Holidays at Home 7 engaging activities
Create Peace 8 practices
Best Books Sweet reads
Taste the Dark Side Local chocolates
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Every Issue 6
Cooking with Kids Low-Carb “Potatoes”
Bits and Pieces Experience Las Posadas Navideñas Tweens Write
Get a Crash Course in Just About Anything
10 Savor the Season at Home It’s time for virtual visiting and pulling out a good book.
12 The Festival of Lights So what is Chanukah all about?
14 Taste the Dark Side A local chocolatier makes tempting treats.
Make Art in a Pod A Classic Christmas Story Goes Virtual Singing on a Fantasy Stage
22 Crafting with Kids Free to Create
24 Calendar of Events 26 Humor Break The Flannel Family
16 Create Peace How to stay centered in a media-saturated world.
18 Tear-Jerker Tales Children’s books that touch the heart.
20 Draw, Sing & Build Tap into creativity with these apps.
December 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com
Maskquerade Creative Mask Contest for Kids The winners are:
2nd Place: Hayes Baxter
3rd Place: Katelyn
1st Place: Grace R.
Honorable Mention: Amy Liao
Honorable Mention: Millie
Honorable Mention: Lauren
his is, without question, a very unusual holiday season. The pandemic has many of us canceling our regular travel plans Sharon Gowan Publisher/Editor and celebrations. Sharon@family-life.us None of this is easy on the heart. However, we can still enjoy modified festivities. Turn to our Calendar of Events (page 24) for local COVID-safe activities. And then see “Savor the Season at Home” (page 10) for seven ways to engage with family and friends without ever leaving the house. A great way to spend time with kids over the holidays is reading together. And well-crafted picture books appeal to adults and kids alike. Check out “Tear-Jerker Tales” (page 18) for some endearing selections.
All the time spent in the house can make kids climb the walls. Help them cultivate their creativity with the free apps described in “Draw, Sing & Build” (page 20). And find hands-on art projects in “Free to Create” (page 22).
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If the stress of the season is getting the best of you, take a deep breath and read “Create Peace” (page 16) for some centering techniques you can share with the whole family. Then turn to “The Flannel Family” (page 26) for humor to lighten up your parenting soul. However you spend the holidays, we hope you are able to experience the joy of familial connection and community. We’ll be here in 2021, working with you toward a brighter future.
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Cooking with Kids
Low-Carb “Potatoes” A New Addition to the Holiday Table
By Momma Chef
started making this dish while on one of my 10 different diets of the year. This diet suggested cutting carbs by substituting cauliflower for regular potatoes. Little did I know how much I would love this dish and prefer it to the heavier mashed potatoes! It makes a great addition to a holiday table, too. I like to mix in chives as well as sprinkle some on top to give the dish added flavor and a nicer presentation. Karen Nochimowski, aka Momma Chef, is a mother of three active boys (ages 12, 8, and 5). On her blog, MommaChef.com, find more of her recipes, all of which require no more than six ingredients and six minutes of prep time.
Healthy Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” Ingredients • 16 oz. vegetable stock (typically ½ of box) • 8 cups bite-size cauliflower florets (about 1 head or a 20 oz. bag of pre-cut florets) • 1 tsp. salt (adjust to taste) • 1 tsp. chopped chives (optional) Instructions 1. Pour stock, cauliflower, and salt in partially covered pot and cook over medium heat for 10–15 minutes until cauliflower is very soft. 2. Mash cauliflower with a fork or blend with a hand mixer. 3. Sprinkle with chives (optional).
Tips 1. To add a little kick, I like to use truffle salt rather then regular salt. 2. Add 1 tablespoon butter or margarine to make it a bit creamier.
Bits & Pieces
Experience Las Posadas Navideñas
n Mexico, the days before Christmas are celebrated with festivities called las posadas navideñas, which are filled with traditional dance and song. Locally, Rodney Strong Vineyards and Luther Burbank Center for the Arts are hosting a free livestreaming Posada Navideñas performance. See dancers in vibrantly colored, ruffled regalia move to the traditional rhythms of Mariachi Cantares de Mi Tierra de LBC on December 11 at 7 p.m. Get tickets and link at lutherburbankcenter.org. ¶
Las Posadas Navideñas
udding creative writers may have lots of good ideas for stories, but they may not know the ins-and-outs of crafting a compelling tale. Character development, for instance, is an important part of fiction writing. The Sonoma County Library Tween Zoom Writing Workshop aims to help kids develop this skill. Instructor Ms. Jessica will teach students the art of drawing a character, demonstrating how creating obstacles for characters helps to develop their personalities as well as the storyline itself. The workshop will be held via Zoom on December 16, 4–5 p.m. Register at events.sonomalibrary.org/ event/4684780. ¶
Get a Crash Course in Just About Anything
ack in the days before the Internet, in order to experience college-level instruction, one had to pay tuition and show up for a class at an actual college. This is no longer case. Just visit the CrashCourse YouTube channel to see what we mean. The channel’s starting lineup features several free videos on data literacy, chemistry, and algebra, taught by dynamic, doctorate-level Arizona State University instructors. It’s just the tip of the iceberg for the channel, whose 11.6 million subscribers are regularly served up free lessons on diverse topics such as math, science, literature, sociology, engineering, and fact-checking. The channel is a product of Complexly, a video production company that also has under its wing several other YouTube channels covering topics such as poetry, history, art, geology, and even how to “adult.” Check it out at complexly.com. ¶
December 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com
Make Art in a Pod
