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Enter to

’cause parenting is a trip!


Let It Show! Revel in a delighting showfall of annual holiday arts P. 37

Little gifts spread big holiday joy for less than $25 31


Top ways to expand cultural competency in kids 45



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Here’s to less stress this holiday season


This young Seattle dancer believes that kindness is key


Parenting lesson No. 1: Never say ‘never’


Raising a changemaker: getting kids involved in advocacy


Little gifts spread big holiday joy for less than $25


Top ways to teach kids about global citizenship


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The solution? Don’t just do something, stand there!



Revel in a delighting showfall of annual holiday arts


This mother wants to help widowed parents and their children thrive • December 2019 • 5


Here’s to less stress this holiday season


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very year we look forward with great (•cough, unrealistic•) expectations to December, with its whirlwind of gifting, partygoing, carb-loading and seemingly endless parade of family festivities. While the holiday season is engineered to maximize feelings of joy and good cheer, all that hurrying and scurrying about can generate plenty of stress. Sometimes it seems like joy is a fourletter word. But the good thing about holiday stress, unlike other types of negative stress in our lives, is that it’s predictable: We know when it will begin to ratchet up, when it will peak and when it will subside, and if we’re thoughtful about it, we can employ various strategies to reduce if not totally avoid the seasonal stress we experience. Our feature, Helping Our Stressed-Out Kids Cope (p. 16), lays out a game plan for managing meltdowns in our children, but also provides key advice for coping with your own stress as a parent when navigating those hot-button moments with your teen ... or those long register lines. As you get swept along by the festive chaos of the holiday season, remember Dr. Laura Kastner’s simple but sage wisdom: “The play circuits of the brain compete with the worry network, so choose to play more! Strengthen the circuits for positive emotions. Seek joyous moments.” It’s a sentiment too long to embroider on a 12:52 PM pillow, but one we’d all do well to remember this time of year. Well if the good doctor says that the play’s the thing, then what better way to stimulate positive, joyous emotions than by treating your family to an actual play? Our annual holiday arts guide (Let It Show! p. 37) is jam-packed with steals and splurges, from the various and sundry Nutcrackers, Christmas Carols and Nights Before Christmas, to comic romps, holiday music and other shows and events as unique as your family. If one of your sanity-saving strategies for the holidays is reducing the stress of shopping and spending too much on presents, have we got the gift guide for you (Small Is the New Big, p. 31): These genius little gifts will spread big joy, and for less than $25 each. Also in our December issue, we turn our attention to the topic of cultivating global-mindedness in our children (Citizens of the World, p. 45). The values and mindset that characterize global citizenship are evolved through developing such skills as critical thinking, communication and collaboration — the very skills our kids need for a happy and successful life. When our children are encouraged to develop a sense of their own cultural identity while also learning to recognize and truly appreciate the diversity in world perspectives, they are far likelier to take action and to advocate for others. How to Raise a Changemaker (p. 14) explores local organizations and programs that are teaching youth advocacy skills, and in this month’s It Starts With You(th) column (p. 10), you’ll meet a local teen who is motivated to advocate for social change through the power of dance and kindness. On behalf of the ParentMap staff, happy holidays to you and yours! — Patty Lindley, ParentMap Managing Editor

Sometimes it seems like joy is a four-letter word.


December 2019, Vol. 17, No. 12 PUBLISHER/EDITOR Alayne Sulkin




Nicole Persun


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News Around Town

Choo, choo! Make way for the trains!

Discover the power of ‘showing up’

Giving together is the greatest gift

The Washington State History Museum’s 24th annual Model Train Festival opens Dec. 20! Featuring the state’s largest permanent model train display, the museum will also host layouts created by railroad clubs from all around Puget Sound. Train operators will be on hand to answer questions and kids can engage in fun activities, including a meet-and-greet with Santa (photos with the Big Guy are free 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Dec. 21–23).

What’s the one thing a parent can do to make the most difference in the long run? The research is clear: Show up! Do just that for a very special Jan. 14 ParentEd Talk by bestselling author Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., in which he’ll share the secrets of raising confident, compassionate and connected kids from his new critically acclaimed book, “The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired.”

A great way to introduce charitable values to children is to make giving a family activity and priority — the holiday season is a most opportune time to reinforce the idea that the greatest gift of all is giving back. Spread joy with your kids by remembering and supporting those in our community who are in need this holiday season. We’ve rounded up local opportunities for families — giving trees, toy drives, food drives and more — to make a real difference.

Giving Together 2019

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Readings “Keen insight into the inner world of children.” —Marsha Linehan, Ph.D.

Getting to


Cool-Headed Strategies for Raising Happy, Caring, and Independent Three- to Seven-Year-Olds

Laura S. Kastner, Ph.D. “Kastner masterfully guides parents through the complex maze of parenting.” —Yaffa Maritz, director, Community of Mindful Parenting

,cause parenting is a trip!

Great gift ideas! • December 2019 • 9

it starts with you(th)

Meet Alillia Bowden This young Seattle dancer believes that kindness is key By Patty Lindley


For Bowden, the answer to the question of how to make a difference begins and ends with the same powerful impulse and principle: kindness.

Share a bit about your background in dance and how you came to join Spectrum. According to my parents, I have been dancing since even before I could walk. When my mom was pregnant with me, they would call me “Popcorn,” because I moved around so much. When I was 3, I started taking ballet at Cornish [College of the Arts], and then, when I was around 6, I moved over to Spectrum, per my mom’s request. I decided to try out jazz and then from there, around every year, I would add a new style of dance. I added ballet back in, and I’ve tried tap, lyrical and contemporary, and now I’m up for doing a whole bunch of different things. I’m at Spectrum around 20 hours a week now. Do you have aspirations to become a professional dancer? I’m really not sure yet if that’s my main goal, but I really enjoy having something to work hard at, something that can be so goal-oriented and so personal, where I can see the progress in myself. I’m not necessarily sure what I want to do with my future, but I do know that I want dance to be a part of it, because I love doing it so much and it’s given me such a great community.

10 • December 2019 •

Donald Byrd is renowned for his disruptive and groundbreaking theatrical dance performances. What is it like to work with him as a young dancer in training? It’s amazing! When I was younger, around 12 or so, he was very intimidating. But we get to take this really cool class called Engaging around once a week, where we meet with Donald and we talk to him about dance, which often turns into talking to him about life, since for a lot of us, dance is a very big part of our life. I like how hard he pushes us, because even though we are young, he has really high expectations for us. He pushes me and everyone else in the Academy to be even better. How has dance and performance informed your worldview? Part of what makes Spectrum and Donald Byrd’s work so important and so cool is that they really bridge that gap [between art and social justice issues]. I feel as though a lot of the time dance sort of gets overlooked as a way to make social change. A lot of the time, it’s just about aesthetics and how things look, but I really love that Spectrum makes it about the impact that movement can have on people. For me personally, I think that the way dance impacts me most is that it’s taught me a lot about myself as a person and how to use teamwork to grow and learn both from myself and from others. What workshops are you participating in now? We’re actually rehearsing a workshop production of “The Harlem Nutcracker,” which we’re bringing back for the first time in quite a few years, I believe. I’m really excited, because for the winter show, the Academy gets to perform with the professional company. The Academy is doing the choir portion of it, and then we’re also doing a piece with the rest of the school of Spectrum with the kids who take all the classes. CHRISTOPHER NELSON

ixteen-year-old Alillia Bowden is a sophomore at Seattle Academy (or SAAS, as it is more familiarly known;; she is also a third-year student in the Academy program at the School of Spectrum Dance Theater in Madrona ( Under the eclectic and inspiring choreographic vision of Spectrum’s executive artistic director, Donald Byrd, Bowden has trained to develop her dance both as an art form and as a powerful vehicle for social expression and change. Bowden’s dedication to dance and to her fellow Spectrum dancers, fellow students and teachers has resulted in her nomination as one of 100 young Washington state changemakers being recognized in conjunction with the Gates Foundation Discovery Center’s current “We the Future” exhibit (, which celebrates youth leadership and action across a range of social justice issues.

“The Harlem Nutcracker,” Dec. 12–15; tickets available at

Do you have a teaching role with the younger dancers at Spectrum? The pre-jazz teacher, Ms. Jacqueline, was kind enough to give me the opportunity to be her substitute for about the last month and a half of last year. I’ve also been able to be a teacher’s assistant for Ms. Heather, who was my childhood ballet teacher, and so I help her on Mondays with the

pre-ballet students, and that’s been really, really fun. They’re kindergartners and first graders — they’re so cute! I love hanging out with them. Do you have a favorite style of dance? That’s really, really tough. I love everything, but I think, right now at least, my favorite style would actually have to be Donald Byrd Contemporary. I like how it’s very structured, like ballet is — it reminds me of math a little bit. It’s very specific and it can be very difficult, but when you get it, it feels so amazing, and you really feel like you worked really hard to get to that place of understanding, which I really enjoy. Do you have any words of advice for young people who are maybe trying to figure out how they can make a difference in their community? I think my advice is to use the skills that you do have to be kind and to just help other people, even if it’s in a small way. Sometimes I feel like what I’m doing isn’t that big or that monumental. But when I see how much I can help other people — like assisting my teacher or being reliable — it makes me feel really good. Kindness is often considered just being nice to people. But I think it’s so much more than that. Being kind to everyone and everything — even inanimate objects, the environment and nature — is really important. I think that’s the most important thing that I’ve learned that has helped me become a leader: to just make sure that no one’s getting left behind. Whom or what do you credit for inspiring you in your life? I think that there’s sort of three main people in my life. The first two have to be my parents, because my parents have always been so supportive of me and there to remind me that as long as I’m doing my best, that’s enough. And then there is one of my dance teachers: Ms. Heather has had a really big impact on my life. She’s been my teacher for seven or eight years now. She’s such a hardworking person and has really inspired me to do everything that I want to do. When we were little, she used to tell us about how she had a few main things that she wanted to be when she grew up. She said she wanted to be a ballerina, a teacher, a mom and a Muppet. She’s achieved ballerina, teacher and mom, and she says that once she retires from being a dance teacher, she’ll go to children’s hospitals dressed up as a Muppet. I think that having multiple dreams and achieving all of them all together is really inspiring, and she’s been able to do it so well. Any parting words? I have a favorite saying, which is about how hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. I like to think that no matter who you are and what you’re doing, if you work hard at it, you can achieve whatever it is that you want. n

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Next to Seattle Center | 440 5th Ave N. #WeTheFutureNow | Clockwise from top left: Young Leader: Amanda Nguyen, Artist: Shepard Fairey; Young Leader: Leah the Activist, Artist: Rommy Torrico; Young Leader: Ismael Nazario, Artist: Munk One; Young Leader: Amanda Gorman, Artist: Kate Deciccio • December 2019 • 11

all about baby Find Your Village Being a new parent can be really isolating, but baby, we’ve got your back. Sign up for our weekly eNews for the best in ALLI ARNOLD


outings and advice, ’cause parenting is a trip!


From Recent Research to Gaga Gear

Lesson No. 1: Never Say Never 3 ways my new baby taught me to be flexible By Jackie Freeman


’ve learned a lot of things as a new mom: what different cries mean, how to change a diaper in midair and the best way to quell a tantrum (well, actually, I am still working on that last one). But by far the most important lesson I have learned is to never say “never.” I could come up with a list of a million little things that I researched, heard about, talked about and thought about before my little one arrived. When it comes to my convictions, it’s typically pretty darn hard to sway me in a different direction, and I was dead set on how to raise this child from the outset, determined in all matters feeding (no sugar before 2 years old), clothing (no pink!) and diapering (only cloth). But as soon as my bundle of joy arrived, she took over and turned everything I knew (or thought I knew) on its head. Here are three of my for-sure-never-going-to-do-because-I’ve-done-all-theresearch-and-thinking-and-talking-about-it-so-don’t-try-to-tell-me-otherwise ideas that my baby girl completely changed my mind about:

1. Co-sleeping I knew co-sleeping was not an option for me. I lost a brother to SIDS eight years before I was born. My husband sleeps like a rock (a thrashing, snoring, 12 • December 2019 •

pillow-stealing, bed-hogging rock). Co-sleeping wasn’t going to be safe for our baby or comfortable for me, and most importantly: It terrified me. We bought both a bassinet and bedside co-sleeper. Our baby would be close enough to touch, but far out of the “danger zone” of our California king. Then, reality set in — my little munchkin nursed nonstop, and I was just too exhausted to get up every 45 minutes. After a particularly rough night of sleep deprivation, I did the unthinkable: I tucked her into bed with us. And guess what? We all slept soundly. She nursed as often as she needed, I got some much-needed sleep, and my husband didn’t crush us or even steal all the pillows. So, I did some new research and reading and talking and discovered a new comfort (and, dare I say, joy) in co-sleeping.

