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June 2020

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New Dads A primer Teens & Screens Expert advice

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10 June 2020

Every Issue 5

Dear Reader


Bits and Pieces Kids in the Kitchen Little Busy Bodies Drawing Secrets Revealed Radcliffe Reads Potter


Lots of Ways to Play

8 COVID-19 Losses Learn how to help kids process grief.

10 Adventures in Giving Warm-weather ways to show you care.


Welcome Winged Ones

18 Cooking with Kids Smoothie Power!

20 Humor Break Just Don’t Ask

12 Teens and Screens


How much does overindulging matter?

14 New Dad Primer Practical advice for first-timers.


16 Paper Magic Make a Sound of Music craft.

4 SonomaFamilyLife

June 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com

Dear Reader


Office Manager Patricia Ramos patty@family-life.us

Business Marketing Renee Nutcher renee@family-life.us Warren Kaufman warren@family-life.us

Features Editor Melissa Chianta melissa@family-life.us

Production Manager Donna Bogener production@family-life.us

Contributing Writers Karen Barski Christina Katz Charlene Khaghan Kelly Mindell Pam Moore Denise Morrison Yearian

f you’re quiet you can hear the sound of parents all over the county uttering a collective sigh of relief. School is over. No more pushing Sharon Gowan through classes Publisher/Editor Sharon@family-life.us at home, for now. Progress! But we’re still sheltering-in-place and dealing with the quarantine blues. If coping with COVID-19 hasn’t been easy for you, know you are not alone. The pandemic has brought with it a lot of loss—most seriously of life, but also of work and money as well as time with relatives and friends, not to mention the disruption of our regular routines. Grief is a normal response, for kids and adults alike, to all these changes. In “COVID-19 Losses” (page 8) therapist Charlene Khaghan talks about how grief manifests in children, and how parents can help them heal.

Some kids are spending more time than usual on their phones and online. Should you be worried? “It depends,” seems to be the consensus of the psychologists and doctors quoted in “Teens and Screens” (page 12). Read their words of wisdom and figure out what approach works best for your family. If you are looking for a non-screen way to engage the kids, check out the “Paper Magic” marionette craft (page 16). It’s based on a film many love—The Sound of Music —and makes use of a material everyone has: toilet paper tubes. Possibly one of the best medicines for sheltering-in-place is laughter. And humorist Pam Moore is happy to help out. Read her “Just Don’t Ask” (page 20) for a parents-only chuckle. We wish you our very best during these trying times. Together, we will get through them.


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Bits & Pieces Cookin’ Kids

Kids in the Kitchen


hat’s there to eat?” is a refrain every mom and dad has heard. And at some point, if parents are lucky, kids actually get interested in making, not just consuming, food. Cookies and cakes may be some of kids’ first creations. And YouTube has a plethora of videos to show children how to make both. We like “How to Bake a Cake Kids’ Style,” from Coppola Studios, which shows kids how to create a cake from scratch (instead of using a mix): youtube.com/watch?v=E7D7HtaTLo. And we also love “Cookin’ Kids Lily’s Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies”: youtube.com/ watch?v=T71NlacyVp0. ¶

Little Busy Bodies


f toddlers do anything, it’s move. A lot. And often they’re up to something questionable. For parents needing help keeping little hands out of the wrong places, toddler busy boards may be just the ticket. Moms and dads can even make their own. Myboredtoddler. com has ideas for DIY boards that just require a trip to the hardware store (local stores are actually open) and a bit of drilling and hammering. Check out examples at myboredtoddler.com/ diy-toddler-busyboard-ideas. ¶

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Drawing Secrets Revealed


or kids who want to not just read a storybook, but also learn to draw what they see in it, there’s KidsLit’s Ready Set Draw! video series, in which illustrators share the secrets of creating their characters. For instance, Galia Bernstein uses a vase to help her draw the faces of the tigers featured in her book I Am a Cat (Harry N. Abrams, 2018). Besides art tutorials, KidsLit also features videos introducing authors and illustrators, and other children’s activities. Check them out at kidlit.tv. ¶

