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mendo lake FREE!

December 2016

X-Mas Crafts Easy projects

Give Back 25 ways

SAT Smarts 6 prep tips Holiday Fun 63 local events


Sign up for our weekly FUN BLAST & enter to win free tickets every week. Go to & look for this graphic at the top of the page to sign up.

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neighborhood? A new community pharmacy offered by the same hospital you know and trust. Today, you’ve got a lot more to feel better about. Now there’s a community pharmacy offered by the same hospital you know and trust. So you know you’ll get the same Call 456.3005 personalized attention to transfer your and excellent care. prescriptions


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December 2016

Every Issue

16 Features


Dear Reader


Bits and Pieces Rudolph’s Replacement Warm Hands and Hearts Calling Hikers and Makers Lace Up Your Skates Shop Local Hello 2017!


20 Cooking with Kids

10 The Season’s Best Find the perfect presents.

12 Wishes Come True Teach kids to act from the heart.

14 A Circle of Caring How to post with prudence.

C Is for Cookie

21 Crafting with Kids Easy-Peasy Decorations

22 Calendar of Events Santa’s Favorite Truck

30 Humor Break Reluctant Reveler

16 SAT Smarts Savvy strategies for applying to schools.

18 Let Love Rule How to get rest and take care of the kids.

19 A Holiday Reading List


Books introduce kids to diverse celebrations.

4 MendoLakeFamilyLife


December 2016

Want to plan an



Find LOCAL schools, profiles, after-school options, educational activities & family fun


January’s Special School Issue Plus: e-mail updates (free sign-up online!) Marie: 205-1547 | Renee: 694-0390

Dear Reader


is the season to focus on family and giving to others. Not sure how to help those in need? “Wishes Come True” (page Sharon Gowan Publisher/Editor 12) and “A Circle of Caring” (page 14) list some great ideas. From dropping a few coins in a bucket to making a meal for a neighbor, there are plenty of ways to lend a helping hand.

Probably the best method for creating family harmony is to simply have fun together. Try hitting the kitchen and baking with the kids. “C Is for Cookie” (page 21) has recipes for some healthy, easy-to-make treats. Want to get out of the house? Turn to our Calendar of Events (page 22) for an array of local activities, including plays, parades, and lots of places to visit with Santa.

Sometimes we are the ones facing challenges during the holidays. This may be especially true if we’re trying to get along in a blended family. “Let Love Rule” (page 18) shows you how to do it with grace.

We’ll see you in the New Year!

We hope your holidays are full of joy, togetherness, and, of course, love.

Office Manager Patricia Ramos

Business Marketing Renee Nutcher Marie Anderson

Features Editor Melissa Chianta

Production Manager Donna Bogener

Web and Social Media Jean Flint

Cover Photo Bob Rider

Contributing Writers Patrick Hempfing Greg Kaplan Christina Katz Julie Kertes Sarah Lyons Don Orwell Jan Pierce Laura Lyles Reagan Meagan Ruffing

Billing Jan Wasson-Smith

Publishing Office

Family health care for all of Lake County.

6 MendoLakeFamilyLife


134 Lystra Court, Suite A Santa Rosa, CA 95403 Tel (707) 586-9562 Fax (707) 586-9571

December 2016

Baby’s First Christmas? Fun Toys Clothing Leggings Strollers Rain Gear Maternity

Everything you need at

198 S. School St. Ukiah • 707.462.1020 www. • Check us out on Facebook!

Ride through a storybook adventure with Santa and friends.

Trips Dec 3 - 23 707.964.6371

December 2016

MendoLakeFamilyLife 7

Bits & Pieces

Rudolph’s Replacement


hen Santa tires of sled travel, he hops the rails. You and the kids can see him for yourself on the Magical Christmas Train. Climb aboard and talk to the man in red and his elves, or listen to storytellers and musicians, while you nosh on hot chocolate and cookies. The 90-minute round trip will depart from Willits and Fort Bragg daily at various times December 9–23; trips are scheduled for December 3 and 4, too. Tickets are $34–$44 and may be purchased at or by calling 964-6371. ¶

A “walking Christmas tree” at Middletown Christmas.

8 MendoLakeFamilyLife

Warm Hands and Hearts


n Middletown, not all evergreens are inanimate objects. One walks, thanks to the foot power of various school principals. The amiable educators take turns donning the “walking Christmas tree” costume during the Christmas in Middletown celebration on December 10, 4–8 p.m. Santa and carolers, as well as vendors selling locally made wares, will be part of the celebration. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, gather around a fire pit, and take in the scene while you wait for the town tree to be lit at 5:15 p.m. See a full schedule of events at middletownarea ¶

Calling Hikers and Makers


f you like to keep moving during the holidays, the Seasonal Greetings Hike and Wreaths event will keep both your feet and hands busy. See madrones and mistletoe as you hike through property of the Hopland Research and Extension Center in Hopland. Then treat yourself to some warm apple cider and get to work making a wreath from local foliage. The event will be held on December 10, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Admission is $20; children 12 and under get in free. No dogs are permitted. Register at Call 744-1424, ext. 105 for details. ¶

December 2016

Lace Up Your Skates


his time of year, colder states are dreaming of having a white Christmas. While we don’t see much of the white stuff here in Northern California, we do have ice skating rinks. Ukiah will get its first outdoor one in December, thanks to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center (UVMC) and the City of Ukiah. UVMC constructed the rink in celebration of its 60th anniversary. It will be hosting free public skating on December 4, noon–4 p.m., along with live music, kids’ games, and food. Free skating will also be offered on December 5 and 6, 3–8 p.m. After December 6, unlimited skating is $10. The rink is situated next to the Alex R. Thomas Plaza on School Street. During December 7–22, hours will be as follows: Monday– Friday, 3–8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sunday, noon–5 p.m. During December 23–January 8, the rink will be open noon–7 p.m. except on December 24, 25, 31, and January 1, when it will be open noon–4 p.m. For more information, see ¶

Shop Local


ooking for the perfect gift for Grandpa John or Great Aunt Edna? Browse through the work of local makers and crafters at the free Lake County Fair Holiday Gift and Craft Bazaar. Enter a raffle and maybe you’ll even win a gift for yourself. The event will be held December 3–4, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., at the Lakeport Fairgrounds in Lakeport. Santa will be around for photo-ops 11 a.m.–2 p.m. both days. See or for further information. ¶

Hello 2017!


et out your party dresses and silly favors. It’s time to ring in the New Year! Local blues band Twice as Good—which recently made it to the semi-finals at the 2016 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee—will be churning out the tunes at the New Year’s Eve Party at Soper Reese Theatre in Lakeport. Nosh on appetizers, shimmy to guitar licks, and then, when the clock strikes 12, toast 2017 with a glass of complimentary champagne. Doors open at 8 p.m. on December 31. Tickets are $40–$50 and may be purchased at To watch a recent Twice as Good performance, go to ¶

Twice as Good

December 2016

MendoLakeFamilyLife 9

Love2Learn Elmo Hasbro, Inc., $69.99,, 18+.



