Z-Man Productions


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Foster Parenting: Challenging? You Bet. But Worth the Effort.

© Lisa Shara; Published at North State Parent


Senta Burton is passionate about advocating for families. She stands for children, but also for parents – both birth parents and foster parents. A mother of six, Senta’s four younger children are adopted, initially joining her family as foster children.

As parent educator at Counseling Solutions in Butte County, Senta works with birth parents whose children have been removed from their care. She teaches a 16-week “Nurturing Parenting” class the parents are required to attend. She also works with the county’s Supporting Our Families’ Transition (SOFT) program, which offers parents support and access to resources, assisting them as their cases conclude and their children are about to return home. The program’s goal is to help parents create a stable home in an effort to prevent the possibility of having their children reenter foster care again in the future.

Senta and her family. In front, Destiny. Next row: Theo, Lila, Marah and Tanika. 3rd row: Parents Charles and Senta. In back: Chas.

Senta and her family. In front, Destiny. Next row: Theo, Lila, Marah and Tanika. 3rd row: Parents Charles and Senta. In back: Chas.

Senta additionally teaches a variety of parenting classes for the Butte Foster Kinship Care Education program, including Foster Parent Preservice; Nurtured Heart Approach; Nurturing Parenting; Parenting the Special Needs Child; and Understanding the Alcohol and Drug-Exposed Child. Everyone is welcome to attend Butte Foster Kinship’s free classes and workshops: parents, non-parents, people thinking about becoming a foster parent, parents whose children are currently in foster care, teachers, social workers and other community members.

What inspired Senta to become so deeply involved with families? She first became a foster parent in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 20 years ago. In her first year, dozens of children came and left her home. “It broke my heart to see the fear and confusion on their faces as they were moved from one strange home to another,” she says. “It became clear that moving children from home to home – which often happens in foster care – was taking a toll on them, often making them feel they weren’t loved or wanted.” Continue reading

A Rhumba Of Rattlesnakes – New Children’s Book by Kristen Lape

A prickle of porcupines? A lounge of Iguanas? A delightful new children’s book, featuring whimsical yet scientifically accurate illustrations of animals, is written in a fun A-Z format that teaches the names of animal groups … like “a zeal of zebras.”

Written by local author Kristen Lape, My Love is bigger than a Rhumba of Rattlesnakes is targeted for ages preschool through elementary school – and is likely a fun read for any age.

Lape (Lape rhymes with grape) grew up in Butte County and spent her initial college years at California State University, Chico, before moving to Santa Cruz where she serendipitously met Sylvie-Marie Drescher, Rhumba’s talented illustrator. Drescher’s animal illustrations, showing animals in their natural habitats, were a perfect fit with Lape’s book idea.

art-1115-rattlesnakes2Lape’s idea for Rhumba was first inspired by her two sons. “When they were small, we read a lot of books about animals and spent a lot of time outdoors in nature.” In her work as an elementary school counselor for Chico Unified School District, Lape has often been reminded of how much children love animals. And she has a related concern: “A lot of the world’s animals and habitats are being destroyed,” Lape says. “I think about that too.” Continue reading

Bending the Oar – Club Strives to Make Rowing Accessible to North State Youth

© Lisa Shara; Published at North State Parent.


Jade Bennett, 12, and Jordan Bennett, 13, were in for a big surprise when they signed up for a recent rowing camp held at Forebay Aquatic Center in July. Their mom, Julee Bennet, says: “I had to encourage them to try the sport out. They didn’t really know anything about rowing, and had assumed they wouldn’t like it. However, from the start of camp, they had an amazing time and were more than eager to go back each day. On the last day, they both jumped in the car all excited and said, ‘Mom, we are totally doing this next summer! This rowing thing is awesome!’”

[sws_pullquote_right]It’s a great art, is rowing. It’s the finest art there is. It’s a symphony of motion and when you’re rowing well, why it’s nearing perfection. You’re touching the divine. It touches the you of you’s, which is your soul.” –George Pocock [/sws_pullquote_right] “We want participants to be safe on the water and have a great time at camp being a kid,” says Nate Sandoval, an assistant rowing coach for California State University, Chico, and summer manager at Forebay Aquatic Center. “Rowing builds discipline, focus and technique, and it’s fun because you are helping each other move fast in a totally unique environment. In camp, team-building mixes with meeting new friends. It’s a fun way to learn a new sport.” Continue reading

Bike Kitchen Peddles Good Nutrition


Looking for new ideas for preparing healthy foods? Keep an eye out for a pedal-driven kitchen at local farmers markets and community events in Chico. Called the Edible Pedal, the mobile bike kitchen provides cooking demonstrations using fresh, local foods.

