‘Tis the season

‘Tis the season to ooh and awe. As long as I can remember, driving down Meadow Lane and Lincoln Avenue have been an annual tradition. Of course, things are much grander now than they were when I was a kid. And as Christmas gets closer, the traffic gets heavier.  So my advice–park the car, bundle up and take a nice stroll. The lights are sure to put you in the holiday spirit. And if you are lucky,you will even be treated to hot chocolate and carolers.

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With a little help from my friends

This past week was truly inspirational. I had the privilege of spending several days with smart, passionate leaders from around the country. The stories behind our work varied as did the shape Of the work. But we were all there because of our deep commitment to children and families. Sitting among these passionate and accomplished leaders made me wonder why I’m not doing more for the kids in Stockton. And so I’m making a commitment to you, to myself and to the kids of this community. I will use my voice, my skills and my priveledge to ensure all kids in Stockton grow up safe, healthy and well-educated. This isn’t work that can be done alone and there are many who have already taken up th work. But if you are not among them, I invite each of you to look around and find a way to lift up our kids. We all have a part to play in creating a better Stockton.

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Moms, Be Kind to Yourself this Holiday Season

We all want to be our best selves for our kids. And at this time of year, it can be easy to focus on our failings. So I am here to publically admit all of my shortcomings this holiday season. My kids will be upset when the elf doesn’t move.  I pray that I am able to remember all of the secret santas, ornament exchanges, teachers, coaches, etc.  I won’t be baking any cookies this year. And I will be lucky if I get a three out of four stars on my gift giving.
Now, I’m hoping that listing a few of my shortcomings will encourage you to be kind to yourself this holiday season. Moms give yourself and your family the gift of a more present and less crazy you. This is what your kids and others will remember.

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Futsol for Stockton

If you are a soccer mom like me you have dreaded the start of indoor soccer season because it means lots of driving…driving to Manteca or maybe Elk Grove.  Soccer community, rejoice…we now have an indoor soccer facility!

WePlay is officially open for business and is currently accepting teams and players for their first futsol season. In addition to futsol, they will offer clinics, host birthday parties and rent out practice space. In fact, they are currently registering kids for two Winter Skills Camps. The first runs December 21st to 23rd and the second rund December 28th through the 30th. WePlay is located at 3252 Tomahawk Dr., Stockton, CA 95205 and you can reach them at (209) 937-0102.

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Let’s all help students feel connected to school

I came across this picture and I loved it….  Why? Because it is an important reminder that we, as adults, have a role to play in caring for the hearts and minds of children. Since high school I have tried to understand and help kids who were labeled “troublemakers.” Back then I was a peer advisor, then I became an education researcher, and now I am an advocate for California’s kids. Even in those early days it was clear to me that adults were failing kids. So much so, that I scheduled an appointment with our new high school principal. She needed to know that we had to do more for those kids who wanted to change but felt that the adults around them wouldn’t allow them to break through their “troublemaker” persona–those adults who were quick to assume they were doing something wrong, who were failing to point out what they were doing right. Saddly, I found that my pleas as a student were falling on deaf ears. But this is a fight I haven’t given up because it is one that matters.

In this new era of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) schools and districts are required to create a positive school environment where students feel listened to and cared about. And here are 10 simple things adults can do to make sure they are creating a welcoming environment for kids.

While this particular picture is clearly targeted to teachers, I am challenging each of us to do our part to make sure that every student feels validated and cared for. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, concerned citizens…you too have a role to play and you too can make a difference. When you are waiting to pick up kids, do you smile at other students? Do you ask them if they’ve had a good day? Do you tell your kids not to refer to children as “bad” kids but rather children who have made a “bad” choice and who have an opportunity to make better choices tomorrow? 

A strong community starts with healthy, educated and safe kids. Let’s all do our part to make that happen.

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Giving girls a different message

As the mom of two girls, one of whom is nearly a tweener, I am concerned about the messages we give our daughters related to body image, beauty, intelligence and kindness.

Every girls should feel beautiful inside and out. And every girl should feel powerful. Sadly, too many girls don’t feel this way.  And too often it feels like an uphill battle fighting the images and messages that permeate girls’ lives.

Recently, Colbie Caillat (pop singer), decided to lend her voice and fame to this cause in her song Try. It’s worth a look.