Best Your Guide to Holiday Shopping

Square Panda Phonics Playset Square Panda, $119,, 2-8.

By Julie Kertes

See more of this year’s winners at

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My Fairy Garden Magical Cottage PlayMonster, $29.99,, 4+. 10 MendoLakeFamilyLife

December 2016

Toys & Games Rainbow Alligator PlanToysÂŽ, Inc., $20,, 12m+.

Talk-to-Me Mikey Zoomer Hedgiez

Playmates Toys, $39.99,, 4+.

Spin Master, $39.99,, 4+.

Smithsonian Planetarium Projector

Super Moon In My Room

Nsi International, Inc., $39.99,, 8+.

Uncle Milton, $54.99,, 6+.

December 2016

MendoLakeFamilyLife 11

Wishes Come True 25 Adventures in Giving

By Christina Katz


ere come the holidays and with them, the spirit of giving. But who says you have to give the same way every year? If you have a holiday giving tradition you love and want to stick with, that’s great. But maybe, like my family, you enjoy shaking things up each year as you explore new ways to enrich other people’s lives. Here are some ideas to get your family brainstorming.


Take a ticket. Look for giving trees in stores that support local charities. Contribute a longed-for toy or donate experiences like going to the zoo or to the theater.

to bell-ringers and others asking for a holiday handout. This is an interactive way to teach children that it is as much a blessing to give as to receive.


Go through your shelves and remove books you no longer love. Donate them to your local library or resale shop.

Feed your community. Connect school-organization fundraisers to local charities by inviting event attendees to donate a non-perishable food item or two in exchange for admission.


Think stocking stuffer. Buy trinkets for family helpers like babysitters, yard workers, and dog walkers. A little bit of thoughtfulness goes a long way.


Donate warmth. Dig through your closets and find old coats or even new coats that seldom get worn. Offer them to a local coat drive or tax-exempt charitable resale shop.

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Fill those pots. Keep change in your purse to give donations


De-clutter all year. The less clutter you have, the more generous you have been. Gather donations after the kids go back to school, make another round of donations after the holidays, then de-clutter once more after school gets out for the summer.


Let kids sort, too. A month before the holidays, ask your kids to go through their rooms to make

December 2016

space for the new. Consider the best ways to donate based on what they have to offer.


Use sock sense. Shelters often need donations of new socks. Watch for sales on socks all season, gather as many as you can, and contribute them to a regional shelter.

Keep change in your purse to give donations to bell-ringers and others asking for a holiday handout.


Connect directly. Join an online community discussion group and watch for requests for holiday assistance from local families. Be sure to choose a safe place to meet up to make any exchanges of goods or food.


Volunteer as a family. Contact local senior centers, soup kitchens, or animal shelters, and see if they offer families a way to participate together.


Roll up a sleeve. Save a life. Take eligible teens with you to donate blood. Make it an annual tradition.

15 16

Spread seeds. Make a feeder for winter birds, and keep it full of birdseed you buy in bulk.


Get crafty. Come up with a fun, simple craft or recipe project so each child can make gifts for friends. Pinterest is always a good place to look for inspiration.



Create a brief letter or list that describes your year, and mail it with school photos to faraway relatives.



Sweets for the sweet. Write thank-you notes to teachers and instructors, and include a gift card for something tasty.


Bundle them up. Go through your old hats, mittens, and gloves, and donate them to a local family shelter.





Double your donation. Participate in a matching-gift program of some kind. Ask your employer what is available.


Create good karma. Pay for a cup of coffee or cocoa for the person behind you at the local coffee shop or drive-up window and make someone’s day.

Turn the page. Go through your shelves and remove books you no longer love. Donate them to your local library or resale shop.


Ship to soldiers. Send holiday boxes to military personnel serving our country overseas. Put yourself in their shoes before you shop. What would surprise and delight you?

child pick out something to contribute. Or choose a gift yourself.

Shop win-win-win. Buy some of your holiday gifts from a store or organization that supports others. Sustainable gifts, shared profits, and sales that support the community in some way are all fair game.

Spread cheer. All season long, encourage your children to slow down, smile at others as they go by, and wish them “Happy Holidays” once they make eye contact. Hide a surprise. Put a cookie plate or box of chocolates in the mailbox for your delivery person. Put the flag up or post a sticky note on the box to let them know it’s in there.

Consider ongoing giving. Together, come up with ways your family can give year-round. Charities are often flooded with donations around the holidays but could use more support during the rest of the year. Spring and early summer are common dry periods for food banks. ¶ Author, journalist, and writing coach Christina Katz loves the feeling she gets from giving as much as she enjoys the feeling of receiving. And her family has become more generous as a result of her example.

Be thoughtful. Create a brief letter or list that describes your year, and mail it with school photos to faraway relatives.

Treat a kid to a toy. Watch for toy baskets at local businesses you frequent. Have your December 2016

MendoLakeFamilyLife 13

A Circle of Caring

Help with pets. Kids aren’t the only family members that need attention. If the family is making trips to the doctor or hospital, offer to feed the cat or walk the dog while they are out. This will help ease their minds so they can focus on what is important.

9 Ways to Support a Family in Need By Sarah Lyons


hen a friend is struggling through a difficult time, it is natural to want to lend a hand. But since those who need the most help are often reluctant to ask for it, it’s hard to know what to do. Here are nine ways to show your support: Bring a meal. This is an age-old idea. When a parent is not able to cook a meal for her or his family, friends and family often send casseroles like lasagna. Try thinking outside the 13 x 9 pan. Why not bring the family the fixings for breakfast and lunch rather than just dinner? Stock the freezer with easy, ready-to-make items like pizza, pasta dishes, soups, and crockpot meals. Then the family can pull something out of the freezer when they are not up for cooking. Crunched for time or don’t feel like making an extra meal? Bring the

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park, swing by and pick up their children for the afternoon. This gets the kids out of the house and gives the parents a break. Driving the kids to school or activities is also a big help for a family that is dealing with change.

family their favorite take-out or send a gift card. Set up a meal train. When one meal just doesn’t cover it, set up a meal train using websites like or takethemameal. com. Discuss with the family the most convenient dates and times to deliver meals, and solicit friends to fill all the open spots. Social media is a great place to recruit people you might not think to ask. Offer to babysit. Show support by offering to babysit, even if it’s just for a couple hours. If you are taking your own children to the

When you visit, listen attentively and offer your support. Sometimes a long talk is very therapeutic. Clean the house. Sweep the floor, change laundry loads, vacuum, do dishes, or fold some laundry. Even a little bit of picking up can make a big difference. A clean house can bring some much-needed calm during a chaotic time. Run errands. If you are on your way to the store, why not send a quick text and ask if the family needs anything—toilet paper, diapers, or snacks? Does Mom want a coffee or some lunch? If you get several bags of groceries, you might offer to help put them away, too.

