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december 2012

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Volume 7. numb er 12

Holiday Traditions In this month’s issue of Back At The Ranch, we have included several articles and stories focused on what some in our community see as their favorite aspects of the holidays or the area they call home. We’ve also highlighted several of the wonderful community activities taking place that provide great opportunities to get out and celebrate the spirit of the season. Perhaps we’ll see you and your family out enjoying the lights both near and far and taking part in some traditional holiday festivities. No matter how you celebrate the season, we hope you do so with an appreciation for all we have. Page 6

A Few of Our Favorite Things As the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” With merriment and joy the hallmarks of the day, now is a wonderful time for many of us to reflect on all that we have and all that we can be thankful for. Tops on many lists for residents in the community of 4S Ranch is likely to be simply living in such a nice, family-centered, growing community that provides an ideal setting for making the most of all that is available nearby. Page 12

Christmas Lights As we grow older, it’s easy to also grow a bit cynical about the holiday spirit. We see so many examples of what it’s not supposed to look like that we sometimes overlook the countless illustrations of why this is a magical time of year. This is why we think you’ll enjoy one local resident’s recollection of when the true spirit of Christmas came to him and his family. Page 11




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Volume 7. numb e r 1 2

december 2012 editor’s corner

mike Mi njares

Holiday Lights Shine Bright community news & lifestyle for 4S Ranch

O ff i c e

Fountain Media Group, Inc. 1501 San Elijo Rd. S, Ste. 104-202 San Elijo Hills, CA 92078 (800) 497-1309 Publisher

Tim Minjares Publisher (800) 497-1309 x707 e d i to r i al

Mike Minjares Managing Editor (800) 497-1309 x712 Sal e s

Melissa Granados Sales Director (800) 497-1309 x701 P r o d u ct i o n

AJ Moreno Designer

I’ve always been a big fan of lights at the holidays. Growing up, I remember counting down the days until the holiday lights and decorations went up on Chula Vista’s Candy Cane Lane and Christmas Circle. I begged my parents to take our family on trips to see the lights again and again. Even though our house never stood out as our outdoor Christmas lights were very modest, I thought our holiday home was pretty cool because we had these awesome “bubble lights” on our tree every year. I loved plugging in the lights, letting them warm up and then enjoying the miniature light show all over our Christmas tree. It’s fun recognizing the prominent place lights hold in several festive events this time of year. For many of my Jewish friends, the lighting of the candles on the menorah maintains special significance during the celebration of Hanukkah, not only for the warm light it shines on family and friends but for its traditional symbolism of a long-held faith. Light is also prominent in Kwanzaa celebrations as the seven candles reflect the seven days and seven principles of Kwanzaa as I understand it. As a parent, there is nothing like seeing your children’s eyes light up as they hurriedly unwrap a muchanticipated present or gift. That natural light reflecting a sense of pure joy makes all the hustle and bustle of shopping worth it. Like their dad, my kids also enjoy the traditional trip to see holiday lights like the ones we visit every year at Christmas Card Lane in Rancho

Peñasquitos with some of our best friends. In addition to enjoying the impressive lights and homemade decorations, we all happily take part in the hot cocoa and sweet holiday treats available along our walk through the decked-out neighborhood. There is such a great sense of community among the residents and visitors who come to visit each year that you can’t help but take some of that with you when you leave. Our ride home always seems to include lots of laughs and declarations about our favorite decorations. In this month’s issue of Back At The Ranch, we have included several articles and stories focused on what some in our community see as their favorite aspects of the holidays or the area they call home. We’ve also highlighted several of the wonderful community activities taking place that provide great opportunities to get out and celebrate the spirit of the season. Perhaps we’ll see you and your family out enjoying the lights both near and far and taking part in some traditional holiday festivities. No matter how you celebrate the season, we hope you do so with an appreciation for all we have. As 2012 comes to a close, we at Fountain Media Group want to thank you for your ongoing support and we look forward to continuing to bring you a community publication you can be proud of in 2013. We wish you all the merriest of holidays!

feature - happy holidays! FountainMediaGroup inc. publications that build community

Our mission for Back At The Ranch is to connect 4S residents to each other and to key resources with the goal of building community in 4S Ranch and the greater Rancho Bernardo area. Back at The Ranch is a great example of what can happen when neighbors build strong relationships and get busy putting their ideas and skills together for the good of the community. We hope you find this community publication reflective of our excitement to be in 4S Ranch and our desire to build something that brings us all closer together. We invite you to join in the fun and get involved. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form, in whole or part, without written permission is prohibited. Back at the Ranch (BATR) is a monthly publication highlighting house, home and community building. BATR accepts freelance contributions, though there is no guarantee that unsolicited material will be returned. BATR is not responsible for the views of contributing writers and assumes no responsibility for errors appearing within. Opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Publisher or advertisers. We reserve the right to restrict all advertisements to their proper classification and to edit or reject any copy.

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Favor ite H ol i day T r a diti ons


Ch r istmas Lights


A F ew of ou r favor ite thing s


th e i r ish b ookma ke r’s sa ndwich


Ho l i day B lu e s str e ss b u ste r s


community news O n Y o u r D o o r step News & events happening IN & around 4S Ranch


meet your neighbor Lo r i Long - Local S tat e Fa r m Age nt


school news DEL NORT E H IGH sch ool


stone r a nch e le me ntary sch ool


M ont e r e y Ri dge E le me ntary S chool


business highlight Achi ev e a dva ntage e du cationa l s e rvic e s


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on your doorstep Breakfast With Santa Presented By 4S Ranch Master Association The 4S Ranch Master Association proudly presents Breakfast with Santa. Please join us between 10am to 1pm on December 9 at Miguel’s Cocina located at 10514 Craftsman Way in 4S Ranch. There will be a special entrance by Santa, a Christmas craft compliments of  Lori Long at State Farm Insurance, cookies  and milk compliments  of  Skoglin Homes and Santa will be posing for pictures with the kids.  Professional photos will be available for purchase $5 for one 4x6 by Photography by Suzanne Sanger. In addition, brunch reservations are available for parties of six or more by calling Miguel’s at (858) 924-9200. Check out for all the details. 

O Tannenbaum! Hope United Methodist Church

4S Ranch Girls Softball Try-It Day Sat., December 8

A special presentation of the holiday favorite “O Tannenbaum!” is scheduled for December 7, 8 and 9 at Hope United Methodist Church at 16550 Bernardo Heights Parkway. The performance is a celebration of the symbols of Christmas and is presented by the Yuletide Choir in the Sanctuary. Free tickets are available on Sundays on the patio or weekdays in the church office, though seating is limited. Showtimes are: Dec. 7 – 7:30pm; Dec. 8 – 5pm and Dec. 9 – 3pm. For more information, visit

With registration for the 4S Ranch Girls Softball 2013 season underway, interest in playing this great sport is growing. If you or your daughter have thought about playing softball in the spring but are not sure if she will like it, 4S Ranch Girls Softball has the perfect solution – Try-It-Day. On Try-It Day, girls can come bat, catch, field and run the bases to see what they think about softball. Try-It Day is Saturday, December 8 from 10am to 1pm on Stagecoach Field, 10265 Camino San Thomas. 

