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DiStefano Winery gives Woodinville a dining option

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Distefano
DiStefano Winery is offering casual meals and family style culinary dinners. Courtesy photo.
Wineries are known for their wines, but at DiStefano Winery, food also takes prominence.

This summer, the longtime local winery entered the dining arena, offering casual meals and family style culinary dinners. Although the winery had been doing special events for a number of years, outside caterers had always provided the food.

“It was as a direct response to these events that we decided to build a kitchen and expand our dining area, which we call the Cellar Room,” explains Jaci Kajfas, DiStefano’s event coordinator. “Now, we can seat 40 people for an intimate sit-down dinner in the Cellar Room, as well as offer casual food options in our tasting room or out on our deck when the weather is nice.”

During regular hours in the tasting room, the emphasis is on bistro style, with offerings that include small artisan plates consisting of local cheeses, charcuterie, house marinated olives, fig jam, bruschetta and Macrina baguettes, along with Muffuletta or New Orleans style sandwiches and assorted salads.

Delectable dinners, “culinary delights that tantalize the imagination,” as DiStefano owner Mark Newton describes them, take center stage in the Cellar Room on various weekend evenings.

They feature fresh local cuisine accompanied by the winery’s high quality, award-winning wines.

An open kitchen design allows diners the ability to watch Executive Chef George Stevenson in action, as he whips up such specialties as hazelnut crusted hanger steak with potato-leek gratin Brussels sprouts or Coq au Vin, traditional French Chicken and red wine stew. “The dinners are usually built around themes,” says Kajfas. “Chef Stevenson has a great background in a variety of cuisines. He’s very talented and creative and we’re fortunate to have him heading up our kitchen.”

Stevenson is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

He grew up in the South, as well as spent time in Belgium and Germany, giving him an international upbringing which has greatly influenced his culinary style.

Stevenson sharpened his skills working in award-winning restaurants, including Fuller’s in Seattle and The Sunset Grill in Nashville. He also served as chef for Lowell-Hunt Catering and banquet chef of Willows Lodge in Woodinville.

Some of the events Chef Stevenson does at DiStefano Winery focus on culinary demonstrations. An upcoming session is all about Spanish Tapas.

Another one emphasizes cooking with wine.

In the past, he has also taught knife skills to guests, instructing them on the different types of knives, how to select the right one and the proper way to use a knife in the deboning process.

Once a quarter, the winery holds cigar dinners, which include a five course dinner where each course is paired with a cigar and wine.

“These usually sell out,” comments Kajfas. “They’ve gotten to be very popular, and yes, with women as well as men.”

The response to the added component of food at the winery has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Kajfas.

She notes that people appreciate having fresh and tasty food options available while they sample and taste the wines.

“It’s just a nice addition and something that not many wineries offer, mainly because they don’t have a kitchen,” she adds.

DiStefano plans to continue to slowly grow the food side of the business and do more catering and special event dinners in the future.

“We’re thrilled that our special events have been so well-received,” says Kajfas. “We’ve done minimal marketing, so it’s really been a lot of word-of-mouth among people who know the winery. They come to one and then tell their friends and the interest just builds. It’s an exciting time for us.”

For more information about DiStefano Winery’s upcoming special event dinners, private events and catering services: (425) 487-1648 or www.distefanowinery.com.

Preschool

  • Written by Submitted by Best in Class

According to the Department of Health and Human Services: The early years of a child’s life are crucial for cognitive, social and emotional development, therefore it is important that every step is necessary to ensure that children grow up in environments where their social, emotional and educational needs are met.


Many advocates of pre-school state that sending your child to an early education program, such as pre-school, can help with how they view and act in the social structure. The early introduction of education can influence and perhaps improve children’s cognitive and social growth.

Early education programs in Washington state, such as Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), offer free services to help children build their learning and social environment. These programs provide educational, health, nutritional and parent involvement services to low income families and children.

For example, Head Start offers children early academic enrichment in subjects such as: pre-reading, literacy, vocabulary, and pre-mathematics skills. Students, many of them 4 years old or younger, are also provided nutritious meals throughout the day. Furthermore, Head Start focuses on the well-being of the family by offering a wide array of social services, such as free health, physical and dental screenings.

A benefit to early education is giving children a chance to develop their personalities and nurture their behavioral growth, so they can become more independent.

Additionally, sending your children to these types of programs gives kindergarten teachers more leeway to teach students about school work rather than spending half the day teaching them about behavioral skills.

There is also a negative side to the field of early education programs. Some adversaries of early education programs argue that children can lose their concentration skills to focus on one activity because programs may bombard children with too many different simultaneous activities.

This type of bombardment can overwhelm the young mind because they are being read books that they may not fully comprehend or learning words that just don’t seem to make any sense to them. These frustrations can cause young children to become introverted or unfocused.

In any case, it is important to be involved with your child’s curriculum; doing so will help you create a stronger bond emotionally and academically with your child.

