Suggested Events 04/02/11-04/08/11

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Pansies and Rainboots

Violets and rain boots sit outside the Ashfield Hardware Store waiting for hopefuls to take them home... but we're not out of the winter woods yet! Will April Fools' Day bring school kids another snow day? Only tomorrow will tell! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

SPONSORSHIP: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Hilltown Families has been serving & supporting our local community for over 5 years! Help us continue to serve our community by supporting the work we do! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for more information. — Help us help you!

BEST BETS

On Saturday, April 2nd at 1pm – FAMILY CONCERT: Hilltown Families and Spare the Rock presents The Expandable Brass Band at Flywheel Arts Collective. Kids are encourage to join the band at 12noon, an hour before the show, for free opportunity to learn songs with the band. Old Town Hall. 43 Main St. Easthampton, MA (FREE)

In the evening on Saturday, April 2nd at 7:30pm - COMMUNITY CONCERT: Pittsfield Drum and Percussion Expo at Berkshire Community College. The event will showcase the talents of over fifteen musicians from the Berkshires, and will take place in the Koussevitzky Arts Center. 1350 West St. Pittsfield, MA. (>$)

On Sunday, April 3rd at 1pm – FAMILY THEATER: “It’s Good to Be an Ant” in the auditorium at the Eric Carle Museum.  This fun, interactive show takes the audience through a day in the life of an ant colony.  125 West Bay Rd.  423-658-1100. Amherst, MA.  (>$)

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

On Saturday, April 9th from 10am-12Noon - CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL: Families with kids ages 6yo and younger will enjoy a morning of activities and games at the Jackson Street School during the Northampton’s Week of the Young Child Children’s Festival. Celebrate children, families. providers, teachers and child care advocates. Let the little ones climb aboard a fire truck, school bus and playground and visit with clowns and jugglers. 413-587-1471 Jackson St. Northampton, MA (FREE)

On Sunday, April 10th from 4-7pm – BIRTHDAY BENEFIT BASH: Dinner, dessert & a family concert: Hilltown Families Birthday Benefit Bash at Bread Euphoria!  A community party to celebrate Hilltown Families 5 year anniversary. Family concert with Mister G.  Pizza and birthday cake from Bread Euphoria. Face painting. Cash bar. Suggested donation: $10-$25 per person. 206 Main St. (Route 9). Just over/before the Northampton line. Haydenville, MA (FUNDRAISER)

BULLETIN BOARD

FILM FESTIVAL: Out! For Reel LGBT Film Series & Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival co-present two inspiring films about family, identity, and acceptance on Sat., April 2nd at 8:15pm: Off and Running: With white Jewish lesbians for parents and two adopted brothers, Brooklyn teen Avery grew up in a unique, loving, mulit-racial household. Avery explores race, identity, and family when she decides to contact her African-American birth mother. (74 min); Second Guessing Grandma: A charming story of a twenty-something Jewish gay man who finally comes out to his beloved grandmother against his mother’s desire to protect her from the truth. (9 min). Both films will be screened in Wright Hall at Smith College in Northampton. (>$) www.OutForReel.org

HILLTOWN JOURNEY CAMP: A beloved summer day camp for girls and boys 6-13yo at a beautiful permaculture farm with barn, woods and streams, directed by Sarah Pirtle. Location: Taproot Commons-Warner Farm, near the Cummington Fairgrounds. Dates: M-F, July 25-29. Cost: $245. — About Journey Camp: “A most awesome experience for all three of our kids that captivated the age range of my five through eleven year olds. They came home with new friends and new ways of caring for each other.” The day includes building stick-houses in the woods, creative dramatics, active games, and a close community. For more info. & to reg., email marsha.journey@gmail.com or call 413-539-7857. $50 deposit to PO Box 60226, Florence, MA 01062. www.sarahpirtle.com

Greg Wickles, owner of Clean Air Lawn Care, writes: When you think of summer, does the sound of lawn mowers come to mind? It doesn’t have to be that way. Clean Air Lawn Care is the Valley’s leading full-service sustainable lawn care company. When you sign up for lawn maintenance with Clean Air Lawn Care, you are signing up for the cleanest and healthiest lawn service available. We use clean electric and biodiesel powered equipment that is run on renewable energy. Our equipment is charged during the day by solar panels mounted on our trucks. Because we are electric, our equipment is noticeably quiet. This aspect is great for neighbors, working environments, napping children, and enjoying your day. We are clean, quiet, organic and competitive. 413-210-0811

BIKE DRIVE: Give your old bike a new life!  The first area bike drive is coming, and it is an opportunity for you to donate your unwanted bikes to a cause that really wants them: Bikes Not Bombs. Bikes Not Bombs plans on sending 8 containers full of used mikes from around Massachusetts to bike distribution projects in developing countries.  All usable bikes 16″ or larger are accepted.  A suggested donation of 10 will help defray shipping costs. This drive is being organized by Willa Sippel and her Dad Tom Sippel  (413-634-0101).  April 9th from 10am to 2pm at JFK Middle School in Northampton, MA.

