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FAMILY   -   FAMILY FEATURES
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"Spunky" is how you'd describe the petite brunette soon-to-be star Jaden Michaels. And unpretentious, all 5'3" of her. In fact, the home schooled teen is remarkably polite and eager to please - everything you wouldn't expect from a girl on the cusp of fulfilling a big dream.
Like the insipid tune, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" that played in the background of my youth, I more recently find my self humming to the melody of, "Where Have All Your Manners Gone, You Ignorant Fool?" and the new take on an old favorite, "Your Parents Would be Ashamed, God Bless their Souls" (remix version). Like a Country singer with a missing dog, I've found that translating my woes into music can be very therapeutic.
As a service to the public, I've created a soundtrack of sorts that can be used at any variety of festive occasions.
For me, Thanksgiving is defined by three words: family, tradition, and of course, thankfulness - thinking about the things for which I am thankful. It is about gratitude and happiness for what I have. Yet, what would this splendid holiday be without having a traditional Thanksgiving feast complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, and warm bread? Every November, we spend the whole day appreciating what we have, such as our family, our home, our pets, and even our loved possessions.
When I think of Halloween, I do not think about trick-or-treating, ghosts, goblins or witches. I do not think about all the great candy I will get or even about what fabulous costume I should wear. No, when I think of Halloween, I think of the annual Molar Manor Haunted House created and hosted by Dr. Ronald Singer, a local children's dentist.
The "ding, ding, ding" of the Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor bell clashed with the clunk of wooden balls landing on the slick striped surface of the Skee Ball game at Mountasia. Arcade sounds form a stark contrast to the shrill alarms of IV pumps and overhead pages that families faced with childhood cancer are more familiar with in their day-to-day battle for life. The Annual Family Fun Night hosted by The Michael Hoefflin Foundation and Mountasia provided a lighthearted respite for the nearly 110 people who were able to attend.
Two months ago, I was triumphantly strutting through the halls of Valencia High School as the final bell signaled the conclusion of my freshman year. A sense of liberation overcame me, replacing the apprehension felt over the last nine months. Summer was beckoning, and I was about to answer. Next year seemed a life time away.
J.K. Rowling changed my life. In second grade, I read just as much as everyone else, maybe even less. My mom and my grandma love to read, so they were always buying new books for me. One day, my mom bought me the first Harry Potter book. As I started to read the first few pages, I could not put it down. I pulled up a chair and was instantly enchanted by the world of witches and wizards. In two weeks' time, I had finished the first four books in the Harry Potter series and realized how spectacular reading is.
The summer season is in full swing and I have been wakeboarding for weeks now. For those of you who have never heard of this marvelous water sport, here is the 411. When you wakeboard, you put your feet into boots that are attached to board that is similar to a half-sized surfboard. Then, you hold onto a rope that is attached to a boat and off you go.
I grew up in the Santa Clarita Valley. And when I say "grew up" I mean I came half way into my own there. The other half is still progressing. I went to elementary school at Soledad Canyon, now known as the Edwards Movie Theaters. In sixth grade my family moved to Newhall's Adamsboro Drive. I went to Wiley Canyon Elemetary for a semester, then attended junior high at Placerita Canyon. William S. Hart High followed. I wasn't popular by any means but I had a lot of friends and was in Sound Vibes. It's a show choir. I'm sorry, it's the show choir. I know what you're thinking. And I have this to say to you: Don't judge. You know deep down you've always wanted to wear a polyester white dress with a red sequined vest and cuffs. Don't deny it.
Long before the sweeping overpasses of Interstate 5 and State Route 14, even before the Newhall Tunnel, which is still used as the main north-south rail artery in California, Beale's Cut was the only route into the Los Angeles Basin. Being that this area was nothing but farms scattered across the vast Santa Clara (Clarita) Valley, the few inhabitants were completely dependent upon the services and markets of the San Fernando area. Farmers had to load their wagons for a dangerous mountain trek over Fremont Pass, now Newhall Pass, in order to take their goods to market.
Get Physical! Get Crafty! Be Entertaining! Be Mystified! Be Playful! Be Studious! Get Camping! Learn to swim, to knit, about fitness, about animation, camping ideas and much, much more.
My 4-year-old daughter Nicole has recently been going through a major bout of clinginess and separation anxiety. The other day, out of the blue, she put her arms around me and dramatically proclaimed, "Mommy, I don't ever want to be away from you. I want to be with you every minute, every day." On another occasion, she proudly announced, "I'm going to give just you all my love and all my heart," then proceeded to pretend that she was unlocking her heart with a key.
Before I begin, a statement to all of my "friends": If you think this article is about you, you're right. Sadly, my gentle suggestions of tact have been ignored, and now I must air your dirty laundry in public in order to make a point. My dear sacrificial lambs, I hope you listen this time. My next option is to plaster your misdeeds on a billboard; please don't make me go to the time and expense!
Can you believe that only a couple of months ago we were having the wettest winter in history? Well, almost... I guess we were about three-fourths of an inch away from breaking that record. Now, all we want to do is lie around in the shade drinking ice-cold lemonade... Or maybe read that favorite book in an air-conditioned room... Or watch the clouds lazily drift by...
You've just dropped your youngest child off at college. The older children are on their own, doing just fine, thank you. Your home, which holds all the memories of raising a family, seems just a little too quiet and way too big. As you stand in the hallway looking at empty beds and old childhood trophies, you wonder... Is this the empty nest syndrome you've been hearing about or is it the whooshing sound of a big page turning in your life?
Sunday Brunch is soooo Mother's Day. Chances are pretty good that the dad in your life would much rather hang out poolside... This Father's Day, why don't you make a few plans for the guy that kills the spiders and is a certified instructor for "Bike Riding 101?"
Sure, everyone can write a check, but these gifts say, "I'm sending you off into the world a little more prepared." Hold on to that card with the money slot and start thinking about how you're going to wrap these oddly shaped, but just as appreciated, gifts.
"This is the place, oh my gosh, I'm so nervous. I hope I don't have to read it aloud; there are so many people here. I wonder what place I got. What's for dinner? I hope it's spaghetti."

These thoughts whizzed through my head as I entered the Elks Lodge. I had received a letter a couple months before stating that I was one of the winners who had written an essay about the American flag, a.k.a. Old Glory. As it turns out, there were only three 6th grade winners.
The contest area has been updated for the August issue! You may now enter nine contests this month! Enter as often as you like but you are limited to one entry per day, per contest. The nine new contests are: 1) Win Stimulate® Honeycomb Bath Mitt from Beyond Harmony, 2) Win SUNDARI Pitta Travel Kit from Citron Day Spa, 3) Win Saje Restoral Skin Balm from Saje Natural Wellness, 4) Win VITASILK-C from Spa Villa, 5) Win Protect & Restore® Skin Renewal Cream from Enchanted Tan, 6) Win Mineral Bronze from Senna, 7) Win Yonka Mesonium from Della Stella Salon and Spa, 8) Enter to Win a FotoFacial RF from Esthetica MedSpa Medical Group! and 9) Win your first month of Pedicures from Beyond Harmony Day Spa! Remember to come back every day to enter. Good luck!
Graffiti - drawings or writing that is scratched, painted, or sprayed on walls or other surfaces in public places. It seems to pop up overnight. Usually black and angular, the markings are scrawled on walls, homes, utility boxes, and even trees, much to the dismay of the neighborhood. Graffiti, or tagging, is a message left by gang members or a bored teen that says, "This is my area -look at me."
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