Growing up Santa Cruz December 2020

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DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz


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Cherishing the Special Moments

10 Celebrating the Teachers

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Tech Talk.......................................................................................... 5 Ask Nicole........................................................................................ 7 Get Organized................................................................................. 8 Youth Writer.................................................................................... 9 Teacher of the Month....................................................................... 10 Local News....................................................................................... 11 December Celebration..................................................................... 12 County Scoop................................................................................... 14 Local News....................................................................................... 15 Local News....................................................................................... 16 Local News....................................................................................... 17 Education......................................................................................... 18 Education......................................................................................... 19 Birth Matters.................................................................................... 20 Green Living.................................................................................... 21 Always Amused................................................................................ 22 Healthy Eating................................................................................. 23 Your Home....................................................................................... 24 Local Artist...................................................................................... 25 The Nutcracker................................................................................ 27 Holiday Guide.................................................................................. 28 Coloring Page.................................................................................. 30

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Growing Up in Santa Cruz copyright 2019. Printed in the U.S.A. All views expressed represent those of the individual authors. The contents of this publication are meant as information only and should not take the place of a medical doctor’s recommendations. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part, in any form, electronic or otherwise is prohibited without permission by the publisher. This publication does not knowingly accept deceptive or misleading advertising. Growing Up is printed on recycled paper with soy-based inks. | DECEMBER 2020


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DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz

Editors’ Note The brightest note in what has been a dark season was giving a gift bag to a teacher who was nominated for teacher of the month by her students and their parents. Julia Ordahl, a fifth grade team teacher at San Lorenzo Elementary School, cried when she got the package containing a gift certificate to Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta in Santa Cruz, wine and a beautiful, soft blanket. “It’s been a tough year,” said her principal Danielle Winters. “This really brightens our day.” Because we had so many moving letters from parents and students at SLE about the teachers who decided to team teach fifth grade, with each focusing on her expertise, we couldn’t select only one teacher for the honor. We had to go with all five who have proved they can not just survive distance learning, but present their teaching in a way to help the students thrive. Neither pandemic nor wildfires kept these teachers from doing an A+ job. Check out that story in our last issue of the year and nominate your favorite teachers by sending a great letter telling why we should pick them to editor@

There’s nothing more important than taking care of the teachers who go through so much in normal times and have to go so much further during this pandemic. Despite the pandemic keeping us home, we keep publishing to bring you news you can use. Some of the stories in December include tips on how not to get scammed by internet thieves; what movies are great for pregnant mothers; how to keep shopping local; and some local charities that are really helping people in need. On the light side, we have a story from a pregnant traveling saleswoman whose daily plight includes having to find places to pee in a world with closed down bathrooms. We’ll start January with some health and fitness stories: a look at a new eco-tour boat that will teach families about the Bay; and the case of the missing Bigfoot. The staff of Growing Up wishes you the best for the holidays and the hope that 2021 flies up from the ashes like a missile to better times for all of us. Brad Kava, Jennifer Ford and Steve Dinnen

About the Cover Santa Cruz families' lives have changed in 2020 as we find ourselves craving more space. Classrooms have taken over the living room and kitchen as parents make room for distance learning. Read how Sol Property Advisors help families adjust to the new needs in their living quarters on page 17.

TECH TALK How to Avoid Email Scams BY LUIGI OPPIDO With people's home phones diminishing and less and less communications happening via phone calls, scammers have moved into the world of email. Email scamming is the easiest way for a thief to gain personal information about you without doing much work. There are multiple ways that email scams can come into your home, with or without your solicitation. We’re going to talk about some of the ways you can recognize those email scams and what to do about them when you think you’ve got one. The first thing to understand is reading an email scam does not do anything to your computer or to your accounts. Reading text or opening an email and reading the contents of it without clicking on any software inside will not run anything malicious or cause any issues. Reading a scam email can actually be fun if you can recognize it. Some of them are quite silly. While you’re inside scam email and you think it’s a scam, here’s how to confirm. There are three main ways to do this. The first way is to see whom the email is actually from. If you have a scam coming from a legitimate organization

like Amazon or eBay, they will be from an email address that is recognizable like or support@ If you look at the email address at the very top of the email in the “from” section, and it has a lot of things that don’t make sense that aren’t straightforward like what is listed above, this is most likely not from the organization it says it is. But let’s move on and check the second item to confirm. The second way we can check is to look at any links that are inside the email. Most malicious emails will want you to travel someplace outside the email so they can do more damage in an unsecured area. Kind of like sneaking away into an alley instead of standing in a shopping mall. Without clicking on the link, hover your mouse over the link and look in the bottom left-hand corner of your browser. If you hover your mouse over the link it will show you where the link travels to in the bottom left-hand corner of most browsers. If it does not take you someplace you recognize like Amazon or eBay or whatever organization has emailed you, this is most likely malicious and you should not click on it.

The third way is to simply look at the organization that is trying to email you like Amazon or Netflix and exit out of your email, open a new page, and travel to the website by typing in or Sign into your account and see if you have any notifications pop up as soon as you have signed into the account. This is the most common way companies will communicate with their users. It will be a banner across the top or some obvious notification saying you need to do something inside your account. If you do not see this most likely the email is malicious and you should ignore it and delete it.

Email is the easiest way for people to get scammed. And email is also becoming one of the least trusted ways of communication. As long as you keep this in mind when you’re going through your emails you will be less likely and less susceptible to fall prey to scammers. Always keep your eyes open and be safe out there! The Internet is still the wild west!  Visit Luigi Oppido at 1824 Soquel Ave, Suite B. Call him at (831)464-2220. Email at or visit his website at pleasurepointcomputers. com. Listen to his radio show every Tuesday 6pm - 7pm. on KSQD-FM (90.7) and | DECEMBER 2020





ASK NICOLE Finding Bright Spots in the Midst of Uncertainty BY NICOLE M. YOUNG, MSW

And yet I find it helpful to remind myself and my family of the bright spots, or little moments of happiness, that give us a reason to be grateful, even in the midst of uncertainty.

notice the feeling of joy or contentment – even if it’s brief. Those small moments start to add up and can help shift your overall outlook.


2020 started off promising. The Dear Caterina, California legislature passed the first-ever I’ll bet you’re not the only person who statewide resolution declaring January feels this way. Although many people as Positive Parenting Awareness Month. understand the reason for the continued Go parents! I took a once-in-a-lifetime physical distancing and limitations on trip to Australia in February to present at travel and other typical holiday activities, an international conference for Triple P it doesn’t make it any easier to accept. providers and researchers. My kids had Here are some tips to try: enjoyed a long break from their rigorous LET YOURSELF EXPERIENCE ALL high school and college classes and were YOUR EMOTIONS gearing up for their spring semesters. theKirby. hardest about Continuity of education is Sometimes, a top priority for Ask part us about our Life was busy but good. And then came the holidays is feelingContact the pressure to increased commitment to Tuition Assistance. our COVID-19…and racial unrest…and the always be upbeat, cheerful, and create Admissionsto Office to help you through the application process. wildfires…and repeated disruptions happy memories for everyone. That (831) 423-0658 x 202 or email our daily lives. This year has been filled can be extremely stressful in any year, with one challenge after another, and at and even more so when we’re still living times it’s almost too much to handle. through a pandemic that has turned many And yet I find it helpful to remind myself families’ lives upside down. Before you and my family of the bright spots, or try to get out of your slump, give yourself little moments of happiness, that give us “permission” to feel whatever you’re a reason to be grateful, even in the midst feeling – frustration, exhaustion, sadness, of uncertainty. anger, grief, or any other emotions. This monthly column provides tips MAKE TIME FOR SELF-CARE for anyone who is helping raise children, This might seem impossible to do based on the world-renowned Triple P – if your usual, favorite places (salon, Positive Parenting Program, available to spa, restaurant, movie theater, gym) families in Santa Cruz County. If you have are closed or have limited capacity – or a question or idea for a future column, if your family is around you 24/7. But please email me at self-care is even more important now, Dear Nicole, when so many parents are experiencing I normally love the holidays but physical and emotional fatigue and can’t get excited this year because so restlessness after months of adapting many of our usual traditions will be their daily routines. Do your best to changed or impossible to do. My kids find “bright spots” each day – those are only interested in how many presents little things that make you smile, they’ll get, which makes me even less make you feel content, help you feel interested in celebrating. I’m usually ready to face the next day (or minute). the “cheerleader” that gets everyone Perhaps it’s drinking a cup of coffee else into the holiday mood, but I’m just or tea before anyone else wakes up, not feeling it this year. I’m worried that or listening to calming music, going my sour attitude will rub off on the rest outside for a walk, eating your favorite of my family and make the holidays comfort food, or putting up your unbearable for everyone. What can I do favorite holiday decorations or adding to get out of this slump? a new one to your family’s collection. Caterina Whatever you do, take a moment to

Your family might already know and be prepared for a different kind of holiday season this year, but it’s still worth having the conversation. Talk about what traditions the family wants to try to maintain – such as eating specific foods – and what traditions need to be adapted this year – such as attending virtual religious services or other community activities instead of attending in person. Ask family members if they would like to try anything new this year that might become a new tradition – such as organizing a virtual cookie swap or gift exchange with friends, neighbors, and family members.


There’s no doubt that the holidays will look and feel different in 2020. Allow yourself to feel all your emotions, and look for any “bright spots” or small moments of happiness. If you need more assistance than what these tips have to offer, reach out to a trusted friend, family members, counselor, pastor, or other person who can offer support during these difficult times.  Nicole Young is the mother of two children, ages 17 and 20, who also manages Santa Cruz County’s Triple P - Positive Parenting Program, the world’s leading positive parenting program. Scientifically proven, Triple P is made available locally by First 5 Santa Cruz County, the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency (Mental Health Services Act) and the Santa Cruz County Human Services Department. To find a Triple P parenting class or practitioner, visit, or contact First 5 Santa Cruz County at 465-2217 or

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BE ORGANIZED Your Gift Giving Organization BY JHONEÉ FILLMORE The holiday season is filled with so much love, joy, gratitude and giving. However, the planning of many meaningful gifts, family gatherings, donations and travel can feel a bit overwhelming. Here are some things we can organize during the holiday season to make the time more enjoyable and less chaotic.


Begin thinking of good gifts to give all year long. When spending time with someone that you usually gift during the holidays (or birthday), pay extra attention to what they need, what they have, their style or jot down an item that you have heard in a conversation. People often don’t gift themselves some of the most needed or desired items. The key piece is to write this information down somewhere you will find during gift giving time.


So that everything doesn’t pile up on your plate all at once, create a timeline that is reasonable for you to work with. Decide a date that you want to have your gift lists made by, purchases made by, handmade items completed by, gifts wrapped by and shipped by.


Making precise lists for each person you will be giving gifts to will help you make a clear game plan. This will help you know when you need to begin shopping, shipping and help you plan financially. These lists also allow you to shop thoughtfully. When you allow yourself time to think, shop, make and ship‌you are able to give meaningful gifts that may require more time. Rushing may limit your gift giving options.


Keep a log of what each person will be gifted. Make a checkmark next to items that have been purchased. If the item is being shipped to you, jot down that expected date to keep track of the item. Once the item has arrived, marked it arrived on your list. Guess what, once you have shipped the gift, mark it on your list. I would personally create a chart to manage these checkmarks. A handwritten chart will do just fine.