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Summer Camp Misery

When I was a kid, I didn’t   go to summer camp. I went to abuelita’s house. And this was fine with me because there were cousins for playmates, bikes to ride and plenty of trees to climb.

Things are a bit different for my girls. One set of grandparents lives 3 hours away. And the other has yet to retire. So what is a working mom to do? Why summer camp,of course.

There is only one small problem…my oldest daughter hates it.  She recently came in to show my an article in a magazine she was reading. According to their survey of tween readers “53% of kids do not like going to summer camp.” Grrr…can’t a publisher help a mom out.  “Well, 53% is little more than half,” I replied. “That means the other half of kids DO enjoy summer camp.”

For the time being, summer camp is a necessity. And so at the start of every summer, I frantically text other  moms to see if and where they are sending their kids. I sit on the floor with heaps of brochures, a calculator and a calendar. Daunting, isn’t it?

This summer was a little shorter than most. We head back to school on Friday, July 25th. And my girls are excited to get back to their schools, friends and amazing teachers. For myself, well, I have to admit, the end of summer is a bit of a relief and I will happily discard the summer camp forms and brochures until summer comes around again.

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream

There is no better way to beat the heat than ice cream.

For the calorie conscious, there are frozen yogurt shops like Yogurt My Way or Tutti Fruitti Frozen Yogurt.

For the budget conscious, head to Baskins Robbins on Tuesday night. You can enjoy Family Nights and get the entire family ice cream for less than $10. On Tuesday night, a kid’s scoop is $1.25, kid’s soft serve is $1, and a regular scoop is $1.75.

And for those that really want to treat themselves, there is always  Cold Stone Creamery.

Whatever your choice may be, take a break from the heat and enjoy a scoop of ice cream.

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The World Cup has turned me into a sports fan

Anyone who knows me knows that I AM NOT a sports fan. I didn’t grow up with sports and don’t really enjoy being a spectator. But this year something changed. This year I am fully on the #TEAMUSA bandwagon.

Why the sudden change?  I can’t say for certain. I have unenthusiastically watched the world cup for many years now. After watching my own daughter play for the last 4 years, I have a deeper appreciation for the blood, sweat and tears that got each player and team to this point.

The drama of this year’s world cup has been enthralling. There have been so many memorable moments.  Ronaldo’s assist to tie the game in the last minute of the US v. Portugal. Can we talk about Tim Howard’s amazing goal keeping? There were heart breaking moments too. I thought it was crushing when Costa Rica lost to Netherlands and Chile lost to Brazil in penalty shoot outs.  And of course, there was Suarez hereforth known as Hannibal Lecter. But perhaps the scariest and saddest moment was when Brazil’s Neymar took a knee to the back and had to be carried off on a stretcher because of a broken vertebra.

So now, this non-sports fan can’t wait to find out how the story ends…GOOAALLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!



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Music brings us together

One of my favorite things about summer is music in the park. It is a family tradition. One that my own children have come to love.

Each week we potluck, hauling in more food than will ever be eaten. We pitch the table, spread out the blankets, and pop open the lawn chairs and settle in for a relaxing evening picnic. For these short few weeks, we try to put aside the hustle and bustle of everyday life and we come together as a family.

For us, it’s about much more than music. It’s about having a standing date with cousins, tias, tios, grandparents and friends. It’s about watching our kids grown up together–like our parents watched us and like our grandparents watched our parents. We watch and smile as our children develop those priceless family bonds that will survive distance, time and space. To our kids, it’s about face painting, snow cones and rolling down the grassy hills. But we know it’s about much more than that.


June 4: Valley Concert Band — Genre: Big Band, 30-piece band
June 11: Plushtones — Genre: Vintage pop-rock. Inlcudes barbershop quartet during intermissions
June 18: Swingaires — Genre: Big Band, Swing era
June 25: Snap Jackson & the Knock On Wood Players — Genre: Americana, Bluegrass. Includes drum-and-bugle corps during intermissions
July 2: Valley Concert Band — Genre: Big Band, 30-piece band
July 9: Summit — Genre: Rock cover band
July 16: Tropical Nights
July 23: RBX — Genre: 50’s & 60’s
July 30: Steve Trucco Polka Band. Includes drum-and-bugle corps during intermissions
Aug 6: Valley Concert Band — Genre: Big Band, 30-piece band
Aug 13: Nick Isaak
Aug 20: Waterloo — Genre: Northern California’s premier Abba tribute band

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