n the absence of in-person school classes, many families are creating pods—small groups of kids that follow COVID-19 protocols and safely learn and play together. Following in the footsteps of this practice are the Healdsburg In-Person Art Pods, which bring two to six kids together to create an art project. Facilitated by a Healdsburg Center for the Arts instructor, lessons are catered to participants’ interests and may include the study of painting, drawing, collage, printmaking, clay, and sculpture. The two-hour classes are held outdoors at a mutually agreed upon location and follow COVID-19 protocols. For more information, see healdsburgcenterforthearts.org/ in-person-art-pods. ¶
Healdsburg In-Person Art Pods
A Classic Christmas Story Goes Virtual
6th Street Playhouse
Jeff and Jenifer Coté in It’s a
he 1946 iconic film It’s a Wonderful Life is based on a novel that, before it was purchased and brought to the silver screen, took the form of a 21-page Christmas card. But the tale’s metamorphosis didn’t stop there. In the 1980s the film was adapted to a musical, and in the late 1990s, it became a play that took the form of a 1940s radio show. The latter iteration, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, is what 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa will be performing online this December. Shows will be available on-demand December 1–January 1. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased at 6thstreetplayhouse.com. ¶
Singing on a Fantasy Stage
onoma State University voice students hold regular recitals. But this year they will be performing for empty rooms. In an effort to transform this loss into something positive, students decided to take the opportunity to perform on their favorite virtual stages, using online backdrops to bring their ideal settings to life. See this feat of modern technology, while listening to the young musicians singing art songs and arias, during the Dream Stage online recital program. Log on to youtu.be/NjJEy-eBK04 to see the free concert, which will be livestreamed on December 8 at 7:30 p.m. ¶
you can drop off your homemade treats to essential workers, homebound seniors, or veterans. 3. Make music. The usual school holiday concert may look different this year, if it can be held at all, but that doesn’t mean you can’t host one in your own home. Have your child play a solo in front of the family. Or be like the Partridge Family and encourage
Savor the Season at Home 7 Simple Ways to Celebrate
By Katy M. Clark
his year the holiday season may look different. Masks and social distancing have put a damper on the usual gatherings at schools and in our communities. My own kids are sad that their holiday concerts and celebrations have been canceled.
But there’s no need to be filled with despair. After all, it is still the most wonderful time of the year! Why not take this opportunity to rediscover the joy of slowing down and savoring the season right where you spend most of your time? Here are seven sweet and simple ways to celebrate the holidays at home. 1. Send cards in the mail. Now is a great time to rediscover the tradition of sending Christmas cards. There are tons of online photo sites that allow you to personalize photo cards. 10 SonomaFamilyLife
Or simply ask your kids to draw or paint handmade greetings. No matter how fancy the cards may be, just imagine how much joy they will bring the recipients, especially grandmas and grandpas who love getting good old-fashioned mail. 2. Bake. Spend time together cutting out sugar cookies, rolling rugelach, or making a special recipe that your family treasures. Tell your kids about the relatives who wrote the recipes in cursive on those cards passed down from generation to generation. Maybe
No matter the temperature, it’s always an excellent idea to head outside. everyone to pick up an instrument for a holiday jam session. Sing your favorite hymns or holiday classics. Most lyrics can be found online. 4. Read together. Be like Clark Griswold and his clan in the classic film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) and gather round to read The Night Before Christmas. Or pick up some picture books such as The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler (Holiday House, 2012) or Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis (Albert Whitman, 2000). There are also classic audio books your family could listen to as you wrap gifts or unwind after work or school. Books are the perfect way to learn about different holiday traditions, too. Look for books about Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or celebrations such as Lucia Day or Three Kings Day. 5. Watch holiday movies. Going to the movies may not be feasible this year, but that only inspires me to
December 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com
create a cozy movie night in my own living room. My family likes to don holiday pajamas, snuggle up in throw blankets with snacks and hot cocoa, and laugh away at Elf (2003) and A Christmas Story (1983). Other great
Books are the perfect way to learn about different holiday traditions. flicks include Eight Crazy Nights (2002) and Full-Court Miracle (2003). There are so many great shows and movies celebrating the season that your family is sure to find one that inspires a festive spirit in everyone. 6. Celebrate outside. No matter the temperature, it’s always an excellent idea to head outside. Go for a walk and listen to the wind whistling through bare trees or whipping around buildings. Notice the birds that winter in your area. Decorate a tree outside, whether in your backyard or on your balcony. Maybe the best outdoor activity of all is piling into the car to see the holiday lights and outdoor decorations in your neighborhood. 7. Go virtual. Whether it’s Facebook Messenger, Zoom, or Skype, there are myriad ways to extend season’s greetings to friends and families. So plan that video chat with Aunt Susie or hang out online with your best friend. Reaching out and connecting, even in a virtual format, benefits everyone, especially during the holidays. ¶ Katy M. Clark is a writer and mom of two whose work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Today’s Parent, and Your Teen for Parents. She embraces her imperfections on her blog, experiencedbadmom.com.
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There are a lot of things people who keep kosher are not supposed to eat, but for whatever reason, even people who don’t keep kosher sometimes draw the line at pig. 4. What are we eating at this time? The answer to that question begins with a little history.