FESTIVAL: Mark your calendars for the Hilltown Spring Festival- a celebration of the hilltown community!  This year’s festival will take place on May 14th at the Cummington Fairgrounds from 10am-6pm.  There will be many exciting things to see and do, including 18 musical performances on three stages, a maypole dance, fun kids activities all day long, as well as exhibits of products and delicious food from local vendors!  Celebrate the end of winter hibernation and the beginning of spring amongst your hilltown neighbors.  Admission to the festival is $5 for anyone over the age of 12.

WORKSHOP: Are you an educator?  Teachers, home-school parents (and non-homeschool parents!), youth group leaders, etc. are invited to attend a workshop on the basics of solar energy at the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield on Tuesday, April 12th from 4-7pm.  Participants will get an overview of the Clean Energy for a Clean Environment (CECE) program and will learn how to facilitate teaching it and how to some of the run hands-on learning experiences that go with the program.  Participants will also receive a free mini solar-education kit and CECE educator guides.  The workshop is free but pre-registration is required.  Contact Cynthia Grippaldi at cynthiag@cetonline.org to RSVP.

SAFETY HOTLINE: Gateway Regional School District, as part of their ongoing safety campaign, has an established school safety hotline.  Monitored by Roy Phillips, the hotline is a voicemail box where callers can report harassment, bullying, drug and alcohol concerns, vandalism, and other school safety issues.  The phone number for the hotline is 413-685-1050.  All messages left will be reported either to the school principal or a community agency, and callers’ names and information will be kept confidential.  For more information, contact the school district at 413-685-1000.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

Hilltown Family Variety ShowTune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am.

This week on the HFVS we will be featuring songs from our growing community playlist – songs submitted by parents from all over Western MA! – Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • Podcast: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!

  • WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Early Spring Family Activities in the Berkshires

    Early April in the Berkshires

    Shoes  - Berkshire Family Fun

    The snow is melting (finally) and if the predicted Nor’easter bypasses us this week then hopefully it will be smooth sailing through the rest of the spring. Besides the appearance of a little green (or brown as it is in my yard) another sign that spring is here is the abundance of family-friendly activities on the local calendars.

    AN ADVENTURE WITH INDIANA JONES

    Our family took a trip to Washington, D.C., last May and if you’ve never been, it is definitely worth putting on your bucket list. The five of us squeezed as much into our four-day trip as humanly possible — we have the holes in our shoes to prove it — and the best part of all was that all of the attractions were free. All except one of my kids favorite, of course: The Spy Museum. We don’t have a spy museum in the Berkshires but Sunday, April 3, the Clark Art Institute is featuring a lecture “In Pursuit of the Priceless: Tales from the FBI’s Real Indiana Jones.” I know a lecture may not sound like a family-friendly event, but the description has me intrigued and we may just be wandering to up North Berkshire County this weekend to check it out. The lecture will be given by former FBI special agent and best-selling author Robert K. Wittman, who will share the stories behind his recoveries of priceless art and antiquities, including the 2,000-year-old golden armor that was looted from the Royal Tomb of the Lord of Sipan in Peru, the rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of the nation’s first African-American regiments and an original copy of the Bill of Rights that was stolen by a Union soldier in 1865. Seems like just the thing my kids might be interested in. The event begins at 3 p.m. and it is free. The Clark is located on South Street in Williamstown. For more information call 413-458-2303 or go online to clarkart.edu.

    TELL ME A STORY

    I don’t know if any of you have heard of StoryWalks, the family-friendly phenomenon that is sweeping the Northeast, but they are taking the Berkshires by storm and I can write from experience, they are so much fun. The StoryWalk Project, began in Montpelier, VT, and were created by Anne Ferguson (visit vtbikeped.org for more information). StoryWalks deconstruct well-known children’s storybooks (in very large sizes) and mount the individual pages along a familiar walking route. Some have hosted StoryWalks on the main streets of their town or village, while others host StoryWalks at a specific location with activities and treats to go along with the theme of the book. On Saturday, April 9, from 10 to 11 a.m. the Family Resource Center will host a Family Fun Time event featuring a StoryWalk with the book “Shoes” by Elizabeth Winthrop at the Haskins Center, Route 8, North Adams. The event is free. For more information call 413-664-4821.

    WHERE FOR ART THOU?

    The language of Shakespeare can be daunting, especially for me. Try as I might, it just confuses me, but there are two upcoming events at two opposite ends of the county that aim to make Shakespeare and his text a little less elusive to kids (and their grown-ups). First up, the annual Williamstown Elementary School Shakespeare Festival on April 8. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and run until 8. Highlights of the event include potion-making, fencing and other Shakespeare-themed crafts and games. And get this, the WES fourth-graders will perform “Hamlet.” You go kids! The school is located on Church Street. For more information call 413-458-5707.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Focus on Sustainable Living at the Hilltown Spring Festival

    Sustainable Living Vendors Welcomed at the
    5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
    Cummington Fairgrounds, May 14th

    Seth Isman, Economic Development Director at the Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield, MA writes:

    Greenfield Solar Store

    Greenfield Solar Store join the Hilltown Spring Festival last year, with displays of solar panels and fielding questions about solar energy. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    2,000 people who are interested in sustainable living in all its forms will be attending the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 14 at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Do you have something to tell them? Do you have something to sell them?