As the gifts arrive or you have your handmade gifts completed, keep them in tidy groups. Keep your gifts in categories such as: gifts to be shipped, gifts staying in this house or gifts to take to a certain event.


yourself in much advance so that not only will your gifts definitely arrive in time but so that you are not in a crunch to stand in a long line at the post office.


ď ľ Need a more specific suggestion? Email me at hello@ Happiest holidays and stay well. Best, JhoneĂŠ

Wrap your presents as you go so that you don’t have to do a marathon of wrapping. We all have been there. Avoid the stress of your gifts arriving late to your loved ones. Set a date for

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YOUTH WRITER Why You Might Want to Consider Buying a Wii in 2020 BY ZACHARY LIVINGSTON SHULTS the Switch’s asking price. Also, when you buy a Switch, it doesn’t come with games pre-installed. One fantastic feature of the Wii is how many four-player games there are. Older nostalgic users, kids who are new to the tech, anyone who wants to play, can. Nintendo Wii comes pre-installed with games when you first buy it, and by buying it used, you can find yourself getting a bundle of games for free.


If you don’t like the Wii remote controllers, you can get a Wii pro controller similar to the SNES. There is also the Wii steering wheel for all of the amazing Mariokart games. The motion controls are extremely nostalgic, the remotes are memorable, and the games are classic.

WHICH GAMES ARE THE BEST In the current day, Nintendo is pushing the Nintendo Switch forwards to be the greatest console they have ever produced. Although this is true, it costs $300. This is no laughing matter; the original NES first retailed at $90, which is a third of the Switch price. The Wii launched for $250. Unlike the NES, the

Wii’s price has only gone down, and currently, you can buy a Wii that runs perfectly fine with games already on it for $40. If you try to find an original NES it would be around $300.


I feel the Wii is becoming a smarter choice for those who don’t want to spend

If you’re buying a Wii for your kids, I recommend that you buy New Super Mario Bros Wii, Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, Wii Sports, Super Paper Mario, and Twilight Princess. If you buy the original first-gen vertical Wii, it will be backward compatible with GameCube games and, I believe, also GameCube controllers. There is an amazing selection

of games to be played for all of the right audiences, there are the more actionpacked competitive games like super smash brawl, or for the older or more gentle players, there are some amazing titles from Wii sports. The Mii creator is one of the most memorable and nostalgic character creators that everyone who has had a Wii remembers fondly. The Wii is such a nostalgic console, with so many amazing titles; considering how cheap it and its games are right now, it’s a great pick.


I also would like to add that with the Switch coming up on its 3rd anniversary and a new console being released by Nintendo, fewer people will be buying the Wii, making it quite likely to gain value in the future years. So by purchasing a Wii now, you can get it dirt cheap, and if you aren’t happy with your product, you can sell it next year or in a few years or so, and sell it for twice the price.  My name is Zachary Livingston Shults, and I am a 5th grade student at San Lorenzo Valley Elementary School. I love playing guitar and skiing.

In 2021,

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Teacher of the Month is a monthly feature in Growing Up in Santa Cruz. We honor local teachers based on your nominations. Send your nominations to and please stop in and thank Kianti’s for their uplifting community spirit!

Making Distance Learning Feel Close BY BRAD KAVA

The 5th grade teachers at San Lorenzo Elementary School faced a double whammy when this school year started. First, there was COVID-19, which forced students to be taught on home computers. Then, there were the horrible wild fires that wreaked havoc all over the district and forced school to start weeks late. But parents and students who nominated all of the 5th grade teachers for “Teacher of the Month” said they not only found ways for their students to survive, but to thrive. “This is night and day from the spring,”

said Melissa Herceg, who has twin boys in the grade. “Spring was crisis learning and this is true distance learning.” Teachers Megan Glover, Julia Ordahl, Briana Smith, Kristen Borgen and Raissa Gale came up with a plan to make elementary school more like middle school. Rather than having each of them teach all subjects to their students, they started team teaching with each focusing on their expertise. They came up with games to make learning fun, created monthly musical themes to engage students and scheduled small group and private meetings to get

to know the kids better. “Some parents in other schools have told me they never hear from their kid’s teacher. This team is responsive. I never feel alone. They had an introduction meeting with every kid and parent and they had a power point to show where we are and where we are going.” Principal Danielle Winters said she’s extremely proud of these team teachers. She used to be an SLE teacher before becoming the chief executive. “The majority of our teachers chose to do this this year,” she said. ”The reason is to share the load, if you will, and be an expert in one area to support all the kids. With the overwhelming time it takes to prepare distance lessons, this was a way to share the workload.” Teacher Julia Ordahl said the team was thrown into distance learning last spring, but worked since then to come up with techniques to make it more personal. Her biggest challenge was keeping the kids interested, even in larger groups, but students and parents say it’s working. “I’m super grateful we are safe and we have options and we have the

SAN LORENZO VALLEY ELEMENTARY Fifth Grade Team Megan Glover, Julia Ordahl, Briana Smith, Kristin Borgen, and Raissa Gale I would like to nominate Mrs. Smith for this award. She is a 5th grade teacher at San Lorenzo Valley Elementry School. My daughter is in her class and she was really bummed about distant learning this year (as last year's distant learning didn’t go that well). Mrs. Smith has done such a great job of not only making distant learning fun but has done such a great job with all the curriculum. She has done all of this while having 2 young kids of her own and a husband who is a firefighter and has been gone on many strike teams helping with all the fires. My daughter Tia adores Mrs. Smith and is having a great last year of Elementary school. Many thanks to Mrs. Smith and all the great teachers that are working so hard for our children. -Charise D.


I’d like to nominate the fifth grade team at SLE to be honored as teachers of the month. The team works so well together and my fifth grader is doing really well under their collaborative instruction! During our kids’ last elementary year they are providing them with emotional support, academic challenge, individual attention and supportive feedback and I couldn’t be more grateful! -Erin Maver We would like to nominate the 5th grade team of teachers at SLE because they have done an outstanding job of keeping the kids engaged, motivated and on task despite these challenging times. It takes a special group of people to make online learning entertaining. A special shout out to Mrs. Glover! We really appreciate their dedication to the students. -Stephanie

DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz

We would like to nominate the SLE fifth grade team. My son was lucky enough to be in a 4/5 combo last year with Megan Glover and was able to experience her awesomeness in person for more than half the year. He had the opportunity to loop with her again this year. Not only does he have a teacher that makes him laugh and keep him engaged, she also gets him. I had the pleasure of hanging out in her classroom a few times, and I wish I had her as a teacher growing up! This year my son has all of the fifth grade team helping him learn ana achieve his goals. He tells me weekly about the one on one attention he receives and how proud he is that they recognize his hard work. -Christy

technology to do this because this would be a lot harder if it happened 20 years ago,” she said. Mrs. Ordahl cried with joy when she got her prize from Kianti’s and Growing Up. Principal Winters said it really boosted their spirits in a tough year. The reviews from other parents and kids have been fantastic: “I like the way my teacher Mrs Ordahl adds jokes to morning meeting,” said Jack Herceg, 10. Added his twin, Wyatt: “This year is a lot more clean. A lot more clear. The teachers use Ed puzzles and Kahoots and my teacher, Mrs. Smith, she shares the LEGO stop motion videos her son makes too.” Teacher of the Month is a monthly feature in Growing Up in Santa Cruz. We honor local teachers based on your nominations. This month Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta Bar at 1100 Pacific Ave. in Santa Cruz donated dinners, wine and keepsakes. Send your nominations to and please stop in and thank Kianti’s for their uplifting community spirit!

hank TYou This month Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta Bar at 1100 Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz donated gift cards, wine and keepsakes.

LOCAL NEWS Local Nonprofits Wrap Up a Great Year of Giving Now it’s Our Turn BY JEANNE HOWARD Every now and then, the benefits of local nonprofit efforts is thrown into high relief by events. 2020 will be one to remember. The demand for services increased exponentially while revenues decreased and forced staff cuts, and willing volunteers had to be turned away due to insufficient PPE and distancing requirements that many facilities could not accommodate. Local nonprofits are always laboring away like year-round elves meeting crucial needs, enriching the culture, and cleaning up messes made by many of us, but this year the community leaned extra heavily on them. These hardworking groups are doing more with less and can really use our support. Santa Cruz County’s holiday crowdfunding campaign, Santa Cruz Gives, makes it easy to provide that support. The platform features forty nonprofits that present one project each that will benefit Santa Cruz County, and collectively cover a range of needs. It’s easy to learn about each group and use the shopping cart to donate, with a minimum of $5. This year, the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter Foundation and the Santa Cruz SPCA rescued, fed and cared for nearly 6,000 animals due to both the fires and poverty induced by the pandemic. Community Bridges, the premier nonprofit agency addressing poverty in our County (they run Meals on Wheels, their best known program), maintains four resource centers that provide assistance with FEMA disaster relief, support for mid-low income households affected by the fire, cash aid for rental assistance and groceries, and more. Plenty of the work of local nonprofits is visible and immediately gratifying, such as when Save Our Shores volunteers skim through a beach and remove 150 pounds of garbage, an ounce at a time; or Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes serves up thoughtfully prepared lunches crafted from half a million pounds of food each

year; or Farm Discovery at Live Earth Farms donates tens of thousands of pounds of organic produce (since the pandemic); or Second Harvest Food Bank distributes an astonishing 9 million pounds of food to 100 agencies that in turn get it to our neighbors in need. Other organizations work on longer-term needs, such as one-on-one mentorship provided by Big Brothers Big Sisters to youth in need of support (since the pandemic began more than one-third of youth they serve have become caretakers, breadwinners and tutors). Or Food, What?! staff, who gradually modify the eating habits, acquired taste for less-than-nutritious food, and fast-food tendency for less privileged teens. Exploring New Horizons and the Bird School Project both pull youth away from their devices into the wildness all around, hoping to replace the quick hit of a text with something more elemental, more sustainable, and more crucial to the well being of the planet as well as the individual. One positive result of Zoom and online education is that many who were kept from participating in nonprofit programs because of a lack of transportation or due to limitations of facility space can now join in and benefit. Staff and specific technology is still needed to prepare and offer compelling distance learning, as well as outdoor education, to our children. Please consider a donation to the organizations that inspire you.

Coastal Watershed Council’s Watershed Ranger program swears in 2,700 young rangers per year who become advocates for the health of the San Lorenzo River, our primary source of drinking water.  Jeanne Howard founded Santa Cruz Gives with the support of Good Times, the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, Community Foundation Santa

Cruz County, and additional business and individual sponsors (listed on the home page of

2020 SPONSORS ARE: Good Times; Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County; Community Foundation Santa Cruz County; Applewood Fund; The Joe Collins Fund; Santa Cruz County Bank; Wynn Capital Management; Oswald Restaurant; The Pajaronian; and the Press Banner.