2. Sleep training We were in a blissful state of co-sleeping for more than six months: all three of us safely, comfortably and happily tucked into bed together night after night. I sang co-sleeping’s praises: It’s natural! It’s beneficial for the baby and parents! It’s practiced all over the world! Do you know what isn’t natural or beneficial? Sleep training. I’ve done the research.

But then my baby girl grew, nursed less and turned into a party animal. Gone were the nights of sweet baby breath on my cheeks, replaced by not-so-tiny baby punches and karate kicks to my head. After trying to gently convince her to take up residence in her crib (a proposal met with much resistance), I decided it was time to do something drastic. I did more research and reading and talking (again), and discovered a newfound comfort in sleep training. My baby girl and I both had a few rough nights with the transition to her new room — The Rock (Dad) of course slept through it all — but here I am writing this very article while she is safely, happily and cozily sleeping on her own.

3. Head shaving In my husband’s Vietnamese culture, it is traditional to shave a baby’s head so the hair grows back thicker and longer. He mentioned this to me while I was pregnant, and I laughed. He mentioned it again a few days after our baby was born, and I ran him off. He mentioned it right before her first birthday, and I practically ejected him from the room head first. There is no evidence that shaving a baby’s head will make the hair grow back thicker (again, I did the research)! But she did have an Einstein-esque poof in the front, a mullet in the back and a tonsure in the middle of her pate. She was cute, but the hair didn’t make for a great look. After a year of saying no, we took her to get her first haircut — the same cut as her father and uncles have. We shaved the kid completely bald. And you know what? It may not have grown back thicker, but it is perfectly even, and she couldn’t be cuter. Now I even recommend this for other fuzzyheaded cuties!

Returning with an all-new adventure. Immerse yourself in the magic of the holiday season as you explore Enchant’s all-new Christmas light maze, Mischievous, glide across the ice skating trail, visit Mr. & Mrs. Claus, take in the cheer of live entertainment, and more!


Baby takeaways So, what have I learned from my baby, this beautiful child who wears a disposable diaper and a pink sweater, and eats chocolate chips? The best lesson of all: To be open to making changes based on the day or week (or month or hour) that best suit our family’s collective needs. Raising a child shouldn’t be a battle of wills and convictions, approached without flexibility, but a walk through a changing landscape. There are ups, there are downs, but you’re always moving forward. And, when you find that the path you’re on isn’t taking you in the direction you want to go, simply make a new one. ■



Chef and mom of three Jackie Freeman is a recipe developer, food stylist and culinary tinkerer. • December 2019 • 13

beyond tolerance

How to Raise a Changemaker Getting kids involved in advocacy By Malia Jacobson


t was nearly dark, but Tacoma’s Old Town Park was busier than usual. Wearing jackets and boots, my children ran to join their friends on the playground, cutting a path through swirling October leaves. But we weren’t there to play. A few minutes later, the kids clustered around picnic tables at the park’s edge. Lit by smartphone flashlights, they gave impassioned pitches for their favorite charities and voted on how to donate their pooled funds. Some 30 minutes later, they’d reached consensus — and passed an important early lesson in advocacy with flying colors. It was the second meeting of South Sound 100 Kids (SS100Kids; southsound100kids. com), a new group that gives young children a chance to learn advocacy skills and expand their giving power. Cofounder Sarah Heavin, a Tacoma mom of two young children, helped start the group this summer to provide schoolage children with a platform for advocacy. “We were really impressed with the group South Sound 100 Women and how collective giving could create a bigger impact. And there aren’t a lot of advocacy opportunities for school-age kids. Our goal is to have the group be completely child-run.” So far, the kids have stepped up. At the October SS100Kids meeting, adults mainly helped with admin while the group members, some as young as 6, did most of the talking. Adults answered questions, offered support when needed and generally maintained order. As it turns out, this type of kid-led, adultsupported advocacy works well; research shows that advocacy training helps kids more effectively engage policymakers and bring about changes. Youth advocates aren’t just changing their world. They’re also changing themselves. In one study, youths ages 9–22 who participated in advocacy training for preventing youth obesity increased their self-efficacy — their belief that their own actions could make a difference — and motivation. They also built skills such as assertiveness, learned how to access resources, picked up healthy habits such as exercising more, and extended social support to others. Intrigued? The Puget Sound region is rich with opportunities for kids to learn and practice advocacy. Whether your child is passionate about politics, queer and trans issues, health care, the environment or all of the above, there’s ample space to make an impact. The world is waiting.

Youths participating in My Purple Umbrella’s Allies in Action program

participated in advocacy training. But transportation limitations and other access barriers can make it hard for some kids to participate in groups or clubs. Julie Peterson, executive director of Seattle’s Healthy Generations, created the Healthy Gen Online Youth Advocacy Training, a series of four video vignettes that provide on-demand advocacy training and resources for youths who want to engage more effectively with their state legislators. GLSEN, Washington state chapter • Founded by K–12 educators in 1990, GLSEN promotes safe, inclusive school environments for LGBTQ youths through teacher trainings, conferences, events and activism. In community-based chapters with strong local ties, members work to support LGBTQ-affirming public policy in local schools; members also join a nationwide network of members in 43 chapters across the country.

Opportunities for younger kids West Sound Wildlife Shelter • Engaging kids’ natural love of animals is an easy way to get started with advocacy. The West Sound Wildlife Shelter treats and releases 1,000 animals each year and helps people learn to live in harmony with native wildlife, from turtles to owls to the pesky neighborhood racoon. One of the simplest ways to get involved is by calling 206-855-9057 to report an injured animal; kids can also organize donation drives and class visits.

Advocacy opportunities for kids of all ages Healthy Gen Online Youth Advocacy Training • Research shows that youth advocates have more impact when they’ve 14 • December 2019 •

Allies in Action • Now in its eighth year, Allies in Action’s anti-bullying after-school programming

promotes safe, inclusive communities for all students, including queer and trans youths and those with marginalized identities. The program helps kids as young as 7 learn to be allies, or advocates who stand up for others. Research shows that this type of peer advocacy is one of the most effective ways to stop bullying.

Opportunities for older kids The Mockingbird Society • Youth advocacy is central to The Mockingbird Society’s mission to end youth homelessness and transform foster care. Its large network of youth advocates, many of whom have lived through foster care and housing instability, learn to interact with policymakers, organize events and build impactful networks with other changemakers. Through regular meetings and events, such as their Youth Advocacy Day on January 31, 2020, youth advocates learn to channel lived experiences into meaningful change. The Breakfast Group’s Intensive Youth Engagement Advocacy Program (IYEAP) • Founded in 1976, The Breakfast Group is an African American men’s organization providing academic support to teen boys from underrepresented minority groups. Its Intensive Youth Engagement Advocacy Program (IYEAP) offers advocacy training and support for minority boys in grades 9–12, with an emphasis on academic achievement, cultural connections, community involvement and job training. Seattle Foundation Youth Grantmaking Board • King County high school sophomores, juniors and seniors can help shape the future of philanthropy by snagging a seat on the foundation’s Youth Grantmaking Board. This group of about 20 teens actively participates in the philanthropic cycle: identifying areas of need in local communities, learning from subject-matter experts about the issues, developing requests for proposals, evaluating funding requests and making recommendations to Seattle Foundation leadership. Can’t find a group that fits your child’s advocacy agenda? Consider doing what SS100Kids founders did — start your own. At its first two meetings, SS100Kids raised $270 for the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. More importantly, young kids in our community — including mine — practiced advocating for what matters most to them while adults practiced another important skill: listening. ■ Malia Jacobson is a health and family journalist based in Tacoma.

Beyond Tolerance In 2019, ParentMap is dedicating consistent thoughtful coverage to cultivating tolerance. We will rally partners and experts to help us deliver practical and powerful tools, perspectives and tips to parents and educators for teaching empathy, equity, acceptance, respect and inclusion to our children. Read more at

You’re their world The research is clear: There is power in presence.

From the bestselling authors of The Whole-Brain Child and No-Drama Discipline comes a must-read book about the one thing every parent can do to make the most difference in their child’s up. “Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson are master teachers when it comes to helping parents react and respond to kids in ways that communicate “I hear you.” They articulate and quantify how to make your parenting easier—and better!” — Christine Carter, Ph.D., author of “Raising Happiness” • December 2019 • 15



Our Stressed-Out Kids Cope

The solution?

Don’t just do something, stand there!


By Laura Kastner, Ph.D.

icture this: Your son, Colin, comes to you screaming, “I forgot about a test I have tomorrow! I know I’m going to flunk! The teacher doesn’t know how to teach, and everyone hates her! I give up! I’ll never get into college! My life is ruined! There is no way I’m going to school tomorrow!” Stopping versus finessing a flood of emotions What parents call a meltdown — or an outburst, tantrum or freak-out — psychologists call “flooding.” Flooding is the physiological arousal caused by a stressful trigger that makes it almost impossible to think rationally, behave wisely or listen to logic. The elevated decibel level of a person’s distress and distorted thoughts are a dead giveaway that they are flooding. Until the arousal level of your kid’s flooding brain reduces a bit, he can’t think rationally to solve the problem at hand. The big problem for the parent is that if you tell your kid that, he’ll escalate to a DEFCON 1 state. You may say it anyway, since you are technically correct. But do you want to be right or effective? And to state the obvious: This doesn’t happen to kids only. It happens to all humans. It’s just more common among kids because they don’t have a fully developed self-control center yet. We parents possess mature circuits for self-control, and yet we struggle with moderating our emotions on a regular basis. We

especially struggle when our buttons are being pushed by screaming, threatening and upset kids! Think about how you feel when your kids are out of control. Why do we handle outbursts so ineffectively when we sincerely want to help them? Here’s the crux of the problem: Emotions are contagious, and we can get so upset when listening to our kids’ extreme outbursts and absorbing their stress that we forget the self-calming skills that work for us. Being with someone who is freaking out is distressing, so we jump to the agenda of trying to “help” by attempting to stop the flooding. While it’s irresistible to intervene and encourage coping, rein it in; instead, tell yourself, “Not so fast.” First, understand biology, then use psychology A little stress can actually be good. It energizes us, focuses our attention and helps us reach our optimal performance. However, when the demands of the situation exceed our ability to deal with the challenge, we “flood” with stress hormones, become confused and can’t function well. Stressors can trigger our “threat system” (the brain’s amygdala), which has the fastest and most powerful neural pathway in the brain. From an evolutionary perspective, the amygdala is old, part of the paleomammalian (“old mammal”) brain that is the center of our motivation, emotions and memory. Why did evolution preserve this ancient system when it • December 2019 • 17

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continued from page 17

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messes up the thinking we need for coping with stressful situations, you ask? In humankind’s tooth-and-claw days, the diversion of all brain activity to systems that enabled our bodies to “fight, take flight or freeze” saved our lives. It still does, when we veer our car away from oncoming traffic or grab our toddler before he falls off the jungle gym. But unfortunately, amygdala hijackings occur in reaction to many false alarms that are not lethal threats, even though our heaving chests and sweaty palms trick us into feeling that they are. Stress, stress everywhere and not enough time and practice for calming A terrible problem with modern life is that with stress coming from everywhere all the time, we don’t devote enough time to calming and restorative practices. With more and more time spent stressing, the neural circuitry for worry gains strength. If we don’t learn and practice calming techniques, our coping skills will be deficient. Worry demands attention and the more we worry, well, the more we worry.