June 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com

Radcliffe Reads Potter


aniel Radcliffe is the face of Harry Potter. But before the films that made the actor famous were made, the character he played was conjuring magic in the pages of J. K. Rowling’s wildly popular books. Now Radcliffe and other celebrities are reading on video the book that supercharged their careers: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The videos are available at wizardingworld. com for free, though setting up an account is required to access them. ¶

Lots of Ways to Play


ost parents hardly have time to shower let alone track down educational kid-tainment. So Amazing Educational Resources for Kids put together an online warehouse of more than 1,000 offerings. Just go to amazing educationalresources.com, type in what you’re looking for—math lessons? dance instruction? financial literacy basics?—and, viola!, an appropriate online program will come up. ¶

Welcome Winged Ones


utterflies transfix us with their wings of many colors. And gardeners know that if they plant flowers the insects love, they will see more of them. Kids can get help luring the creatures to their backyards with the National Wildlife Heroes’ free butterfly garden kit. Get one while supplies last from support.nwf.org/page/18537/ survey/1. ¶


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a more dynamic experience, with movement in and out of these states over time. Denial This is the first stage of grief. Children want to continue to believe that everything is okay and that nothing bad has actually happened. If they were to take in all the emotion related to the loss right

COVID-19 Losses How Kids Experience and Express Grief

By Charlene Khaghan


here is nothing in a child’s life to prepare them for profound loss. While children pass through the same stages of grief as adults, due to their limited life experiences, children will grieve differently. It is important to remember that every person and child grieves in his or her own unique way and at his or her own pace.

Children experience grief in many different circumstances. Even while the COVID-19 shutdowns are saving a lot of lives, they result in other losses, especially for kids: loss of social time with friends; loss of hugging and spending time with grandparents and other family members; loss of physically attending school, extracurricular activities, and graduation ceremonies. Many families are in a state of limbo, without access to the 8 SonomaFamilyLife

Many families are without access to the work and relationships that bring a sense of safety and security. This triggers grief, too. away, it would be too overwhelming so they may deny the loss thus giving their body and mind a little time to adjust to the way things are now.

work and relationships that bring a sense of financial and emotional safety and security. This triggers grief, too.

Anger During this stage, a child may blame others for their difficulties. This particular stage can last for days, weeks, months, and years. Kids may be angry, irritable, frustrated, anxious, and difficult to get along with. It is best for your child and others involved with your child to encourage expression of, and discussion about, their angry feelings.

Swiss psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross described grief as having five specific stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While this is a useful framework for describing the components of grief, people do not move through these stages in a linear fashion. Recent research supports

Bargaining A child may start to exhibit behaviors that seem very positive, including appearing to be very mature. Schoolwork may improve dramatically. The child may believe that doing everything “just right” will fix the situation. Bargaining is often accompanied by guilt. This is basically our way of

June 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com

negotiating with the hurt and pain of the loss. Depression This phase may be delayed but often occurs when reality really sinks in. During this stage of grief, intense sadness, decreased sleep, reduced appetite, and loss of motivation are common. Acceptance Finally, children often enter this stage once they have processed their initial grief emotions,


A child may start to exhibit behaviors that seem very positive, including appearing to be very mature. are able to accept that the loss has occurred, and are once again able to plan for their futures and re-engage in daily life. It is important to recognize that children, like adults, may move between the different stages at different rates and can jump around between each phase. Recovery is more of a process than an event. Listen to children, offer them love and reassurance, encourage them to ask questions, and, if needed, find professional help for them. ¶ A mother of five children, Charlene Khaghan has an LMSW and a master’s degree in special education. She taught high school special education for many years and currently works as a therapist in a university counseling center. She is the author of the children’s book, A Tiny Step Forward: A Book on Loss and Love, available on Amazon: tinyurl.com/y7tqw7gb.