December 2016

Family Portraits

Put a surprise on their doorstep. If the family is not up for visitors, leave a care package outside their door. Include special treats, magazines, snacks, and

Individuals • Families • Events • (707)245-5321

Driving the kids to school or activities is a big help for a family that is dealing with change. a card. A delivery of flowers is another great way to cheer them up without interrupting family time. Take food to the hospital. It is common knowledge that hospital fare is not gourmet. If someone is in the hospital supporting a family member, offer to deliver food to him or her. Bring homemade meals to warm up later or offer to sit at the loved one’s bedside while he or she takes a walk and gets some fresh air.

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Listen. When you visit, listen attentively and offer your support. Sometimes a long talk is very therapeutic. Call and check in on family members, even if you just leave a voicemail. In these times of texts and e-mails, receiving a phone call shows you will go the extra mile to support friends. On the other hand, if you are worried about honoring their need for space, an e-mail or text offers support while letting them respond when the time is right. ¶ Sarah Lyons is a writer and mother. After the birth of her triplets, family and friends showed their loving support for many months. She will forever be grateful and now enjoys helping others even more.





Far Out

Jay Epstein Savings Bank of Mendocino County, Jeni Sobbizadeh, Red Carpet Mini Storage Ukiah Main Street Program, C&S Waste Management, Mendocino Transit Authority Arrow Fencing & Ukiah Police Officers association

For more information call 467-5766 or visit December 2016

MendoLakeFamilyLife 15

SAT Smarts By Greg Kaplan

6 Tips for Preparing for College Entrance Exams


igh school parents face a crisis each fall: how to get their children into college. In 2015, 92,000 applicants applied for a mere 5,800 spots at UCLA. Parents often ask about the best things they can do to improve their children’s odds of admission. The answer: effective SAT/ACT prep. The better the score, the better the odds of admission. Learning how to answer a few more questions correctly on the SAT can be the difference between acceptance and rejection.

Finding the right SAT/ACT prep program for your child can be challenging. It is hard to identify which tutors/programs are worth the (high) cost. Students and parents can also be guarded with information that makes anyone else a competitive applicant. Consider the following strategies:

16 MendoLakeFamilyLife


Take the PSAT/PreACT (diagnostic tests for the SAT/ ACT) sophomore year to assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Save the score reports to discuss with a tutor. Your child’s starting point will dictate the amount of prep she or he needs to obtain a competitive score for the colleges she or he is interested in attending.


Start your search for an SAT/ ACT prep program early. Often the most effective tutors and prep programs fill up one to two years in advance of a test date, so begin looking for the best ones during freshman or sophomore year. This

The return on investment for an SAT tutor is far greater than a trip to visit colleges. will ensure your child is fully prepared to score well on the SAT/ ACT during the junior year of high school. (See tip 6 for more info about test timing.)


Prioritize SAT/ACT prep over any other part of the college application process. Private SAT/ ACT tutoring can be very expensive. However, it is the best investment your child can make to improve her

December 2016


or his odds of admission at highly selective colleges. The return on investment for an SAT tutor is far greater than a trip to visit colleges.

We want to know what you think. • What did you like in this issue? • What do you want to see more or less of? • Know a teacher, coach, or special person who makes local family life better? • Know of an upcoming event or fun family outing? • Want to write stories or recipes, or blog for Family Life?


Many high schools publish a list of colleges seniors will be attending. Find students that are going to your child’s top choices, and ask them or their parents which SAT/ACT tutors they worked with.


When meeting with potential SAT/ACT tutors or prep program coordinators, ask about



Prioritize SAT/ACT prep over any other part of the college application process. their track records, specifically with other clients who started with similar scores as your child (refer back to the PSAT or PreACT score report).


Aim to take the test fall of junior (not senior) year. Prepping over the summer alleviates the pressure of attending to schoolwork and taking the SAT or ACT at the same time. In addition, if your child needs to take the test an additional time, she or he will have plenty of time to do so. If she or he waits until senior year to take the tests, there won’t be another opportunity to re-take the exams. ¶

HILLSIDE – (707) 468-1010 333 Laws Ave., Ukiah

LAKEVIEW – (707) 263-7725

Greg Kaplan is a college application strategist, author of Earning Admission: Real Strategies for Getting into Highly Selective Colleges (2016), and the founder of Soaring Eagle College Consulting. See earningadmission. com for more information.

5335 Lakeshore Blvd., Lakeport


December 2016

MendoLakeFamilyLife 17

Let Love Rule

respond by saying, “Tell me how your mom does it. I might want to try it like that sometime.” If the child says, “Daddy’s Christmas tree has the ornaments I made when I

Tweens and teens may need to take their time embracing an extended family. was little,” a wise stepparent might say, “That must be really special to have those ornaments on the tree. Will you help me make an ornament for our tree?”

Holiday Survival for Stepfamilies

By Laura Lyles Reagan


s a clinical sociologist and divorced (and remarried) parent, I know that the holidays present special challenges for stepfamilies. Many experts believe it takes approximately five years to blend a stepfamily. There is not a perfect holiday family activity or meal that will make everyone suddenly feel closer. There is no perfect gift that will heal divorce. There are only opportunities to connect, and connection can be defined in a variety of ways.

Let Go of Expectations Tweens and teens may need to take their time embracing an extended family. My husband invited our daughters to his parents’ Christmas Eve dinner, but he did not push them to go. They were older and had their own traditions established with me as their biological parent, so they chose to go to dinner but leave before the gift-giving extravaganza between the extended family members. 18 MendoLakeFamilyLife

Be Open and Flexible Learning to live with different people who have different styles of relating is a positive skill that will serve kids as they grow into adults. Biological parents might support the stepfamily dynamics by saying to a child, “Not everyone does things the same way, and we can try a new way.” If a child says to a stepparent, “My mom doesn’t make the turkey that way,” a brave stepparent might

Keep It Simple Uncomplicated, easy activities may diffuse tension, and help new family members get to know each other. Here are a few for starters: • Watch a holiday DVD and string popcorn for the tree. • Go to a movie. • Go Christmas caroling around your neighborhood. Laugh with each other and let the kids be silly. • Go to church, synagogue, or mosque. • Volunteer at a charity or nonprofit. • Bake holiday cookies. • Make New Year cards for military service personnel. • Trim the Christmas tree together as a family. Family is about being loved and accepted for who you are, no matter how family is configured. ¶ Laura Lyles Reagan, MS, is a parenting coach and author of How to Raise Respectful Parents. Reach her through her website at

