Page 1



September 2016

SPD Smarts Help sensory sensitives Â

Care for Caregivers Nourish yourself

Special Needs Advice for parents

Be Close

Bond with your kid


Cider Tasting Saturday, Sept 17, 12-5 Sunday, Sept 18, 12-5 At the Mendocino County Fair & Apple Show

September 2016

Every Issue

10 Features 10 Upside Down World How to deal with a diagnosis.

12 Hug Me Tight Learn about the ins and outs of SPD.

14 A Not-So-Big Birthday Why a small gathering is better for sensory sensitives.

16 Mama Fierce Life lessons from a mom of a child with special needs.

18 Care for the Caregiver


Ideas for sneaking in self-nourishment.

20 Close to You How to cultivate a strong bond with your little one.


Dear Reader


Bits and Pieces Get Your Ag On Flying Boys & Talking Rabbits A Taste of New Orleans Singin’ the Blues Teens and Tech Spirited Away by Anime Mighty Machines

28 Calendar of Events Just Buzzing Around

38 Cooking with Kids Amazeballs!

39 Crafting with Kids Grand Gifts

42 Humor Break The Homeschool Big Reveal


22 Play With Me Bring misbehaving kids back to center with Special Time.

24 Wise Child Help your family to keep calm and carry on.

26 Time to Say Goodbye Make school drop-offs easier. 4 SonomaFamilyLife

September 2016


Mendocino County Fair & Apple Show September 16-18, 2016

9 am to Midnight Daily • Boonville Fairgrounds




September 2016

SonomaFamilyLife 5

Dear Reader


Sharon Gowan Publisher/Editor

elcome to our Special Needs issue, which aims to offer support and practical tips to those parenting a child with physical, behavioral, emotional, and/or cognitive problems.

Raising a child with special needs can be extremely challenging. As Alexa Bigwarfe illustrates in “Mama Fierce” (page 16), it requires a great deal of strength. First hearing your child’s diagnosis may be very upsetting. But Meagan Ruffing says a diagnosis does not have to define your child. In “Upside Down World” (page 10), she explains how to use a diagnosis to gain access to necessary services as well as create effective parenting strategies.

That’s what Sarah Lyons did. When she learned her daughter had Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), she adjusted her parenting style to keep her daughter from becoming over stimulated. Lyons shares her tips for throwing a low-key, SPD-friendly party in “A Not-So-Big Birthday” (page 14).

Office Manager Patricia Ramos

Business Marketing

The demands of parenting a special needs child can make self-care as important as it is difficult. In “Care for the Caregiver” (page 18), Pamela Wilson tells parents to accept help from friends and family, and to take time for themselves no matter what. During this hectic back-to-school season, that’s sage advice for everyone. We wish our readers a happy and productive fall!

Renee Nutcher Marie Anderson

Features Editor Melissa Chianta

Production Manager Donna Bogener

Web and Social Media Jean Flint








Contributing Writers Cricket Azima Alexa Bigwarfe Holly Hester Sarah Lyons Michele Ranard Meagan Ruffing Frederick Travis Monisha Vasa Shazi Visram Robert Keith Wallace Pamela D. Wilson Patty Wipfler Denise Morrison Yearian

Billing Jan Wasson-Smith




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

For more information or to donate/volunteer please visit

6 SonomaFamilyLife

September 2016

Come Pick Your Own Apples! Make a day of it! Bring a picnic & the kids out to Ratzlaff Ranch

U-Pick Apples

at Sebastopol Ratzlaff Ranch

Home of Apple-A-Day Cider

We start u-pick apples as soon as Yellow Delicious and Rome apples are ripe—early September. We provide picking bags and boxes if needed. Fresh and Frozen Apple Juice will be available on site. Picnic tables are also available. For further information, call 707-823-0538. Ratzlaff Ranch, 13128 Occidental Rd., Sebastopol Hours: 9am–5pm: Sunday–Wednesday & Friday • Closed Saturdays & Thursdays Please call before coming, in case the apples aren’t ripe yet: 707-823-0538.

Bits & Pieces

Get Your Ag On


f the Great Pumpkin had a favorite hang out, it would undoubtedly be the National Heirloom Exposition. Literally tons of squash and other produce flaunt their impressive girths and diversity at the three-day exhibit. It’s a feast for the eyes and, with food tastings and lectures, the body and brain, too. After you nibble on some heirlooms, you can head off to hear nationally and internationally acclaimed speakers talk about topics like raising chickens, saving seeds, gardening in a drought, or starting a small-market farm. There will even be kid-friendly workshops on everything from flower dissection and bean-mosaic construction to kefir concocting and permaculture gardening. The expo runs September 6–8, 11 a.m.–8 p.m., at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. Admission is $15 for a one-day pass or $30 for a three-day pass, and is free for kids 17 and under. Find out more at ¶

Flying Boys & Talking Rabbits


nside every adult is a kid who never wants to grow up. And that kid loves Peter Pan. Soar with Peter and his pack of eternal boys when you watch Hook, the classic Stephen Spielberg film starring Robin Williams as a grown-up Pan. The 1991 flick will be shown at Howarth Park in Santa Rosa on September 9 and will be followed on September 16 by Zootopia, a Disney animated feature about a city of anthropomorphic animals. Both movies are free and start at dusk (about 7:45 p.m.). Bring a low-back chair or blanket for a cinematic night under the stars. ¶

A Taste of New Orleans


eady yourself for some fast-moving accordion and infectious rhythms. The 21st Annual Sonoma County Cajun Zydeco and Delta Rhythm Festival is coming to town. Savor Cajun cuisine and a hurricane or margarita, and then hit the dance floor, where national acts like Jeffery Broussard and the Creole Cowboys, Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble, and the Zydeco Flames will be playing their brand of New Orleans grooves. The event will be held on September 3 and 4, 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m., at Ives Park in Sebastopol. Attend both days for $50 or one day for $30. Children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult. The event benefits west Sonoma County schools and nonprofit and community organizations. See for more information. ¶

8 SonomaFamilyLife

Jeffery Broussard

September 2016

Singin’ the Blues


Chaka Kan

uerneville may be a small town, but that doesn’t stop it from drawing big names. Just check out the line up of the Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival: Chaka Kan, Keb’ Mo’, Jonny Lang, Sheila E. All are all set to play on Johnson’s Beach on September 10 and 11. So bring your low-back beach chairs and get ready for some world-class performances. Doors open at 10 a.m. Buy a weekend pass for $90 or a single-day pass for $55. Bring your own low-back beach chair. See for a complete lineup or to purchase tickets. ¶

Teens and Tech


re you tired of your kids paying more attention to their phones than anything or anyone else? So is Dr. Delaney Ruston, a parent, physician, and filmmaker who made the documentary Screenagers to address Generation Z’s obsession with technology. Through interviews with brain scientists, psychologists, authors, and kids themselves, Ruston explores how screen time negatively affects brain and interpersonal development and offers solutions for living a more technologically balanced life. The Petaluma Regional Library will be hosting a free viewing of the film on September 7 at 6:30 p.m. Find out more at

Mighty Machines


Spirited Away by Anime


he highly stylized and creative imagery of Hayao Miyazaki and other Japanese anime and manga artists has captured the imagination of many an American tween and teen. If your child is one of them, he or she can discuss manga or watch anime with other like-minded spirits at the free Tween Anime Club at the Central Santa Rosa Library in Santa Rosa. Open to kids ages 9–14, the group is held on the second Thursday of every month, 4–5 p.m. The next meeting is set for September 8. For more information, see ¶

f you turn your gaze skyward any old day of the week, chances are you’ll see a roaming bird or two. But during the Wings Over Wine Country Airshow, somersaulting F-18s will join our feathered friends. Besides military planes, you’ll also see vintage aircraft, and, down below, some grounded models to climb aboard. The show runs September 24 and 25, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa. One-day admission for ages 18–64 is $18, $13 for ages 65 and over, and $8 for ages 11–17. Kids ten and under get in free, as do World War II and Korean War veterans, and active duty military personnel with an ID. To purchase tickets, see ¶

September 2016

SonomaFamilyLife 9

6 Tips for Handling a Diagnosis

Upside Down World By Meagan Ruffing


y son started occupational therapy when he was four years old. The sessions were one floor up from where we had taken him the previous year for Parent-Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT). Even though we were only one floor from where we’d spent weekly appointments learning how to interact more constructively with our son, we were about to approach a whole new way of doing things. When the elevator door opened, and I saw the “Autism” sign, I thought we had the wrong floor. Since then, my son has been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and several other comorbid disorders. Here is what I learned about how to handle hearing a diagnosis.


