Sonoma Family Life September 2021

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September 2021

Special Needs 7 apps for kids

GrandDiva Rockin’ grandmother

Tutor Time Get help Chore Magic Make it fun




Learn about top private & charter elementary schools, tutoring centers & after-school activities— all from the comfort of your home!




Want to exhibit? Contact Patty for more info: • 205-1539

Mendocino County Fair & Apple Show September 17-19, 2021

9 am to Midnight Daily • Boonville Fairgrounds

SHEEPDOG TRIALS • APPLE & WINE TASTINGS WOOL & FIBER FESTIVAL • CARNIVAL CCPRA RODEOS FRI. NIGHT & SUN. AFTERNOON Saturday, 9:30 pm Dean Titus & The Coyote Cowboys Sunday, 6:30 pm Mariachi Tarasco Dance Concert

September 2021

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September 2021

Every Issue



Dear Reader


Cooking with Kids Harry Potter Snacks


Bits and Pieces After-Hours Play & Pizza Art with a Heart



Turn Up the Heat

10 The Pacifier Dilemma

Squeezebox Celebration

Why a child with autism needed a coping tool.

12 Tech to the Rescue Apps help kids learn emotional literacy.

14 Time for a Tutor


Veggie Love Switch On Learning

24 Calendar of Events 28 Humor Break The Pretty Please List

How to find top-notch academic help.

16 Mary Poppins Mojo


Let the queen of nannies help you with family chores.

18 Webcomic Wonders Inspiration for aspiring kid illustrators.


20 Lucasfilm Artist How Erin Lefler turned her fandom into a career.

22 GrandDiva Marsha

She’s a grandma her way.

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September 2021

Led by credentialed teacher Monday through Friday 8:30 –2 :30 After care offered until 6:00PM

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Dear Reader


e dedicate this issue to families with special needs. Raising a child with any kind of learning, physical, or developmental issue Sharon Gowan requires strength, Publisher/Editor stamina, and courage. It’s helpful to remember that there are no perfect parents. Even child psychologists like Lynn Adams, who is the mom of a son with autism, get it wrong sometimes. Read about why she regrets taking away her son’s pacifier too soon in “The Pacifier Dilemma” (page 10). Fortunately there are helpers, both human and technological, that can make life easier. Many families benefit from hiring academic assistance for their children. “Time for a Tutor” (page 14) offers tips on how to find the best person for your child. Meanwhile, “Tech to the Rescue” (page 12) lists seven apps that help kids with everything from emotional literacy and social skills to visual perception and habit formation.

Locally, Common Ground Society offers online and in-person support groups for families with special needs, including groups for moms, dads, and “normal” siblings who may be having a hard time coping. Find some of their meetings in our Calendar of Events (page 24); go to for a complete schedule. In addition to families with special needs, this issue focuses on grandmothers. Turn to “GrandDiva Marsha” (page 22) for an interview with Dr. Marsha McLean. The founder of, McLean is determined to be an elder with style. No matter where your parenting journey takes you, we hope this issue offers you the information and inspiration you need to take your next step with confidence.

Office Manager/ Business Marketing Patricia Ramos 707-205-1539

Features Editor Melissa Chianta

Production Manager Donna Bogener

Contributing Writers Lynn Adams Alana Al-Hatlani Lisa Carpenter Bethany Cook Jessica Guerrieri Tanni Haas Jan Pierce Amy Ratcliffe

Happy fall!

BACK-TO-SCHOOL CHECKLIST FOR PARENTS/GUARDIANS ✔ Sign-up for ParentSquare or download the app

Billing Jan Wasson-Smith

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


Put Back-to-School Zoom Nights on Your Calendar: ✔ Elementary: Thursday, September 2 ✔ High School: Thursday, September 9 ✔ Middle School: Thursday, September 23

707-890-3800 • 211 Ridgway Avenue, Santa Rosa

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September 2021

Cooking with Kids

Harry Potter Snacks Protein-Packed BBQ Magic

By Alana Al-Hatlani

Here’s a meal for the picky eaters at any magical boarding school: crispy, yummy chicken fingers. Breading the chicken strips yourself adds an extra-special crunch, and pairing them with a homemade BBQ sauce inspired by the tureens of condiments served in the Great Hall makes this dish doubly delicious! Excerpted from The Unofficial Hogwarts Cookbook for Kids by Alana Al-Hatlani. Copyright © 2021 Ulysses Press. Reprinted with permission from Ulysses Press. New York, NY. All rights reserved. Alana Al-Hatlani is a baker by morning and food writer by night. A graduate of the Seattle Culinary Academy, she started baking as soon as she could reach the counter with a step stool and hasn’t left the kitchen since. Find her at

Chicken Fingers 2 cups panko bread crumbs ½ cup flour ¼ teaspoon black pepper 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided 2 eggs 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder ½ teaspoon paprika 1 pound chicken tenders canola oil, for drizzling Easy BBQ sauce ½ cup ketchup 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon paprika 1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

crumbs with the remaining salt, the garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. 6. Dip the chicken tenders one at a time in the flour mixture to coat completely. 7. Next, place the chicken tenders in the egg mixture, again getting every bit of the chicken coated. 8. Lastly, place the chicken tenders in the bread crumbs, pressing the mixture into the chicken to make sure it sticks. 9. Place the chicken tenders on an aluminum-lined baking sheet (you can reuse the one from toasting the bread crumbs). 10. Drizzle the tenders lightly in oil and sprinkle with salt.