Rancho Family YMCA – Winter Break Camp For families with young children, finding meaningful activities for the kids to be engaged with during the lengthy winter break can be challenging. With this in mind, Rancho Family YMCA will offer a Winter Break Camp from Wednesday, December 26 to Friday, December 28 from 9am to 4pm for kids ages 5-11. The camp will be held at Mesa Verde Middle School (8375 Entreken Way) and cost $95 for members and $120 for general participants. School Break Camps are designed to encourage youth to participate in team building activities and have some fun! All activities promote the YMCA’s 4 Core Values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility. Extended Camp hours are available from 7 to 9am and/or 4 to 6pm. Extended Camp fees are $17/$25. Cost includes both am and pm times.

For more information or questions, contact the YMCA at (858) 484-8788 or online at Rancho Family YMCA has proudly served the communities of Rancho Penasquitos, Mira Mesa, Scripps Ranch, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Sabre Springs, Rancho Bernardo, 4S Ranch, Torrey Highlands, Santa Luz, and Poway since 1989.

In addition, walk up-registration will also be available on site for those girls that decide to give softball a shot this season. Food, drinks, prizes and lots of fun are the focus for Try-It-Day. Every girl gets a raffle ticket for prizes! Please note, the last day to register is January 3 with a mandatory assessment taking place on January 5. For more information, go online to

Rancho Bernardo Inn December Days and Nights The annual holiday event December Days and Nights returns to Rancho Bernardo Inn from Thursday, December 20 to Sunday, December 23, 5 to 8pm. This wonderful seasonal tradition is a great way to celebrate the holidays for local residents and guests of the Inn alike. For $15 per child, participants can enjoy photos with Santa, storytelling, caroling, gingerbread cookie decorating, hot cocoa, a synchronized musical light show and much more. A la carte treats and holiday refreshments for grown-ups will also be available. Join neighbors and friends in celebrating the spirit of the season at a local favorite. For more information on this community-centered event, visit

Danceology Presents A Nutcracker Extravaganza – Dec. 15 Danceology’s 2012 Holiday Showcase – A Nutcracker Extravanaga – takes place Saturday, December 15 at Rancho Bernardo High School’s Performing Arts Center, 13010 Paseo Lucido. Showtimes are 10am, 1pm and 4pm (Nutcracker only). The first two shows feature nearly 50 tiny tot dancers for the first part of the production with a Nutcracker production incorporating dancers of all ages making up the second part. Tickets cost $6 (for 3-11 years) or $12 (12 years and up). For more information, contact Danceology at (858) 613-1155.

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library events

Library will also be closed on Christmas Day, December 25th.

4S R A N CH L IBR A RY ( 8 58 ) 67 3 -4697 |

ADULT PROGRAMS Adult Fitness Class with Miss Aimee - 4th Wednesday of the month at 9:30 a.m. Learn about Beachbody programs and experience the Fit Club phenomenon! Sign-ups required.

Basic Computer Training in Farsi - Tuesdays at 8:30 a.m. Open for Farsi speakers interested in learning basic computer skills.

Citizenship Class - Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Open for all interested in taking citizenship tests.

College Savings Workshop Saturday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. Seminar on saving for college and planning for retirement from an early age.

Family Yoga- Saturdays at 10 a.m. Yoga for the whole family.

Gentle Yoga with Patty Wednesday, Dec. 5 & Dec. 19 at 9:30 a.m. Gentle yoga for adults and seniors.

Knitting Circle - Wednesdays at

Naam Yoga with Kristin Mondays at 4 p.m. A scientific approach to Yoga that uses breath work (Pranayama), mantras (Sound), mudras (hand postures), laugher, and movement that will help balance your mind, body and spirit

Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu - Saturday, Dec. 22 at 3:00p.m. Workshop on using natural remedies for treating common cold.

Yoga Meditation for Every Day Stress Reduction with Dr. Afshin Nahavandi - 1st and 2nd Tuesdays of the month at 6:45 p.m. For 15 years old and above

Friends of the Library Meeting - Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 6:30 p.m. Become a member of Friends of the 4S Ranch Library and support your local library.

Fine Free Friday @ all SDCL Branches - Return your County owned books, CDs, DVDs, or other overdue materials on the last Friday of each month and we’ll get rid of the fines for those items!

5 p.m. Join your fellow knitters by the fireplace every Wednesday evening and knit for fun.


Kids Fitness with Miss Andrea

- 2nd and 4th Monday of the month at 10 a.m. Spanish bilingual story and craft for children.

- Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Kids fitness class with Miss Andrea for kids ages 18 months to 5 years old. Sign-up required

Baby Story Time - Tuesdays

Homework Center - Fridays at

at 10:30 a.m. Pre-walking babies only. Enjoy this one-on-one lapsit activity which introduces babies to stories and songs.

4 p.m. One on one tutoring for students from Kindergarten through 9th grade. Sponsored by Del Norte High School Education in Action Club. Registration required.

Spanish Bilingual Story Time

Preschool Story Time & Craft with Mrs. Z - Fridays at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. For children 3 to 5. Mrs. Z’s story time engages children and focus on the skills and concepts children need to be ready for Kindergarten! Parents and caregivers get to see proven, modeled techniques to help their children succeed!

TEENS AND TWEENS PROGRAMS Tutor Doctor SAT Practice Test - Saturday, Dec. 8 at 11:00 a.m. Free SAT practice tests for high school students. 10th grade and up. Registration required.

Play to LearnTime with Teacher Lee - Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Music, Stories, Art and Fun! For children 5 years old and under.

Crafts for a Cause - Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. Arts and crafts for K-3rd grade students.

I am a local 4S ranch resident! Work with U.S. Bank Home Mortgage for all your financing needs!

Whether you’re looking to purchase a new home or improve your existing home, call me today! • Government FHA and VA Loans

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Ask me about our U.S. Bank Platinum Package. You may save up to $1,000 on your next mortgage!2 1) Borrow up to $3,000,000 in California only. 2) Discount is calculated as .25% of the loan amount. Maximum mortgage discount is $1,000 for new home purchases and external refinances. For existing U.S. Bank home mortgages the refinance discount maximum is $300. Certain mortgages may not be eligible. Offer may not be combined with any other marketing offers, and is not valid if you have received other U.S. Bank bonus offers in the past 6 months. Other restrictions may apply. Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Information is subject to change without notice. Mortgage and Home Equity products offered by U.S. Bank National Association, Member FDIC. ©2012 U.S. Bank 052412-18722

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4S Ra nch

on your doorstep 4S Eyecare & Optometry Offers Discount on Flex Spending Benefits 4S Eyecare and Optometry has been gladly serving the eye care needs of the 4S Ranch community, and their commitment to providing the best patient care and friendly atmosphere are still the same guiding principals that the practice was built on six years ago. Always staying ahead of the curve and using innovative technology to provide excellent patient care, they make it their goal to keep the residents of 4S Ranch seeing and looking fantastic in their glasses and contacts. Dr. Natalie Li has just joined the expanding practice. She and her husband, orthodontist Dr. David Li, are long time 4S Ranch residents and are members of the Stone Ranch Foundation, where their daughter goes to elementary school. She has a special interest in kids, and has volunteered her time to work with the kids and staff at Stone Ranch Elementary to educate them about the need to maintain good ocular health. As part of her commitment to kids and education, 4S Eyecare and Optometry offers free single vision polycarbonate lenses with anti-reflective coating to all children when they purchase a frame. Helping all our kids see 20/20 or



better is the surest way to help them achieve peak performance at school. The doctors are also well versed in the fitting of all types of contact lenses. They maintain a library of over 10,000 lenses on site and take special pride in fitting contacts to people who have not been able to wear lenses in the past because of ocular health issues or dry eye. If you have never tried contacts or stopped because of poor comfort or vision, now may be a great time to try them again! Ever wish you didn’t have to wear contacts or glasses? 4S Eyecare and Optometry can help you with that as well. They have partnered with NVision Laser Centers and offer free Lasik Consultation days. Call today to schedule a free evaluation to see if Lasik is right for you. Or perhaps OrthoKeratology is a better fit for you. Dr. Li offers a free consultation for these exciting, FDA approved custom contact lenses that are worn during the sleeping hours, gently reshaping your cornea and allowing you to see clearly in the morning, without surgery. If you are not already a patient here, now is a great time to get introduced to 4S Ranch’s original eye care center. If you have a HSA or flexspending account that will expire at the end of the year, they are offering an additional 20 percent off the purchase of eyewear or sunglasses when you utilize these benefits. So come on down and let us show you why we are 4S Ranch’s favorite.

