Sonoma Family Life April 2020

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April 2020

Super’s Letter Focus on kids

Home Learning A child psych-mom’s advice

Camp Karma Teen draumedy Shop Local Stay safe

In California, all kids count. Children should be included on your 2020 Census form—and not just children related to you, but any kids that live at your address. That means your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and the children of any friends or relatives staying with you. Babies count, too! Even if they’re still in the hospital, as long as they were born on or before April 1, 2020, make sure the person completing the Census for your address includes them on the form. For more information about the 2020 Census, visit

April 2020

Every Issue 6

Dear Reader


Bits and Pieces Free “Grab-and-Go” School Lunches Taking Education Online


Need Food? Have Some to Share?

Features 12 Educating Hearts and Minds A message from the Superintendent of Schools.

14 Homeschooling During a Crisis A child psych-mom says: Keep expectations low.

16 Buy Local—from a Safe Distance There are still ways to support local businesses.

18 Indoor Playgrounds Creative, easy ways to entertain kids.

20 He Stole My Toy! How to manage sibling squabbles.

22 30 Campers, One Big Rat It was a set up for the perfect “traudrama.”


Get Your Sci-Fi Fix, Gratis

10 A Monster

Goes Viral Crafts Are the Answer The Motherlode of Live Animal Cams Learn Language through Theatrical Play

24 Cooking with Kids Go Granola!

28 Humor Break Not Our Finest Hour


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April 2020

Doctor’s Confession to Petaluma

Dear Friend, I wanted to let everyone know what happened while I was in college. It was a moment that changed my life forever. But before I tell you about my experience, I wanted to tell you my story from the start. Let me start by explaining the photo in this letter. I am the guy in the middle, Dr. Taatjes. You know when I meet people in town and they usually say, “Oh yeah, I know you, you’re Dr. Taatjes. You’ve been serving the community for Thirty years! Well that’s me. We are now centrally located in our beautiful new office to better serve the community. Thirty-four years ago something happened to me that changed my life forever. Let me tell you my story. I was studying pre-Med in college, in hopes of becoming a medical doctor. Things were looking up, and life was good, until things took a turn for the worse. I began to have terrible back and stomach problems. For a young guy, I felt pretty rotten. My back hurt so badly that I had a hard time even concentrating in class. I was miserable. The medical doctors tried different drugs, but they only made me feel like I was in a “cloud.” I was just not getting better. A friend of mine convinced me to give a chiropractor a try. The chiropractor did an exam, took some films and then “adjusted” my spine. The adjustment didn’t hurt — it actually felt good. I got relief, and I soon was off all medication. It worked so well that I decided, then and there, to become a chiropractor myself. Now for my kids, Hayden and Henry. They have been under chiropractic care their entire lives. And, unlike most other kids in their class, they never get the “common” childhood illnesses like ear infections, asthma and allergies. In fact, they have never taken a drug in their lives. And they are now 23 and 24! It’s strange how life is, because now people come to see me with their back problems and stomach problems. They come to me with their headaches, migraines, chronic pain, neck pain, shoulder/arm pain, whiplash from car accidents, asthma, allergies, numbness in limbs, athletic injuries, just to name a few. If drugs make people well, then those who take the most should be the healthiest,

Dr. Taatjes with his sons, Hayden (left) and Henry (right). but that simply isn’t the case. With chiropractic, we don’t add anything to the body or take anything from it. We find interference in the nervous system and remove it, thus enhancing the healing capacities of the body. We get tremendous results…it really is as simple as that. Here’s what some of my patients had to say: “I have had a problem with migraines as well as low back pain. Even after seeing doctors and other health professionals, the pains remained. After coming to Dr. Joel, they have helped me tremendously. They even take away my migraines. They’re great!” (Judy E.) “I came in pending laser surgery for two herniated discs. Over a few months here the need for surgery subsided, and the pain has subsided to a mild discomfort with occasional morning stiffness. Over all, I feel better visit after visit. It’s a gradual process.” (Jaime O.) Several times a day patients thank me for helping them with their health problems. But I can’t really take credit. Find out for yourself and benefit from an AMAZING OFFER. Look, it shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg to correct your health. You are going to write a check to someone for your health care expenses, you may as well write one for

a lesser amount for chiropractic. When you bring in this article by April 30, 2020, you will receive my entire new patient exam for $99. That’s with x-rays, exam, report of findings…the whole ball of wax. This exam could cost you $380 elsewhere. Great care at a great fee… Please, I hope that there’s no misunderstanding about quality of care, just because I have a lower exam fee. You’ll get great care at a great fee. My qualifications…I’m a graduate of Northwestern College of Chiropractic who regularly goes to monthly educational chiropractic seminars. I’ve been entrusted to take care of tiny babies to neighbors that you may know. I just have that low exam fee to help more people who need care. My associates, Dr. James Rogers, Dr. Shawn Lorenzen and I are ready to see if we can help you. Our office is both friendly and warm and we try our best to make you feel at home. We have wonderful service, at an exceptional fee. Our office is called REDWOOD CHIROPRACTIC. We are located at 937 Lakeville Street Petaluma, and our phone number is 763-8910. Call Alex, Nisha or Lupita Today! We can help you. Thank you. -Dr. Joel Taatjes P.S. When accompanied by this ad. I am also offering the second family member this same examination for only $15.