2. Place the panko bread crumbs on an aluminum foil–lined baking sheet, drizzle with canola oil, and toss to coat. Toast for 3 to 5 minutes in the oven until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

11. Bake for 16 minutes, until golden and opaque. They should register 165°F or above with a thermometer.

3. Place the flour in a shallow bowl and mix with the black pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt.

13. Heat over medium heat until the brown sugar is melted and the sauce is hot, 5 minutes.

4. Beat the eggs in another shallow bowl or pie plate.

14. Serve the chicken fingers hot with BBQ sauce.

5. Mix the cooled, toasted bread

Yield: 4 servings

September 2021

12. Make the BBQ sauce by combining all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan.

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Bits & Pieces

After-Hours Play & Pizza


hildren love to do things that are forbidden and go to places they are not allowed. That is why Kids’ Night at the Museum appeals: Most of the time, no one is allowed into the Charles M. Schulz Museum after the doors are locked. But on this special night the rules change, and kids get to go inside. The little rebels will eat pizza, make a glitter leaf garland and other fall crafts, learn cartooning, play games, and watch a movie. The event, which is recommended for ages 5–10, will be held on September 18, 5–9 p.m., at the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa. Tickets are $35 per child with $5 off for siblings. Register at ¶

Kids’ Night at the Museum

Art with a Heart


racy Ferron has a big heart—quite literally. Walk into the artist’s Petaluma gallery and you’ll see a giant, painted papier-mâché winged heart stuck in a spherical, turning cage. The work, called Spellbound, is a symbol for how injustice imprisons the world’s heart. Ferron’s latest project is Unbound, an initiative that aims to hang 1,400 papier-mâché hearts at a Napa psychiatric facility. Local kids involved with ArtStart, a youth arts nonprofit, have already helped to craft some of the hearts needed for the project. And now the public is invited to make even more hearts. Want to help? Go to and schedule a time to make a heart in the gallery’s COVID-safe, socially distanced gallery, which is located in the old Bluestone Main building in downtown Petaluma. ¶

Turn Up the Heat


eans, tomatoes, and lots and lots of chili powder. These key ingredients are familiar to the local chefs participating in the Windsor Chili Cook-Off. Every year, they compete for the People’s Choice Award, which is given to the best steaming pot of the spicy stew. Besides chili, the event will also feature live ’70s and ’80s rock music and vendors. The cook-off will be held on September 11, noon–4 p.m., at the Windsor Town Green in Windsor. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 8–17; family four-packs are available for $40. Admission comes with a chance to win a Traeger barbecue grill. Purchase tickets and learn more at ¶

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September 2021

Squeezebox Celebration


he accordion, as we know it today, was invented in the early 19th century by Christian Friedrich Buschmann. Little did this German instrument maker know how his invention would become integral to such a variety of musical genres, from polka to Zydeco. Some of that music will be represented at the 30th Annual Cotati Accordion Festival, where more than 25 bands will play on different stages. Acts include the Great Morgani, Neuvos Adventurous, Intuitive Compass, Junk Parlor, and Bellow Shakes. The festival will be held September 25–26 at La Plaza Park in Cotati. Tickets at the gate are $21 for one day or $29 for both days. Find out more information and get discounted tickets at ¶

Veggie Love


any people are turning to plant-based diets to improve their health. And VegFest wants to offer resources for this lifestyle choice. The annual festival, which will be held outdoors this year, will feature music, vegetarian food, and vendors offering information on wellness, nutrition, and environmentally friendly products. The event happens on September 26, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa. Admission is $10. Get more details at ¶ VegFest

Switch On Learning


e try to keep kids from sticking their fingers in electrical outlets. There definitely are safer ways to explore electricity! And the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) aims to help children discover them, at the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County. During its hands-on event, Electric Science with IBEW, kids will learn about snap circuits, pipe bending, wire pulling, and wiring LED lights—the safe way. The fun happens on September 25, 10 a.m.–1 p.m., at the museum in Santa Rosa. The class is free with admission ($12, free for babies 0–11 months). Find out more information at ¶

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bag and made a trip up to the attic. “Where do we put them?” he asked, looking around at the vast, dusty, hot, mostly empty space. I suggested a ledge near the attic entrance, “so we can visit.” He set them down, gave them a little pat, and said, “Bye, passes.” He climbed down the attic stairs and headed to the playroom, seeming none the worse for wear.

The Pacifier Dilemma Helping an Autistic Child Cope By Lynn Adams


took away my son’s pacifier when he was four years old, and I still regret it.

It seemed like the perfect time. We’d just watched Toy Story 3, in which Andy sorts through his childhood belongings before heading to college. He decides to store the important ones, including Buzz Lightyear, in the attic. My son, James, who has autism, took an interest in our attic. What was up there? What could we put up there? I jumped at the chance. From his toddler years, I’d done my best to restrict the pacifier to his bed. I was a child psychologist. The very thought of running into one of my patients around town, 10 SonomaFamilyLife

pacifier-sucking behemoth in tow, made me want to hide my head. Plus, everything I’d read cautioned about pacifier use once kids started getting their permanent teeth. The pacifier was a sign of weakness, of immaturity, of difference. I knew James had some developmental delays, but when he was four the idea that he had autism was relatively new. James was attending a regular pre-kindergarten, and I thought he needed to look like a regular pre-kindergartner. Even in bed. So James and I packed his few remaining pacifiers into a Ziploc

James never asked for his pacifier again, but that didn’t mean he didn’t miss it. Like lots of kids with autism, he had uneven language