The Festival of Lights I
A Chanukah Primer
By Jill Morgenstern
f you aren’t Jewish, you may want to know more about the eight-day celebration known as Chanukah. Here are some answers to questions you or your children may have:
1. What’s the deal with the spelling (or lack thereof?) Chanukah or Hanukkah is a Hebrew word. That means the word is spelled with letters that are not in English. Some people have preferred spellings, but there is no correct spelling. I like to spell it as many ways as I can in a single document, both as a personal challenge and because I have a better chance of finding it in a document search on my computer. Some people say any spelling is correct as long as it has eight letters to represent the eight nights. 12 SonomaFamilyLife
2. Why does the holiday change dates? Chanukah is celebrated on the 25th day of the month of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar. Because the Hebrew calendar measures lunar months, the date of Chanukah changes from year to year. 3. What are we not eating at this time? Back when Greece ruled Israel, there was “a bad king” named Antiochus. He told Jewish people that they had to eat pigs. Pigs are not kosher, meaning it’s against traditional Jewish law to eat them.
Judah Maccabee and the Maccabees fought and fought the Greeks. The Greeks destroyed the Jewish temple and ruined all the holy oil. Obviously, the Jews lived. But they could only find one tiny bit of oil to
Each letter on the dreidel is part of the acronym for “A Great Miracle Happened There.” last one day. Miraculously the oil lasted for eight days, long enough to make new oil and to bring about an eight-night long festival of lights. Or, that’s the simple version at any rate. So what are we eating? Lots of stuff with oil. Because the oil lasted for eight days. The two most well known Chanukah foods are potato latkes and sufganiot. Latkes are what many people call potato pancakes. There’s not a big difference between a latke and a potato pancake, except that a truly traditional latke has chicken fat in it. Sufganiot is basically a jelly donut. 5. Why does my kid always leave school singing about a dreidel? There are plenty of Hanukkah songs. Tons of them. But
December 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com
for whatever reason, every public school I’ve ever taught in or had a child in seems to only know one song, about the dreidel. Dreidel is a Hanukkah game involving a spinning top and what basically amounts to gambling for candy.
Latkes are what many people call potato pancakes. Each letter on the dreidel is part of the acronym for “A Great Miracle Happened There.” The game is often played with gelt (chocolate coins). 6. What about presents? My understanding is that presents are only a big deal in places where Hanukkah “competes” for attention with Christmas. Some families do other special activities each night instead of presents. A friend and former coworker of mine plays dreidel with a different type of candy each night. 7. What’s that menorah thing? The commandment for Chanukkah is to light the menorah. Most people have probably at least seen a menorah. It holds eight candles, one for each night, and also a shamash, or helper candle. On the first night, one candle plus the shamash is lit; on the second night, two candles, and so on. This is done in celebration of the temple oil having lasted eight days. ¶ Jill Morgenstern is a Jewish Sunday school teacher. She has four children and a master’s degree in teaching
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he’s now 16 and is taking charge of his life. He’s really smart and kind, and wants to be a surgeon, so he’s taking biology at Orchard View, where he’s thriving academically. FL: How has the pandemic affected your business? DG: The pandemic has gutted the business. For the first three months we were only making 10–30 percent of what we’d made pre-pandemic. Now we are still only making about 30–40 percent of what we were making pre-pandemic. So little business means
Taste the Tempting Local Dark Side Treats Family Life: How did Sonoma Chocolatiers and teahouse start? David Gambill: I worked in international environmental policy prior to being a chocolatier. When I met my wife, Susan, in 1998, I had been making chocolates for family and friends for 20 years. About a year after we married, we visited a very famous teashop in Paris—Susan’s a tea nut—and had a truffle made with her favorite tea, Darjeeling. We walked out agreeing, “We can do that.” I said, “I can make the truffles and you can handle the tea.” Fast forward to 2007. Our son was 3 years old, and we decided we did not want to raise him in Washington, DC, where we lived. So we moved out here and brought with us a business plan for an organic chocolate shop and teahouse. 14 SonomaFamilyLife
We’ve won the Bohemian’s Best Chocolatier in Sonoma County award for 12 years.
Sonoma Chocolatiers opened its doors in September of 2008. We’ve won the Bohemian’s Best Chocolatier in Sonoma County award for 12 years.
I’ve only been able to rehire two staff to work one day a week, so I can take a break. We also can’t give out samples— people like to taste before they buy, so that cuts our sales even more.
FL: What have been your biggest challenges in raising a family and running a business?
FL: How can locals support your business? Can they come into the shop?
DG: Well, first there was the global financial crisis of 2008. But then, in 2010, when our son was 6, my wife, a nationally recognized psychotherapist, was diagnosed with cancer and almost died. Two years later, the cancer treatment triggered Alzheimer’s. She is now in the severe stages of that disease. I can’t leave her alone very much so she’s here with me at the shop. Balancing the needs of my son, my wife, the business, and myself has been enormously challenging. My son has often gotten the short shrift. But
DG: Because my wife has an immune deficiency—if she catches COVID-19, she’ll die—I haven’t yet let customers into the shop. I’m trying to find someone to care for her in our home, since we must open for the holidays. But for now customers can make purchases at the front door. Customers can also order chocolates and tea online at sonomachocolatiers.com. It would be an incredible boon for us to get more orders from businesses for holiday gifts to clients and staff. And we offer gift certificates.
