M Magazine Nov 21 Los Altos

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Beautiful Gardens • Custom Stonework • Quality Woodworking • Unique Waterscapes

650.948.4485 • www.LifescapeWeb.com © 2021 Lifescape Custom Landscaping Inc. LIC. 913269


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gift guide

Welcome to M’s November gift guide! We’ve collected some of the most fun and unique gifts for everyone: techies, parents, kids, cooking enthusiasts, environmentalists, Disney lovers and more. Look for part two of our holiday gift guide in the December issue.


A huge selection of hilarious tongue-in-cheek motivational phrases in this clever line devoted to cheering up friends and loved ones through irresistibly scented candles, diffusers, room sprays, bath bombs and more. My favorite is the “I Only Raise Ballers” candle with Fruity Loops scent. Proceeds support American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. $20, maliciouswomenco.com


The cornerstone of family organization… good old calendars. Workman’s has an endless and beautiful selection of wall and desk calendars ranges from inspirational and family-friendly to those for puzzle and game lovers. We love the Magical Activity Calendar and the Kid’s Awesome Activity Calendar. $15.99, workman.com



Every room in the house could use one of these electronics organizers and charging stations, beautifully made from handcrafted wood. An excellent way to hide unsightly cords and keep things neat and tidy. Bay Area company warehoused in Sonoma. $140, greatusefulstuff.com


An unexpected and fantastic gift for your favorite adventurer, athlete, or for simply taking onthe-go to school and work. PATH water comes in spectacularly designed water bottles that are infinitely reusable and made from sleek and lightweight aluminum that is 100% recyclable. Locally sourced and purified. $19.99, drinkpathwater.com

Spunky Stork has high quality and super cute and clever baby, kid, sibling, and family outfits. Choose from hundreds of designs, including our favorite sibling options: peanut butter and jelly, pancakes and syrup, avocado and toast, taco and taquito and “So Fresh” and “So Clean.” From $16, spunkystork.com, amazon.com


These salts are a must on our holiday cooking list. The sampler has five artisan salts to choose from: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall blends, plus a sea salt. A wonderful and very easy way to add some pizazz to your everyday meals as well as special holiday spreads! $42, salterieone.com


Make holiday festivities simple and fun! This clever cookie cutter takes the extra work and mess out of cutting dough, getting you to the best parts: baking, decorating, and eating! Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas designs are sure to delight. $12.99, onesmartcookiecutters.com


For the hard-to-shop-forguy in your life, look no further than ManCrates. Dozens of options to choose from, including some of our favorites: Grill Master, Whiskey Appreciation, Rib Master plus personalized Growlers, Pints and Golf Balls – a very fun and special gift idea for anyone! $109.99, mancrates.com



Dozens of beautiful designs (plus customize your own) to make your home or office workspace pleasant and cozy. Wrist support and precise mouse movements are an added bonus to this practical and stylish desk accent. From $17.99, lovedeskmats.com

Twelve patterns (and enough materials to complete two!) all about our favorite Disney Villains, each including a witty overview highlighting fun facts about each Villain, easyto-follow patterns, and full-color photographs. Fun for crafters, Disney fans and antagonists alike! $24.99, quartoknows.com


The absolute easiest and well-priced way to wow your guests this holiday season. Try the Easy Holiday Entertaining Kit, delivered next day in a fully frozen box, and get the party started with bacon wrapped scallops, bacon wrapped shrimp with pepper jack cheese, lobster crostini, coquilles St. Jacques, sea scallops, jumbo shrimp, artisan salt and cocktail sauce. $149.99, citypierseafood.com


A super soft and adorable teddy bear that helps parents teach and engage with their children on good habits, mealtimes, hygiene, potty training, cleaning up, managing emotions and more! A great, interactive, no-screen learning toy. $149.95, SmartTeddy.store, amazon.com


Always a picky-proof gift option, these particular jigsaw puzzles feature mid-century modern designs including “It’s a Mod, Mod World,” “Billy’s Burgers,” and “Desert Sunset.” Catch the vibe with these 1,000-piece puzzles, each being a collaboration from well-known designers from around the globe. $24.99, modernpuzzles.com


Back to school means back to lunches away from home. Sweet and funny lunchbox notes are great way to stay connected to your family while they’re away learning and working. Choose from puzzles, riddles, facts, jokes, and good old love notes plus a holiday collection to add to gifts, tree décor, or table place settings. $4.99, mywish4u.com

