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November 2020

Every Issue 6

Dear Reader

7

Cooking with Kids Muffin Magic

16 Features 10 Small Biz Survival Creative ideas for giving locals a leg up.

12 Nature and Nurture McDonald Ranch teaches a pod of kids on site.

14 Virtual Thanksgiving New ways to celebrate Turkey Day.

16 Work-at-Home Parents Tips for staying productive and balanced.

8

4 SonomaFamilyLife

18 Hook a Book Lover Raise a child who loves words.

20 Forever Families A teen reflects on her foster care and adoption experience.

22 Be a Divorce Buddy

8

Bits and Pieces Black Comics Matter

27

Walk Along the Great Wall Draw a Dragon Get Up Close to the Taj Mahal The Royal Treatment Hip Hop to Better Grades

24 Calendar of Events 26 Humor Break Go Fish

What to say and do to show someone you care.

7

November 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


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Couple Time V-Day play

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Give Back

How to help

Smoothie Power! Boost immunity

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Routines work

Virtual Nana Kids connect

Find a Tutor Tips for success

Moms-to-Be Local COVID-19 advice

Family Hiking

4 great spots

Dental Dramas Help every age

B-Day Bash Party ideas

Sleepaway Camps Kids grow overnight

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New Baby? How to cope Toilet Training

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Help you need

Local Fun 26 family events

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Practice Gratitude

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Kids in Crisis

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Dear Reader

I

t’s that time of year when we take stock of our blessings and give something back to our community. Sharon Gowan Some folks who Publisher/Editor Sharon@family-life.us could really use our attention this year are local business owners. Turn to “Small Biz Survival” (page 10) for innovative ways to support them and the local economy. Because of COVID-19, many of us will not be attending our usual holiday family gatherings. But there are still ways to connect with loved ones near and far. Read “Virtual Thanksgiving” (page 14) for some creative ideas, including video chats and virtual potlucks. Want an easy way to get kids involved in

Turkey Day? Ask them to help cook. Turn to “Muffin Magic” (page 7) for a healthy treat little hands will be happy to make, and eat. Office Manager

Are you too busy to even think about managing the holidays, especially in a pandemic? We understand—with working and educating kids at home, most parents are spread way too thin. One thing you can do is to make the most of your hours on the clock. “Work-at-Home Parents” (page 16) shows you how. However you spend this Thanksgiving, we hope you take a moment to be thankful for yourself and all you do to nurture your family in these difficult times.

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

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Brenda Davis Jessica Guerrieri Christina Katz Hope and Adoptive Black Mom Richard Kerr Janeen Lewis Pam Moore Reshma Shah

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Find out what’s happening this weekend.

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November 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


Cooking with Kids

Muffin Magic Fall Flavors Imbue a Healthy Treat

By Reshma Shah and Brenda Davis

P

umpkin muffins are a fall favorite, brimming with warming spices that make them irresistible. There is nothing like pumpkin muffins fresh from the oven to celebrate autumn. This wonderfully healthy version features almond butter, spelt flour, and maple syrup. They are perfect for breakfast, in a lunch box, or as an after-school snack.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Nourish: The Definitive Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for Families by Reshma Shah, MD, MPH, and Brenda Davis, RD (November 2020, HCI). Find out more at nourishthebook.com. Brenda Davis, RD, is a registered dietitian and widely regarded as a rock star of plant-based nutrition. She has been a featured speaker at medical and nutrition conferences in more than 20 countries on 5 continents and is the author of 11 books on vegetarian and vegan nutrition. Find her at brendadavisrd.com. Reshma Shah, MD, MPH, is an affiliate clinical instructor at Stanford University School of Medicine and has been a practicing pediatrician for nearly 20 years. Learn more about her at reshmashahmd.com.

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Pumpkin Muffins Ingredients 2 cups spelt flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 1⁄2 cup maple syrup 1⁄3 cup unsweetened plant-based milk 1⁄3 cup smooth almond butter 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 15-ounce can 100% pumpkin puree 1 cup chocolate chips (substitute raisins if you prefer!)

Instructions 1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line a 12-muffin tin with parchment liners. 2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.

3. In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, plant-based milk, almond butter, and vanilla. Mix in the pumpkin puree. 4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Gently stir in the chocolate chips or raisins. 5. Fill the muffin tins 3⁄4 full with an ice cream scoop or spoon. Sprinkle a few more chocolate chips on top if you like. 6. Bake for 22–28 minutes or until fluffy and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 7. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container. These muffins also freeze well if you happen to not eat them all first.