December 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com
FL: What are some of your best-selling chocolates? DG: We have more than 130 flavors of truffles and caramels, and everything (except the booze in some chocolates) is organic. Right now we’re bringing out our holiday chocolates, such as our Pumpkin Pie Caramel, and our Holiday-Spiced Truffle, which tastes as good as good it looks. Other standouts include Winter Orange, a truffle flavored with orange zest, cloves, and other spices; and Magi’s Gifts, a golden truffle-star infused with frankincense and myrrh. I just created a Hot Buttered Rum Caramel, and we will bring out our Cherry Kirsch Truffle soon. This year I’ve made Toffee Rapture, an orange-honeypistachio toffee that we have had a
hard time keeping in stock. We also bring out our popular Zinfandel Peanut Brittle at the holidays. And we make a vegan Chocolate and
Customers can also order chocolates and tea online at sonomachocolatiers.com. Salted Caramel Torte and other vegan desserts for the Cozy Plum, a vegan restaurant in Santa Rosa. FL: Do you have special Chanukah chocolates? DG: Yes. We make a set of eight classic Chanukah items, such as a menorah and dreidel, out of solid chocolate. For Christmas, we make
a chocolate Yule log, stuffed with chocolate Santa heads, caramels, and marzipan dipped in chocolate. FL: We’ve heard you make gluten-free muffins, too. DG: Oh, yes, our gluten-free muffins are very popular. Our Rosemary Goat Cheese with Caramelized Onions is our main savory muffin. Our sweet muffins include Black Coconut Mango and Chocolate Raspberry. FL: What are some of your drinks? DG: We have the second largest collection of organic teas from San Francisco to Seattle. We make a mean lavender matcha latte, and our London Fog is to die for. My favorite is our thick, European-style sipping chocolate. ¶
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and closure from the teacher involved in the incident. My daughter had a little cry, admitted that she was more disappointed than she had let on, and was back to her old cheerful self within a few hours.
Create Peace 8 Calming and Centering Practices By Christina Katz
hat the world needs now is peace, sweet peace. As families, it’s time to activate our potential as peacekeepers. Here are eight ideas to get you started.
1. Guard against media overload. Monitor family media exposure, especially during times of scary news broadcasts or upsetting continual updates. Turn off televisions and radios when children are around. Get kids off the Internet and away from hand-held devices. Silence your cell phone notifications. Tumultuous times are a good opportunity to revert to old-fashioned fun, such as reading a book, playing a board game, or going for a family walk. 2. Cultivate family peace practices. When my daughter is upset or agitated, her go-to calming activity is a nice warm shower or bath. 16 SonomaFamilyLife
Find practices that work for each family member. One child may prefer to read a book while another may wish to do something physical to get grounded. 3. Process disappointments as they happen. Your child may experience a loss, and you may not be aware of it. My daughter seemed to be displaying uncharacteristic behavior until I was able to trace the source of it back to a recent disappointment she’d experienced at school. We often cajole our kids to “be a good sport” without giving them a chance to fully express their feelings. In this case, I was able to seek out some feedback
4. Bless people in crisis. Peacefulness is contagious. Beam peace at agitated people you encounter. On little pieces of paper, write down positive words and the names of people you’d like to bless and then place the pieces of paper in a “peace box” of your own creation. If faraway folks you love are suffering, light a candle for them. Send positive
Silence your cell phone notifications. thoughts, a prayer, or a wish for all good things across the miles. Imagine your good intentions spraying out into the world like a giant fountain. Positivity makes a difference, especially for those who share it. 5. Make a small difference. Keep a coin jar out and fill it with loose change. When a crisis occurs, make a donation to support intervention. On an ongoing basis, give what you can to help those in need in your community. Share leftover pantry items with your local food bank, and old clothes and belongings with non-profit thrift shops. Feel good about steadily being part of the solution. 6. Spread joy. Refuse to give in to cynicism. Put a positive bumper sticker on your car. Put out a colorful flag in your yard. Decorate your environment with the word “peace”
December 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com
and other objects that symbolize joyfulness. Have at least one reminder of world peace in each room of your home. Inspirational quotes glimpsed on the way out the door can inspire family members to new heights of understanding each and every day. 7. Memorialize losses. Never brush off grief, yours or anyone else’s. Unexpressed grief is like a ticking time bomb driving people
Positivity makes a difference, especially for those who share it.
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to act out in ways they might not otherwise. Take a look back at major losses in your family (and even your childhood) and ask yourself if you have adequately acknowledged your suffering. Ask your spouse the same question. Then ask your kids. Make sure you are not trying to protect your kids from feelings of loss that are a natural part of being human. Come up with creative ways to commemorate major family losses, and you will help your loved ones move through their feelings and move on.
8. Live in today. Anxiety is the result of focusing on the past or the future at the expense of the present moment. We can’t control what happened yesterday, and we are not at fault for things beyond our control out in the world. However, home base can always be an oasis of calm, cool collectedness. ¶
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3. Yo Soy Muslim by Mark Gonzales (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, 2017). This is a father’s letter to his daughter, but it’s also a tale of identity, strength, love, and hope. With stunning illustrations by Mehrdocht Amini, this book is a pep talk, love note, and family history rolled into one:
Tear-Jerker Tales 8 Endearing Children’s Picture Books
By Pam Moore
s the holidays approach, you might be wondering what you can give your children that doesn’t have a million pieces, make annoying noises, or take up a ton of space. It’s...wait for it— books! In this roundup, I share eight selections that will engage hearts and minds. (I know because I’ve tested each and every one).