April 2020

SonomaFamilyLife 5

Dear Reader


ow. What happened?

Just like that, the world is topsy-turvy. The kids are at home. You are now not only Sharon Gowan breadwinner and Publisher/Editor parent but teacher. And you don’t know when the craziness is going to end. Parenting is hard. Parenting—and educating—in a pandemic? Well, let’s just say: None of us has ever really done this before. That means you have the permission to go easy on yourself and your kids. That’s the message of Superintendent Herrington, who, in “Educating Hearts and Minds” (page 12), says to first focus on kids’ emotional well-being and then tend to academics.

Child-psychologist and mom Lynn Adams agrees. In her “Homeschooling During a Crisis” (page 14), she advises parents to keep their expectations low, and let children decompress from the stress of this great change.

Office Manager Patricia Ramos

And let yourself adjust, too, says mom-blogger and humorist Melissa Gibson in “Not Our Finest Hour” (page 28). You’re a parent who is trying to plan dinner, remember how to multiply fractions, and maintain your “professional voice” while on a conference call in the kitchen. It’s OK if you don’t get it all right.

Take a deep breath. You are doing a great job. And Family Life is here to help you keep doing it.

Business Marketing Renee Nutcher Warren Kaufman

Features Editor Melissa Chianta

Production Manager Donna Bogener

Contributing Writers Lynn Adams Shannon Dean Melissa Gibson Jennifer Tyler Lee Janeen Lewis Anisha I. Patel Dolores Smyth






Billing Jan Wasson-Smith

Publishing Office P.O. Box 351 Philo, CA 95466 (707) 586-9562



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(707) 538-2000 6 SonomaFamilyLife

April 2020

childcare during covid-19 Child Care is deemed an essential service during the Shelter In Place order for essential employees.


Have they spoken to their current provider? If so is their current provider re-opening? Do they have a family member that can assist with Child Care?




The 4Cs Resource & Referral department is here to help your employees find new temporary child care. Have your employee send an Email to with the Subject: Essential Worker – Child Care Referral. In the body of the email please ask them to include contact info, child’s ages, company and zip code where they need care. A 4Cs staff member will reach out to your employee and provide a targeted child care referral list.


Visit the 4Cs website and review the documents under Important Information FOR BUSINESSEmergency Pop Up Child Care. Call Tiffani Montgomery at 707-481-5548 or email to discuss the options for running your own pop up child care at your facility.

Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County 4Cs 131A Stony Circle, Suite 300 Santa Rosa, CA 95401 Ph: 707-544-3077 Fax: 707-544-2625

April 2020

SonomaFamilyLife 7

Bits & Pieces

Get Your Sci-Fi Fix, Gratis

ithout a free school lunch, some children would not eat at all. It’s a harsh reality that Sonoma County knows well. And it is why during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place period many local schools are making “grab-and-go” lunches available to any child ages 18 and younger. For a complete list of lunch pickup sites, go to ¶

Download a Media Universe


o beat shelter-in-place boredom, quarantined clans may need to look no further than the Internet Archive (, which has millions of free books, movies, software programs, music albums, podcasts, and lectures available for download or streaming. (Not everything is appropriate for families, so search with care.) In response to the pandemic, the Archive has created a National Emergency Library, which contains books specifically for remote teaching and research while schools and universities are closed. Check it out at ¶ 8 SonomaFamilyLife

Rights 19 CBS Interactive , Inc. All /CBS ©20


James Dimmock

Free “Grab-and-Go” School Lunches

he Picard series has created quite a stir in Trekkie land. The television show features Patrick Stewart reprising his iconic Star Trek role as Jean Luc Picard. But not everyone can afford to subscribe to CBS All Access to see it. So during the pandemic, the network has made all 10 episodes of the first season available for free until April 23. To see it, log on to and enter the code GIFT. ¶



Need Food? Have Some to Share?


