SC Mag

SC Mag

One Book at a Time

By Keira Pride, Head Librarian, Stratford School

“If you can be anything, be kind.”

As parents and educators, we need to make showing kindness a priority and provide the opportunities for our children to practice kindness. As such, we naturally embrace any opportunity to promote kindness – whether random or well-planned. It is in that spirit that we curated a selection of books promoting kindness and related qualities like thoughtfulness, generosity, and empathy. The character education lessons are wrapped in memorable stories about interesting characters, unusual partnerships (a snail and a whale!), and challenging situations -- often overcome with help from friends and their acts of kindness. The heroes of our stories – a Syrian ambulance driver, a track coach, an oak tree – are ordinary in most ways except in their capacity to promote kindness.

Our recommended stories also highlight the fact that qualities like empathy, courage, and self-knowledge are not fixed or finite in any of us – but rather learned (and renewable) resources. In life, as in these stories, even good people, challenged by circumstance or past action, are sometimes unkind and cowardly, are sometimes bystanders when they could have been upstanders. Yet with self-knowledge that comes from experience – and some productive struggle – we all have a nearly infinite capacity to build our empathy muscle and renew our reservoirs of courage.

The richly crafted stories we are recommending will provide children with hours of reading enjoyment and positive role models. Among the many books that celebrate kindness, here are our favorites:

Grades Kindergarten to Second

Love, Z written and illustrated by Jessie Sima

While out looking for adventure, a young robot named Z finds a message in a bottle signed “Love, Beatrice”. What is love? And who is Beatrice? Those two words are enough to pique Z’s curiosity. Unable to get an answer from the other robots, Z leaves to embark on an adventure to find Beatrice and learn about love. It is on this journey that he learns the powerful meaning of those four simple letters and discovers that what he has been seeking was closer than he realized.

The Snail and the Whale written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

This is the tale of a tiny snail who dreams to see the world, so she hitches a ride on a humpback whale. Children will love the vibrant art of their journey together past icebergs, jungles, and caves. The story provides the suggestion that brilliant friendships do not necessarily have to be between two similar individuals. The two characters are brought together, and help each other with their differences, not similarities.

Grades 3 to 4

The Cat Man of Aleppo written by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu

This is the story about a kindhearted ambulance driver from Syria named Alaa. Alaa lives in the city of Aleppo and he loves everything about his city from the vibrant bazaars to the kind, gentle people. One day, a terrible thing happened and many people had to flee Aleppo. Alaa decided to stay and look after the injured people, abandoned cats, and other animals. His love and kindness soon spread and today he is known worldwide as the Cat man of Aleppo.

Smile written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

The first in a series of insightful graphic novels about the trials and tribulations of childhood relationships. When Raina trips and smashes her two front teeth, she embarks on a long, embarrassing journey of dental treatments. Fitting in at school is hard enough, but this sweet, funny book will encourage kids to believe they can get through troubled times with the help of their true friends and a little bit of kindness.

Grades 5 to 8

Wishtree written by Katherine Applegate

This is a beautiful and touching story about nature and friendship. Red, an old oak tree, watches over the neighborhood and the many animals that live in its branches. For decades, the tree has been known as the “wishtree,” where each year people tie their wishes written on strips of cloth, giving Red a special place in the community. One day a new family moves in and they aren’t exactly welcomed with open arms. Red does what any wise, kind old tree would do, and decides to intervene.

Ghost written by Jason Reynolds

Castle “Ghost” Crenshaw is on his way to becoming a track star, but can he run fast enough to put his past behind? This book is full of complicated characters, difficult decisions, and opportunities to ask, “What is the right thing to do when you’re being bullied?” Ghost perfectly depicts the challenges kids face on and off the field. Ghost shows them how to face those challenges in an approachable way, and features diverse characters with whom kids can directly relate.

In a world that feels increasingly divisive, being kind makes us feel good and motivates us to perform more acts of kindness. When we role-model kindness and kindness fundamentals like empathy and generosity in ourselves, kids can see them in action and be inspired to practice them as well. And in turn, by teaching our children the importance of compassion and empathy, we can all help build a kinder, more accepting future for everyone.