The pacifier was a sign of weakness, of immaturity, of difference. development. At that point, he’d still never told me he was hungry, never told me he was thirsty. Even though he could give the proper technical name for any construction truck he might spot around town. When he had a strong need, he’d have a tantrum, and I’d have to figure it out. I have a family history of premature pacifier disposal. My older brother loved his pacifier, but my mother decided he needed to give it up at barely age two. A friend suggested she take my brother to the zoo and feed it to the baby raccoons, reasoning that they needed it more than he did. My brother had nightmares about the baby raccoons for months afterward. I knew all about the raccoons. Letting James use a pacifier for two extra years was my way of learning

September 2021

from my mother’s mistake. If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have let him keep it as long as he wanted and use it whenever and wherever he wanted. The pacifier wasn’t a problem but a solution. Looking back through home movies recently, I confirmed something: James’ younger sister started sucking her fingers before she was an hour old. “Wow, look at her,” I say in the video. “So strong.” Seeing the video reminded me of how competent infants can be. I once saw an infant in a Baby Bjorn at a parade. The baby girl rubbed her forehead against her mother’s chest, soothing herself to sleep as

the marching bands blared. It was 1 p.m., after all. Naptime. That kind of self-regulation is so hard for people with autism. So hard for James. James used the pacifier in his bed, to help him cope

James used the pacifier in his bed, to help him cope with the stress of being tired. with the stress of being tired and of being alone in his room. With all that was going wrong with James, his self-soothing with the pacifier was something right. What’s two extra years? If James had done as his sister did with her

fingers, kept sucking his pacifier for comfort until age six, then given it up on his own, the whole thing would’ve been a success story for James. I shouldn’t have butted in. I’ve developed a rule of thumb. It started with accepting James’ autism, and my own limitations in coping with it, even though, before his birth, autism was my specialty for ten years. My first choice is always to find what James is doing right and bolster that. Tackling a problem— which might exist only in my mind—is always the last resort. ¶ Lynn Adams, PhD, is a child psychologist and mother of two. Find her writing and information about her consultation work at


You’ve found your community

When you have a child who has a disability, special needs or any sort of different path from the typical experience, it can be hard to navigate alone. Join our local Sonoma County Facebook group and subscribe to our emails to stay connected, and learn about our resources.

Find a community of friends who get it. You are not alone. Ask about our community presentations on how to be inclusive. LEARN MORE ABOUT DIFFERENT SUPPORT GROUPS Family Meet Ups • Dad’s Group • Mom’s Group Sibling Support Groups • New Family Groups It starts with HELLO, ends with BELONGING. • 707-836-3605

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Emotionary Available at Apple App Store & Google Play. If you want to help your kids better understand other people’s emotions, the best thing you can do is help them better understand their own. This app has more than 100 short, dictionary-style definitions of common emotions, each accompanied by an emoticon. This helps kids

Tech to the Great Apps for Kids Rescue with Special Needs By Tanni Haas


ike any other kids, kids with special needs are diverse, and there are many educational apps that can help them with their specific needs. Here are some of the best ones, and they’re all free.

ChatterPix Kids Available at Apple App Store & Google Play. This app is great for kids who need help practicing their oral communication skills. They can either upload or take a picture of themselves, draw a mouth, and then record anything they want to say. It’s particularly useful if you’re having a difficult conversation at home and your kids find it easier to express their views through an avatar rather than directly to you. It can also be useful in school if your kids require extra time composing answers to teachers’ questions. They can record and re-record their responses until they get them just the way they want them. 12 SonomaFamilyLife Available at Apple App Store & Google Play. Drawing on the latest psychological and behavioral research, this great app assumes that a key to achieving one’s goals is to develop good, consistent habits. Users decide which habits they’d like to develop, track those habits over time, receive reminders, and then get positive feedback (high-fives) when they reach their goals. Depending on their age and maturity, your kids can either use this app on their own or with a little help from you.

A key to achieving one’s goals is to develop good, consistent habits. develop a rich emotional vocabulary, and it teaches them coping skills so that they don’t let their feelings overwhelm them. They can create their own emoticons for emotions they think aren’t included in the app but are really important to them. iOT Session Available at Apple App Store. Created by a well-known occupational therapist, Dr. Frederick Covington, this app features lots of kid-friendly, game-like exercises aimed at improving their visual perception, tracking, and coordination. It also improves fine motor skills, especially kids’ ability to create proper letters. Your kids can use it, on their own or with your help, to track their progress over time. MindShift CBT Available at Apple App Store & Google Play. Based on cognitive behavioral therapy, which is widely used, this app teaches kids how to deal with different anxiety-provoking situations, such as conflicts, social situations, and tests. It features tools that help users relax, practice

September 2021

mindfulness, and re-orient their thoughts. It has audio recordings with guided mediations, a journal for users to record thoughts that make them the most anxious, and general tips for managing anxiety. Model Me Going Places 2 Available at Apple App Store. This social skills app teaches kids how to interact with different kinds of people that they encounter in their daily lives, such

This app teaches kids how to deal with different anxiety-provoking situations. as grocery store clerks, hairdressers, doctors, and restaurant waiters. It has 12-photo slideshows that model kids engaging in appropriate behaviors with people in various settings. My Little Suitcase Available at Apple App Store. This game-like app, which can be played by up to four people, enhances kids’ ability to memorize and match items. Similar to the popular card game Memory, each player has a suitcase with six different items represented on a small card that is faced down. Players take turns turning over the cards. If the card is theirs, they put it in their suitcase. If not, it’s the next player’s turn. Aside from improving their working memory and retention skills, they learn how to focus, categorize, and engage in proper turn-taking. It’s a great game for the whole family. ¶ Tanni Haas, PhD, is a college communications professor.


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Children must be five on or before Sept. 1, 2021 to be eligible for kindergarten. Two-year Kinder Bridge program offered for children turning five on or after Sept. 2, 2021.