ith so many people out of work due to the statewide coronavirus shutdown, more families are experiencing food insecurity. And that means that food banks are in greater need of donations. For those who have extra to share, Redwood Empire Food Bank is collecting nonperishable items in bins outside of its office (3990 Brickway Boulevard, Santa Rosa) and at supermarkets throughout Sonoma County. For a list of donation sites and food distribution locations, go to ¶

April 2020




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April 2020

SonomaFamilyLife 9

Bits & Pieces

A Monster Goes Viral


ou can’t deny the potency of star power, especially when the celebrity is blue and fuzzy. Aaron Barnes was just a humble YouTube storyteller until the day he decided to put the spotlight on Grover, the puppet, and read The Monster at the End of This Book. Then he and the friendly monster went viral. See what all of the fuss is about at tinyurl. com/uca5xlg. ¶

Crafts Are the Answer


rafts are a bit of a savior for kids and parents stuck at home. Kids get to make stuff; parents get a little quiet. Bluprint knows this and so is making their entire selection of online tutorials free until April 16. Kids can learn about drawing, baking, pizza-making, embroidery, fashion, and other skills. Check out the selection at ¶

The Motherlode of Live Animal Cams


nimal cams can be fascinating, but they can also record a lot of dead air. Like during naptime. Enter’s page dedicated to a collection of live animal cams from all over the world. Kids can see a whole host of animals—zebras, pandas, bald eagles, falcons, alligators, giraffes, and more—hanging out. And if one specimen is busy getting some Zzzzs, there will be others in different time zones, ready to entertain. Check it out at livecams/currently-live. ¶

Learn Language through Theatrical Play

Teaching Artist Ericka Conaway


uring the summer, Transcendence Theater produces outdoor musical entertainment on the stage of Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen. But the company doesn’t just do theater. It also brings an arts-integrated English Development Program to schools. And now, due to COVID-19, the six-week course is available for free online. Led by professional Teaching Artists, the program, called Learn @ Home, features four new instructional videos and an accompanying lesson packet each week. The first week’s lesson teaches students about fables, pantomime, and story mapping. Following that is a lesson on making comic books. Interested? Check it out at or see ¶

10 SonomaFamilyLife

April 2020


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SonomaFamilyLife 11

Connect Staying at home can be seen as an opportunity to spend time with your family. Turn off the TV and other devices and talk. Resources such as the family version of Table Topics ( can help start

Educating Hearts and Minds Supporting Kids Learning at Home By Steven D. Herrington, PhD, with Brulene Zanutto


his is a stressful time for parents who suddenly find themselves responsible for overseeing their children’s education. The shelter-in-place order is a necessary step to protect everyone’s health, but that doesn’t make it any easier to juggle work, health, and financial concerns and parenting. I want you to know you’re not in this alone. Numerous organizations, including the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE), are here to provide support and resources to families during these challenging times.

only increase everyone’s stress and anxiety. Pace out the school learning activities, providing appropriate breaks for your child. It is important to offer emotional as well as academic support. Children learn when they feel safe and connected.

I also urge you to go easy on yourself and focus on spending quality time with your children. Putting additional pressure on yourself and your children to complete school assignments may

Following are some tips from SCOE experts on how to make the most—both academically and emotionally—of this time at home with your children.

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Even everyday activities, such as going through a recipe, offer a chance to read together. conversations, and sites like jumpstart. com offer activities for preschool to elementary school-age children. Read Don’t think you have to stick to traditional books; audio books and graphic novels are also good choices. Even everyday activities, such as going through a recipe, offer chances to read together. Read to your kids. It is OK to read aloud books that are several levels above a child’s reading level. It supports the development of their reading comprehension skills and provides discussion opportunities. Check out Storyline Online, which features celebrities reading storybooks and includes discussion questions and activity resources. Create Support your child’s creativity. Set them up with an online drawing tutorial, bake with them, or help them learn a new skill. Learning a new skill with your child is a wonderful bonding experience and models a learning and growth mindset. Most importantly, slow down and enjoy your time together. If your

April 2020

children feel connected and cared for, they may remember this unusual time as a positive one. Now that everyone is feeling calm and cared for, let’s focus on the academics. 1. Create a designated learning space. Plan for where the academic work will take place. If everyone is using the kitchen table, remove any distracting clutter. Create a space and/or a bin for each child to keep

The TV and other devices that aren’t necessary for the assignment should be turned off. Avoid social media during this time and consider moving pets to another room or the yard if they are distracting. 2. Stay in communication with the teacher. Connect regarding the expectations for what education will look like during this time. Learn what resources are available to students. Help your children review and understand assignments. Do they understand the task, have all the necessary materials, know when the assignment is due, and how they need to submit it? If there are any questions, reach out to the teacher for clarification.

