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Sara Van Donge

Stories by Sara

Technology upgrades highlight evolutions in education

When studying the effects of globalization on indigenous people in Costa Rica we can see a YouTube video comparing an environmental landmark before and after a new industry comes in.

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Runaway chicken crosses the road to sleep on stranger’s porch

This evening, when my mom rattled the popcorn box to get the chickens to come a-running in, Dani (who is also the best layer) did not come home.

School dances were the most stressful part of high school

I think it was just that the loud music and swirling lights and crowds all created an experience that was overwhelming for a more reserved student like me.

Infinite playlists a labor of love

Remember mixed tapes? To paraphrase the Beastie Boys, one of my favorite bands, you need a good mixed tape to get you in the right mood.

Tuning in to the past through classic TV shows

At a recent lunch my colleagues and I turned to the subject of our favorite old TV shows. We all reminisced quite happily about “The Cosby Show,” “Leave it to Beaver” and “Three’s Company.” We decided our favorite blonde was Chrissy; we felt sorry for Janet; and Jack Tripper was a ridiculous overactor. We all absolutely loved “The Cosby Show,” mainly because Bill Cosby is hilarious. I remember looking forward to it every Thursday night. And “Leave it to Beaver” pretty much still makes us feel inadequate as mothers.

Walla Walla food scene was not always this zesty

Food has changed a lot since I was a kid, especially the availability of different types of ethnic food around Walla Walla.

Magic is in season during Christmas

Christmas is coming! I’ve made the decision to slow it down this holiday season so my family and I can really enjoy Christmas.

Internet dating experiences don’t result in love at first byte

To hear me talk, one might infer that I hate all technology. I often reminisce about the days of yore, when people had to speak face to face or when we weren’t interrupted by texts and cellphone calls. I generally write by hand and grudgingly type it onto a computer. We do not have Wi-Fi or cable — my poor kids are stuck watching whatever DVD I have ordered for them from Netflix.

Mentorship by older students leads to decorum, success down the road

I got so caught up writing about preschools of our distant past that it never occurred to me to write about the preschool of our very recent past. Until a couple of months ago my son attended the Center at Assumption, where he was happily surrounded by loving friends and excellent teachers.

Columnist: Kids can’t wait to get all tricked out for Halloween

Fall is in the air and in my house we are eagerly anticipating Halloween. Now, this isn’t to say we don’t talk about Halloween all year. Choosing the right costume is so important the kids plan what they are going to wear beginning as early as November. Yes, one year before the holiday we start declaring what we will be. So far, over the past year we have planned on being the “Scooby Doo” gang, the “Grease” characters, zombies, Easter bunnies and pirates. It’s a good thing my mom has made many costumes, because trying them on and planning is a big part of the fun. My only rule for costumes is that I won’t go to a Halloween store and buy one. My poor kids — the costume has to be homemade.

Preschool provides solid foundation for learning

My children are both in elementary school now. No more preschool for us.

Spectators get a real kick out of kids’ soccer games

Soccer. Yes I am once again writing about soccer. This is not because of any particular opinion about the sport. I actually don’t really understand the rules of soccer other than: Run to the goal! Kick the ball in the goal! Guard the goal! Nonetheless, I really enjoy soccer games. All sporting events in fact. I love watching people, talking to other spectators, being outside, knowing my kids are having good, healthy fun. Oh, and the game. Yes, the game is pretty entertaining too.

Columnist: Camping trips are often in-tents experiences

My family and I have always enjoyed camping, from rustic tent camping, hearty backpacking trips, easy car camping and near-camping in cabins.

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Demolition derbies are a smashing good time

The Demolition Derby is Walla Walla’s biggest, most attended event. This fact, given to me by a friend who invited my family to our first “demo,” surprised me. Even though I have heard people talk about the Demolition Derby and I had heard the roar and crash of the vehicles, I had never realized what fun it was.

Love kills, at least for this columnist's favorite clothing

My favorite shoes died. I finally had to throw them away and I really miss them. They were silver wedge Jambu sandals with an ankle strap and really good traction. I bought them a year ago and have worn them at least four times a week since. I wore them to Disneyland last summer, walking at least eight hours each day with never even the slightest annoyance.

Children’s soccer goals: Improve skills, color-coordinate uniforms

My children are signed up for fall soccer and we can’t wait! Soccer is fun for the kids, yes, but I could argue that it might just be more fun for the spectators — especially when watching the really little guys. You know, the ones who don’t know how to play.

Tree-mounted rope let kids get into the swing of things

When I was a kid we had a rope swing. I’m not talking about a skinny little 10-foot rope, prickly and hard to sit on, like the sad and neglected ropes I see dangling from small trees around town. Also not like the too-thick, heavily-supervised ropes we used to have in school gyms. No, this rope swing was ideal in every way. From the smooth feel of the white rope to the perfect size of the knot for sitting or standing, our rope swing was peerless.

Summer musical a fun family activity

The outdoor summer musical is fast approaching.

It’s hard to beat local live music

I love our downtown, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, when we have so much live music and entertainment. It wasn’t always this way. Even ten years ago the most we could hope for would be the yearly street dance or the occasional live band. And of course Barnaby’s — which I am the perfect age to have LOVED, so don’t tease me.

Cruising, boozing and maybe some no-shoesing

Did you ever cruise the gut? I wish I had gotten to. The closest I ever came was when I went to a slumber party at Tracy Ahler’s house in junior high and her sweet mom took us. We had so much fun driving back and forth from Albertsons all the way down Isaacs and Rose to Safeway! We even got brave and had her honk at a few older guys. We thought we were so cool.