    Join providers of solar energy equipment, sellers of hybrid cars, providers of energy efficient lighting, local organic farmers, providers of energy efficient windows and window treatments, providers of composting toilets and of wood-burning furnaces.

    Join local restaurants selling their tastiest dishes, local non-profits talking about their services, local artists and craftspeople showing their work, and local musicians entertaining on three stages.

    Business Expo Barn at the Hilltown Spring Festival

    Thousands of visitors visited the HSF last year, visiting sustainability vendors in the barns and open fields. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Help our Western MA community to buy local, eat local, save local, stay local! Be part of a great event and meet 2,000 new customers!

    Complete information and registration forms are at www.hilltowncdc.org, or call or email Seth Isman at sethi@hilltowncdc.org or 413-296-4536 ext. 112.

    Have questions about the Hilltown Spring Festival?

    PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Erin McKeown in Northampton

    Erin McKeown
    Iron Horse Music Hall ♦ Northampton
    Friday, April 15th, 2011 @ 7pm

    Erin McKeown

    Western MA musician Erin McKeown will be at the Iron Horse with open act, the fabulous Natalia Zukerman, on Friday, April 15th - Deadline to enter to win a pair of tickets: Tuesday, Apr. 12th @ 7pm.

    Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

    For April we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pairs of tickets to see Erin McKeown with opening act, Natalia Zukerman on Friday, April 15th,  7pm at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA.

    Win the tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 04/12/11 @ 7pm (EST). More details below. Read the rest of this entry »

    The Women’s Times Resource Guide Features HilltownFamilies.org

    Resource Guide: HilltownFamilies.org
    By Georgia Douillet, The Women’s Times

    Click to see larger image

    The Women's Times, Pioneer Valley Region (March 2011)

    For parents living on the wooded spine of hills that separate the Berkshires from the Pioneer Valley, geography once had an isolating effect on the parenting experience.  Then came Hilltown Families, an online resource turning miles-apart neighbors into a tight-knit community embracing members from north Berkshire County, the wilds of the Westfield watershed and downtown Northampton.

    “The term ‘family’ and the term ‘community’ are really the same thing,” says Hilltown Families editor, coordinator and founding visionary Sienna WIldfield.  Wildfield moved to West Chesterfield near the beginning of her own parenting journey and quickly realized how useful it would be to have a virtual bulletin board where parents could post their concerns, share resources and meet one another.  Hilltown Families began as a listserve for families organizing potlucks and playgroups.  As it developed, it added a blog, then a community radio presence (on 103.3 WXOJ, Northampton), and a podcast for areas outside the station’s frequency.  It now includes a vibrant Facebook presence.  Writers provide regular commentary, from the perspectives of a teen mom to a mother of boys describing family-friendly ways to “Thrill and Tire” her tribe.  Rachel Simmons, a leading expert on girls’ psychological development, is one of the newest regular contributors.  In between, regular moms and pops, grandparents, aunts, guardians and others share places to go, things to do, tips, resources and concerns.  Hilltown Families’ utility extends far beyond Wildfield’s original vision; as an economic development tool, it showcases the cultural and social riches of the region for prospective newcomers.

    Wildfield, a self-described activist, is delighted that the seeds she and a few other community-minded, tech-savvy families planted have blossomed into such a rich resource.

    That resource has not only rescued many a parent from cabin fever.  It has rounded up roof-rakes, alerted followers to the latest in school cancellations and made people aware of community resources in region-wide emergencies  like the devastating December ice storm two years ago.  “I want to see our community become healthy and strong,’ says Wildfield.  “It takes a lot of time, but it’s a labor of love.  I feel this is an important resource for the community to have, and it fuels me that way.”

    Reprinted with permission. Originally appeared in the
    March 2011 issue of The Women’s Times.

    Q&A: Which Western MA Museum Did Your Family Visit Last?

    Question and Answer

    Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Museums is always a fun place for kids to romp around on a spring day! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    We have so many wonderful museums here in Western MA! Which local museum did your family visit last? What did you see? What did you do?

    • Jennilynne Bernard writes: Eric Carle… right ’round the corner from me, and always a great time.
    • Robin Sidel writes: Natural History Museum at Amherst College. It’s FREE and awesome! dinosaurs and crystals!
    • Rae Griffiths writes: The Springfield Science Museum. Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly. Great temporary exhibit. Catch it before it leaves!
    • Kara Kitchen writes: Berkshire Museum: Native Americans; Springfield Museums; Amherst planetariums.
    • Heather Richardson writes: Holyoke Children’s Museum
    • Sarah Swersey writes: Westfield Children’s Museum for a birthday party. The kids loved it!