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EyeLux Optometry provides full-service family eye care in a state-of-the-art facility. We believe that the best prescription is individualized and considers your lifestyle. With the EyeLux Optometry Better Than 20/20 PromiseTM, our doctors will measure your new eyeglass prescription so accurately that if your eyes can do it, you will see beyond the 20/20 line. To help detect subtle eye health changes that can threaten sight, our exams include digital retinal imaging and external eye photography at no additional cost. Our experienced opticians look forward to helping you find eyewear that expresses your style. We have all the thin and light lenses and the latest in lens treatments. EyeLux Optometry is your trusted source to reduce eyestrain and sharpen vision for better performance at work, school, athletics and recreation.


Located in 4S Ranch by Fresh & Easy 16615 Dove Canyon Road, Suite 105 San Diego, CA 92127

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on your doorstep Del Sur Schools Among Top Performers in Poway Unified School District on State Tests 2012 Growth Academic Performance Index (API) scores are in and Del ing Martin Reisert, its sixth-grade science teacher who was named 2012 Sur neighborhood schools – Del Sur Elementary, Oak Valley Middle and PUSD Teacher of the Year. Del Norte High – are top-performing schools within the Poway Unified • Del Sur Elementary School scored 960, tying with one other elemenSchool District (PUSD). The high-achieving district’s API scores have tary school for the highest API score in the entire continually increased since the inception of the district. Del Sur gained 15 points this year to reach district-wide API in 2003. 960. “We’re extraordinarily proud that Del Sur’s schools are not only part of PUSD, but that they Del Sur Elementary is the first school in there are top-performing schools in the district,” PUSD history to have a grade level (fourth-grade) said Bill Ostrem, president and CEO of Black with 100 percent proficient testing on state exams. Mountain Ranch LLC, developer of Del Sur. “The Equally impressive is seeing 90 percent of Del Sur diversified programs and outstanding academic Elementary’s fourth-grade students are advanced. leaders, including teachers at Del Sur Elementary “Del Sur Elementary School is unique in that and Oak Valley Middle who were named Teacher we offer broad-based educational experiences, such of the Year in 2011 and 2012, are what make these as an engineering class, art class, and even a program schools so successful.” called Business Town where students get to act as Here’s how Del Sur schools are performing: working professionals for a day,“ said Doug Johnson, • Del Norte High School earned 865, and was Del Sur Elementary School tied with one other elementary school for the highest API score in the principal of Del Sur Elementary School. “Our the only high school in PUSD to successfully meet Poway Unified School District. wonderful PTA and Foundation fund additional its 2011-12 growth target. Its score placed it third programs and teachers, also extending the learning among high schools in PUSD, and in the top 10 experience for our students.” of all San Diego public high schools. The state-of-the-art high school is With scores ranging from 200 to 1,000, API measures year-to-year acaequipped for success with sciences labs, athletic facilities, including a pool demic performance and growth in schools and in districts across the state. and tennis courts, a performing arts center and more. The API is based upon student results on the California Standards Tests given to students in grades 2-11 in the spring of each year. For high schools, • Oak Valley Middle School scored 923 on the API, placing it second the results of the California High School Exit Exam are factored into the among all middle schools in PUSD. Oak Valley gained 14 points this year to student performance scores. reach 923, and was one of only two middle schools in PUSD to successfully All PUSD comprehensive high schools, middle and elementary schools meet its 2011-12 growth target. Also this fall, the middle school is celebratexceeded the state API target of 800, a goal the state set for all schools to reach by 2014. The most recent results show 22 PUSD schools with API scores of 900+.

Country Montessori School To Hold Special Events in January If you’ve ever wondered what Montessori Education is all about, Country Montessori School of Poway will hold several special events in January to provide interested parties with information about this increasingly popular approach to education. On Thursday, January 10, 2013 from 6 to 8 pm, the local school will host “Prospective Elementary Night.” This event offers a great opportunity to visit Country Montessori School, meet the teachers, ask questions and find out why CMS might be the right choice for your child’s future. Discussion will include information on class sizes, the focus on individual attention and discovering new ways to explore math, science and reading. The second event – Family Montessori Education Day for the community – takes place Saturday, January 26, from 2 to 4pm. Parents will have the opportunity to explore a Montessori classroom and ask questions about the Montessori method, while children enjoy games and activities with the school’s trained childcare supervisors. Questions are welcomed. Finally, Country Montessori School of Poway showcases its commitment to giving back to the community through its 5th Annual Walk-aThon. The special event is scheduled for Thursday, January 31. Country Montessori School of Poway is located at 12642 Monte Vista Rd., Poway. For more information on any of the upcoming events call (858) 673- 1756 or go online to

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Balboa Park December Nights December 7, 5-10pm, December 8, 12pm-10pm In the spirit of the holidays, Balboa Park opens its museum doors free to the public from 5 to 9pm on both evenings! Entertainment, food, culture and holiday cheer are all part of the fun, festive event. See the children of San Diego perform with presentations from the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, the Del Cerro Baptist’s Christmas Tree Story, the San Diego Junior Theater and more.

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade December 9, 1-5pm, Gaslamp Hilton Park Once a year, the pets and their owners are invited to dress up in their favorite costumes for a parade down the Gaslamp Quarter to celebrate the holiday season. The parade starts promptly at 3pm. Grab your favorite critter and head down to the Gaslamp this December.

www. backattheranch-online.c om

4s Ra nch

meet your neighbor Lori Long – Local State Farm Agent If there is a great community event or activity going on in the 4S Ranch area, more than likely Lori Long will be involved. Organizations and activities like 4S Ranch Little League, 4S Ranch-Del Sur Community Foundation, San Diego North Chamber of Commerce, local schools, the Thanksgiving Thank You Run, the summer concert, the annual Egg Hunt event and more have all benefitted from Long’s dedication to this community and her sincere interest to give back to it in meaningful ways. Lori, a Poway resident, who opened her State Farm office in 4S Ranch in December 2007, has a real focus on family and a commitment to see the local community grow. The San Diego State University alumna has two sons – Christopher, 15, and Mitchell, 12. She moved her former office in La Jolla to the local area to be closer to her home and her children’s school so she could volunteer more often. With sons involved in music and sports, Lori is quick to support activities and programs that provide area youth with outlets to explore their talents and develop their skills. “The focus of my work as a State Farm agent is making sure families are properly insured and protected,� she shared. “I want to be sure they know their options and are well taken care of by my agency. I’m sure that’s what guides me being so involved in the community as well. I see how much it takes to provide our local kids with the opportunities they enjoy to be their best. I’ve gotten involved in this community so much and that involvement helps build a relationship with the community that has been very good to me in helping my business succeed.� Recently, Lori enjoyed the chance to explore an area very different from North County San Diego. In October, Long joined 47 other people on a 10-day trip to China with the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce. China marked only the second stamp Lori has collected in her passport –





