The Marin Scoop

http://www.themarinscoop.blogspot.com/

A family-friendly lifestyle blog that features design, home decor, fashion, restaurant reviews, play date ideas and fun events happening around the Bay Area. I also write about small businesses offering interesting services or products.

In what ways is Northern California unique from other places you've lived or traveled?

What outdoor activity do you enjoy doing most with your kids?

What's a great Northern California destination for a family vacation?

What's the best playground in San Francisco or the Bay Area?

Sophie Davies

There are so many great playgrounds in Marin, one of my favorites is Corte Madera Town Park which has a great lay out with three sets of play structures for different age groups, from springy motorbikes for little tots on soft flooring to a climbing wall and a roller slide for the big kids. It has a sand box in the middle and a great circular path around the edge for riding bikes, all safely enclosed. If you are looking for a park that the children can spend hours having little adventures while discovering new areas and hidden corners then check out the Millennium Playground in San Anselmo Memorial Park. It has a variety of complex designed castle fortresses that represent the Seminary Tower and Town Hall Tower which are a lot of fun to get lost in, with various slides that pop out of the structures. There is also a train depot with a wonderful wooden train, a giant dinosaur, sand box and swings. For hot summer days, the Marinwood Park has lots of shade next to a BBQ area and the outdoor pool which has a tots pool surrounded by a grassy lounge area, great for play dates. A hidden gem is the Palmisano Park in Hamilton, Novato, near the outdoor pool, which has great play structures and a large sand box with a tower in the middle with pulley systems for carrying the sand up and down. It is also our local park so a popular family hang out for us!
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What's your go-to snack for your kids?

Sophie Davies

Easy snacks to take to the park or eat in the car include cheese sticks, bananas, grapes and cut up pieces of juicy pear and apple. We like to share peanut butter cracker sandwiches together or oatmeal cookies. Also the Dannon mini Probiotic yogurt drinks are useful to keep in the refrigerator if we don't have the time to sit down and eat a pot of yogurt.
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Can you recommend a stylish bag that is big enough for all the stuff moms tote around? Please share a link if you can.

Sophie Davies

Who says a mom can’t be stylish and practical? A mom’s bag has to be full of everything you and your kids need for every situation when you are out and about every day. I usually carry everything but the kitchen sink on my shoulder and my husband constantly complains that he can’t find anything in my over-packed “Mary Poppins” bag. So I have recently organized the contents into individual clear bags for diaper changes, snacks, baby toys, toddler cars and trucks etc. and placed it all inside a stylish leather tote bag from Zara. It has black patent leather side panels and contrasting short handles for over my arm nook and a long strap for over my shoulder. A stylish solution that my husband is happy about!
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What is your favorite quick breakfast recipe?

Sophie Davies

It's fun for the family to make their own mini breakfast burritos using corn & whole grain tortillas. Spread mashed up avocado on them and add chopped up tomatoes, grated cheese, scrambled egg, chopped up bacon or ham. Its an interactive meal idea that can be tailored for lunch and dinner too!
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What is a fun and creative way to preserve baby memories?

Sophie Davies

As memories happen we you are on the go, I am constantly taking pictures and movies on my iPhone. My husband travels for business and family & friends live around the globe so I post special moments and milestones like my daughter crawling for the first time on Facebook. For every year of my son's life I have made a photo baby book using local company 'Blurb'. I intend to do the same for my daughter's first year and then combine the two as they will be doing most things together. I also include their birth stories, when milestones happened etc. So many photos end up sitting in our computers so it's nice to put them together in a book, collage or printed and made into handmade cards for family members to keep.
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Which is better for raising a family: city or suburbs, and why?

Sophie Davies

I grew up in London and remember being bored during school vacations as there wasn't that much to do apart from going to the local urban park, library or take a long trip to the coast. Now I am raising my children in Marin, and I feel so fortunate about the opportunities they have around them; to participate in so many types of camps, go to the beach, go for a hike, swim in outdoor pools (something very rare during my childhood). I think it depends on the crime rate and safety of the area you live in, rather than whether it is a city or suburb. If you and your children are happy and you are surrounded by good friends or a good community, then that is the most important thing when choosing where to raise your kids.
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When your child has a friend who is a bad influence, what can you do?

Sophie Davies

My 3 year old son has a couple of friends who can be a bit aggressive towards him when they play together, which initially was a bit upsetting, as my son is so easy going and wouldn't dare take a toy away from another kid. He used to just look to me and rely on me to fight his battles for him, which as parents we sometimes have to do when they are young. The play wasn't too threatening so I didn't want him to stop playing with those kids and put him in a bubble. But over the last 5 -6 months since he has been attending preschool (and learning new social skills), I have seen a gradual change in him and his behavior. He has become more assertive in his actions and communication skills. He stands up for himself and doesn't let other kids walk all over him. I hope this is something that will continue as he gets older, with our guidance, as unfortunately bullying is something he may encounter as he gets older.
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What's an affordable and fun family activity?

Sophie Davies

Going for a nature walk is a fun activity to do, it makes parents slow down and take the time to look at the world through a child's eye. Notice the spring flowers, the different shaped rocks, the colors in a bird feather. Pack a picnic and take a bucket or fill up a little pocket with treasures, that can be brought home and made into new things. Turn sticks into fishing rods, press flowers into gifts, paint pictures or funny faces on rocks. Paint a picture about your walk and what you found or just collect all your treasures in a mason jar that can become a talking point about what they saw and learnt that day.
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What's your kids' favorite backyard game?

Sophie Davies

My son is obsessed with digging so loves to use his diggers to dig up wood chips, gravel and sand from the sandbox. He has also created a rock garden with all the big rocks he has collected on nature walks. My baby daughter is contributing a feminine touch to it by adding flowers that she has picked and watering it most days with her watering can. The kids are enjoying putting their own stamp on the back yard's landscape.
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What are some creative ways that a bride can involve children in her wedding day?

Sophie Davies

A wedding can be a long day for young children, and the last things parents want is a meltdown to spoil the bride's big day. Finding fun and creative ways to involve and entertain children can make it an enjoyable rather than an exhausting experience. My son's grandma got him a second hand trycyle and decorated it with color coordinated ribbons and flowers. He enjoyed riding it around the wedding reception and he became part of the wedding's color theme which looked great in pictures! My son was also given a gift bag at his table place setting full of small toys and books to play with during dinner. He was 18 months at the time and sat at the table for nearly two hours! You could also give the children a gift bag containing a drawing, coloring or craft activity about the wedding itself that would make a cute keepsake for the bride and groom!
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What's a great item to include in a birthday goodie bag? Please include a link to a photo if you have one.

Sophie Davies

I used buy lots of bits and pieces from the Dollar Store for birthday party goodie bags, but once I had made up 10 - 15 goodies bags I realized that I had ended up spending too much money on a bunch of things that would probably get thrown away. I now think giving the children an affordable book as a party treat or birthday gift is personal and means more. We are big fans of the Mr. Men & Little Miss book series by Roger Hargreaves, and I like to choose characters that represent each guest; such as Little Miss Giggles, Mr. Bump, Little Miss Sunshine, Mr. Funny etc. There is also Mr. Birthday and Little Miss Birthday for the birthday boy or girl…perfect!
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What's your children's favorite lullaby?

Sophie Davies

I have always sung "I Can Sing a Rainbow" to both my children. It is the one song that instantly calms my 15 month daughter. She could be having the biggest tantrum and then I feel her whole body relax as soon as I hold her and sing the lullaby to her. It's amazing how a special song can be an easy soothing method.
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