For more information on Stratford School go to

Morena Tile and Stone, in San Juan Capistrano, is a 5000 square foot store showcasing one of the largest selections of tile, and natural and engineered stone in South Orange County. The business was opened in 2014 by John Schrab and his wife, Linda, with the goal of creating a convenient, local resource where one can find an abundance of fun, imaginative and up-to-date tile and stone – all under one roof.

MTS 200229 34As a family-owned business, John and Linda focus on customer service and building relationships with their clients, while helping to bring their projects to life. From mild to wild and traditional to modern, they will assist in finding the perfect materials for your dream kitchen or bath. Morena’s designers are on hand to assist customers with navigating through the myriad of choices to get their project started and they serve as a resource every step of the way – from concept to completion.

top image page 2Homeowners, designers and contractors love the vast product selection and convenience of shopping locally, in a store where everyone knows your name. John, a 4th Generation tile and stone contractor, is willing and available to answer your questions and provide advice on materials, design, and installation. He believes in treating cus¬tomers like family and understands what it takes to make your project come to fruition.

Little Johnny with his pop, granddaddy and great gramps, 4 generations of tile guys.Little Johnny with his pop, granddaddy and great gramps, 4 generations of tile guys.Whether you’re undertaking a major home renovation, updating your kitchen island or installing a tile floor, Morena Tile & Stone offers all of the necessary components to manage your project in-house. Along with a gorgeous variety of materials for you to choose from, there’s also an on-site fabrication shop with a crew of master craftsmen that have worked for John for decades. This level of experience and cutting-edge technology, combined with old-world craftsmanship, provides clients with the reassurance that their project will be done correctly and beautifully. As John likes to say, “We make things pretty every day.”

Owners John and Linda SchrabOwners John and Linda SchrabVisit Morena Tile & Stone when you’re ready to embark on your next home improvement project. John and Linda would love the opportunity to offer you a cup of coffee while you look around, and they’d be proud to add you to their long list of satisfied customers.

logo morena32951 Calle Perfecto
San Juan Capistrano
(949) 489-8990

For nearly 70 years, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian has delivered a level of personalized care that is unsurpassed among Orange County’s health care providers.

With the goal of extending this level of care to south Orange County, Hoag recently opened a new location in San Clemente. Conveniently located in the Talega Health Center, Hoag provides primary care services from Hoag Medical Group and women’s health services from Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group.

Hoag Medical Group Primary Care

Hoag Medical Group (HMG) is the multi-specialty physician group most closely aligned with Hoag and provides same day sick appointments, unrushed, personalized visits, shared medical records with Hoag Urgent Care and access to the Hoag network of care.

HMG has offices throughout Orange County and the San Clemente location provides the community with two experienced physicians:

Kayla RamseyKayla Ramsey, DO
Dr. Ramsey is a board-certified fa-mily medicine physician treating patients age 5 and older. She enjoys treating entire families from the children to the great grandparents and helping with all aspects of their health.



Sarah TeymoorianSarah Teymoorian, MD
Dr. Teymoorian is triple board-certified in internal me-dicine, geriatric me-dicine and palliative medicine. She has extensive experience treating adults with complex medical conditions, managing aging seniors and collaborating with specialists.


The Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group team at San Clemente includes:

Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group

Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group is a dedicated group of board-certified obstetricians-gynecologists providing high quality comprehensive care. The practice is focused on providing personalized and individualized care through all stages of a woman’s life.

SanClemente OCWMG Ramsey 2

Services include:

  • Gynecological care
  • Obstetrical care
  • Midwifery care
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Advanced imaging

Expectant parents will deliver at the Fudge Family Birthing Suites at Hoag Hospital Irvine


Hoag Network

The Hoag network of care includes:

  • 3 Hospitals - Including Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, Hoag Hospital Irvine & Hoag Orthopedic Institute. Hoag offers comprehensive health care services including five institutes providing specialized services in the following areas: cancer, heart and vascular, neurosciences, women’s health and orthopedics through Hoag Orthopedic Institute (affiliated hospital).
  • 9 Health Centers - Providing comprehensive health care services including primary and specialty care, imaging, lab, physical therapy and more. Hoag Health Centers are located in Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Foothill Ranch, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Newport Beach and Tustin.
  • 14 Urgent Care Locations - Conveniently located throughout Orange County to provide non-emergency care for patients of all ages.
  • 1,700 Physicians on Hoag Medical Staff

Patients can guarantee their access to all of Hoag through the following groups:

  • Hoag Medical Group – The multi-specialty medical group that provides same day appointments at over 21 locations with 100+ physicians.
  • Hoag Physician Partners – A network of over 400 world-class physicians that represents a broad range of specialties.
  • Hoag Concierge Medicine – A membership-based alternative to traditional primary care providing 24x7 access to your physician.