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Bermuda was the first this summer – and it was an experience she will never forget. “This trip to China was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up,� Lori said. “The trip was so well planned and went smoothly. We saw diverse parts of China. We enjoyed learning about the history of the country and were pleasantly surprised by how open our tour guides were with us. The Chamber did a great job and they have trips to Ireland and Germany coming up next year.� Closer to home, Lori is getting ready to celebrate her 5th anniversary of her State Farm agency in 4S Ranch, though she’s been with State Farm for more than 25 years now. She credits her outstanding team of Bryce Binderup (Office Manager), Caylyn Kraud (Account Representative) and Rany Fischer (Sales Manager) with playing major roles in the local business’ success. Lori’s agency provides many types of insurance and financial products including Auto, Home/Renters/Condo, Life , Long Term Care and Commercial Insurance along with bank products. “Clients are comfortable talking with my team because they know them so well,� Lori explained. “They can call and talk with us directly. We’ve literally grown with our clients as we helped someone with insurance on their first car and now we are insuring their children as they begin to drive. The goal is making sure I’ve given them the information they need to make good decisions. I keep in touch with my clients and still go out to people’s homes personally. I really enjoy that aspect of the work. I grew up in a small town and I wanted that smaller-town feel for my family. In 4S, you feel more of your impact in the community because it is so close-knit. I am still a smalltown girl at heart.�

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feature Favorite Holiday Traditions The arrival of the holidays has always seemed to make me smile. Maybe it’s because I have such great memories of my parents making sure this was a special time for me and my family. It’s nice to know that kids today also look at this time of the year and its events and activities with a fondness I’d like to think will last a lifetime. Just as we did last month, Back At The Ranch invited a local school teacher to help us find out exactly what favorite holiday traditions a class of first graders holds dear. Thank you to Ms. Megan Clark at Stone Ranch Elementary School for bringing their responses to us. – Editor’s note Konnor: Christmas Eve we

exchange the gifts. My grandma usually gives me cash in an envelope because she wants me to buy something I want.

Sebastien: On Christmas Eve my grandparents, my uncle and friends come to our house for dinner. My great-grandmother from France sometimes comes to visit too.

Darren: My favorite holiday mem-

ory is opening presents on Christmas morning.

Logan: My favorite holiday tradition is watching Charlie Brown Christmas with my family on Thanksgiving night.

Timothy: On Thanksgiving weekend it’s time to put the Christmas tree up. Our Christmas train goes around the tree.

Serafina: Thanksgiving is my

favorite holiday because it is my birthday month. Our family has a feast.

Zack: My favorite tradition dur-

ing Hanukkah is when we light the

candles and sing a song called “Mr. Shamus.” We also get lots of presents for 8 days. I am a very lucky boy because I not only celebrate Hanukkah, but I also celebrate Christmas. I love decorating the tree with my dad with my favorite ornaments. We also get 1 special present from Santa and also make Santa cookies.

Maddy: My favorite tradition is

when we open presents on Christmas morning. Then we drive to LA to see

my grandparents. At night we go to Candy Cane Lane to see the lights.

Kellen: When we go out together as

a family to search for a Christmas tree. I love finding hiding places in all the trees with my brother and sister.

Kalani: Santa gets lots of cookies, so

on Christmas Eve we leave him a soft pretzel and a glass of water.

Jeremiah: On Christmas Eve we

go to church. We perform a little show for Christmas. I don’t really like to perform but I do it. We celebrate Jesus’ birthday on Christmas Eve.

Mackenzie: I like getting together

with my family to celebrate Hanukkah. We light one candle each night. We play dreidel. We eat potato latkes.

Kori: I go to my Grandma’s house and visit my family. We eat yummy food and play games together.

Elizabeth: On Hanukkah we light

the Menorah after dinner. After that we get to open presents. We celebrate Hanukkah for eight nights.

Aliyah: My favorite holiday tradi-

tion is Thanksgiving. We go to my grandma and grandpa’s for dinner. My daddy cooks a big turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. I help Grandma set the table. Everyone gets their plates and sits down at the table. We start eating. First I eat the stuffing. I love the stuffing so much. When everyone is finished, my Grandma gets out ice-cream. When everyone is done is time to go home and go to bed. I say goodnight.

Miles: Opening stockings Cameron: I go to my cousins’

house on Thanksgiving. We play games and eat Thanksgiving dinner. After dinner, we take a walk and go to the beach and play.

Ishraq: When we go trick-or-treating I get a lot of candy, but my mom does not let me eat all of my candy.

Sophia: Every Christmas my fam-

ily chooses their own special ornament for the tree. We bake cookies and I put the sprinkles on them. I like decorating our house outside and inside because it looks sparkly.

Sophia: My favorite holiday tradition is decorating a Christmas tree.

Ethan: My favorite holiday memory is making cookies with my Nana.

Lily: My favorite holiday is

Christmas because I get Elf on the Shelf and to see Gus Gus. I can’t wait to have my presents and put a cup of milk and cookies.

Elijah: We go to Palm Desert with my family.

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No matter what holiday traditions you and your family celebrate – Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Diwalu, we wish you all the best in making it the most memorable time of the year. Happy holidays from Back At The Ranch!

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Christmas Lights by Ray Shay

As we grow older, it’s easy to also grow a bit cynical about the holiday spirit. We see so many examples of what it’s not supposed to look like that we sometimes overlook the countless illustrations of why this is a magical time of year. This is why we think you’ll enjoy one local resident’s recollection of when the true spirit of Christmas came to him and his family. – Editor’s note It is almost dark on January 15 and I am sitting in our front yard waiting for our Christmas lights to illuminate. I suspect the 4S Ranch HOA, “Letter of Complaint” is already in our mailbox. I really do not care if it is. After all, Theresa and I have a good excuse. We did not hang the Christmas lights on our home. To take them down now would close a chapter in my life and conclude a precious friendship that started just 18 years ago. I am not ready. These Christmas lights are just too special.  The first time I met Theresa’s mom, Helen Mok, was in her kitchen. The kind of small Formica countered kitchen in Parsippany, New Jersey where you immediately feel safe. I loved to sit in the corner of Helen’s kitchen with the chairs crowded around the table. The intimacy conveyed a sense of safety and caring. It was in that small kitchen where Helen was at her very best. She loved to cook multiple dishes of the most incredible food you could ever imagine. Home made Chinese dumplings, noodles, soup, steak, shrimp and fish. It was a never ending food fest. I always told Helen her kitchen was my most favorite place in the entire world.   Helen’s quiet grace and sense of caring for her family are qualities I will never forget. After finding out more about her and the rest of her family, I knew I was going to marry Theresa. I also think most guys dating a woman tend to, “check out” their mom. I know all you guys are wondering, so yes, Helen as they say on the police beat was, Henry, Ocean, Tom... (H-O-T).   Unfortunately, in one of life’s cruel turns, Helen developed stiffness and pain in her right calf that seemed to linger and not get any better. In fairly short order, her pain began to spread and she was diagnosed with ALS, (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. At the time, a close friend said, “ALS has got to be the cruelest disease you could ever imagine.” I thought at the time, “She must be exaggerating. It really can’t be that bad.” I was so wrong. ALS can be very painful and a fast-moving disease. It progressively shuts down all the muscles in your body. I also learned a person’s brain is not a muscle, so the entire time your body and muscles are withering away, your mental capabilities remain as sharp as a tack. You, unfortunately, know exactly what is happening to you. Helen’s husband, Theresa’s dad, “Jimmy” was simply unbelievable. He did everything humanely possible to ease her burden. I have no doubt Jimmy would have carried Helen in his arms for a hundred miles, if it would have made a difference. Over fifty years of marriage and raising five beautiful children together will do that to a man. Unfortunately, everything her family did was to no avail. Helen was not a complainer. Despite ultimately not being able to move, she never lost her quiet grace, determination, or sense of humor. Helen expressed love for her family and quietly passed away on the evening of December 8, 2008, in Denville, New Jersey. Following funeral services we returned to San Diego very late one evening. It was just a few nights before Christmas. It was unusually damp and cold as we pulled into the driveway of our home in 4S Ranch. I looked at Jimmy who had lost the love of his life as we unloaded the car. There was not much to say. We were all exhausted, hungry, and quite honestly, heartbroken.    As we set our luggage down on the kitchen floor, we were shocked to find there was a Christmas tree with ornaments and lights on in our living room. As we looked around we saw candy, fresh fruit, flowers and even a