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november calendar

Fall & Winter

HAPPENINGS AROUND THE BAY AREA The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square

November 3 –January 17 San Francisco’s favorite holiday tradition returns to the San Francisco Bay Area this holiday season. Since 2008, The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square has delighted children and adults with its holiday-themed ice park located in San Francisco’s Union Square. From families to friends, and couples to colleagues, everyone can enjoy ice skating in San Francisco’s iconic plaza surrounded by festive lights and the sights and sounds of the season. The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink’s roster of events includes the highly anticipated Drag Queens On Ice, Flashback Fridays, and Polar Bear Skate. RD


333 Post Street, San Francisco Tickets are $19 with skate rental included in the cost of admission. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting unionsquareicerink.com



Alton Brown Live: Beyond the Eats November 15TH Alton Brown is hitting the road with a new culinary variety show. Audiences can expect more comedy, more music, more highly unusual cooking demos, and more potentially dangerous sciencey stuff. Prepare for an evening unlike any other and if Brown calls for volunteers… think twice. Center for the Performing Arts 255 S. Almaden Blvd., San Jose Single tickets available at broadwaysanjose.com 10


Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice in San Jose November 19TH –January 9TH

Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice in San Jose November 19TH –January 9TH Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice in San Jose will celebrate its 25th anniversary as the premier holiday experience in San Jose. Downtown Ice features a one-of-a-kind shaped ice rink and track, inviting visitors to skate in and around 32 palm trees. The season will see the return of community-led events like Schools on Skates, as well as new favorites like the Silent Skate Party and Musical Mondays presented by Broadway San Jose. 120 S. Market Street, San Jose Tickets are $19 with skate rental included in the cost of admission. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting downtownicesj.com

The Winter Ice Rink Downtown Sunnyvale

November 19 th –January 2 ND Residents and visitors throughout the Bay Area can enjoy the favorite holiday tradition of outdoor ice skating at the The Winter Ice Rink Downtown Sunnyvale. Set under the redwood trees in downtown Sunnyvale, The Winter Ice Rink’s upcoming season will invite visitors to Learn to Curl and will feature the return of Robots on Ice, a one-of-a-kind event merging the tech industry with the sport of ice skating.

230 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale Tickets are $15 with skate rental included in the cost of admission. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting citylinesunnyvale.com/icerink


November 23 RD – 28TH You Can’t Stop the Beat! HAIRSPRAY, Broadway’s Tony Award-winning musical comedy phenomenon is back on tour! Join 16-year-old Tracy Turnblad in 1960’s Baltimore as she sets out to dance her way onto TV’s most popular show. Can a girl with big dreams (and even bigger hair) change the world? Featuring the beloved score of hit songs including “Welcome to the 60’s,” “Good Morning Baltimore” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” HAIRSPRAY is “fresh, winning, and deliriously tuneful!” (The New York Times). This all-new touring production will reunite Broadway’s award-winning creative team led by Director Jack O’Brien and Choreographer Jerry Mitchell to bring HAIRSPRAY to a new generation of theater audiences. Don’t miss this “exhilaratingly funny and warm-hearted musical comedy” (The New Yorker). Center for the Performing Arts 255 S. Almaden Blvd., San Jose Single tickets will be available beginning September 17 at broadwaysanjose.com





TORTILLA SOUP Soup season is here! Cool temperatures call for easy, Crockpot stew recipes to warm you up. Prep Time: Under 15 min Cook Time: 7-8 hours Serves: 8

Ingredients 1 Diestel Smoked Turkey Thigh 1 Diestel Smoked Turkey Drumstick 1 12-ounce Bag Frozen Corn 1 Large Onion 2 Garlic Gloves 14 ounces Chicken Broth 1 can Tomato Puree 1 can Diced Tomatoes with Chiles 1 tsp Smoked Paprika 2 tsp Cumin 1 tsp Chili Powder 1 Bay Leaf 1 cup Tortilla Strips

Directions 1. Add all ingredients to slow cooker. 2. Cook on high for 7 – 8 hours. 3. Remove Turkey and shred. Place shredded turkey back into soup. 4. Serve with fresh cilantro, sour cream, jalapeño, and tortilla chips!