    Our Daughters: Texting While Hanging Out with Friends

    BFF 2.0: She’s Texting While We’re Hanging Out


    Rachel Simmons ♦ Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls

    Rachel Simmons writes our monthly column, Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls.  Rachel is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator and coach, Rachel works internationally to develop strategies to address bullying and empower girls. The co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, Rachel currently serves as a consultant to schools and organizations around the world. Rachel was the host of the recent PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and writes an advice blog for girls at TeenVogue.com. Rachel lives in western Massachusetts with her West Highland Terrier, Rosie, and teaches workshops for parents and girls in Northampton. Visit her website at www.rachelsimmons.com – Check out  Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls the last Monday of every month.

    Cranes by Western MA Kids for Japan

    Nola-rae Cronan of Easthampton, MA writes:

    In response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a group of children ranging from four to ten have joined together to raise money for relief efforts. They have decided to fold 1,000 paper cranes in the tradition of the Japanese legend that guarantees a wish to anyone who folds 1,000 cranes. All proceeds from the sales of each crane will go to the Red Cross.

    Together (along with help with friends and family) they have folded more than 400 cranes in a little over one week. They have begun to place cranes and cups at local shops to collect donations. These shops include: Mt. Tom’s Ice Cream, Easthampton; Manhan Cafe, Easthampton; Shelburne Falls Coffee, Easthampton; Antonio’s Pizza, Easthampton; Silver Spoon, Easthampton; The Williston Northampton School, Easthampton; Northampton Community Music Center, Northampton; Soora, Northampton; Cup and Top Cafe, Florence; Toy Box, Amherst and The Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, Hadley (where several participating children attend). We hope to have even more locations by next week.

    Community members are encouraged to visit these local businesses to buy a crane to support the relief efforts of the Red Cross in Japan.  For more information, please contact Nola-rae at nolarae2@gmail.com.

    How to Fold Paper Cranes

    see larger image

    Photo credits (ccl: Vincent van der Pas; scotproof)

    Suggested Events 03/26/11-04/01/11

    Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

    SUGGEST AN EVENT

    New opportunity to support local farms in the Hilltowns while feeding your family locally grown food: The Williamsburg Farmers' Market is coming to Williamsburg every Thursday afternoon starting in May, on the Meekins river side lawn! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

    SPONSORSHIP: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Hilltown Families has been serving & supporting our local community for over 5 years! Help us continue to serve our community by supporting the work we do! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for more information. — Help us help you!

    BEST BETS

    On Saturday, March 26th from 10am-4pmMELTDOWN: 3rd Annual Family Music Meltdown and Book Bash happens at JFK Middle School. Now in its third year, the Meltdown has become a tradition for families in the Valley and beyond, featuring music on three stages, readings from nationally-known children’s book authors, crafts, bouncing, local food, and much more! 100 Bridge St. Florence, MA (FREE)

    In the evening on Saturday, March 26th at 5pm – KIDS’ DANCE PARTY: Join Radio Free Earth and Maureen Shea of Grasshoppa for music and dance at the Cummington Community House. For all ages! 33 Main St. Cummington, MA (>$)

    On Sunday, March 27th from 10am-4pm – MINERAL/GEM SHOW: The Connecticut Valley Mineral Club host the Western Mass Mineral, Jewelry and Fossil Show at the Holiday Inn, Ingleside.  Young geologists and their families can explore mineral arts from around the world, see examples of fossils and crystals. 245 Whiting Farms Rd. Holyoke, MA (KIDS FREE, ADULTS >$)

    Midweek on Wednesday, March 30th at 6:30pm – PARENT WORKSHOP: Hilltown Families presents … Do I Have To?: How Chores Empower Families, aN interactive and fun presentation for adults with author Susan Tordella at Cup & Top Cafe. Learn how cleaning toilets, washing dishes and raking leaves empower families. 1 North Main St. Florence, MA (FREE)

    MARK YOUR CALENDAR

    On Saturday, April 2nd at 1pm – FAMILY CONCERT: Hilltown Families and Spare the Rock presents The Expandable Brass Band at Flywheel Arts Collective. Kids are encourage to join the band at 12noon, an hour before the show, for free opportunity to learn songs with the band. Old Town Hall. 43 Main St. Easthampton, MA (FREE)

    On Sunday, April 10th from 4-7pm – BIRTHDAY BENEFIT BASH: Dinner, dessert & a family concert: Hilltown Families Birthday Benefit Bash at Bread Euphoria!  A celebration to celebrate Hilltown Families 5 year anniversary. Family concert with Mister G.  Pizza and birthday cake from Bread Euphoria. Suggested donation: $10 per person and up. Haydenville, MA (FUNDRAISER)

    BULLETIN BOARD

    SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival, Sat. March 26 at Memorial Hall, Shelburne Falls. Rehearsal/theatre games for ages 5-11 at 2pm who want to be in performance at 3 followed by Lui Collins. Evening for general public at 7pm: Sandglass Theater, Piti Theatre, cellist Wayne Smith, Carrie Ferguson, Court Dorsey plus doorprizes! www.ptco.org/syrup

    PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: ArtSpark, the annual auction and benefit for the Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School, will take place on March 26th, from 7-11pm at Look Park’s Garden House in Florence, MA. This year’s theme is the 1980s, so dig out those leg warmers, dust off those Ray-Bans, start growing that mullet and get ready for some fun! Music and dancing, abundant and one-of-a-kind auction items at all price points, delicious food from Bread Euphoria, a great time for a great cause. Tickets are $15 each or $25 for a pair, available in advance at State Street Fruit Store in Northampton, Cooper’s Corner in Florence, Bread Euphoria in Haydenville, The Creamery in Cummington or at the door. For more information, please visit www.hilltowncharter.org or call 413.268.3421.