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own calendars to keep track of their assignment due dates. Break down the larger assignments into smaller tasks and calendar those, too. 4. Create a family schedule. Structure and routine help children to feel safe and secure. It’s still important to have a regular bedtime and a time to get up in the morning. Balance work time with breaks for movement and healthy snacks. Take stretch breaks, go on a walk, or have dance parties to help children get exercise and burn off extra energy. Remember to be flexible and open to what children need. Some days will go smoothly and children will be able to focus well on academics. Other days, they may need more of your time. These are uncharted waters, and you are doing your best to help your children navigate them as smoothly as possible. A few bumps along the way are to be expected and are part of the learning process. For more information and resources, visit Steven D. Herrington, PhD, is the Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools. Brulene Zanutto is the SCOE’s Coordinator of Early Literacy and School Readiness.


materials and supplies organized. Learning materials can be cleared away when the school day is done, or it’s time for a meal.

It is important to offer emotional as well as academic support.

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Children learn when they feel safe and connected.

3. Calendar the due date. It might be helpful to create a family calendar. This is also a way for young children to track important events and begin to get a sense of time. Older students may appreciate having their

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SonomaFamilyLife 13

slide. One thing to push: school has a consistent time and place. One thing to let slide: anything “extra.” 3. My friend Jen, a public health official, said something really important the other day: “I don’t have the bandwidth to deal with that right now.” Keep in mind that your child, though not in charge of public welfare,

Homeschooling changed my son so dramatically.

Homeschooling During a Crisis A Child Psychologist-Mom Weighs In

By Lynn Adams


ithin obstacles there can be opportunity. Yours may be figuring out how learning at home works for your child.

Last year when I decided to home school my now 13-year-old son, who has autism, it was crisis time. So, being the psychologist that I am, I removed every bit of removable stress or stimulation from James’s environment that I could. Metaphorically speaking, his life went from living in an apartment in Manhattan to a cabin in the Vermont woods. Now kids all over the country— including my 11-year-old daughter—are homeschooling, because it’s national (well, global) crisis time. Full disclosure: I don’t teach either of my children. I hired a private teacher for my son, and my daughter has a 14 SonomaFamilyLife

well-organized online program that she is following pretty independently. But still, I’ve learned a thing or two about homeschooling. Here are some of my observations: 1. You might notice that your kids take a lot less time to finish their work than you would expect. That’s fine. Homeschooling removes all the “noise” of the regular school day. So kids actually complete schoolwork faster. 2. Those who need the most help resist that help the most. So the parents’ job is to decide what they need to push, and what they can let

has less bandwidth than usual right now, too. And she or he probably won’t be as polite as Jen when letting you know. 4. When dealing with low bandwith, start with low expectations and, if kids can’t independently meet them, go even lower. 5. Don’t limit things like screen time that help your children decompress, that is until they show signs of experiencing lower levels of stress/ stimulation. Here are some of those signs: independently getting out of bed; easily doing boring morning activities (tooth brushing, dressing); expressing a happy mood and higher energy levels; helping out voluntarily, in any way; remembering to do chores usually forgotten; engaging in creative acts, such as drawing, singing, telling stories. 6. Despite what you’ve probably read on the Internet, this is not your chance to become a star homeschooler and expose your child to all sorts of new ideas. (See step 2.) Even though there is an array of free online activities available right now, it doesn’t mean you should take advantage of them, unless your

April 2020

kids want you to. (It’s not what my kids want, for the record.) 7. This is your chance to see how your child does with less stimulation in the learning environment. Think of all the things that have been removed: locating and unlocking a locker, walking from class to class, finding needed materials, remembering the PE uniform and other equipment, engaging in social innuendo, enduring the sheer length of the school day, and participating

in after-school activities and face-to-face interactions with multiple teachers. If I had had the opportunity you have now, I would have taken James out of school much earlier. Homeschooling changed him so dramatically.

Lynn Adams is a child psychologist turned at-home parent. Find more of her work at B Mî `ƒ

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So, though life feels overwhelming right now, you have a chance to see how learning at home may work for your child. That’s not to say the pressure is on. But it is to say you may be in for a few (welcome) surprises. ¶

Before: He feared and dreaded school, refused every step of his morning routine, needed my maximum help getting ready, and to be walked to his locker every day.


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After: Even if I’m not home, he can wake up with an alarm, eat breakfast, take his medicine, and get himself totally ready.


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April 2020

SonomaFamilyLife 15

stops face-to-face contact, but still allows customers to shop and small businesses to sell their wares. Purchase online gift cards. Purchasing virtual gift cards is an easy way to support a small business. Buy them now, and use them later when storefronts reopen.