CHILI We’re cookin’ up the tastiest White Bean Turkey Chili to kick off those warm cozy feels for dinner. Recipe type: Dinner Prep Time: 40 min Cook Time: 20 min Serves: 12

Ingredients 3 lbs. Diestel Ground Turkey 1 tbsp Olive Oil 3 cups Onion (chopped) 5 Cloves Garlic (chopped) 1 4.5 oz. Can Diced Green Chiles 1/2 tsp Salt 1/2 tbsp Cumin

1/2 tbsp Oregano 2 tsp Chili Powder 1 Bay Leaf 4 cans Cannellini Beans 2 cups Chicken Broth 1/2 cups Sour Cream Shredded Jack Cheese (for garnish) Avocado (for garnish) Jalapeno (for garnish)

Directions 1. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. 2. Sauté onions and garlic until softened. 3. Add the Diestel Ground Turkey and cook thoroughly. 4. Add the green chilies, salt, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and bay leaf. 5. Blend 1 can of cannellini beans with 1 cup of broth in a blender until pureed. 6. Add to the pot with the remaining beans and broth.

7. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes. 8. Stir in sour cream and cook until well combined. 9. Top with your favorite garnishes – we topped with shredded cheese, avocado, and jalapeno.

SMOKED TURKEY AND POTATO SOUP There’s not much better than this comforting soup made with Diestel Smoked Turkey Thighs and Potatoes. Recipe type: Dinner Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 20 min Serves: 6

Ingredients 1 Diestel Natural Smoked Turkey Thigh 1 tbsp Butter 1 Onion (chopped) 1 Carrot (peeled and chopped) 3 Cloves Garlic (minced)



1 tsp Italian Seasoning 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes 6 cups Chicken Broth 2 Russet Potatoes (peeled and diced) 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes 1 cup Heavy Cream Salt and Pepper (to taste) Parsley (chopped for garnish) Oyster Crackers (for garnish)

Directions 1. In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté onion and carrot for 5 minutes. 2. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. 3. Season with herbs and pepper flakes.

4. Add the Diestel Naturally Smoked Turkey Thigh, chicken broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil. 5. Turn heat down and simmer for 15 minutes. 6. Remove Turkey Thigh and dice turkey meat. Return meat back to the soup. 7. Add the heavy cream and stir until well combined. 8. Add salt and pepper to taste. 9. Serve soup in bowls and garnish with parsley and oyster crackers. ᯽


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Take A Culinary Road Trip to

Monterey County


he picturesque central coast destination is an agricultural epicenter! For travelers seeking inspiration for a culinary road trip this fall, here is a guide of must-taste stops throughout the county.

Farm Fun From pumpkin patches to olive oil tastings and all things artichoke, visit any of these farms to get to the root of Monterey County’s agriculture bounty. EARTHBOUND FARMS (Carmel Valley) Producing farm fresh organic produce, visitors can stop by this farm stand in Carmel Valley to explore an organic garden, orchards, kid’s garden, market and café. Plus, don’t miss its colorful display of organic pumpkins in various shapes and sizes at the pumpkin patch. SERENDIPITY FARMS (Carmel Valley) Continue on the organic farming bandwagon and visit Serendipity Farms for U-Pick fun. The farm raises more than 50 varieties of organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers in Carmel Valley. Fall picking options include strawberries, raspberries, more than a dozen varieties of tomatoes, heirloom pumpkins and winter squash. PEZZINI FARMS (Castroville) Located in the Artichoke Capital of the World, Pezzini Farms has been selling heirloom artichokes for more than 80 years in Castroville. Stop by its retail store for a cornucopia of artichoke goods. Take an in-depth tour of the

with Ag Venture Tours for a guided walk that focuses on artichokes and concludes with a tasting of either deep-fried artichoke hearts or an artichoke cupcake. 43 RANCH OLIVE OIL (San Ardo) For an olive-focused farm experience, visit 43 Ranch in San Ardo with roots dating back to 1864. Regularly open Fridays through Sundays, visitors can learn about the olive milling process and do an on-site tasting at this award-winning olive oil farm.