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case of Corona beer. All of our boys, Troy, Raymond, and Ryan began running around announcing all the things they were finding. They even ran outside and announced someone had hung Christmas lights on our home. I plugged in those darn lights and the five of us just stood in the front yard and stared. Our boys looked at Theresa, Jimmy, and I and asked as only innocent, bright-faced young children can speak, “Who did this? Why did they do this to our home? Where did they get all this stuff? Did they buy it? Was Santa Clause here? Dad, can we eat the candy?” I looked at Theresa and we were both speechless. I knew if I tried to explain to our children right then, the tears would certainly come. So I took the easy way out by saying, “Just give us a minute and we will get back to you. And yes, you can  eat the candy.” A while later, we had the boys sit down and explained how lucky we were to have caring friends and neighbors that brought the true spirit of Christmas into our home. Helen would have been pleased to hear this story. The love of family is what meant the most to her. To our dear neighbors, words do not adequately describe the appreciation we felt for each of you that evening a few days before Christmas. That special evening is weaved into the fabric of our lives. As I sat in our front yard, I realized that even if I did take those Christmas lights down, Helen will never be forgotten. With the closing of the chapter, yet another one opens. I just need to hear Theresa’s incredible laugh or look into her eyes and Helen is still there. Helen will always be there. I guess it is time to get the ladder. I know I can get Jimmy to give me a hand. He really does not know the word, “No” if someone is asking for help. He is just like Helen. For further information or to donate to help find a cure for ALS, go to

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feature A Few of Our Favorite Things As the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.� With merriment and joy the hallmarks of the day, now is a wonderful time for many of us to reflect on all that we have and all that we can be thankful for. Tops on many lists for residents in the community of 4S Ranch is likely to be simply living in such a nice, family-centered, growing community that provides an ideal setting for making the most of all that is available nearby. In keeping with the holiday spirit, Back At The Ranch decided it would be fun to find out what favorite aspects of the community come to mind at this time of year. We posed the question to several community members and share a few of their responses here. We hope their contributions encourage you to think about what helps you to capture the spirit of the season and the holiday you celebrate or recognize. Our first list of favorites starts with a plant-based contribution from our resident gardening scribe Katie Seidenwurm. Around the holidays, Katie enjoys seeing some of her favorite plants and greens take center stage. She specifically counts these as her favorites:  oinsettias – These wonderful hybrids come in every shade of red, P pink, and white. The flowers can be large and singular or small and numerous. Paul Ecke, himself, grows and hybridizes these festive flowers in San Diego.  omander balls – A school craft where whole cloves are inserted P into oranges. Tie a ribbon on it and it’s a hanging, sweet-smelling decoration.  maryllis – A large bulb that houses a 12� tall (sometimes more) A stalk with a typically red flower. The bulb can be stored over the season and re-used. The amaryllis grows pretty quickly which makes it fun to have during the holidays.

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 vergreen trees E – We don’t see conical evergreen trees very often in this area. It’s nice to be reminded of these iconic trees during the holidays – whether we have real or artificial trees in our houses.  reaths – I don’t know where this tradition came from, but the circuW lar decoration hung on a front door is a welcoming gesture. For Niki Wells, a 4S Ranch resident, the strong sense of community and the great people in 4S stand out as her absolute favorite aspect of living here. But she also recognizes the importance others play in the growth of the area’s local youth and is thankful for those efforts. “I have two favorite things in 4S Ranch, aside from the great people and strong sense of community here. The first is our extraordinary teachers who are completely devoted to our children’s academic excellence and their well-being, and who give them all the tools they need to thrive in school and in life. I am in awe of how much time, energy and money teachers put into giving our kids the very best education possible without ever losing their enthusiasm or patience. It must seem like a thankless job, but I hope our teachers know just how much they are loved and appreciated. We honor you today and everyday – not just on school days! What you give our children, they carry with them throughout all their experiences. How can we begin to thank you... “Another favorite that is close to my heart is the abundance of organized sports for our children, and all of the incredibly dedicated volunteer coaches here in 4S. My daughter plays softball and soccer, and my son plays baseball, basketball and studies martial arts. I see the confidence they gain on the field transferred to the classroom, and for that, I will always be grateful. It’s something that’s easy to take for granted, but not all children – in San Diego, the United States, and especially in other countries – have the opportunity to participate in organized team sports the way our children do. It’s a special gift that benefits our kids on and off the field and keeps them healthy and happy, too. What more could we ask for as parents!� Finally, Susan Johnson and Theresa Shay at Shay Realtors wrap up our list of favorite aspects of living in this community with a nod to the way this community regularly looks out for others. Susan said, “Theresa and I love the small town feel of 4S Ranch. We especially like the reports we get back from other parents that see our children out and about in the community. It feels like we are looking out for each other’s families. We don’t know if our kids are thrilled about it, but it makes for interesting conversations at the dinner table.� From all of us at Back At The Ranch, we hope you enjoy all of your dinner conversations and special time with family, friends and neighbors this holiday season. Happy holidays! 858-485-0234


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feature The Irish Bookmaker’s Sandwich By: Karishma Sinnott I have been saving this recipe for you for a long time now, because I think December is the best time to showcase this particular recipe. I say this because this is a “leftover idea” – for the day after Christmas when you have five pounds of prime rib or half of a beef tenderloin sitting in your fridge. When you save your prime rib, be sure to save all the juice that sits on the platter as well, and stick it in the Ziploc bag with the beef. I’ll tell you why in a minute, but first, a little history of our bookmaker’s sandwich. The original bookmaker’s sandwich was made for the working class man of Ireland who worked away from home for an extended period of time. Legend has it that the length of the sandwich directly correlated with the amount of time that the man spent away from home (1 foot per day). Originally, ham or bacon with a slice of cheese between two slices of soda bread was the treat made for the man coming home, and the wife would put a heavy book on the sandwich to weigh it down as it toasted over the fire. You can almost imagine how delicious a hot sandwich would be to the Irishman who had been out in the fields on a rainy, blustery day. Now, the bookmaker’s sandwich is often made with beef, thick slabs of soda bread, cheese, mustard, salt and pepper. And if you would like to make it on soda bread, by all means, do! Soda bread is not difficult to make at all (a Google search reveals many results, Barefoot Contessa’s recipe is probably my favorite), and adds an interesting flavor to the sandwich. In our house, the bread of choice is the baguette. Our family does not eat beef very often, but when the urge strikes, one of our favorite ways to eat beef is in the bookmaker’s sandwich. The girls cover one or two of my heavy cookbooks with aluminum foil or newspaper so that they don’t get damaged, and I use my grill pan on the stove top to toast the huge baguette.