To read about each nonprofit’s project, or to donate, go to

Each themed box comes with: Hardback Picture Book + Kid-friendly Recipe Card Baking Tool + Project

Come see what we’re mixing up! Available as 1, 3, 6 and 12 month packages Coupon good for any length subscrip�on. Renews at standard rate. Expires 12/31/2021 | DECEMBER 2020


December TUESDAY 1 Gateway Tours by Appointment 9:30am-3:00pm. Gateway School, 255 Swift Street. Come and learn how Gateway School inspires curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking through innovative education for a fast-changing world. You’ll have the opportunity to see the health and safety protocols of our facilities while also learning more about our curriculum. Visit to make an appointment for a personalized, individual tour of our campus. National Pie Day National Eat a Red Apple Day

Graham, for monthly conversations about rocks live on Facebook. Each month we’ll explore a different geologic topic, from Santa Cruz formations to tips for being a more effective rockhound. Graham Edwards and Gavin Piccione are PhD candidates in geochronology with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Santa Cruz. National Fritters Day National Mutt Day Special Education Day

THURSDAY 3 National Roof Over Your Head Day

FRIDAY 4 National Cookie Day National Dice Day National Sock Day

SATURDAY 5 Winter Wonderland at Spring Hill School - Be enchanted with stories, crafts and puppeteering. This event is perfect for your soon-to-be Kindergarten or TK child. To register, email: office@springhillschool. org This is a live, interactive, free and virtual event. Crafts & supplies will be provided. 250 California St, Santa Cruz



Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s second annual "Sea Stars Brunch", a virtual fundraising event from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM (PST) on Sunday, December 6, 2020 via Zoom. Tickets will be donation-based. The program will include an address by keynote speaker, ?Haben Girma,? who will discuss her time surfing in Monterey Bay. Girma is the first Deaf-blind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, and is a human rights lawyer advancing disability justice. The event will also premier the Sanctuary Foundation’s short-film, feature an online auction, and a pre-party cocktail demonstration. The Sea Stars Brunch is an annual fundraiser celebrating the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and all those who have contributed to its health through education, conservation, research, and business. The Foundation is a 501(c) (3) marine conservation nonprofit working to protect the Monterey Bay Sanctuary through education, outreach, and whale disentanglement programs. For more information: montereybayfoundation. org; or visit the Foundation on Facebook or Instagram @montereybayfoundation. Participants can register to attend at: St. Nicholas Day Miners’ Day

National Brownie Day Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day


Rosa Parks Day Rosa Parks Day honors an American Civil Rights hero. On either February 4 or December 1, the holiday recognizes the civil rights leader Rosa Parks. Learn more about Rosa Parks, that day in Montgomery, Alabama, and her role in the Civil Rights movement. Discover how the Montgomery Bus Boycott affected the bussing system. Several books and films offer insight to this day in history and the Civil Rights movement to follow. Book suggestion: Rosa by Nikki Giovanni and illustrated by Bryan Collier.


Chanukah Begins The Jewish Festival of Rededication, also called the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day celebration that falls each year on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev, which generally falls in December in the Gregorian calendar. (In 2020, Chanukah is December 10 through December 18.) Chanukah, also spelled Chanukkah or Hanukkah, celebrates the rededication of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

FRIDAY 11 National Salesperson Day




National Pastry Day

Dewey Decimal System Day Human Rights Day Nobel Prize Day

National Day of Giving – #GivingTuesday

Gateway Tours by Appointment 9:30am-3:00pm Gateway School, 255 Swift Street. Come and learn how Gateway School inspires curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking through innovative education for a fast-changing world. You’ll have the opportunity to see the health and safety protocols of our facilities while also learning more about our curriculum. Visit to make an appointment for a personalized, individual tour of our campus. Rockin’ Pop-Up, 3pm SantaCruzMuseumOfNaturalHistory/ live Join the Geology Gents, Gavin and


Wonderland Toys & Classroom Resources 5th Birthday Celebration AND Grand Opening in Aptos! 10:00am-4:00pm. Come check out Wonderland’s new location next to Safeway in the Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center. Shop local and bring the family for crafts, raffle prizes, giveaways, mini family photography sessions available, and more! (831) 316-7261 Theresa and Hannah, owners of Wonderland, ready the Aptos store for its opening!

DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz

National Letter Writing Day Dear reader, it’s been so long since we wrote, but fortunately today we have no excuse because it’s National Letter Writing Day on December 7! Letter writing has been in decline because of smartphones, the Internet and before that, the telephone, but for hundreds of years, it was the only way for people separated by distance to get in touch with one another. Today is a great day to get back to basics and hand-write a letter. But isn’t the idea of sitting down for half an hour and hand-writing something to somebody special? We miss it. Don’t you? Write back soon. Love, us. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day National Cotton Candy Day

Gateway Tours by Appointment 10:00am-4:00pm. Gateway School, 255 Swift Street. Come and learn how Gateway School inspires curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking through innovative education for a fast-changing world. You’ll have the opportunity to see the health and safety protocols of our facilities while also learning more about our curriculum. Visit to make an appointment for a personalized, individual tour of our campus. Gingerbread House Day Whether you’re a cookie building expert or your baked house falls apart as soon as you get the third wall glued on with icing, we can all agree the best part of building a gingerbread house is eating the sweet treat when we‘re done! Poinsettia Day

SUNDAY 13 Members of the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History are invited to join us for a guided exploration of tide pools! Space is limited. Register for more information. upcoming-events/ Not yet a Member? Join today! get-involved/membership/

WEDNESDAY 16 National Chocolate-covered Anything Day

THURSDAY 17 National Maple Syrup Day Wright Brothers Day

FRIDAY 18 National Twin Day Answer The Telephone Like Buddy The Elf Day National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

National Flashlight Day National Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day National Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day on the first day of winter remembers those in the homeless community who have died the previous year. The day is a time to honor them and remember the life they lived. Homelessness is a year-round concern for many. Winter increases the anxiety associated with finding shelter. During the holidays, the media focus their attention on raising awareness and improving opportunities. It’s an ideal time to garner a public forum for the issue, and local groups are encouraged to seek out and work with their local media outlets to publicize the event.

National Sangria Day


National Cocoa Day National Violin Day National Guard Birthday


National Cupcake Day Bill of Rights Day Cat Herders Day National Wear Your Pearls Day National Wear Your Pearls Day on December 15th reminds us that when life throws dirt our way, we all have value in the end.

National Candy Cane Day National Thank-you Note Day

MONDAY 28 National Short Film Day National Chocolate Candy Day National Cookie Exchange Day The glorious occasion when festively-decorated cookie tins and boxes appear at cookie exchange parties. It’s a classic celebration where the host throws a holiday party for family and friends, to which everyone brings delicious homemade cookies to share around. The toughest decision is which cookies to take. Wintertime classics like thumbprint jam cookies or gingerbread are always festive, but since this day celebrates all cookies, go ahead and add in some funfetti cookies or lemon squares!

TUESDAY 29 National Hero Day

WEDNESDAY 30 Falling Needles Family Fest Day Bacon Day



National Date Nut Bread Day National Short Person Day

National Champagne Day New Years Eve Universal Hour of Peace


Members of the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History are invited to join us for a guided exploration of tide pools! Space is limited. Register for more information. santacruzmuseum. org/upcoming-events Not yet a Member? Join today!


SATURDAY 26 Kwanzaa Heri Za Kwanzaa! Kwanzaa, celebrated from December 26 to January 1, is an African American and pan-African seven day cultural holiday that celebrates family and community. During the holiday, families celebrate with feasts, music, and dance, and end the holiday with a day dedicated to reflection and recommitment to the seven principles.

Saturdays in the Soil It’s time to get your hands dirty! We’re excited to relaunch Saturdays in the Soil, a monthly volunteer program in our native plant garden. Learn about local ecology, native plants, and sustainable gardening while coming together as a community (in a physically distanced manner!) to steward Tyrrell Park through the City’s Adopt-A-Park program. saturdays-in-the-soil/ National Oatmeal Muffin Day National Wreaths Across America Day


National Pumpkin Pie Day Christmas a day for spending time with family, observing Christ's birth, partaking in lighthearted traditions, or just spreading some holiday cheer! Christmas has evolved over several millennia into a worldwide celebration that’s both religious and secular and chock full of fun-filled, family activities.



National Day of the Horse Encourages people of the United States to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States. The domesticated horse we know today, also known as Equus caballus, was introduced into North America by Spanish explorers. Escaped horses eventually spread across the American Great Plains. Interestingly, there is a debate about the origin of E. caballus. Recent mitochondrial studies of an ancient horse called Equus lamei suggest that it is equivalent to the modern, domesticated horse. E. lamei once populated North America and died out more than 11,000 years ago. This could mean that E. caballus is technically a native species, and its evolutionary origin is North America.


Yule – Day of Winter Solstice The Winter Solstice marks the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere), all thanks to the tilt of the earth. In many cultures, the day is a day of feasting and celebration, but even if you’re totally agnostic, you can still find a reason to rejoice, because after today, you’ll see gradually shorter nights and longer days, which means you can look forward to the emergence of spring.

National Roots Day encourages families to delve into their family history, heritage, and ancestry. Each year during the holidays is an ideal time to collect family information. While families gather around the table telling stories and sharing memories, someone is sure to be the family historian. It is entirely possible a grandparent, parent, aunt or uncle has already started a family tree and will share with other family members.

THURSDAY 24 National Eggnog Day Christmas Eve

DEC 10-16

National Split Pea Soup Week

MONTH LONG Universal Human Rights Month We have seen our share of cruelty and hate. We can do better. That’s why the world is observing Universal Human Rights Month during December. This month is a reminder that the United Nations General Assembly codified the basic human rights of every person. It’s also a time to reflect on the way we treat others, and to do what we can in the fight for equality. | DECEMBER 2020


COUNTY SCOOP Should the Aptos and Central Fire Districts Merge? It could save $3 million by 2026 BY ZACH FRIEND, COUNTY SUPERVISOR financial surplus of approximately $3 million by 2026.


If more than 50% of the affected registered voters or landowners oppose the proposal, then a certificate of termination will be issued.

Recently, the Santa Cruz Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted unanimously to approve the consolidation of the Central and Aptos/ La Selva Fire Protection Districts. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the consolidation.


LAFCOs have broad authority under the state Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act in regards to boundary changes for cities and special districts (like the Central and Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection Districts). Specifically, under this authority LAFCO can deny or approve, with or without conditions, a wide range of boundary changes including annexations, dissolutions, detachments, formations, consolidations, and mergers. These two Fire Protection Districts requested LAFCO consideration of their proposed consolidation.

WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THIS REQUEST? Both departments are products of previous consolidations. In 1982, the Boards for the Live Oak Fire Protection District and the Soquel Fire Protection District approved resolutions requesting


consolidation. In 1983, LAFCO approved the creation of the new Central Fire Protection District of Santa Cruz County. In 1987, the Boards of the Capitola Fire Protection District and Central Fire Protection District passed resolutions requesting consolidation which was also approved creating the district as it currently exists. Similarly, in 1985, the Boards of the Aptos Fire Protection District and the La Selva Fire Protection District approved resolutions requesting consolidation. In 1986, LAFCO approved the consolidation and the Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District was created as we know it today. Since that time, multiple studies have been completed reviewing how these two districts could work more efficiently together through shared services or even consolidation. A few years ago, the boards of both fire districts partnered with LAFCO to look more specifically at the possibilities. An independent firm was hired to complete a feasibility study that included a thorough service review, interviews with line level staff, administration, local government officials and community members of both districts. The report was presented at a public town hall meeting at Cabrillo

DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz

College in August of 2018 hosted by the fire districts and LAFCO. The feasibility study identified a number of benefits to potential consolidation and, as a result, the two fire districts began the preliminary steps for consolidation in mid-2019. An official application was submitted to LAFCO in December 2019. Multiple public meetings - at the two districts, LAFCO and a recent community (virtual) town hall - have been held to discuss the proposals since that time.


There will be no change in the level of service and there will be no change in firefighters or non-management staff. All current personnel of the two agencies will become employees of the new agency. However, there will be the elimination of one fire chief position. All personnel will keep the salary schedule and benefits of the current contracts and won’t be adversely impacted by consolidation.