Buy Local–from aCreativeSafe Distance Ways to Support Small Businesses


By Janeen Lewis

ocal businesses often make up the heart of communities, giving customers individualized attention and unique products. Delivery, curbside pick-up, Face Time orders, and virtual classes are a few of the ways local businesses are getting creative during this unprecedented time of social distancing. Here are some ways you can support the small businesses you love. Buy from the Mom-and-Pops. If you need something, think twice before you start clicking away on big box store websites. These companies will weather the financial storm of social distancing better than smaller shops. Give your business to a local store that you would visit during more normal times.

Order carry out or curbside pick-up. Many restaurants are open for takeout or delivery. Other stores have quickly switched to curbside pick-up.

Order merchandise online, if the local store gets the sale. Buy online from local businesses. However, if the local store is part of

Take advantage of delivery. Some stores are taking orders and payment over the phone, and then delivering to your doorstep. This

16 SonomaFamilyLife

a bigger chain, make sure the local proprietor gets the sale. If they don’t, find another way to purchase items, such as curbside pick-up.

Use social media and electronic formats to check out merchandise. If a store is offering virtual tours via social media and Face Time, take advantage of that service. Call in

Many restaurants are open for takeout or delivery. or email your order and then use curbside pick-up or delivery, or pick up the item when the storefront has reopened. Reach out and request. Business owners are getting really creative right now, so reach out to them. You may have a request or a suggestion that they can accommodate. Take a virtual class. Does your child’s favorite music instructor or sports coach offer virtual classes? Sign up for one now. Are there any virtual subscription services you can order that will support a small business? Try them out! Most small businesses were blindsided by the economic impact of the statewide shutdown and social distancing. Support them now so they will be a viable part of the community later. Janeen Lewis is a nationally published freelance writer.

April 2020



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April 2020

SonomaFamilyLife 17

You can kick off the indoor “Olympic games” with an opening ceremony during which each child gets to parade onto the course to a theme song of his or her choice. Depending on their

Enjoy the glow of a campground “fire” made with paper towel tubes, tissue paper, and LED candles.

Indoor Playgrounds

Kids Can Still Play & Keep COVID-19 at Bay

By Dolores Smyth 1. Set up an indoor campground. Bring out the sleeping bags and tents and turn your family room into an indoor campground. No sleeping bags or tents? No problem. Arrange chairs in rows of two and then drape a bedsheet over them. Pile pillows and blankets underneath and—viola!—you have a DIY tent. You can make your indoor campground as elaborate as you’d like. String Christmas lights across the top of the tent to create a starry night scene. Enjoy the glow of a campground “fire” made with paper towel tubes, tissue paper, and LED candles. Set up lawn chairs outside 18 SonomaFamilyLife

the tent and serve hot dogs, chips, and trail mix; play cards and board games; or do an easy “camping” craft like making beaded necklaces. To add to the camping aura, make indoor s’mores (see qnposbl for more info on how.) Last, if your kids are old enough to appreciate spooky tales, lower the lights, switch on a flashlight, and tell ghost stories. 2. Host indoor Olympic games. If you look in your kids’ toy boxes and closets, you’ll probably find enough games and activities that, if arranged back-to-back, can be made into a challenging obstacle course.

ages, your children may want to grab a favorite teddy bear to serve as their Olympic mascot. Little Olympians then can compete in events such as: • a ring or beanbag toss • a mini golf course competition (use a broom, a ping-pong ball, and a plastic cup) • a ball-throwing competition (in which balls are thrown into boxes of decreasing size) • a sack race or a boiled-egg-and-spoon race • a Hula-Hoop competition • a pyramid cup-stacking race • a physical endurance competition (how many jumping jacks, push-ups, and sit-ups can be done in three 30-second intervals) • a mad dash crabwalk to the final finish line 3. Send the kids off on a scavenger hunt. See mykidstime. com for free, printable indoor scavenger hunt checklists that feature everyday household items. 4. Throw a costume party. Let your kids raid your closet for hats, scarves, and costume jewelry. Add

April 2020

snacks and a tea set to make it a tea party–themed ball! Clear a space for a catwalk and let your mini models parade their fashion choices for you. 5. Put on an airshow with popsicle-stick airplanes. All you’ll need for this craft are Popsicle sticks, a cutting tool, craft glue or a hot glue gun, and, if you’re not already using colored sticks, paint. Find age-appropriate tutorials online. Just search YouTube for “popsicle stick airplanes.” For added fun, create a runway with cardboard or sheets of construction paper taped together. 6. Hold an art show. Grab smocks for your kids and spread out crayons, paper, and other art supplies. Hang the finished masterpieces in an art