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This new location provides the community with direct access to Hoag. Visit to learn more.

prescott logoSome things in life are better when combined with other things. Peanut butter is great, but better with jelly. S’mores are wonderful, but somehow tastier when eaten next to a campfire. Mobile phones are indispensable, but incrementally improve with every added app. This idea holds true with financial advice as well. CPAs and financial advisors are important and valuable resources in their own respects toward ensuring a sound financial future, but they’re even better when they’re both the same person.

The reason for this is simple; sound investment advice must be done with consideration of tax implications, as the cost of not doing so can be significant. Likewise, good tax planning often involves taking advantage of investment opportunities that become evident during the tax preparation process. Only the CPA Financial Advisor can ensure that these interdependent objectives are executed on successfully.

According to a study involving 42,000 advisors by Envestnet, a leading investment platform provider, the “value added” of using a financial advisor is roughly 2% per year. The added value of a CPA/tax management is another 1% per year. The study breaks down the added value coming from 5 core areas:
The following highlights more tangibly describe how the value of a CPA financial advisor can enhance your financial plan.

Tax Savings = Enhanced Investment Returns

When considering the financial plan for one’s entire life, one should make tax savings as much of a priority as the selection of investment and retirement products. Tax savings simply can have too tremendous a positive impact on maximizing your retirement nest egg to ignore. And its importance and value generally increases proportionally with your marginal tax rate. This is especially true today, given the generally rich valuations and low yields of most traditional investment options.

Tax Management = Tax Savings

As the value of your taxable investments grow, so does the importance of utilizing tax management to minimize taxes. Whereas many financial advisors may list these offerings, you can count on the CPA financial advisor to ensure that tax management is being performed.

High Frequency of Interaction = Better Financial Maintenance

Another important ingredient to a sound financial plan is maintenance. Financial plans are snapshots in time that require periodic updates. Long-term impacts of near-term events such as career, family and preference changes need to be incorporated into the plan when they occur. So, frequency of interaction is paramount to good maintenance. And here again, the tax professional is, unfortunately like taxes, with you year in and year out. Hence, maintenance of a financial plan by a CPA financial advisor is a natural fit.


banner111Prescott Tax & Wealth Management
30950 Rancho Viejo Rd., Ste 100 • San Juan Capistrano
(949) 248-9815 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Securities and advisory services offered through Independent Financial Group, LLC (IFG).
Member FINRA/SIPC. Prescott Tax and Wealth Management and IFG are unaffiliated entities.

By Jeanne Huybrechts, Chief Academic Officer, Stratford School

Ways you can help support your child’s learning

Hard work and involvement can ensure a student’s progress

Currently parents of young children are facing two scenarios that may extend throughout the school year. In some parts of the country and in some circumstances, schools are reopening, and children are returning to campus and the classrooms they abruptly left more than six months ago. In much of the country, “return to school” means returning to some form of distance learning – either full time or embedded in a hybrid model of recurring cycles of traditional school and online instruction. That said, school will look different for a while, and there are many things that parents can do to help their children navigate the differences.

Minimize morning drama. Build a lifelong habit!

Most “return to campus” models include modifications to classroom seating, fewer opportunities for children to move around during the day and interact in “centers” and small groups, and new health and safety practices that take some getting used to. Preparing for school in the morning will likely take more time and this is something that parents can help manage.

  • Getting ready for school will take more time this year yet it doesn’t have to be more stressful. Manage the added workload by getting as much done the night before. Begin asking your child to make/assemble his/her own lunch or clean his backpack, returning to it only what he/she needs for the next day.
  • Create a staging area in the house where everything that needs to go to school the next morning – backpack, art project, umbrella, filled water bottle, permission slips, two clean face masks – is ready to grab on the way out the door.

Music, Art, Team Sports, Competition

Even schools that can open this fall will not be able to accommodate programs and practices that were always good for children – including performing arts and organized sports. Both are ensemble/team endeavors, and each builds skills and habits of mind not emphasized in other areas of school.