Labels don’t matter. Or do they? There has always been a huge difference between how my husband and I have approached our son’s diagnoses. I have needed to have names for my son’s disorders so that I could research them and take some control over my life as his parent. My husband, on the other hand, could care less. It has not been important to him. He’d rather spend his time “fixing” than naming. This could be you and your partner. If it is, identify how you each feel. It’s important to 10 SonomaFamilyLife

Seek professional help so that you can set up your child for success. understand where the other person is coming from, even if you disagree.


Don’t use the diagnosis as a defining moment. Instead, see it as a stepping-stone. Use this nugget of knowledge to take you to the next level (therapy, medication, programs, support groups, and so on). Seek

professional help so that you can set up your child for success.


Be careful if, how, and when you decide to tell your child about her or his diagnosis. I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes when I decided to tell my son he had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We had been searching for a name for what he had for years, and after several misdiagnoses, we were confident that this was what he had. I debated whether or not to tell him but decided I would. I kept it short and simple. He was five years old and well into kindergarten. We’d been taking him to therapists and doctors for several years on and off so he was well aware that there was something slightly different about him. Our conversation lasted a few minutes. He asked a few questions, like I thought he would. I answered them and that was that. If this is the season of life you find yourself in, think about how you want to handle it and go from there.

September 2016


As much as possible, set your child up for success in every situation and environment. Each diagnosis comes with specific ways to manage it. Before my son’s ADHD diagnosis, I would be quick to discipline him for not listening to me when I would rattle off a list of things for him to do. After his diagnosis, I became more intentional about giving him one task at a time. After he completed a task, I would tell him to come right back to me so that I could give him another one. This technique, which I learned from doing my own research, has worked a million times better than what I was doing before. When you know better, you do better.


Set boundaries. This one may be hard to enact with loved ones

time when the diagnosis was new and I wasn’t quite sure how it was all going to play out.

and friends. Boundaries are meant to protect those we love. Take, for instance, play dates. For a very long time, I would not allow my son to play at anyone else’s house if I wasn’t with him. He could invite friends over to our house, but until I felt sure that a friend’s parents would confidently watch my son and not get frustrated when he wouldn’t listen or when he


Receiving a diagnosis for your child can feel like a step in the right direction, and it is. But along with the news may come grief. was super loud, I just didn’t allow it. That was an unspoken boundary, one that I needed to set for a temporary

Go to therapy. If you can, I encourage you to get counseling. Receiving a diagnosis for your child can feel like a step in the right direction, and it is. But along with the news may come grief. When I went to therapy right after my son’s diagnosis, my therapist told me it was okay to be sad and to cry if I needed to. She told me that everything I was feeling was completely normal in the midst of so many abnormal things. Sometimes we just need permission to come undone, even if it’s only for an hour in a therapist’s office. ¶ Meagan Ruffing’s book about parenting her son, I See You, will be available this fall. Visit her at Tweet her @meagan_ruffing.

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September 2016

SonomaFamilyLife 11

Hug Me Tight

interferes with our ability to function on a day-to-day basis, we have a problem.” Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) can be hard to diagnose because it affects each person differently. “Any of the five senses can be affected by being hypersensitive (over stimulated) or by being hyposensitive (under stimulated),” says Lyons.

A Sensory Processing Disorder Primer says that a child who has a

By Sarah Lyons


typical morning in my home begins with the words, “My clothes hurt me. They are too loose. I need new clothes.” As a result, I begin the search for the “right” clothes for my four-year-old daughter. After much time, many tears, lots of tight hugs, and a good dose of frustration, she begins her day in the same dress she wore the day prior and many days prior to that. The process of getting dressed, which seems simple to most, is the biggest challenge my child faces on a daily basis. This situation is one example of what living with a child with Sensory Processing Disorder is like. “Imagine being in an environment where the noise around you is amplified to the highest level, the temperature is the coldest or hottest you have ever felt, you are wearing the most uncomfortable clothing that has ever touched your skin, and you are nauseated by a repulsive smell—all at the same time. What would be your response? Most would quickly escape the situation,” says occupational therapist Dana Lyons. “These are examples of what children with 12 SonomaFamilyLife

Sensory Processing Disorder feel, but they cannot escape the symptoms. As a result, these children may respond with anger or frustration, or ultimately avoid situations that may cause a breakdown.” Sensory processing is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. “Everyone processes sensory input, but some people process it differently than others,” says occupational therapist Carrie Grosdidier. “When the processing of this information

“When my daughter first started therapy, she was extremely shy. Now she is a social butterfly.” — Stephanie Beaudry

hypersensitive response to sensory input may: • be distracted by noises that sound normal to others (flushing toilets, clanking silverware). • fear surprise touch or avoid hugs. • avoid swings and playground equipment. • have poor balance and fall often. A child who has a hyposensitive response to sensory input may: • have a constant need to touch people or textures. • have an extremely high tolerance to pain. • often harm other children and/or pets when playing, in part because he or she doesn’t understand his or her own strength. • be fidgety and unable to sit still.

September 2016

• enjoy movement-based play such as spinning, jumping, swinging, etc. • seem to be a “thrill seeker” and can be dangerous at times. In addition, SPD may cause motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, or other issues if not treated effectively. Children can have one or many of these characteristics as well as some from each category and in varying degrees of severity. “Unfortunately,

SPD may cause motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, or other issues if not treated effectively.

An occupational therapist can help kids with SPD find tools that help balance sensory input. Activities may include swinging, wearing a weighted vest, pushing or pulling heavy objects across the room, or jumping on a trampoline. Many of these activities are fun for the child and can be integrated into playtime at home. “The therapy helps [not] just their physical strengths but also their emotional strengths,” says Stephanie Beaudry, mom of two children with SPD. “When my daughter first started therapy, she was extremely shy. She wouldn’t even talk to children her own age when they approached her. Now, four months later, she is a social butterfly.” An occupational therapist’s main goal is to educate parents about SPD and

these responses are viewed by others as children behaving badly when in fact they are not,” Lyons says. “The most important thing to understand is that children with SPD are not ‘bad’ children. They are simply trying to survive in their own skin…with heightened or lowered sensations. Typical punishment for ‘bad’ behavior is not optimal and can cause regression rather than progression.” SPD does create challenges for families, but there is treatment available for kids who struggle with it. “We had a fabulous occupational therapist who helped my son. She gave us tools and gave him permission to figure out what worked for him and what didn’t,” says Joy Alsup, mom of four. “He has a high need for tight, long hugs and we understand that this is what helps him. It’s a huge priority for us.”

give families tools they can use to help the child progress at home. Although families that deal with SPD may struggle with activities other people see as normal, many parents find hope in their children’s progress and support from other parents dealing with this disorder. As a mother of a child with SPD myself, I would encourage others to educate themselves about the disorder and begin to approach situations from the child’s perspective. It takes a lot of patience, persistence, and love to parent a child with SPD, but when a child feels accepted and supported, he or she can work through struggles and thrive. ¶ Sarah Lyons is a wife and mother of six. The inspiration for this article came from her daughter, Grace, who was diagnosed with SPD in 2014.

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September 2016

SonomaFamilyLife 13

A NotSo-Big Birthday

much for a child with sensory issues to be expected to sit still in front of 20 people, opening gifts and repeatedly saying thank you. Know your child’s limits and work around them.


Pick the right time of day. If you know your child is usually grumpy in the morning but happy in the afternoon, then plan a get together at 2 or 3 p.m. If you have a big family and you know your

The more kids I invited to my son’s birthday party, the more hyper he got. Now we let him invite one friend to do one special thing.

How to Throw a Party for Sensory Sensitives

By Meagan Ruffing


hen you think birthdays, you think balloons, cake, ice cream, friends, and presents, right? These are all wonderful traditions, but for a child like my son, who has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), they can be over-stimulating. Follow these six tips to create a birthday party that kids with SPD can truly enjoy.


No hype. Sometimes when parents build up the big day, kids get overwhelmed, or they develop unrealistic expectations. Tone it down by focusing on what really matters: your child. Talk about and share photos of your child’s first birthday, letting her or him know that the day she or he was born was one of the happiest of your life.