No. All current stations and facilities (and equipment) will be transferred to the new successor agency.


Currently there are two fire boards. The new agency will have a singular, five-member, consolidated board. The new board will transition to a districtbased election for its five positions in the 2022 election.


No. Based on LAFCO staff’s analysis, the consolidation will result in an overall

State law requires the commencement of a request for reconsideration period and a protest proceeding. First, any person or affected agency may file a written request with the Executive Officer of LAFCO requesting amendments to or reconsideration of the resolution. The request shall state the specific modification to the resolution being requested and shall state what new or different facts that could not have been presented previously warrant the reconsideration. The request for reconsideration period ends December 4, 2020. Additionally, affected residents within the proposal area will have an opportunity to voice their opposition during the protest period. The protest period is scheduled for December 4, 2020 to January 6, 2021. A protest hearing will be held on January 6, 2021 to collect the final petitions and hear any resident feedback. If less than 25% of the affected registered voters or landowners oppose the proposal, then a form of resolution making determinations and ordering the change of organization or reorganization will be adopted without an election. If 25% to 50% of the affected registered voters or landowners oppose the proposal, then a form of resolution making determinations and ordering the change of organization or reorganization will be adopted subject to confirmation by the voters. If more than 50% of the affected registered voters or landowners oppose the proposal, then a certificate of termination will be issued. If finalized, after the effective date of a consolidation, the newly-consolidated district succeeds to all of the powers, rights, duties, obligations, functions, and properties of all predecessor districts which have been united or joined into the consolidated district. The proposed name of the new district is the Central Fire Protection District. The effective date of this consolidation, if finalized, is projected to be in the February-March, 2021 timeframe.  As always, I appreciate any feedback you may have on this (or any other County issue). I’m maintaining regular updates on social media at and I’ve been hosting regular tele-townhalls with County and community leaders on most Tuesday nights from 6-7 pm. The call in information for the town halls is 454-2222 with the Meeting ID: 145384# - you are welcome to speak about any issue during the town halls or you can always call me at 454-2200.

LOCAL NEWS Shop Local for the Holidays Amazon Doesn’t Need You; Santa Cruz Does BY SUKI WESSLING kits during this year of homeschooling. Along with lots of books (which are selling briskly now that people aren’t going out as much), Bookshop has gotten creative with ‘Holidays in a Box.’ “Our biggest new addition is customized care packages and other unique gifts for the holidays,” Casey Protti explains. “Customers fill out interest forms online and we select books and gifts to send to their loved ones.” “We continually evolve our selection,” explains Dedra Bennett, owner, Zinnia’s Gift Boutique in Scotts Valley. “This pandemic is one more time when we have shifted our product selection to meet our customers’ needs. We carry face masks, sanitizers and lots of puzzles in support of home activities and safety.”


Whatever your needs, local stores want to serve you in a way that online stores can’t, with a (maskcovered) smile by local people who are supported by your shopping.

“Bookshop’s customers have always been there for us,” says Casey Coonerty Protti of Bookshop Santa Cruz. “It was true after the 1989 earthquake when our customers saved us from the rubble, to when big chain bookstores came to town, to the challenges of this year.” And oh, what challenges our local businesses have seen. In the distant past (in other words, January, 2020), the big concern was the cost of living for employees. It’s hard to pay a living wage in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country. Then came the pandemic, at first closing stores indefinitely, then allowing reopening with a confusing and constantly changing patchwork of regulation. We were just starting to get the hang of waiting at safe distances and wearing masks when fires upended our community again. And now, in time for the holidays, shoppers are flocking to online shopping when our local stores need our support.


“The holiday season is critically important for all retail stores every year, but this year, where local retail has seen sales go down by 40-50% (while Amazon is up by nearly as much!), the holiday season is kind of make or break.” That’s Ian McHenry, who, faced with a pandemic, decided what he really needed to

do was create a startup that would compete with Amazon. McHenry’s company, In Stock, is similar to Amazon in that you can get most anything you want delivered to your doorstep with a few clicks. But In Stock is also very different. First, all of the products you find when you search its site are available locally and can arrive on your doorstep today. Second, rather than preying on local businesses, it bolsters communities by keeping money at home where it’s needed. “Local retail and restaurants are the lifeblood of most downtowns in cities small and large,” McHenry says. “If people want to continue to have that as part of their community, it’s critically important that they check local stores first before buying something online from Amazon or elsewhere.”


Store owners are getting inspired and creative. “The cool thing about [delivery during the quarantine] is I would take my children,” says Dyane Villalobos, owner of Childish in Santa Cruz. “They learned the maps of Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley. Since schools were shut down, at least they were learning.” Villalobos says that the pandemic also forced her to bring the store almost fully online, something she’d planned to do...someday. “It forced us to work on our website and bring it up to a

live platform which it wasn’t before.” Childish will also be integrated into In Stock in time for the holidays. Wonderland, the local toy and teaching supplies store, is taking creativity to a whole new level. They had been planning an expansion from their space at the end of 41st Avenue to the Aptos Rancho del Mar shopping center, and decided not to let a pandemic stop them. “Our customers are committed to shopping local and tell us they love shopping local,” says Hannah Stubblefield, who co-owns the store with Theresa Shellen. “We started our store five years ago with a dream that someday we’ll have two doors!” Wonderland’s former space only had one door, and its footprint is too small to accommodate their foot traffic, especially now. Like other stores in this article, Wonderland features curbside pickup, online ordering, and delivery by mail or locally through In Stock. “In March and April, we had so much business from curbside pickup that’s really what saved us,” Stubblefield says.


Charles Nelson, owner of Toque Blanche, a kitchen supply store in downtown Santa Cruz, says that the baking frenzy is real, and his store has also been challenged to grow. “We’ve seen huge increases in baking—anything related to bread is selling like crazy. Then we have specialty items like nocontact forehead thermometers—I never expected to be selling a product like that, but we are!” Wonderland reports that outdoor games are popular (safer during a pandemic) and they expect lots of interest in education-connected toys like science

Childish is joining with other Midtown businesses to create a Bingo card shopping experience. “They just have to visit and make a small purchase and we’ll enter them in a giveaway of different baskets.” Zinnia’s will offer a festive in-person option. “We are doing a Covid-safe open house to include many of our local artists and bands. We plan to keep everyone entertained and spread out over the store and front area.” Wonderland’s Grand Opening falls on the store’s fifth birthday, December 5, and will feature pandemic-safe activities offered by the Museum of Discovery. The activities will be outdoors and in an adjacent empty retail space.


Local stores are making it easy for you to do your holiday shopping safely. All of the store owners we interviewed are offering a combination of Covid-safe features, including: • Social distancing in the store • Curbside pickup • Free or cheap local delivery • Even video shopping by appointment! Whatever your needs, local stores want to serve you in a way that online stores can’t, with a (mask-covered) smile by local people who are supported with your shopping. “My cup runneth over at how much love and support our community has shown us,” says Dedra Bennett, echoing what other store owners say about our community. “Blessed, beyond blessed!”  Suki Wessling is a local writer and teacher and the mother of two college students. Read more at Featured in this article: In Stock | Wonderland Toys | Childish | Bookshop Santa Cruz | Zinnia’s Gift Boutique | Toque Blanche | | DECEMBER 2020


LOCAL NEWS You Think Covid-19 Rules are Tough? Try Being Pregnant and Needing to Pee BY SARAH HIRSHLAND

I found out I was pregnant two months into the Covid-19 crisis, and man, oh, man did the universe pick an interesting time to bring a baby into the world. As excited as I am to be carrying my baby girl, I’ve come across unexpected problems. One thing I was not prepared for with Covid in simply having to pee. I am in my second trimester and currently this takes place every 10 to 20 minutes or so. As a traveling sales person who still does in-person calls, I have urinated in some not so desired places in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and most of the Bay Area. This includes dirt patches behind buildings, bushes on the side of restaurants, a few neighborhood streets, many beaches and parks, and other odd locations. I promise no one’s yards or playgrounds have been compromised — I’m still a lady. Thankfully my joy of camping and squatting has helped me adjust, somewhat.


Because when I try to use bathrooms in establishments, I am turned down. Turned down by rude people, nice people, barriers and “out of service” signs intended to keep everyone out of the restroom. I can’t imagine half of California has a plumbing problem all at once. When you’re pregnant, having to pee isn’t just something you can try and refrain from for a while, it’s coming


downstream no matter what you think or want to do about it. Sharing this information so publicly might seem appalling to a lot of people, even felt uncomfortable sharing it with friends and family at first. But through the pain of it I wanted to share my story. It has come to a point where I am concerned for the well-being of my baby and want to make my pregnancy as comfortable as I can. I’ve thought of ways to maneuver through the shutdown and keep an eye out for Porta Potties and public parks and beaches with open restrooms. I have also considered purchasing a Shewee — a tube and bag kit designed in 1999 for women who can’t find anywhere else to go—and I feel right now I could make a good spokesperson for their marketing campaigns. Here I thought I’d be buying diapers for my baby, and now I am considering what Depends might be like to help me out. In a world with “out of service” restrooms and bathroom restrictions, it’s literally a wasteland out there for people in need of a bathroom. This includes pregnant women, people who have conditions, children, and more. It’s a matter of danger for all people who need to use a restroom, but for pregnancy it can be a bit more taxing. I have gone through doors when not always permitted, but I make it quick and get out of there just as fast. I would hope that if things don’t open up soon, we can petition for some type of bathroom

DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz

In a world with “out of service” restrooms and bathroom restrictions, well it’s literally a wasteland out there for people in need of a bathroom.

pass or pregnancy (or medical) leniency program. To make matters more challenging, I work on the road in sales. The next need for a bathroom for me could take place anywhere. I am more than grateful I have a job during these times, and love what I do. However, being turned down constantly by store clerks and blocked barricades of chairs and tables, I have begun to adopt a form of anxiety to get in my car and get going. The anxiety of having to pee lasts most of the day. When I started getting turned down while very obviously showing, I had a bit of hesitation. I didn’t want to cause a scene or become hostile, and at times I would tightly grasp my legs and walk back to my truck and try the next place. The truly frustrating part is that each establishment has these rules and protocols set in place, and it seems most employees don’t even understand them, they are just told to say no. This pandemic has set in so much confusion and we are all very misinformed, to the point that we are putting people’s health in harm’s way while trying to prevent harm. This where sympathy and consideration can take a good lead. Everyone is on edge right now, and following regulations has been instilled in us, but it is also our responsibility to do right by others, be mindful of what we can control and to make sure endangerment is the last toll we are willing to take. Don’t get me wrong, some places will let you use the restrooms, but you have to get good at knowing which chains and which type of place will. Major grocery stores and some gas stations are pretty good about it, but some local stores aren’t as eager to open the restroom doors. Out of the numerous times I have been turned down, there have been some really amazing people through it all who have helped and it really makes a difference. Keeping me and my baby safe is most importance to me, and the big picture is that people and places are really trying to make sure we don’t get compromised, but at what cost? Does this take away our compassion? Another unfortunate aspect of the Covid pregnancy experience are the moments and memories that feel taken from you and your partner. It may be designated to the states that have increasing cases, but your partner cannot go to ultrasounds with you, or any other appointment for that matter. My boyfriend and I have done a

couple Zoom meetings, but it’s usually me giving him the details at home. If you want to tour or see the part of the hospital where you will be giving birth, you can’t. You can take a virtual tour, but there aren’t many open spots. As far as delivery goes, you can only have one person in the room with you. Either your partner, spouse, mother, father, friend, Doula etc. The family in the waiting room with flowers and cheers, is something of the past. We must make do with what we can to ensure these moments are still cherished and celebrated. Once your ultrasound is over, you have a quick meeting with your doctor via Zoom to go over the details or concerns. To all the soon to be moms out there, make sure to ask, ask, and ask questions. Some doctors, like the grocery store clerk, give off the impression they are too busy and really only want to give you more time if there’s something alarming in the results. I am a first-time mother, and these meetings and moments mean a lot to me. I am hanging on to anything I can get. I don’t believe that any doctor is trying to brush people off or show they are not diligent, but they have so much on their minds and so much going on, that if new moms aren’t persistent in getting information or asking questions, they won’t get answers. We need to be strong and willing to get what we need from the healthcare system and remind our doctors that we still hope to have a significant experience. I am not a high maintenance woman, I am a first time mom who’s trying to soak it all in. This is just my personal experience, but it has taught me a lot about the drastic times I am bringing my child into. We are overjoyed and thankful to have any doctors or any help at all, it’s merely that the experience now lacks a lot of personal care and excitement that people may have received in the past during the most wondrous time of their lives. Since the pandemic began, I have seen some of the worst treatment in customer care. It’s understandable given these people are so overworked, still some have ignored the out-of-order signs and been humane about my circumstances. It’s not easy to predict where we will go from here, but we must still remember to treat each other with kindness and love through the hard times and confusion of it all. That’s what will take us out of this crazy mess, to be there for one another in the moment, no matter how big or small.