1. That’s Me Loving You by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Random House, 2016). A soft breeze, a clap of thunder, a rainbow… These are the ways a child will feel his mother’s love when she’s not there to hug. This book would have been sweet enough if it hadn’t been published months shy of the author’s untimely death. I double-dog dare any parent to read this with a kid in your lap without a box of tissues in arm’s reach. 2. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (Firefly Books, 1995). A 18 SonomaFamilyLife
roundup of books that make parents bawl would be incomplete without this story of the enduring bond between parent and child. This book is so sweet that readers young and old alike overlook the creepiness of the mom sneaking into her son’s room just to sing him the special lullaby she’s sung him since he was born. And if reading this story doesn’t completely destroy you, it probably will once you understand its genesis: Munsch was inspired to write it after he and his wife had two stillborn babies.
And there will come a day when some people in the world will not smile at you… No matter what they say, know you are wondrous. A child of crescent moons, a builder of mosques, a descendant of brilliance, an ancestor in training. Say it with me: Our prayers were here before any borders were.
Woven into the fabric of a family’s lives are the beautiful places they love. 4. Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Knopf, 2012). This is the heartwarming story of Auggie and his quest for belonging. He’s your typical 10-year-old boy—except for the fact that he’s been homeschooled his whole life and is entering public school for the first time as he starts the fifth grade. And he has a significant facial deformity. As parents, we’d take our kids’ pain a thousand times if it meant we wouldn’t have to watch them suffer. Auggie’s loving parents watch as he takes on more than his fair share of heartache as he navigates the social dynamics of his new prep school. Which is why it is pretty much impossible to read this book without tearing up.
December 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com
5. All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan (HarperCollins, 1994). A family welcomes a baby boy, and later, his little sister. Woven into the fabric of the family’s lives are the beautiful places they love. Together, in these places, they play, explore, and make memories. The only thing more touching (read: tear-jerking) than the big brother showing his little sister his favorite place is the fact that the grandfather cries when each child is born. 6. I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love by Nancy Tillman (Feiwel & Friends, 2015). This tender story uses rhyme and humor to show the deep ocean of love a mother feels for her child. No
matter where he goes or what form he takes, be it a snowy owl or a grinning camel, his mom promises she’ll recognize him. “I know you by heart, so my heart never misses.”
We’d take our kids’ pain a thousand times if it meant we wouldn’t have to watch them suffer. 7. Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola (Puffin Books, 2000). This is for anyone who has ever felt the love of a grandparent. Four-year-old Tommy has a special bond with his great-grandmother. Basing the story on events from his own life, dePaola
uses vivid language and pictures to illustrate Tommy’s joy in his connection to his beloved “Nana Upstairs” as well as the pain he feels when she passes away. 8. Just the Two of Us by Will Smith (Scholastic, 2001). I’ve bopped my head while listening to the lyrics of Will Smith’s remake “Just the Two of Us” many a time, but there’s something special about seeing those words in print alongside Kadir Nelson’s colorful illustrations. All parents will relate to Smith’s love for his child. ¶ This article was originally published on Motherly. To get Pam Moore’s free guide to crushing Impostor Syndrome, visit pam-moore.com.
Paper by WeTransfer Available at Apple Appstore; ages 13–18. Paper is great for kids who love to draw. It resembles a digital notebook and has various tools for outlining, sketching, and coloring drawings. The app makes it easy to rearrange objects on the page. Kids can also import photos and incorporate them into their drawings.
Draw, Sing & Build 8 Kids’ Apps that Cultivate Creativity
By Tanni Haas
inter vacation is a great occasion to inspire your kids to become more creative. Here are some of the very best creativity-boosting apps for kids. They’re all completely free, so encourage your kids to download an app—or three!
Color Band Available at Apple Appstore; ages 5–8. Color Band introduces young kids to the fun of making music while at the same time encourages them to draw. It has more than 80 pre-recorded instruments and sound effects that are represented by different colors. Some colors contain multiple sound effects, while others include entire scales or chords. Using different colors to draw a picture, children create unique musical compositions, which they can play back by waving their hands in front of the screen. 20 SonomaFamilyLife
Let’s Create: Pottery HD Lite Available at Apple Appstore & Google Play; ages 9–18. Let’s Create: Pottery Lite teaches kids to sculpt pottery and make beautiful pieces of artwork without the messiness of real clay. They can choose to copy pre-existing pieces from different cultures, or create their own pottery from scratch. While the virtual clay is spinning on the pottery wheel, kids mold it by lightly tapping or pressing on the screen. Once they’re done, they get to fire their pottery in the kiln and then decorate their creations with colors and patterns.
Kids pretend that they’re television producers, directors, and writers. Plum’s Creaturizer Available at Apple Appstore; ages 5–8. Plum’s Creaturizer will get your kids interested in photography. Developed by PBS Kids, this award-winning app lets kids create their own colorful creatures by combining creatures’ different body parts. Kids are then encouraged to photograph their new creations in different “habitats.” The photos can be combined into slideshows depicting a day in the life of their new “buddies.” Story Dice—Story Telling Available at Apple Appstore; ages 5–18. Story Dice—Story Telling is sure to get the creative juices flowing. This app has 40 virtual dice, each with six images from different categories, for a total of 240 images. Kids shake their devices to roll the dice and create stories that connect all the images. Encourage your kids to use this app with their friends to see who comes up with the most suspenseful or fun stories.