  • Encourage your child to learn or continue practicing a musical instrument, working with an instructor who can teach online. (I have known kids who have learned to play an instrument just by watching how-to YouTube videos!)
  • In the absence of organized sports, youngsters can fulfill the “activity” piece with daily exercise, inside or outside. Biking, hiking, roller skating, and running are all great and flexible choices. 

“Maslow before Bloom”

One hears this expression a lot in education circles, as most teachers are quite familiar with the work of Benjamin Bloom and Abraham Maslow. Psychologist contemporaries, Bloom and Maslow developed frameworks to describe human understanding, but from different angles. Bloom’s taxonomy describes learning goals, including knowledge, comprehension, and understanding. Maslow describes a hierarchy of needs – physical and psychological – including safety, belonging, love, and esteem. “Maslow before Bloom” implies that basic human essentials need to be addressed before learning can occur.

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As we embark upon this school year, “Maslow before Bloom” should be every teacher’s and parent’s mantra. Whether children are returning to school buildings and friends they haven’t seen for six months or embarking on a year of distance learning with a teacher they haven’t yet met in person, the first order of business should be building comfort and trust. Trust-building should be a priority and developed throughout the year.

  • Early in the school year, reach out to your child’s teacher and introduce yourself and your family. Share family stories, values, your family’s living situation this fall, your child’s feelings about the return to school.
  • In the best schools, teachers and parents partner and support each other, and that has never been more important than now. Even if your child is able to return to campus during the day, organized after-school programs will probably be eliminated or very limited, meaning, once again, you will be spending more time filling in the gaps. You and your child’s teacher can learn from each other and that amplification of learning benefits your child.

Working together, parents and educators can prepare each child for a path to success. After all, as we have heard, many times it does take a village to make it happen.

Santa Barbara has been dubbed “the American Riviera,” and it certainly lives up to the moniker. A stunning, laid-back Golden State community replete with every activity you could dream of between the mountains and the sea, the city boasts sandy beaches, world-class wine, and thrilling nature just outside its proverbial front door. Founded in the late 1700’s, the Spanish influence can still be felt today - from the Old Mission Santa Barbara, and among the charming architecture of the the city’s historic structures. Less than 100 miles from Los Angeles, it’s the ideal destination for filling those dog days of summer or resetting the clock in the fall, especially amid all the uncertainty of recent times.

Santa Barbara Adventure Co.Santa Barbara Adventure Co.

Our family planned a recent weekend staycation with the goal of getting outside, exploring the environs and experiencing a screen-free few days away. “Santa Barbara’s favorite beachside hotel” located in the city’s popular West Beach neighborhood, The Eagle Inn ( proved to be the perfect “home base.” The charming bed-and-breakfast style boutique property - characterized by its historic Santa Barbara Spanish-Colonial architecture - is literally steps away from the marina and beach and all its attraction and recreation and easy walking distance to the iconic Stearns Wharf, The Funk Zone and State Street, the area’s main shopping/dining destination (more on that in a minute).

StearnsWharf DolphinFountain PhotobyMarkWeber

All of the inn’s guest rooms are luxuriously appointed with modern amenities and some of its accommodations feature oversized whirlpool tubs, fireplaces and verandas or patios. Our family stayed in one of the freestanding casitas (little houses) - the Santa Cruz which showcases an en-suite kitchenette and sun-drenched sitting room (with queen-sized sofa bed) afforded our family of four plenty of space to stretch out. Perks of staying here include the complimentary use of bicycles, daily hot breakfast delivered to your room and freshly baked cookies each afternoon.But perhaps the biggest benefit is its ideal location central to absolutely everything our family wanted to do for the weekend.

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A three-minute walk to the Santa Barbara Harbor and we were ready to embark on a sunset kayak tour with our guide at the Santa Barbara Adventure Company ( We spent 2+ hours on the water, coasting by a myriad of watercraft from luxury yachts to fishing boats and kelp harvester and paddling past a dredge populated with an array of waterfowl- blue herons, California brown pelicans and gulls. Two particular highlights - the repeated appearance of a curious sea lion pup popping up between our kayaks and the visual spectacle of hundreds of terns diving from the sky to skim the surface of the water in front of us. Our super knowledgable, animated and entertaining guide Mark made our tour memorable - and it’s obvious he loves his job. Seriously, what’s not to love - we all had so much fun, we could get used to spending every afternoon on the water.