707 542-2201 • LEARN MORE AT WWW.BVUSD.ORG September 2021

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styles in mind. They may not be able to present a lesson in a number of different ways to help the child understand. Occasionally a family member may be able to step in and help your child in a certain subject. In that case, work with your classroom teacher to get proper materials for the lessons. Be sure that you

Time for a Tutor Find the Right Help for Your Child

By Jan Pierce


here are many reasons for a child to fall behind in one school subject or another.

Whatever the situation, being behind other learners is never a happy experience for your child. You may be able to do extra work at home to catch up, but often a tutor is the best way to help a child make great strides in learning. Here are some things to consider when finding the best tutor for your child. Safety and Convenience Your primary concern is for the well-being of your child. Be sure to get and check references for your tutor, and plan to have lessons take place online, or if COVID-restrictions allow, at your home or a school or library. 14 SonomaFamilyLife

Good tutors will have games and activities that are both instructional and fun. Skills and Experience The best tutors are retired or unemployed teachers. They are certified and have lots of experience with children needing additional support. Sometimes tutoring businesses are able to provide encouraging lessons in basic subjects, but just as often their teachers are not certified and have limited experience in teaching a subject with learning

It’s important that your child never feel that working with a tutor is an embarrassment. work with classroom teachers and the tutor to set specific goals for tutoring sessions. One good way to build learning confidence is to “see” progress over time as certain goals are met. Patience, Empathy, and Kindness Children who have fallen behind in their classroom work are often very discouraged. They may feel they can’t learn and their self-esteem may suffer as a result. So anything additional in their schedule can feel like punishment. To help avoid this, hire someone who offers nothing but positive lessons presented in small, bite-sized pieces, so failure won’t be an option. Good tutors will have games and activities that are both instructional and fun. They may use some sort of reward system that encourages a bit of risk-taking but also makes your child feel hopeful and accomplished. A good tutor is on task but upbeat and friendly. He or she will be patient

September 2021

but expect the best, including the achievement of specific milestones. Often charts and stickers work very well for a child who has not been able to earn them in class. Enthusiasm and Positivity Typically children who have experienced a degree of failure are sure that they’re “bad at math” or “bad at reading.” A good tutor can present material in such a way that your child can shine. And an enthusiastic tutor who truly loves the subject matter may be able to help your child overcome unhappy classroom experiences. Reliability Your family’s schedule is important and adding a tutoring session may be a stretch for you. So if your tutor is not on time, or fails

to measure up in any way, feel free to find another one. It’s also a good idea to schedule tutoring sessions for a month or two at a time, and then re-evaluate the need for the extra support. You may decide that the extra boost

The best tutors are retired or unemployed teachers. in learning was all that your child needed to get back on track. Or you may decide that certain times of the year are just too busy to add another activity. Maybe waiting until spring or even summer would be the best choice for your family.

It’s important that your child never feel that working with a tutor is an embarrassment or a punishment. It may be wise to explain that throughout history children have worked with tutors and that classroom instruction is a relatively new way to learn. Finding the best tutor for your child will take some research and time, and also, of course, money. But a strong, capable tutor may be just the boost your child needs to become a confident, successful learner. ¶ Jan Pierce, MEd, is a retired teacher and writer specializing in education, parenting, and family life. She is the author of Homegrown Readers and Homegrown Family Fun. Find her at


BALLET • PRE-BALLET, TAP & HIP HOP • JAZZ LYRICAL CONTEMP • TAP & HIP HOP • TUMBLING Which class is right for you? 8465 Old Redwood Hwy. Windsor (707) 292-4002 •

September 2021

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1. Lift the lid of the food bin. 2. Measure out the food with a measuring cup. 3. Dump the food into the dog bowl. (It helps if the dogs are trained to sit and wait until released. Otherwise, they could hurt small children during the mealtime excitement.) Now, at ages five and six, my kids easily feed the dogs. I don’t need to monitor them or take time out of my day to do it. It’s been checked off my to-do list and no longer part of my “mental load.”

Mary Poppins Mojo 3 Simple Ways to Make Chores Fun By Bethany Cook


e all remember the iconic image of Mary Poppins floating from the sky under her umbrella. The cinematic nanny used a spoonful of sugar and lots of magic to gets her charges to behave. But, as a clinical psychologist, I can tell you that it doesn’t take mythical powers to motivate your child to do chores. Here are three simple ways to help your kids succeed at everyday tasks.

Bedazzle the boring. Just like the famed nanny, find a way to make basic life skills fun. If your kids are young, you don’t have to try very hard. Just give them your undivided attention for 5–15 minutes and teach them a task. If they are teenagers, you might have to get a little creative to get them excited about household chores. For example, you can buy different/funny sponges and maybe dishwashing gloves for them, and let them choose the scent 16 SonomaFamilyLife

of the soap. If you have wood floors, strap some rags to their feet and have a “dance cleaning” party as you scrub and polish. KISS (Keep It Simple Smartie). A task should be broken down into parts and presented in its most basic form. When my children were around two years old, one of their daily jobs was to help me feed the dogs. I broke down the task into three steps:

I’ve learned to be kind but firm and consistent. I will give you a non-dog example: matching socks. Let’s face it, unless you buy just one color and style of socks, or you have a housekeeper or partner who likes to match socks, you will be sorting socks for the rest of your mortal life. So here’s how to get your kids to help you do it. The key is to make a game of it. 1. Gather the single socks and spread them out on a bed or dining room table. 2. Ask your kids to “find the match.” 3. Whoever finds the most matches wins. (If you’d rather not encourage competition, then say something like, “We are all going to work together to find matches, and once we find as many as we can, we all get something special.”) 4. Put the matched socks in the drawer.