My favorite thing about this sandwich is that it is so versatile – use leftover turkey, roast beef or ham or bacon or prime rib or tenderloin. Make it completely vegetarian if you will. In our house, we slice the baguette lengthwise, put Honey Mustard on one half, regular mustard on the other. We layer on the sliced beef with all saved juices, put grilled, caramelized onions on half the sandwich, leave the other half free of onions. We top the sandwich with cheese and cover. Then, lightly butter both sides of the baguette and place directly on grill pan with one or two heavy books to weigh it down. The children love standing over the stove on chairs, holding the books down until the baguette is toasty on one side, and then another. It truly flattens out, and the juices from the rare beef seep into the baguette, the cheese melts and gets gooey, the onions marry with the cheese and beef, and you’re essentially left with a flattened, crispy Panini, although we don’t call it that in our house. It’s a Bookmaker’s Sandwich, and we love our version of it because Daddy doesn’t have to be gone for two days for it to be two feet long – for a 9-6 day at the office, he gets a six-inch piece of Bookmaker’s Sandwich – pretty generous, wouldn’t you say? Pair with a delicious salad, fresh fruit and tea and eat it outside this winter. We may not be in the Emerald Isle, but there is no reason why we can’t enjoy this Irish delicacy, right here in our backyard.



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feature Holiday Blues Stress Busters By: Alexandra Donnelly, LCSW, DCSW I’ve heard of a theory regarding holiday stress: In the month of December, high levels of Cortisol (stress hormone) turn most of us into a veritable Santa Claus (think of a guy with a huge round belly who can do it all!). Added to your already crazy, over-the top to-do list, you’ve now got to deal with the stress of strained family relationships, financial pressures and last but not least, the “proverbial mother-in-lawâ€? (we all have one in our lives, literally or figuratively). The following are a few tips to prevent you from losing it and throwing a fruit cake at someone, which you may regret come January 1, 2013. • Simplify and cut yourself some slack: The perfect gift doesn’t exist. Repeat after me: “It’s the thought that counts!â€? Plan unstructured, lowcost fun holiday activities – window-shop and look at the holiday decorations. Look at people’s Christmas lighting on their homes, take a trip to the countryside, etc. • Be reasonable with your schedule: Do not overbook yourself into a state of exhaustion. This makes people cranky, irritable, and depressed. Yuck! • Be careful about resentments related to holidays past. Remember, no matter what’s under that Christmas tree on Christmas morning, it will not automatically take away feelings of aloneness, sadness, disappointment or anger. Only therapy can do that!


• Don’t expect the holidays to be just as they were when you were a child. They NEVER are. YOU are not the same as when you were a child, and no one else in the family is either. • Get some elves, also known as “delegate.â€? • Give yourself permission to NOT entertain this season for a change! • Keep your sense of humor: Did you know that laughter can reduce stress in practically every human organ and can boost our immune system and fight viruses? • Plan one fun event just for you. Remember to treat yourself – get a manicure, curl up on the couch and watch It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, get that well deserved massage. • Most of all, if you find yourself feeling blue just remember: The choice is always yours: The sky is partly sunny, and the glass is half full. Be grateful for bounty, health, a sense of hope and the courage to face another holiday! If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, stress or anxiety etc., please contact a licensed psychotherapist for help. Alexandra Donnelly, LCSW, DCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and can be reached at: or at (760) 845-5074.



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Why Work With Skoglin Real Estate? ; Tim has assisted San Diego

One of a few AMI Certified Schools in San Diego County Highly Trained AMI teachers educated and experienced in childhood development

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Leadership with the utmost Discretion, you work sideby-side with an Expert. No big real estate team to be passed onto! neighbor looking out for YOUR best interest. Local resident expert caring about the values & families of THIS community!

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REAL ESTATE "Free the child's potential, and you will transform him into the world." - Dr. Montessori

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volunteer with Stone Ranch Elementary and Oak Valley Middle School Boosters. Skoglin Real Estate wishes you and your family a wonderful holiday season and prosperous 2013!

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Pediatric experts within everyone’s Now open in 4S Ranch. At Children’s Primary Care Medical Group (CPCMG), our only focus is health care for kids. Our specially-trained pediatricians are right here and ready to care for all of your child’s medical needs.

How are we bringing the best pediatric care to 4S Ranch? • Flu shot clinics.

• Walk in hours everyday: Monday through Friday 8:00am – 9:30am.

• MyChart, which allows you online access to your child’s medical records and your pediatrician.

• Electronic medical records connected to our partners at Rady Children’s Hospital and their specialists.

• Saturday hours starting in December!

For the best pediatric care in 4S Ranch, reach out to CPCMG today! rhood

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school news Del Norte High School – Our Favorites By U day Su r e sh

If you asked the average student what their favorite thing was, I doubt that school would hardly be an answer. The results of such a poll would probably place going to school alongside visiting the dentist, losing your keys and eating your vegetables; but this might not be the case if you attend Del Norte. From the moment Principal Greg Mizel nonchalantly rolls into the football stadium on the very first day of school, every student knows that the next year of their life will be anything but the dreary image of traditional school. Every Friday as the school comes alive as a sea of blue and green; more students find their favorite thing amongst the blur of weekly festivities. Perhaps it is the center of schooling itself – the academics – which is generally so uncharacteristically agreeable that has astounded even the students themselves. As a student, looking forward to attending a certain class because of the teacher or the material itself is a mixed feeling that is normally coupled with deep introspection and excitement. Similar to reading People magazine, it’s the feeling of guilty pleasure. Teachers like Mr. Nevares, Mr. Swanson, and Mrs. Cheskaty have earned the title of “favorite teacher” from hundreds of adoring students, and rightfully so. When students get to listen to the sharp wit of Mr. Nevares in regards to the literature world, the mandatory exploring of the depths of Shakespeare don’t seem so bad. After attending classes with engaging teachers that have transformed and elevated the learning experience at Del Norte, students might find that their only love has spring from their only hate.

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Del Norte is far more than just a place of learning; it has developed into a community that for many people is actually one of their favorite places to be. To some it is a safe haven, like for Senior Dan Hardiman who describes Del Norte as, “An environment where you can be who you are without being judged. It ain’t the normal high school.” Underneath the bright lights on a Friday, the school gathers for sporting events, like football, that provide some of the most enjoyable high school experiences. The astonishing amount of blue and green makes nearly every second of the night a Kodak moment. Unity makes Del Norte everyone’s favorite thing. Maybe everybody’s favorite part of Del Norte is the student body. In the words of Senior Lexi Reddick, “My favorite thing about Del Norte would be the kids I go to school with. We all know how it feels to go to a new school so we all relate with each other. In a way, we are kind of all friends with one another. There really isn’t any “cliques” or anyone left out.” The students are the creators, the reason the teachers are there, and the ones who bring a good time to Del Norte after all. Each and every person who walks under Del Norte’s iconic translucent blue and green jutting figure of a library each morning is a part of the reason why Del Norte is everyone’s favorite. Uday Suresh is a Junior at Del Norte High School and a contributor to Back At The Ranch

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school news Stone Ranch Elementary Avenger Girls Best the Competition