Santa Barbara X

Or at the ocean’s edge. The next day we borrowed bikes to pedal the Cabrillo Bike Path which connects Shoreline Park to Butterfly Beach - about a four mile, mostly flat trek that takes cyclists past the Santa Barbara Harbor and the iconic landmark Stearns Wharf (the oldest working wharf in the state, built in 1872 - with spectacular views of the Santa Barbara coastline and the Santa Ynez Mountains), along a palm tree-lined path from East and West Beach and the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge before arriving at a scenic overlook surrounded by floral blossoms with the sparkling seas of Butterfly Beach below.

Self-guided walking (shopping and dining) tour

Santa Barbara’s hard-hit hospitality industry has been incredibly inventive and resourceful in adapting to COVID-19. One of its major developments is a temporary 9-block State Street Pedestrian Promenade, which opened in late May and will remain open at least until Dec. 8th. Restaurants have outdoor seating along the sidewalks and streets, and its a joy to stroll leisurely down the corridor.

The Eagle InnThe Eagle Inn

We strolled to to breakfast at D’Angelo Bakery ( on Guiterrez Street. Offering freshly baked European style bread and pastries and delicious, made-to-order meals, D’Angelo has been a fixture in the community since 1991 - popular with both locals and tourists lucky enough to stumble upon this culinary gem.

As expected, my kids went right for the sweetest options on the menu - our son selected the “uniquely ours” Banana Foster French toast which arrived with an abundance of sliced banana and brown sugar, flambeed with rum, while our daughter opted for a traditional French toast made from fresh baguette slices. For my part, I went straight for the Salmon Breakfast Croissant and discovered my new favorite morning meal - a supremely flavorful fresh baked croissant piled high with smoked salmon, arugula, tomato, red onion and capers. In the mood for more of a mid-day meal, my husband tried a decidedly untraditional, tasty tuna salad sandwich with fresh tomatoes and olive tapenade on toasted country wheat levain bread.

In addition to its flavorful food, it’s worth mentioning the stellar service here. We were warmly greeted by restaurant manager Alex and his staff - all extremely gracious and attentive. It’s no wonder that every table in the outdoor courtyard was occupied for sit-down dining while guests queued up to order takeaway.

The Funk Zone

Once a manufacturing hub in the 19th century, a 13-block mixed-use area near the waterfront, east of State Street, has been affectionately dubbed the “Funk Zone.” Old warehouses and manufacturing plants have given way to a flourishing subculture of artists’ studios and galleries, mural and street art, eclectic wine-tasting rooms, craft breweries/tap rooms, artisanal shops and eateries. Which leads us to Lucky Penny ( Located in the heart of the Funk Zone, this small, stand-alone eatery’s exterior is tiled with 164,456 real copper pennies and is home to innovative artisanal pizzas from a wood-burning oven, locally sourced garden fresh salads, griddled paninis, house-made lemonade and handmade sweet treats, including made-from-scratch popsicles. On a warm day, try the signature house-made Frosé, a delicious slushie for adults.

LuckyPenny theLPclassicpizza PhotobyRobStark

Lucky Penny’s wood-fired pizzas were a huge hit - for the kids - the East Coast Pepperoni topped with san Marzano marinara, fresh mozzarella and parmesan and for their mom - the San Daniele Prosciutto and Summer Melon with burrata, pickled fennel and toasted ciabatta. Other inventive options include the Roasted Maitake Mushroom pizza made with garlic cream, grilled sweet corn, mission figs, parmesan and arugula.

Lucky PennyLucky Penny

Take the scenic drive or hike to one of Santa Barbara’s four stunning waterfalls, tucked into the city’s front country. Ranging from easy to intermediate, each hike makes an easy round trip adventure for the whole family. Prefer the beach? Throw a blanket down at one of many sandy ocean stretches along the coast. From dog-friendly Arroyo Burro to world-famous East Beach, there’s something to keep everyone occupied.

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Fine dining, boutique shopping, beachside biking, coastal kayaking or nature hiking in one of the Central Coast’s most sought after retreats. What better time to escape? What better place?