    QUILT SHOW: Families are invited to Hands All Around Quilt Show this weekend at the Mullins Center in Amherst. March 26th & 27th, 10am-4pm. Over 500 quilts from Pioneer Valley & New England quilters will be on display, including two exhibits – “Alzheimer’s Illustrated: From Heartbreak To Hope,” a special quilt exhibit that explores the impact of Alzheimer’s on patients and their caregivers, and “From Lobstah to Green Monstah: What’s Best About New England,” a special exhibit of quilts from New England Quilt Museum in Lowell. The show will feature a special kids corner where kids can work on their own fabric project. Hands Across The Valley Guilt Guild in Amherst sponsors the show, and proceeds are donated to local charitable and arts organizations.

    FILM FESTIVAL: Out! For Reel LGBT Film Series & Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival co-present two inspiring films about family, identity, and acceptance on Sat., April 2nd at 8:15pm: Off and Running: With white Jewish lesbians for parents and two adopted brothers, Brooklyn teen Avery grew up in a unique, loving, mulit-racial household. Avery explores race, identity, and family when she decides to contact her African-American birth mother. (74 min); Second Guessing Grandma: A charming story of a twenty-something Jewish gay man who finally comes out to his beloved grandmother against his mother’s desire to protect her from the truth. (9 min). Both films will be screened in Wright Hall at Smith College in Northampton. (>$) www.OutForReel.org

    MUSIC CLASS: New 8-Week Music Class Series with Mister G in Northampton beginning April 4th/5th: Mister G’s Community Chorus for kids 6-10: Imagine the Young at Heart Chorus for kids! Join the coolest chorus for kids singing Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Patsy Cline and Mister G’s originals. The chorus will be joining Mister G on the main stage of the WRSI Meltdown. Mister G’s Jamboree for kids 1-5: Sing, dance…you’ll even learn Spanish in the Jamboree! Mister G developed an innovative approach to early childhood music immersion while teaching at the Smith College Campus School. Just back from touring in Mexico and Guatemala, Mister G has taken the Jamboree all over the world. For class times, locations and registration visit: mistergsongs.com

    Laura Porter of Williamsburg, MA writes: I’m excited to let you know about a new community development for Williamsburg, a weekly farmers market starting in May, which will run every Thursday afternoon from 2:30-7pm on the Meekins Library lawn until the end of October. Lend your support and learn more about the new Burgy farmers’ market at our Community Fundraising Supper on Tuesday, April 5th 6-8 pm at the Haydenville Congregational Church. Suggested donation: $10-25 per person You can purchase your tickets through me, or buy them at Meekins Library or Haydenville Congregational Church.

    SCREENINGS: Parents living in the Gateway Regional School District are offered free developmental and kindergarten screenings.  The developmental screening is for children 3-4yo who will not be entering kindergarten in 2011.  The screening is conducted to identify concerns about a child’s development- the areas examined include cognitive ability, social and emotional skills, language, and motor skills.  Kindergarten screenings are for children starting school in 2011, and are conducted to check speech skills, learning style, and recognition of letter names and sounds.  Developmental screenings will take place April 4th, and kindergarten screenings will be held on April 14th, both from 8-11am.  To schedule an appointment, contact the school district at 685-1000.

    TALENT SHOW: Auditions for the Pittsfield Youth Commission’s second annual talent show will be held on 3/26 from 1-3pm at the Lichtenstein Center, and 3/29 from 2:30-3:15pm at the Pittsfield High School library. The show will take place at 7:30pm on April 15th at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts.  The talent show was established by both the youth commission and the group Youth Alive as a way to suit the need for more cultural and creative outlets for area youth.  Along with the talent show will be the presentation of the S.A.Y. It Proud Awards, which recognize young people involved in “positive activities and making healthy choices.”   For more information, call 499-9348.

    SATURDAY WINTER FARMERS’ MARKETS:

    HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

    Hilltown Family Variety ShowTune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am.

    This week on the HFVS we’re raising money for Valley Free Radio, home of HFVS.  We have many great premiums we’re giving away with any donation of $25 or more.  Tune in to see what you can get with your pledge, and call between 9-10am! 413-585-1033. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • Podcast: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!

  • WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Playgroups & Family Centers | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Listen Here

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Earth Hour Concert & Kids’ Dance Party in the Hilltowns

    Sarah Stockwell-Arethen of Cummington, MA writes:

    Earth Hour celebrates a worldwide commitment to ongoing change for the betterment of our home. Along with millions of others around the planet, we will douse the lights (at 8:30 pm) for one hour. Please bring a candle IN A JAR if you have one!