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If stress is chronic and unrelenting as a result of a deficit of health-enhancing coping skills, we can experience burnout that harms our immune system or develop maladaptive illnesses, such as anxiety, depression and problem substance use. No wonder we have to make it a priority to help our children to develop coping skills for self-calming and problem-solving. An important concept from neuroscience explains another problem with chronic stress: The neurons that fire together, wire together. Living with the stress circuit constantly firing can establish a Niagara Falls of stress-provoked thoughts, feelings and behaviors. As one of my teenage patients describes it, “My mind gets stuck on WOEs,” which stands for worries, obsessions and emergencies. Station break for two don’ts: ‘Don’t demand rationality’ and ‘Don’t minimize your child’s stressors’ Reading those previous paragraphs about the impact of chronic stress could get a parent to worry so much about their child that they could become overzealous about pushing Junior to develop coping skills — right now! Hold back on that well-intentioned urge. It is important to fully appreciate the biology of flooding and how calming works. When someone is flooding, don’t try to talk them out of their extreme thoughts and feelings. Reassurance that exams, teachers and social slights aren’t


BEING BILINGUAL IS GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN! worth freaking out about when children are in the midst of an emotional seizure won’t help them calm down. Such assurances come off as dismissive and uncaring. Their flooding brain sets off a physiological cascade of biological and psychological effects that feel like torture. The only thing worse than experiencing extreme emotional distress is when someone important to you tells you that what you are feeling is wrong, silly or blown out of proportion. So, don’t tell your irrational child that they are irrational! Judgments about another person’s catastrophizing can get you into big trouble (even if you are right). We have all flooded in response to stressful experiences, such as losing a friend or messing up at school or a job. Didn’t you feel bad when someone told you that the problem was no big deal or that you’d get over it? When we are triggered, for any reason, we aren’t able to assess how reasonable the threat is until that stress response abates, our heart rate slows, and our thinking brain comes back online. Perceived coercion to “get yourself under control” or to “calm down” usually bombs when your brain is hijacked by the threat system. And when children or teens feel this push from a parent, it can set off a firestorm, not just a flood, of emotions. The most important skill of all: validation Validation can soothe a person’s suffering. Validation is not agreeing with the extreme statements uttered during the freak-out, nor is it approving of the expletives and cruelty that might erupt with the volcano of emotion. Validation is appreciating and having empathy for the terrible experience of flooding. Remember: An amygdala hijack — when your body releases stress hormones to

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The only thing worse than experiencing extreme emotional distress is when someone important to you tells you that what you are feeling is wrong, silly or blown out of proportion. deal with perceived threats — inevitably sets in motion extreme and distorted thoughts about the stressor at hand. When your loved one is freaking out, recite this refrain to yourself inside your mind, “My child is doing the best she can, given her emotional state. And I want her to feel better and do better. And she will, if I can empathize with her pain.” Let’s get back to your imaginary son, Colin. Colin wants to hear that you “get it”: that he is experiencing hell on earth. With some gusto, you convey that you

French Immersion School of Washington 4211 W. Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE, Bellevue, WA 98008 • December 2019 • 19

WORLD LANGUAGES 4 Classic Foreign Films to Add Cultural Competency to Your Family Movie Night Foreign films have so many benefits: They can help us raise globally minded kids, promote a culture of tolerance and openness, and help children realize that trying new things can result in really interesting outcomes. Here are some things to know as you explore global flicks as a family: Many will be in a foreign language; some will have subtitles; and some popular films that were originally made in a foreign language have been remade with English dubbing. Other cultures have different ideas of what’s appropriate for different ages; check resources such as Common Sense Media ( and IMDb ( to read up on films first. Sometimes it’s fun to match dinner to the movie: Eat sushi with anime, for instance — you get the idea. Here are some of my family’s favorite international films: ‘The Red Balloon’ (1956) France; suitable for children ages 5 and older This classic and imaginative film about a red balloon that befriends a French boy is delightful and will keep you thinking long after the closing credits. The film is told entirely through visuals, with no dialogue. (Be aware: The film contains some mild bullying.) Younger children will enjoy tracking the shiny red balloon. With older children, you can initiate a discussion later about what lessons they think the film holds. ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ (1988) Japan; suitable for children ages 5 and older Filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki is known as the Walt Disney of Japan and enjoys more popularity outside of his country than any other Japanese director. Miyazaki’s films are the best entry point for anime, and “Totoro” is a fantastical introduction to the genre. The film is about two girls (voiced in the English version by Dakota and Elle Fanning) who have adventures with forest spirits living near their mother’s hospital. Tip: If you’ve already seen “Totoro,” try Miyazaki’s coming-of-age adventure “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and “The Secret World of Arrietty,” the latter of which is based on “The Borrowers” books by Mary Norton. ‘The Cave of the Yellow Dog’ (2005) Germany and Mongolia; subtitles; suitable for children ages 7 and older This gorgeous film will draw your family in with its cinematography of the Mongolian countryside and insight into a life that is certainly different than the one your kids are living. Nansal, a young Mongolian girl, is in charge of herding her family’s sheep by herself in the mountains. When she finds a dog that steals her heart, she must decide whether to obey her father or follow her desires. “The Cave of the Yellow Dog” will make American parents rethink their helicopter tendencies, and your kids will watch wide-eyed as children of their own age experience an entirely different level of independence. ‘Rabbit-Proof Fence’ (2002) Australia; English and Aboriginal language; suitable for children ages 9 and older Loosely based on a true story, this movie tells how three mixed-race Aboriginal girls run away from the Moore River Native Settlement, north of Perth in Western Australia, to return to their families, after being placed there by the government in 1931. The girls must walk for nine weeks along 1,500 miles of fence to find their way home, while being tracked by officials. There are a couple of hard scenes, including one in which the children are forcibly torn away from their mother. But older kids will learn a lot about internment, racism and the history of Australia’s Stolen Generations. For 10 more perspective-shifting foreign-film picks for families, go to — Natalie Singer-Velush

20 • December 2019 •

feature Helping Our Stressed-Out Kids Cope continued from page 19 understand that being unprepared for a test can feel like a pack of tigers is after you. And if Colin believes the teacher’s ineptitude contributed to his undoing, his fury makes total sense. Of course, he doesn’t want to go to school when he envisions that disaster and peril await there. (Full stop here: If you utter one “but” or pivot to problem-solving too quickly, you will nullify that fabulous validation.) Note that with your validation, you didn’t agree with his assessment that his teacher is terrible. Or that his situation is so awful that he should give up. You also didn’t say that you’d allow him to avoid school. But you did try to appreciate all the 911 alarm bells in his brain that were making him utterly miserable. When can a parent shift from validating to problem-solving or coping skills? When kids (or all humans!) are feeling heard and validated about their pain, the acute tsunami of emotions usually abates. In talking about what triggered them,

When we pivot to suggest coping strategies too soon or jump to solve a problem for them, we rob them of the experience of mastery. they may flood again a bit, but the general pattern is an ebbing of crashing emotional waves. Brain scan studies have substantiated the old assumption that talking about feelings is helpful. There’s a saying: “Name it to tame it.” When we articulate dilemmas, identifying emotions redirects the firing of circuits in the emotional centers to those in the thinking brain. Once you detect your child’s reduced panic and arousal, you can ask her what she thinks might be a good way to proceed at this point. Ideally, you would have already talked in cooler-headed times about favored coping approaches. Maybe she’ll want to decide on a plan of action with problem-solving. Maybe she’ll want to “reset and reboot” her emotional stability with something she has found soothing in the past. Even very young people usually know what methods of stress reduction work best for them. A favored distraction from problems these days is digital entertainment or social media. Resorting to this can be a mixed bag. If the soothing ocean videos slip into a marathon Netflix binge or the reaching out to a friend turns into the black hole of Instagram posts, digital connection can go south pretty quickly. Ask gentle questions instead of attempting parental fixes Research has shown that when parents try to fix their child’s upset, the parent’s stress is reduced and the child’s stress increases. When we pivot to suggest coping strategies too soon or jump to solve a problem for them, we rob them of the




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3 Ways to Make Your Kid’s Classroom More Inclusive During the Winter Holidays When schools celebrate winter holidays, they almost always focus on Christmas. But guess what? Not all kids celebrate Christmas. Maybe they instead recognize Hanukkah. Or Kwanzaa. Or the Lunar New Year. Or Yule. Or nothing at all. It’s important for me to make sure my children learn that our way of life isn’t the only way, so why not kill two birds with one stone and help teachers do this, too? Here are three ways to help your child’s teacher diversify their holiday celebrations without adding more to their workload. 1. Mention ‘mystery readers.’ Here’s the idea: Parents come to class and read a story on a designated day once a week or once a month. My son’s classroom has “mystery readers” on Fridays; it’s a volunteer gig, but what an entourage! If you sign up for a date during December, use it as a chance to read the class a story about Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Yule or the Lunar New Year. Pro tip: Do some research about the holiday beforehand so that you’re prepared to answer any questions the kids may ask you. 2. Think outside the box with a class craft project. During December, teachers often ask parents to bring in materials and lead a craft project. But instead of making yet another constructionpaper Christmas tree, show students how to make a kinara ( or menorah ( Another idea: Ask students to draw pictures of what the holidays look like in their homes. Then, have them share their pictures and discuss their family traditions with the class to start a conversation about how we all do things differently. 3. Get creative with party food. Instead of bringing in the expected Christmas sugar cookies, try finding a local bakery that specializes in another festive dessert. As you serve them to the students, talk a little about the represented holiday and why these particular desserts are served. Alternatively, ask parents to send in snacks or treats that are part of their family’s own holiday traditions, including a note explaining the dish’s significance. (Remember that any snack should be store-bought so that you can share the list of ingredients with the class.) — Danielle Slaughter

feature Helping Our Stressed-Out Kids Cope continued from page 20 experience of mastery. They need to practice and learn these skills themselves. We don’t learn to play tennis by someone else telling us about it or showing us their great serve. The neurons that fire together, wire together, and so coping requires a lot of practice. It takes supreme patience and self-control on the parent’s part to stay humble and inquiring during these times of flooding. The child may stay in the “helpless, hopeless, ‘everything is impossible’” mode for what seems like an interminable amount of time. Sitting with someone who seems to cling to misery is, well, miserable. Emotions are contagious, so we need to summon a boundary that keeps us thinking about the science and psychology of emotions (and this protocol), instead of the extreme things the child is thinking and feeling. Remember: Trying to get rid of negative emotions usually backfires.

Strengthen the circuits for positive emotions. Seek joyous moments. Parent, heal thyself I know, I know. Parents are sick of hearing that they need to be good role models. But it is true. If we are running around with our hair on fire (aka, amygdala hijacks), of course we are igniting our kids’ red-hot stress systems, too. Lucky kids have watched their parents, when they get hot and bothered, cope by putting cold washcloths on their faces, or running around the block to reset, or excusing themselves to do deep breathing. Worry demands attention. We love our children and worry about their stress levels so much that it is natural that we think a lot about what we can do for them, rather than contemplate the power of their learning from our behaviors. Parents understand the problems with “helicopter” or “snowplow” parenting: Kids don’t develop their own competencies. But the worry-saturated home is another problem: Kids absorb our worry and then worry more. When parents get “sticky brain” on the list of their kids’ problems, they don’t see how their stress levels increase with their children’s in a circular pattern. The ambient stress level in the household has profound effects on child stress levels. As a child psychologist, I like to think of this “heal thyself ” agenda as liberating rather than another burden. Go on a vigorous walk or get out with a friend who makes you laugh. Summon that boundary that keeps you thinking about your own health rather than the “parenting” part of your life, which can suck you into a wormhole of worry. Since the play circuits of the brain compete with the worry network, choose to play more! Strengthen the circuits for positive emotions. Seek joyous moments. What a wonderful thing you would be doing for yourself as well as your child. ■ Laura Kastner, Ph.D., is an author of a number of parenting books and is a clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington.