Bigger isn’t always better. Limit stimulation by inviting just one or two kids to a party, instead of everyone your child knows. A large

14 SonomaFamilyLife

crowd may normally be the sign of birthday success, but not for a child with SPD. The more kids I invited to my son’s birthday party, the more hyper he got. We let our son invite one friend to do one special thing.


Remove the obstacles before the party begins. Instead of latex balloons that pop easily and make loud noises, opt for Mylar balloons. They last longer and are less likely to pop. Also, limit the number of gifts the child is expected to publicly receive. It is simply too

child does not do well with lots of people around, turn the birthday into a “birth week” so that you can space out visits with loved ones. It’ll be more fun for everyone involved.


Create a win-win environment. Instead of playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey or another competitive game, opt for something like a coloring session where each person gets a prize for participating.


Don’t expect too much. Children with SPD have a hard time understanding social situations that other people just simply know how to handle. If you notice that your child is getting overwhelmed, then take a time out.

Meagan Ruffing is a parenting journalist with a child with SPD. Visit for more tips on parenting a child with special needs.

September 2016



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September 2016

SonomaFamilyLife 15

Mama Fierce

What My Sister-in-Law Taught Me about Strength

By Alexa Bigwarfe


was pregnant with my second child when I learned my sister-in-law, Jes, was also pregnant with her second child. My daughter was born in December, and my nephew was due in June. When we received the phone call on April 25 that my nephew Boston had been born, I was terrified for them. He was six weeks early, and I prayed that he was okay. Boston spent one week in the neonatal intensive care unit. As tests were conducted, doctors began to talk about cerebral palsy (CP), and the worst case scenario was laid out for my sister and her husband: Boston may never sit up on his own, walk, feed himself, or talk. Needless to say, the family was devastated. And scared.

But Jes refused to accept their dismal diagnosis. From the start, she began to research CP, including its prognosis, physical therapy, and how to care for someone with the disease. She decided that statistics and doctors were not going to determine what Boston’s life would be like, and instead, their family would set their own expectations. Jes was determined that Boston would sit up, roll over, crawl, feed himself, talk, and walk. And he has done all of those things. 16 SonomaFamilyLife

He is an extraordinary little dude. Life has not been easy for him or his parents. They have spent hours with him in physical therapy, helped him recover from multiple surgeries, and generally made sure he has

Our children only know what “normal” is by what we teach them. the best equipment, teachers, and opportunities available. It has been amazing to watch him learn and grow. It has also been amazing to watch Jes mother him. I have learned so much from her about being a strong mother. Here are a just a few of those life lessons. When I think my life is tough, I walk in another mom’s shoes. Jes is a teacher and works full time.

Her husband works long hours and isn’t always able to get time off. When he is working 12-hour shifts, she is basically a single mom. But that hasn’t stopped her from continuing Boston’s therapies and having her kids participate in activities such as gymnastics. Yes, Boston is a gymnast. When I am exhausted at the end of the day, I often think about the fact that when Jes comes home from work, she has to make her way to therapy appointments and consultations. And she does it like a champ. A mother is her child’s best advocate. Jes never takes no for an answer. Her child should have as normal a life as possible, and she’s moved mountains to ensure he gets that life. I’ve watched her maneuver through the health care system’s confusing and frustrating policies, seek out the best educational avenues, and advocate for equipment and health-care coverage. Jes finds a way, and her son has benefited tremendously. Never let someone tell you your child can’t do something. Our children only know what “normal” is by what we teach them. Jes taught me that. Boston will never have the

September 2016

attitude that he cannot do something. Can’t is not in his vocabulary. He has no reason to believe that he won’t walk or do extracurricular activities. Boston doesn’t know that the rest of the world has opinions about what he can and can’t do because his mother has never let that attitude invade their lives. Life may not go as planned, but it will still be an adventure. We all have hopes and dreams of what life will look like. When Jes found out Boston was a boy, the family’s plans included hockey games and tournaments, and weekends golfing. Their current reality looks different than what they had envisioned, but they still have fun. They have found other engaging activities that Boston can participate in. Sometimes you have to just roll with it.

It’s okay to ask questions. I was timid about asking about Boston—his prognosis, therapies, and so forth. I didn’t want to upset Jes. But I’ve found that she would rather we ask her questions than awkwardly avoid

Jes never takes no for an answer. Her child should have as normal a life as possible, and she’s moved mountains to ensure he gets that life. the conversation. I asked Jes if she was okay with me writing about this topic, and she encouraged me to share away. Jes said, “We spread the word because we think education is the key to preventing ignorance.”

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Heed the requests of moms with children who have special health-care needs. Whether it is cerebral palsy, autism, celiac disease, asthma, or food allergies, unless you have a child with that condition, you are not the expert. The mother with the affected child is the expert. And she has a reason for making certain requests. They definitely are not made to make your life more difficult or less enjoyable. I guarantee they are in the best interest of the child. Our children are our most beloved and treasured “assets,” and most moms are just trying to keep them safe and do what is best.

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September 2016

SonomaFamilyLife 17

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six children aged 3–17 has one or more developmental disabilities. Parents of disabled children juggle hectic therapy schedules, and experience financial

Going to a support group can give you ideas for how to sneak in self-care.

Care for the Caregiver

Advice for Parents of Kids with Special Needs

By Pamela D. Wilson


raci and her partner had been struggling with their child’s difficult behaviors for a while. When they finally received a diagnosis of autism, they were overwhelmed. Making it through just one day took everything they had. How would they take care of this child over the long haul?

18 SonomaFamilyLife

challenges and discrimination as well as profound stress. Many couples divorce as a result of the strain or lose friends who are unable to understand the challenges they face. How can parents who feel separated or isolated get support? How can they survive without compromising their own physical and mental health? There are no simple answers to these questions, but following these tips will help.


Be honest and realistic about the diagnosis with yourself, your family, your child, and others. Denial is, at the very least, unhelpful and, at worst, dangerous. Never be embarrassed about your family, the diagnosis, or the caregiving situation. There are many others who are going through similar circumstances and who understand. If others respond inappropriately, their behaviors and reactions are their responsibility—not yours.


Seek knowledge and insight to make the role of caregiving easier. Often day-to-day responsibilities, unexpected crises, and minute-to-minute caregiving tasks take priority over time for self-education, learning, or attending support

September 2016

Child & Player Development

groups. Admittedly time poverty exists—how can you find a single moment to devote to something other than direct-care tasks? Find the time. Going to a support group can actually give you ideas for how to sneak in self-care. Talking to a friend can give you insight into how to approach a particularly difficult dilemma.



Find the humor. Laughing is essential to caregiving. Sometimes life is so hard the only thing you can do is laugh. And somehow it makes things a little easier to bear.


Accept help. Know that it is imperative to seek and accept assistance. No one single caregiver, regardless of the situation, can do it all without damaging her or his own physical health and mental well-being.



Embrace the caregiving journey and learn to advocate. Never let another person tell you anything else that makes you feel hopeless or hesitant to

Laughing is essential to caregiving. aggressively advocate for a loved one. Gain the knowledge to be an advocate or hire the services of an advocate. Caregiving is not for the timid—be visible and share what you have learned with others. ¶ Pamela D. Wilson is a certified senior advisor who helps family and professional caregivers to navigate healthcare concerns. Her latest book is The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes (Morgan James Publishing, 2015). Find out more at

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SonomaFamilyLife 19

Close to You

The Parent-Child Attachment Relationship By Robert Keith Wallace and Frederick Travis


t’s important for you to know that it is mostly your relationship with your son or daughter that makes him [or her] feel secure and protected. This relationship goes much deeper than just physical care, such as feeding and putting the child to sleep. It is about the quality of your attention. Your loving attention creates a haven of safety and comfort from which your child can explore his environment. Your positive attention builds this relationship and is the single most important factor determining your child’s emotional stability, cognitive and language development, and sense of self-worth, as well as his capacity for dealing with stress and adversity. Simply put, positive attention is a big deal.

Your response to your baby when he is frightened, ill, or emotionally hurt is a primary element in your relationship. Beginning at around six months of age, infants can anticipate your response to their distress, and shape their own behavior accordingly. If, for instance, you consistently respond to your child’s distress promptly and lovingly by holding the baby close and reassuring him, your child will 20 SonomaFamilyLife

learn to more freely express emotions. The child will also seek you out when frightened and remain with you until he feels safe again. On the other hand, if you respond by ignoring or ridiculing your child’s distress, or by becoming annoyed, he will develop quite a different pattern of behavior— avoiding you when distressed and hiding negative emotions.