    In these uncertain times of volatility in the climate, the economy, and politics world-wide, our local communities are ever more important to our well-being and to our future.  On Saturday, March 26th, we will celebrate local community and local food in a truly embracing Hilltown event.  Come to one or all: Kid’s dance (5pm), Potluck (6pm) and Concert (7:30pm) at the Cummington Community House. 33 Main St. Cummington, MA

    We will dance!  We will eat and talk!  We will make music!  We will hear plain talk about our food supply — both the disturbing realities and also the actions we can all take that will improve our community’s food resilience and make us less reliant on distant, and ultimately uncertain, commodities.  Foods that are sometimes needed right where they are grown.

    5pm – KID’S DANCE PARTY: Radio Free Earth and Maureen Shea. Radio Free Earth dubs its style Crossover Music because it’s paradoxically acoustic and electric, rootsy and innovative, funny and serious, and politicaland spiritual. Josh and Rob provide the music, Grasshoppa Maureen Shea leads the dance scores. All ages! (>$) www.radiofreeearth.com

    6pm – POTLUCK/NETWORKING: Bring food to share — all welcome.

    7:30pm – EARTH HOUR CONCERT: Sarah Stockwell-Arthen with Josh Wachtel, Sean Kimball and Heather Cupo. Sarah sings songs which are rooted in the land, ancestors and our deepening connections to the Earth (oh, and you will also laugh). Join us for music and some vital food for thought from Kathy Harrison (on strengthening our food resiliency) and Sarah Fournier-Scanlon (on creating a local “foodshed” — land to table — in the Hilltowns). For the networking table, please bring fliers or info about what’s happening with sustainability and community in your corner of the Hilltowns. Children in quiet mood are welcome to the concert (there may even be a back room space for quiet play). For more info email: music@sarahstockwell.com. or go to www.sarahstockwell.com (>$)

    8:30pm – EARTH HOUR: Earth Hour celebrates a worldwide commitment to ongoing change for the betterment of our home. Along with millions of others around the planet, we will douse the lights (at 8:30 pm) for one hour. www.earthhour.org. Please bring a candle IN A JAR if you have one!

    This program is supported in part by grants from the Cummington, Windsor, Worthington, and Chesterfield Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. http://www.massculturalcouncil.org

    (Photo credit: (ccl) theqspeaks)

    Morris Dancers, May Pole & Solar Powered Music on 3 Stages at the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival!

    Update: Joining the festival this year will be the Juggler Meadow Morris Men and the lovely ladies from the Wake Robin Morris Dancers!
    Seth Isman, Economic Development Director at the Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield, MA writes:

    Morris dancers, maypole, solar powered music on 3 stages, local food, family activities, and much more! Find it all at the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival on May 14th at the Cummington Fairgrounds. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Please join us on May 14th, 2011 at the Cummington Fairgrounds for the Hilltown Spring Festival! There will be music on 3 stages, healthy local food, children’s activities all day long, displays by businesses and artists, a Focus on Sustainability, dancing around the Maypole at 12:30 with Morris dancers.

    JOIN US! There are still opportunities to display your work, promote your business, or volunteer to help out. Some businesses are signing up to sponsor the event, others are signing up to display their products and services, and many are offering raffle prizes. And volunteers are signing up to help us build stages, direct vendor traffic during morning setup, and encourage recycling during the day. Last year, we reduced our waste stream by 30% by recycling paper, plastic, metal, and compost. This year, with your help, we can do even better.

    Performers who are already scheduled include: The Nields (kids show), Tony Vacca (world music percussionist), Swing Caravan (alt-jazz quartet), Gaia Roots (vocals and percussion), string band Appalachian Still, singer/songwriter Laura Wetzler, Misty Blues (blues you can groove to), the Dave Bartley Trio, Pat and Tex LaMountain, Boxcar Lilies, and popular children’s performers Mister G, and Ben Rudnick & Friends. One of the three music stages will be devoted to family music all day long, but families and children will enjoy all the music being performed.

    Local food highlights confirmed so far include: fresh wood-fired pizza from The Baker’s Oven of Colrain, fried rice, lo mein and spring rolls from the Goshen Snack Bar, bratwurst and hot dogs from Elke’s Catering of Worthington, and Bart’s Ice Cream.

    For more information, or to participate, go to http://www.hilltowncdc.org, email Seth Isman at sethi@hilltowncdc.org, or call Seth at 413-296-4536 ext. 112. We look forward to seeing you at the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 14th, 2011, at the Cummington Fairgrounds!

    A Day at the Forbes Library Children’s Department

    Back and Better Than Ever: Children’s Department at the Forbes Library

    The Forbes Library new Children's Room reopens after a brief closure to install new carpet, a new circulation desk, new furniture and new technology! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Make no mistake that spring is coming, but until it stays over 55 for four days in a row, my body will continue to believe it is winter. We all have our winter routines. Just recently one of ours was disrupted by the temporary closure of the Forbes Library Children’s Room in Northampton, MA.