December 2016

A Holiday Reading List

Find Out about Diverse Celebrations

By Jan Pierce


his time of year, we hear a

Hanukkah Alyssa Satin Capucilli, Biscuit’s Hanukkah (HarperFestival, 2005) Malka Drucker, Grandma’s Latkes (Harcourt Children’s Books, 1992)

lot about Christmas but not

Michelle Edwards, Papa’s Latkes (Candlewick, 2004)

so much—if anything at all—

Naomi Howland, Latkes, Latkes, Good To Eat (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2004)

about other celebrations. Authors and illustrators love to bring all

Nina Jaffe, In the Month of Kislev (Puffin Books, 1995) Eric Kimmel, The Magic Dreidels (Holiday House, 1996) Fran Manushkin, Latkes and Applesauce (Scholastic Paperbacks, 1992)

the tradition, celebration, and

Roni Schotter, Hanukkah! (LB Kids, 2014)

fun of diverse winter holidays to


life in the pages of their books.

Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith, Celebrating Kwanzaa (Holiday House, 1994)

Look through the lists below to

Karen Katz, My First Kwanzaa (Square Fish, 2014)

find informative and beautiful children’s books about Hanukkah,

Kathy Ross, All New Crafts for Kwanzaa (First Avenue Editions, 2006) Synthia Saint James, The Gifts of Kwanzaa (Albert Whitman & Co., 1994) Donna L. Washington, The Story of Kwanzaa (HarperCollins, 1997)

Las Posadas, Kwanzaa, and

Nancy Williams, A Kwanzaa Celebration (Little Simon, 1995)


Las Posadas Tomie dePaola, The Night of Las Posadas (Puffin Books, 2001) Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith, Las Posadas (Holiday House, 1999) Tony Johnston, The Magic Maguey (HMH Books for Young Readers, 1996)

Ramadan Reem Faruqi, Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story (Tilbury House, 2015) Suhaib Hamid Ghazi, Ramadan (Holiday House, 1996) Qamaer Hassan, Raihanna’s First Time Fasting (CreateSpace, 2016) Karen Katz, My First Ramadan (Square Fish, 2015) Sylvia Whitman, Under the Ramadan Moon (Albert Whitman and Company, 2011) ¶ Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and freelance writer. Find her at

December 2016

MendoLakeFamilyLife 19

Cooking with Kids

C Is for Cookie Celebrate the Season with Healthy Treats

Apple Spice Cookies

By Don Orwell


f there is one thing we all look forward to during the holidays, it’s indulging in sweet goodies. Parents, though, may not be so thrilled with how much sugar their children are consuming. These easy-to-make, nutritious cookies will please kids’ taste buds without the sugar rush.

Apple Spice Cookies • 1 cup unsweetened almond butter • 1/2 cup raw honey

Superfoods No-Bake Cookies

• 1 egg & 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1 apple, diced • 1 teaspoon cinnamon • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated Instructions Heat oven to 350°F. Combine almond butter, raw honey, egg, and salt in a bowl. Add apple, spices, and ginger and stir. Spoon batter onto a baking sheet 1 inch apart. Bake until set. Remove cookies and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

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Superfoods No-Bake Cookies • 1/2 cup coconut milk • 1/2 cup coconut oil • 1/2 cup cocoa powder • 2 cups finely shredded coconut • 1 cup large flake coconut • 1/2 cup raw honey • 2 teaspoons of ground vanilla bean • 1/2 cup chopped almonds or chia seeds (optional) • 1/2 cup almond butter (optional)

Instructions Combine the coconut milk, coconut oil, and cocoa powder in a saucepan. Cook the coconut mixture over medium heat, stirring until it comes to a boil and then boil for one minute. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the shredded coconut, large flake coconut, raw honey, and the vanilla. Add additional ingredients if you want. Spoon the mixture to a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. ¶ Excerpted from the Healthy Kids Cookbook by Don Orwell (Superfoods Today, 2015),

December 2016

Crafting with Kids

Easy-Peasy Decorations Fun Projects to Do with Kids

Straw Christmas Tree & Wire Wreath

By Meagan Ruffing


he holidays are so much brighter and livelier when we see them through a child’s eyes. I know my three kids’ innocence and wonder keep me amazed. I do decorate differently now that I have kids, though. Breakable ornaments are up a little bit higher and, after seeing what tinsel looks like strewn about my house, it’s become a thing of the past. I’ve replaced these things with kid-friendly decorations and crafts like these:


If you have young children, invest in projects that are easy to put together like the pictured straw Christmas trees. This takes the stress off you and instead puts the energy into where it needs to be—having fun with your kids.


I used to stress a little bit (okay, kind of more than a little bit) about my kids asking me if they could wrap someone’s gift. I adored the thought, but I always ended up rewrapping a few things. I have chilled out quite a bit in this department and have decided that beautiful wrapping paper can make anything look better. Who cares if it is a little messy with extra tape? My kids love being able to pick out which wrapping paper they want each person to have.


All of our holiday decorations are stored in tote bins. One of my most favorite holiday traditions is watching my kids’ eyes light up as they go through the bins and remember something special about each item.


There is something so inviting and cozy about a homemade wreath decorating a front door; it subtly says “Warmth and friendship inside.” Don’t let do-it-yourself wreath-making intimidate you. Follow these simple tips and

you will have yourself an expensive-looking decoration for not a lot of money. • Pick up a grapevine or wire wreath from your local craft store. • Decide which type of ribbon you want (solid color vs. floral pattern). • For the grapevine wreath, just wrap the fabric tightly around it, super-gluing the end piece of fabric on the back of the wreath. For the wire wreath, use a basket weave with the ribbon, and then tie a simple knot on the backside. • Hot glue pretty bulbs, silk flowers, or decorative items wherever you would like on the front of the wreath. If you are feeling really creative, pick up a cardboard letter for your last name and paint it; then hot-glue the letter to the front of the wreath to make a monogrammed decoration.


Stockings are always a favorite in my house. I usually hang the traditional monogrammed ones outside my kids’ doors, but this year I opted to go with those featuring images of their animated characters: Tinkerbell, Elsa, and Dory. Yes, it’s different decorating when you have children, but let that be more inspiration than limitation. Think outside the box and let your kids get their hands messy with chocolate, tape, glitter, and glue. You’ll be making memories and creating connection for the best year yet. ¶

December 2016

Meagan Ruffing had the best time making crafts for this article and looks forward to finding more ways to decorate her home with her children.