It’s remarkable how deeply children internalize the quality of our attention. And neuroscience explains why: Each experience is imprinted in the brain in physical form as neuronal pathways. If a child cries and doesn’t receive attention, this triggers the amygdala, which acts like the brain’s fire alarm, signaling that something is wrong. The amygdala then sets off the fight-or-flight response, and part of this response is to be wary and fearful of others. If this happens to the child repeatedly, it strengthens the brain circuits

If you consistently respond to your child’s distress promptly and lovingly…your child will learn to more freely express emotions. that support distrust, a lack of desire to interact with others, and a belief that the world is an unwelcoming and even dangerous place. The latest research shows that our experiences even change our DNA. We’re familiar with DNA as the molecules containing bits of information that determine everything from the color of our eyes to the size of our feet. But our DNA also determines how we respond to stress. Genetic research is now exploring how genes (segments of DNA) can be turned on and off by different types of experiences and stimuli.

September 2016

Research has clearly demonstrated that a negative attachment relationship makes children more vulnerable to stress and less able to control their anger, hostility, and aggression. Such children also have low self-esteem, impaired cognitive development, and poorer academic performance. This may continue throughout their lives: a negative mother-child relationship

A positive attachment relationship has a positive effect on a child’s development. is the most powerful predictor of addiction and mental instability in adults. Research also shows—as you may already have guessed—that a positive attachment relationship has a positive effect on a child’s development. For example, one study of altruism in toddlers showed that they were more likely to help an adult— by handing them something they’d dropped—if someone had played with them just before. Another study showed that toddlers who felt more secure were also more likely to help. Should you let your child cry? Babies can’t talk yet, so crying is their only way to communicate with you. They’re not crying in order to manipulate you, as some have believed in the past; rather, they are in distress and crying out for help. Any concern about “spoiling” or creating dependency is completely unfounded and illogical. How can you spoil a baby by helping it when it needs help? Infants cannot change their own diapers or feed themselves. And how will they learn to soothe

themselves if they don’t know what it feels like to be soothed? Research shows that it’s much better to pick up babies promptly when they start crying. It also shows that if you do this consistently during the first six months of life, then by the time the child is a year old he will naturally: • Cry less • Learn how to “self-soothe” and to respond more quickly to soothing • Form a positive parent-child relationship This principle doesn’t end when children start talking—or when they start school, or even when they start driving or go off to college. At every age, if your child asks for help, stop and give him your attention and help. Your kids might not walk up to you and say, “I really need your help on this.” It may be more of a silent cry for help. You might notice that they’re not their usual bouncy little selves, or not doing so well in school, or that they’ve become sullen and irritable. Be careful not to swoop in and fix their problems for them, but rather, provide support so they can figure out how to solve the problems themselves, or, if necessary, with your help. Children won’t learn how to approach a problem by sitting around bewildered; kids learn by finding solutions, first with your help and, gradually, by themselves. ¶ Excerpted from Dharma Parenting: Understand Your Child’s Brilliant Brain for Greater Happiness, Health, Success, and Fulfillment, by Robert Keith Wallace and Fred Travis, with the permission of TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2016 by Robert Keith Wallace and Fred Travis.

September 2016

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SonomaFamilyLife 21

Play With Me

rest is up to your child, and you’ll see him become quite creative in directing things as the spotlight of your attention shines on him. On a day when you haven’t got much patience, you can set up a short Special Time. On an easier day, you can be more generous. There’s always a start and an end to Special Time. Your child looks forward to the start of it. Many parents look forward to the end. A commitment to a limited period of time will give you greater tolerance for the interesting things your child chooses to do.

By Patty Wipfler

How Special Time Helps Kids Behave

A sense of connection confers real powers on your child. It grants him the ability to think, to cooperate, to feel good about himself and the people around him. It opens up avenues to learning. And it helps him develop judgment over time. The practice of Special Time will help you to keep this bond of connection strong.

You may be thinking, “But I already do a lot of special time with my kids! I take them to the park on weekends, let them splash and play in the bath, sing with them. We have a lot of fun times together.” You’re right! Those times are important. But those times won’t have the same effect as Special Time. You enjoy your children as they splash in the tub, but if the phone rings, you answer it. If your partner enters the bathroom to discuss the neighbor’s noisy music, you converse. In Special Time, you refuse to be distracted. You focus on just 22 SonomaFamilyLife

You say when and where you’ll have time to connect. Your child tells you how. one child. You make arrangements for your other children, and the phone is off limits. In Special Time, unlike normal life, your child runs the show. You do set the conditions: for example, Special Time will be for 15 minutes, we can go inside or outside, but no car today, and we won’t spend money. The

What can you accomplish with Special Time? Parents I know have used just five minutes of it to turn a clingy child at a party into one who can go play with the other children; to dispel their child’s edginess at family gatherings; to help children release fears of many kinds; and to help a child reconnect with a separated parent after long times apart. Here’s how one frustrated mother used Special Time to create much-needed change. I dreaded our mornings. They left an emotional scar on me every day. Nobody wanted to be rushed, and the cooperation was nil. “Please brush your teeth,” I would say. I was met with, “I am not going to school!” “I am not brushing my teeth.” After trying every threat and punishment I could think of…we started getting up 30 minutes early so we could play! I mean, really play! We started with Special Time. My husband and I would trade off playing with each girl so each of them got a chance with each parent. We just did 20 minutes right after breakfast, before we asked them to do that infinite list

September 2016

of chores before they went to school. It worked! They actually brushed their teeth without my threats! They even made their beds without me helping. It was amazing. Just those few minutes with them “filled up their cup” with love and attention. Yes, it takes time and effort, but it is worth it! Twenty minutes in the mornings has given me hours of peace and love.

How to Do Special Time • Name it. Any name will do, but there has to be a name: “Special Time”; “Daddy-and-Noah Time”; “Kids Rule Time.” Naming it emphasizes that the time is theirs, and you intend to pay full attention.

In Special Time, you refuse to be distracted. You focus on just one child. • If possible, set a date and a time. But when life is a scramble, or when your child’s behavior is spinning out of control, just announce, “Special Time!” and do it on the spur of the moment. • To begin, say, “It’s your Special Time. I’ll play anything you want to play!” These words are hard for parents to say, but they’re important. They open up broad vistas for your child. They also pry you out of the “I need to be in control” mindset. The break can be refreshing. • Set a timer. Special Time must have a start and an end. A timer frames your attention. It also helps you out when your child chooses to do something you don’t love.

five or ten minutes. Many parents find it surprisingly difficult to let their child lead them in play. Better to offer a shorter time and lengthen it at the end if you choose than to lose focus before it’s over. • End with affection. You’ve just spent time with a marvelously intelligent young person. So close with a hug or a high-five, and tell your child when the next Special Time will be. ¶ Patty Wipfler is the founder and program director of the parenting nonprofit Hand in Hand. Find out more about her work at handinhandparenting. org. Excerpted from Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges by Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore. Copyright © Hand in Hand Parenting, 2016.

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The Special Time “Don’t” List • Don’t give your child advice. Don’t teach; don’t point out lessons you think might be important. For example, don’t ask him to count the snail shells he’s collected. Let him have his own inner purpose as he plays. • Don’t multitask. Don’t carry the folded towels to the cupboard as your child leads you to his room. You’re in the presence of a remarkable human being. Laundry can wait. • Don’t talk to others. Phone off. Don’t even think of texting! • Don’t modify your child’s ideas unless his safety is at risk, and then, try to find a work-around. If he wants to play soccer in the street like the big kids do on Sunday afternoons, just say, “Today’s Tuesday. There are lots of cars. Want to walk over to the park instead?” • Don’t take “personal time off” in the middle of Special Time. Before you set the timer, take a trip to the bathroom; get a drink of water; or munch on half an apple so you’re ready to roll. • Don’t use Special Time as a reward. When you see how your child comes to treasure Special Time, it will seem logical to say, “Honey, we can’t do Special Time until you tidy up your room.” But don’t! Your child needs the sense of connection that Special Time builds. So offer it with no strings attached, like you offer fruit and fresh water.