Chef’s Tip Pumpkin pie spice is not just for pumpkin pie. It is perfect for muffins, pancakes, crumbles, cookies, and is so well worth keeping on hand. If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, make your own by combining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1⁄4 teaspoon each of nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves. November 2020

SonomaFamilyLife 7


Bits & Pieces

Black Comics Matter

I

n 1988 Robb Armstrong created the comic strip

Robb Armstrong

Jump Street (see left) with the intention of conveying

the everyday experience of an African-American couple. More than 30 years later, the ground-breaking strip is still in syndication. And along the way, his last name became the inspiration for the first Black Peanuts ’ character, Franklin Armstrong. Robb will be one of three comics on the Charles M. Schulz Museum’s Black Comics Matter online panel. Other panelists will include Pulitzer Prize–winning editorial cartoonist Darrin Bell, and Ellizabeth Montague, the first African-American female cartoonist for the New Yorker. The panelists will discuss how graphic novels and comic stories convey the Black experience. The event will be held on November 19, 4–5 p.m., and is free. Advance registration is required: schulzmuseum. org/event/23873. ¶

Walk Along the Great Wall

K

ids love tech, it’s no secret. So teaching them about world history is easier with the help of tools like the virtual tour of the Great Wall of China. With just a click of the mouse, kids can “walk” along the famous 13,000-year-old structure, the brainchild of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Find the tour at thechinaguide.com/ destination/great-wall-of-china. ¶

Draw a Dragon

Barbara Golden

F

8 SonomaFamilyLife

ire-breathing dragons. Flying phoenixes. Mythical creatures inspire the imagination. And now kids can learn to draw them, in the online Fantasy Creatures and Landscapes class. Taught by artist Barbara Golden, the three-day workshop will teach children ages 10–15 the multiple steps of illustration, including making rough sketches, outlining images with black and colored ink, and blending and shading colors using markers and watercolors. The workshop, presented by the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, will be held November 23–25, 10 a.m.–noon, and costs $60–$80. Register at schulzmuseum. org/classes-camps/#toggle-id-1. ¶

November 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


Get Up Close to the Taj Mahal

E

veryone has hobbies, and for the Shah Jahan, a 17th century Mughal emperor, it was building. When he came into power he erected two mosques. But then his wife died, and, bereft, he ordered the construction of his most famous edifice: the Taj Mahal. Made of marble and semi-precious stones, the mausoleum houses his beloved’s remains. Most of us will not be able to travel to India to see this architectural feat in person, but, thanks to the Internet and Google Maps we can get up close to its glimmering pearly-white walls: tinyurl.com/y66pwl3b. ¶

The Royal Treatment

O

pulent and resplendent are just

two words one could use to describe Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of England’s Royals since 1837. Most of us may not be able to visit it in person, but we can still see some of its elaborate, gold-drenched décor. Just log on to royal.uk/virtual-tours-buckinghampalace to take a virtual tour of three of its main rooms: the Throne Room, the White Drawing Room, and the Grand Staircase. ¶

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Hip Hop to Better Grades

K

ids have abundant energy, and too much Zooming can make them antsy. The mid-morning Kids Online Hip Hop Dance Class aims to give children in grades 3–8 a chance to get out the wiggles so they can focus on their studies. The half-hour classes, presented by Mena’s Dance Xchange, are held at 11 a.m. once a week and cost $35 for four. For more information, see tinyurl. com/yy3dn5rw or search eventbrite. com for “Kids Online Hip Hop Dance Class.” ¶

November 2020

SonomaFamilyLife 9


virtual communities of influence, and now is the time to utilize them. My neighborhood’s Facebook page has become a beacon of support for people calling out their favorite small businesses, many of which I was unaware existed. Tell your friends, colleagues, family, and neighbors whom to support and be vocal about it.

Small BizHow to Fuel the Survival Local Economy

Support #ThankYouSmallBusiness. The Points Guy (TPG) has recently partnered with Silver Lining and their incredibly impactful Thank You Small Business movement. The organization reaches thousands of small businesses monthly via

Now is the time to utilize virtual communities.

e have a favorite restaurant that we are patrons of. Seeing the owner struggle to stay afloat has had a big impact on me. The owner had to put out calls on social media to support the business; she had to lay off staff who had been with her for years. Here’s what consumers can do to support small businesses like hers.

newsletters, in-person Champions that rally their own community, Thank You days, and more. Silver Lining launched Buy from Small Business to offer additional ways to support small businesses, including buying merchandise and giving the profits to member businesses. The organization also has a four-part, Friday night virtual concert series where you can pay to watch world-class performers and artists live via Zoom and all proceeds go to small businesses.

Buy gift cards. Buying gift cards gives a small business a cash infusion to make it through hard times. It is essentially a no-interest loan from you, which becomes even better when 40 percent (by some estimates) of people forget about the

Leave a positive review online. We’ve all headed to Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other review services to get the lowdown on a small business. These reviews have incredibly tangible impacts on a business. Take a few minutes and

By Richard Kerr

W

This article originally appeared on thepointsguy.com.

10 SonomaFamilyLife

gift cards they have. (If your small business cannot offer gift cards online, go to Kabbage and sign up to sell e-gift cards for free, thanks to a new COVID-19 relief program.) Market for the business. We each have our own in-person and

November 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


leave your favorite small businesses a positive review. Yelp. Along the lines of a positive review, Yelp announced a partnership with GoFundMe that allows you to make donations to your favorite small businesses directly on a business’s Yelp page. Tell your favorite business to sign up for this feature; Yelp and

Leave your favorite small businesses a positive review. GoFundMe are matching the first $500 donated to each business. Say thanks. Tell a small business owner thank-you. Write a card, order flowers (which helps the flower shop), or make a sizable tip to the owners and workers in your community. The stress and obligation these owners feel to provide for their employees is palpable. Simply saying thank you goes a long way to brightening someone’s day. Bottom line If you are in a position to support a small business, please do what you can to help these men and women who are the backbone of our economy. You can also join the TPG Small Biz Facebook group, where the conversation on the current environment continues 24/7. We wish all our small business owners and employees the best during these difficult times. ¶ Maximize your travel with hands-on travel advice, guides, reviews, deal alerts, and more from The Points Guy (thepointsguy.com).