December 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com
TeleStory Available at Apple Appstore; ages 5–12. TeleStory is an app that lets your kids pretend that they’re television producers, directors, and writers who star in their own shows. They plan their shows, write the scripts, record and perform in them, and then edit the completed shows. It has templates for different kinds of shows that the kids can use if they need some extra inspiration.
Children create unique musical compositions. Toontastic 3D Available at Apple Appstore & Google Play; ages 5–12. Few things are more fun than making your own cartoons. Toontastic 3D is an app that lets you do just that. It includes various story outlines and scenes as well as dozens of colorful characters. Kids can either use those characters or create their own with simple drawing tools, press “record,” and then move characters around and narrate the story with their own voice recording. They can add a musical score, and put all the pieces together in a single 3-D cartoon. Video Star Available at Apple Appstore & Google Play; ages 13–18. Video Star teaches kids how to create and star in their own music videos. After selecting a favorite song, they shoot a video that shows them lip-synching and/or dancing to the music. The app has hundreds of built-in visual and sound effects that they can use in their videos. ¶
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Crafting with Kids
Free to Create 2 Open-Ended Art Projects
By Rachelle Doorley
hen children come into my studio, I like to tell them that they’re free to create with their full imaginations. Invitations to create bring out innate curiosities about the world, from symmetry to patterns to color mixing to narratives. Wherever children take their art, my hope is that these activities spark creative joy for you and them.
Charcoal Marks • Compressed charcoal • Kneaded charcoal eraser • Painter’s tape • Paper with texture, such as watercolor or construction paper • Small rag Tape the edges of the paper to the table so it won’t wiggle while your child creates. Demonstrate how to use the tip and the edge of the charcoal for different effects. Invite your child to draw with the charcoal. Use the rag to blend the charcoal and use the eraser to remove it. 22 SonomaFamilyLife
Variations Alongside the charcoal, offer white chalk pastel for adding highlights. Experiment with pressure (pressing light and hard), blending charcoal with fingers, rubbing the side of the charcoal on the paper, or using papers of different textures (smooth, coarse). Tips Break the charcoal into shorter pieces for small hands. Charcoal can be messy, so cover your table with a cloth to collect dust. If your child doesn’t like the feeling of charcoal, you can wrap a tissue around the end of it to keep fingers cleaner. Have a damp rag ready to wipe dusty hands.
Circle Drawings • Drawing paper • Markers Prepare the paper by drawing a grid of circles. Invite your child to fill in the circles with designs or pictures.
Tip Use the end of a paper towel tube dipped in paint to stamp circles on paper, then allow to dry for about an hour. You can also trace a cup, use a compass, or draw freehand. Variations Working side by side, collaborate by taking turns filling in the circles. Leave some space around the circles for adding other ideas to the background. TinkerLab Art Starts: 55 Projects for Open-Ended Exploration by Rachelle Doorley © 2020 by Rachelle Doorley. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO, roostbooks.com Rachelle Doorley is a Stanford lecturer and the founder of the popular art and creativity website, TinkerLab.com. She lives with her family in Palo Alto.
December 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com
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December Calendar of Events Tuesday 1 Santa Photo Hours. Social distancing & mask required. Virtual visits also available. Coddingtown Mall. 733 Coddingtown Center, Santa Rosa. Book a virtual visit: amusemattebooksanta. com/coddingtown-mall/. For in-person schedule, see the mall’s Facebook page: facebook.com/CoddingtownMall. It’s a Wonderful Life! Play based on the classic holiday movie with a twist: The story is staged as a live radio broadcast. On-demand viewing ticket: $20. Runs thru Jan. 1. 6thstreetplayhouse.vbotickets.com.
Thursday 3 Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Grove. More than 200 decorated
trees. Thru Dec 31. Social distancing & masks required. Throughout the month, the city will be releasing videos with tours of the trees, holiday-themed story times, musical performances, community messages of gratitude & craft workshops. To submit a video: email@example.com. Windsor Town Green. 701 McLelland Dr., Windsor. people4parkswindsor.org. FREE Family Bike Workshop.
Virtual series offers tips, tricks & tools for bicycling safely with kids. Dec. 3: Bicycle Route Planning. 3–4 p.m. Dec. 5: Intro to Family Bicycling. 2–3 p.m. Registration required: bikesonoma.org/ family-bike-workshops.
Friday 4 Spectacular! Musical Revue.
Featuring 36 of Cinnabar Theater’s most talented 8–18-year-olds performing favorites from classic to contemporary musicals, as well as jokes & skits. $30. Livestreaming: Dec. 4: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 24 SonomaFamilyLife
5: 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6: 2 p.m. showtix4u.com/events/Cinnabar.
Ages 0–5. Saturdays. 11–11:15 a.m. tinyurl. com/y53kaqae.
FREE E-Waste Recycling. Zero Waste Sonoma has partnered with Conservation Corps North Bay to conduct free electronics collection events. No appointment necessary. Dec. 4–6. 9–5 p.m. Lucchesi Park. 320 N. McDowell Blvd. (parking lot), Petaluma. List of accepted items: zerowastesonoma.gov.