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show complete with glasses of apple juice “champagne” and hors d’oeuvres. 7. Make Play-Doh come to life. Just search YouTube for “Play-Doh” to find how-to videos.

experiments. Click on the “Experiments” section of sciencebob. com to learn how to make ice cream in a plastic bag, build a soap-powered model boat, and make a static-powered dancing ghost. 10. Relax with low-key, family-bonding activities. Start a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, make a scrapbook or smash book (see the smash-book), play Mad Libs, build a Lego village together, or play tried-and-true board games, such as Clue, Monopoly, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, or Candyland. ¶

Set up a toppings bar and make homemade pizza or your own ice cream sundaes. 8. Bring out your child’s inner chef. Set up a toppings bar and make homemade pizza (find recipes at or your own ice cream sundaes. 9. Expand your child’s knowledge with easy science

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April 2020

Dolores Smyth is a parenting writer and mother of three. Follow more of her work on Twitter @ LolaWordSmyth.


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SonomaFamilyLife 19

the strongest families function as a cohesive team. While one person’s success benefits everyone, conflict weakens the family. Perceptions of Favoritism Although parents may vow to treat children the same, each child is different. An effective approach for one child may be a disaster for another. Unfortunately, children

He Stole My Toy! How to Stop Sibling Bickering

By Shannon Dean


e’ve all seen an older sibling hug the baby a little too hard. We’ve witnessed weary parents’ unsuccessful attempts to referee yet another round of “He stole my toy.” Like many parents, I wanted to avoid these scenarios when I became pregnant for the second time. So I took my oldest son to sibling classes and included him in baby preparations. Once we became a family of four, I attempted to divide my time and attention equally. I hoped that this strategy would encourage sibling harmony, but I wondered if my efforts would matter. Thankfully, experts confirm that parents can significantly impact sibling relationships. “Parents can make a difference,” says Adele Faber, coauthor of Siblings Without Rivalry (W. W. Norton, 2012). “Our attitude and words have power. We can lead rivals toward peace.” Evolutionary Influences A recent Oakland University survey found that 35 percent of adult siblings have a hostile or apathetic relationship. Scientists believe this rivalry has an evolutionary component. Children may compete over parents’ time and attention because humans 20 SonomaFamilyLife

are hard-wired to protect essential resources. Fortunately, nature proves that living things must cooperate to survive. This is clear when baby lions snuggle for warmth and practice hunting skills against one another. Smart parents boost collaboration and discourage competition because

“Our attitude and words have power. We can lead rivals toward peace.” —Adele Faber

can mistake these adjustments for preference or favoritism. To avoid misunderstandings, highlight each child’s value by honoring what makes him or her unique. Don’t deny diversity. Celebrate it. Early Conflict Resolution Routine sibling conflict is healthy. Laura Markam, PhD, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings (TarcherPerigee, 2015) says, “[T]he sibling relationship is where the rough edges of our early self-centeredness are smoothed off, and where we learn to manage our most difficult emotions.” These benefits make it tempting to allow children to negotiate for themselves. But they rarely have the skills needed for conflict resolution. Show kids that loving families do not solve problems in physical ways. Nor do they belittle one another. Instead, they listen, negotiate, and compromise. When Negotiations Fail Children who understand expectations can become effective negotiators. Still, parents should intervene when one

April 2020

Kids at Camp? Find Your Happy Place child hurts another. Be careful not to model the behavior you wish to discourage by making accusations. Instead, use descriptions like, “I see two angry children who need a break.” Separate the kids until things cool down, and then discuss how to improve behavior. Limit Labels Experts caution that children may internalize negative phrases. For example, a child chastised for being a “bully” may assume that he will always be the aggressor. So instead of labeling a child’s behavior as mean-spirited, tell him you know him to be kind. If a sibling complains, “Sam never shares and is selfish,” your response might be, “Try asking him differently since we both know he can be generous.” The Power of Self-Esteem Most children sometimes feel like the least favorite. So why do some kids shrug off perceived slights while others develop severe sibling rivalry? Often, it comes down to how a child feels about both him or herself and his or her place in the world. Children who feel competent and valued are less likely to engage in or create conflict. A child with high self-worth can brush off perceived favoritism. Lasting Rewards No one else will share your child’s history in the way a sibling will. Facilitating loving sibling relationships is a long-term investment. It’s easy to prioritize this relationship when you realize that the brothers bickering today may be the elderly men who share each other’s triumphs and burdens tomorrow. ¶ Shannon Dean is the mother of two sons with very different personalities. Thankfully, they usually treat one another with mutual respect.