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McDonald Ranch

would create a pandemic pod. These students would spend the entire day at the ranch. During the mornings, they would participate in Zoom public school classes, an instructor sitting in on the classes and helping the kids complete their weekly homework assignments. Then, in the afternoons,

“We only serve the same 14 children. That way we have a germ pod.” —Linda McDonald

the children would take care of and play with the ranch’s many rescue animals.

Nature and Nurture McDonald Ranch Creates New Local Program

F

or 25 years, McDonald Ranch had been hosting summer camps and after-school programs on their 15-acre property in Santa Rosa. But then COVID came to town.

But you know what they say about turning lemons into lemonade.

the online work that [kids] are doing now, I was really concerned for their whole health,” she says. Children still needed to connect to society and “be in the world,” she thought. So she created a nature-based educational support program.

Linda got to work figuring out how to respond to the situation. “With all

It would look like this: She would gather a small group of students who

“We have this beautiful ranch and it was empty for a week. Oh my gosh! I didn’t know what to do with myself,” says Linda McDonald, ranch founder and owner.

12 SonomaFamilyLife

Once she found an experienced instructor credentialed in multiple subjects, she began accepting students, capping the group at 14. Today the program is still going strong. “We have little desks set up in a classroom just like the kids would have if they were in regular school; but, as much as possible, most of our teaching is done outdoors. Most of the time [the kids] even do their Zoom meetings outdoors, under the oak tree. We spread the kids out. They have a lot of space here on the ranch. We keep them out in the sunshine as much as we can. When the fires came, it was so smoky outside, we decided to take one day where we didn’t do any Zooming; we just took them over to the beach. So they had a field trip.” According to McDonald, the limited number of students makes for close bonds, and, more importantly, keeps the kids safe. “We only serve the same 14 children. Most of them started with us when

November 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


COVID [shelter-in-place] started. We don’t have different kids coming in to us each day. That way we have a germ pod. Parents sign an agreement that they are doing social distancing and the proper things that they need

“As much as possible, most of our teaching is done outdoors.” —L. M.

Celebrating

to do to keep safe at home. We have one opening now because one child is moving. Whichever child takes that spot will have to do at least two weeks of quarantine at home before joining us,” explains McDonald. So far, the program has been well received. “I have had parents tell me that their kids are happier now than they have ever been. [The kids] have a tremendous amount of support and love. I think a lot of kids are going to look back at this time in their lives as a time when they felt lonely, frustrated, and confused. These kids are going to look back at this time as a very treasured memory.” One might say that McDonald has realized the “lemons-to-lemonade” vision. But she prefers a different metaphor: “You know a rainbow is probably a pretty good description because you have the big storm going on, but then there is the rainbow that is so beautiful. There is hope and a lot of good times.” ¶ For more information about McDonald Ranch, go to mcdonaldranch.org.

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shopping list. Ask for a loved one’s favorite recipe, and video chat while you and your child test it out. (Bonus: These are great ways to get your child involved in the kitchen!) 3. Send Thanksgiving care packages. Mail or drop off treats and supplies to help guests feel part of the fun. Since you can’t crowd around one table to split a pumpkin pie, maybe you and your child can bake pumpkin muffins (see page 7) and

Virtual Thanksgiving W

8 Ways to Celebrate During COVID-19

ith coronavirus numbers on the rise across the country, your family may be preparing for a different Thanksgiving this year—no trip to Grandma’s house, no overflowing dinners with extended family and friends.

If you’ll be celebrating virtually with loved ones who aren’t in your quarantine group, here’s how can you make it special. Before 1. Plan a shared experience. No matter the distance, you’ll feel close on the big day if you share the same rituals. Have your child come up with ideas for all five senses, and spread the word to everyone on the virtual guest list: For example, plan to light the same scent of candle or prepare 14 SonomaFamilyLife

the same fragrant dish, and create a shared playlist to use as background music. 2. Create connection with meal prep. Thanksgiving meal may be the hardest time for your child to be apart from family members, like grandparents, who aren’t in your quarantine group. So focus on the steps that come before eating—they are easier to bond over from a distance: Schedule calls with family members who can help your child brainstorm the holiday menu and make a

No matter the distance, you’ll feel close on the big day if you share the same rituals. drop them off on doorsteps, or make matching centerpieces for everyone to display on their holiday tables. During 4. Try a Thanksgiving video chat. Have your child host “opening” and “closing ceremonies.” Your child might want to kick off things with a song or prayer, and wrap up with a round of jokes or the latest TikTok dance. With old traditions on hold, the possibilities are endless. 5. Try a new twist on a potluck. Since you’ll all be dining as separate households, a traditional potluck is out the window. But you can still ask every person to “bring” something to share virtually, such as a brief toast or favorite family photo. 6. Try a gratitude bowl. Have all the households in your extended family start this process a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Each day, each person writes something they’re

November 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


grateful for on a slip of paper and adds it to their household bowl. During your Thanksgiving virtual event, take turns reading contributions aloud.