Hi, we are the Avenger Girls! Consisting of Adhiti, Advika, Amber, Anika M., Anika S., Anvita, Arushi, Avishi, Kavya, and Saaya, we are Stone Ranch Elementary School’s all girls First Lego League (FLL) team. On Saturday, November 3, we won the FLL Southern California Qualifying Tournament held at Grossmont College! We chose to participate in FLL because we wanted to learn about robotics. However, once we started, we realized that it is much more than

just programming. In preparation for the competition, there were three different aspects that we had to work on: team core values, senior project, and building and programming robots. First of all, we had to establish our core values and follow those while working together as a team. One example of such a core value is “discovery is more important than winning.” Second, we had to do a senior project. We went and interviewed seniors, identified a problem that they had, and researched and proposed solutions to that problem. Finally, our teams’ favorite part was programming the robot to complete a given set of tasks (also known as missions). One mission that we attempted was to have our robot pick a specific medicine bottle for the seniors without knocking down any other ones. This competition has not only helped us in learning how to program robots, but taught us important presentation and team building skills. Winning the championship in this competition was far more than what we had expected and, it took time and effort to achieve this outstanding award. Being part of this team is not only an amazing learning experience, but an adventure. We look forward to continuing this adventure at the next level of competition in Legoland on December 1!

Monterey Ridge Elementary School Campaign Like every school, Monterey Ridge Elementary School would benefit from additional funding. So, when the local school saw the chance to gain $50,000 it couldn’t let the opportunity slide by without giving it a shot. After completing an entry, Monterey Ridge Elementary is now nominated for Clorox’s “Power A Bright Future” award. In total, seven awards will be made this year, with the school with the highest number of votes receiving $50,000. Votes can be made, one a day, until December 19. The winner will be announced in early 2013. If awarded, Monterey Ridge Elementary plans to use the funds to create mobile technology carts that can be shared between classrooms. The school’s classrooms are arranged in six “Villages” setting. The plan includes providing one to two mobile technology carts for each village equipped

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with sufficient tablets or laptops to ensure that each of MRES’ 1,100 students (GATE, Gen Ed. and Special Ed.) will have access to computer technology for three to six hours per week. By providing this mobile technology, computers will be reassigned from the aging computer labs to classrooms, additionally enhancing the learning taking place directly in each classroom. It will allow teaching staff more flexibility in developing individual learning plans and goals for each of their students. The MRES school foundation has set up a Facebook page  with information specific to this campaign. The name of the Facebook page is “MRES Foundation Power A Bright Future Campaign.” Votes can be made online at https://powerabrightfuture.clorox. com

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communi ty l i f e s tyle : H e alth By : T K S mith

Conquer Those Holiday Cravings The holidays always bring a mixed bag of emotions. We love them because it is a time to celebrate and be with friends and family. But the holidays also come with a lot of guilt around food and worrying about the weight gain from all of the holiday goodies that are everywhere.

so you can begin to replace them with new ones that support the lifestyle you want.

Why is it so hard to control ourselves when it comes to these goodies?

Awareness – When you have an urge to eat something bad, ask yourself, “Why do I want this?” Is it because my body needs the fuel and nutrients or is it because of a habit that has been created in my brain? At this point, you have a decision to make. You can eat the item or you can chose to not eat it. Being aware of why we are eating something is the first step.

Here’s a little known secret. That “lack of control” you feel every time you give in to one of those holiday goodies is NOT because you are weak and have no will power. Certain foods (sugar and simple carbs are two big ones) have addictive attributes. That’s part of it. But, even after we have removed what I call the “physical addiction” to certain foods, what is left behind is what I call a “residual addiction” to food – namely, a habit (or craving). And, these show up a lot during the holidays. Every habit (or craving) has three parts: a trigger, a behavior and a reward. The trigger could be a physical addiction, which leads you to a certain behavior. Maybe you’re craving sugar, so you grab the first cookie you see. You can also have emotional triggers. Like whenever you have a bad day, you grab a pint of ice cream on the way home. Even the time of day can trigger a behavior – say your morning coffee. And, of course, the holidays can be a trigger for all kinds of eating or drinking habits. The trick is to begin to recognize your triggers, behaviors and rewards

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The holidays provide a perfect opportunity to reshape your cravings. Here’s a perfect exercise to practice this month that will help you conquer those holiday cravings once and for all.

Recode your brain – If you consciously choose to eat the item, that’s okay. You now have an opportunity to recode your brain. About 20 minutes after you’ve eaten it, ask yourself how your body feels. Not your head…your body. Your brain will say “Woohoo that was great,” but your body will be telling you something much different. Maybe it feels bloated or sluggish. This practice will help you learn to listen to your body, which actually is a stronger drive than your mind – once you learn to listen to it. For the next four weeks, repeat these two steps every time you find yourself in a situation with food – good and bad. It’s a powerful habit and after doing this for four weeks, you will find yourself starting the new year with a habit that will eventually recode your bad eating habits forever. Try it!

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communi ty l i f e s tyle : G a r de n Kati e S e i d e n w u r m, Lan dscap e De si g n e r an d Own e r , Zin n ia De sign, ( 858) 705-4975, k ati e zin n ia@ g mai l .co m, si g n by zin n ia .com

A Garden Grows at Del Sur Elementary “Can I dig yet?” “Can I please have more ladybugs?” “Can I hold the shovel?” These are not your typical questions from elementary school children. These children are participating in the second year of the Del Sur Elementary School’s Garden Club. Kids from kindergarten to 5th grade, parents, and teachers have worked together to create, construct and plant the seven garden boxes that lie between the lunch area and the playground. With over 100 kids and a dozen parent volunteers, the garden has proved to be a successful outdoor classroom. The garden was planned by parent volunteers (myself, included) and school staff and constructed by a local Boy Scout troop in the summer of 2011. The Del Sur Elementary PTA has been the main funding source, but the school has received donations from Fresh and Easy, Evergreen Nursery, Frontier Fence, and 5th Grader, Blair Federhart with Armstrong Nursery. Boy Scout Troop a handful of ladybugs. 622 helped construct the garden as part of a service project and was led by Ajay Nathan, a Del Norte High School Junior, who earned his Eagle Scout rank with this project. He said of the experience, “I improved my leadership skills and learned how difficult it is to complete a project.” Garden planning faced a few initial challenges in that the school uses recycled water for its irrigation. By building code, recycled water cannot be used for edible crops. Hand-watering would be the only solution. The kids fill watering cans with the nearby hose. Watering has turned out to be a great way to keep the kids involved in the daily changes in the garden. They get to see what plants are doing well every time they water the garden. Before we started planting, we worked on understanding the soil. The kids learned about the three soil texture particles: sand, clay and loam. Then they conducted soil tests to determine the soil texture. Next we amended the soil by adding compost. This activity was pretty dirty, but the kids liked the idea of mixing up the soil like soup. We explained that the compost was like adding vitamins to the soil. With any garden, there are garden pests. This fall, after we planted our boxes with cool-season vegetables, we were surprised to see that one box was completely eaten over-night by some sort of animal. We soon discovered that ground squirrels had dug a burrow right next to one of the garden boxes. With some metal mesh and some heavy rocks, we were able to block the burrow and keep the squirrels away. Other pests have been caterpillars, aphids and ants. Although the pests have been a nuisance, it’s been an opportunity for the kids to learn about the pests, i.e. what do they eat and why? How do we get rid of them in a non-toxic way?