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3. Clean-out cabinets. Search your kitchen for food items that have not expired, and add a few extra nonperishable items to your grocery cart. With so many people out of work, food banks are in dire need of donations of all kinds. 4. Plant ahead. If you’re a gardener, plant an extra row or two of vegetables for the local food bank. Look online to check their policies before you plant.

Adventures in Giving Cultivate Compassion This Summer By Christina Katz


iving is always in season. Even though the media tends to emphasize generosity during winter’s holiday celebrations, summer is the perfect opportunity to model neighborliness, community service, and donating to worthwhile causes, especially as we collectively endure the COVID-19 pandemic. While sheltering-in-place limits the ways families can make in-person contributions to the community, there are still many ways to foster a giving spirit.

1. Capture gratitude. Create colorful postcards to mail to teachers, coaches, and instructors who have helped kids blossom in the past year. Keep the message short and sweet, and infuse the card with creativity. 2. Encourage bookishness. Sign up for a summer reading 10 SonomaFamilyLife

program; while physical libraries are closed, local libraries’ digital and audio collections are available. You can also buy books online. Go through your shelves and remove books you don’t want. When sheltering-in-place orders are lifted, donate them to a library.

5. Delight someone. Painting rocks is a fun summer activity that can be done indoors or out. Taking your painted stones on neighborhood walks

Create colorful postcards to mail to teachers, coaches, and instructors. and hiding them for unsuspecting new friends to find turns this craft activity into an adventure. For inspiration, check out paintedrocklife.com. 6. Banish bedroom clutter. Ask your kids to touch and sort every item in their rooms. Consider the best ways to donate or store little-used items. Create a memory bin where each child can stash prized possessions, but don’t go beyond one bin per child. 7. Create blessings. Create blessing bags for people experiencing homelessness. Fill them with things such as: bottled water, glasses wipes, hand sanitizer, lip balm, sunscreen, a sturdy comb, toothpaste, travel-size shampoo and conditioner, Band-Aids, and large Ziploc bags. Some sturdy foods that won’t melt in summer’s heat are: granola bars, meats in a pop-top can, foods in pouches, applesauce cups, nuts, dried fruit, beef jerky,

June 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com

mints, hard candies, and gum. Don’t forget plastic silverware and napkins. Call the Living Room, a Santa Rosa nonprofit that serves at-risk women and children, to find out when they are accepting donations: 579-0138. Or buy products on Amazon and have them sent to the nonprofit. When you go to thelivingroomsc.org and click on the Living Room’s Amazon Wishlist, you can choose items and then have them shipped directly to a special address.

10. Build small sanctuaries. Make baths for birds and butterflies and put them on opposite sides of your yard, since birds often prey on butterflies. Tuck both types of baths into areas with easily accessible shelter. 11. Encourage relaxation. Make homemade spa gifts to mail to friends. Bath salts, facemasks, and hand scrubs are fun to craft and will be

Send playful care packages to elderly relatives who live far away.

8. Spread the fun. De-clutter the attic, basement, garage, shop, or shed. Dig out outgrown outdoor gear, sporting goods, and toys and set them aside. When shelter-in-place orders are lifted, donate them to a local family shelter.

cheerfully received. Search online for natural-based recipes that utilize what you grow in your garden.

9. Ship some love. Send care packages to elderly relatives who live far away. Draw a picture, write a poem, or make a handmade card. Include little things to surprise and delight them. If you are not sure what to send, maybe it’s time for a video chat.

12. Rise and shop. Give local businesses a shot in the arm. Peruse their websites and buy items from them online, or ask if you can order something and pick it up curbside or if they have no-contact home delivery.