DAngelo Bakery 3063

Visit Santa Barbara

By Ryan Burris, Chief Communications Officer, Capistrano Unified School District

In past years, the Capistrano Unified School District’s (CUSD) annual college fair has featured representatives from more than 200 universities and colleges, giving thousands of district students and families the opportunity to meet one-on-one with reps and collect information in one place.

That will still be the case for the district’s 2020 college fair, but with a couple of big changes.

This year, CUSD’s college fair has gone virtual and will take place over a four-day period instead of one day.

CUSD is hosting the fair from Oct. 12 to 15. Families can get all the information and register by going to the district’s college and career planning website,, and then clicking on the CUSD Virtual College Fair link.

“We collaborated with our college rep partners from all over the county and all over the world and they have registered and provided their own personal university Zoom links, “ said Beatrice Nguyen, a CUSD College and Career Counselor, who helped plan the event. “We want the families to have that (same) sense of autonomy of walking from table to table and choosing who they want to speak to.”

The Zoom links will be posted live on the college fair website on the first day of the fair, and parents and students and can jump from rep to rep and learn about each school, Nguyen said.

More than 200 colleges and universities are expected to be represented during the fair program, Nguyen said.

“We are going to have a whole spectrum of representation from the Ivy League to the tiniest liberal arts schools and private schools out there,” Nguyen said. “There will be Cal States there. There will be UCs there. The purpose of this is to widen a student’s scope and just let them see how many options they have out there and how many schools might fit their personal needs because it really is an individual choice.”

Also on the first day, which runs from 3 to 8 p.m., two college showcases will take place that run concurrently with the virtual college table displays.

The college showcases include 80 back-to-back, three-minute live highlights from schools, with presenters talking about what makes their programs unique.

“These quick highlight presentations are really great and the reps are really good at highlighting some of the most interesting or important things we need to know about that college,” Nguyen said. “Our hope for this is for families, in the course of two hours, to get the same amount of exposure to a lot of schools without having to do anything but sit down and watch. That was the point behind the showcases.”

The next three days of the fair run from 4 to 7:45 p.m. and will feature a series of 45-minute breakout sessions on a variety of topics.

Those topics include “College Options for Students with Learning Differences,” “Exploring Engineering Programs,” “How to Research Careers and Majors in Your College Search,” and “Pulling Back the Curtain: Applying to Visual & Performing Arts Schools.”

Students and parents will also have access to a “webinar locker” throughout the fair. The webinar locker contains recorded presentations and sessions that the CUSD has hosted in the past. Session recordings will be available the week of Oct. 26. Registration is required for the college showcases and breakout sessions.

“Our district really is offering one of the more comprehensive virtual college fairs,” Nguyen said. “At least in the county. So we’re really proud of that.”

social media block CUSD blueTo register and for more information, visit

We Are Hiring! 
Para-Educators needed for all CUSD elementary schools. Please see page 59 for more information.

Your Local Resource from Concept to Completion

Pssst. Hey, you, yes you – it is me the Cat. I knew being on the cover in my Sunday best would get your attention - and now that I have it - I’d like to tell you a little about my good friend John Schrab and his tile store - Morena Tile & Stone. John’s family has been setting tile for four generations. His Great Grandpa Tat, – installed the Mosaic State Seal in the Arizona State Capitol building in 1921. His Grandpa – Earnest, was a tile and stone Craftsmen with over a hundred men working for him. His Dad John was a rodeo cowboy, tile and stone contractor and setter who passed his knowledge down to him. As one can imagine, setting tile takes its toll on the body and after 35 years on his paws and knees, John decided it was time to pursue his dream of owning a tile store.

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John took over the Morena Tile San Juan Capistrano in 2014 and over the last six years he has put together a real sweetheart of a showroom … 5000 square feet of fun, imaginative and up-to-date tile and stone including porcelain, granite, marble, travertine, limestone and quartz from over seventy – five vendors. Add a few fun-loving customer service-oriented teammates, and a cat as a mascot, and poof you have got yourself one hell a dream come true.

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Homeowners, designers, and contractors alike love the selection and the convenience of shopping locally in a store where everybody knows your name. Stop in and have a bite of lunch, a cup of coffee (or have a nip of something a little stronger if you get my drift…) while you look around and talk to one of the designers who are at the ready to give you ideas to get your project started, help with design and tile selection in order to bring your project to life. They know the importance of treating customers like family and handling your dream project as if it were their own.