Make Holiday Memories

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PICKS Zoolights at PDZA, through Jan. 5

Free Gingerbread House workshop, Dec. 12


Free Handmade Gift Workshops, Dec. 3, 4 and 10

Polar Express Train Ride, through Dec. 31

28 • December 2019 •







Light Up the Night Parade. Bring your lights and join a parade with Santa and his reindeer followed by a bonfire on the beach. 5–6:30 p.m. FREE. Lake Sammamish State Park, Issaquah. Corduroy. Follow the story of a sweet friendship between a girl and her teddy bear. Through Dec. 29. $15–$35. Seattle Children’s Theatre.

Providence O’Christmas Trees Family Preview. Snap a photo with Santa, view the gorgeous trees and enjoy entertainment and kids’ activities. 4–8 p.m. FREE. The Westin Seattle. Lacey Parade of Lights. Watch floats and performers decked out in lights illuminating the night; tree lighting follows. 6:30 p.m. FREE. Lacey.

Story Time With Santa. Join Santa for stories as a part of Redmond Town Center’s Winter Wonderland. Tuesdays, Dec. 3–17, 9:45 a.m. FREE. Brick and Mortar Books, Redmond. Handmade Gift Workshops. Make lotion, soap or candles as gifts in free workshops for tweens and teens. Dec. 3, 4 and 10; times vary. FREE; preregister. Ages 9–15. Rainier Community Center, Seattle.




Wildlife Tour. See birds, amphibians, beavers and other small mammals on this interpretative tour of the wildlife habitat at Juanita Bay Park. 1 p.m. FREE. Juanita Bay Park, Kirkland. Hanukkah Family Concert and Celebration. Burn bright celebrating with a family-friendly concert, games, crafts, latkes and more. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. $7–$15; ages 1 and younger free. Stroum Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island.

Magic Monday. Prepare to be awed by a magic show in the cozy quarters of the bookstore. 7–8 p.m. FREE. Third Place Books — Ravenna, Seattle. Enchant Mischievous. The light maze and ice-skating fest at the ballpark today dedicates proceeds to helping families experiencing homelessness. Select dates through Dec. 29. $14.99–$32.99; ages 3 and younger free. T-Mobile Park, Seattle.

Ivar’s Clam Lights. Stroll a one-mile path adorned with thousands of lights decorating trees and shrubs in fanciful shapes, including, of course, clams. Daily, Dec. 6–Jan. 1, 5–9 p.m. FREE. Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, Renton. Zoolights. The zoo becomes a colorful winter wonderland that includes light displays of some of your favorite animals. Daily, Nov. 29–Jan. 5, 5–9 p.m. (closed Dec. 24). $11–$13; ages 2 and younger free. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma.




North Pole at the Fair. Explore this holiday wonderland with kids; reserve ahead for pics with Santa. Through Dec. 23. $5; 2 and younger free; additional fee for photos. Washington State Fair and Event Center, Puyallup. Diving Santa. Snap a photo with underwater Santa while visiting marine residents of the aquarium. Friday–Monday through Dec. 24; check website for times. Included with admission. Seattle Aquarium.

Science Story Time. See an amazing science demonstration that relates to the story of the week, “The Penguin Lady.” 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Included with admission ($13; age 1 and younger free). Imagine Children’s Museum, Everett. Snowflake Lane. Catch this nightly holiday parade featuring lights, drummers and dancers; celebrating its 15th year. Daily, Nov. 29–Dec. 24, 7 p.m. FREE. Bellevue Way and N.E. 8th St., Bellevue.




The Polar Express Train Ride. Bundle up for a charming trip to the North Pole with a visit from Santa. Select dates through Dec. 31. $27–$56; ages 2 and younger free. Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum, Elbe. ’Twas the Night. This is the last day to catch a hilarious twist on the famous poem that will have the whole family belly-laughing. Saturday–Sunday, Nov. 30–Dec. 22. $20. Studio East, Kirkland.

Bellevue Downtown Ice Rink. Get skating! Check website for special Stroller Skate Thursdays. Daily through Jan. 20. $10–$15. Bellevue. Model Train Festival. History and holiday magic meld during this annual festival. Plus, see Santa on Dec. 21–23. Festival dates Dec. 20–Jan. 1 (closed Dec. 24–25). $11–$14; ages 5 and younger free. Washington State History Museum, Tacoma.

Reindeer Festival. Last day to meet real-live Dasher and Blitzen, and to check out the model train and holiday displays. Daily through Dec. 24. FREE. Swansons Nursery, Seattle. Jingle Bell Run. Ring your bells on this festive family run and walk. Strollers and leashed dogs welcome. $10–$20. Wright Park, Tacoma.




Winter Wildland. Breathe in the country air and watch in delight as animals play with holiday-themed treats. Saturday–Sunday, Dec. 28–29, 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m. Included with admission. Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Eatonville. Winter Fishtival. Dive into local marine life with hands-on activities and special talks. Dec. 26–Jan. 5. Included with admission. Seattle Aquarium.

Jeff Evans: Amazing Magic Show. Let Jeff Evans amaze you with his fun and interactive magic show. 10:30–11:15 a.m. FREE. Gig Harbor Library. Winter Wonderland. Ice skating with no ice? Check it out at Redmond Town Center’s Winter Wonderland with synthetic rink ($7), holiday carousel ($4) and holiday train ($4). Daily through Jan. 5 (closed Dec. 25).

Winterfest New Year’s Eve Celebration. Come to Seattle Center to enjoy the music, excitement and signature fireworks of this New Year’s staple. 8 p.m.–midnight. FREE. First Night Tacoma. Ring in the New Year at Tacoma’s all-ages New Year’s Eve street party, featuring a parade and live music. 6 p.m.–midnight. Outdoor activities FREE; additional indoor activities with fee. Tacoma.

Hands On Hanukkah. Families of all backgrounds are welcome to celebrate Hanukkah with crafts and games at two locations. 11 a.m.–1 p.m. FREE. Northgate Mall, Seattle and Crossroads Bellevue. Kruckeberg Solstice Stroll. Wander the trails of this hidden garden awash in sparkling lights. Dec. 13–15 and 20–22; 4:30–8:30 p.m. $10 suggested donation. Kruckeberg Botanic Garden, Shoreline.









The Elves and the Shoemaker. This short, interactive show is the perfect intro to live theater for tots and preschoolers. Dec. 4–8, 10 a.m. $5; cash or check only. Ages 0–5 with caregiver. Olympia Family Theater. Christmas at the Mansion. Be transported to holiday time in the 1800s on a tour of the historic Meeker Mansion and enjoy cider and cookies. Daily through Dec. 22, noon–4 p.m. $4–$6. Puyallup.

Holiday in the Park. Tour the Volunteer Park Conservatory’s holiday display, wander the light-lined paths and enjoy live music and cookies. 6–8 p.m. FREE. Volunteer Park, Seattle. SAM Lights. View Olympic Sculpture Park’s iconic artworks lit by the glow of luminaria, make art, listen to music and grab a bite. 6–9 p.m. FREE; food for purchase. Seattle.

Giving Marketplace. Shop for unique, socially conscious gifts that help support people in need around the world. Friday– Saturday, Dec. 6–7, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Free entry; items for purchase. Gates Foundation Discovery Center, Seattle. Lumaze Lost in Lights. New indoor light fest features light gardens, kids’ play spots, a bar for the grown-ups and more. Nov. 29– Jan. 4. $14.99–$22.99; ages 3 and younger free; family pricing available. Smith Cove Cruise Terminal, Seattle.

Redmond Lights. Join a luminary walk with music and a tree lighting (Saturday); or art installations on a peaceful theme (Sunday). Saturday–Sunday, Dec. 7–8. FREE. City Hall, Redmond. Santa Parade and Tree Lighting. Watch festive floats, horses and tractors light up the parade, then meet Santa at the tree lighting afterwards. 4:30 p.m. FREE. Downtown Auburn.





Issaquah Reindeer Festival. Meet Santa, try out his sleigh, feed his reindeer and enjoy a story time with an elf. Daily, Dec. 1–23, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. $12.50–$15.50; age 2 and younger free. Cougar Mountain Zoo, Issaquah. Mrs. Doubtfire. World-premiere musical follows the story of a dad who disguises himself as a nanny in a heartwarming turn. Through Dec. 29. $29 and up. Ages 6 and older with families. The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle.

Gingerbread House Decorating. Create a sugary masterpiece during an evening of family-fun activities. 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m. FREE; preregister by Dec. 5; supplies provided. Ages 12 and younger. Delridge Community Center, Seattle. Star Wars at TAM. The designer of all things that flew in the original “Star Wars” movie shares all kinds of fabulous facts and anecdotes. 6–8 p.m. $10. Tacoma Art Museum.

Light Plantasia. This is not your average Christmas light show! Journey through a rainbow of botanical landscapes as the plants are painted with lights. Dec. 10–15, 5–7 p.m. $12; ages 3 and younger free. W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, Tacoma. Night Hike. When the sun sets and the night creeps in, Lewis Creek Park comes alive! Walk with a ranger and learn about nature at night. 4:30–6 p.m. FREE. Ages 5 and older. Lewis Creek Visitor Center, Bellevue.

Christmas at Fort Steilacoom. Take a candle-lit peek at a historic holiday at the fort, complete with live re-enactors. $3–$5 or $10 per family. 4–7:30 p.m. Historic Fort Steilacoom, Lakewood. Green Lake Pathway of Lights. Experience the warm glow of luminarias while taking a stroll around the lake. 4:30–7:30 p.m. FREE; food bank donations requested. Green Lake Park, Seattle.





Movie Night: The Santa Clause. Bring your blankets and snugglies for a movie, snacks and indoor snowball battle. 6–8:30 p.m. FREE. Ages 2–14 with families. Dairyland Snohomish. Cocoa and Carols. Warm your heart singing classic carols and your belly with delicious hot cocoa. 6–7:30 p.m. $3 suggested donation. W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, Tacoma.

The Not-Its! in Concert. Give your kids the experience of their first rock show with kindie faves The Not-Its! playing highly danceable tunes. 12:30 p.m. FREE. Seattle Center Armory. Disney: Frozen Jr. Based on the Broadway show, this musical delves more deeply into the bond of sisterhood and includes all your favorite songs, plus a few new ones. Dec. 6–21. $12–$15. Redmond High School Performing Arts Center.

Oly on Ice. Olympia’s seasonal outdoor ice rink is back at Isthmus Park and ready for skaters! Daily through Jan. 20. $3–$12, including skate rental. Olympia. WildLights. Experience the zoo after dark, illuminated in dazzling holiday sparkle. Daily, Nov. 29–Jan. 5, 5:30–8:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 2–3, 9–10, 24–25). $13–$17; ages 2 and younger free. Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle.

Winterfest Skating Rink, Train and Village. Skating, holiday train and village and free performances. Nov. 29–Dec. 31; check dates and times online. Skating for fee; other events free. Seattle Center. The Lights of Christmas. A million lights illuminate Warm Beach Camp. Through Dec. 29, 5–10 p.m. $13–$18; ages 3 and younger free. Stanwood.



Fiddler on the Roof Sing-Along. “Tradition!” Sing your heart out with Tevye and his family during this screening of the beloved 1971 movie. Kosher Chinese takeout buffet included. 11 a.m. $24–$25. SIFF Cinema at Uptown, Seattle. Fantasy Lights. Stay warm in your car while enjoying beautiful light displays. Daily through Jan. 1, 5:30–9 p.m. $14/car; halfprice nights listed on website. Spanaway Park.