• To start, offer a short time—say,

September 2016

SonomaFamilyLife 23

Wise Child

the kind of medicine your clan needs? Here are some ideas for cultivating mindfulness in your whole family. 1. Allow for plenty of unscheduled down time. Kids may complain of boredom or get restless. It is important for children to become aware of these emotional states and figure out how to handle them on their own. This process helps them to learn that emotional states come and go, and that they can sit with all sorts of feelings. So consider refraining from stepping in

Cultivating Mindfulness in Kids


By Monisha Vasa

eing mindful is something adults talk about as they close their eyes to meditate or try to fully concentrate on a task. But young children already live mindfully without

Involve your children in a simple service project, or make it a point to use kind language with everyone you meet.

even knowing what they are doing. Just watch them

linger over a flower or rock, running when their bodies feel like accelerating, spinning around when their hearts feel like turning.

As children and their families grow, though, taking this kind of pleasure in the present moment can be trumped by the responsibilities of an over-packed schedule. The stress of everyday life can keep both parents and kids on edge. For instance, when I take my own children on walks, I find myself urging them to hurry as my thoughts turn to unfinished homework or a looming bedtime. With every passing minute, I project a cascade of difficulties: If we don’t get back home in time, we won’t finish dinner and homework. If dinner and homework aren’t completed, bedtime will be delayed. If the window of opportunity 24 SonomaFamilyLife

for bedtime is missed, the kids won’t fall asleep. If they don’t fall asleep, they won’t wake up in time for school. If we are late for school, I will be late for work. And so on until I am spinning into the catastrophic implications for the next day, rather than allowing my kids and myself to be present for the walk that we are on in the here and now. I often get so worked up that I hurry my kids even when there is no need to rush. So now my goal isn’t necessarily to teach my kids how to be mindful. It’s to get myself out of their way. I try to allow them time to play, to explore, rest, breathe—to just be. Sound like

with solutions or ideas and remember: Often periods of intense creativity arise from boredom and quiet. 2. Model mindfulness. Make time for your own mindfulness practice. Kids pay more attention to what we do than what we say. Use your practice as a springboard for cultivating gratitude for the blessings of your life: “I am grateful that today we are all able to sit down together for dinner.” 3. Ask lots of questions. Focusing on the senses or becoming aware of the breath is a way to connect immediately to the present moment. So ask your kids questions like “What does the air after today’s storm smell like to you?” or “What do you see in the clouds?” Also ask

September 2016

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questions that help little ones to consider other people’s feelings. For example, “What do you think it was like today for the new boy in class?” 4. Manage your expectations. Kids may not always be in the mood to discuss big-picture ideas like gratitude and compassion. Try bringing up such topics casually or at

My goal isn’t necessarily to teach my kids how to be mindful. It’s to get myself out of their way. night before bed when they are relaxed. Be sure to use child-friendly language. Some kids may even be open to short meditation practices like focusing on the breath or the flame of a candle. It is okay to be brief, or to let it go if they are not receptive in a given moment. 5. Discover opportunities for compassion. Mindfulness ultimately is a tool to recognize our interdependence and to relate to one another with an open heart. So involve your children in a simple service project, or make it a point to use kind language with everyone you meet. Teaching mindfulness is a journey for child and parent alike. There are no mistakes, no right ways or wrong ways, just the ways that work for each family. The process itself is a gift and a blessing for all of us. ¶ Monisha Vasa, M.D., is a board-certified addiction psychiatrist, the mother of two children, and the author of the new nonfiction children’s book, My Dearest One. For more information, visit


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SonomaFamilyLife 25

6 Parting Rituals for Preschoolers

Time to Say Goodbye By Michele Ranard


hose first days of school or daycare can be a doozy for young children and parents when it’s time to say goodbye. While separation anxiety is a natural part of development, a

goodbye in the same way each day. If you help your child hang up his or her coat and then give a kiss and hug before turning and leaving with a wave, then do not break that routine by one day sitting and playing.” Also, Dash says being consistent means it is important that you not try to shortcut the goodbye because you are running late. Low-Stress Goodbyes. Parents should keep their emotions in check and fake it if necessary. Dash says it’s not a coincidence when your child

“It is a good idea to say goodbye in the same way each day.”—Nicole Dash

parent’s response to it is critical for children to make healthy

transitions and begin to trust caregivers and teachers.

Author of 151 Ways to Help Your Child Have a Great Day at School (Sourcebooks, 2009) and parenting expert Robin McClure suggests creating a parting ritual. “Maybe it is a special hug or handshake, a kiss and a twirl, or a set verbal exchange between you (such as ‘I love you because...’).” Get creative so these formerly tough moments make way for fun memories. Here are some examples: A Jedi Goodbye. Social worker and blogger Dana Aderhold came up with a clever customized ritual. “When my son was four, he started a new preschool where he didn’t know any of the other students. We created the 26 SonomaFamilyLife

It’s not a coincidence when your child chooses to melt down and cling to you on a day you are running late to a meeting. Jedi Goodbye. When my husband or I dropped him off at preschool, we would do a secret light saber signal that was our goodbye ritual. It meant that ‘the force was with him’ until we picked him up. He found this very reassuring.” Consistent Goodbyes. Mom, daycare owner, and blogger Nicole Dash says, “It is a good idea to say

chooses to melt down and cling to you on a day you are running late to a meeting. “Never tell your child you are running late, or show signs of stress. This will place undue stress on your child and will make the morning miserable for everyone.” Less Guilt-Riddled Goodbyes. There will be days your child will cry due to fatigue, a cold, etc. Dash says, “Whatever the reason, these sad goodbyes do not usually last longer than it takes you to get back into your car. It does not mean they hate you for leaving them in daycare.” Smiley Goodbyes. Warrick says on the big day, keep smiling and stay positive. “Remind your child of all the ‘new and exciting things’ [he or she]

September 2016

Upcoming Autumn Events! will do. If you are confident about your child’s new environment, your child will be positive, too.” Courageous Goodbyes. Dr. Laura Markham has this advice when it is you shedding the tears: “Have faith in your child and in nature. Nature designed kids to hang on to their parents for protection [and also] to start exploring once they feel safe. Worrying about leaving your child at school is a way of saying you don’t believe he can cope… . Have faith in your child’s inner strength to rise to the occasion and grow.” ¶

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What Not to Do

September 19-December 18

Parenting coach Liz Warrick says there are definite no-nos when it comes to saying goodbye: 1. Don’t sneak away. It’s tempting. But the disappearing act actually creates more fear in your child and does not help your child learn the important ritual of saying goodbye. 2. Don’t ask: “Is it okay for Mom to leave now?” Um. Bet I can guess the response, and there really is only one answer. 3. Don’t bribe your child with a treat. Bribing sets a bad precedent for both of you as you will be forced to always amp up the bribe to get the behavior you desire. 4. Don’t linger. It’s tempting. But just scram.

Michele Ranard has a husband, two sons, and a master’s in counseling. She blogs at and hellolovelychild.

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September Calendar of Events

Just Buzzing Around


hile you may run from their stingers, bees are necessary to healthy ecological functioning. In the face of dwindling global numbers of the insect, apiarists are spreading the word about the value of bees. Let your kids learn about them at a talk given by a local beekeeper at the Sonoma County Children’s Museum in Santa Rosa on September 9, 1–3 p.m. The event is free to those who purchase museum admission, which is $10. Babies under 12 months old are free. For more information, see ¶

Thursday 1 Animal Crackers. Marx

Brothers– style theatrical lunacy. Through Sept. 18. Fridays & Saturdays: 8 p.m. Sundays: 2 p.m. Sept. 1 & 8: 7: 30 p.m. Sept. 3, 10 & 17: 2 p.m. $15–$38. 6th Street Playhouse. 52 W. 6th St., Santa Rosa. FREE The Barlow Street Fair.

Live music, food vendors, artisan crafts & organized kids’ activities. Thursdays. 5–8 p.m. Thru Sept. 29. McKinley St., Sebastopol. thebarlow. net/street-fair.

Shakespeare in the Park. Romeo

& Juliet. Presented by We Players. Shows at various times & dates. Thru Sept. 25. $30–$80. Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park. 3325 Adobe Rd., Petaluma. Hot Dog Thursday. 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. $5 includes hot dog, chips, drink & admission to museum. Pacific Coast Air Museum. 1 Air Museum Way, Santa Rosa.