13. Share your bounty. When new neighbors move in, dig up a sampler of flowers or veggies from your garden to help them start theirs. For the rest of your neighbors, gather seedlings, flowering plants or bouquets of flowers, and drop them by the front door with a kind note. 14. Help the Earth breathe. Plant a tree to help support clean air for future generations. Join the Arbor Day Foundation at arborday.org, and they will send you 10 trees to plant where you live. 15. Pull together. While sheltering-in-place, families are getting together via Zoom and other video conferencing apps. It’s a great way to share a backyard performance with loved ones. Whether you are a family of readers, musicians, or poets, come up with a summery way for the whole family to share what they enjoy doing. ¶ Christina Katz is a nationally published journalist. Find her at christinakatz.com.

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of active media supervision allows parents to guide their children through the world of screens, and it’s been shown to have tremendous benefits in terms of behavior, academic success, and even physical health. This process also allows parents to understand more about the fantasy world of their

“Don’t feel guilty about the increase in your child’s screen time.”

Teens and Screens T

Experts Weigh in on Safe Use

he nonprofit Children and Screens asked experts to share their best advice for parents raising adolescents in the midst of the global pandemic. Here is what they said.

The Devil’s in the Details “While it’s important to monitor the amount of time your child spends with screens, it’s even more important to monitor what they’re actually doing with that time. Talking with friends? Encourage it. Writing a journal? Experimenting with music? Wonderful. Support your child’s need for friendship and creativity while also helping them understand that time away from distractions, time for solitude and mind-wandering, is something you value. Screens open our worlds except when they take us away from ourselves. Getting this balance right means you and your children 12 SonomaFamilyLife

are talking, and in my view, if that’s happening, the rest will follow. And what really helps: no screens at dinner. Consider dinner to be a sacred space, a place for conversation.”—Sherry Turkle, professor, MIT; author, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (Basic Books, 2012) and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age (Penguin, 2016) Lead the Way “Now is a great time for parents to play video games, watch movies and TV shows, and explore the world of social media with their kids. This kind

—Patti M. Valkenburg

kids, and it offers the chance for a healthy role reversal, one in which the child becomes the teacher and the parent can model good learning practices.”—Paul Weigle, M.D., child and adolescent psychiatrist, associate medical director of Natchaug Hospital, Hartford HealthCare Turn Off the News “In order to limit the negative, try setting limits on [students’] time reading news apps. At a certain point, they’re more likely to raise their blood pressure and increase their anxiety by mindlessly bingeing the news than they are to actually learn anything.”— Dr. Larry Rosen, professor emeritus of psychology Take a Break “Don’t feel guilty about the increase in your child’s screen time. As the New York Times recently reported: ‘Coronavirus ended the screen-time debate. And screens won.’ That means kids and parents alike face increased risk for physical side effects, including nearsightedness, computer vision syndrome, and neck and back problems. … [P]arents should insist

June 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com

on regular breaks, both for their kids and themselves.”—Patti M. Valkenburg, professor, University of Amsterdam Keep Screen Time and Bedtime Separate “One way to enforce bedtime is to shut off screens at least one hour before lights out. When kids (and adults) use screens before bedtime... they may become psychologically stimulated by something they read or see, which may make it harder for them to fall asleep. In addition, bright light from screens can suppress the natural release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.”—Lauren Hale, Ph.D., professor, Department of Family, Population, and Preventive Medicine Program, Program in Public Health, Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University

Ask for Help “Now is a time when those teens who already struggle with their screen use are at risk of seriously losing control. [T]here are counselors and coaches who specialize in

“[A]ctive media supervision allows parents to guide their children through the world of screens.” —Paul Weigle, M.D.

Internet addiction. Telehealth is not an ideal way to begin a helping relationship, but it may be what saves your sanity.”—Dr. Hilarie Cash, chief clinical officer and co-founder of reSTART Life, PLLC

Danger and Opportunity “[I]nvolve youth in more adaptive patterns of Internet use. For example, in the coming weeks and months, families may be foregoing in-person meetings in favor of remote holiday gatherings over the Internet. Encouraging adolescents to help arrange and organize such events may provide opportunities for empowering youth to engage in more healthy forms of Internet use.”—Marc N. Potenza, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, child study, and neuroscience, Yale School of Medicine ¶ Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development is a 501C(3) national non-profit organization founded by Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra. Learn more at childrenandscreens.com.