LOCAL NEWS How The Pandemic Shrunk Our Homes Families Get Creative To Find Space During The Pandemic BY MARTIN SPIERINGS

Lance Hulsey and his daughters Reese (left) and Kiera (right) multi task in the kitchen.

While everyone’s situation was unique, invariably families were spending much more time between their four walls than they had ever anticipated.

Lives changed dramatically for Santa Cruz County families when the shelterin-place order, one of the very first of the nation’s pandemic response, was put into place on March 17. Businesses were shuttered, schools were closed and families were largely confined to their homes. While everyone’s situation was unique, invariably families were spending much more time between their four walls than they had ever anticipated. Homes that were completely empty during the day, because both parents worked and any kids were at school, were now occupied 24/7.

How did Santa Cruz families react to these new demands on their living spaces? Between March and October the median price of a single family home in Santa Cruz county rose 15 percent to $1,055,000, according to Liz Kroft with Sol Property Advisors. Total sales (as recorded on the MLS Listings for single family homes) is 4 percent higher than it was in 2019 with two months left in the year. Buyers, particularly city dwellers who were no longer bound by an office

and desired more space at home, became attracted to the area. Sylvia and Sean Vitousek initially set their sights on a three bedroom home in the region. In discussions over the course of the pandemic with their realtor Lance Hulsey it became clear they could use some extra space. “With a 3-year-old who’d be at home, both parents working and a baby on the way, it was clear to me three bedrooms might not be enough,” recalled Hulsey. They eventually found a four-bedroom home among the redwoods in Scotts Valley. The extra room they didn’t think they needed became critical when they had their new baby. Mr. Vitousek’s mother was able to quarantine in a downstairs bedroom while waiting for a COVID-19 test result before being able to stay and support the family. Rooms were converted into offices for both working parents and another into a playroom for the 3-year-old who was now home for the foreseeable future. Other families have turned to building entire new structures to accommodate the increased occupation of their living spaces. “Our homes are now multi-

functional spaces,” explained Jamileh Cannon, co-founder of Workbench, a design-develop-build firm in Santa Cruz. When shelter-in-place restrictions started to lift, Cannon saw a renewed urgency in homeowners to complete accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which Workbench specializes in. Suddenly college students were back at their family homes, children needed places to do school work and newly remote workers needed dedicated office spaces. The best option for some was to convert an existing outdoor structure outside the main home or build one from scratch. Coincidentally, this endeavor was made easier at the start of this year with the state of relaxing some of the regulations that made it hard, or more expensive, for these types of additions to be built. Of course, major renovations weren’t an option for everyone and some residents had to make the most of the space they had. Crystal DeClercq rents a two-bedroom townhouse in Aptos with her husband and two elementary school children. The shelter-in-place order impacted them all. Her husband Mike, a buyer for Whole Foods, had to find space to work at home and Crystal, a personal trainer restricted from doing in-person activities, needed somewhere to conduct online classes. “We definitely use our space strategically,” explained DeClercq. “Mike has a corner of the garage for his office, with two screens and a stand up

desk. I have the other corner as a gym set-up. Previously the garage was just used for storage.” Their girls, Keely and Harper, share a bedroom which they rearranged so they could fit two desks to learn remotely. While they’ve been able to make the forced adjustments, it’s accelerated their timeline to find a more permanent solution. “We have a renewed motivation to buy a three-bedroom sometime in the future,” said DeClercq.  Sol Property Advisors is a full-service, real estate brokerage representing clients across Santa Cruz County & the California Bay Area in a broad spectrum of classes, including residential, commercial, land, investment, and leasing. Visit for their services. | DECEMBER 2020


INSIDE EDUCATION Students’ Mental Health Declines During Pandemic Educators fear that student mental health—already an enormous concern given the record numbers for depression, anxiety, and child suicide that predated the pandemic—has declined immensely during the school closures. “The indicators have us worried,� stated Dr. Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools. At this month’s Inside Education, the gathering that introduces the local community to the workings of our schools, local educators and administrators gave their assessments. The first presenter, Dana Cooper, is a credentialed math teacher whose prepandemic job as the academic progress coordinator at Mission Hill Middle School has changed considerably during the pandemic. “I don’t feel like academic progress is what’s most important right now,� Cooper explains. “Me worrying about closing the achievement gap right now— it’s important but it’s definitely not my first priority.� Cooper works with students whose academic performance puts them at risk, and this population intersects with the population of students whose mental health is most at risk. She has developed a “students of concern� system, focusing

not only on students who aren’t attending online class, but also those “ghosting or slippery students� who log in but don’t respond. Dr. Kelly Schwirzky of Oasis Charter School, which is based at Cabrillo College, is a passionate advocate for alternative education, and a trailblazer in how to provide high quality education through distance learning. She made a strong case for individualized education for the whole child, instead of a laser focus on academics. “When we meet with students, we do an analysis of their academic credentials but we also make a map for them,� Schwirzky explains. She believes that “where do you want to go?� is an important question for schools to ask their students. Two representatives from the student mental health field presented sobering numbers about the falling reporting rates for domestic violence.Tiffany Kostigen-Mumper, private practice LMFT (formerly with County Behavioral Health) and Meg Yarnell (Mental Health Supervising Client Specialist at County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency) explained that domestic violence rates have gone up, mostly due to the strains of the pandemic, but the usual avenues for reporting, especially for child abuse, have been narrowed by the school closures.

We moved to Aptos!

19B Rancho Del Mar Aptos | (next to Safeway off State Park Dr.)

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DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz


Readers: Each month we feature notes from the Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s “Inside Education� outreach group. Find out what’s going on in education in Santa Cruz!.

Robyn McKeen and Michael Paynter presented information about the School Integrated Behavioral Health Initiative. SIBHI is a multi-agency effort which fosters the well being and thriving of children, youth, families and staff by increasing inter-agency coordination and developing a range of behavioral health supports within and connected to schools. They work to get SocialEmotional Learning (SEL) integrated into everything that occurs at school. Student Lena Jones, a junior at Pacific Collegiate, showed how organizations like Youth for Environmental Action (YEA) are drawing students countywide to join together in positive action.

And finally, presentations by the team from FosterEd at Santa Cruz County Office of Education and Alma Rocha, Education Liaison for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Cruz County drove home the need to develop flexible and multi-pronged approaches to reach students in the foster care system. Students already in the system are most at-risk for catastrophic decline of mental health during the pandemic. Although the topic was a sober one, all of these child advocates prove that our county is working on the problem with creativity, flexibility, and a focus on a mentally healthy future for all of our children.

Are you a community member who would be interested in getting an in-depth look at our local education system? Contact Les Forster at to join Inside Education’s next round.

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INSIDE EDUCATION Head Start Perseveres

Caring for the Children of Those Who Care for the Rest of Us BY SUKI WESSLING

Head Start, the half-century-old early childhood education program, has strong bipartisan support—a rarity in these times.

Early Head Start child. Photo by Guadalupe Lopez

Head Start family showing off their masks. “Three-quarters of the folks I work with never used email until May!” exclaims Maria Castro, director of Migrant/Seasonal Head Start, which serves the largely Latino migrant worker community in South County. Head Start, the half-century-old early childhood education program, has strong bipartisan support—a rarity in these times. Castro’s corner of Head Start, which is specifically designed for the migrant worker population, went through a painful transition last spring. “We couldn’t have our traditional monthly meetings and trainings,” Castro explains. Her care providers had to learn Zoom, and Castro had to try to make sense of chaos. “At the beginning, the [federal] requirements were changing every other week.”


Erendira Guerrero is the Director of the Child and Family Development Programs at Encompass Community Services, which administers Head Start centers. In the early days of the pandemic, Guerrero called the government daily, checking to make sure that she had heard correctly: the feds were letting coordinators know that they could be flexible with requirements. “We’re heavily regulated! We were like, are they kidding? Is this for real?” It was for real, and Head Start coordinators and providers shifted to providing services during a pandemic that was piled on top of existing stressors.“There was a triple threat,” Guerrero explains. “Natural disaster, racism, Covid. For us it’s probably been

four years that we’ve been supporting families in crisis mode.” Because families that benefit from Head Start in our county are overwhelmingly Hispanic, immigration raids made some providers and participants wary of participating in a government-sponsored program. That fear was compounded by the pandemic and then the fires. “There’s some real concern about the mental health of fear being in people’s lives for such a long time now,” Guerrero points out. “Will we be together? Will somebody get sick?”


Most of us are probably vaguely aware of Head Start as a government-funded, pre-kindergarten program. Some of us may remember headlines about a study that showed that Head Start conferred no lasting benefit to kids—though not the follow-up stories that showed the study was deeply flawed. If you ask people who are involved in local Head Start, however, there is no debate that Head Start is necessary, useful, and effective. “I drank the Head Start Kool-Aid many years ago!” Erendira Guerrero jokes. “I fell in love with the structure of not just working with the child but with the family and the community.” “The childcare industry is fragile,” explains Sita Moon, coordinator of the Child Development Resource Center at the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. “There are high expectations but very little financial reward. But without a sufficient supply of childcare our economy is affected.”

Moon has a lot to coordinate. Traditional Head Start offers only Licensed Childcare Centers, which provide group care in institutional settings. These were forced to close last spring and now deliver their services online. Migrant Head Start administers Centers but also Licensed Family Childcare Homes, where an adult runs a small, independent daycare out of the home where they reside. These homes, with guidance by Maria Castro, were allowed to stay open, with restrictions.


Maria Castro saw ingenuity and flexibility on the part of the families she works with in Migrant Head Start as they tried to keep the Licensed Homes open. “At first, everything that’s inside, they have a modified version outside. That made it easy to get the children outside to do social distancing. Then the smoke came. We were running around trying to get air purifiers for their homes. Once the smoke went away, we were like, ‘Oh, good, it’s just a pandemic!’” Erendira Guerrero said that Head Start had to adapt quickly to new needs. “When we started the pandemic, there were fewer resources, especially for families who didn’t have a child in the public school system. For example, there was a lag time before we were ready to provide diapers and formula because you can’t normally find those things at a food bank.”Despite the challenges, the program has risen to the occasion, exceeding its original mission as a childcare program. As a result of the pandemic, says Castro, “We are the main source of information to farmworker parents. We’re sending them information about Covid and how to protect themselves twice a month.” Impressively, there have been very few Covid infections tracked to Family Childcare Homes.