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In terms of rewards, try to avoid always using the same reward and keep food or extra screen time to a minimum. Instead of using food rewards, create a “success chart” and add stickers for each task completed. Once your kids have reached a certain number of completed tasks, they can invite a friend over for a playdate, request their favorite family meal, get an extra half-hour added to their curfew, or get some extra cash.

involves helping them to understand they are not doing their kids any favors by letting them get away with bad behavior, even if it’s “just once.” Often parents reluctantly admit that letting things slide often happens when it is

Mean what you say, and say what you mean. Following in Mary Poppins’ footsteps, I’ve learned to be kind but firm and consistent when expressing my expectations and offering privileges.

too inconvenient for them to stop what they are doing and kindly help their child complete a required task. Some have even admitted they didn’t realize the long-term impact of not enforcing rules. They are now “paying for it” as they struggle to manage teenagers who don’t treat self and others with respect.

As a clinical psychologist, much of my professional work with parents

Let’s face it: You will be sorting socks for the rest of your mortal life.


PLEASE CALL FOR COMPLIMENTARY CLASS 326 Petaluma Blvd. North • 542-1367

A full-time parent of two and licensed clinical psychologist, Bethany Cook, PhD, is the author of For What It’s Worth: A Perspective on How to Thrive and Survive Parenting Ages 0–2. Find her on her blog; in her Facebook group, A Perspective on Parenting; and on TikTok (@DrBCook).

SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS NEEDED! Now Accepting Applications

WE LOVE TO DANCE AND YOU CAN TOO! The Keenan School works to bring the fun and joy of traditional Irish dance to all! From the age of 3 to the teen years, dancers in all levels of interest and experience have a place here.

Everyday, we as primary caregivers pick what battles we want to fight with our kids. By the end of the day we are exhausted. I get it. Nevertheless, fatigue shouldn’t override the call to get up one more time to show your kids how to complete a required task. Mary Poppins knew that kids don’t need constant handholding forever if, as young children, they are empowered to confidently complete tasks that benefit themselves and the family.

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CALL NOW 707-206-9988 367 West Robles Avenue, Santa Rosa • September 2021

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drawing amazing stories now, some companies are even adapting webcomics into physical comics and graphic novels, like Check, Please and Heartstopper, or into animated series and anime, such as Lore Olympus and Tower of God.

Webcomic Kids Make Wonders Fanart I By Amy Ratcliffe

f you have a fondness for both fanfic and fanart, you might want to think about combining the two and making a webcomic. It’s a

way to tell stories visually through panels of art and words—like

comic books for the web! Usually released in brief installments on a

regular schedule, webcomics can use existing fandoms and canons as a base for their stories or feature completely new, original content. The history of webcomics goes way back to the ’80s, but they became more popular in the mid-1990s because of how much easier it was to create and share work on the Internet. Then, the medium had another big spike in South Korea in the 2000s, with the help of the webcomics platform LINE Webtoon, also known as just Webtoon outside of Korea. Today, you can easily 18 SonomaFamilyLife

read webcomics on your phone or computer through platforms like Tapas, Webtoon, Tappytoon, The Duck Webcomics, and more—even on Instagram and Imgur. With so many new creators writing and

Of course, if you only want to write or draw and not do both, then webcomics are also ideal for collaboration. Plus, making a webcomic with a friend might help you come up with even better ideas and learn how to cooperatively tell a story. Two heads are better than one,

You can easily read webcomics on your phone or computer. you know. If making a webcomic sounds like a blast, the next thing you should do is focus on the type of story or characters that you want your comic to have. Don’t worry too much about the audience or what is popular right now. Instead, create a story based on whichever of your fandoms inspires you, like an animated series you can’t get enough of or the latest superhero movie that blew your socks off. If you are working with a friend, talk about the different things you both love—and maybe a few of the things that you don’t—so that you can gather all the elements that you want in your webcomic. The next stage is to throw it all down on paper and see what magic happens. Sketch out thumbnails, which are rough representations of what you want the comic

September 2021

panel to look like, and write ideas for dialogue underneath them. Thumbnails will give you an excellent starting place to organize your thoughts and refine your art before you go on to your final illustrations, dialogue, and story. Maybe you’ll find that your story needs a few installments to complete; if so, you can sketch those out, too.

Create a story based on whichever of your fandoms inspires you. Remember, there’s no single way to create a webcomic, so experiment and see what works best for you and the stories you want to tell. Then, with the help of older family members, you can upload your drawing to the web. If you’re making digital art, make a template to unify the look of all your installments, and start illustrating. Don’t forget to come up with a name for your new webcomic and, most importantly, be sure to sign your work—be proud of what you’ve made! Excerpted, with permission, from A Kid’s Guide to Fandom by Amy Ratcliffe, illustrated by Dave Perillo (Running Press Kids, 2021), Amy Ratcliffe is part of many fandoms, including Star Wars, The Witcher, and anything Tolkien. She’s cosplayed as Han Solo and Merida. She’s the author of Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy and Elee and Me. She’s the managing editor for Nerdist and an entertainment reporter.





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of different places about a year after starting my social media accounts and got a lot of rejections. But I ended up getting an e-mail from Lucasfilm, and I remember them saying, “We’ve seen your work online and we love what

I’ve been interested in art ever since I could pick up a pencil. we see.” So I feel it’s a very important thing to put your work out on social media. DAVID PERILLO

What advice would you give to kids who want to celebrate their fandom by making art?