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boundaries, if needed. If others offer to help, suggest practical ideas, such as dropping off meals, running errands, or watching the baby so you and your partner can take a walk. Extended family can be a huge help or significant stressor. Encourage well meaning but intruding relatives to refrain from giving unwanted input with regard to childcare.

New Dad 8 Practical Tips for Primer Fathering a Baby By Denise Morrison Yearian


hen a child is born, the new mother and baby get most of the attention, but dads are undergoing changes, too. Following are eight tips to help first-time fathers adjust to having a new baby in the house. 1. Be hands-on. Get involved in all aspects of childcare: bathing, feeding, changing diapers, and putting the baby to sleep. Moms/ partners: If the new dad needs a little coaching, give him the basics, but then let him develop his own style. Remember, experience is the best teacher. Don’t criticize; offer encouragement to help him feel competent in his new role.

obvious. Does your baby need a diaper change, to be fed or to take a nap, or does she or he just have gas? Take a guess about what the need may be and then pursue meeting it. If one guess isn’t right or one strategy doesn’t work, try another one. Newborns can also suffer from overstimulation due to lights, motion, sounds, and people—all drastic changes from a quiet womb.

2. Recognize challenges. Some babies, such as those with colic, may be harder to soothe. If your baby is crying, look for the

3. Communicate with outsiders. Take on the role of communicating with family and friends, setting limits and

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4. Be supportive of Mom. One of the father’s biggest roles is to support the mother. Keep a constant line of communication open with one another and discuss

New dads may need an outlet where they can share their own concerns or stresses. how the adjustment is going. Talk about things that are and are not working, and make suggestions for change. Also, keep an eye out for signs of postpartum depression (PPD), which may have a delayed onset. Find out more about PPD at mayoclinic.org and get help from Postpartum Support International, postpartum.net/get-help/ help-for-moms. 5. Find personal support. New dads may need an outlet where they can share their own concerns or stresses. Find a father support group (check out the community at lifeofdad.com and find articles on fatherly.com) or look for a friend who is or has gone through this stage in life. Also be aware of your

June 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com

emotions. If you feel anxious or depressed for an extended period of time, talk with your physician and/ or find a licensed mental health care provider. 6. Nurture the couple relationship. This will benefit you and your partner and your child. If extended family members are local, schedule occasional date nights. If this isn’t an option,

One of the father’s biggest roles is to support the mother. look for creative ways to give the relationship attention, such as back or foot rubs, a note in one another’s lunchbox, a quick email sent to the office. Couples’ communication should include more than just baby talk. Also make time for intimacy; be sensitive to each other’s needs and work together to find a compromise. 7. Create space for self. While it may be impossible to maintain the before-baby lifestyle, determine what is most critical for you and your partner to relieve stress—sleep, exercise, time out of the house—and work that into the week. 8. Give it time. The more time you spend with your baby, the easier it will get. Right now things aren’t normal, but life will take on a new normalcy in time. ¶

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Denise Morrison Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and the mother of three children and six grandchildren.


June 2020

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Crafting with Kids

Paper Magic Studio DIY, in partnership with The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization

Simple Puppets to Make at Home

By Kelly Mindell


recently had the opportunity to create some crafts inspired by one of our family’s favorite movies, The Sound of Music. These puppets and theater are based on “The Lonely Goatherd,” one of our most-loved songs from the movie. The good news is that you don’t need a real puppet theater in your house to have a puppet show. You can turn any desk, table, learning stool, or play kitchen into a marionette theater with just a simple DIY scenic background. We added some scrap fabric (you could use sheets, dish towels, or pillowcases) to turn our play kitchen into a full theater. When it was time to make the marionettes, we reached for a material everyone has: toilet paper rolls. We replicated two of the goats from the movie, but you could also apply this same technique for other animals and make a whole farm, jungle, or herd. 16 SonomaFamilyLife

