s meal which will include as many trips to the various food bars as you wish and a cup to fill up at the water or soda machine. There is a wide choice at the cold salad bar such as various tossed green and pasta salads that I was very impressed with, some are also gluten free and low sodium, accompanied by various salad dressings. There are fresh tomatoes, cucumber, egg salad, humus, and endless vegetables like baby beets, peas, peppers, corn, olives and potatoes and mixes like their ‘Broccoli Obsession’ that has carrots, red onion, raisins, sunflower seeds, mayo and white vinegar. Unlike some salad bars they are regularly restocked so they don’t have that sad, wilted look about the food that you sometimes find at other places. It also has an allergen and health guide on the displays.

There is also a potato bar with either baked potatoes or yams that can be topped with sour cream, various butters, chives and cheese. There is a soup bar with five or six choices of soup or chili with crusty or garlic bread. My son’s favorite is the pasta bar with mac n’ cheese, spaghetti and other types of pasta or herbed rice with a marinara, meat or vegetable sauces. A great bakery and pizza bar with a minimum of four choices of pizza, slices of harvest bread, baguette, carrot or zucchini bread, lemon shortcake, and cornbread. If you still have room for desert you can fill your plate with a selection of fruit salad, fruit cobbler, peaches and cream pudding, bread pudding, sugar-free Jell-O or ice cream with sprinkles. I personally loved the amazing ‘Triple Decadent Chocolate Brownies’ that I couldn’t resist eating one…ok three!

This style of self-service makes it easier for the parents to control what their kids eat for lunch or dinner, and allows them to have a wider choice of food that they can pick and choose depending on what they are in the mood for that day. If they don’t want to eat the salad greens that you chose for them, then you can get pasta alternative without wasting any money that sometimes happens in a regular restaurant. The price is great value for money and will make you feel better about that big shopping spree you just did at Target!

Children’s Book of the Week

No Matter What’ by Debbi Gliori

I have a real soft spot for this children’s book, as it is a sweet and touching story about a child’s fear and confusion about a parent’s temporary absence. It is a good book to get if a parent in the household goes away on business trips or works late preventing them from being home every night for bedtime. As the author says…’it is a little book about big worries”.

It is a warm story about a little one trying to understand what unconditional love is, and features two foxes named ‘Small’, the child, and ‘Large’, the parent. It begins with Small feeling upset because Large is speaking on the phone while doing housework, so he sits in the corner with a bucket on his head to get attention. Large asks “what is the matter?” to which Small replies; “I’m grim and grumpy, and I don’t think you love me at all”. And so begins a series of questions like; “what if I was a grizzly bear, would you still care?”, or “if I turned into a squishy bug, would you give me a hug?” To which Large reassures that Small will always be loved and cared for no matter what; “I’d still hold you close and snug and tight, and tuck you up in bed each night.”

Small tries to understand scenarios such as; what do you do when love wears out or breaks, and can you can fix it like a toy? Finally Small asks where love goes when Large is far away; “Does your love go too or does it stay?” Large tells Small to look up at the moon and stars which are far, far away; “But their light reaches us at the end of each day.” As they cuddle at the window looking up at the sky Large tells Small; “It’s like that with love - we may be close, we may be far, but our love still surrounds us…wherever we are”.

I will admit that this book especially the ending has moved me to tears a few times, as not only is it a touching story but the illustrations are beautiful. They complement the story so well, and the both of you will also discover new little details in the pictures each time you read it together. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe your child will enjoy pointing and counting the twinkly stars on the last page before bedtime too.