Made in Monterey County The abundance of fertile grounds and nutrient-rich waters have spurred many local residents to establish their own specialized food and beverage businesses. BIG SUR SALTS (Big Sur) Big Sur Salts hand-harvests straight from the coastline to produce its culinary craft salts. An added bonus is that the money used from purchased products goes to organizations that are helping to preserve Big Sur. DUTCH DOOR DONUTS (Carmel-by-the-Sea) Dutch Door Donuts in Carmel-bythe-Sea offers made-to-order, artisan doughnuts. It is the first standalone doughnut shop in Carmel in 50 years and is offering three staple flavors, vanilla bean glaze, cinnamon sugar,

and ground chocolate. Patrons also can find seasonal flavors and, of course, coffee. BAKER’S BACON (Marina) While store fronts can be found in select locations throughout the country, Baker’s Bacon was founded by Monterey County resident, Tony Baker. His inspiration to produce small-batch, top-quality dry-cured and double-smoked bacon began when helming the kitchen for three restaurants in Monterey County. Try some of chef Tony’s beloved bacon at his storefront in Marina. PIG WIZARD (Monterey) Visitors seeking to taste bacon’s counterpart, sausage, can head to Pig Wizard in Monterey. The sandwich shop makes all of its sausage in-house and serves a menu including scotch eggs, porchetta, pastrami and air-fried pork rinds. Try the porchetta sandwich featuring slices of the namesake roast with lettuce, tomato, red onion, chimichurri and lemon garlic aioli on a toasted ciabatta roll. AD ASTRA BREAD COMPANY (Seaside) In 2019, local pastry chef Ron Mendoza decided to start a new venture and bring a bakery specializing in handmade, longfermented sourdough breads to Seaside through Ad Astra Bread Company. Handmade breads and treats means that patrons will find weekly loaf specials and the chance that the bake goods could sell quickly. While visitors make their choice on their bread selection, they can also sip on local brewery Other Broth Beer Company brews, which shares the same building space.᯽

ABOUT MONTEREY COUNTY CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU: The Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau (Monterey County CVB) is a 501c6 non-profit organization that drives tourism for Monterey County. For more information, visit SeeMonterey.com and follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 16





need most to feel better is to unplug from the matrix, turn off our phones and give ourselves a hard reset.


GO VEGAN. The science is in: adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 78% and minimize the risk for chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis and even cancer - not to mention alleviate allergies, irritable bowel syndrome and even erectile dysfunction. On top of the obvious energetic benefit of not ingesting the vibrational death and suffering of other sentient beings, it’s super easy to go vegan nowadays with countless delicious options that delight the taste buds. While offsetting the carbon for all of our adventures, our favorite app when traveling vegan is Happy Cow. It’s led us to some of the wildest experiences on this season of Conscious Living - from Bali to Berlin!


Simple ways to be a more mindful human By BIANCA AND MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Hosts of Conscious Living on PBS



ET’S FACE IT. The idea of being mindful isn’t particularly exciting. For some, the mere mention of living more consciously can feel like Debby Downer just showed up to the party, right when everyone was starting to have a good time. It’s only human. None of us wants to give up living the good life. Yet all around us, the message is clear: from climate change and our current pandemic to violent social unrest, humanity is facing an evolutionary crisis. Either we choose a different approach to how we live in the world or our communities and our planet will continue to suffer dire consequences. Mother Earth and our souls are calling us urgently to wake up to a new, more mindful way of doing things. Luckily, there’s more than one way to do your part. Whether it’s daily meditation and yoga, adopting a plant-based diet or dressing and living more sustainably, conscious living has made our lives healthier, happier, and sometimes, even more fun.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to live mindfully:


MEDITATE. Meditation is proven to reduce stress and create a greater sense of balance, peace and overall wellbeing. Since it triggers the brain to



naturally release neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins, it’s also linked to higher intelligence, stronger willpower and a greater sense of happiness. If carving out time for a meditation practice seems daunting, even five minutes of stillness per day can help clear the mind and lead to better decisionmaking. The Calm app is a great place to start. Their daily ten-minute meditation is our go-to self-care reset between taping shows, especially on busy production days.