    The library is one of our regular haunts. In winter we crave routine destinations that are close to home. We want the coziness of home without having to look at the same four walls. For this we walk over to the Forbes Library, where they have been raising funds to refurbished their children’s library for as long as we have lived here. This past weekend we made our first pilgrimage over since they layered on the fresh paint.

    When we arrived, the kids made a dive for the toddler toys they miss at home, while I look for books. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

    When we arrived, the kids made a dive for the toddler toys they miss at home, while I look for books. Then they skipped over to the drop-in art table while I looked for more books. Henry will color for hours and Theo loves the puzzles and blocks. My oldest son, Isaac, disappeared into the youth lounge, with its new comfortable chairs and an entire wall of magnetic poetry. We will reel him out when it is time to leave. — The kids color and then take a trip to see the fish. They make conversation, as is their way, wherever we go. I ask for early reader help from one of the librarians – this mother’s quest to keep her boys reading is going well so far. Our stack of books piles high and lands heavily in our blue flowered library bag.

    The kids color and then take a trip to see the fish. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

    As we pack it up for today, Isaac checks the events calendar for things involving Lego’s, chess games, a book group for kids his age. As we exit the library, the air outside is cool, but the sun is bright. It is the in-between time. My boys will play in the mud this afternoon but as the sun sets, it will be hot baths and settling in with books in their pajamas while my husband and I toss dinner together. Routines are pleasant. They give us room to adventure and room to relax.

    Thanks to our library, we are reading Flat Stanley, Ginger Pye and Harry Potter. What are you reading at your house these days?


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Karen Bayne

    Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.

    PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT TICKET GIVEAWAY: Nicole Atkins at the Iron Horse Music Hall

    Nicole Atkins
    Iron Horse Music Hall ♦ Northampton
    Saturday, April 2nd, 2011 @ 7pm

    Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

    In April we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pairs of tickets to see Nicole Atkins on Saturday, April 2nd,  7pm at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA.

    Win the tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, 03/30/11 @ 7pm (EST). More details below.

    ABOUT NICOLE ATKINS

    Three years after her debut album, Neptune City, Nicole Atkins returns with gripping ferocity on Mondo Amore. From the first track, “Vultures”, Atkins’ toe-tapping, foot-stomping, hip-swaying music moves through your bones. With years to perfect it, every note and beat seems crafted with intention and care, accentuating her equally deliberate words. The songs play like anthems, commanding you to sing along as her lyrics tell a long-awaited story.

    Through the process of making the album, she broke up with her boyfriend, her band and Columbia Records, choosing to produce it on her own and eventually releasing it on Razor & Tie. “It was like the ending of life as you know it. It’s funny because most of the songs are about those three things at the same time, so in a lot of breakup records you want to point fingers, but I don’t think that this record is like that at all.”

    Effortlessly blending rock, blues, country and soul, Atkins has delivered on Mondo Amore with a collection of songs that invites you into her world. Even the more somber songs are sung with a gritty earnestness that carries the energy of her more vibrant songs throughout the entire project.

    HOW TO WIN

    Your chance to win a pair of tickets to see Nicole Atkins on Saturday, April 2nd,  7pm at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

    1. HELP CO-CREATE A COMMUNITY PLAYLIST AND RECOMMEND A SONG BELOW (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
    2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
    3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
    4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
    5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

    IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 03/30/11 @ 7pm (EST)

    If you don’t win you should still go. Tickets are available at the Northampton Box office, online at IHEG.com, or by calling 413-586-8686.

    Join Us! Hilltown Families Birthday Benefit Bash!

    Hilltown Families Birthday Benefit Bash
    Dinner, Dessert, and Family Entertainment
    Sunday, April 10th ♦ 4-7pm

    Come celebrate Hilltown Families 5th Anniversary at a fundraising benefit at Bread Euphoria in Haydenville on Sunday, April 10th from 4-7pm!  Spend a celebratory evening with your family and your community, enjoying dinner, dessert, and a family concert with Mister G, all while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Bread Euphoria will be serving up slices of their gourmet pizza made fresh on their delicious sourdough crust, and birthday cake for dessert, while supplies last, along with a cash bar (beer/wine). Suggested donation: $10 – $25 per person.

    Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit will be on display in the Andrew Quient Corridor Gallery at Bread Euphoria during the celebration.  All images are for sale and net proceeds also go to benefit Hilltown Families!

    PIZZA ♦ CAKE ♦ CONCERT ♦ ART

    Pizza & Cake

    Bread Euphoria Cafe & Bakery in Haydenville, MABread Euphoria owners, Mark and Geri Pollard, like to keep things simple. They never compromise the quality or purity of their ingredients. Most of their breads do not use commercial yeast, preferring the flavor provided by natural starters and a long fermentation. They use organic and locally grown ingredients whenever possible, and all of their meats are natural and roasted in-house. Soups, sauces, dressings and accompaniments are made fresh daily from scratch. They pride themselves on the variety of their products, from beautifully prepared standards like baguettes or croissants to dynamic new combinations in their cakes, pizzas, sandwiches and scones.