Support Strategies for Parents

  • Written by Submitted by Jeffrey Woolley, Head of School, Dartmoor School

There is no doubt parental support is crucial to a child’s academic success. The obviousness of this truth, however, does not make it any easier to provide effective support for a child struggling with ADHD, learning disabilities, Asperger’s, ODD, or other complicating factors. Here are some basic strategies to implement that will allow you to construct a framework of meaningful support.

Understand your child’s unique needs. Observe your child in various settings. How does she act? How does she feel? How does she define herself? How does her behavior change between a setting where she thrives or is comfortable versus a more challenging environment? Are there behavioral or other complicating factors (low self-esteem, learning disabilities, hearing or vision problems, etc.)? The better you understand your child’s unique needs, the better situated you will be to help.

Know your child’s instructional level in core competencies. Do not assume your child is at grade level just because he progressed to the sixth grade. Progress in a traditional school relies more on seat time than mastery of concepts. Have a sense for whether your child is ready for fifth grade or algebra, etc. If he is behind, establish a plan for getting him up to speed. If he is ahead, establish an enrichment plan. Encourage awareness in your child so he becomes more cognizant of his own needs, strengths, and areas of difficulty. If the needs are complex, seek professional help from an educational consultant, neuropsychologist or other qualified professional.

Advocate for your child’s learning needs. Once you know your child’s needs and core levels, share them with her teachers so they can support her appropriately in the classroom. Good educators will welcome more information on your child’s needs as it will assist their efforts. Where possible, seek out teachers who understand unique needs and employ a variety of suitable teaching techniques. Work with the administration to ensure proper supports are in place. If the school does not provide for her needs, then assess whether her needs require supplemental help or another academic setting. Studies have shown that school culture and a student’s disposition to school are as crucial to success as solid teaching and basic skill acquisition. If your child does not feel respected or safe at school, then she will not thrive.

Encourage your child’s intellectual and personal interests. All children have an innate desire to learn and yet some children become disengaged from the formal learning process. This often happens because the instructional level or method is inappropriate to the student’s needs, but anxiety, depression, behavioral or social issues can also derail student progress. Not all students will have strong academic interests, but they generally will have some sort of interest such as athletics, music or a hobby. If a student is struggling with academics, then he needs an activity where he can succeed. Students who do not have a positive outlet might pursue negative behaviors instead. It is essential for students not only to learn how to solve algebraic equations and write five paragraph essays, but also to develop positive self-image and an ethos of lifelong learning and intellectual engagement.

Find a mentor for your child. Though it might seem unbelievable, your child (yes, even your refractory teenager) may listen to and respect a mature peer or adult role model in his life. Children, especially teenagers, tend to filter out parental input to a certain extent, but they often listen to a peer, favorite teacher, coach, therapist or other mentor. Encourage positive relationships between your child and people whom you trust and respect in your community.

Do not be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes the best way to maintain balance is to involve others. There are a lot of great individuals and organizations serving the Puget Sound region, including expert pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, educational consultants and many other professionals as well as support groups and informational resources. One of the difficulties parents have is knowing where to start. The task is daunting but not impossible. Rather than reinventing the wheel, connect yourself to professionals and parents who have experience with your child’s needs. Start with your current network. Discuss your child’s needs with people you trust who can connect you to other services. A supportive educator, pediatrician or other professional who knows your child well is a good place to start. Organizations like Learning Disabilities Association of WA, ADD Resources, CHADD, and Northwest Autism Foundation all provide extensive resources free to the public and can help you become more aware of your local options. Dartmoor’s website has some excellent starting points for your own research: please visit www.dartmoorschool.org/resources for articles, links to organizations, and a bibliography of helpful books.

Maintain your perspective and sense of humor. Educating a child with special needs requires a lot of patience and many resources, but it also requires perspective and a sense of humor. Perspective reminds us what is important over the long term, that individuals require time and support to develop independence and skills, and that we all have different talents. Try not to take anything personally or allow your emotions to get the better of you. This is easier said than done, but a healthy sense of humor is perhaps the best strategy of all.

Tips for Success in Math

  • Written by Submited by AAA Tutoring

Mathematics is now more essential than ever for future opportunities in colleges and careers.

Many job growth industries such as health care, computers, and engineering depend heavily on technology and math.

Here are a few tips to make sure your child enjoys and becomes successful in the subject of math:

Make Practice Fun :)

Kids who enjoy math have a better chance of success, so make it fun!

•    Play together - Parents can create positive experiences playing games such as Monopoly, Yahtzee, Rummikub, Scrabble, cards, bowling and other sports (especially averages, stats, etc.).

•    Cook together - Try cooking together to practice measuring, fractions, and proportions - with the added benefit that you can eat what you make as a reward!

•    Shop together - Practice calculating percent discounts while maintaining a tally to keep things “under budget” while you shop.

•    Let the kids “keep the change” so that they will be motivated to figure out the most efficient use of their money(cost per pound) and acquire the most change possible. Then make a game of who can save the most at the bank.