Lucasfilm Artist An Interview with Erin Lefler

By Amy Ratcliffe


rin Lefler is a character designer, concept artist, and licensed Lucasfilm and Marvel merchandise artist.

When did you become interested in being an artist, and did any particular fandoms inspire you? I’ve been interested in art ever since I could pick up a pencil. I would drive my parents insane as a child trying to draw all over everything I could get my hands on! I was definitely interested in drawing Star Wars growing up, but also Marvel Comics, because I was an avid comic book reader. I adored Spider-Man. 20 SonomaFamilyLife

How did sharing fanart online help you get professional work? I had been working as a freelancer for a couple of years before I was encouraged to put my work online. I love making fanart when I’m not making art for work, so I just started posting the art I made of the things I loved, and people started following my work, which, for me, was insane. I had put my application into a lot

Do it. I can’t stress it enough—don’t let anything or anyone stop you. If it’s what you love and you want to express it by making art, cosplaying, writing, and so on, do it. You’ll find some people along the way who love the same things as you. You’ll be able to make some cool art, and who knows— maybe someday you’ll be able to take that and make a career out of it like I got to! Excerpted, with permission, from A Kid’s Guide to Fandom by Amy Ratcliffe, illustrated by Dave Perillo (Running Press Kids, 2021), Amy Ratcliffe is part of many fandoms, including Star Wars, The Witcher, and anything Tolkien. She’s cosplayed as Han Solo and Merida. She’s the author of Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy and Elee and Me. She’s the managing editor for Nerdist and an entertainment reporter. Dave Perillo is a freelance illustrator and designer based out of the Philly burbs.

September 2021

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SonomaFamilyLife 21

Dr. Marsha McLean of

Now, since they are older, we do other things like shopping trips and boat rides; we visit museums and amusement parks, and have sleepovers at Grandma’s house. When they come for a week in the summer, we do

I recently started my own grandmas’ organization called Grandmas2.0.

GrandDiva Dr. Marsha McLean Marsha on Grandmothering By Lisa Carpenter

How many children and grandchildren do you have? Three children, and eight grandchildren, ages 8–18.

I can see them when I want to. The other set lives between their mom and dad, so I don’t see them as often as I would like to.

What do your grandchildren call you?

What is the best thing about being a grandma?

Grandma. I tried “GrandDiva” with the first grandchild, but it didn’t work.

I get to decide when I want to hang out with them, and I get to decide what I want to do with them. The things we do have changed over the years. In the beginning we did fun things like story time, painting, and visiting the other set of grands. We played with Play-Doh, made cookies and gingerbread houses, [and did] Easter egg hunts and backyard things. I would plan and set up the space so that it looked like a child-care center.

After the initial elation, what was your first concern when you heard that you would soon be a grandmother? It made me feel old and I didn’t like it. That’s why I said, “He’s going to call me GrandDiva.” How often do you get to see your grandchildren? One set of my grands lives nearby so 22 SonomaFamilyLife

college visits, go to the pool, and visit amusement parks. The summer before COVID, we did a crab feast, and sometimes we do Grandma’s Brunch, where I make all of their favorite breakfast foods. What is the most challenging part of being a grandma? The age differences between the two sets means that I have to be more intentional in planning activities. The younger ones like more physical activities, while the older ones like different things. In addition to “grandmother,” what other hats do you wear? I work as a college professor. I am a wife, and I have hobbies of my own. I recently started my own grandmas’ organization called Grandmas2.0. Describe a recent time that one (or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh. One of my grandsons said to the other grands at a birthday celebration for me, “Guess what guys, I know a secret. I know how old Grandma is.” Everyone said, “We all know that Grandma is 26.” He said, “No, my dad told me her real age.” I looked at him and he

September 2021

looked at me, and I said, “Langston, don’t you tell it.” At the same time, my youngest granddaughter said, “Langston, don’t you tell Grandma’s secret. Stop bullying her.” Everyone laughed. It was hilarious. I had been telling them for years that I was 26. What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house? Either cook for them or order their favorite foods and pig out.

What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma? The most important thing you can do for your grandchildren is to show them how special they are to you. The time goes by so fast and you want it to be special for both you and them. Is there anything else you would you like to add about being a grandmother?

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house?

Being a grandma has been so rewarding. It keeps me young and focused on being successful because I want to be a role model for them.

Since the pandemic, I sometimes take them lunch and we hang out together. It’s very casual.

Do you have a website or blog? What is the URL and what is it about?

How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits?

Yes, It is about coaching grandmas to be the best version of themselves and helping them to redefine who they are, and more importantly, to redefine who they are not! We provide events, resources, information, partnerships, and coaching for grandmas only.

Sometimes I text them, and sometimes I FaceTime them. When I call their house, I always say, “Tell my grands I said hello and that I love them.” What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren? A good work ethic, financial literacy, being successful, how to show people that you love them, and a love of family! What is one word you hope your grandkids think of when they think of you? Loving. Grandma was good to us! Grandma showed us that she loved us. What is one thing you’re proud to say you do right as a grandma?

Do you have other works you’d like to share? I am in the process of writing a book now about Gorgeous Grandmas. Please visit me on FB: @grandmas2.0 and IG: @grandmas2.0. ¶ Reprinted, with permission, from Lisa Carpenter is a grandmother, author of the First-Time Grandmother’s Journal, and founder of the blog Grandma’s Briefs,

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September 2021

SonomaFamilyLife 23

September Calendar of Events

Wednesday 1 FREE Virtual Teen Anime Club.

Wednesdays. 4–5 p.m. Hosted by Sonoma County Library. Registration required: event/5438897.