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7. Keep the fun going! Once your Thanksgiving Day “program” has ended, you can prop up your device somewhere central and keep video chat going for any loved ones

With old traditions on hold, the possibilities are endless. who want to stay connected; or have your child send occasional text updates on the day’s events—from the big turkey reveal to lounging in comfy clothes while you digest. 8. Make Thanksgiving resolutions. This can be part of your virtual get-together, or just a quiet conversation with your child to close out the day. What would your child like to learn, try, or do more of by Thanksgiving next year? This is a nice way to remind kids (and all of us) that we all have a lot to look forward to on the other side of this pandemic. It’s hard on everyone to skip favorite holiday traditions. But as with so much else during the time of coronavirus, we can try new, quarantine-friendly ideas to fill in for what we’ll miss. It may even add new meaning to the holiday. ¶

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Article reprinted with permission from Connecticut Children’s, a nonprofit with a mission to improve children’s access to health care. Find out more at connecticutchildrens.org.

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Work-at-Home Parents W

6 Ways to Stay Sane and Get Stuff Done

By Christina Katz

orking at home alongside kids or with kids in school comes with its own unique challenges. But you can discipline yourself to work happily and productively so you can maximize the benefits of being a work-at-home parent. Here’s how. 1. Schedule Sunday prep-time. Set aside Sunday morning to spend quality time with your family, but reserve an hour or two during the afternoon or evening to get a jump on your workweek. If you can empty your inbox, do a bit of planning, and make a to-do list, you will get off to a great start. If this works well for you, consider adding in a family meeting afterwards, to go over schedules, consolidate errands, 16 SonomaFamilyLife

I’ve had some of my best business inspirations while doing the dishes. delegate tasks, and send any necessary family-related emails for the upcoming week. 2. Activate your cool, calm, and collected powers. When you are a work-at-home parent, you don’t usually get to sleep in. So go ahead and set your alarm an hour

earlier than you would normally get up so you can have a few moments all to yourself each weekday morning. What do you consider a joyful morning meditation? For some it will be drinking coffee and journaling. For others, it may be fixing a smoothie and reading inspirational passages. Some parents love a morning jog and hot shower. Whatever gets your day off to the best start is time wisely invested. 3. Exercise at home. Studies have shown that sitting at your desk all day without taking breaks is disastrous for your health. So make exercise a part of your daily routine. If you have kids at home even part of the day, establish family exercise

The more you can accept the limitations of balancing parenting and work, the happier your whole family will feel. time. Try putting on your workout clothes when you get up in the morning to remind yourself you are serious. If accountability is an issue, join an online exercise support group where you can check in after a workout. On days when you don’t exercise, get up from your desk every hour and stretch, twist, reach, and bend to chase the kinks away. 4. Take chore breaks. Why not do little chores between business tasks to take mental and physical breaks from your computer throughout the day? I’ve had some of my best business inspirations

November 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


while doing the dishes, sorting the laundry, or driving around town doing errands. 5. Eat lunch in the kitchen. You may be tempted to scarf a sandwich while catching up on Facebook but try to resist. You will feel happier and digest your

Set your alarm an hour earlier so you can have a few moments all to yourself. food better if you sit down at the kitchen table and eat lunch like a civilized person. Why not turn on some upbeat music or listen to an inspirational talk? You might want to tackle another quick chore or

take a walk around the yard before you sit back down. However you spend your lunch break, try to make it more refreshing. 6. Keep life balanced. Don’t try to keep up with parents who make volunteering their full-time job. The more you can accept the limitations of balancing parenting and work, the happier your whole family will feel. Contribute how and where you can outside of work and family, but never give so much that you start to lose your balance. Remember that your family’s happiness is built on your good health and positive attitude. ¶ Christina Katz has found working at home to be maddening, interesting, impossible, and occasionally fantastic.

Have Young Children at Home? Here’s Your List of Dos & Don’ts During the pandemic, a lot of parents are working at home. Here are a few tips for navigating this tricky time. Be realistic; don’t overcommit. If your income is needed, then work has to be a priority. Don’t commit to anything unless you know you have time in your schedule. Get used to saying, “I’m sorry I can’t commit to that.” Then offer what you can do. Baby-step, don’t multi-task. Trying to do many things at once often lowers the quality of all results. So rather than multi-task, squeeze in baby-steps here and there until single tasks get done. Then repeat. You’ll get more done faster and better.

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Plan for success; don’t hope for it. Trying to do more than you can reasonably accomplish each week will only lead to frustration and disappointment. Set realistic goals and reach them. You’ll get faster and more efficient the more you focus and keep tasks simple. Know when to expand your work hours. Parents who work at home often need to think creatively about the calendar in order to squeeze in enough hours to make a workweek. The best opportunities to expand your work hours are whenever you have more focused, alone time available to you.

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November 2020

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the books throughout the house, concentrating on his favorite places. That kid read every book by the end of the week. Research shows that children from print-rich homes are better readers, but it helps if the books, magazines, and newspapers are out where kids can see them.

3

Hook a Book 10 Clever Ways to Lover Get Kids to Read By Janeen Lewis

O

ne of the most important things parents can do is raise a reader. Successful reading leads to successes in academics and gives kids a solid start in life. In fact, recent research shows that kids who read at least 15 minutes a day have accelerated reading gains.