Weekly Calendar of Toddler Appropriate Activities in Marin


10 .00 - 10.30 am - Kid's Story Time Club, Pharmaca, 7514 Redwood Blvd, Novato

10.00 – 10.30 am – Book Babies, San Anselmo Library, 110 Tunstead Ave Town Council chamber

10.00 -10.40 am - Toddler class at Studio 4 Art, 1133 Grant Avenue, Novato (until Dec17th)

10.30 – 11.15 am – ‘Music Together of Marin’, The Parent’s Place, 600 Fifth Ave, San Rafael

3.00 – 5.00 pm – Crawlers Camp (up to 23 months) at Stretch the Imagination, 47 Tamal Vista Blvd

9.00 - 1.00 pm - 'Jack and Jill' indoor play space, 217 Western Avenue, Petaluma (every day)

10.00 - 6.00 pm - 'Jump n Bounce, 718 San Anselmo Avenue, San Anselmo (every day)


9.30 – 10.45 am – Baby Bounce Storytime – Larkspur Library, 400 Magnolia Ave, 1st Floor

10.00 – 10.30 am - ‘Baby Bounce’ Story time at Novato Library, 1720 Novato Blvd

9.30 – 10.30 am - ‘Jumping Jacks’ (up to 24 months) at the San Rafael Community Center, 618 B Street, San Rafael

10.30 – 11.30 am - ‘Jumping Jacks’ (24 months & up) at the San Rafael Community Center, 618 B Street, San Rafael

10.00 – 11.30 am - ‘Play date for 2 and Under’ at The Parent’s Place, 600 Fifth Ave, San Rafael

10.15 - 10.45 am - 'Music Circle', at The Parents Center, Heller's Store, 514 4th Street, San Rafael

11.00 - 11.30 am – ‘Book Club Story Time’ at ‘Pottery Barns Kids’ store, Corte Madera Village


9.30 - 12.00 pm - 'Indoor Power Play' at Cal Star Gym, 70 Digital Drive, suite 3, Novato

10.00 -10.30 am – Music Together, San Rafael Community Center, 618 B Street, San Rafael

10.15 – 10.45 am - ‘Music Circle’ at The Parents Center, Heller’s store, 514 4th St, San Rafael

10.00 - 10.45 am - Fun & Funky (age 2 - 4), Fairfax Community Center, 

10.30 - 11.30 am – Adventure Club Drop in Play, MLK Gym, 610 Colma Street, Sausalito

11.00 - 11.30 am – Story Time at Giggle Store, Corte Madera Village

11.00 -11.30 am – Preschool Storytime, Novato Library, 1720 Novato Blvd

3.00 – 5.00 pm – Crawlers Camp (up to 23 months) at Stretch the Imagination, Corte Madera

4.00 – 8.00 pm - Farmer’s Market, Bolinas Park, Bolinas Road, Fairfax


8.00 – 1.00 pm – Farmers Market, The Civic Center (Puppet Show, balloon lady, Jumpy Houses & music)

9.30 - 12.00 pm - 'Indoor Power Play' at Cal Star Gym, 70 Digital Drive, Novato

9.30 – 10.30 am - ‘Jumping Jacks’ (up to 24 months) at the San Rafael Community Center, 618 B Street, San Rafael

10.30 – 11.30 am - ‘Jumping Jacks’ (24 months & up) at the San Rafael Community Center, 618 B Street, San Rafael

10.15 -10.45 am – Toddler Storytime, San Rafael Library, 1100 E St, San Rafael

10.30 – 11.00 am – Story Time at San Rafael Library, 618 B Street, San Rafael

11.00 - 11.30 am - Story Time at Barnes & Noble, 313 Corte Madera Center

3.30 - 4.00 pm - 'Stories with Phil Sheridan', Sausalito Library, 420 Litho Street

3.00 – 7.00 pm – Farmers Market, Marin Art & Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Ross

6.00 – 9.00 pm - Farmers Market, 4th St, between Lincoln and B St, San Rafael


10.30 - 11.30 am - Story Time with Sarah Bonnet, San Rafael Library, 618 B Street, San Rafael

10.30 - 11.30 am - Tot's Club, City Hall Parks & Recreation, 420 Litho Street, Exercise Room, Sausalito

10.30 – 12.00 pm – Jumping Jacks, Strawberry Recreation District, 118 Strawberry Drive, 2nd floor gym

9.00 – 2.00 pm – Farmers Market, Alto Shopping Center, Mill Valley

9.00 am – 2.00 pm – Farmers Market, Bank of America parking lot, Downtown Sausalito

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