Lonely Goatherd Marionettes + Theater • paper in desired colors • scissors • scrap cardboard (cereal boxes are great for this) • 2 toilet paper rolls (per puppet) • paint and/or markers • school glue or hot glue • black rope, yarn, or ribbon • white/neutral rope, yarn, or ribbon • 2 Popsicle sticks • cardboard, paint, and sponge for background

Instructions 1. For each goat you will need to cut the following out of paper: two rectangles (one 6” x 4” and one 6.5” x 4”; cut fringe on each 4-inch end), two ear shapes (fringed), one tail shape (fringed), one beard shape (fringed). You’ll also need to cut out two horn shapes from cardboard, and cut one of the toilet paper rolls in half. 2. Paint the half-toilet paper roll; this will become the head. Decorate and add a face to it. You can make a paper hat by rolling a half-circle shape into a cone and folding up the bottom edge. 3. Glue the horns, ears, beard, and any other adornments to the head.

June 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com

4. The other (whole) toilet paper roll is going to become the body of the goat. Poke four holes in the bottom of it. Cut four short pieces of black rope or yarn. Tie a knot in one end of each. Starting from the inside of the toilet paper roll, feed one piece of yarn/rope through each hole. (The knot will hold it in place.) Then knot the other end to become the feet. 5. Glue the larger fringed rectangle over the toilet paper roll. Then glue the smaller one on top. Glue the tail to one end. 6. Cut a long piece of neutral/ white-colored rope or yarn. Poke a hole through the top of the head and the bottom of the head on an angle, and string the rope through both. Then poke two holes through the top of the body, one at the front and one at the back. String the same rope from the head through both holes on the body. 7. Glue two Popsicle sticks together to make an X shape. Tie each end of the rope to opposite ends of the Popsicle stick X. 8. To make the theater background, paint a large piece of cardboard blue, like the sky. Then cut out several mountain shapes and, using a sponge, paint those with different shades of brown and green. Glue to the sky background. Use clips or zip ties to attach the completed background to a table or other item in your home. Voila! You have a theater. Now you’re ready for a puppet show. ¶ Kelly Mindell’s brand, Studio DIY, is a kaleidoscope of DIY projects. (Miley Cyrus wore Mindell’s “stick of butter” costume on the singer’s Milk tour.) Find her at studiodiy.com.


June 2020

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Cooking with Kids

Smoothie Power! Supercharge Kids’ Bodies By Karen Barski


ith a pandemic roaming the globe, the one thing on all parents’ minds is making sure kids stay healthy. As a nurse for 25 years and a wellness coach, I can tell you this: When it comes to keeping the doctor away, you can’t beat smoothies. The best time to have one is first thing in the morning, when the stomach is empty and this superfood immunity-boost can go right into the cells. The body has been sleeping all night and is not digesting any food, which means it has more time to do what it should: keep your organs clean, healthy, and functioning at their highest level to prevent sickness and disease. Here are two recipes kids will love. Both serve 2–3 people. Just blend the ingredients in a blender or VitaMix and drink away. ¶

Karen Barski has been a registered nurse for more than 25 years. She is also a wife and high-energy holistic mom of five (including twins) plus one angel child. She is an Infant Care Specialist, wellness coach, and inventor of the global swaddle brand Woombie. Through her Woombie social media and her blog, Juiceboxes + TEQUILA, she connects with parents about raising happy and healthy kids. Find her at woombie.com and karenbarski.com.