But no matter how diligent parents are at supporting reading, sometimes kids resist. Books have to compete with those oh-so-scintillating devices, video games, and TV streaming apps. Why not shake things up a bit and try some stealthy ways to hook a book lover? The following 10 ideas are sure to win over the most reluctant reader.

1

Get free stuff! Google “free stuff kids can earn by reading” and oodles of free items will pop up. By merely recording the titles they are reading, my own children have earned

18 SonomaFamilyLife

these free things: Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizzas, frozen yogurt, books from Barnes and Noble, and amusement park tickets.

2

Let the books out. Don’t cage them up on the shelves! When my son was 8, he announced that he didn’t want to read nonfiction books because they bored him. I checked out a big stack of nonfiction titles from the library and in my most nonchalant voice said, “You don’t have to read these, but I think I will. They seem very interesting.” I strategically placed

Reward with extra bedtime reading. Have you noticed that the child who has a plague-like aversion to reading during the day suddenly develops a fondness for reading when it’s time for bed? Why

Let them read with a flashlight under the covers. not embrace this motivation and let your child earn extra reading time at bedtime? If he or she reads for a specified amount of time or reads a certain number of books, extend lights-out for a few minutes—as long as your child spends that time reading.

4

Make your book nook the envy of the neighborhood. Think: a tent with twinkly lights. Plump pillows. Comfy chairs. Make your child’s reading space as comfortable and inviting as you can. When my children were young they draped a sleeping bag over the footboard of our queen-sized bed. Extending it from the back of the bed, they lapped it over a chair and then curled up with their books in the “reading fort.” My kids have also built “reading caves” with old moving boxes.

5

Make it a double feature. Every year new films come out that are inspired by books. If your

November 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


child wants to see a movie that was based on a book, have them read the book first and then rent the movie and watch it together. Compare the two, and have your child explain which he or she liked better.

6

Get graphic. Umm…I’m talking graphic novels here. They may not be the conventional kind of books parents grew up with, but they may draw your child into reading. And while you are mixing it up, let them read comic books. Oh, and throw in some audio books, and let them read on a device sometimes. Imagine all the possibilities that might engage your child in reading.

7

Subscribe to children’s magazines. Magazine subscriptions make kids feel grown

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up and tempt them to read. Some good ones to try: Ask, Ranger Rick, National Geographic Kids, Sports Illustrated Kids, Cobblestone, Ladybug, and Highlights.

Google “free stuff kids can earn by reading” and oodles of free items will pop up.

8

Tickle a funny bone. From Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Peggy Parish’s Amelia Bedelia or Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine, a funny story is a good way to hook a book lover. And if you read a humorous book with your child, you might find yourself chuckling along.

November 2020

9

Let there be light. Come on, don’t be so stuffy! Let them read with a flashlight under the covers. Also, there are a plethora of really cool reading lights in today’s universe. Headlamps are a unique option, and there are even book lights that keep track of minutes read.

10

Be a rock-star reader yourself. Daily carve out time for your child to see you poring over the paper, curling up with your favorite book, or discussing a tidbit from a magazine. Model a reading life, and your child will be more likely to embrace the same literature-loving values. Janeen Lewis is a writer, teacher, and mom to Andrew and Gracie.

SonomaFamilyLife 19


the kid. Sometimes it’s not even the foster parents [who are the problem], but their biological children. I know everyone has a different experience in the system. [For me] it wasn’t all that fantastic but not every home was bad. I think social workers should be checked. [S]ome of them don’t fulfill their duties and just skim through the process, even though they are supposed to be one person the child is able to look to for help.

Forever Families A Teen’s Perspective on Foster Care & Adoption

By Hope and Adoptive Black Mom

Editor’s note: Hope was adopted when she was a tween. Her mom chronicles her experiences raising Hope in the blog Adoptive Black Mom (adoptiveblackmom.com). Here, Hope answers some of her mom’s questions about what it has been like for her to go through foster care and adoption. Do you talk about being adopted much with your friends? Do you notice that you gravitate toward peers that have been adopted? I have only really talked about it to my friends if a question regarding where I’m from comes up. I have a few friends that are adopted, but that’s something that I usually don’t find out about until we’ve already been friends for some time; so I would say, no, I don’t gravitate toward others who have been adopted. 20 SonomaFamilyLife

What do you think would make the foster care system better? What advice would you give to kids first coming into foster care and what would you say to the foster parents as well? Well, in my opinion, the foster care system needs a lot of work. It’s not the best, although I know that sometimes they are just working with what they are given. I think that the system needs to be more thoughtful about choosing who is eligible to foster because some people do it just because they can get some cash for housing

Foster kids need encouragement and positivity to get through it all. As for advice…one thing I definitely would say is to not let the foster parents you are placed with treat you any kind of way; tell your social worker. Don’t run away from your foster home; that’ll probably make it more difficult for them to try and get you adopted, and it will put you in a bad spot. It would be easier to just ask the social worker to move houses if the situation is really not working or if they are just nasty people with a bad attitude. For the foster parents, if you have biological children and are fostering, please treat [your foster kids] like you would your own children. [Foster kids] are probably already having a difficult time or have had a difficult time. The mistreatment can stick with them and affect them later on, which makes it hard to really trust or believe in any other adults. Pay attention to them and don’t tell them every five seconds what they may or may not be doing wrong.