The bad news is that the program has truly been devastated by the triple threat. The childcare centers have been closed indefinitely.“We’re worried about all the folks that are on unemployment now from the centers that are closed,” Sita Moon explains. “Will there be jobs for them when the centers are able to open?” The program has correspondingly seen a drop in enrollment—about half of the families have dropped out or are no longer in contact. Homeless families, who can no longer visit centers for services, are of particular concern.


To be involved in a program that serves young children, you need a certain amount of unshakable optimism. And everyone involved can cite the ways in which the program and its participants have blossomed during these difficult times.“On the positive, the parents have been so thankful,” Maria Castro reports. “These are folks that if they don’t have childcare, they can’t work in the fields, and if they don’t work there’s no income. They have no savings. We have also been able to pay the childcare providers when they have to shut down.” Castro also points out that her providers, many of them women in their sixties, are particularly proud of being essential workers who have new training in technology. “For families we work with, we are their primary source of connection,” Erendira Guerrero says. “We work with them and connect them with other families and resources. We never closed our services, but when we closed our in-person services, staff immediately jumped into making home wellness calls to the families. For those families that were more isolated this was really helpful. We did lose connection with some of our highest risk families, like our families that were homeless. So we had to work with the county and the foster families to rebuild that connection.” Sita Moon says that these trying times have only strengthened the resolve of those who work to make sure that childcare is available to everyone. “Early educators are incredibly strong and resilient and our community is fortunate to have so many people engaged in this work.”  Suki Wessling is a local writer and teacher and the mother of two college students. Read more at | DECEMBER 2020


BIRTH MATTERS Movie Night BY LAURA MAXSON, LM People are sticking pretty close to home with the recent COVID-19 flareups in our community. Families know the drill by now. Everyone already has a plan in place to safely shop, order food to go, and function in our partially functioning society.One thing that is often missing in this partial lockdown is casual conversation among friends and the opportunity to make new acquaintances. For those currently pregnant, there is no more lingering in the midwife’s waiting room to finish a conversation with someone who has the same due date, comparing childbirth education classes, or setting up playdates for kids. Considering all the lost opportunities to talk with others, expectant parents might need some extra prompts to help them explore birth options and learn about alternatives in care. All the good shows have already been binge watched over the past year, so this might be a great time to check out some good childbirth-related movies and documentaries. It can be helpful to explore some of the issues that might get glossed over or missed entirely in childbirth classes online. There just isn’t time to cover everything in a Zoom meeting format, and chatting around the refreshment table just isn’t happening. Understanding the choices around homebirth, unmedicated birth, and other options can help parents make decisions about their own birth plan. Someone doesn’t have to choose a homebirth to benefit from the discussions around that choice. A birth plan in any setting includes options stemming from topics covered in films with a broad range of interests like these below. Why not home? Created by nurse practitioner Jessicca Moore to highlight the choices parents make when considering where to give birth. Set in Northern California, Why Not Home tells the stories of real parents who are also nurses, midwives, doctors, and OBs.

Happy Holidays


that persists today; Birth Story documents one aspect of midwifery history.

2011 CNN Hero Ibu Robin Lim is featured in this documentary about her work as a midwife and clinic director in Indonesia. Robin shares her passion for childbirth and caring for her community after an earthquake, tsunami, and terrorist attacks.



Nurturing Your Gorgeous & Growing Baby By Breastfeeding.

David Stark provides a beautiful and informative film about breastfeeding. Pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum issues are addressed with parents sharing their experiences, animation to help with positioning, and many gorgeous images.


Ina May Gaskin and the Farm

This is the story of Ina May Gaskin, an influential midwife from the 1970s onward who helped bring the importance of midwifery to a more mainstream audience. A hippie caravan led to the founding of a commune and creation of a birth center

Virtual Meet the Doulas Saturday, January 23, 4pm

Learn about how doulas support families though the birth and postpartum experience during our current COVID19 situation. Preregister to join our FREE LIVE ZOOM EVENT:

One-stop-shopping for pregnancy, birth & parenting services 20 DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz


Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake explore the state of maternity care in the United States. Parents have choices around home and hospital birth, midwives, and OBs, as well as philosophies around pain relief and natural birth.


Maria Iorillo, licensed midwife, put together this short video about homebirth and women’s experience of birth. Parents speak about pain, decision making, and their choices.


Presenting birth from three perspectives: home, hospital, and birth center. An obstetrician, licensed midwife, and certified nurse midwife provide their insights into childbirth.


Mass Media Childbirth vs. The Real Thing

People are influenced by childbirth portrayals in the media. TV shows, movies, and documentaries have all played a part in how each person might view birth. Childbirth clips from Marge Simpson and the Coneheads, to I Love Lucy and classic birth documentaries are covered. Lots of laughs in this informative film.

The Best Kept Secret


Debra Pascali-Bonaro’s film highlights seven births. While not everyone is going to have an orgasmic birth, the possibility of labor being a pleasurable event is refreshing. The basic needs for privacy and trust are explored.

Lovely family-oriented film of a midwife who is giving birth to her third child at home in Mexico. This is a very gentle and peaceful movie suitable for most children.

BORN IN THE U.S.A. (Spanish version available)

Birth Network has resources for childbirth education and more

GREEN LIVING Holidays Without Plastic BY LISA CATTERALL If the year 2020 has taught me one thing, it’s to be less judgmental. We’ve all been through loss and fear and seen our friends and family handle it in so many different ways. It’s a year to grow and a year to try new things. My family is enjoying using the extra time at home to start our preparations for the holidays early. I love the traditions of the season. I am from Minnesota and we always hunkered down in the freezing weather and made a very busy Christmas. My grandmother had lived through the Great Depression and it meant so much to her to put up a new theme tree every year and wrap new gifts for everyone in perfectly matched paper and bows. Her home was stunning. She also taught me to throw lush parties and bake for the entire neighborhood. I still do those things here in Watsonville. This year, I’ve noticed that our fear of catching the coronavirus has certainly outweighed our environmental principles in some areas. For me, the holiday season itself sometimes has the same effect. I would never buy plastic containers or yards and yards of gift wrap in a normal month, but it always seems like my environmentalism doesn’t count at Christmas. Last year, I decided to change that. I wrote an article asking for ideas to have a beautiful, waste-free holiday. And people gave me some. This year, I am sharing them.


Otherwise known as reusable gift wrap. Look it up! Furoshiki is a Japanese art form that involves wrapping gifts in fabric, and when I found out about it I was amazed at the beauty that emerged around my presents. Head on down to our wonderful Harts Fabric store in midtown Santa Cruz and find some prints to use. The internet is full of instructions and videos on this topic. We also save those reusable fabric bags people give us through Amazon; they go in with our decorations and come back out every year.


There are so many ways to use beautiful and recyclable glass in giving to replace plastic. Last year, I gave baked treats in Mason jars rather than in cheap plastic holiday containers. Glass is recycled here in America, and almost everyone on my list said they would reuse a Mason jar in their home. Flats of Mason jars are available at our local hardware stores.


For adult gift giving, we lean towards giving certificates for local experiences or giving baskets of sustainably packaged local food items. This year, it’s still possible under our shelter-in-place restrictions. On my giving list are virtual wine tastings hosted by local wineries, with wine, and painting workshops from Palace Arts on Zoom for my

creative friends. We also like to give out bottles of local olive oil and Mason jars of locally roasted coffee, or a crate of treats from Freedom Meat Lockers. One favorite “experience” gift we give is a gift certificate for parking by the beach to our surfer friends.


We are lucky enough to have families in our network whose children are growing out of toys and clothes as our kids are growing into them. We have no shame about cleaning things up and putting them under the Christmas tree. We also love to shop at our local thrift stores. Would someone you know love a wild, antique, ugly Christmas sweater? The downtown Goodwill is almost always full of them. How about giving cookies out on plates from the local thrift store?


A dollar spent at a local business travels around the community 17en times, whereas a dollar spent at a box store leaves our county with one transaction. To be sure a gift will be cherished and reused rather than ending up in the landfill, we like to give people we don’t know as well gift certificates to our local stores like Bookshop Santa Cruz, Sockshop, or Kelly’s Books in Watsonville.

 Lisa Catterall teaches STEAM, math, science, and art at Mount Madonna School and is a senior associate of the Centers for Research on Creativity. She lectures and trains

teachers and administrators on innovation in education in Beijing, China. Lisa has five children and lives in Santa Cruz County.


We will not be throwing one this year, of course, but we started borrowing real glasses or using thrift store items instead of plastic and disposables. This year we will have a virtual party. I’m excited about watch parties of the classic Christmas movies with my family, and virtual tours of everyone’s decor.


One way we kept a big “wow” factor in the holiday for our kids without calling more manufactured plastic into existence was to hire a local company that brings well-cared for snow bunnies to your home for the day. I hear they also have reindeer! Also, there are so many types of pets out there! The SPCA in our county has worked overtime for the animals left homeless by the fires. Perhaps this year, with everyone staying home, is the time to have a kitten, not a Barbie Dream House, under that tree.


I love to see my friends’ and families’ faces pinned up around my home on their annual holiday cards. Sometimes we forego the cards, though, and send a brief slideshow over the web. Another way we have reduced waste is to print our annual cards on business card size paper. Any extras make nice gift tags, and the paper use is cut back significantly. This is a year when we are all more worried about the world than usual, and when we all need to get creative about our holiday traditions anyways. Why not include the Earth on our giving list? | DECEMBER 2020


ALWAYS AMUSED Boardwalk Rides Reopen, Then Quickly Close Shopping, Dining Areas Still Open at Seaside Park BY ERIK CHALHOUB & Beer Pairing take place Fridays and Saturdays from 3-7 p.m., featuring Bay Area craft beers paired with foods prepared by Boardwalk private event Chef Scott Meyer. Agape Dance Academy’s “Nutcracker the Movie” will be performed Dec. 18-20 at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Attendees can watch the performance from their vehicles. Operating hours and offerings change daily, so guests are advised to visit


For just one weekend in Santa Cruz, life was almost back to normal. During Nov. 7-8, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk became the first amusement park in California to reopen its rides following an eight-month closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There were limited options, to be sure, but one couldn’t help but feel hope for the future when stepping into the Giant Dipper’s coaster train for the first time in what seemed like forever. Just a few days later, however, the rides went dark again, indefinitely.


California health officials released Covid-19 reopening guidelines on Oct. 20 that allow theme parks and stadiums to resume limited operations. Smaller theme parks, which are those with a capacity of less than 15,000 people, can reopen with 25 percent capacity, if the counties where they reside are in Tier 3 as

outlined in the state’s reopening guidance. To be considered for Tier 3, known as the “Orange Tier,” counties must have Covid-19 positivity rates between 2 to 4.9 percent, among other metrics. Only residents of the county the parks are located at are allowed to visit. Santa Cruz County moved into the Orange Tier on Oct. 27, and shortly after, the Boardwalk announced its ride reopening plan. Santa Cruz County residents had to make a reservation to access the ride area for a two-hour session. Only 500 people per session were allowed. However, the county was pushed back to the more restrictive Red Tier of the state’s Covid-19 reopening plan on Nov. 10 as Covid-19 cases began to surge, effectively closing the Boardwalk’s rides once again. The Boardwalk Bowl and Neptune’s Kingdom have also closed.