Five Ways to Foster a Strong Sibling Bond 1. Encourage empathy. Since it’s difficult to feel animosity when you care deeply, develop sibling closeness early. Allow young children to comfort, care for, and entertain one another. Foster a fun, cooperative partnership rather than a competition. 2. Require appreciation. To encourage kids to see the good in one another, consider a “put down up” system. If one child puts down another, he must offer a “put up” or compliment. Kids build self-esteem and foster empathy when they exchange admiration. 3. Reiterate expectations. Stop conflict before it starts by re-stating the rules. A comment like, “If you’re arguing I will find unpleasant tasks to keep you busy,” encourages positive alternatives to conflict. 4. Even the score. End the fighting without taking sides by removing the item or issue in question. For example, if the kids are fighting over a toy, put the item in a timeout. If they’re competing for your attention, tell everyone to take a break. This objective strategy means that siblings must compromise to get what they want. 5. Offer validation. Sometimes, providing validation is a viable alternative to negative reinforcement. Saying, “that must have hurt and I’m sorry this happened because nothing should come between family,” is an effective alternative to anger or making a child feel like a perpetual victim.

April 2020

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13-year-old girls descend upon a cabin? You can count on Camp Karma showing up with some major drama. Ours came in the form of every camper shrieking and crying on the front lawn at two in the morning. No longer satisfied creeping around the counselors’ room, the rat appeared on the shelving near the top of the ceiling in the girls’ room. And this was not a little mouse—“squeak, squeak.” It was a monster rat with a body several inches long and a spindly tail. Probably

30 Campers, One Big Rat Camp Karma Stirs Up Major Drama

By Janeen Lewis


s a parent, I know how scary it can be (deep breath) to send kids to sleep-away camp for the first time. As I contemplate my daughter, 10-year-old Gracie, going to overnight camp, I’ve had my own share of brown-bag hyperventilating moments. One thing that calms my nerves is remembering some of my own camp experiences, specifically the college break I worked as a camp counselor and shared a cabin with a group of middle school girls. That summer I learned first-hand how resilient kids are when they’re away from home—thanks to a large rat named Lucifer. The Big Reveal Right before the campers arrived, the counselors had inklings we weren’t alone. We found suspicious droppings in our closet and heard something gnawing on our extension cord one 22 SonomaFamilyLife

night, but we had never seen the wretched thing. It was on our list to buy a trap, but we were busy and exhausted with camp preparations. So what happens when you don’t find the culprit before 30 unsuspecting

Kids solve unexpected problems in ways that you and I can’t imagine, and they are the better for it. terrified at that point, the rat raced around all four sides of the room’s high shelving so that every girl could see it. I assumed that they would all be traumatized for life. Traudrama Emotions that run that high are what I call a perfect blend of trauma and drama—“traudrama.” It felt like hours before the campers were calm again. “He looked right at me with his beady, red eyes,” one hysterical camper told me. The camp chaplain shared soothing words. The adults dutifully said, “He’s more scared of you than you are of him.” But I perceived the girls’ uneasiness as they climbed back into their bunks to get some shuteye. The next day, the trap snapped in one of the counselor’s rooms, and a triumphant caretaker hauled away

April 2020

the carcass while the girls were at their morning activities. I wondered if the campers would bounce back.

their hands against the ceiling, and received a standing ovation

Ratsilience I’ll admit, at first the girls didn’t want to turn out the lights—ever. But if I learned anything that summer it was to never underestimate kids. Soon, the girls bonded over their experience with the rat. They consoled one another and even cracked jokes.

No matter what challenges kids meet at camp, they usually face their fears, overcome obstacles, and leave with a new confidence.

It was a camp tradition to sing during meals. Anyone could start a song and bang on the mess hall’s low ceilings during the singing. One night at dinner, our campers sang their own ditty called “Lucifer,” the moniker they gave the deceased varmint. They sang, slapping

for their clever creativity. They had developed what I fondly call “ratsilience.” Fears Faced I haven’t told this tale to worry you. Don’t think if you send your child to overnight camp he or she is going to bunk with questionable vermin. The point is this: No

matter what challenges kids meet at camp, they usually face their fears, overcome obstacles, and leave with new confidence. That’s the magic of camp: Kids solve unexpected problems in ways that you and I can’t imagine, and they are the better for it. I’ll never forget my summer with Lucifer, a pest who became our unofficial cabin mascot. He helped me learn that campers, and the parents who send them to sleep-away camp, are (deep breath) stronger than we may think. ¶ Janeen Lewis is a writer and teacher with degrees in journalism and elementary education. Her work has been published in several parenting magazines across the country.



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SonomaFamilyLife 23

Cooking with Kids

Go Granola!