PRACTICE SOBRIETY. For many years, we thought the only way to relax, be creative or have a good time was with a bottle of wine and a toke or two of high-grade cannabis. Over the years, the impact of these lifestyle choices was a frayed nervous system, withered willpower to meet the daily challenges of life, and lots of late arrivals. Not to mention countless hours spent looking for keys! Now whenever we’re stressed, bored or need a creative boost, instead of anesthetizing feelings with intoxicating substances, we move through them with mindful miniretreats: a relationship walk in nature, an invigorating yoga class, a fun day of thrifting, gratitude journaling, a hot Epsom salt bath or a calming meditation. Sometimes, what we truly

HEAL YOUR EMOTIONS. Whatever we don’t express, we repress. If they go unprocessed, feelings can overwhelm us and get trapped in the body, causing emotional triggers that make us feel inappropriately anxious, angry, depressed or afraid. As an African-American woman, Bianca inherited a vast emotional pain body from her ancestors, many of whom were slaves held in captivity against their will for generations. These emotional triggers can be cleared for good through energy work like Reiki, crystal or sound healing, or one of our favorite modalities: Emotion/Body Code sessions. For more information, read the Emotion Code by Dr. Bradley Nelson.


DETOX WITH THE SEASONS. In addition to the basics like exercising daily and eating healthy, for thousands of years traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese doctors have recommended cleansing with the seasons. This helps remove toxic build-up from unprecedented levels of chemicals in our food, home, cosmetics and environment. However, you choose to be the change, remember life is about progress, not perfection. Some days we totally miss the mark. It’s only human. What’s important is to keep getting up to try again, setting a mindful intention to do better than we did the day before. Isn’t that what Conscious Living is all about?᯽

Watch Conscious Living on your local PBS station, stream it on the PBS app or follow us @ConsciousLivingTV.

“Where do I start? I can’t say enough about Liz Blank and her entire Troyer team and on-demand network of professionals. While preparing our home for sale, they were able to quickly resolve several issues that could have meant a delay in getting our home to market at the right time. They made several light enhancement recommendations that we agreed to and the team took care of. These enhancements paid off nicely in the sale of the house. Their knowledge and expertise allowed us to receive top dollar for our homes during a heatwave, heavy fire smoke, on top of the pandemic. Liz made the sales process so easy for us, especially as we live out of town. She gave us complete peace of mind that things were being done right and all the worry and stress was removed from our hands and managed beyond our expectations.

How to Let Go of Control and Ease Anxiety By A L E X G R E E N W A L D Therapist at Empower Your Mind Therapy




will turn out, we have no control over how anyone else behaves, and no matter how much we regulate our own behavior we cannot determine someone else’s response.

This need for control is rooted in fear. Here are a few things to get you started:

FIGURE OUT THE ROOT FEAR This is easier said than done, but when we get REALLY honest with ourselves, we can find out where this need for control is coming from. What is it we’re afraid of? Imagine what would happen if you didn’t have control. What is the terrible scenario that keeps your fists closed tight over your need for control? When you imagine that “worst case scenario” you can find that root fear. That’s what you need to start to address. How can you ease that fear?


here are many unknowns in our everyday lives which can lead to anxiety being at an all-time high. For many, the power to control everything can appear to be a great way to counter anxiety, but in fact gives us a false sense of security to imagine we have power over the way things will turn out. The need for control exacerbates our anxiety, and can also increase depression, anger, and create tension in our relationships. When we learn to release this compulsion, we are able to better manage our anxiety, depression, mood, and improve our experiences within all of our relationships. When we feel the need for control, we root ourselves firmly OUT of the present. We spend our time worrying and ruminating over the future and the fears we have about things that might happen. Because we can’t actually control what happens in the future, this energy is spent mainly on fears and hypotheticals. Because of this, we take ourselves out of the present moment, and restrict ourselves from living fully in the environment, situation, and moment we actually exist in.



Think about how your need for control impacts your daily life: ● Do you find yourself stressed at new situations? ● Are you frequently spending more time worrying about how people will react to your actions than actually thinking about what you want to do? ● Do you try to anticipate how people will react and adjust your behavior to try to ensure the “best” option? These are all examples of the need for control ruling our lives. And if you said “yes” to any (or all!) of the above, no doubt your energy is extremely drained by the process. Because what the need for control does, is take that energy that we could be putting toward things that fill us with love and joy and uses it to try to predict the future. We try to anticipate how things will turn out, how people will react to us, what they will say, how we will manage the scenario we have decided will happen. In reality, none of this is up to us. We have no idea how situations