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So, what are you waiting for?! Head on over and have a look-see for yourself – huge selection of tile from mild to wild you can find it at Morena Tile and Stone. Or call first and reserve some time with a designer (no charge for you, tell them “The Cat sent you.”)

Owners John and Linda SchrabOwners John and Linda Schrab

Cat Tip: If you need a fabricator for your countertops, or someone to install your tile, they have a fabrication shop on site with crews of experienced master craftsmen who have been with John’s family for decades. You will love how they combine their cutting-edge machine technology with old-world craftsmanship - which allows John the motto, “ we make things pretty everyday.”

Morena Tile Stone 08 2020

The Morena Tile team’s penchant for imagination and fun extends to its marketing - variations of this playful feline has become synonymous with the company’s moniker in South OC.

Morena Tile Stone 08 2020

32951 Calle Perfecto
San Juan Capistrano
(949) 489-8990

At press time, there are over 35 counties in the state of California on Governor Newsom’s COVID-19 watch list. The phrase “watch list” doesn’t necessarily conjure visions of an idyllic vacation destination. Instead, it brings to mind images of a black and white FBI most wanted poster, plastered on community message boards and local law enforcement Twitter feeds. There is a raging debate about reopening schools in the fall, whether masks and social distancing will be enough to protect the kiddos walking out of their private quarantines and into a shared space with 30 other children. We’re headed for a fall full of masks and hand sanitizer, instead of pumpkin patches and spiced lattes in our carpool cupholders.

Catamaran Pool 2019

And yet the gorgeous summer weather is here. The beaches beckon. I know, because I’m feeling it personally. As happy as our home is, it’s always nice to have a change of scenery, perhaps even more so today than ever. A familiar refrain of family and friends these last few months is to keep in perspective the silver lining in this unprecedented time of staying close to home. However redundant it might sound, having more time as a family means we can spend more time as a family. And San Diego’s perfect climate, inviting beaches, abundant outdoor activities, and unbelievable accommodations make for an easily accessible, atmospheric time away - even if only for a few days.

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When researching options, we were hoping it wasn’t too tall an order to arrange an accommodation that was on the water, amenity-rich with family-friendly recreational opportunities (boat, jet ski or kayak rental - and a preferable heated - swimming pool were on our wish list). Hitting the mark on all counts, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa stood out as our family’s first choice for a proverbial “end of summer/ease into fall” family-friendly staycation.

Dedicated to providing the most tropical and luxurious resort stay that safety and proper sanitation practices can deliver right now, the Polynesian-themed resort is a tropical hideaway that offers up an ambiance and experience that feels as though you’re on a Hawaiian island vacation sans the five-hour flight.

Cool ocean breezes, warm, friendly hospitality, sunny days, starlit nights, verdant greenery, tiki torches, waterfalls and ponds full of colorful koi, majestic palms swaying in the afternoon breeze and beautiful exotic birds that strike up conversation with passerby - these are among the things guests can expect here. That’s before mentioning the sparkling Pacific and long stretches of white sand beaches literally steps away. The Catamaran’s tropical vibe artfully blends the Aloha spirit where each of the property’s 310 luxurious suites, studios and hotel rooms feature a private balcony or patio with breathtaking views of Mission Bay, the Pacific Beach neighborhood and coastline, or the property’s lush tropical gardens.

Culinary delights

The resort’s signature restaurant, Oceana Coastal Kitchen features chef-driven, California cuisine and a modern, ocean-inspired design and ambiance defined by sweeping panoramic waterfront views (its adjacent Moray’s lounge is characterized by flickering flames from tiki torches and lava rock fire pits). Ranging from casual and family-friendly to upscale, the space includes several distinct ocean-inspired dining areas (the quartz-topped cold bar is embedded with mother of pearl and sea glass; the focal point of the main dining room is an impressive 800-gallon aquarium. In today’s cautionary environment, Oceana is serving Executive Chef Steven Riemer’s playful interpretation of classic dishes outdoors with patio dine-in service (seating is limited, so reservations are recommended).

Oceana Seafood Tower

Our family is represented on all culinary fronts. I am a seafood aficionado. My husband, Tim, is a meat-and-potatoes man. Our 12-year-old daughter has a pretty adventurous palate, but her 13-year-old brother always opts for traditional kid-friendly fare. There was something for everyone on Oceana Coastal Kitchen’s menu - abundant seafood selections, beef and chicken entrees and a variety of delicious flatbreads, including a sweet fennel sausage and classic pepperoni.