Teddy Bear Suite. Last day to check out the bears’ fanciful hotel room, a downtown holiday tradition. Daily through Dec. 26, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. FREE; donations for Seattle Children’s Hospital encouraged. Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle. Frozen Fountain Skating Rink. Enjoy this festive, pop-up ice rink on the waterfront. Daily through Jan. 5. $13–$14.50 with skate rental. Point Ruston Plaza, Tacoma.

Garden d’Lights. Plant and critter shapes created from over half a million lights sparkle and amaze. Daily, Nov. 30–Dec. 31, 4:30–9 p.m. $5; ages 10 and younger free. Bellevue Botanical Garden. Brick Builders. Stop by the library to play with Lego and Duplo alongside other kids and families. 3–5 p.m. FREE. All ages. King County Library Burien branch.

New Year’s Eve Around the World. Create a passport, then travel around the world to discover cherished traditions in other countries. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. FREE. WET Science Center, Olympia. Kindiependent Kids Rock Series. Rock out with Brian Vogan and His Good Buddies at this concert series just for families. Select Saturdays through March, 10:30 a.m. $5. Mount Baker Community Clubhouse, Seattle.

Loads more family fun activities at calendar

Lamaze Lost in Lights, Nov. 29–Jan. 4

Hands On Hanukkah, Dec. 15





Issaquah Reindeer Festival, Dec. 1–23 • December 2019 • 29










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giving guide

Small Is the New Big Little gifts spread holiday joy for less than $25 The author’s children, 6 and 10, try out Plus-Plus construction pieces at Teaching Toys in Tacoma’s Proctor District.

By Malia Jacobson


t may be the hap-hap-happiest time of the year, but it doesn’t have to be the spendiest. Although the holiday season reliably empties the pocketbooks of parents everywhere, more families are choosing to be intentional about holiday spending. There are lots of reasons to stick to smaller gifts, whether it’s because you’re opting for one large family gift, prioritizing experiences over material presents, upping your charitable giving or sticking to an agreed-upon spending limit for extended family. But even if you’re paring down, you can still slip a pretty package or two into loved ones’ hands. These small but thoughtful gifts show that you care without breaking the bank; each gift comes in at less than $25.

Here’s to spreading holiday cheer on a sensible budget!

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Self-care standouts

Stamp of approval Kids love nail polish, even if parents don’t love the mess it creates. The Cool Maker Go Glam Nail Stamper (regularly priced at $24.99 on is a compact kit that lets your polish-loving kids enjoy the nail art trend while keeping the mess to a minimum. (Ages 8 and older) u

Brush local Adorable, affordable and altruistic, MamaP’s handcrafted toothbrushes ( are made with compostable bamboo handles, recyclable nylon bristles and nontoxic paint. A portion of sales proceeds go to support worthy causes, from saving the bees to ocean conservation to LGBTQ youth services. The MamaP Equality kids bamboo toothbrush, $7, is available locally at Seattle’s zero-waste grocery store Scoop • December 2019 • 31




giving guide

Small Is the New Big continued from page 31 Catch and release Sometimes coaxing a reluctant toddler into the tub means upping your bathtoy game. Tolo’s classic Funtime Fishing bath toy fishing set ($14, features a working fishing pole and magnets strong enough to last through hundreds of tub sessions. (Ages 18 months and older)

HOLIDAY VILLAGE DISPLAY DEC 15–JAN 5 AT THE RESIDENCE Tiny houses are festively decorated and a miniature railroad chugs around this hand-crafted village—a Bloedel holiday tradition. Enjoy hot cider and bit of nostalgia designed to the delight the young and the young-at-heart.

SOLSTICE WALKS FRI & SAT, DEC 20 & 21, 4 & 6 PM Take a guided walk on the trails of Bloedel Reserve lit only by fairy lights and enjoy the stillness of the forest at dusk. Please note: The 4 PM walk is geared for families and children; the 6 PM walk is a silent walk.

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Truth bomb Bath bombs — molded balls of baking soda, citric acid and essential oils — turn tub time into an effervescent celebration of scent and color. But at $7–$10 a pop, they’re a splurge. A bath-bomb-making kit comes complete with molds, all-natural ingredients and instructions for whipping up custom spheres of fizzy fun at home. Find The Roxy Grace Company DIY Bath Bomb Kit, $19.99, on

Get started with STEM Plus one There are lots of construction toys out there. But how many of them work for kids as young as 1, build both flat and three-dimensional creations that flex and bend, and start at just a few dollars? Made in Denmark, Plus-Plus building pieces come in one interconnecting shape that can be assembled to create flat mosaic patterns or intricate 3-D builds, from buildings and bridges to figures and faces. Plus-Plus 15-piece Big tubes are made for tiny fingers (18 months and older; $9.99); and Plus-Plus 70-plus-piece basic tubes are perfect for kids ages 5 and older ($7.99). Check the store locator on the Plus-Plus website ( to find a retailer near you. On the grid Circuit sets are a great way to introduce kids to electrical engineering concepts, but shopping for the more extensive circuit kits can trigger sticker shock (ha!). Before you spring for a big, expensive circuit set, start with Snap Circuits Beginner Electronics Exploration Kit. It includes 14 parts, enough to build more than 20 projects, with extra safety features for younger engineers ages 5–9. Find it at Snapdoodle Toys & Games locations ( in Seattle, Kenmore, Redmond and Issaquah for $24.99. Magna-tiny If Magna-Qubix look familiar, it’s because they’re miniature cubic versions of the mega-popular (and more expensive) Magna-Tiles building toy. Pocket-size, three-dimensional building shapes with a petite price point to love ($19.99 for a

19-piece set), Magna-Qubix won’t consume all your precious play space or your entire holiday toy budget. Find Magna-Qubix at Teaching Toys ( in Tacoma’s Proctor District or Teaching Toys, Too at Uptown Gig Harbor. (Ages 3 and older) Inner beauty More fun and educational than a lump of coal, geodes are ordinary-looking rocks that house sparkling crystals within. With ordinary household tools, eye protection and adult supervision, rock hounds can break geodes open to reveal their unique beauty. Magic Mouse Toys ( in Seattle keeps a selection of individual geodes and geode kits tucked into its science section downstairs; look for individual breakat-home geodes for $4 or Klutz Maker Lab’s Rocks, Gems & Geodes kit (ages 8 and older) for $24.99.

Crank up the creativity Baby shark If you’re looking for a gift that’s simple, doesn’t require batteries and delivers loads of play value, consider a cape. The right one can transform your child into a superhero, a storybook character or a deep-sea creature at the drop of a hat — er, hood. Add this one to your tot’s dress-up collection for hours of open-ended play. Find the Great Pretenders shark cape, $24, at Teaching Toys locations in Tacoma and Gig Harbor. (Ages 12 months to 3 years) Inked Is your kid’s handwriting making you cringe? Even grade-schoolers who hate cursive enjoy practicing calligraphy, which offers a chance to hone fine motor skills and learn the (nearly) lost art of hand lettering. Compile a calligraphy kit for less

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giving guide

Small Is the New Big continued from page 33 than $25 with a Speedball C-Style lettering set, Speedball super black India ink and a Strathmore calligraphy writing pad, $7–$10 each at art supply stores or on All set If you’ve got lots of lists to check off, look for gift sets that can divide and conquer. Kid Made Modern’s set of three giant crayons are molded from 64 dazzling hues and make an impressive display. Even better, the set can be divvied up so nobody gets left out. Add a roll of craft paper and turn your kitchen counter into a family pop-up art studio. Snap up a Kid Made Modern Giant Crazy Crayon set, $24, at Olympia’s Captain Little toy store ( or online (

Family Play Stuck on you Clack! is a fast-paced, picture-based game that’s simple enough for kids to play on their own, but fun for families. With just five rules and no complicated instructions, the magnetic matching and stacking game makes keeping score simple: The tallest tower wins! The game can be played by two players or an entire brood (up to six players). Clack! by Amigo Games sells for $16.95 on (Ages 5 and older) Curl up Think you know your beagles from your bagels? Think again. This silly, surprisingly challenging game asks one simple question: Is this image a dog or a breakfast food? It’s the perfect choice for those “Let’s pick a game that won’t take all night” evenings when a good laugh is in order. Find the Beagle or Bagel? game by Blue Orange for $12.99 at (Ages 7 and older) Presented by

Picture it A paperless, mess-free version of Pictionary that appeals to even too-cool teens? Yes, Virginia, there is such a game. The latest version of Mattel’s Pictionary lineup lets players “draw” images in the air, which then appear on a smartphone, tablet or television screen (app download required). Players can interact with their drawings and record performances with the app to relive the fun long after the holiday decorations have been stored away. Barnes & Noble stocks Pictionary Air by Mattel for $22.99. (Ages 8 and older) ■ Malia Jacobson is a family journalist and mom of three from Tacoma.

34 • December 2019 •


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# E D M O N D S H O L I D AY S

ages + stages out + about

Let It Show! Let It Show! Let It Show! By Gemma Alexander


hile little kids dream of a white Christmas, parents dread the icy roads. But whatever your wishes, there’s no controlling the weather. Snow or no, you can guarantee your family makes magical memories by establishing a holiday arts tradition. The “Nutcracker” ballet is a delightful classic, but if your family is nontraditional or doesn’t celebrate Christmas, the holiday season is still filled with all-ages performances that are sure to delight. The weather outside may be frightful, but this year, we say, let it show!


ParentMap’s annual holiday arts guide

Tchaikovsky’s complete original score is performed by a live orchestra. This retelling may be irreverent, but it preserves the sweet holiday spirit of the original. Dec. 6 –Dec. 15. $35–$90. Paramount Theatre, Seattle. ‘The Nutcracker’ • Splurge: Evergreen City Ballet offers both the traditional, full-length “Nutcracker” production and select one-hour shows beloved by families with very small children at each of three venues: Meydenbauer Center, Auburn Performing Arts Center and Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center. Dec. 6 –Dec. 22. $40–$45.

Note: Performances with regular adult ticket prices of $15 or less are marked bargain, while those with minimum prices of $40 or more are marked splurge.

‘Nutcracker Sweets’ • For the 15th year in a row, ARC Dance brings the magic of “The Nutcracker” alive for families in its hour-long version of the classic ballet specifically The Nutcrackers designed to appeal to young audiences. ‘George Balanchine’s The Ballard performances of “Nutcracker Nutcracker’ • Sweets” have sold out nearly every year; Pacific Northwest Ballet’s staging Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancer Christopher D’Ariano as Shorewood performances may be easier of George Balanchine’s 1952 “The Mother Ginger (with the feet of eight PNB School students) to snag. “Nutcracker Sweets” showcases Nutcracker” melds the classic ARC School of Ballet students along choreography with fanciful sets with members of the professional company. Dec. 13–21. $18–$43. Venues in Seattle designed by Ian Falconer, creator of the kids’ book character Olivia the Pig. and Shoreline. Throughout the run, PNB hosts special holiday events for families, ranging from free mini dance lessons in the lobby to the extravagant Box Sweets (a $2,000 private box for seven, filled with gifts and snacks!). Nov. 29–Dec. 28. $27–$189. McCaw Hall, Seattle. ‘The Hard Nut’ • “The Hard Nut,” performed by the Mark Morris Dance Group, is “The Nutcracker” like you’ve never seen it before. Mark Morris’ retro-modern reimagining of the classic is still based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” but places the story in the late 20th century.