FOCUS ON THE PRESENT When you find yourself going down the “what if” trail try to refocus. Remind yourself that there is nothing you can do NOW to change the future. You can only live in the present. Try a grounding technique to get you back in the present moment. What is around you? Where are you? What can you see, smell, hear, taste, feel, etc.? Who is with you? Take in the moment you’re in now and remind yourself that how you act in this moment at the present is all you can control. MAKE A LIST What are those fears you got to the root of in #1? Write down what it is you’re afraid of, what is compelling you to hold tight onto that need for control. Then explore each of these fears a bit. Where is it coming from? Why is it so scary? And if this exploration is not enough to get you to let them go for the present moment, make a second list. For each fear, what is the worstcase scenario? And how would you handle it? Keep these lists somewhere you can refer back to them. Remind yourself that you can’t control if these fears come true but that you ARE capable of handling them!᯽

About Alex Greenwald (MHC-LP): With her professional training and her own personal history with emotional struggles, Alex is able to establish powerful, empathic relationships with her clients. She provides honest, authentic feedback and is very goal-oriented and interactive. She has made it her purpose to help individuals resolve their internal pain and heartache.

A Howlin’ Good Family Adventure By CHRISTINA HOWELL


YEAR AFTER ITS PLANNED GRAND OPENING, THE GREAT WOLF LODGE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA FINALLY OPENED ITS DOORS IN JUNE 2021. The nineteenth Lodge to join the nationwide Great Wolf family, Manteca’s 600-room family resort and waterpark is equipped from top to bottom with fun for all ages. The theme of the mega playland is centered around “reconnecting families.” Families staying at the Great Wolf Lodge enjoy access to a 95,000 square foot water park and a 45,000 square foot adventure park, featuring a ropes

course, miniature golf, arcade, bowling, Build-a-Bear Workshop, mining maze, MagiQuest interactive scavenger hunt, and nine unique eateries including a Dunkin’ Donuts, candy shop and an ice cream parlor. The adventure is endless and accommodates all ages, from toddlers to grandparents!

BRINGING THE OUTDOORS IN To start, the rooms lend themselves to a cozy cabin getaway, setting the mood for wilderness and adventure. On the way up, you’ll follow a walkway dotted with animal prints, steppingstones, and animal sconces on the walls (which all point to the lobby in case you get lost). It was at this moment that my toddler got off

the elevator and shrieked, “this place is AWESOME, mom!” There is a selection of suites available to groups of all sizes. The family suite, which is the most affordable, offers 2 queen beds and a pull-out sofa. Themed suites, like Wiley’s Den, are a popular option with bunk beds tucked away in a little hideaway for the kids, plus a queen bed and a sofa sleeper. Finally, there is a selection of premium suites designed for larger groups or multiple families and can accommodate up to 13 people – great for celebrating birthdays and other special events. All rooms are equipped with mini refrigerators, a cupboard and cabinet, smart TVs, electronic climate control, USB ports and hair dryers. Pack-andplays are available on request.



way across an invigorating (and up high!) challenge. This is probably the most unique and surprising experience at Great Wolf Lodge – something that you can’t find just anywhere. Bring closed-toe shoes for this feature. Another exciting game for kids of all ages to try is the MagiQuest live action-adventure scavenger hunt. Unique to Great Wolf Lodge, you can create your own custom wand with a special topper and find clues throughout the resort to ultimately save the Sacred Trees. We chose the “junior” version of the game, which consisted of finding all of the green leaves around the resort and waving the wand to light up special crystals and trees, treasure boxes, and “wake up” game characters on a video screen. This version was just as fun! Your wand is programmed with your name and birthday, and you can continue the game visit after your visit. Guests can also explore an interactive mining experience and search for keepsake gemstones at Oliver’s Mining Co., bowl a strike at Ten Paw Alley, challenge the family to a match at Howl in One Miniature Golf Course, or explore a variety of games at the Northern Lights Arcade.

MASSIVE INDOOR WATER PARK Once you’re all settled in, the fun begins! There is never a dull moment at the Great Wolf Lodge. Coming off the elevator you land in the Great Lobby, where there is almost always something fun going on – little ones can visit with Wiley the Wolf, join a dance party, listen to storytime, or do yoga depending on the time of day. You then head into the Adventure Park. Buckle up! There’s LOTS to see and do.