Friday 2 FREE Bodega Marine Laboratory Tours. Explore

the dynamic biodiversity of the Northern California Coast. Fridays. 2–4 p.m. (No tour Sept. 16.) Bodega Marine Laboratory. 2099 Westshore Rd., Bodega Bay. The Most Happy Fella. Musical. Thru Sept. 25. Fridays–Sundays. $25–$40. Cinnabar Theater. 3333 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma.

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September 2016

FREE First Friday Art Walk. SOFA (South of A Street) district in Santa Rosa. 5–7 p.m. Funky Fridays Concert. Live music

& picnicking. A Case of the Willy’s. R&B, soul & raw funk. 7–9 p.m. $10. Ages 18 & under free. Parking $10. Hood Mountain Regional Park. Hood Mansion. N. Pythian Rd. off Hwy. 12, Santa Rosa. FREE Cuentos y Cantos—Bilingual Story & Play Time. Exploraremos cuentos, cantos y rimas en ingles y español. We will explore books, songs & rhymes in both English & Spanish. Ages 0–5. 11 a.m. Sebastopol Regional Library. 7140 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol. FREE Pre-school Story Time.

Ages 3–5. 10:30 a.m. Rohnert Park–Cotati Regional Library. 6250 Lynne Condé Way, Rohnert Park. FREE Toddler Story Time. Ages

18–35 mos. 10:15 a.m. Petaluma Regional Library. 100 Fairgrounds Dr., Petaluma.

Saturday 3 Lost ’80s Live. Live concert by several ’80s bands: Flock of Seagulls, Berlin, Wang Chung & others. 8 p.m. $42.50. Sonoma Mountain Village Event Center. 1100 Valley House Dr., Rohnert Park. Sonoma County Cajun Zydeco & Delta Rhythm Festival. 11:30

a.m.–7 p.m. Thru Sept. 4. $25–$50. Kids under 12 free with adult. Ives Park. 400 Willow St., Sebastopol.

September 2016

SonomaFamilyLife 29

FREE Historic Downtown Walking

by costumed docents. 10:30 a.m. Petaluma Historic Museum. 20 Fourth St., Petaluma.

Tuesday 6

Tours. Led

FREE Nuestros Parques Hike. A bilingual naturalist will lead this free family walk. 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Tolay Regional Park. 5869 Cannon Ln., Petaluma.

Sunday 4 FREE Sunday Boating at the Barn.

Borrow a rowboat, canoe, kayak, or sailboat & spend the afternoon on the Petaluma River. Sundays. 10 a.m.–1 p.m. David Yearsley River Heritage Center. 100 E. D St., Petaluma.

FREE Preview Week at Sonoma County Children’s Music. Thru

Sept. 12. Schedule a visit. 867 Third St., Santa Rosa. 527-7900. FREE Sonoma County Plein Air Festival: Quick Draw. Watch

artists at the Sonoma Farmers Market create paintings in 90 minutes & then sell their art. 4:30–7:30 p.m. Sonoma Plaza. First St. & Spain St., Sonoma. sonoma-events.html. National Heirloom Exposition.

Experience the “World’s Pure Food Fair.” Thousands of varieties of heirloom produce. Livestock, natural food vendors, speakers & Kids’ Pavilion. 11 a.m.– 8 p.m.

Thru Sept. 8. Single day: $15. 3-day pass: $30. Kids 17 & under free. Sonoma County Fairgrounds. 1350 Bennett Valley Rd., Santa Rosa.

Friday 9 Broadway Under the Stars: Gala Celebration. Transcendence

Theatre’s Broadway & Hollywood talent entertain on an outdoor stage. Thru Sept. 11. Pre-show picnicking: 5 p.m. Show: 7:30 p.m. $42–$134. Jack London State Park. 2400 London Ranch Rd., Glen Ellen. FREE Movies in the Park. Sept.

9: Hook. Sept. 16: Zootopia. 7:45 p.m. Howarth Park. 630 Summerfield Rd., Santa Rosa.



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September 2016

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September 2016

SonomaFamilyLife 31

Saturday 10 Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival.

Chaka Khan, Jonny Lang, Brian Culbertson, Keb’ Mo’, Sheila E. & others. Thru Sept. 11. 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Prices vary. Johnson’s Beach. Guerneville. Harvest Hike at Home Ranch. Hike

thru 120-year-old vines at Seghesio’s Home Ranch Estate to Rattlesnake Hill. Lunch & wine provided. 10 a.m.–1 p.m. $75. Seghesio Family Vineyards. 700 Grove St., Healdsburg. American Roots Music Festival.

Free Peoples, Frankie Boots, Next of Kin, Sonoma Aroma, Dixie Giants Horn Band. Campfire, raffle, Kids’ Area. Benefits Lifeschool. 2–9 p.m. $25. Free for ages 10 & under.

Town of Bodega. 16951 Bodega Hwy., Bodega. FREE Skaggs Island Bike Tour. Rare opportunity to tour 3,300-acre island that used to serve as a top-secret naval communications site & is now part of San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. 10 a.m. & 2 p.m. Skaggs Island Rd., Hwy. 37, Sonoma. Register to attend: Beckoning Birds, Butterflies & Bees to the Garden. Various

local specialists, enthusiasts & vendors will be on hand to help you create your own butterfly haven. Thru Sept. 11. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. $2 donation. Russian River Rose Company. 1685 Magnolia Dr., Healdsburg.

FREE 59th Annual Art in the Park. Live music & work by local artists. Thru Sept. 11. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Walnut Park. 201 4th St., Petaluma. FREE Tomato Festival. Salsa contest, tomato tastings, music. 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. 50 Mark West Springs Rd., Santa Rosa.

Sunday 11 FREE Grandparents’ Day.

Grandmas & grandpas receive free admission. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Charles M. Schulz Museum. 2301 Hardies Ln., Santa Rosa.

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Meet the practitioners. Join us for free interactive demos. Get your questions answered! Energetic Healing • Tai Chi • Detox Chiropractic • Pilates • BEMER Clearing Clutter • Thermography 707-829-8668 • 707-293-3719 32 SonomaFamilyLife

Find out what’s happening this weekend. September 2016

Friday 16 FREE Shakespeare By the River.

County. 1835 W. Steele Ln., Santa Rosa.

As You Like It. Performed by Petaluma Shakespeare Company. Sept. 16–18, 23–25 & 30–Oct. 1. Fridays: 7 p.m. Saturdays: 2 p.m. Sundays: 4 p.m. Foundry Wharf Green. H & 2nd Streets, Petaluma.

ciders. Thru Sept. 18. Noon–5 p.m. Mendocino County Fair & Apple Show. 14400 Hwy. 128, Boonville.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: 50 Years

FREE Fall into Health & Wellness.

of Dirt. Country

rock & American roots music. 7:30 p.m. $25–$65. Sonoma State University. Green Music Center. Weill Hall & Lawn. 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park.

Meet practitioners. Interactive demos. Energetic healing, tai chi, detox chiropractic, Pilates, thermography. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. 2455 Bennett Valley Rd., Ste. A-111, Santa Rosa. 829-8668.

Crazy, Awesome Science! Fridays.

Cruisin’ the Coast: A Beachy Car

2 p.m. $10 (admission to museum). Children’s Museum of Sonoma

Show. Live

Saturday 17 Cider Tasting. Sample award-winning

music, BBQ & tiki bar. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. $5 admission. ($20 to

STS For Less Stress, Fly

show car.) Bodega Bay Community Center. 2255 Hwy. 1, Bodega Bay. Santa Rosa Water Family Fun Day!

Activities for all ages. Tour the treatment plant & wetlands. Paint a community mural. Celebrate Creek Week. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Laguna Treatment Plant. 4300 Llano Rd., Santa Rosa. Sonoma County Oktoberfest.

German beer, food & polka. Benefits Sonoma County’s underserved children. Ages 21 & over. 1–4 p.m. $30–$50. Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa. FREE 4th Annual Peace in the Park. Yoga, meditation, workshops & kids’ games. Art & music for all ages. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Golden Gate


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September 2016

Art & Soul Music School SR: 707-575-7701

4861 Old Redwood Hwy., SR Windsor: 707-575-6858 9064 Brooks Rd. South, Windsor SonomaFamilyLife 33

Park. 55 Music Concourse Dr., San Francisco. Old Grove Festival. Poor Man’s Whiskey & David Luning. Doors & pre-show meal: 4:30 p.m. Show: 5:30 p.m. $24–$75. Ages 12 & under free with one paying adult. Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve. 17000 Armstrong Woods Rd., Guerneville. Glendi International Food Festival.