Thursday 2 FREE Common Ground Online Support Group for Families with Special Needs. New Family

Zoom Meet-Up for any family coping with a new life-changing diagnosis. 10–11:30 a.m. Get Zoom link at family-support.

FREE Online Autism Support Group. 9:30–11 a.m. Facilitator

provides support & education on a variety of topics. Hosted by the Child Parent Institute. Register: tinyurl. com/4mpzcyv7. Info: FREE Garrison Krohn. Local

26-year-old singer/songwriter who plays guitar & piano & sings & raps. 5–8 p.m. 570 4th St., Santa Rosa.

Friday 3 FREE Friday Night Live & Street Fair. Concert series, vendor booths, wine & beer garden &

family-friendly activities. Fridays. 6:30–10 p.m. Downtown Plaza. 122 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale.

Saturday 4 FREE Sebastopol Makers’ Market.

Handmade items for sale. Noon–4 p.m. Sebastopol Plaza. 6901 McKinley St., Sebastopol. FREE Cornerstone Sonoma Music Series. The Henry Coopers & Wolf Run perform Saturdays & Sundays. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Cornerstone Sonoma. 23570 Arnold Dr., Sonoma.

Courtney’s Pumpkin Patch Saturday, October 2 11 a.m.–5 p.m. • Admission is Free Dahlia & Sage Community Market 115 East 2nd Street, Cloverdale Bring the family to this outdoor fundraiser for the Courtney Jade Memorial Scholarship & cancer patients. PUMPKINS! PUMPKINS! PUMPKINS! Halloween Goodies • Gourds for Sale Beer, Wine, Food • Live Music • Vendors Ooops & Friends Magic Show Balloon Twisting • Face Painting Airbrush Tattoos • Giant Pumpkin Photos Silent Auction & Much More 24 SonomaFamilyLife

September 2021

Tower of Power. Renowned

horn-driven soul/R&B/rock/pop/funk band. $15–$85. 7:30 p.m. Green Music Center. 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park.

Wednesday 8 FREE Family Storytime Live on Zoom/ Hora de cuentos estará en vivo a través de Zoom. 10:30–11

a.m. Advance registration required/ Requiere registro avanzado: events. Junior Wilderness Survival Series.

Kids ages 7–12 learn about new topics in wilderness survival, including shelter building, knot-tying, outdoor cooking & more. $20. 3–5 p.m. Taylor Mountain Regional Park. 2080

Kawana Terrace, Santa Rosa. Register:

Friday 10

Hardies Ln., Santa Rosa. Register:

Saturday 11

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone.

FREE Sonoma Plein Air Festival.

See film on the lawn at Green Music Center. $5. Ages 3–12: free. 7 p.m. 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. Tickets: harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone.

Art show & sale. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Artist demos at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. & 2 p.m. Sonoma Plaza. 453 First St. E., Sonoma.

Broadway Under the Stars. Gala performance. $49–$129. Sept. 10–12 & Sept. 17–19. 7:30 p.m. Jack London State Park. 2400 London Ranch Rd., Glen Ellen.

Live music, vendors, beer & wine. Traeger grill door prize. $10–$15. Noon–4 p.m.

Online Nature Journaling. Ages

8 & up sketch, paint & write about nature. Facilitated by artist Barbara Golden. $150 for 8 Fridays thru Oct. 29. Charles M. Schulz Museum. 2301

8th Annual Windsor Chili Cook-Off.

Praying Mantis Expedition. Kids

ages 7–13 search for & learn about praying mantises. $10–$12. 2–3:30 p.m. La Laguna de Santa Rosa. 6303 Hwy. 12, Santa Rosa. Register:

SALUTE TO THE FLAG CEREMONY AT NOON First Responders Cuddle Shuttle Chili Mania Vendors Live Music with The Ignitors

Beer & Wine Raffles

Benefits the new WWII Airfield Memorial




September 2021

SonomaFamilyLife 25

Discover SR Rec & Parks How to Draw Peanuts. Staff artist Bryan Stone offers step-by-step instructions on how to draw Peanuts characters. Free with admission: $5–$12 or free for ages 3 & younger. 1–3 p.m. Charles M. Schulz Museum. 2301 Hardies Ln., Santa Rosa. Register:

Enjoy fall activities for the whole family! Classes start soon for martial arts, volleyball, tot programs, yoga, flamenco dancing and a lot more! Register at 707-543-3737

Sunday 12 FREE Fiesta de Independencia


B Mî `ƒ

Virtual. Featuring Mariachi Vargas & traditional Mexican dance. 2–3 p.m. fiesta-de-independencia. Family Fun Hike. Parking: $7. 1–3

p.m. Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail. 355 Hwy. 1, Bodega Bay. parks.

Tuesday 14 FREE Common Ground Meet-Up for

MOVE-IN SPECIAL CALL FOR DETAILS 6001 Commerce Blvd. Rohnert Park


Families with Special Needs. 3–5

p.m. Keiser Park. 700 Windsor River Rd., Windsor. commongroundsociety. org/family-support. FREE Single & Parenting. Online

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26 SonomaFamilyLife

class explores how to cope with the unique stressors single parents experience. Tuesdays. Thru Sept. 28. 6–7:30 p.m. Hosted by the Child Parent Institute. Register: tinyurl. com/cthfyks3.

Thursday 16 Get Crafty in Nature for Teens.

Teens make art in a park. $16–$18. Parking: $7. 4–5:30 p.m. Spring Lake Regional Park. 393 Violetti Rd., Santa Rosa. Register:

Saturday 18 Kids’ Night at the Museum. Pizza, fall crafts, cartooning, games & movie. $35. 5–9 p.m. Charles M. Schulz

September 2021

Museum. 2301 Hardies Ln., Santa Rosa. Register: calendar.