18 SonomaFamilyLife

Keep-the-Doctor-Away Smoothie 1 cup organic frozen mixed berries 1 banana 2–3 scoops of vanilla protein powder (we choose dairy-free, plant-based) 2–3 tablespoons chia seeds or chia/flax blend 2–3 big handfuls of greens like kale or spinach (try Earthbound Organics Power Greens from Costco) 1 ½ cups of water or almond/soy/nut milk (avoid dairy)

Kid-Approved Purple “Green” Smoothie 1 whole lemon peeled (seeds and all!) 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger 1 cup leafy greens (kale or spinach) 1 cup coconut water ¼ apple ½ cucumber 1 small celery stalk ½ cup frozen berries ½ banana (can be frozen, too)

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Kids Music Online


aurie Berkner started creating children’s music in 1992. Her performances and recordings grew in popularity until she became what People magazine calls the “queen of kids music.” With the aim of making sheltering-in-place a bit easier, the performer has posted free videos on her Laurie Berkner Band Facebook page (facebook.com/LaurieBerknerBand). And she’ll be doing a live online concert on June 21 at 3 p.m. PST. Tickets are $20 and available at laurieberkner.com. Special $10 needs-based tickets for those experiencing financial hardship are also available. Write katie@twotomatoes.com for more information. ¶ www.sonomafamilylife.com



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SonomaFamilyLife 19

Humor Break

Just Don’t Ask

together). If your child had an attorney, he’d accuse you of leading the witness and request the question be overruled. Kids don’t care how you’ll feel at the crack of ridiculous o’clock tomorrow morning when they’re STARVING. For miniature, enlightened yogis (aka children), the only moment is right now. And right now, they’re not hungry.

6 Questions Kids Won’t Really Answer

By Pam Moore


hey say there are no dumb questions. They are wrong. There are, in fact, many dumb questions. I know because I ask them more often than Kim Kardashian posts a selfie. In the spirit of conscious parenting and minimizing the urge to stab myself with a Lego, I’ve composed a list of dumb questions to stop asking my kids.

1. Are you ready to go? Before asking this question, assess the situation. Are the child’s shoes on? Has the child gone to the bathroom? (Alternatively: Is her diaper smuggling a wrecking ball?) Is the child already holding whatever toy, doll, or tchotchke she needs to bring? If not, save your breath and some aggravation. The child is not ready to go. 2. Can you wait a minute? If you say this to someone who has no idea how long a minute is, prepare for the aftermath: A small voice will ask, “Has it been a minute?” approximately 20 SonomaFamilyLife

every 15 seconds until you lose your mind. Multiply the number of uninterrupted minutes required to complete whatever you were doing by 7,832. Plan to finish sometime next year. Next time try saying, “Not right now,” and then placing either the child or yourself in a locked, soundproof chamber where you or she will remain until your task is complete. 3. Did you poop? (toddler exclusive!) You saw her disappear into the other room. She smells like a dumpster. And you know that every day of a toddler’s life is sponsored by the word no. Skip your lame attempts to get a confession; grab the child and change the diaper. 4. Aren’t you hungry? Never in the history of humanity has this question inspired a child to eat the meal his loving caregiver carefully prepared (or frantically threw

5. Why did you push your sister? All kids do stuff we don’t understand. They bite siblings, TP the bathroom, or wear footy pajamas in July. And we want to know why. Repeat after me: They do not know. (Also: They get this from your partner.) When our kids behave, we credit our stellar parenting. When they don’t, we remember children are just animals, acting on instinct. They probably have no clue why they did what they did. 6. Do know how late it is?! If, like me, you’re asking this question of someone who uses a Tot Clock to tell time, stop asking this question. You are talking to an overtired, undersized human whose life goals include becoming a ballerina or maybe an astronaut and staying up all night. Letting her know exactly how long she’s been winning the war on fatigue will only embolden her to keep pushing through. Life’s too short for dumb questions, so I pledge to do my best to stop asking them. I don’t know about you, but I would rather spend my precious time asking the important questions like, “How long until bedtime?” and “Will they expect me to pay for therapy?” ¶ This article was originally published on Motherly. Find Pam Moore at pam-moore.com.

June 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


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