MendoLakeFamilyLife 21

December Calendar of Events

Lift Up Your Voice!


f your favorite part of the holidays is singing carols, then the 9th Annual Sing-Along at the First Presbyterian Church in Ukiah may be for you. Bring the kids and belt out favorite tunes like “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” and “Noel.” Grab cookies and hot cider when you need replenishment. A community choir and guest musicians, including San Francisco harpist AnnaMaria Mendietta, will also be performing. The free event will be held on December 18 at 3:30 p.m. Donations for Nor Cal Christian Ministries, a Ukiah homeless shelter, will be accepted. For more information, call Denise Beckler at 468-9235. ¶

Thursday 1 Festival of Lights. The gardens are decorated with colorful holiday lights. $10. Ages 16 & under free. Fridays– Sundays. Thru Dec. 18. 5–7:30 p.m. Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. 18220 N. Hwy. 1, Fort Bragg. 964-4352, ext. 10. FREE Ukiah Holiday Trolley. Enjoy

holiday music & ring the bell as the antique trolley drives thru town. Trolley circulates hourly

Thursdays–Sundays. Thru Dec. 18. Thursdays & Fridays: 3–6:45 p.m. Saturdays & Sundays: Noon–2:45 p.m. & 4–6:45 p.m. 462-1422. Peter Pan. The classic story of a free-spirited young boy who can fly & never grows up. $11–$20. Thru Dec. 18. Thursdays–Saturdays: 7 p.m. Sundays: 2 p.m. Ukiah Players Theatre. 1041 Low Gap Rd., Ukiah. 462-9226.

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WORK AT HOME • CHOOSE YOUR OWN HOURS • WORK WITH CHILDREN Own Your Own Business • Free Training and other great incentives for attending fun workshops. • Child Care Assistance for lowincome eligible families. • Free Child Care Referrals.

FREE Karate Classes. Sponsored

by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Activities League Programs. $10 annual insurance/registration fee (can be waived in the best interest of the child). Gym membership not required. Sign up for program at time of class or at gym on weekdays. Enrollment continuous. Thursdays. Little Dragons (small child/parental participation co-ed, ages 3–7): 5–5:30 p.m. Kid Kicks (ages 7–11): 6–6:45 p.m. Tween/Teens/Adults (ages 11 & up): 7–8:30 p.m. Willits Body Works. 1511 S. Main St., Willits. mendocinocountysheriffsyouth activitiesleague. FREE La Leche League. Women interested in breastfeeding are encouraged to attend. Babies are always welcome. 10–11 a.m. Mendocino Baby. 198 S. School St., Ukiah. 485-1940.

Friday 2 FREE Breastfeeding Support Group.

1-800-606-5550 ext. 211 22 MendoLakeFamilyLife

Rural Communities Child Care

Walk-ins welcome. Get info & support while meeting other moms. Fridays: 10

December 2016

a.m.–noon. Mendocino Coast Clinic. 855 Sequoia Crcl., Fort Bragg. 964-1251 Christmas with the Rothstein Ensemble. Unique

Christmas concert, encompassing the silly, sentimental, sacred & serious. Wear an ugly Christmas sweater. $10–$15. 8 p.m. Soper Reese Theatre. 275 S. Main St., Lakeport. 263-0577. FREE Christmas in the Country.

Merchant open house with treats, followed by the Parade of Lights with Santa. The tree will be lit in front of the Kelseyville Fire Station. 5:30–8:30 p.m. Main St., Kelseyville. A Christmas Carol. $10–$15.

Thru Dec. 18. Thursdays. 7 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays: 8 p.m. Sundays (except Dec. 4): 2 p.m. Willits Community Theatre. 37 W. Van Lane, Willits.

visit website for schedule. Fort Bragg Depot. 100 W. Laurel St., Fort Bragg. 299 Willits Depot. E. Commercial St., Willits. 964-6371. FREE RAWR. Drop-in reading, art & writing club for teens. Snacks provided. Saturdays. 3–4:30 p.m. Ukiah Library.

105 N. Main St., Ukiah. 463-4490. FREE Festival of Lights.

Face-painting, cookie decorating, horse-drawn carriage rides, live holiday music & golf-cart parade. Gingerbread house decorating contest. Santa & Mrs. Claus visits

The Ukiah Unified School District

Wishes you the Happiest of Holidays May we suggest “the gift that never stops giving”


Here are just a few suggested titles for your children: Duck on a Bike- (Grade 1-2) When Duck gets a zany idea to ride a bike one day, each animal on the farm has a reaction. By David Shannon. Beezus and Ramona- (Grade 3-4) Four-year-old Ramona has an imagination that makes her a menace to everyone around her, particularly her older sister, nine-year-old Beezus. By Beverly Cleary.

Holiday Ceramics Sale. Presented by the Mendocino County Ceramics Club. Noon–2 p.m. Mendocino College Gymnasium. 1000 Hensley Creek Rd., Ukiah.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle(Grade 5-6) As the lone “young lady” on a transatlantic voyage in 1832, Charlotte learns that the captain is murderous and the crew rebellious. By Avi.

FREE Postpartum Support Group.

The Circuit- (Grade 7-8) This collection of short stories explores a migrant family’s experiences moving through labor camps, facing poverty and impermanence, and discusses how they endure through faith, hope, and back-breaking work. By Francisco Jimenez.

Fridays. 10:30 a.m.–noon. Mendocino Baby. 198 S. School St, Ukiah. 485-1940. FREE Prenatal Support Group. For expectant mothers. Fridays. Noon–1 p.m. Mendocino Baby. 198 S. School St, Ukiah. 485-1940.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- (High school) A young girl comes of age in the squalor and poverty of the Brooklyn slums. By Betty Smith.

Saturday 3 Magical Christmas Train. Featuring Santa, elves & storytellers. Music, hot chocolate & cookies. 90-minute round trip. Depart from Willits & Fort Bragg daily. $34–$44. Thru Dec. 23. Call or

511 S. Orchard Ave., Ukiah • 707-472-5000

December 2016


with children. Free cookies & cocoa (while supplies last). 4–6:30 p.m. (Tree lighting at 5:30 p.m.) Greenview Restaurant. 19210 Hartmann Rd., Hidden Valley. FREE Annual Holiday Gift & Craft Bazaar. Browse

wares of our local talented makers & crafters. Dec. 3 & 4. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Photos with Santa: 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Lake County Fairgrounds. 401 Martin St., Lakeport.

FREE Christmas Lights Parade.

FREE Country Christmas Crafts

Lighting of the Christmas tree, music & caroling. 6–8 p.m. 9550 Main St., Upper Lake. 275-2000.

Faire. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Lakeport Senior Activity Center. 527 Konocti Ave., Lakeport. 263-4218. events/629015347286386.

FREE Holiday Open House. Arts & crafts sales, tours of the Sun House, visits with Santa Claus & seasonal refreshments. 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Grace Hudson Museum. 431 S. Main St., Ukiah. 467-2836.