Intuitive Compass, Junk Parlor & Bellow Shakes. $19–$27. Thru Sept. 26.

FREE End of Summer Block Party.

Electric Science with IBEW. Kids

Noon–4 p.m. Old Courthouse Square. Santa Rosa.

will learn about snap circuits, pipe bending, wire pulling & wiring LED lights. Free with admission ($12, free for babies 0–11 months). 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Children’s Museum of Sonoma County. 1835 W. Steele Ln., Santa Rosa.

Little Parkies: Curious Coast. 9

a.m.–noon. For ages 4–6. Exploratory walkabouts in the park, hands-on learning, nature-based games & unique crafts. $15–$17 for family of 4. Parking: $7. Doran Regional Park. 201 Doran Beach Rd., Bodega Bay. Register:

Saturday 25 30th Annual Cotati Accordion Festival. More than 25 bands

Sunday 26 VegFest. Music,

vegetarian food, nutrition & wellness info, eco-friendly products. $10. 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa.


perform. Acts include the Great Morgani, Neuvos Adventurous,

Monday 27 Museum Mondays for Little Ones.

Collage & print with leaves. String a colorful cereal bird feeder. Mix & paint with fall colors. Ages 1–5. Before 11 a.m.: $7 per child & free for up to 2 adults per child. After 11 a.m.: regular museum admission ($5–$12 or free for ages 3 & younger). Charles M. Schulz Museum. 2301 Hardies Ln., Santa Rosa. FREE Managing Family Anger.

Online class explores the causes of anger in family relationships & offers positive strategies for managing angry feelings. Presented by the Child Parent Institute. Mondays. Thru Oct. 18. 6–7:30 p.m.

to schedule your FREE in-home consultation

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September 2021

SonomaFamilyLife 27

Humor Break goodbye into the opening scene of Love, Actually. 3. Pretty please, if I’m going to sob about the fleeting nature of time and my toddler’s newfound autonomy, may I do it in the privacy of my own car. 4. Pretty please may I not stay up at night hallucinating about giant colonies of head lice and rogue strains of Hand, Foot, and Mouth. 5. Pretty please may illnesses be limited to colds and nothing else. As we know, toddlers are basically one adorable, cuddly germ just waiting to open-mouth kiss you while sneezing.

The Pretty Please List No More Boogers & Other Mom-Wishes

By Jessica Guerrieri


adore the wonderful world of preschool—a safe space for socialization and creativity. A wonder of glitter, Elmer’s glue, and splatter paint. Lastly, and most importantly, a glorious place that I’m not in charge of cleaning.

This fall, my third and last daughter will be entering preschool. I put my first in a co-op preschool, which, because I was involved in running the classroom, made the metaphorical “cutting of the cord” an easier process. But ever since I discovered the magical option of the “drop-off,” I’ve been a convert. It’s a win-win: My child learns, develops, and grows, and I get to spend several blissful, child-free hours doing something that doesn’t involve large quantities of poop. 28 SonomaFamilyLife

6. Pretty please don’t come home with any new swear words, bite marks, or irreversible bad behaviors. 7. Pretty please only make friends with kids who have cool, non-judgmental moms, the kind who let their kids dress themselves and won’t send them to school with green, flowing boogers.

When I take my third child through those rainbow gates, I know I will think the same things I did the first time I entered them.

8. Pretty please bring home painted mugs and popsicle-stick Christmas trees that I can pass off as Father’s Day and holiday gifts.

My mom-mind unintentionally generates lists for everything, from chores to shopping to my grievances against billionaires opting for space travel during a global pandemic. So naturally I have what I now call the Pretty Please List for Preschool:

9. Pretty please become the teacher’s pet. Having been a teacher, I know that anyone who says teachers don’t play favorites is a big, fat liar.

1. Pretty please don’t be that kid: the follower, the smelly, the hitter, or the screamer. 2. Pretty please may I not be that parent: the classroom volunteer, incessant emailer, the know-it-all, or the drop-off lingerer who turns what could have been an uneventful

10. Pretty please, above all, learn about the importance of kindness. Everything else is just icing on the funfetti cupcake. Now go forth, my child, and shine as bright as the twinkly stars you’ll undoubtedly come home singing about. ¶ Find Jessica Guerrieri at witandspitup. com and on Instagram @witandspitup.

September 2021

Classified Marketplace

Transcendence Theater





So much learning was erased. We can help bring it back this summer!

Broadway Comes to Jack London


uring these COVID days, outside is one of the best places to enjoy entertainment. Some establishments have had to work to transfer their operations to the outdoors. But Transcendence Theater has been putting on shows in Jack London State Park for a decade. In fact, this year marks the troupe’s tenth anniversary performing in Sonoma County. It’s celebrating this benchmark with the Gala, a special evening that will feature Broadway music, and food, desserts, and wine from local producers and restaurants. The event happens Fridays through Sundays, September 10–19, at Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen. General admission tickets are $49 and may be purchased at ¶

DROUGHT IS HERE Supernatural Bug


he praying mantis is so named because of its enlarged femurs, which make the insect look like a supplicant. The ancient Greeks even believed the bug carried supernatural powers, and so gave it the name mantis, which means diviner or soothsayer. Youth ages 7–13 can find out more about the praying mantis, and even go searching for the insects, at Sonoma County Regional Parks’ Praying Mantis Expedition at the Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail in Santa Rosa. The event, part of the Junior Ranger Program, will be held on September 11, 2–3:30 p.m. The cost is $10–$12; registration is required at or via tinyurl. com/y3ecur. ¶


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