FREE Santa Claus Drive-Thru Photo Event. Register for this event & get a
Wild & Scenic Film Festival. Live virtual event. Family friendly. A benefit for Pepperwood’s Education Programs. $35 per household (includes chance to win a giveaway package). 7–9 p.m. pepperwoodpreserve.org.
Saturday 5 Holiday Craft Market. Glass jewelry, wooden spoons, pottery, leather goods, arty masks & other handmade items. Dec. 5, 12 & 19. 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. West plaza parking lot in Healdsburg. healdsburgfarmersmarket.org. FREE Virtual Open House Summerfield Waldorf School & Farm. Learn about the high school.
Hear from alum, students, teachers & parents. Sample classes will be shown. 10 a.m.–noon. Summerfield Waldorf School & Farm. 655 Willowside Rd., Santa Rosa. To register: summerfieldwaldorf.org. Photos with Santa & Mrs. Claus.
The Christmas couple will be in their photo studio every weekend thru Dec. 19. $5 donation. Reservations strongly encouraged. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Santa’s Village at Montgomery Village. 2416 Magowan Dr., Santa Rosa. mvshops.com. FREE Storytime at Home. Sonoma County librarians read & sing songs.
free photo with Santa. He will stand outside your car & assistants will take a photo & email it to you. Santa’s elves will also be on hand, passing out hot chocolate & goodie bags. 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Rohnert Park Community Center. 5401 Synder Ln., Rohnert Park. bit.ly/ RPSantaDriveThru.
Sunday 6 Broadway Holiday Drive-In. Watch a Transcendence Theatre Company performance from your car. $59 per car. 6:15 p.m. Dec. 4–6: SOMO Village. 1400 Valley House Dr., Rohnert Park. Dec. 11–13: Sonoma Raceway. 29355 Arnold Dr., Sonoma. transcendencetheatre.org/ broadway-holiday-2020. FREE Patchwork Show: Modern Makers Festival. Domestic &
handmade crafts from 75+ local vendors. DIY craft stations & activities. COVID-19 guidelines followed. Parking: free. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Hall of Flowers. 1350 Bennett Valley Rd., Santa Rosa. dearhandmadelife.com.
Tuesday 8 FREE Virtual Book Club for Teens.
Ages 13–18. Virtually meet other teens, discover new books & hang out. Theme: Quick Reads. 3:30–4:30 p.m. Register: events.sonomalibrary.org/event/4479890. FREE Voice Program Recital: Dream Stage. The singers of Sonoma
State University will perform art songs & arias. Streaming online. 7:30 p.m. music.sonoma.edu/events/2020/ voice-program-recital-dream-stage.
December 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com
Virtual Event: A Holiday Concert.
Wednesday 9 FREE Game On: Among Us. Join other teens to play the phone/computer game Among Us. A teen librarian will host the game. Beginners & seasoned players ages 12–18 welcome. Wednesdays. 2:30–3:30 p.m. Register: events.sonomalibrary.org/event/4705950.
Featuring Pink Martini pianist Thomas Lauderdale & vocalist China Forbes. Concert followed by a live moderated Q&A session. Presented by Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. $10. 7:30 p.m. Registration required: tickets.lutherburbankcenter. org/0/4316?promoApplied=true. Gingerbread Doghouse Workshop.
Live Online: How to Draw Charlie Brown. Join longtime cartoonist
Robert W. Pope & learn to draw good ol’ Charlie Brown. Event meets via Zoom. $10–$15. 4–5 p.m. Register: schulzmuseum.org/learn/ calendar-of-events.
In-person event. Assemble & decorate Snoopy’s doghouse. Grades 1–6. $28–$35. Dec. 12: 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Dec. 13: 1–4 p.m. Charles M. Schulz Museum. 2301 Hardies Ln., Santa Rosa. Register: schulzmuseum.org/learn/ calendar-of-events. Dave Koz & Friends. The
Friday 11 FREE Virtual Posada Navideñas.
Live streaming performance showcases the folk culture of Mexico through dance, music, and song. 7 p.m. lutherburbankcenter.org/events.
Greatest Hits of Christmas. Virtual performance featuring Dave Koz, Jonathan Butler, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, David Benoit, Peter White & introducing Rebecca Jade. $35. 5 p.m. lutherburbankcenter.org.
FREE Mariachi Ensemble. Virtual
performance featuring musicians ages 8–18. 5 p.m. facebook.com/ lutherburbankcenter.
Wednesday 16 FREE Tween Zoom Writing Workshop. Sponsored by Sonoma
County Library. Register: events. sonomalibrary.org/event/4684780.
Saturday 12 Santa Paws Fundraiser. Virtual
annual event benefiting Canine Companions. $20 donation to enter. Winners announced on Dec. 12, 11 a.m. Contest details: cci.org/SantaPaws.
Thursday 17 FREE Flyway Friends–Birds & the Great Migration. Short science spiels
about who & what make local parks home. Every session will include a live Q&A. Thursdays. 2:30–2:45 p.m. Facebook live: tinyurl.com/y3uccws3.