ADVENTURE PARK The forest-themed park, lit up in green and bustling with excitement, is highlighted by the massive Howlers Peak Ropes Course where guests get hooked up to a harness and climb and scale their

Perhaps the biggest draw and definitely the most obvious attraction at Great Wolf Lodge Norther California is the 95,000 square foot indoor water park, heated to a comfortable 84 degrees year-round. Thrill seekers? Jump on Wolf Tail, a slide that drops riders down a nearly 20-foot vertical free fall. Competitive mode? Rapid Racer starts racers side by side on their own slide where they meet their competition on a few twists and turns on their race to the finish. Want a group ride? A total of 5 people can hop on Sequoia Splash and catch some dips and swooshes on the way down. We spent a lot of time at the attractions designed for the four-


foot-and-under crowd. With a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old, we posted up at Whooping Hollow, which is best described as a mega splash pad with great big water tables, fountains, little water slides, and shallow water for the littlest swimmers! This kept our little ones endlessly busy as they crawled or walked around the different activities. Little stress on the parents and big fun for the kids! Fort Mackenzie is a massive water play structure, with lots of things to climb up and opportunities to dump water down. Float around the bottom of Fort Mackenzie on Crooked Creek, a surprisingly fun and “fast”-paced lazy river – a great attraction for parents and kids alike. Look out for the huge 1,000-gallon water dump! Amidst all the fun, you may hear wolves howling – if so, shuffle over to Slap Tail Pond because the waves are starting up! Catch up to three feet waves in this very popular attraction. This pool is the deepest of all indoor and outdoor features at five feet. Life jackets are free and conveniently stationed around the park.

LOCAL EATS Mealtime can be busy at the Lodge, but there are lots of options to choose from: ● Barnwood showcases a fresh and seasonal menu and craft cocktails in a rustic-themed setting. Meat lovers: we enjoyed some dynamite BBQ ribs and prime rib here. ● Campfire Kitchen is an interactive à la carte cafe offering everything from farm fresh eggs and applewood smoked bacon to mac n’ cheese and chicken fingers. ● Hungry as a Wolf features madeto-order handcrafted pizzas along with salads, wings and more. Great for groups. ● Buckets Incredible Craveables offers burgers, sandwiches and the signature Tipping Bucket



Sundae and is accessible from the water park. ● The Watering Hole serves soft drinks and adult beverages in the water park ● Freshwoods Market is a grab-andgo marketplace. ● Timbers is complete with Southwest fare including tacos, nachos, soups and salads and also accessible from inside the water park. ● Dunkin’ serves delicious donuts and coffee – this is a popular spot in the morning. ● Wood’s End Creamery offers families a sweet indulgence in a cup or a cone. Try their milkshakes! ● Great Wolf Candy Company is a retail shop featuring bulk candy, chocolate treats and other packaged sweets.

PARENT PERKS The little details are sometimes what makes the biggest difference,

especially for parents. There are seven elevators to combat the sometimes-heavy lobby traffic. Adult wristbands with the room key built in are fantastically convenient. Hand sanitizing stations placed near the elevators and all around the resort were highly utilized. And they have a surprisingly great souvenir store, with Great Wolf Lodge branded Columbia gear, tons of clothing options for all ages and sizes, toys, and the must-haves: wolf ears! Check out their entire wall of different styles and colors and have fun picking out your favorites.

to justify an overnight staycation to take advantage of all the perks the park has to offer. Take some time to reconnect with family, enjoy a change of scenery, get some action-packed thrills, and chill out with some good food and drinks. You won’t be disappointed.᯽

THE BAY AREA’S FIRST WILDERNESS RESORT Many Californians have heard of the Great Wolf Lodge in Anaheim and have even taken the trek to visit over the past years. Now, less than two hours from almost anywhere in the Bay Area, the Great Wolf Lodge Northern California is conveniently much closer, but still far enough away

Christina Howell is a tech marketer by day and a writer and communications consultant by night. She is a regular contributor to the Silicon Valley Kids (SVK) feature section of M Magazine and enjoys adventures with her family, which includes a teenager, a toddler and an infant.