Greek, Russian, Eritrean, Balkan, Italian & Middle Eastern foods.

Thru Sept. 18. Sept. 17: 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Sept. 18: noon–6 p.m. $5. Under 12 free. Saint Seraphim Orthodox Church. 90 Mountain View Ave., Santa Rosa. glendi1.html.

Sunday 18 California Conscious Music Festival.

Kool & the Gang, Third World, Half Pint, Mike Love, Sol Horizon, Native Elements. 1 p.m. $45–$130.

Sonoma Mountain Village. 1100 Valley House Dr., Rohnert Park.

Tuesday 20 FREE Adoptive Families Parent Education & Support Group. While adoptive parents participate in discussion & learning, kids take part in supervised art & play. Children of all ages welcome. Meets third Tues. of month. 6–7:45 p.m. Facilitated by Andrea Pinkerton, PsyD. Jewish Family & Children’s Services. 1360 N. Dutton Ave., Ste. C, Santa Rosa. RSVP for both support group and children’s social group: 303-1509.

Wednesday 21 FREE Mariachi Quartet Los Reyes.

Performance followed by Q & A. 6 p.m. Healdsburg Regional Library. 139 Piper St., Healdsburg.

Friday 23

A May-December Affair


any would say that there is an inverse relationship between age and romance: the older we get, the less likely we’ll find love. Perhaps that’s why the musical The Most Happy Fella has been popular for decades: Its characters think age is only a number. Watch as a middle-aged Napa vintner and a young waitress fall in love on Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater stage September 2–25. Performances will be held Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. General admission tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Tickets for ages 21 and under are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Advance tickets for junior high and high school students for the September 2 performance only are $9. For more information and to purchase tickets, see ¶

34 SonomaFamilyLife

Run for Your Wife. Thru Oct. 9. Fridays & Saturdays: 7:30 p.m. Sundays: 2 p.m. $12–$22. Cloverdale Performing Arts Center. 209 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale.

Saturday 24 Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival.

Family Grape Stomp: Sept. 24 & 25, 10 a.m., $20–$25. Free live music: Sept. 24, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. & Sept. 25, noon–2:45 p.m. 12K/5K Runs: Sept. 25, 8 a.m., $30–$50. Sonoma Plaza. 453 1st St. E., Sonoma.

September 2016




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November 2015

December 2015

Twin Talk Advice on multiples

28 Private Schools Your local guide A+ Education

How to choose a school

Dream Center

Help for homeless kids

Learning Styles What’s yours?


Valley Fire Tale A silver lining X-mas Lights! 24 sparkling spots


Little League


Interfaith Families

A holiday how-to

Visit Making the Grade School’s new

Crazy for Apples! Local fair & presses

Back-2-School Help kids chill out

Teach kindness

Kinetic Carnivale Steampunk fun!

12 Great Gifts The NAPPA guide

May 2015

Safe Sports

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Build a Global Family Host a

Kids & Pets

Easter Egg Hunts 9 Top spots

Mother ’s Day 5 ways to celebrate

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Make your own fun

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JULY 4TH Hot spots Brunch to Beach

Fun in the Sun 12 great games

June 2015

Take a Swim 9 super city pools

Day Trip! 5 great stops

Backyard Fun 25 easy ideas

Why Dads Rule What the

research says

March 2015

Local Fab Moms Raise

A love fest

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4 terrific trips

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Online Guide to Local


September 2016

SonomaFamilyLife 35

Wings Over Wine Country Air Show.

Jet demos & acrobatic performers. Vintage & acrobatic aircraft. Thru Sept. 25. 9 a.m.–4 p.m. $8–$20. Kids 10 & under & active duty military with ID free. Parking $10. Charles M. Schulz, Sonoma County Airport. 2200 Airport Blvd., Santa Rosa. FREE Weekend Along the Farm Trails. Visit

Sonoma County farms for 2 days. Tours, tastings & educational activities. Thru Sept. 25. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Various venues. Register:

Association. 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Plaza North Shopping Center. Corner of N. McDowell & E. Washington Blvd., Petaluma. 20th Annual Kendell Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival. More

than 150 varieties of heritage tomatoes. Wine & food pairings. Wine & garden seminars. Chef Challenge. 11 a.m.–4 p.m. $95–$75. Much Ado about Sebastopol Renaissance Faire. Wander

FREE Classic Car Show for a Cure.

Music, food & raffles. Rain or shine. Free to attend. $25–$30 to show car. Proceeds benefit Alzheimer’s

the streets of a 1578 English village. Martial skills & birds of prey demos. Short Shakespeare performance. Artisan vendors. Thru Sept. 25. Sept. 24: 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sept. 25: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. $8–$16. Ives


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Sunday 25 Shanghai Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China. 2 p.m. $25–$85.

Sonoma State University. Green Music Center. Weill Hall. 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park.

Monday 26 FREE Positive Parenting Program: Raising Confident Children.

Designed to give parents the skills they need to raise confident, healthy children & build stronger family relationships. Registration (online) required. 6–8 p.m. Children’s Museum of Sonoma County. 1835 W. Steele Ln., Santa Rosa.

Tuesday 27 FREE Homework Help. Help

with all subjects on a drop-in basis. Grades K–12. 3:30–5:30 p.m. Petaluma Regional Library. 100 Fairgrounds Dr., Petaluma.

Wednesday 28

To find the Pediatrician that’s right for you, call 1-888-699-DOCS (3627) or visit

FREE Winging It Wednesdays.

Hair & Skin Care for the Entire Family!

Champagne Hair Lounge

7981 Old Redwood Hwy. • Cotati

36 SonomaFamilyLife


Cut & Color $75 Special for 1st time clients.

Call for an appointment 707 665-5826 7 days a week

Explore Sonoma County’s birding parklands along wheelchair accessible routes with an experienced birding guide. 8:30–10:30 a.m. Cloverdale River Park. 31820 McCray Rd., Cloverdale. FREE Ballet Folklorico Paquiyollotzin. Celebrating Hispanic heritage with a performance of music & dance. 6 p.m. Windsor Regional Library.

September 2016

9291 Old Redwood Hwy., Bldg. 100, Windsor.

7140 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol.

FREE Galápagos Islands through

FREE Tinker Thinkers: Electricity

the Lens of Color. Explore color in nature & the connections between the Galápagos & our home community. Taught by Rebecca Detrich, a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow with National Geographic. Ages 12 & up. 6:30 p.m. Petaluma Regional Library. 100 Fairgrounds Dr., Petaluma.

& Magnetism. Work

with Kapla blocks, marble runs, ramps & balls to explore the physics ideas of motion & energy. Ages 5–12. 4 p.m. Healdsburg Regional Library. 139 Piper St., Healdsburg.

FREE Introduction to Ukulele for Families. Learn the basics. Ages 8 &

up. 4 p.m. Windsor Regional Library. 9291 Old Redwood Hwy., Bldg. 100, Windsor.

Friday 30 FREE Lotería. Play the Mexican game with game pieces that celebrate Sonoma County figures. Ages 5–17 & adults. 12:30 p.m. Sebastopol Regional Library.

Spanish for Kids! STUDENTS GAIN: • Academic Skills • Social Skills • Cognitive Development • Language Development • Creative Skills


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Thursday 29

Moms typically control 80% or more of their household budgets They’re looking right here, to find you. Call now. Don’t miss another month.

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It’s confidence for a lifetime! • Tumblebug Program for preschool-aged children • Boys & Girls Classes Recreation 6–12 • Tumbling & Tramp Classes



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September 2016



SonomaFamilyLife 37

Cooking with Kids

Amazeballs! Photo: Ta r a Don n e

A New Way to Serve Salmon By Shazi Visram & Cricket Azima


ook up a fun alternative to an ordinary salmon and peas dinner! These colorful rice balls are packed with flavor and nutrients. Salmon includes lots of lean protein and is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids—beneficial fats that are needed for brain, nerve, and eye development. Salmon also contains vitamin B6, which helps sustain body energy levels, and vitamin D, which is needed for strong bones.