FREE Holiday Bazaar. Local artisans & vendors selling crafts of all kinds, including pottery, honey, baked goods & more. Proceeds benefit high school scholarships, AV library & community projects. 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Mendocino County Fairgrounds. Apple Hall. 14400 Hwy. 128, Boonville.

FREE 8th Annual Holiday Faire.

FREE Clearlake Holiday Parade.

Parade begins at 6 p.m. & runs from Redbud Park to Austin Park. Tree-lighting ceremony at end of parade. Visits with Santa & Mrs. Claus. Austin Park. 14077 Lakeshore Dr., Clearlake. 994-3600.

Hosted by Ukiah Girl Scouts. Kids Kraft Korner, Santa, gift wrapping booth, pet gifts & so much more! 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Redwood Empire Fairgrounds. Carl Purdy Hall. 1055 N. State St., Ukiah. events/1605026979827838.

Sing Out!


FREE Evergreen Holiday Sale.

Artwork, photography, handcrafted organic soaps & lotions, ornaments, gift baskets & silent auction. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Evergreen United


The Nutcracker Tickets: Adults: $20 Seniors over 65: $18 Under 18: $10 $ 5 more at the door Fort Bragg

Music Gathering


Cotton Auditorium

SUN. DEC. 18 3:30

Dec. 10 at 7pm Dec. 11 at 2pm Ukiah

First Presbyterian - Corner of Perkins & Dora

Cookies & Come sing Carols with the Hot Cider little ones & enjoy some Christmas Spirit & Cheer! For More Info. Denise Beckler (468-9235)

Mendocino College Center Theatre


Dec. 16 at 7pm Dec. 17 at 2 & 7pm Dec. 18 at 2pm

Ticket Outlets: Mendocino Book Co. & Mendocino Ballet: Ukiah Out of this World: Mendocino • Mazahar: Willits Pippis Longstockings & Harvest Market: Fort Bragg

“Where Dreams to Dance Come True!” 24 MendoLakeFamilyLife

December 2016

Methodist Church. 360 N. Cory St., Fort Bragg. 510-459-9448.

Bragg Lions Hall. 430 E. Redwood St., Fort Bragg. 961-0767.

FREE Holiday Family Fun Ride

Mendo Moves for Standing

& Learn. Open to all families who

Rock. Yoga, zumba, samba, belly

want to teach their kids to ride bikes for transportation. Children must be able to ride a bicycle to participate. Rain cancels. 1:30 p.m. Frank Zeek Elementary School. 1060 N. Bush St., Ukiah. RSVP appreciated. 467-3217.

dance. Live music includes set by AfroFunk Experience. Open to all ages. Workshop: $10. Half day: $20. All day: $40. 10 a.m.–midnight. See Facebook page for complete schedule. Eagles Hall. 210 N. Corry St., Fort Bragg. events/900589320074482.

17th Annual North Coast Toy Run.

Whether you have a motorcycle or not, enjoy a complete tri-tip dinner, a no-host bar, raffle prizes & live music. Admission is $10 or a new unwrapped toy for kids under 18. Benefits Safe Passage Family Resource Center. Must be over 21. 12:30–4 p.m. Fort

Ukiah Parade of Lights. 5:30–7:30

p.m. Parade starts at Low Gap Rd., turns south on State St. & ends at Seminary Ave. Entry fee: $20 small vehicle, $40 large vehicle. Deadline to enter is December 1. Applications available at City of Ukiah Recreation Dept. or

Sunday 4 Ukiah on Ice. First ever skating rink

to be held in downtown historic Ukiah. $10/day of unlimited skating (includes skates). Opening Day Dec. 4, noon–4 p.m., hosted by Ukiah Valley Medical Center includes free skating, live music, food & children’s activities. Thru Jan. 8. Mondays–Fridays: 3–8 p.m. Saturdays: 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Sundays: Noon–5 p.m. See website for special hours during Dec. 23–Jan. 8. Next to Alex R. Thomas Plaza on School St., Ukiah. 463-6231. FREE Ukiah Valley Medical Center 60th Anniversary. Ice skating, live

music, kids’ games, food & more. Noon–4 p.m. Alex R. Thomas Plaza. 310 S. State St., Ukiah. events/1271270636280873.

Mendocino Transit Authority, Ukiah Chamber of Commerce,

the Ukiah Main Street Program & Savings Bank of Mendocino County


Trolley circulates route once an hour Thursday through Sunday November 25th through December 18th GOLD SPONSORS

Thursday and Fridays 3:00 pm to 6:45 pm Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 pm to 2:45 & 4:00 to 6:45 pm

Thanks to Our Sponsors:

Mendocino College/Foundation Pear Tree Shopping Center Raley’s Shopping Center • El Azteca Pacific Outfitters • Holes in the Wall Walmart • Slam Dunk Pizza

Call 462-1422 for more information


AAA • Redwood Health Club Friedman’s Home Improvement Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op • US Cellular Redwood Community Services Parducci Wine Cellars Kiwanis Club of Ukiah Coyote Valley Casino Northwest Insurance

December 2016

MendoLakeFamilyLife 25

Caroling in the Caves. Singing in

wine caves, hayrides & festive treats. Adults: $30. Special rate for children. 2:30–5 p.m. Saracina Vineyards. 11684 Hwy. 101, Hopland. 670-0199. FREE Christmas Bazaar Annual Craft Fair. Featuring a variety of

handcrafted arts. There will also be an opportunity for children to have their photos taken with Santa. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Harwood Hall. Harwood Rd., Laytonville. 984-8089.

Tuesday 6 FREE Boxing Classes. Sponsored

by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Activities League Programs. $10 annual insurance/registration fee (can be waived in the best interest of the

STS For Less Stress, Fly

Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport Seattle (SEA)

child). Gym membership not required. Sign up for program at time of class or at gym on weekdays. Enrollment continuous. Ages 5 & up. Tuesdays & Thursdays: 7–8 p.m. Redwood Health Club. 3101 S. State St., Ukiah. sheriffsyouthactivitiesleague. FREE Karate Classes. Sponsored by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Activities League Programs. $10 annual insurance/registration fee (can be waived in the best interest of the child). Enrollment continuous. Tuesdays. Ages 5–10: 6–6:45 p.m. Advance training: 7–8:30 p.m. Ukiah High School (Room L4). 1000 Low Gap Rd., Ukiah. mendocinocountysheriffsyouth activitiesleague.

Wednesday 7 Flu Vaccination Clinic. Vaccines

$2. Ages 3 & up. Thru Dec. 14. Wednesdays. 9–11 a.m. Public Health Office. 922 Bevins Ct., Lakeport. 263-1090.