‘The Nutcracker & The Tale of the Hard Nut’ • Unique among Puget Sound–area productions, Tacoma City Ballet presents the original Russian version of “The Nutcracker” alongside “The Tale of the Hard Nut,” the obscure backstory of the magical Krakatuk nut. Performances are accompanied by the Tacoma City Ballet Orchestra. This year, the production returns to the newly remodeled historic Pantages Theater. Dec. 13–15. $25–$85. Pantages Theater, Tacoma. ‘The Nutcracker’ • Olympic Ballet Theatre presents its annual, full-length performance of the holiday favorite, accompanied with live music from the Cascade Youth Symphony Orchestras. Dec. 13–23. $24–$48. Venues in Everett and Edmonds. u

‘The Hard Nut’ • December 2019 • 37

out + about

Let It Show! continued from page 37 ‘The Nutcracker’ • International Ballet Theatre stages the Eastside’s biggest production of the cherished ballet in traditional Russian style, with elaborate sets and costumes from Ukraine; highlights include Arabian dancers and a fierce battle scene. Dec. 13–23. $25–$53. Theatre at Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue. ‘The Nutcracker’ • A South Sound tradition for over 30 years, Ballet Northwest’s “The Nutcracker” presents recently revamped sets and costumes and a company of more than 200 dancers, including guest artists from Dance Theater of Harlem and Ballet West of Salt Lake City. This season marks the company’s 50th year. Dec. 13–22. $14–$35. Washington Center, Olympia. ‘The Nutcracker’ • (purchase tickets at Emerald Ballet Theatre’s annual all-matinee production of “The Nutcracker” features gorgeous sets and costumes, and a combination of talented professional and youth performers. It is one of a handful of local “Nutcracker” productions performed with live music, courtesy of the Emerald Ballet Theatre Orchestra and its conductor, David Waltman. Bonus: Its Bothell location offers ample parking. Dec. 7–15. $38–$43. Northshore Performing Arts Center, Bothell.

Christmas Carols and Nights Before Christmas

Create unforgettable holiday experiences for the whole family: • Explore the majestic landscape of Saturn’s largest moon in our multiplayer virtual reality experience, Expedition Titan • Hang out with butterflies and naked mole rats • Catch the latest Star Wars in IMAX • Plus festive events bringing the winter spirit to life

NEW WINTER HOURS › Visit 38 • December 2019 •


‘A Christmas Carol’ • The South End’s “A Christmas Carol” has only two performances, so act quickly to see Scott Severance’s new adaptation of the story with 26 classic Christmas carols woven throughout. Dec. 21. $19–$69. Ages 5 and older. Pantages Theater, ‘A Christmas Carol’ at Pantages Theater, Tacoma Tacoma. ‘Christmas Carol Junior’ • Bargain: SecondStory’s adaptation is presented as story time at the North Pole. Mrs. Claus and zany North Pole elves bring the story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge to life, substituting scary ghosts with play-acting elves. Dec. 8–22. $10.


• Enjoy a planetarium or laser show

‘A Christmas Carol’ • ACT’s annual production of Gregory A. Falls’ adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday tale has proven too scary for some kids. But for 44 years, the theater’s take on the curmudgeonly businessman and his spectral guides has thrilled bolder children and their families. Consider the age and sensitivity of your child before you enjoy this journey to understanding the true meaning of Christmas and life. Nov. 29–Dec. 28. $27–$129. Ages 5 and older. ACT – A Contemporary Theatre, Seattle.

Who is the extra ghost? Come and see. Dec. 13–Dec. 22. $14–$22. Auburn Ave Theater, Auburn.

Ages 5–12 with families (Sunday shows are allages, with half-price toddler tickets). SecondStory Repertory, Redmond.

Holiday Theater

‘Ebenezer’s Christmas Carol’ • Bargain: Stone Soup offers kid-focused theater in one act at a bargain price. But there are only three performances of this family-friendly “Christmas Carol,” so be sure to buy tickets early. Dec. 12–14. $12. Stone Soup Theatre, Seattle.

‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’ • Based on the hilarious and irreverent book of the same title, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” finds a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ challenged by the casting of the biggest troublemakers in town. Mayhem and fun collide with the spirit of Christmas in this all-ages production. Nov. 29–Dec. 23. $21–$27. Lakewood ‘’Twas the Night …’ • Playhouse, Lakewood. Belly laughs are in order for Studio East’s annual multiple-POV (that’s point of view) presentation of the classic Christmas Eve poem. See the story through the ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ • eyes of runaway mice, hungry cats, “hoofing” reindeer and the man in red himself. Seattle Musical Theatre is producing the Broadway version of the 1947 film Nov. 30–Dec. 22. $20. Ages 5 and older. Studio East Mainstage Theater, Kirkland. starring a young Natalie Wood, “Miracle on 34th Street.” A healthy dose of New York–style cynicism (believing in Santa Claus is good for business) makes this ‘The Five Ghosts of Ebenezer Scrooge’ • one of the holiday’s least saccharine classics. But songs such as “It’s Beginning to The Auburn Community Players give Scrooge’s classic redemption tale a twist. Look a Lot Like Christmas” and a little girl’s dream coming true at the end will In this version, old Ebenezer is visited by his old partner Marley, as well as give you all the holiday feels anyway. Dec. 19–29. Pricing TBA. Magnuson Park, Christmases Past, Present and Future — but this time there is one more haunting. Seattle. u

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out + about

Let It Show! continued from page 39 ‘A Christmas Story’ • See the beloved Christmas story about BB-gun-coveting Ralphie as a musical. Songs titled “Ralphie to the Rescue!”, “Up on Santa’s Lap” and the inevitable “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!” add a new dimension. Weapons may not be standard gifts for children anymore, but everything else about the story is still (hilariously) relatable. Nov. 29–Dec. 22. $25–$28. Wade James Theater, Edmonds. ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ • Bargain: It wouldn’t be the holiday season without everyone’s favorite story of the true spirit of Christmas. The stage adaptation captures all of the sweet and relatable elements of the classic 1965 film adaptation, including the memorable music of Vince Guaraldi, cherished holiday carols performed by the Peanuts gang, and the spindly Christmas tree that “just needs a little love.” Dec. 14–Dec. 24. $10. Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma. ‘The Flight Before Xmas’ • A delayed flight may not seem like a setup for discovering Christmas cheer — more like a recipe for holiday anarchy — but the motley crew of sequestered travelers in Maggie Lee’s heartwarming comedy “The Flight Before Xmas” find fellowship in their common dilemma. Dec. 6–28. $10–$30. Ages 7 and older; no babes in arms. West of Lenin, Seattle. ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ • Bargain: In a show for the whole family performed by local youths, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” features a prince who longs for a new world within his kingdom. He finds a town fallen on hard times and brings it back to life through the power of true love and Christmas joy. Dec. 6–15. $15. All ages. Bellevue Youth Theatre – Crossroads, Bellevue. ‘Christmastown: A Holiday Noir’ • In this film-noir-inspired holiday mashup, detective Nick Holiday must get to the bottom of a mystery involving a glamorous elf, a used-Christmas-tree salesman, a muckraking reporter, a quick-thinking cab driver and the big man in red himself. Nov. 29–Dec. 24. $17–$34. All ages. Seattle Public Theater, Seattle. ‘Holiday Inn’ • Based on the 1942 film of the same title, “Holiday Inn” features dance numbers and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy. But of course, the main draw is Irving Berlin’s songs, including “Blue Skies,” “Easter Parade,” “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” “Heat Wave” and “White Christmas.” Dec. 6–22. $28. Ages 3 and older. Liberty Theatre, Puyallup. ‘Holmes for the Holidays’ • If your kids are getting a little older and stories of Santa no longer beguile, rope them into a different kind of holiday show. In “Holmes for the Holidays,” Tacoma Little Theatre presents a glittering whodunit set during the Christmas holidays of 1936, with a closed-door murder mystery that challenges an actor famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes to solve a murder that takes place during his holiday party. Ages 12 and older. Dec. 6–29. $20–$25. Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma. 40 • December 2019 •

‘Nuncrackers’ • The “nunsense” Christmas musical “Nuncrackers” stars the nuns you love, Father Virgil and four of Mount Saint Helen’s most talented students. With holiday songs such as “Twelve Days Prior to Christmas” and “It’s Better to Give Than to Receive,” this show is filled with music and irreverent humor that will put you in a holiday mood. Dec. 6–21. $21–$26. All ages. Renton Civic Theatre, Renton.


Comic Romps and Pantos

and more from this wacky fairy tale. Dec. 7–Jan. 5. $8–$16. All ages. Hale’s Ales Palladium, Seattle. ‘Inspecting Carol’ • “Inspecting Carol” is a behind-the-scenes satire centered around a luckless small-town community theater’s annual tacky production of “A Christmas Carol.” This fast-paced, laugh-out-loud farce is a perfect antidote for the holiday blues. Nov. 29–Dec. 22. $20–$25. Phoenix Theatre, Edmonds. ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’

‘Robin Hood — A Holiday Panto’ • In a beloved annual tradition borrowed from England, Centerstage turns a well-known story on its head with English panto twists. Expect corny jokes, pop music sendups and generalized wackiness. Nov. 30–Dec. 22. $12–$35. Centerstage Theatre, Federal Way. ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ • The Fremont Players and Fremont Philharmonic return with their annual Britishstyle panto production filled with outrageous characters, original songs and jokes aimed both at the kids and over their heads. Expect audience participation, slapstick

C eleb rate the hol i days w i th


‘Elf’ • The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear, but if you’re not much of a singer, take your family to see the musical adaptation of the beloved contemporary classic Christmas movie “Elf.” Raised at the North Pole, human Buddy travels to NYC to meet his birth father — and rescue him from Santa’s “naughty list.” Nov. 29–Dec. 22. $22–$31. Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma.

Holiday Music ‘Sing-Along With Santa’ • Bargain: Santa and the Tacoma Musical Playhouse elves will kick off the holiday

Santa Train

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Children’s Museum ~ Whisper wishes to Santa

~ Enjoy a train excursion ~ Savor cookies & cocoa ~ Make memories ~ _____________

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New Year’s at KidsQuest

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Go beyond the basics to engineer a house that lights up and moves!

Join us for an all-day New Year’s Celebration with activities happening every hour.

Info & tickets:

Gingerbread Hack

*Located in Downtown Bellevue* • December 2019 • 41

out + about

Let It Show! continued from page 41 season with favorite holiday carols, live music and a special story read by St. Nick himself. After the sing-along, children can meet Santa and share with him their holiday wishes. Dec. 7. $10. All ages. Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma.

‘The Coats Annual Holiday Show’ • Great Figgy Pudding Splurge: An all-ages Christmas tradition, The Coats’ Caroling Competition joyful annual Christmas concerts showcase the quartet’s octavedancing vocal range, melodious harmonies and catchy musicality. Dec. 20–22. $42.50–$52.50. Benaroya Hall, Seattle.

Seattle Men’s Chorus: ’Tis the Season’ • The Seattle Men’s Chorus offers its annual fresh takes on the holiday classics. This year, look forward to a rocking show, with “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Good King Wenceslas” and “Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney.” Nov. 30–Dec. 22. $25–$88. Venues in Seattle, Tacoma and Everett. Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition • Bargain: On the evening of Dec. 6, inject some holiday spirit into your holiday shopping experience courtesy of the Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition. Dozens of caroling teams compete to out-sing each other on street corners around Westlake Center in downtown Seattle to raise money for the Pike Place Market Foundation. All ages. Free.