Oceana NightPatio lights

For my part, I went with seafood from start to finish - the hamachi crudo with white miso, micro cilantro and jalapeño from the cold bar was a wonderfully flavorful appetizer, followed by seared scallops paired with toasted couscous, preserved lemon and mint. Tim’s grilled-to-perfection Harris Ranch ribeye arrived with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and broccolini, preserved lemon and chili with bordelaise sauce.

Outdoor endeavors

We spent the entire day outdoors - starting with a spin around the bay aboard a 19’ Rinker rented through Action Sport Rentals (, San Diego’s premier land and water sports rental company with multiple locations, including at the pier at the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa. The powerboat we chose is a fast, fun craft that’s also a super comfortable ride for up to seven passengers - while boaters stay within the bay, our experience alternated between a leisurely cruise in the channels an an exhilarating ride at speeds topping 40 mph.

rinker website

Sunbathing and paddleboarding, relaxing by the pool, or simply cruising down the boardwalk definitely make my top-ten-distractions-from-home-schooling list. Choose a garden suite or tower escape at Catamaran Resort Hotel, grab a coffee or cocktail, and treat the entire family to some of the finest cuisine in America’s Finest City. We can all agree that times are challenging, and certainly, they may not clear up shortly as we’d all prefer. But who’s to say we can’t add a little joy to our definition of “new normal”?

Cataraman 0096

Catamaran Resort Hotel
3999 Mission Boulevard
San Diego
(858) 488-1081

Stratford School Unveils its Plan for Fall 2020

By Jeanne Huybrechts, Chief Academic Officer & Allison Wilson, Senior Director of Curriculum and Innovation Preschool-Grade 2, Stratford School

We are excited to welcome students back for the upcoming school year with safety in mind and plans for a flexible learning environment.

To date, we have established priorities aligned with our school’s mission and goals for students, created a return-to-school plan, and are building out support systems for several potential contingency plans. Here’s a preview of our plans:

Staying True to Stratford’s Guiding Principles


Our commitment to the health and safety of our school community is paramount. We will abide by all state and local statues, heed the advice of health organizations, notably the CDC, and maintain a clean and healthy environment within our schools. Additionally, we will implement several strategies to encourage behaviors known to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Quality Academic Programs

Depending on the final state and local statues for this school year wherein shelter-in-place or reduced-occupancy mandates are imposed, we will be ready to transition to one of several teaching and learning models, among them (1) a period of distance learning or (2) a hybrid of distance and on-campus learning (necessary, for example, if classroom capacity limits are imposed). Again, an uninterrupted traditional school year is our fervent hope however, every imaginable alternative scenario is being explored.

Commitment to Improvement

The school has committed to investing in computer hardware and software upgrades to aid in any hybrid accommodation we may face, and also at the request of our teachers, who, during the distance-learning period, learned and developed creative uses for instructional technology and learning programs, which they hope to continue using.

School year 2020-21 teacher training will focus almost entirely on blended learning techniques – how to develop curriculum and programing with clear through-lines that seamlessly integrate traditional and modern teaching pedagogies, synchronous and asynchronous learning, in-person and digital experiences.

A Caring Atmosphere

In all of our distance-learning interactions with students, we tried to bridge the digital gap with some playfulness, some fun, and other manifestations of care and connection. In advisory meetings and in academic classes, we incorporated elements that supported social-emotional health. During our months apart, social-emotional learning was more relevant than ever.

Onward with Optimism!

As communities begin to open back up, it is important to be mindful of potential messages around COVID-19 that may be confusing to children. Introducing proactive, age-appropriate discussions about how school might look different when they start the new school year are important topics in which to engage and develop as information evolves. This continued focus around what we do know about the virus and sharing the things that are within our control can help build confidence, and a level of comfort, in our children.

And, as we begin to plan for this upcoming school year, we are still driven by the mission and vision that attracted us to teaching in the first place, and we are reinvigorated by the creativity and inventiveness unleashed in response to extraordinarily challenging circumstances. We will begin the school year grateful for the opportunity to teach and to learn as we move onward to an excellent future!

To learn more about Stratford School or to schedule a personalized virtual tour go to!