All of these activities demonstrate how math is applied in everyday life.  It generates interest in the subject while answering the question “Why do we need to learn math?”.  It also develops life skills critical in a child’s development.

Use Graph Paper

25 percent of math problem errors are due to sloppy number writing and maintenance of number columns.

Have your child use graph paper to practice keeping numbers in line while adding and subtracting.

Check Your Work

Kids can also do self-checks to correct their own errors or perhaps play “teacher” and help a younger sibling with their math homework. Not only does this develop the student’s skills, but the process will instill a sense of confidence in the older child.

Test-Taking Strategies

During a math test, students should look over the entire test first and complete the problems that they know.  This will boost their confidence!  Then they can attempt the math they are less sure of, being careful not to spend too much time if they get stuck.  Show all work so the teacher can give credit as it applies. Practice timed math tests at home before taking a class test. All of these strategies enable students to get the best grade possible.

Don’t Delay

Remember that math is built upon what has been previously learned.  If there is a problem area, it will become magnified and compounded with time. Grades and self-esteem suffer, often producing anxiety in math. The way to prevent this from happening is to get help right away.  Encourage your child to ask their teacher or a knowledgeable classmate questions to clarify concepts.  Some students may need additional help to work on specific learning techniques which can be done by a parent or a private tutor.

Signs of Difficulties with Math

•    Struggles to understand the wording of directions

•    Unable to recall basic math facts, formulas or multi-step procedures

•    Makes lots of “little mistakes” such as copying problems incorrectly, wrong signs, etc.

•    Overloaded and “gives up,” avoids doing the homework

•    Anxiety with math tests, especially timing

•    Poor grades

Low self-esteem resulting from difficulties in math extends into other subjects as well as behaviors at home. As a parent, it is important to recognize and provide your child with the help they need to succeed on their path towards college and a fulfilling career.

Getting ready for preschool

  • Written by Maren Schmidt, M.Ed.

 

Mornings are cooler. The sun rises later. The excitement of school beginning wafts in the air. These are my memories when school started in mid-September. In two or three weeks, school resumes, and for many young children, it will be their first school experience.

The first day of preschool or kindergarten is probably more traumatic for Mom and Dad, than it is for our Emily’s and Eric’s. Preschool is our first big step in letting our children go, if only for a few hours a day. As parents, we wonder, "Will they do all right without me in a new situation?" The question we need to ask is, "Will I be okay when I leave them?"

Most children take to preschool like a duck to water. The children that have difficulty adjusting usually have parents that are having trouble making the change.

Betsy’s mom dropped her off with the parting words, "If your tummy hurts, Mommy will come and get you." It doesn’t take too much imagination to figure out which preschooler had a stomach ache every day for two weeks. Her mom said, "I guess she’s not ready for preschool."

Brewster threw a tantrum every day upon his 8 o’clock arrival to school. After a few days, I learned that this three-year-old had always slept to 8:30 each morning.

Tomas resisted getting in the car to come to school. After a phone discussion with his father, we discovered that his grandmother, who had lived with Tomas all his life, had moved away two weeks previously.

To make the adjustment into preschool easy on your family, ask these questions:

1. Are we emotionally ready to let go?

Do we have a plan of what to do with our time when our child is in school?

2. Is our child emotionally ready for a new situation?

Have there been any significant changes in our lives in the past two months, such as re-location or a new job that could affect the emotional center of our child?

3. Is our family physically ready for school?

Is our child on a sleeping and eating schedule that works with the school schedule? Also, be careful to not return from a week or two vacation a couple of days before starting preschool.

4. Is our child recovering from an illness or on medication that could make him or her drowsy, cranky or hyperactive? Some allergy medications and antibiotics affect alertness and energy levels.

All members of the family should be positive and excited about this first step into a larger world. A few days before school starts, arrange to take your child for a fifteen-minute visit to his or her school in order to meet teachers and become familiar with the facilities.

On the first day, exude the message, "I know you’ll have fun," by saying a quick goodbye and leaving with a smile, even if you feel like crying through every pore in your body. You’ll also need this advice in twelve to fifteen years when leaving children at college.

In my twenty-five years of experience, children cry when separating for less than two minutes. For a mom and dad, it’s a long two minutes, but two minutes just the same. If children cry for over five minutes, it is usually because they are running a fever, didn’t get enough sleep the night before, are hungry, or all of the above, which helps make a clear cut decision about whether to give a child more time to calm down or to send a child home.

After you leave your child at preschool, have a plan for that morning — join friends for coffee, grocery shop, go to work, etc. My project was to take a shower by myself for the first time in four years.

Enjoy being the parents of a preschooler. It’s exhilarating, exhausting and exceptional. Enjoy. Your preschoolers will be e-mailing home from college before you know it.

Kids Talk TM deals with childhood development issues. Maren Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has over twenty-five years experience working with children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. She is author of Building Cathedrals Not Walls: Essays for Parents and Teachers. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.MarenSchmidt.com. Copyright 2011.