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recent study reports that at least 104,884 U.S. children lost one or both parents to COVID-19 as of April 2021, and another 8,800 lost at least one grandparent who was their primary caregiver or who lived with them. With increased Covid deaths since this data was collected, Children’s Grief Awareness Month in November could not be timelier. In truth, significant numbers of children have always been impacted by loss. Before the pandemic, grief researchers estimated that 5.2 million U.S. children experience the death of a parent or sibling before the age of 18. While the death of a parent is lifechanging for a child, their other parent or caregivers can offer support that will make a real difference, both at the time of loss and later. ACKNOWLEDGE YOURSELF Raising a bereaved child is especially challenging as surviving adults grapple with their own emotions and shoulder added responsibilities. When I reached my late 30’s and had young children, I gained a new appreciation for what my dad weathered after losing my mom. If I could go back in time, I’d tell him to acknowledge the difficulties to himself each day and give himself credit for doing his best. I’d also urge him to talk about his feelings with us. Grief is painful and messy, and while the impulse to protect children is natural, being open about your sadness will benefit them more. Children take cues on how to deal with grief as much from 28


what adults do as what they say. Being real and honest in ways they can relate to builds trust. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED Children’s responses to loss differ from adults because of their developmental ability to absorb the news. They might cry for a short while and then resume playing. They might exhibit anxiety such as being unable to sleep or having nightmares. Younger children may regress to earlier behaviors for a time. Older children may develop problems at school. These changes in behavior may not obviously relate to the death, so keep it mind as you witness your child’s actions. As a bereaved child, I responded to the distress by becoming perfectly responsible and capable. My schoolwork was always done. By age 9, I could fix dinner on my own. The adults around me only noticed the positive aspects of this behavior, and I didn’t link it to grief either until I was much older. SEEK CONNECTIONS I remember receiving all kinds of attention from girls in my class when I returned to school after my mom’s funeral, which I liked but also made me feel funny inside. I had become different from everybody else because my mom was dead. This experience is common among bereaved children.





At the grief center where I volunteer, children frequently say what they enjoy most about the program is simply being with other people who understand. Many children’s grief centers offer groups for the whole family, so parents can find support there too. As an adult, I have attended retreats for women who lost their mothers young, and the consolation that comes from people who share the same loss is the most healing thing I have experienced. SAVOR SMALL STUFF Just like plants reemerge following a forest fire, joy can be part of life even as grief remains present. Children benefit from routines, especially in the wake of loss and change. Small rituals and habits can anchor the day and forge bonds. My family eventually settled into a schoolday pattern whose predictability brought me solace. My dad drove us to school, our neighbor picked us up, and my older brother or grandma was around often in the late afternoon. When we gathered around the table for whatever my dad had thrown together for dinner, I felt grateful for the family I had, however unconventional it might be compared to my friends who had moms. LOOK TO THE LONG-TERM It’s important for parents and caregivers to realize that children’s grief continues and recurs in various ways throughout their life. At each successive milestone, the young person discovers yet another facet of their loss and grieves all over again. Eventually they will want to know who their parent was, not as mere curiosity but in a quest for their own self-identity. Keep this in mind as you go through the deceased person’s possessions. Plan to save items for the child in the future, so that whenever they ask, you have something to offer. Adults could also write down memories to share with the child later. Though I did not receive them until mid-life, I feel fortunate to have my mom’s fine china and silver. When I set the table with it at holiday time, I can almost imagine her standing beside me.᯽

Peg Conway writes and practices Healing Touch energy therapy in Cincinnati, OH, where she also volunteers at a children’s grief center. Her essays about early mother loss and long-term grieving have appeared at Austin Fit Magazine, The Manifest-Station, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and The Mighty. Peg and her husband have three grown children and one grandchild. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram. The Art of Reassembly is her first book.

In Menlo Park Synapse School combines social-emotional learning, leading-edge academics, and the practice of innovation to develop young learners into the change makers of tomorrow.

An independent elementary and middle school in Menlo Park, CA, Synapse's project-based curriculum and school life builds on the foundation of our mission of Educating a Community of Change Makers. We are curious, innovative, imaginative, creative, and we have fun! cr Notable programs: Our multifaceted Brainwave Learning Center, a collaborative research partnership between Synapse and Stanford University, where we explore how learning experiences actively transform the human mind and brain. The Synapse Markerspace, a dynamic program centered around our 10,000 square foot fabrication shop where students, staff, and parents create large-scale projects bringing the conceptual into the realm of the concrete. p These spaces and programs expand the ways we explore and investigate new ideas, while also providing new and exciting opportunities for enriching education through research and through making. Synapse will be adding Transitional Kindergarten in Fall 2022.

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