“While we are disappointed to close rides and attractions, we anticipated the likelihood Santa Cruz County might move back and forth within the tiers and have prepared to adjust our operations accordingly,” Boardwalk spokesperson Kris Reyes said. “The health and safety of our guests and employees is of the utmost importance during these challenging times and this will remain our priority in the weeks and months ahead.” Even though the rides are closed, guests can still experience other aspects of the Boardwalk. The colonnade and main Boardwalk plaza remain open daily with free admission for all guests to eat and shop. Face masks are required while visiting. Season passes for 2020 have also been extended through 2021. Smaller special events are still taking place at the park. Hoppy Hours Food

This is where we ask readers to share their opinions on issues around the community. Send your opinions to and we will print them. While the rest of us were figuring how to protect our kids from COVID-19, we heard a radio show on local station KSCO-AM (1080) talking about how masks were a scam, the virus is a hoax and preparations are a conspiracy for the government to control us. The weekly show by failed city council candidate Ashley Scontriano claims to present common sense, but sounds like two hours of conspiracy theories and misinformation. Among her claims is that COVID tests don’t work; social distance doesn’t work and masks don’t work.

22 DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo is continuing its Marine World Experience on the weekends. While the rides are closed, guests can visit the park’s animals, including lions, penguins, sharks, sea lions and others. Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia recently announced a drivethru Holiday in the Park event that runs through Jan. 3. Guests can drive through the entire park to view millions of lights and other holiday displays. Disneyland is still closed, but its Downtown Disney District shopping area has begun a phased reopening. Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park is offering a food event, Taste of Merry Farm, through Jan. 3. Guests can sample dozens of culinary treats while walking through the park that is decorated with holiday displays. Rides are closed. Universal Studios Hollywood’s CityWalk is open, while SeaWorld San Diego is offering holiday treats and displays. Gilroy Gardens and California’s Great America remain closed with no special events on tap. The latter, however, has been keeping fans updated through social media on the numerous park enhancements that are taking place during this extended offseason. Gilroy Gardens is targeting a May 2021 opening.

Our question is what’s the line between freedom of speech and responsible broadcasting? Does freedom of speech include broadcasting misinformation and lies? Keep in mind the public airwaves on which radio stations broadcast are owned by us, the public. To get licenses broadcasters are supposed to show that they are serving the public interest. They aren’t governed by free speech, but by their demonstration of responsible speech and community benefit. Do you think a local station should be telling its listeners not to wear masks or socially distance? Is that responsible to the community? Is that what you want on your airwaves?

HEALTHY EATING Winter Wellness

A Different Hustle and Bustle and Self Care goes Double Time! BY GRETCHEN HEIMSOTH


Cut Through the Fog

When brain fog happens, bring your concentration back online with some chocolate!! Studies have shown that flavanols in the cacao bean enhance brain health by boosting BDNF, a chemical that slows down the neuronal-cell death that leads to dementia. Get the optimal benefits of 100 percent pure, raw cacao in this drink!

INGREDIENTS: 2 tbsp unsweetened raw cacao powder 2 tsp stevia powder or 1 tbsp honey 1/8 tsp ground cardamom 1 drop food-grade peppermint oil 1 sprig fresh mint, optional




In a small saucepan over mediumhigh heat, whisk and cook cacao powder, stevia or honey, cardamom, and 1 cup of water until the mixture is smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in peppermint oil. Garnish with mint, if desired. If you want to make either of them grown-up or use for a toddy, add a shot of gin or brandy

Lemon, Honey & Turmeric Tonic

INGREDIENTS: Peel and juice of 1 lemon 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated or chopped 1 tsp fresh turmeric 2 tsp honey 2 drops food-grade lemon-balm extract (also called Melissa) 1 sprig rosemary, optional




In a small saucepan over high heat, cook the lemon peel, ginger, turmeric, and 1 cup of water until the water just begins to boil, 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, honey, and lemon-balm extract, and then strain into a mug, reserving peels. Garnish with a couple of 2-inch pieces of cooked lemon peel and rosemary, if desired.

Recipe by Biscuits & Beets

I find the time I take to prepare these can become a space for a meditation practice in the middle of your day.

Here we are! December 2020! We made it! Let’s bring this crazy and intense year to a close! Well done! I know it’s not been easy, and we will have lingering challenges into 2021 and beyond. Administrations change, but we are steeped in the ravages that have been thrust on our environment. Our area felt its layer of trauma this year with the CZU fire. And for many, the trauma is not over. Families are still displaced. Many are not sure if they can or want to rebuild, fears of what will happen in the scar areas as the rains come, and insecurities surrounding water safety. The concerns and stress are real. Winter wellness is often about pulling in and supporting the body and heart as the elements show us their sharper sides.

This year, self-care has come to the forefront as a non-negotiable! Indeed it always was; however, I feel it was easier to justify excuses for not engaging in selfcare, and the effects of not doing so did not feel as strong. The holidays are upon us. I can tell everyone is looking forward to changing the backdrop of all the intensity with holiday libations, lights, sparkle, and loved ones. We will still need to think outside the box when it comes to community gatherings. Distance, outdoors, masking, but it’s clear that our community needs to feel its connections. I believe we can do this and keep safety for our community at the forefront. A few foundational health principles should be the flooring of your winter

wellness. Try to minimize sugar. It is the holidays, but that does not buffer you from the cascade of sugar’s adverse effects on our systems. Try to skip caffeine after 2 pm. Allow your adrenals time to rest and move into the evening so you can sleep better: sleep 7 to 8 hours on average for almost all adults. Get out and move and eat some greens! I thought a couple of winter wellness tonics would

be good to focus on for this time of year. One for immunity and inflammation, one for mental clarity! I find the time I take to prepare these can become a space for a meditation practice in the middle of your day. A standing one, but a reminder in your day that you and your health and headspace matter. A time to refocus and ground the monkey mind! Plus, they are tasty and rewarding on the palate! | DECEMBER 2020


YOUR HOME You Can’t Afford Not to Own a Home in Santa Cruz BY SEBASTIAN “SEB” FREY

In the column I wrote last month for Growing up in Santa Cruz, I shared a lot of information that would-be Santa Cruz homebuyers need to know right now. Yes, the market is hot, and prices are up…but what else is new? I’ve been a Realtor in Santa Cruz since 2003, and while I can say that this market is more difficult for buyers than any market I have known – it’s not that much harder. People – people who are not so different than you – are buying homes every day in Santa Cruz, and if you’re planning on staying here, I recommend that you make buying a home a top priority. I know what you’re saying – real estate in Santa Cruz is so unaffordable! And that is very true. It has been true, for a very long time. Without researching the very latest statistics updated for Q4 2020, I can tell you that Santa Cruz has the lowest affordability of just about any county in California. I’ve read a number of articles over the past few years showing that Santa Cruz actually has the lowest affordability in the country, and one of the lowest in the entire world. Yikes!


Last I checked, it had been determined that only 12 percent of Santa Cruz households could afford the medianpriced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment. With the median price recently up over $1 million, that means a $200K+ down payment. Do 12 percent of households even have $200K to put down on a home? I’m not so sure.


It’s a function of your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. A home is considered “affordable” if the monthly cost (loan principal repayment + interest + property tax + insurance, or PITI), plus your existing debt service costs (student loans, car payment, credit cards, etc.) is less than 36 percent of your gross monthly income. As an example: if your household income is $100,000 per year, that means you’re making $8,500 per month (pretax). 36 percent of $8,500 is $3,060 – so if you had no debt, your maximum all-in monthly mortgage payment would be $3,060. However, most people carry some amount of debt. If your debt service costs are $500/month, that means your maximum mortgage payment would be

24 DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz

As I hope should be clear, renting a home in Santa Cruz for the long haul is an exceedingly expensive proposition, compared to buying a home.

$2,560 per month. So now the question is, how much home would be “affordable” for you? To answer that, I broke out my trusty mortgage calculator. With a $480,000 purchase price and 20 percent down, you’d have a loan amount of $384,000. Assuming a 2.5 percent mortgage interest rate, you’d have a payment of $2,043 per month which includes $1,517 for principal + interest, $460 for property tax, and $67 for insurance. These are rough numbers, of course, but they give you an idea of how mortgage qualification works. Obviously, $480,000 does not buy a lot of home in this town. It is important to understand a few more things, however. Most lenders do not have a maximum DTI of 36 percent. In fact, it’s more common that a maximum DTI for a conventional loan is in the neighborhood of 43 percent. Depending on your credit score and the type of loan you’re applying for, your max DTI could be 50 percent, or higher. And, as I mentioned in last month’s column, most Santa Cruz homebuyers don’t put 20 percent down. It’s very common for first time homebuyers to put down 3.5 percent to 10 percent on their homes. And yes, most sellers will be happy to help you pay your closing costs, with a sufficiently high offer. Let me guess: your eyes are watering. For a lot of you, these are going to be staggering, and seemingly insurmountable, numbers. You may be thinking there’s no way you will ever be able to afford to buy a home in Santa Cruz.


If you plan to stay in Santa Cruz for the long term, the truth is: you can’t afford not to buy a home in Santa Cruz. That’s because renting a home in perpetuity in Santa Cruz is a ticket to poverty. There may be a certain romanticism that goes along with being broke at age 30, but at age 60, it’s practically a crisis. According to a U.S. Federal Reserve study completed in 2016, homeowners in the USA enjoy a net worth that is 45 times greater than renters. You read that right! The net worth of renters in the study was $5,200 – but the net worth of homeowners was $231,400. Of course, buying a home isn’t going to add $226K to your net worth overnight. But here’s how to understand the impact of homeownership vs. renting over time. When you buy, you are locking in your monthly housing cost, which will rise over time but at a rate far lower than the

rate of inflation. When you rent, over the long term, you can expect that your rental costs will rise right along with inflation. Let’s examine what that looks like, after just 10 years.

Year 1

Mortgage Payment (PITI): $3,000 ($559K loan @ 2.5%, $700K purchase price) Rent Payment: $3,000

Year 10

Mortgage Payment (PITI): $3,250 ($418K loan balance, $896K Fair Market Value) Rent Payment: $3,840

Equity Accumulation: $337,000 ($141,000 mortgage pay-down + $196,000 appreciation) Saved Rent vs. Mortgage Payment: $51,500 (estimated) Total Advantage Owning vs. Renting: $388,500 I’ll give you the standard caveat emptor, which is that these numbers are approximate and the assumptions going into them will change over time. Interest rates will change, as will the rate of appreciation. It’s worth noting here that for purposes of this exercise, I assumed an appreciation rate of only 2.5 percent per year (the same rate as I used for inflation). If I change that assumption to say that home prices rise 4 percent per year on average over 10 years, the $700K home is then worth $1,036,171 after 10 years and the total increase in your net worth would be $528,671. As I hope should be clear, renting a home in Santa Cruz for the long haul is an exceedingly expensive proposition, compared to buying a home. While the path to homeownership may not be one you’re ready to take today, you owe it to yourself – and your kids – to get on it as soon as possible.  Realtor Seb Frey is the author of the book Get It Sold! Besides selling houses, he gives seminars on important issues for homeowners and does a podcast, and has TV Channels, on Instagram and Facebook. Learn more on his website and reach him at

LOCAL ARTIST Hollyann Dickinson My name is Hollyann Dickinson and I am 10 years old. In August, my life turned upside down because I lost my home in Boulder Creek to the Santa Cruz Complex fire. It was the worst day of my life because I lost everything I cared for and many of my friends also lost their homes. I am thankful that we safely evacuated with our dog Rufftin and our bearded dragon Willy. After we evacuated, we moved five times. Everywhere we went, there were really nice people that helped us. We finally settled in Mount Hermon and I

met a new friend named Sarah. Everyday I look forward to seeing her and playing with her. She taught me how to do a front flip on a trampoline. What has also helped me feel better is art. Art makes me forget about all the bad stuff because I get to create. I like drawing, acrylic and watercolor painting. Sometimes I like to doodle with my paintbrush, turn my picture around and look at it from a different angle. When I do this, I sometimes see different shapes that remind me of an animal or something that I didn't mean to draw at first. | DECEMBER 2020


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Valid Nov. 1st - Jan 31st 303 Potrero St #15 • Santa Cruz 831-458-3648 •

jeff myers | owner 831.247.0458

4440 Bain Avenue | Santa Cruz, Ca 95062

26 DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz



Must Go On


And then, something happened. It’s like we reached a tipping point of hilariously poorly done projects and unexpectedly entered the realm of having enough experience to start doing them right.