November 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


Foster kids need encouragement and positivity to get through it all. Don’t assume you know what they are going through or know what they feel like, regardless of how long you have been fostering. You aren’t them, so just listen to them. If you were able to chat with kids still waiting for their very own Adoptive Black Mom, how would you coach them up, i.e., help them understand what to expect. How would you help them emotionally prepare for life with a forever family? Well, for everyone it’s different. One thing that I would tell them is that they really should be serious and think when they are asked about their parental preferences and the kind of environment that they want to live in. When they do finally

I think that the system needs to be more thoughtful about choosing who is eligible to foster. meet the family for them, both parts [prospective parents and kids] have to work together in order for it to work out. If you can, tell your parent about things that help you and things that upset you. [This] can really help them help you and understand your actions/ behaviors. Don’t expect something super perfect; parents are people just like you are, and they go through things the same as you. If you are having a hard time, let them know. ¶

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See more of Hope’s and her mom’s writing at adoptiveblackmom.com.

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November 2020

SonomaFamilyLife 21


Remember, the vibe you’re going for is Friends, not CSI.

Be a Divorce How to Help a Friend Buddy through Crisis T By Pam Moore

he first time I attended the wedding of a friend, I knew exactly what to do. I brought a gift, set it on the gift table, and sat on the bride’s side of the aisle. By the time I got married, I’d been in so many weddings I could have filled the role of bridesmaid blindfolded with my hands bound behind my back. I was a pro when it came to helping friends tie the knot. But when it came to helping friends through divorce, I was as comfortable as a seventh-grader at a school dance. If, like me, for most of your adult life, the full extent of your knowledge of how to help a friend navigate a divorce consists of snippets from a grown-up conversation you overheard in the 1980s, read on. The following tips are based on the experiences of my best friend and others who have been through divorce and were kind enough to share their stories with me.

22 SonomaFamilyLife

Don’t interrogate. When you ask questions about how the split happened, you might think you’re expressing interest or concern, but it doesn’t necessarily come off that way. As one of my friends recalled over a decade after the fact, “Many people had a million nosy, judgy questions that just made me cry even harder. Like I was supposed to explain to them how it came about.”

Don’t judge. You might have your own ideas about why the marriage didn’t last, but that is not what your friend wants to hear right now (or maybe ever). Unless your friend specifically asks you what you think went wrong, keep it to yourself. Said one friend, “The people who were just completely accepting and supportive were the best.” Validate. Divorce has essentially flipped your friend’s whole life upside down. Regardless of the circumstances, the process can be scary, disorienting, and overwhelming, which can cause him

Unless your friend specifically asks you what you think went wrong, keep it to yourself. or her to second guess the decision. One friend described “going blank” at times, like you would during trauma. She recalled how important it was for friends to remind her of the details of why she made the choice to leave and all the actions she took to try to save the marriage. Be a haven. When your friend is going through a divorce, she may not know where she fits in anymore, especially if she’s separated (emotionally or geographically) from family. An invitation to dinner, especially at the holidays, goes a long way. Give a gift. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive to show you care. One friend, recalling her long-ago

November 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


divorce, mentioned a simple fridge magnet with a heart on it that a friend sent her. “Every time I opened the refrigerator I knew she was thinking of me.”

to coffee, and “continuing to call, even when I was at the point where I ‘should’ be okay but I wasn’t, and asking how I was, then not flinching when I gave an honest response.”

Do a task. It’s nice to say, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” but what really helps is rolling up your sleeves and working. One friend recalled being grateful when someone cleaned out her fridge without being asked, when another friend helped reset all her bank passwords, and for the people who took on housework and childcare.

Be a cheerleader. Let your friend know you believe in him. One friend described the wrenching decision to leave his partner just one month prior

Show up. And keep showing up, over and over. Said one friend, in the wake of her divorce, she was grateful for a handful of friends who kept showing up, extending invitations

through with [the wedding]. I carry that card in my bag every day. It meant the world to me when I felt like I was the worst type of human being.” Other friends recalled appreciating the advice to go out, have experiences, and figure out who you are without him, and to be selfish for a while. It turns out, being a friend through a divorce isn’t much different than being a friend through the rest of life’s messes. As my best friend recalled, while she and her ex were splitting up, I did better than I thought I did, as a friend. “You didn’t give advice and you listened, and that’s the best you can do for someone.” ¶

“The people who were just completely accepting and supportive were the best.” to the wedding and how powerful it was to receive a letter from a family member. “[She wrote that] I made the most difficult decision of my life. Plenty of people would have gone

This article was originally published on Motherly. To get Pam Moore’s free guide to crushing Impostor Syndrome, visit pam-moore.com. INSTALLS ON NEW & EXISTING GUTTERS

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November Calendar of Events Sunday 1 FREE Annual Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Exhibit. Features

altars & artwork designed & created by Peter Perez, Mario Uribe, Liz Camino-Byers & other artists, including the museum’s Youth & Art students. Exhibit held outdoors in the Sculpture Garden, following COVID-19 safety protocols. Nov. 1 & 2: 4–7 p.m. Nov. 5–8: 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Museum of Sonoma County. 475 7th St., Santa Rosa. museumsc.org/events. 579-1500.