Sitting on a modified Pedicab base, the bike kitchen is equipped with stainless steel counters, two sinks, a fresh water reservoir, waste-water tanks, shelves, cooking gear, and a stove, oven and propane tank. A canopy and demonstration viewing mirror provide shade and visibility for those watching the chef create.

Weighing approximately 650 pounds, depending on the energy of the rider, the Edible Pedal can cruise at speeds up to 15 mph! Continue reading

The Snoopy Plate Program Benefits California Museums


A program that has been years in the making combines two of my favorite things: Snoopy and museums.

The Snoopy Plate Program is the brainchild of the California Association of Museums. These special interest license plates raise funds for a grant program to benefit CA museums, to be administered by the California Cultural and Historical Endowment (a state agency). Continue reading

Hai Ho! Hai Ho! It’s Off to Taiko We Go! – In Mt. Shasta: Taiko Classes for Youth

© Lisa Shara; Published at North State Parent


Taiko is an ancient Japanese style of drumming that, in the last half century, has undergone an evolution into an ensemble performing art. If you’ve been fortunate enough to have seen a taiko performance, you may already be hooked on the excitement, skill and team work exemplified.

Julie Bennett has been a member of Northern California’s Shasta Taiko ensemble for 16 years. The ensemble was formed by Jeanne Mercer and Russel Baba over 25 years ago.  Last February Julie began fulfilling a personal dream: “I have wanted to teach taiko to children for a long time,” she says. “Having seen taiko performers who have grown up in the world of drumming, I realize how it can impact a child’s growth and talent, and motivate them to pursue their artistic passions.”

art-115-taiko3“The young people I see in taiko today are centered, focused, extremely dedicated and disciplined.  I am so impressed with their maturity and abilities,” says Julie. In her classes, students work together as a team through exercise, creativity and rhythmic awareness, as well as solo improvisation. Keller King, age 6, was a student in Julie’s first children’s class series. He says, “Taiko was really fun. We learned patterns, how to count to ten in Japanese, and drum beats.”

Movement is an important aspect of taiko, explains Julie. “Taiko is based on the elements of nature: the taiko stance or “kata” (body position) Continue reading

Localicious: For the Love of Ghee

© Hannah Kraemer and Lisa Shara. Published at North State Parent.


What’s better than butter? Butter made from organic, pasture-raised cows already has a dense profile of health-giving nutrients, and it’s hard to deny the love for a food that leaves a warm and satisfying taste. Perhaps the question is: how can we make butter better?

The answer is ghee. Take butter, melt and simmer it to naturally purify it, and ghee is what you get!

Originating in India, ghee is a type of clarified butter that has been around for centuries. Although the production may vary from place to place, ghee is valued as a necessary staple in the typical Indian diet. In India and Tibet, ghee has been long revered for its healing properties. Continue reading

Frank Yamma “Nguta Waljilpa”

One of my favorite songs (became part of the soundtrack of my life some years back), written and sung by Frank Yamma. “Nguta Waljilpa” is found on Frank’s album “Countryman” released late 2010/early 2011. Son of the late singer/songwriter Issac Yamma (1940-1990), Frank speaks five languages. He sings primarily in Pitjantjatjara (Central Australia’s Western Dessert) and English. “Unesco considers Pitjantjatjara to be a “vulnerable” language, Austlang considers Pitjantjatjara to be “definitely endangered” (grade 3).”

Recording has some issues (sounds like ceiling fans are making a whooshing noise), but love that this was recorded at all – The Festival Youth Choir performs Ngura Watjilpa at the opening of the 2011 Castlemaine State Festival.

For those with facebook, one other touching acoustic performance:

Shasta Garden Railway Society: An Addictive Hobby

© Lisa Shara; Published in North State Parent, November 2014


Mike Evans says the beginning of his fascination with model trains began when he was about 4 years old and he “inherited” his older brother’s Lionel train set. Now an active member of the Shasta Garden Railway Society (SGRS), Mike attempts to describe just how addicting model railroading can be, laughingly describing it as “a viral infection.” Trains played a memorable role in his childhood. He recalls his dad’s weekly train commutes, leaving Redding, CA, on Sunday nights to get to his to job in Oakland, and returning home Friday nights. And then there were the special days of January, when, after the majority of the neighborhood kids had received model trains for Christmas, they would come over, bringing their tracks and trains, and “we would run trains throughout the entire house, playing for hours and hours.” Continue reading