Make Your Own Low-Sugar Cereal

By Jennifer Tyler Lee & Anisha I. Patel

Excerpted from Half the Sugar, All the Love by Jennifer Tyler Lee and Anisha Patel, MD, MSPH. Photographs by Erin Scott. Workman Publishing ©2019. Jennifer Tyler Lee is an award-winning author and healthy food advocate who earned her Nutrition and Healthy Living certificate from Cornell University. She shares recipes each week at Anisha I. Patel, MD, MSPH, is an associate professor in the Division of General Pediatrics at Stanford University and an affiliate faculty member at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Healthy Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco.

24 SonomaFamilyLife

Erin Scott


ackaged granolas, which seem like a healthy choice, can have more than 2 teaspoons of added sugar per 1/3 cup serving. This remastered recipe has just a fraction of that amount. Dried fruit, nuts, spices, and just a touch of maple syrup add loads of flavor without the need for a lot of sugar. To get those yummy chunks of granola that you’re used to, firmly press the mixture into the pan before baking. It’s best to make a big batch on a day when you have time to cook, then store it for those days when you need a quick breakfast or snack.

Fruit and Nut Granola Ingredients 1/4 cup maple syrup 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 cups old-fashioned (rolled) oats 1 cup whole raw almonds, roughly chopped 1/2 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped 1/2 cup ground flaxseed 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 4 1/2 ounces dried apricots (about 1 cup), chopped Makes 7 cups Instructions 1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner. 2. Whisk together the maple syrup, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Add the oats, almonds,

walnuts, ground flaxseed, and coconut and stir until evenly coated. 3. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Using an offset spatula or the bottom of a glass, firmly press down on the granola to form an even, compact layer about an inch thick. The granola may not cover the entire surface of the baking sheet. 4. Bake the granola for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking until golden brown, about 20 minutes more. Let the granola cool completely in the pan, about 1 hour. 5. Gently break the granola into large clumps. Stir in the dried apricots. The granola will continue to break apart into smaller pieces as you stir. Transfer the granola to an airtight container. Variation: Substitute 2 ounces unsweetened dried cherries (about 1/3 cup), chopped, for 2 ounces of the dried apricots. What Kids Can Do Kids can measure and mix the ingredients. They’ll also enjoy breaking up the granola into chunks.

April 2020


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SonomaFamilyLife 25


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SonomaFamilyLife 27

Humor Break

Melissa Gibson

with your computer. I see you trying to sort out the dinner routine while you’re on a conference call. There you are, on the carpet of your bedroom surrounded by Shrinky Dinks and crushed up goldfish. Or hey, you could be crying in the shower, your first in three days. To you I say: It’s OK if your child has too much iPad time right now. And it’s even perfectly fine if he isn’t playing some educational game.

Not Our Finest Hour

It’s OK to Just Get By

By Melissa Gibson


es, it’s true. These next several days, weeks, months (?) probably aren’t going to reflect your best parenting moments. And you know what? That’s OK. In fact, I expect that. I am hoping my family expects that out of me, too. Because quite honestly, I can’t give this my everything some days. And what I mean by “some days” is all days. I’m too frazzled. Aren’t you? Every time I turn on the TV, there it is. If I hop on social media, there it is. IT IS ALWAYS COVID-19. So here’s the deal: Whatever situation life has thrown at you? Let’s bring that down a notch or seven. If you’re now a stay-at-home parent quickly turned homeschool teacher?

28 SonomaFamilyLife

You are allowed to just get by. We all have permission to not do those Pinterest-worthy crafts or science experiments or amazing outdoor activities. This is hard enough as it is. Let’s not let social media tell us what we should be doing. I mean, am I really going to use up all of my patience putting on puppet shows and fancy tea parties? That’s a hard no. Maybe your office has closed and you’re now a work-from-home parent who is also trying to homeschool. Plus, there’s a good chance you don’t even have a designated workspace at home because, well, it was too hard to get your office desk in the back of your Honda. I see you standing at your kitchen counter

Life keeps throwing all of us the fastest and curviest curveballs ever. We are certainly going to swing and miss some of them. Heck, I’ve missed nearly all of them in the last week. The idea, however, is to not stop swinging. Do your best today. Wait, no. Your “best” might be too exhausting. Do what you can today. Then wake up tomorrow and do it again. Also, can we set the bar a bit lower on activities for our little darlings? Almost all of us simply can’t keep up. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a long-time homeschooler, a dad who has been forced to work at the kitchen counter (or the linen closet), or suddenly an out-of-work parent, it is OK to just get by right now. This is not our finest hour. And remember this: While it’s OK if your child is spending a lot of time of the iPad, don’t give her access to Pinterest. She might start pinning like mad, and we don’t need that drama in our lives. ¶ Published on Find Melissa Gibson’s writing and photographs at

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