Wednesday 4 FREE Mind of a Scientist (Virtual Field Trips). Through Zoom meetings, high school students interact with scientists & engineers doing live presentations from their labs or the field. Breakout groups follow presentations. Wednesdays. 12:30–2 p.m. events.sonomalibrary.org/ event/4559138.

Thursday 5 FREE Breastfeeding MeetUp.

Weekly online group, facilitated by a lactation consultant. Hosted by the Luma Center. Thursdays. 12:30–1:30 p.m. Register: tinyurl.com/y3lmgoga.

Friday 6 Thanksgiving Play. A comedy

by Larissa FastHorse. A troupe of terminally “woke” teaching artists scrambles to create a pageant that somehow celebrates both Turkey Day & Native American Heritage Month. Via Zoom. $10–$30. 24 SonomaFamilyLife

Thursdays–Sundays. Evening shows & matinees. Livestream Nov. 6–15. On Demand: Nov. 19–29. leftedgetheatre. com/thethanksgivingplay.

Saturday 7 FREE Storytime at Home. Sonoma County librarians read stories & sing songs. Ages 0–5. Saturdays. 11–11:15 a.m. events.sonomalibrary.org/ event/456239. 25 Years of MUTTS: Patrick McDonnell in Conversation with Tom Gammill. MUTTS

cartoonist Patrick McDonnell talks with Tom Gammill, producer & writer for the Simpsons & Seinfeld. $10–$15. 4 p.m. Advance registration required: schulzmuseum.org/learn/ calendar-of-events or call 284-1272. FREE Holiday Craft Market.

Domestic & handmade crafts from local vendors. Nov. 7, 14, 21 & 28. 8:30 a.m.–noon. Healdsburg Farmers Market. West Plaza Parking Lot. North & Vine Streets, Healdsburg. healdsburgfarmersmarket.org. FREE Family Bikes Workshop.

Virtual series offers tips, tricks & tools for bicycling safely with kids. Nov. 7, 11 a.m.–noon: Bicycle Route Planning. Nov. 12, 3–4 p.m.: Intro to Family Bicycling. Nov. 19, 3–4 p.m.: Bicycling Street Skills for Parents. Registration required: bikesonoma.org/ family-bike-workshops. Virtual Event: Dancing in the Moment. Performed by current members & alumni dancers of North Coast Ballet. $35. (If watching at a

COVID-safe viewing party, a $10 fee for each additional person is suggested.) 6 p.m. northcoastballet. org/dancinginthemoment.

Tuesday 10 FREE Virtual Book Club for Teens.

Ages 13–18. Virtually meet other teens, discover new books & hang out. Theme: New School/New Beginnings. 3:30–4:30 p.m. Register: events. sonomalibrary.org/event/4479889.

Thursday 12 FREE Tweens Virtual Book Club.

This month, check out the book Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez. Ages 8–14. 3:30–4:30 p.m. Register: events.sonomalibrary.org/ event/4651190. Fall Online Classes for Kids. Classes

in manga, fine art & cartooning led by professional instructors. Classes once a week; 6-week series for advanced students. Ages 7 & up. $10–$15/class. Classes meet via Zoom. Advance registration required. Visit schulzmuseum.org/classes-camps for class schedule, fees & registration.

Saturday 14 FREE Holidays Along the Farm Trails. Farm tours, handmade gifts, DIY gift-making workshops. Most stops are free. RSVP to receive an interactive online map of participating destinations. Thru Jan. 1, 2021. Various locations in Petaluma. farmtrails.org. FREE Buckeye Ranch Holiday Market. Outdoor showcase of local,

unique, vintage & one-of-a-kind

November 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


products. Live music by the Highway Poets & others. Dancing area, art tour, food area & more. COVID-safety & social distancing protocols followed: sign-in & masks required. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Buckeye Ranch. 2425 Adobe Rd., Petaluma. clucktowncollective.com.

Sunday 15 FREE Virtual Day of Strings. Live

Zoom with Sonoma State University’s Director of Orchestral Activities Dr. Alexander Kahn, who will discuss college audition strategies. The talk will be followed by a master class on standard repertoire for strings. Participants will receive complimentary tickets to a virtual performance & discussion session held by the world-renowned Julliard String Quartet. Talk & master class: 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Julliard String Quartet: 3 p.m. Register: music.sonoma.edu/ events/2020/virtual-day-strings.

Thursday 19 FREE Live Online: Black Comics Matter. Join cartoonists Robb Armstrong, Darrin Bell, Keith “Keef”

Knight, Elizabeth Montague & Bianca Xunise as they discuss the Black experience as told thru graphic novels & comic stories. Q & A will follow. 4 p.m. Register: schulzmuseum.org/ learn/calendar-of-events. FREE Jewish Music Series: Trio Sefardi. Virginia-based ensemble performs traditional songs of the Sephardim, the descendants of Jews exiled from Spain in 1492. 6:30 p.m. Zoom Meeting ID: 948 0309 6333. music.sonoma.edu/events.

Friday 20 Drive-In Movie: Ratatouille. $25/car.

Gates open: 5 p.m. Movie: 6:30 p.m. Park & Ride Lot on the corner of Hwy. 116 & Old Redwood Hwy. (across from Peet’s Coffee), Cotati. Tickets: cotati. recdesk.com/community/program.