Out of the Theater and Into the Parking Lot For 13 years running, the students and staff of the International Academy of Dance (IAD) have gifted us with their interpretation of the famous ballet, The Nutcracker, performed every year at the Cabrillo College Theater That show has been cancelled because of the pandemic. Now, the troupe has reimagined what can be done so the show goes on. The students, who range from ages four to adult will be putting on a curbside show. They will perform in a large parking lot at 320 Encinal St. where

the audience can watch safely. Shows will be Saturday and Sunday Dec. 12 and13 at 1:45 and 3:45 in the afternoon. The shows will run 45 minutes on a small stage that the IAD has built for the event. “We are creating improvements to our stage to create a safe dance floor where we also hold outdoor classes,” says director Shannon Chipman. Shannon has been the owner and director for the last 16 years. The IAD will also be streaming the Nutcracker on Facebook live @

International Academy of Dance Santa Cruz, and through January 1st you can watch the show live and download the full magic at “The dancers are very excited and dancing so beautifully, we couldn’t skip a year of Nutcracker... somehow the show must go on!” says Chipman. “Being able to share their artistry and joy with the community makes it all even more worthwhile, as a gift from our family to yours,” says Chipman.

*All images from International Academy of Dance | DECEMBER 2020


2020 APTOS Red Apple Cafe - Aptos

Deer Park Marketplace 783 Rio Del Mar Blvd. Ste 15 Aptos, CA 95003 831-685-1224 RedAppleCafeAptos Happy Holidays! Thank you for all your support this year. Our New Covid Hours are 8:00am - 3:00pm Daily! Take Out or Indoor/Outdoor seating available. St. John’s Helpful Shop

246-A Center Ave., Aptos 831-332-7711 or 831-708-4238 Feel good about your holiday shopping at your neighborhood thrift store located near Marianne’s Ice-cream. Mention Growing Up in SC and receive $5 off your purchases. Sat-Sun Noon - 4pm/ Wed 1-4pm. Wonderland Toys & Classroom Resources

Heads Up

Hair Salon 6259 Hwy 9 | (831) 239-7506 headsuphairstudio Vivid hues and styles found here in a comfortable, yet intriguing environment. Anything from color corrections to balayage, rainbow hair and beyond. Hallcrest Vineyards

Family friendly 379 Felton Empire Rd | (831) 335-4441 Family run and dog friendly boutique winery established in 1941. Specializing in Pinot Noir, Organic Wines, and Hard Ciders. Open on Thursday-Monday. Lanctot Art Services

Framing Experts 6222 Hwy 9 | (831) 338-3232 Art Services by Steve & Mary Lanctot, Custom Picture Framing, Fine Art Restoration, Local Artist’s Gallery. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10-5. 39 Years in SLV. Roaring Camp

19B Rancho Del Mar Aptos CA 95003 (831) 316-7261 At Wonderland we believe in the wonder of childhood. We are both moms and educators and we are proud to be a resource to our WONDERful community. Wonderland has quality educational materials and specialty toys designed to inspire creativity and wonder in the next generation. We pride ourselves on our customer service and we’d love to hear from you about your Wonderland experience! Thanks for shopping local!

5401 Graham Hill Rd, Felton Holiday Tree Walk at Roaring Camp See Redwood forests from 100-year-old Steam Trains. At Roaring Camp, view the Holiday Tree Walk. Weekends only; November 27-December 20. Reservations required. Go Drive in Movies at Roaring Camp Take the family to the movies. See popular movies In the comfort and safety of your car, Fridays/Saturdays at 6:15 pm, weather permitting. Reservations required. Go to


Santa Cruz Redwoods

Felton feed

Pet Parents 6221 Hwy 9 | (831) 335-1212 Instagram @FeltonFeed Family owned and operated pet supply and feed store focusing on natural and raw pet foods and treats. Serving our community for over 25 years! The Gilded Lily

Tattoo Heaven 6237 Hwy 9 | (831) 426-1716 Established in 2004 Instagram @thegildedlilytattoos The Gilded Lily offers quality tattoos in a variety of styles. premade and custom designs. We look forward to making you more beautiful.

RV Resort 4980 Hwy 9 | (831) 335-8312 A unique camping experience in the redwoods along the San Lorenzo River, adjacent to Henry Cowell State Park, six miles from local beaches. Adventure awaits! Simpatico

Home, Life & Style 6223 Hwy 9 | (831) 704-7420 Gifts, artisan goods and treasures for a life well lived. A locally-owned shop nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains supplying style with substance. Skavenge Art Gallery

Artist Nook 6245 Hwy 9 | An ever-changing collection of nature-

28 DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz

To say these holidays are like no other is an understatement, but if there’s one positive thing to come out of this pandemic, it’s the realization that we need to support our neighbors and help each other. As Bookshop Santa Cruz owner Casey Coonerty Protti says, "Amazon doesn’t need your money, our local merchants do." This is a good time to stop browsing online, support local businesses, find special gifts and explore your community all at once. This gift guide highlights local businesses countywide to help you bring a little piece of Santa Cruz County to your holiday celebrations inspired visionary art and hand crafted goods. All made right here in the heart of Felton. “Live a life uncommon.” Tomboy outpost

Vintage Style 6235 Hwy 9 | (831) 704-7025 Instagram @TomboyOutpost Tomboy Outpost features a unique collection of vintage and new apparel for men women and children, local handmade goods with a rocking roll western twist. White Raven

Best Pour House 6253 Hwy 9 | (831) 335-3611 Instagram @ white_raven_pour_house Enjoy delicious tea, coffee, and espresso drinks, with a large selection of alternative milk, sweet pastries, and savory bites. Home of Larry’s Famous Chai. Wild Roots

Natural Groceries 6240 Hwy 9 | (831) 335-7322 Friendly Service, 100% Organic Produce, Natural Groceries, Meats, and Bulk Foods. Full Service Deli, Salad and Soup Bar, Juice Bar, Vitamins, Body Care, Local Beer and Wine. Wylder Space

Good Eats 6249 Hwy 9 | (831) 704-7494 Wylder Space is recreating the social dining scene- bringing people together with good food, good drinks & great company. This is the “art” of entertaining.

SANTA CRUZ Adventure Sports Unlimited

303 Potrero St, Suite 15 Santa Cruz, CA 831-458-3648 Adventure Sports is known for sharing the love of water. This holiday season give your young, loved ones a lifetime of fun and memories with Swim Lessons at ASU. For your older explorer, our dive shop is filled with gear for the deep, cold ocean in Santa Cruz and beyond! Jim Booth Swimming

GIVE THE GIFT OF SWIMMING FOR LIFE 831-722-3500 A Gift Certificate to Jim Booth Swim School is a lasting present that anyone can use. Treat someone you love to swim instruction in our comfortable 94 degree pool. Give the new mommy and daddy in your family a set of lessons or help the older kids or adults to improve their swimming. We teach year around at our Santa Cruz and Watsonville locations. $128 for a set of lessons.

Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta Bar

1100 Pacific Ave, Downtown Santa Cruz 831-469-4400 Start your holiday shopping early and shop local. Treat your family to great gifts from Kianti’s. Choose from Gift Cards, Kianti’s Wine, Sweatshirts, Blankets, Kianti’s Handcrafted Liquor: Rum, Gin, Vodka & Whiskey or a gift basket. Kick up your feet while you shop on our heated patios. Santa Cruz Gymnastics Center

2750 B Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz 831.462.0655 At Santa Cruz Gymnastics we believe in the power of gymnastics to strengthen our bodies and minds! This winter, give the child in your life the gift of gymnastics! At SCGC, they will run, jump and tumble in our safe 9,000 square foot facility. Check or call for info. Ultraderm | California Skin Institute

3311 Mission Dr., Santa Cruz 95065 (831) 272-0936 ultraderm-santa-cruz/ Treat your beauty queen right by giving her the best – medical-grade skin care products. We carry the Obagi Skin Care line, Epionce, and our own California Skin Institute products. Gift cards are available.

ONLINE AND OUTSIDE Hilde Hauc Collection

Instagram & Facebool @HildeHaucCollection Eclectic home decor and vintage treasures. Find what you're looking for from handpoured soy wax candles in enamel mugs to wine barrel stave bottle openers. MusicalMe, Inc.

Locations throughout Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County 831-438-3514 | Give the gift of the lifelong love of music to the children in your life from Birth to 8 years. We offer gift certificates in any amount for each of our three award-winning and research-based music enrichment programs: Music Together©, Canta y Baila Conmigo™, and Rhythm Kids©. Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History The Museum’s Online Store features a wide array of books, field guides, gifts and toys for nature-enthusiasts of all ages. Shipping and curbside pickup available.

Coming in

JANUARY Monterey Bay Eco Tours Green Living The Bigfoot Museum Independent Schools Guide | DECEMBER 2020



Submit your coloring entry to and we will select some for great prizes! You can also mail them to Box 3505, Santa Cruz, 95063

30 DECEMBER 2020 | Growing Up in Santa Cruz

On-the-way-tothe-market care. This Open Enrollment, choose a network with doctors nearby.

When signing up for your health insurance plan this Open Enrollment, make sure it includes Dignity Health. With the most physician locations in Santa Cruz County, it’s easy to find a doctor close to the places you go to the most. | DECEMBER 2020


Where Businesses Start, Grow, and Prosper YOSO Wellness Spa

With 35 years of serving Santa Cruz County, the SBDC is a premier hub of experts experienced in Mainstreet, Techstreet, and Agribusiness. Business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs receive in-depth advising and training to obtain capital, launch businesses, grow sales and create jobs.


• Business Planning & Pivoting

• Obtaining Financing & Resources • Setting Up HR & Accounting ...And more!

Let us help you launch your business 831.479.6136 | Paid for under the current grant with the U.S. Small Business Development Administration, Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation, the Santa Cruz City and County Economic Development, Workforce Development Board of Santa Cruz County and the County Board of Supervisors. SBDC’s are supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration and extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. SBA can not endorse any products, opinions, or services of the SBDC’s affiliated entities. The Santa Cruz SBDC is an equal opportunity employer and reasonable accommodations will be made, upon request, for individuals with disabilities.

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