Friday 9 Holiday Celebration. Gingerbread

Portland (PDX) ©P N


Nonstop Service to & from Wine Country

Sonoma County Airport

house decorating contest & holiday dinner. 5:30–7:30 p.m. Boatique Winery. 8255 Red Hill Rd., Kelseyville. 279-2675.

Saturday 10


The Nutcracker. Presented

Las Vegas (LAS)

Los Angeles (LAX) Orange County (SNA) San Diego (SAN)

Phoenix-Mesa (AZA)

26 MendoLakeFamilyLife

by the Mendocino Ballet. $10–$20. Thru Dec. 11. Dec. 10: 7 p.m. Dec. 11: 2 p.m. Cotton Auditorium. 500 N. Harold St., Fort Bragg. 463-2290.

Seasonal Greetings Hike & Wreaths.

Hike through madrones & see clumps of mistletoe. After hike, drink cider & create wreaths with local foliage. $20. Under 12 free. No dogs permitted. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Hopland Research & Extension Center. 4070 University Rd., Hopland. 744-1424, ext. 105. Register: FREE Christmas at the Ranch.

Local musicians, carols, cookies & cider & visits with Santa Claus. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Anderson Marsh State Historic Park. Ranch House. Hwy. 53, Lower Lake. FREE Christmas in Middletown.

Santa arrives on a fire truck. Walking Christmas Tree. Carolers & vendors. Shops open late. Passport to fun with giveaways. 4–8 p.m. It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Presented by the Lake County Theatre Company. Period costumes, live sound effects & audience participation. $10–$15. Thru Dec. 18. Fridays & Saturdays: 7 p.m. Sundays: 2 p.m. Lower Lake Historic Schoolhouse Museum. 16435 Main St., Lower Lake. FREE Holiday Craft Faire. Food & sing-along, raffles, silent auction & baked goods. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Santa Claus: 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Preston Hall. 44867 Main St., Mendocino. Holiday Concert for the Coast. The Ernest Bloch Bell Ringers. $10–$15. Ages 17 & under free with adult. 3 p.m. Gualala Arts Center. 46501 Old State Hwy., Gualala. 884-1138.

December 2016

FREE International Cesarean Awareness Network. For women

who have had a Cesarean or are planning on having a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). 11 a.m. Mendocino Baby. 198 S. School St., Ukiah. 485-1940. FREE BJ’s House of Santas.

Collection of more than 7,000 Santa figures. Free goodies. Dec. 10 & 17. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 5141 Piner Ave., Kelseyville. 279-9826. motherwiselakecounty.

S. Main St., Lakeport. 263-0577.

Monday 12

Friday 16

FREE Native American Parent

The Nutcracker. Presented by the

Advisory Committee. For Ukiah

Mendocino Ballet. $10–$20. Dec. 16: 7 p.m. Dec. 17: 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. Dec. 18: 2 p.m. Mendocino College Theatre. 1000 Hensley Creek Rd., Ukiah. 463-2290.

Unified School District parents/ guardians of Native American students. 5:30 p.m. Ukiah Unified School District Boardroom. 511 S. Orchard Ave., Ukiah. 472-5052.

Saturday 17

Tuesday 13

Sunday 11 FREE Mother-Wise Lakeport Moms’ Group Holiday Mixer. Holiday cookie

decorating & a potluck of healthy appetizers. RSVP: 349-1210. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. 180 N. Main St., Lakeport.

FREE Wreaths Across America.

FREE Alice in Wonderland. Walt

Disney’s 1951 animated classic. Donations accepted at the box office. Tickets not available online. 1 p.m. & 6 p.m. Doors open 30 mins. before movie. Soper Reese Theatre. 275

mendo lake

There will be ceremonies to honor veterans across America. Local events take place at Hartley & St. Mary’s cemeteries in Lakeport; Kelseyville, Lower Lake, Potter Valley & Hopland cemeteries; Russian River Cemetery

RIVER OAK CHARTER SCHOOL Alliance for Public Waldorf Education Member Kindergarten – 8th Grade A Free Public School – Established in 1999

Open Enrollment Jan. 9–Feb. 15


#1 local resource for for 25 years local families

magazine • web • email • events

Join Us for A Parents-Only Tour

Tour Classes in Session, followed by Q & A Enrollment Tours: Dec. 8, Jan. 12, Feb. 16, Mar. 9 Call 707-467-1855 ext. 104 to Reserve Your Space Spanish Translators Available on Request The 3 R’s, and Advanced Math, Foreign Language, Music, Art, Woodwork, Drama, Leadership, Community Service 555 Leslie St., Ukiah, CA 95482 (707) 467-1855

December 2016

MendoLakeFamilyLife 27

District in Ukiah; Rose Memorial Park Association Cemetery in Fort Bragg; Cemetery District of Redwoods in Willits.

Botanical Gardens. Main Parking Lot. 18220 N. Hwy. 1, Fort Bragg. 964-7729.

FREE Ely Christmas Marketplace.

learn from local doulas and midwives. 11 a.m. Mendocino Baby. 198 S. School St., Ukiah. 485-1940.

Local artists sell wares in barn. Santa will be roaming the grounds & joining hayrides with the kids (weather permitting). 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Ely Stage Stop & Country Museum. 9921 Soda Bay Rd., Kelseyville. Wacky Winter Song & Dance Extravaganza. Presented by the

School of Performing Arts & Cultural Education (SPACE). $5–$12. 2 p.m. Ukiah High School. 1000 Low Gap Rd., Ukiah. 462-9370. Pet Adoption Day. Mendocino Coast

Humane Society will be at the gardens with a bunch of adoptable animals. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Mendocino Coast

FREE Doula Meet ’n Greet. Meet &

Sunday 18 FREE 9th Annual Sing-Along. A community music gathering. All are welcome. Carols & cookies & cider. 3:30 p.m. First Presbyterian Church. Corner of Perkins & Dora, Ukiah. 468-9235. Christmas Celebration. Lake County Symphony Orchestra concert. $25–$30. 3–6 p.m. Soper Reese Theatre. 275 S. Main St., Lakeport. 263-0577.

Saturday 24 FREE Nine Lessons & Carols.

Audience will join in singing 9 carols. Featuring clergy & lay readers from all coast faith communities. Seating limited, come early. Bring flashlights for walking to & from parking areas. 5–6 p.m. Gualala Arts Center. 46501 Old State Hwy., Gualala. 884-1138.

Monday 26 FREE Christmas Bird Count. Bird

watchers armed with binoculars, bird guides & checklists will try to count all the birds they can identify from Little Valley Rd. to Big River. All day. Count when it’s convenient for you. Call for more info. Fort Bragg: 937-4422.