Saturday 21 Annual Joy Art Walk & Holiday Sale.

Local artists at two locations: the enchanted horse barn & the historic red schoolhouse. View gifts for home, garden & personal pampering. Nov. 21 & 22: 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Joy Art Walk. 2400 & 2502 Joy Rd., Occidental.

Monday 23 Gualala Arts Winter Wonderland.

Arts & crafts fair & fundraising event. Ornately decorated Christmas trees of all sizes available for purchase. COVID-safety procedures followed. Mondays–Thursdays. 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving. Runs thru Dec. 30. Gualala Arts Center. 46501 Old State Hwy., Gualala. gualalaarts.org.

Friday 27 It’s a Wonderful Life! Live streaming

from 6th Street Playhouse. Based on the classic holiday movie but with a twist: The story is staged as a live radio broadcast. Virtual seat for 1: $15. 2 seats: $25. 3 seats: $50. Runs thru Dec. 6. 6thstreetplayhouse.com. FREE 2020 Virtual Holiday Arts & Craft Faire. Vendors will post a

variety of unique handmade arts & crafts. Peruse vendor posts, which will include instructions for how to purchase their items. Nov. 27 & 28. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. facebook.com/ events/365249078154222.

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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SonomaFamilyLife 25


Humor Break “They would probably be more comfortable in the same bag.” “Yes, but it would make for a much more comfortable car ride for us if each of my girls is holding one bag.” “Are you going straight home?” “We are stopping at Jamba Juice first.” “I recommend going straight home and keeping them out of direct sunlight.”

Go Fish

The Search for a Low-Maintenance Pet

By Jessica Guerrieri

M

y sanity had hit a pandemic low point when I decided we could foster two 8-week-old kittens. After four weeks of snuggles and an abundance of cat feces, those kittens are now in their forever home—which is thankfully not ours. I am now quite aware that I am a “low-maintenance pet” kind of mom. So, after the kitties left, I grabbed our masks and took my three girls to find some goldfish. I was beyond thrilled that, of all the sparkly, glow-in-the-dark fish at Petco, my daughters chose the 19-cent feeder fish (low-maintenance and cheap, score!). We decided on just two, since our fishbowl was small and the youngest isn’t yet old enough to keep herself from accidentally committing fish murder. I went to retrieve a store employee to help us capture the fish, and was surprised when not just the employee, but also the store manager came along. 26 SonomaFamilyLife

And that is where my quest for simple pet care ended. “What type of living environment do you have for them at home?” the store employee asked me. “Like their tank? I have a small fishbowl for them.” The employee and manager exchanged judgy looks. “For goldfish, we recommend you get a larger tank because they expel a lot of waste. With a bowl, you will be changing the water constantly. It’s not an optimal environment for them.” “Yeah, that’s not going to happen. I’m sure we can change the water daily.” “Well, I mean we can’t stop you from getting them, but you will officially be going against doctor’s orders.” Pause for sarcastic laughter since we are talking about fish. There is none. “I think I can live with that. Can you put them in two separate bags, please?”

At this point I decided to pay, just to end the most ridiculous conversation I’d had that day (and that included the one with my 4-year-old about why we must wear pants in the car). On our way out, the manager who had fished out our fish stopped us at the door to make sure we had paid and that we weren’t the mother-and-daughter-fish-stealingmasterminds making headlines on CSPAN. Just to seal his fate as the star of this article, he told me that if I brought the dead fish carcasses back to the store, we would get replacements free of charge for the next 30 days. I do a lot for my daughters, but I draw a hard line at intentionally transporting dead guppies to save less than 50 cents. Back at home, my girls are currently taking turns holding the bowl on their laps while the littlest eats Goldfish crackers (discreetly, of course, out of respect for the new family members). Mission low-maintenance pets: accomplished. While signs of pet-purchasing-delirium show it’s obvious we’ve all been at home far too long, other people maybe have spent a little too long among the fishes. ¶ Find Jessica Guerrieri at witandspitup. com and on Instagram at @witandspitup.

November 2020 www.sonomafamilylife.com


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ike many people and institutions, local art organizations are financially suffering during the pandemic. One local company is (quite literally) not taking it lying down. North Coast Ballet is producing an online performance and benefit called Dancing in the Moment with the hope of keeping the organization, the only pre-professional company in Sonoma County, alive. The event will be held on November 7 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35; for those hosting a socially distanced viewing party, an additional $10 donation per viewer is suggested. Beyond the Glory, a Petaluma sports bar and grill, will be offering meal options to those who want to dine before their at-home events. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to northcoastballet.org. ¶

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Strike a Super-Hero Pose

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ids like to pretend they are super heroes. And Marrielle Monte gives little ones an opportunity to act like them. Her positive-thinking Empowering Kids! workshops use “super-hero” poses, affirmations, and music and dance to help youngsters understand that they can use their thoughts to change how they feel. Monte, the author of the children’s book Magic Thinking for Kids, will be hosting a free online Empowering Kids! workshop on November 23, 3–3:30 p.m. To register, log on to tinyurl.com/yxdhra9s or search evenbrite.com for “Empowering Kids! A fun workshop for kids and their parents!” ¶ www.sonomafamilylife.com

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Sonoma Family Life November 2020