Friday 18 Drive-In Movie: Elf. $25 per car. Gates open: 5 p.m. Movie: 6:30 p.m. Park & Ride Lot on the corner of Hwy. 116 & Old Redwood Hwy., Cotati. (Across from Peet’s Coffee). tinyurl.com/ yxonpyno.
Saturday 19 Holiday Gift-Making Workshop.
In-person event for grades 1 & up. Make a mini wonderland shaker, citrus sugar scrub, bath salts, homemade picture frames & more. Grades 1–6. $28–$35. 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Charles M. Schulz Museum. 2301 Hardies Ln., Santa Rosa. Register: schulzmuseum.org/learn/ calendar-of-events.
Thursday 31 Live Online: Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! Enjoy a virtual
Noon-year’s eve celebration with Peanuts-themed crafts, special guest appearances & a countdown to the Charles M. Schulz Museum’s annual Up-Down balloon drop at noon. $10–$15. 11 a.m.–noon. Register: schulzmuseum.org/learn/ calendar-of-events.
KEEPING YOUTH SAFE. ACTIVE. ENGAGED. DISTANCE LEARNING. ENRICHMENT. RECREATION. The Y is offering distance learning care at several elementary school sites. Activities Include: Assistance with Distance Learning Physical Activity Socially distant games, crafts and more!
Ages: K-6th grade Days/Time: FT & PT options, 7am-6pm
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Humor Break The author with her family
The Flannel The Story Behind Family the Christmas Photo By Jessica Guerrieri
’m a sucker for a family photo. Every year around October I scroll through social media and watch moms getting their act together well before I’ve even had time to start feeling guilty for not pre-ordering our matching flannel. You know that famous Teddy Roosevelt quote: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” There is no greater truth, especially during this time of year. It’s the season where everyone’s highlight reel takes the form of a sparkling holiday card, and parents everywhere can’t help but wonder about the story behind the pictures—because there is always one. Well, let me tell you the story behind the holiday photo we took last year: 26 SonomaFamilyLife
You know the family that wears matching PJs for its portrait? I decided we should unapologetically be that family. Because why the heck not? My husband does have certain clothing standards. If he is wearing anything less than jeans and a t-shirt—say, just a pair of basketball shorts—he won’t even answer the UPS person at the door. Luckily, I need only bat my eyelashes and he’ll give me the world. Still you should have seen his face when I held up our outfits (see photo above). Last year, my entire family traveled to Park City, Utah, to celebrate Thanksgiving. I was especially thankful that my dad, a retired
professional photographer, offered to take pictures for us. Everything about the photo we chose for our card is adorable, from my baby’s glee to my eldest’s bare feet. It succeeded in capturing a perfect moment, but that moment certainly didn’t last! Exactly eight hours after the photo was taken, just as we were about to fly home, I was hit with a violent combination of food
It was just another day on the Reality of Parenthood Olympics show. poisoning and the stomach flu. Oh, the joys of traveling with three small children while every ounce of bodily fluid is trying to leave you faster than a toddler on Santa’s lap. It was just another day on the Reality of Parenthood Olympics show, that segment sponsored by adult diapers and Pepto Bismol. At one point I turned to my husband and said, “If the plane goes down, save the children and let me go.” Of course, the real story of our family is not this silly tale; indeed, it’s nothing that ever could be captured in a frame. It’s all the moments of love and joy—and conflict and forgiveness—that we share the other 8,758 hours of the year when we are not wearing flannel for a photo. It’s those moments that I cherish the most, the moments that help paint the whole picture. ¶ Jessica Guerrieri is a freelance writer/ blogger. She lives in Davis, California, with her husband and three daughters. Find her at witandspitup.com and follow her on Instagram @witandspitup.
December 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com
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hile COVID-19 has sidelined many craft shows this year, the Holiday Craft Market remains, buoyed, in part, by its COVID-safe outdoor setting at the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market. Customers will be required to wear masks and stay six feet (that’s 11 zucchinis) apart while they peruse glass jewelry, wooden spoons, pottery, leather goods, arty masks, and other handmade items. The selection changes weekly so visitors can view different work each time they come. See the show on December 5, 12, and 19, 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., at the west plaza parking lot in Healdsburg. Go to healdsburgfarmersmarket.org for a list of vendors and more information. ¶ www.sonomafamilylife.com
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or Transcendence Theatre Company, the big screens at drive-ins aren’t just for Hollywood flicks. They also are for projecting films of theatrical performances, like its Broadway Holiday show. The screening is part of the company’s new COVID-safe approach to performance. Just as if they were attending a drive-in, theatergoers will park their cars in front of a large, outdoor screen set up at SOMO Village in Rohnert Park and also at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma. Live pre-show entertainment will include a holiday sing-along, in-car activities, and food. Then Broadway Holiday, which will feature professional performances of songs from Broadway musicals as well as traditional holiday melodies, will hit the screen. Performances will be held at Somo Village December 4–6 and at Sonoma Raceway December 11–13; both shows will start at 6:15 p.m. General admission is $59 per car; VIP tickets are $199–$249 and include a three-course meal and wine for 2–4 people. For those who can’t make it to the “drive-in” screenings, Broadway Holiday will be shown on the Transcendence Theater YouTube channel (youtube.com/ user/transcendencetheatre), screening on December 18 at 7:30 p.m. and December 19–23 at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Find out more and purchase tickets at transcendencetheatre.org/ somo-village-drive-in. ¶
Broadway Goes to the Drive-In
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