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The discovery of aphids led to the wonderful event of releasing ladybugs into the garden. Last week, we released about 3,000 ladybugs into the garden to help with the aphid problem. Although probably too many ladybugs, the kids squealed with delight with the ladybugs crawling all over their hands. The kids planted a particular plant, the Golden Butterfly Weed (Asclepias ‘Silky Gold’), that actually attracts monarch butterflies. The butterflies lay eggs on the plant, the eggs turn into caterpillars and then the caterpillars eat the leaves of the plant. What is amazing is that the plant gets eaten down to the stem. The caterpillars then create chrysalises that eventually house monarch butterflies. The kids have enjoyed watching the caterpillars munch on the leaves and grow to a few inches long. A chrysalis hasn’t been found yet, but the kids are determined to find them. A few weeks ago, we planted cool season vegetables: cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, beets, sugar snap peas and shelling peas. We created trellises for the snap peas to climb. The plants are coming along and we are looking forward to having a harvest in December. In the past, we have had harvest parties where the kids pick the greens, wash them and then make a salad. The kids have enjoyed the process of gardening. As fourth grader Fiona McKenna said, “It’s fun to be able to plant and harvest plants, and to be able to eat them and see how they grow.” Teachers have also benefitted from the garden. As fourth grade teacher Margaret Epperson said, “We really enjoyed working in the garden. It taught my kids that responsibility and hard work really do pay off.” Principal Doug Johnson had this to say about the garden: “We are so fortunate to have a thriving Maggie Frye and Nathan Seidenworking garden on our campus. wurm look at the caterpillars. Our students have the opportunity to engage in hands-on scientific learning and to be amazed at the miracle of plant growth on a regular basis. Our garden program at Del Sur has enhanced the well balanced curriculum at our site.” It’s hard to predict how a garden will affect a child. A few weeks ago, my fifth-grade son, Owen and I were watering the garden over a weekend. The garden was empty, but for the two of us. He had the hose and was watering each garden box. About half way through I asked him if I could have a turn at watering. He said, “Come on, Mom. Let me do the rest. I love doing this.”

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Drop offs Welcome!

December 9, 2011 From 10 am to 1 pm

At Join us for brunch or just a picture with Santa!

4x6 photos available for $5 from Photography By Suzanne. For Brunch reservations for 6 or more call (858)924-9200. Miguel’s is located at: 10514 Craftsman Way Go to for more details.

Cookies and Milk provided by Skoglin Homes. Bring a new unwrapped toy to help support our Local Firemen’s Toys for Tots toy drive.

4s Ra nch

business highlight Achieve Advantage Educational Services With two school-aged children at home, Achieve Advantage Educational Services owner Donna Liebrecht knows first-hand that every child has distinct learning styles and approaches to learning. While one educational approach may work effectively for one child, that exact same instructional method may leave another child confused and struggling to keep up. It’s a challenge not only faced by parents at home with their children, but in classrooms all across the country. So, how do we go about finding the correct approach that will effectively assist a student with their learning? At nearby Achieve Advantage the answer to that question comes in an individualized approach to customized learning strategies illustrated in one-on-one tutoring sessions and small group classes designed to get every single student on track and pushing ahead in their schoolwork. Like many educational support programs, it starts with an individual meeting and assessment. Where it differs is that focus on the individual student’s needs and goals remains locked in the center of what is going to define success for everyone involved. “What we really try and do in that first meeting with students and parents is to understand their goals and objectives,� said Liebrecht. “That assessment helps us determine what it will take for the student to be suc-



Arch Health Partners is Proud OPEN to Serve the 4S Ranch Community.

Arch Health Partners (AHP) is proud to announce the opening of our new 4S Ranch medical center. For the first time, residents have primary medical services available in the community — including personalized family medicine, x-ray and laboratory. Nasrin Arbabi, M.D.

Camille Santos, M.D.

Stuart Graham, M.D.

AHP 4S Ranch is led by board-certified family medicine physicians Nasrin Arbabi, M.D. and Camille Santos, M.D. Stuart Graham, M.D., a board-certified AHP pediatrician since 1994, has moved his practice from the Poway office. He provides care for children from birth to 18 years of age. All three physicians are accepting new patients. When it comes to your health, finding the right physician is essential. Choose Arch Health Partners – named a Top Performing Medical Group for its achievement in quality measures and use of technology by the Integrated Healthcare Association for three consecutive years. Centrally located on the corner of Camino del Norte and Dove Canyon Road — the finest care available is now even closer to home.


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cessful. We want to match what we do here at Achieve Advantage with what the students needs to be successful in school – get the grades they want to achieve. The focus is on what each individual child needs to build confidence and feel good about their learning and ability to succeed.� Because of the customized learning approach, Achieve Advantage’s services are ideally suited for the student struggling in one or more subjects who needs one-on-one assistance to keep up with the class and for those high-achieving students who want to continue to maximize their potential. Each student has an individual plan rather than a standardized lesson. That commitment to seeing each child as an individual learner is a big part of the reason why Achieve Advantage works for local parent Jenny Hayden and her daughter Angela. As a ninth grader, Angela is a full-time student athlete. She has a full schedule of high school courses, practices, games and other extra-curricular activities. She doesn’t have room on her plate to add another regularly scheduled after-school activity. But she does have time to visit Achieve Advantage when she wants a little extra assistance in tackling a tough scholastic problem or needs to ask a question from one of the program’s experienced and trained tutors or staff. “As a parent, I appreciate that Angela can come in for what she needs on subjects across the board,� Hayden shared. “This is her personal concierge for what she needs academically. Through the use of technology, she has Skyped with her tutor to get help with a particular subject and can also connect with staff using an iPad or smartphone. The new age technology makes it so convenient for her.� Families with students at Achieve Advantage pay by the month with no long-term contracts to sign. Liebrecht said the goal is to have students use the services they need. Program services cover subjects such as math, language, writing, science, art, technology as well as standardized test preparation classes. The small-group SAT prep class will begin in January to help prepare students for the exam in Spring. Liebrecht shared that there are plans to grow and expand services to include preschool assistance. “The biggest success for us is when a student comes in feeling stressed about their instructional level and then after a few months they feel confident with where they are going and that they can reach their goal,� Liebrecht said. Achieve Advantage Educational Services is located at 11650 Iberia Place, Suite 220 in San Diego and online at

Dr. Kelly Austin Naturopathic Doctor

Vitamin B12 Shots IV Therapy ! Massage Therapy NEW Acupuncture Weight Loss & hCG Thyroid Cholesterol Diabetes, High Blood Pressure Natural Hormone Replacement (858) 705-1727 11828 Bernardo Plaza Ct., Rancho Bernardo

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for Another Great Year!

Wishing you and your Family a Terrific Holiday Season!

A New Home for the Holidays!

ͳͷͺͳ͸ƒ•‡‘‡Ž—”ǡƒ‹‡‰‘ǡͻʹͳʹ͹Ȉ̈́͸͵ͻǡͺͺͺǦ̈́͸͹ͻǡͺͺͺ Welcome to Del Sur! Don't miss seeing this beautiful, immaculate 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom twinhome. The backyard is an entertainer's delight with built-in barbeque, patio and grass area. Hurry to see this model perfect home, which is rarely on the open market. This twinhome has been decorated like a model home. Come and see it for yourself!

858-449-7355 ®

Visit our Community Hub in the 4S Commons Town Center Theresa & Ray Shay, REALTORS® 5IFSFTB$"%3&-JDt3BZ$"%3&-JD

Back At The Ranch - December 2012  
Back At The Ranch - December 2012  

Community news and events for 4S Ranch