‘Magical Strings — A Celtic Yuletide’ • Bargain: Three generations of the Boulding family join performers from Tara Academy Irish Dance, fiddler Jocelyn Pettit, Dublin guitarist Colm MacCárthaigh and percussionist Matt Jerrell to present vocals and sing-alongs accompanied by Celtic harp, hammered dulcimer, cello, violin, whistles, accordion and concertina. This is a festive gala of music, dance, storytelling, juggling, a colorfully costumed processional and songs of the season. Dec. 1–21. $12–$32. Venues in Kent, Bellevue, Tacoma, Seattle and beyond. ‘Christmas in Edmonds’ • Bargain: A program of holiday music performed by the 120-voice, 30-piece Mosaic Arts NW Choir & Orchestra kicks off the holidays for your family and

F A I T H - B A S E D


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42 • December 2019 • 206.289.7783

Shoreline, WA


benefits Vision House to end child homelessness. Dec. 7. $15–$18. Edmonds Center for the Arts, Edmonds. ‘The Snowman’ • Bargain: Enjoy the classic children’s story about a snowman who comes to life and takes a little boy to the North Pole at this Seattle Symphony Family Concert. Designed for kids ages 6–12, the musical program includes works by Mozart and Vaughan Williams, as well as Howard Blake’s “The Snowman.” Arrive one hour before the performance for preconcert activities, including an instrument petting zoo. Dec. 14. $15–$25. Ages 6–12 with families. Benaroya Hall, Seattle. Handel’s ‘Messiah’ • The Seattle Symphony, along with its chorale and talented soloists, presents this annual winter solstice tradition of Handel’s “Messiah” with its magnificent “Hallelujah” chorus. This year’s performers include conductor Matthew Halls, soprano Nola Richardson, mezzo-soprano Meg Bragle and tenor Thomas Cooley. Dec. 20–22. $26–$90. Benaroya Hall, Seattle. ‘Geoffrey Castle’s Celtic Christmas Celebration’ • Splurge: “Geoffrey Castle’s Celtic Christmas Celebration” is a Kirkland tradition. Castle plays electric six-string violin, and is joined by special guests the Seattle Irish Dance Company, the All-Star Celtic Night Band, performers from the Seattle Opera and singersongwriter Dan Connolly. Dec. 12–13. $42. Kirkland Performance Center, Kirkland.

Entertainment as Unique as Your Family

‘Holiday Favorites’ • Bargain: If your holidays have a little too much holiday in them, join SIFF for a different kind of winter celebration. Beginning Nov. 29, see some of cinema’s most unusual holiday favorites in SIFF’s cozy theater. “The Muppet Movie Sing-Along” and “Mystery Science Theater 3000: Santa Claus” give just a taste of this eclectic lineup. Keep an eye out as well for SIFF’s long-running holiday traditions of singalong screenings of “White Christmas” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Nov. 29–Dec. 31. $13–$14. SIFF Film Center, Seattle.

DISCOVER your path

‘The Christmas Revels’ • Bargain: This year’s “Revels” presents traditional music, dance and drama from the Balkan Peninsula. Folk traditions and high art combine in an all-ages celebration of the winter solstice. Dec. 14–18. $13–$37.50. Rialto Theater, Tacoma. Kung Pao Xmas: ‘Abe’ • The Stroum Jewish Community Center presents dinner and a movie on Dec. 25. Dinner, of course, is Chinese food. The movie is “Abe,” the story of a 12-year-old Brooklyn boy who cooks to unite his halfIsraeli and half-Palestinian family. Dec. 25. $30–$35 dinner and movie/$11–$14 film only. Stroum Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island. ■ ‘Abe’

Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based freelance writer with two daughters. She blogs about the arts and spends too much time on Twitter (@gemmadeetweet).

18301 Military Rd. S. SeaTac, WA 98188 206-246-8241

Schedule Your Personal Tour Today! • December 2019 • 43

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Deciding where to educate your child means clarifying your values and priorities, and understanding their needs. Jewish day schools in Seattle offer the unique opportunity to blend secular academic excellence and Jewish education in a holistic setting. Day schools prepare students to be academically competitive while exploring the richness and depth of Jewish culture and teachings. Give your child the opportunity to learn from inspiring faculty, immerse themselves in a robust curriculum and learn Jewishly in a communal environment that embraces the whole child and the whole family.

The Samis Foundation is proud to support Jewish day schools in the Seattle area. For more information visit 44 • December 2019 •

ages + stages

Citizens of the World Ways to teach kids about global citizenship


By Gemma Alexander

hat if we were to teach our children to see difference with eyes of wonder and curiosity, and not judgment and ridicule?” asks Erin Jones, a local education and systems consultant who teaches global citizenship. Sounds great, but what, you ask, is global citizenship and why does it matter? Oxfam (, an international confederation of NGOs working to alleviate global poverty, defines a global citizen as “someone who is aware of and understands the wider world — and their place in it.” Jones elaborates: “A global citizen is aware of the impact of their choices. Global citizenship education is about helping students learn how we are interconnected and how other places are equally important. It’s not happening in many places in this country. When we teach geography and history, America is [still often] in the center as the conqueror.” u • December 2019 • 45

ages + stages

Citizens of the World

education, they are rarely combined except at an international school. The school district’s vision for international education is to prepare students, in partnership with families and community, for global citizenship in an increasingly interdependent world. “I find it helpful to think of global citizenship as a lens for education as a whole,” says Thad Williams, international education administrator for Seattle Public Schools. Parents can do a lot to apply that lens to their kids’ learning, no matter what school they attend. And, luckily, there are many ways parents can support this idea of “global education” at home and with kids of all ages.

continued from page 45 April Rinne (, a consultant focused on the new economy, the future of work and global citizenship, writes: “Equally important is to understand what global citizenship is not: It does not mean having a lot of passport stamps, being a globetrotter or a multinational corporation. Global citizenship is about values and mindset.” So, how can we inspire and cultivate global-mindedness in our children? Seattle Public Schools does offer global citizenship education at its 10 international schools, where programs emphasize five competencies: critical thinking, communication and collaboration, growth mindset, recognizing world perspectives and taking action. While these capabilities are not unique to global citizenship

Bilingualism is good for your brain Knowing a second language is hugely helpful

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in developing a global citizen mindset. Aside from providing access to information through conversations, untranslated books and international news sources, “There are a lot of studies connecting brain development to language learning. But also, there is a human connection that can happen through the simple sharing of language,” says Williams. While gaining fluency in a second language can be very hard, Williams notes, “Cultural competency is also about experiencing the challenge of language learning. [Through the process,] students learn to value other languages.” Knowing the challenge of forming a sentence in another language builds empathy for an immigrant’s accent. In fact, any amount of language exposure has value. Jones shares how witnessing a conversation in French changed her daughter’s worldview. “In France, my daughter saw me speaking French to French Africans. In her mind, all French people were white. But more black people in the world speak French than English.” The perspective-shifting power of travel “There is a ton of privilege wrapped up in the idea of travel and global citizenship,” says Williams, but he says it is worth looking for ways to make access more equitable. “There is incredible value in travel. If I could send every kid, I would,” echoes Jones. “Most kids don’t have that opportunity. When it comes down to it, that’s about money.” But Jones points out that not all travel is created equal. If the only locals your kids meet are working for tips, their worldview is not going to expand very much. “Sure, enjoy the resort, but also get out into town and … explore. Approach people with humanity,” she says. Service projects can also help eliminate a consumerist approach to travel. Jones adds that travel doesn’t have to mean heading to far-flung international destinations, either. “Seattle kids can’t even imagine real urban poverty like [people experience] in North Philadelphia or Newark, where whole communities don’t have safe water and no one comes if your house catches fire.” Modeling citizenship Parents need to model global citizenship. “Be aware of how you respond to difference and be aware of your own implicit biases. We all make mistakes: When you model wrong behavior, also model how to apologize. Don’t underestimate the power of an apology,” says Jones. Exhibit curiosity and ask your kids questions, whatever age they are. “Raise questions about water usage, food and hunger, and equality,” says Williams. Start close to home and expand from there. “How much water does a shower use?” may lead to questions about overconsumption and how people manage in places with limited access to water. Encouraging global citizenship in little kids Normalize diversity by maximizing kids’ exposure to differences. Help them meet people, try new and unusual foods, and play with toys from different cultures. “Be a little more intentional in choosing topics for reading,” suggests Williams. In addition to the classic picture books from your own childhood, find bilingual books and books about people who look and live differently than your family. “Start with diversity right here — with the people they can see now,” suggests Jones. In the Greater Seattle area there are ethnic community centers and resources, such as the Northwest African American Museum ( and continued on page 50

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Helping Children Develop a Sense of Cultural Identity


rom the moment parents find out a baby is on the way, they make an endless number of decisions about how they will care for the new arrival. Hours are spent considering whether to breastfeed or formula-feed, to use cloth diapers or disposable, not to mention the hand-wringing that attends the question of who will care for the child while parents work! The discussion about what it means to raise a, for example, Jewish, African American, Indian or Latino child in American culture often does not occur until much later. Whether a family is actively part of one cultural group or religion, an interfaith family or minimally connected to a religious or cultural group, the choices about how we want to include culture in family life should be deliberate and intentional. How do we, as parents, help our children develop cultural identity?

differences in people and begin to categorize them by race, gender and culture. Think about how much toddlers love sorting colors and shapes. They make sense of their world by seeing how things fit into categories. By age 5, most children acquire their first notions of God, even if that word is never spoken at home. As children grow into adolescence, rituals offer families a way to stay connected. They give teens a sense of belonging to a group, which is so critical

48 • December 2019 •

Practice what you preach. Children learn more from our actions than our words; therefore, we must be mindful of what our children see us do even more than what we tell them to do. Sending children off to learn about a certain religion in Sunday school but not practicing those rituals and traditions in the home sends a mixed message to our children. We must model what we would like them to value when they are adults. Share your own experiences. Children love to hear stories about when their parents were children. Share with them how your own family did things, what you liked and even those aspects you did not enjoy so much. Explore your cultural identity together. Read books, listen to music and try new foods. Visit different cultural centers or congregations to see all the different ways there are of being part of that group. Even learning about other cultures gives us a place to discuss what is similar and different from our own culture.

The first step is for parents to be clear about their goal: We cannot pass on to our children that which we have not clearly defined for ourselves. If we marry someone of the same religion or culture, it may seem likely to eliminate these conflicts. “We are both Jewish, or African American, or Christian, so there is no need to discuss how we are going to raise the kids.” What we fail to recognize is that, as with any group identity, we all have our own unique experience of what it means to be part of a particular religion or cultural group. Interfaith families, on the other hand, typically have these conversations much sooner, as they are well aware that they grew up with different traditions. As we think about how to incorporate culture and religion into the lives of our children, it is important to explore our own childhood experiences. Which rituals and traditions brought you joy and which did you avoid? How did you feel connected to your cultural identity or religion as a child? When we have explored these questions ourselves, it becomes much easier to pass along those traditions and values to our children. Many parents wonder when to begin teaching their children about religion and culture. While it’s never too late, beginning early is recommended. We begin reading to our children long before they are able to read because we know they must be exposed to literacy experiences at an early age in order to read themselves when they are older. The same is true for culture. Our 2-year-olds notice

identify who we are in the present. Using rituals and routines is a natural way to pass cultural and religious identity on to our children. Pick those that resonate with you as a parent and begin there.

at this point in their lives. Opportunities to include culture and religion in the home occur at every stage of development. The next step is to look at how we can make this work in our own unique families. Repetition is critical. Many parents rely on routines because they provide a sense of structure and order in the active lives of children. Children learn and thrive when they know what is coming next and can practice the same things repeatedly. Like routines, rituals also give us a sense of security in a chaotic world. Rituals elevate routines to something bigger; they offer a context for why we act, believe or value the things we do. They connect us to our past, our future, and help us

Create a plan of action. How and when will you do it? Repetition is critical for learning, so be thoughtful about things that can be done daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. Ideally, we have some rituals and traditions that can fall into each of those categories. These rituals don’t all have to be as big as a Passover Seder or midnight Mass. Simply saying “Good night” in another language at bedtime is a nice way to include a bit of culture in your family’s daily life. Helping our children develop a relationship with their culture is a priceless gift. In our fast-paced lives, a sense of belonging and history helps us stay connected to our past and create a sturdy bridge to our future. Take time to explore your own beliefs and focus on the values you want to pass along. Culture is a wonderful way to teach, model and practice those values in the home. Sarina Behar Natkin, LICSW, is a parent educator and consultant in the Seattle area.