Baked Rice Balls with Salmon and Peas Ingredients • 1/4 lb. wild salmon fillet • 1 cup cooked brown rice • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese • 2 large eggs, beaten • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill • Pinch of salt (optional) Makes 8–10 rice balls 38 SonomaFamilyLife

Directions 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the salmon, skin side down, in a baking dish. Bake until opaque throughout, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Remove the skin and discard. Using a fork, flake the salmon into small pieces, discarding any pin bones. Transfer the salmon to a bowl. Add the rice, peas, cheese, eggs, dill, and salt, if using, and stir until combined. 2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form about 1/3 cup of the salmon mixture into a 1 1/2-inch ball and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining salmon mixture to form 8–10 balls. Loosely cover the

balls with aluminum foil and bake until the balls are slightly firm but still gooey, 18–20 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve warm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. Reheat before serving. ¶ Excerpted with permission from The Happy Family Organic Superfoods Cookbook for Baby & Toddler by Shazi Visram and Cricket Azima. Copyright © Weldon Owen, 2016. Lauded for her entrepreneurial vision and innovation, Shazi Visram is on a mission to positively impact the health of children through early life nutrition. Find out more at Cricket Azima is an author, professional chef, and founder of the Creative Kitchen. Learn more about her work at

SHAZI’S TIP [My son] Zane, like most children, has a sweet tooth so green peas are one of my go-to vegetables. They may not be very exotic, but they are a little sweet and also full of fiber, protein, and even omega-3s. Frozen peas are tasty and retain their nutrients, so I can easily add them to recipes all year round.

September 2016

Crafting with Kids

Grand Gifts Celebrate Your Family’s Elders

By Denise Morrison Yearian


randparent’s Day is an intergenerational holiday that honors the elderly ones in our lives. This year, it falls on September 11. As the day draws near, why not celebrate the senior citizens in your life with a couple of grand gifts and one tasty treat? Here are three ideas to get you started.

Rustic Family Photo Frame • Twigs (six 6” and six 8”) • String • Scissors • Glue gun, low setting • Family photo, 4” x 6” 1. Place three equal-length twigs in bundles so you have two 8” bundles and two 6” bundles. 2. Tie a temporary string around the center of each bundle to keep the twigs together. 3. Place 6” bundles 6 inches across from one another. Lay 8” bundles above and below the other bundles

to form a rectangle, with one inch of each bundle overlapping at the corners. 4. Wrap string around the bundles at the corners in a crisscross (X) pattern to tie ends together and form a picture frame. Knot and trim string ends. 5. Clip the temporary strings at the center of each bundle.

1. Measure and cut a 7” x 7” square from the craft foam. 2. Fold one side of the square in half to create a rectangle that measures 3 ½” x 7”. 3. With the rectangle still folded, use a ruler and marker to place dots spaced ½-inch apart along the end opposite the fold and one short side.

6. Turn the frame over and apply glue to each of the four corners. Place photo, face-side down, over the back of the frame. Press to seal.

4. Thread the needle with two feet of colored yarn. Tie a knot at one loose end.

7. Turn the picture frame over. Tie a small loop between the upper twigs to hang the photo.

5. Sew up the long side and one short side of the rectangle, using the dots as a needle guide.

Grand Glasses Case • Ruler • Scissors • Colored craft foam • Marker • Large, plastic sewing needle • Colored yarn • Fabric paint, foam stickers, other embellishments

September 2016

6. Secure the loose end of the yarn with a knot. 7. Decorate the glasses case with fabric paint, foam stickers, or other embellishments. Denise Morrison Yearian is a former educator and editor of two parenting magazines, and the mother of three children and four grandchildren.

SonomaFamilyLife 39

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40 SonomaFamilyLife

Learn German in Santa Rosa!

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Teaching the art of the sword Sign up for after school classes today!


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September 2016





Educating the Whole Child





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JANBOREE PRE-SCHOOL A fun filled curriculum for 3 & 4 year–olds. 8:30 –11:30 a.m. Mon.– Fri. $15 per day. Dunham-Hessel area. 795-8568. License #490111872

Sonoma County   Child Support Services  3725 Westwind Blvd., Ste 200  Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Nutrition, Relationships, Motor Skills,Self Interpersonal Montessori In Motion: 3–6 yrs. Health & Serving 2-5 year olds Relationships, Self Confidence, and Cognitive & Children’s Circle: 2.5–3.5+ yrs. Interpersonal Academic Skills. & Confidence, and Cognitive KinderClub: 3–5 yrs. PRICING &



707.544.1829 & Health & Nutrition, Motor Skil REGISTRATION: Interpersonal Relationships, S Register at the Parks and Recreation Office

YMCA Program Office The Y isConfidence, a non-profit community based organization. and Cognitive 9291 Old Redwood Hwy., Bldg. 300D 707.544.1829 Financial Assistance is available. 838-1260 • Academic Skills.

Program of First United Methodist Church Year-round • Play based Ages 2 - 5 (Pre-Kindergarten) Excellent Teacher-Child ratios Open 7am-6pm


Preschool & Child Care Center

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The Y is a non-profit community based organization. Financial Assistance is available.


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Preschool•Kindergarten The Y is a non-profit Parent-Toddler Class community based Ages 18 months organization. to 6-years

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The Bridge School. Located in Central Santa Rosa, 1625 Franklin Ave. Year-round full/half–day. Rich nurturing environment. Center based program for ages 3–5 with separate 2’s program. Caring, qualified teachers. Julie & Andrew Day; owners. Lic.#493005697. 575-7959.

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September 2016

Playtime Daycare/Preschool Join our loving family. Spacious playroom, large yard, meals provided. CPR & first aid certified. M-F. Infants & up. Call Wendy 539-7524. Lic. #04746.

SonomaFamilyLife 41

Humor Break

The Homeschool Big Reveal Inside the Mind of a Mom

By Holly Hester


omeschooling is hard. And it’s not hard for the reasons you would think— like never having time for yourself or figuring out how to teach your kids about fractions. Those things are actually easy to work out. For example, I just avoid fractions altogether. Problem solved.

The really hard part about homeschooling is all the doubt and second-guessing that comes with it. You’re going against the grain and anytime you do that you are going to be constantly questioned (and judged) by society at large. It just irks people to no end to see anyone take the road less travelled. Most homeschool parents just nod their heads and politely answer the same questions over and over again. (“Yes, my children do have friends.” “No, I’m not creating the next Unibomber—not that I know of.”) But still, sometimes in private all homeschool parents wonder/hope/ pray that they’re doing the right thing for their children. I know I 42 SonomaFamilyLife

The author’s son’s salami experiment.

do. I don’t voice these concerns out loud, of course, but during the day, I can get insecure and question my choice.

colony. I don’t know what happened. They’ve gone feral. If I could get them to brush their hair, I would consider it my greatest accomplishment.

Times like when my daughter’s grasp of current events seems a bit shaky:

Or how I stay organized:

Me: “No, sweetie, actually the President of the United States is Barack Obama.”

Me: “As a homeschooling parent, you definitely have to keep to a daily schedule.” Inside my head: I’m just lying right to your face. Daily schedule? I don’t even know what YEAR it is.

Inside my head: Oh my God. You’re ten years old! Why don’t you know that?

Or how I keep the house clean with kids around all the time:

Or when strangers ask me what my children are learning:

Me: “That’s where a chore chart comes in handy!”

Me: “We do a lot of home-based science projects.”

Inside my head: Quiet sobbing. I think the dog barfed on the chore chart months ago.

Inside my head: Like today my six-year-old hit a large plastic water bottle around the yard with a stick for like four hours. That’s science, right? Or is he just insane? Or when people ask me the benefits of homeschooling: Me: “You definitely save money on back-to-school clothes.” Inside my head: As a matter of fact, most of the time my children don’t wear any clothes at all. I’m pretty sure the only jobs they’ll be able to get as adults will be at a nudist

But mostly I feel confident about homeschooling. I look at my kids, and I see that they’re happy, funny, well-read people. Homeschooling is such a cozy way to grow up. Sure, they might not know what the Continental Congress is, but really, how often is that going to come up at the nudist colony? ¶ Holly Hester lives in Sebastopol and writes about life on her blog, Riot Ranch. Find her book, Escape from Ugly Mom Island!, on Amazon.

September 2016

They may never ask how you always know… all the coolest things to do & places to go. But they’ll always remember the fun! And you don’t have to reveal the source of your superpowers. Get weekly e-mail updates from the editors at Sonoma Family Life with all the latest LOCAL family-fun events, ideas, and outings. On your phone, tablet, or desktop…


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Sonoma Family Life September 2016  
Sonoma Family Life September 2016