Saturday 31 FREE New Year’s Eve Dance

Upper Lake Shines


e a bright light in the world!” It’s a directive that the folks in Upper Lake take quite seriously as they wrap up their vehicles—and even themselves—in tiny bulbs for the Christmas Lights Parade. See their illuminated trucks, cars, motorcycles, and farm equipment on December 3. The parade lines up at 6 p.m. and begins at 6:30 p.m., traveling down Main Street where a Christmas tree–lighting ceremony is held in the middle of town. Local church groups will lead caroling, and students will sell hot chocolate and sweets to raise funds for school events. Festivities usually end around 8 p.m., sometimes earlier, depending on the weather.

28 MendoLakeFamilyLife

Party. Swing, Latin & calypso music by Mixed Nuts. Treats, beer, wine & champagne bar. Bring appetizer or dessert to share. $20–$25. 8 p.m.–12:30 a.m. Community Center. 15051 Caspar Rd., Caspar. 964-4997. New Year’s Eve Party. Live music by

Twice as Good. Ticket includes savory appetizers, party favors & a glass of champagne to ring in the new year. $40–$50. 8 p.m. Soper Reese Theatre. 275 S. Main St., Lakeport. 263-0577.

Happy Holidays

December 2016

Marketplace Tutoring


Tuition-free Montessori elementary for ages 5-13  Hands-on, arts and music integrated with academics

 National Green Campus  Promotes responsibility, respect, and peace

307 North State Street Ukiah


Located on north end of Fairgrounds PO Box 966 Ukiah 95482

Soren Pinelli as Tim and Dave Watts as Bob Cratchit.

mendo lake


The Redemption of Scrooge


he story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from bitter miser to compassionate giver is a season staple. See the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future work their magic on the iconic villain’s hard heart at the Willits Community Theatre production of A Christmas Carol. Performances will be held at the theater in Willits Thursdays–Sundays, December 2–18. Shows are Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays (except December 4) at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10–$15 and may be purchased at ¶


#1 local for 25 years resource for local families magazine • web • email • events

Get Mom’s Attention! YOUR AD HERE Classifieds Work Call 586-9562

La Vida

Charter School • Free K-12 Public Charter • Home Study with On-Site Classes • WASC Accredited 707-459-6344 16201 N. Hwy. 101, Willits

Accelerated Achievement Academy • • • •

Free Public School Grades 4-12 Small classes Support for struggling students

(707) 463-7080 1031 N. State St.

Carols and Cookies


midst a landscape that still bears the mark of wildfires, Christmas on the Ranch aims to bring cheer. Neighbors can sing carols together, listen to local music, and snack on cider and cookies while kids whisper their secret wishes to Santa. The free event will be held on December 10, 10 a.m.–2 p.m., in the ranch house of the sprawling Anderson Marsh State Historic Park on Hwy. 53 in Lower Lake. Find out more at ¶

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December 2016

MendoLakeFamilyLife 29

Humor Break

Reluctant Reveler A Dad Is Nudged Toward Joy

By Patrick Hempfing

“I love the holidays!” my 11-year-old daughter, Jessie, exclaimed 12 days before Christmas last year. If we were playing a game that asked for a word to complete the sentence “I _____ the holidays,” love wouldn’t be my verb. Let’s face it—life gets busy. Demands fill our days with stress and anxiety. Who has extra time to shop, decorate, and navigate across airport terminals or interstates? On a Sunday afternoon, Jessie suggested that we decorate before her mom, Mattie, returned from a nine-day business trip. After eight and a half days of holding down the fort, the last thing I wanted to do was to pull out boxes of lights, ribbons, and bows. “Jessie, it’s not worth decorating since we’re leaving in a few days and Christmas will be over by the time we get home.” Actions speak louder than words and my daughter is good at using both to accomplish her goals. Before I knew it, the decoration process had begun. I carried the heavy box containing the nativity set into the living room. Mattie took ten years to find the perfect one, so Jessie always hears the “be careful with each piece” speech. Instead of stressing as she handled each fragile item, I opted to take a nap and let Jessie run with it. She, like her mother, prefers to be in charge. I awoke to a scene with the camel 30 MendoLakeFamilyLife

figurine next to Baby Jesus, and Mary off to the side petting the sheep. As Jessie showed off her handiwork, she pulled Baby Jesus from the manger and said, “Look, Baby Jesus fits in the camel seat!” Concerned that it might fall out of the chair and break, I quickly responded, “No, it’s best to keep Jesus in the manger.” I had hoped to get away with the nativity set as our only decoration, but Jessie wanted to decorate the entire

After eight and a half days of holding down the fort, the last thing I wanted to do was to pull out boxes of lights, ribbons, and bows. house. As I headed to the garage and pulled items from boxes, my decorating supervisor followed close behind. I carried in the Christmas stockings, the wooden Nutcrackers, some holiday stuffed animals, red ribbons, and Christmas wreaths. Jessie played the radio as we decorated, but I didn’t enjoy her song selections and asked her to put on Christmas music. Was I getting into the Christmas spirit? Jessie made a video and posted it on Instagram. She played the role of Clara and danced across the room with the Nutcracker as she repeated,

“I love the holidays.” I smiled and noticed that my frustration and stress had turned to joy. After Jessie taped two candy canes together to form a heart, she strategically placed stuffed animals all over the house. Finally, I retrieved a string of lights for her headboard, nightstand, and cabinet. Jessie noted that if she had another string, she could go farther. She went to the garage and brought back two more sets of lights. “Hey, we might have enough to go around your entire room,” I said. It was only after we were done hanging them that I realized how intense they were. “Jessie, I think it’s going to be too bright for you to sleep.” She shook her head in disagreement. As I stacked the empty boxes against the wall in the garage, Jessie walked out and wrapped her arms around me. “Thank you for decorating for Christmas, Daddy.” I’ll never forget that hug. When Mattie returned home that evening, Jessie quickly showed her our afternoon’s work. Christmas came 12 days early…and I loved it. ¶ Patrick Hempfing is the author of MoMENts: A Dad Holds On (2016), available on Amazon. Follow him at

December 2016


Cut out game card & get started today!


Join us for



anniversary celebration

Celebrate 60 years of caring with ice skating, live music, great food and more. As we celebrate 60 years of extraordinary health care, we realize that you are our greatest gift. You have made us part of your community and trusted us to provide the highest quality of health care for those that matter most to you. As a thank you we would love to celebrate our 60th Anniversary with you. Join us for a free day of fun, laughter and good times.

Ice Skating | Live Music | Great Food Kids Games | And More

Sunday, December 4, 2016 12 noon - 4:00 P.M. Alex Thomas Plaza Downtown Ukiah

We are grateful to the City of Ukiah for continuing Ukiah on Ice through Sunday, January 8th. For more information on dates and times please contact Ukiah Valley Medical Center, 707.463.7493 or the City of Ukiah, 707.463.5723.

Mendo Lake Family Life December 2016