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ages + stages

Global Citizenship Education Resources

Citizens of the World continued from page 47 the Holocaust Center for Humanity (, that help kids understand and celebrate differences. “Create opportunities to learn through activity,” says Jones. Turning a visit to a museum or anyplace new into a scavenger hunt will keep kids engaged, now and as they get older. Expanding cultural competency in school-age kids “Get your news from international sources,” says Jones. You will learn more about events outside the United States and gain a different perspective on events happening in the U.S. Talk to your kids about the news. When they’re old enough, teach them how to read a newspaper and question things they see and read online. Introduce them to the UNESCO or Global Education First Initiative YouTube channels. Williams says he bought his daughter a globe. “It’s amazing the amount of questions and curiosity a globe can generate.” Subscription boxes such as Little Global Citizens ( can also encourage curiosity about other countries and their cultures. Programs and technologies that connect kids around the world promote mutual understanding and global citizenship. “Use technology, like video chat or virtual exchanges, to connect kids to ‘away,’” says Jones. Virtual exchanges are not a replacement for travel, but they provide equitable opportunities for students to connect with kids around the world, benefiting kids on both sides of the router. And what’s old is new again: Nowadays, there are websites that connect kids with email “pen pals.” Global connections and experiences for teens Teens are old enough to begin taking action. Help yours see how issues they care about are globally connected and encourage them to get involved. If your teen is more interested in pop culture than social consciousness, use that. For instance, K-pop (Korean pop) can be a starting point for important discussions about consumerism, image consciousness and even suicide. Or talk about representation and stereotyping in video games. Even if you don’t think you can afford it, explore available exchange programs. Scholarships and fundraising programs can make international travel accessible. Consider hosting an exchange student yourselves. And remember, there are many local service-learning opportunities to explore. ■

One World Now • One World Now’s leadership program provides language instruction in Korean, Chinese, Russian and Arabic, as well as exchange programs. Global Visionaries • Global Visionaries facilitates a multiyear youth leadership program with an emphasis on social justice and environmentalism, culminating in a trip to Guatemala. Stevens Initiative • The Experiment Digital is a two-month summer virtual exchange program that helps high school-age youths become more civically engaged through community service, interactive modules and small-group dialogue with peer participants from different countries. Virtual Exchange Coalition • The Virtual Exchange Coalition is an international network of organizations seeking to advance and integrate virtual exchange experiences at all levels of education through new media platforms that enable interactive, social learning. Scholastic • Browse a listing of global citizenship activities you can do at home, found through the website’s Parents section. Medium • This curated list of resources — platforms, books, organizations and initiatives — helps families get started in learning about and practicing global citizenship.

Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based freelance writer with two daughters. She blogs about the arts and spends too much time on Twitter (@gemmadeetweet).

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SCHOOLS + PRESCHOOLS 8 Ways to Help Children Value Cultural Diversity


hen a child learns about a foreign culture, a world of possibilities opens up. New sounds, language, dress, cuisine, songs and stories — all arouse curiosity and inspire exploration. Even more importantly, learning about a new culture cultivates an enthusiasm for understanding and appreciating diverse ways of living, facilitating positive regard and sharing an implicit message: Our differences are valuable and honorable. “In teaching our children empathy, we are giving them a crucial skill for leading a successful and happy life,” says Harvard University professor of neurology Alvaro Pascual-Leone. “Empathy provides a strong foundation for listening, communications, collaboration and problemsolving — critical skills in a rapidly changing and diverse world.” Here are eight activities that plant seeds of fascination, appreciation and empathy:

1. Host a festive evening.

Once a month, get the family involved in an immersion experience at home. Incorporate music, expand your culinary horizons and explore cultural fables. Ask that everyone share something they know or want to know about the featured culture. To get you brainstorming, imagine a Russianthemed evening of your own. You could have an uzhin (Russian for “dinner”) of borscht, a bright vegetable soup made of red beets, and piroshki, baked buns filled with a variety of vegetables and sometimes egg or meat. Recipes for both dishes are easy to find online. While you’re hard at work in the kitchen, turn up Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” or any of Tchaikovsky’s compositions. Over dessert, share classic Russian folktales.

2. Listen to world music.

Turn on world music any time of day — while driving the kids to and fro, cooking or studying. It’s easy to do and provides a melodic portal into another culture. For some beautiful compilations of world music, visit the Putamayo Kids website ( You can also make music, a stimulating

52 • December 2019 •

and exhilarating experience for people of all ages, especially youngsters. Take African hand drumming, for example. Kids can really feel what it is like to make powerful sound in a group. To learn more about drumming opportunities for your family, visit Baby Jam (for children 5 and younger; or Seattle Drum School of Music ( for older children.

3. Discuss how others solve problems around the world.

How are houses built around the world? What kinds of kitchen utensils are used? When are people active during the day? What role does climate play in traditional customs? Get your family talking about such questions to explore how different cultures tackle real problems. To truly ignite your children’s creativity while delving into how other cultures solve common challenges, ask them to brainstorm what hasn’t been done. A handy website to get the conversation going is Everyday Speech (

4. Become better acquainted with your own culture and family traditions.

To appreciate another culture, it’s worth knowing your own culture in order to provide a foundation of security in kinship and inclusion. Create a family tree and get in touch with relatives to share stories. Discuss favorite family traditions, or create a scrapbook celebrating what your family loves to do together. The Family History Discovery Center ( in Bellevue is an endlessly interesting field trip to help enhance and inspire your family’s historical voyage.

5. Throw a cross-cultural birthday party. Your party could relate to family heritage or explore a country of interest. Let’s say, for example, that you decide to have a French fête. Invite that famous elephant Babar and make a colorful “Bon Anniversaire!” sign. Serve crêpes, quiche and French baked goods. During the party, play French accordion music, pass out berets and teach everyone a chanson or two.

6. Visit cultural centers.

Living in the Northwest, it would seem paramount to learn about the indigenous peoples of this

region, including Chief Si’ahl (namesake of the city of Seattle) of the Duwamish Tribe. The Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center ( in Seattle features a permanent display of Native American artifacts and art, housed in a traditional longhouse — all for free! The center also hosts ongoing events, such as the upland reforestation project for the center’s property, field trips and classes. Another gem of a cultural center is the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM; in Seattle. NAAM offers creative, interactive youth workshops designed to discuss race and diversity. The museum also has a youth curator program, which inspires the young members of our community to get involved early.

7. Learn another language. Children can gain so much by learning a new language. The cognitive benefits are wide-ranging, including enhanced problem-solving skills, creativity and communication. But perhaps most importantly, learning a new language promotes self-examination and reflection. “Learning a new language is like opening a door into a different perception and understanding of the cosmos,” says Josette Hendrix, founder and director of the Northwest Language & Cultural Center ( on Whidbey Island. “You learn to think differently!” Consider the English expression “You are right,” says Hendrix. In French, that same expression is “Tu as raison” — literally, “You have reason.” The Bulgarians say, “Ti si prav,” which loosely translates as “You are straight or upright.” All these would be translated in English to mean “You are right,” but each is subtly different in connotation.

8. Volunteer as a family. Pick a cause to which you and your family feel particularly drawn. It could be taking care of a park, your local library, a museum — any number of organizations need your help to keep the lights on. Volunteering cultivates communication and social skills, and fuels individuals with purpose. It just feels good to help others, and that’s a powerful gift to give our children. Let’s teach our children to cherish and treasure the world’s beautiful, numerous cultures. Show them that we’re not a monoculture, devoid of magnificence and biodiversity. By introducing your kids to a variety of perspectives and experiences, the world will emerge in vast and vibrant ways, rich with stories, songs, cuisine, art and so much more. — Jennifer Katzinger


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parent day jobs

Read the full interview at lisk

Meet Jenny Lisk

This mother is on a mission to help widowed parents and their children thrive By Patty Lindley • Photograph by Will Austin


enny Lisk’s self-described “perfectly normal” life — a successful career as an IT professional, husband, two kids, a dog — altered irrevocably one Friday night in the spring of 2015 when her husband Dennis mentioned that he had been experiencing bouts of dizziness that week. Concern mounted over the ensuing days, as he began exhibiting signs of confusion and forgetfulness. A visit to the clinic and an MRI later, the couple received devastating news: Dennis had glioblastoma, an aggressive, malignant form of brain cancer. An expedited surgery two days later was followed by eight months of “playing defense” against the deadly disease — after rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment and blocking and tackling on additional complications, Dennis entered hospice care at home, where he died in January 2016. The newly widowed Lisk was left to pick up the pieces, with an 11-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter relying on her to carry on. She recalls thinking, “Now I am in a new job: I’m a widowed parent. What do I need to know? What do I

What motivated you to create “The Widowed Parent” podcast? I’m not saying it’s easy by any means, but I think there’s a lot of really good resources for adults in their grief. And then there are a bunch of people doing really good children’s grief work. But I think there’s a gap in the parenting piece. How do you as the surviving parent help your kid? And backing it up before that, how do you, as the parent with a terminally ill spouse, begin to help the kids understand what’s going on. Because you know how the story is going to end: The terminally ill parent at some point is going to die. How do the surviving people in this family not “die” along with them? And I don’t mean suicide-dying. I mean how do you somehow not become completely destroyed, and not live your life while you’re still living your life? I realized that a podcast is a really accessible format that I could use to go out and interview people who had pieces of information and perspective and advice and knowledge and whatnot on all these pieces of the puzzle. So, I interview a new person each week about a different theme, question, topic or challenge, and then bring what I’m learning to other people like me. How do you articulate the mission of what you’re doing? I’m really focused on how widowed parents can work to increase their family’s wellbeing. There are multiple facets to that: It’s about addressing the grief piece and any other mental health issues that arise; it’s also about helping them in their role as the only parent. What it comes down to, really, is that I think all kids deserve a chance to thrive, including those who’ve lost a parent. But it’s hard: When you need to tackle some big parenting challenge, you’d like to think you can come at it when you’re at your strongest. But in this case, [the widowed parent is] coming at it when everybody is at their lowest.

need to do? I’m the only parent now of these kids. How do I do this so I don’t completely screw them up?” Lisk quickly figured out that there was no “What to Expect When You’re Widowed” guide to navigating life following the death of a spouse, particularly with respect to the experience and responsibilities of being a solo parent. She decided to go looking for answers — for herself and for all grieving families coping with similar losses. In November of 2018, Lisk launched “The Widowed Parent” podcast (, a guide to the “murky waters of ‘only-parenting’ after the loss of a spouse.” Her podcast journey will provide the basis for an expert-informed guide to widowed parenting the likes of which she wanted so desperately to find when she first became widowed at the age of 43. She is also presently writing a memoir based on her family’s experience. We caught up with Lisk to learn more about her mission to help widowed parents and their children thrive in spite of their traumatic loss.

The surviving parent is really the key factor, I think. I’m not saying that they might address everything themselves, but they can bring in the right resources and they can bring in the right support. They’re the center, the linchpin. Plus, they’re modeling for their kids: How they handle grief, how they handle emotions, how they handle decision-making, problem-solving, all the things that parents do for their kids every day. Why do you think that resources for supporting widowed people in parenting grieving children are lacking? Believe it or not, there’s not much academic research on this topic of widowed parents and their needs and challenges. Fortunately, there are a few things going on that are increasing the attention, which is good. One of them is Sheryl Sandberg’s journey and her book “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.” It seems like we are on an upswing of attention in this area. I also want to stress that there are people doing good work, in lots of different areas and ways. I recently interviewed the CEO of the National Alliance for Grieving Children for an upcoming podcast episode. She actually said that the field of children’s bereavement has really only been coming together as a field in the last 20 or 25 years, and [those working in the field are now] asking, how do we as a field address this in ways that are effective and appropriate, and how can we share best practices? It’s exciting to see the things that are starting to happen, and it’s exciting to be in a position to be able to touch all these people. It’s rewarding, and it’s actually fun. ■ • December 2019 • 55

Profile for ParentMap

December 2019  

December 2019  

Profile for parentmap