    Belonging to a community of small farms and locally-owned food producers, Mark and Geri are proud to be part of their local food culture, providing  families with delicious sandwiches, pizza, breads, baked goods, and seasonal specials that are both great-tasting and nutritious. 206 Main St. (Route 9). Just over/before the Northampton line. www.BreadEuphoria.com

    Family Concert

    Mister G will perform a fun family concert beginning at 5pm. Over the past year, Mister G (Ben Gundersheimer) has performed with Dan Zanes in Northampton, and for kids in Europe and Latin America. He closed out 2010 with two shows at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Closer to home, Mister G played headlining sets at the Green River Festival, The River Meltdown and at the Hilltown Spring Festival this May. Winner of the first songwriting scholarship in the history of Berklee College of Music, Ben spent 20 years touring internationally as a bandleader and solo artist before getting his Masters in Elementary Education at Smith College in 2008. As Mister G, he has led innovative songwriting workshops in settings as varied as Sunnyside Preschool, Dana Farber Cancer Clinic, the 92nd St. Y, Horizons for Homeless Children, and the Smith College Campus School. www.MisterGSongs.com

    In the Gallery

    Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit features images of life and landscapes in western Massachusetts and moves to the Andrew Quient Corridor Gallery at Bread Euphoria where images in the exhibit will be available for sale as a fundraiser for Hilltown Families during the Birthday Benefit Bash. Featuring work by photographer and Hilltown Families’ founder, Sienna Wildfield, all images in the exhibit have been featured on HilltownFamilies.org over the years and net proceeds from the sale of images benefit the organization.

    Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit is supported in part by grants from local Cultural Councils in Ashfield, Buckland, Chesterfield and Cummington — all local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.


    Volunteers Wanted:
    Want to be a part of this family fundraising event?
    Sign up here.

    Volunteers Wanted: Hilltown Families Benefit Bash

    Volunteer Opportunity with Hilltown Families

    Want to get involved with Hilltown Families? Have an hour or two of time to volunteer? A few helping hands during the Hilltown Families Birthday Benefit Bash are needed on Sunday, April 10th (and a few before then). Sign up below and we’ll be in touch!

    Tell Us How You Can Help

    Have a great idea or question? We want to hear from you!

    Thank you for your support!

    Peaceful Parenting: Thumb Sucking

    Dear Dr. Markel,

    I was wondering your opinion on thumb sucking. My son is 7. He sucks his thumb a lot, except never at school. I feel he doesn’t “need” to, but that it’s more of a habit. His brothers are starting to really be annoyed at the sound of it. We have to tell him he can’t when we are all playing a game or watching a movie together. I don’t want it to turn into a negative thing. We have a happy, well balanced, non-stressful house with a lot of love. I know it helps some kids cope with their environment. Does he still “need” it or can we try to help him quit? Thanks for your help.

    — Virginia Christi of Colrain, MA

    Dear Virginia,

    "...praising your son when he is not sucking his thumb is a good starting point." - Dr. Susan Markel, MD

    Congratulations on providing the most important ingredient for your children’s health and well-being, a peaceful  home in a loving family.

    While, in general, habits or “loveys” provide comfort and security (adults have their own forms of tension-relieving  behaviors), it is true that the thumb sucking has a few negative consequences for your son. First, the permanent teeth will in fact be positioned improperly if the thumb sucking is consistent. Also, his brothers are getting annoyed about the effect on them of listening to the sounds, and that, in turn, is a source of anxiety for your son (perhaps creating a cycle of discomfort and then relieving that discomfort with thumb sucking. Calling attention to the habit may have the negative effect of intensifying it).

    Habits are difficult to break, for anybody, as they are by definition established patterns of behavior.  Your son associates certain activities with thumb sucking and those are the times when he does it. As well, other situations are associated with “not thumb sucking” and it is clear therefore that he is certainly capable of giving it up, given the right circumstances.  That said, one of the most important things to remember is that children respond to praise more readily than criticism (the same is actually true, again, for adults), so praising your son when he is not sucking his thumb is a good starting point.

    Also, your child is old enough to be reasoned with, and to get into the act of decision making about stopping the thumb sucking.  He is mature enough to understand why this habit harms his teeth and disrupts family togetherness. Discuss with your child why it is better to stop the habit, and come up with some strategies for dealing with it together. One idea is to substitute other (harmless) behaviors, such as a squeeze ball, which will occupy his hands during the time that he would otherwise be sucking his thumb, or perhaps chewing sugarless gum would keep his mouth otherwise occupied.

    From the tone of your letter, it is obvious that you realize that your son is not doing this to intentionally be “bad.”  It is not misbehaving in any sense of the word, and it is important that all family members treat your son with respect and understanding as you try to help him through this transitional time.

    — Dr. Susan Markel, MD


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Dr. Susan Markel

    Susan Markel, M.D. is a board-certified pediatrician who has a private consultative practice specializing in parent coaching and child health. A graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Dr. Markel became a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1981 and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in 1997. For many years she served as a medical liaison for La Leche League and is the author of What Your Pediatrician Doesn’t Know Can Hurt Your Child.

     

    • SUBMIT QUESTIONS: Do you have questions or concerns on how you as a parent and/or your children can achieve a healthier and happier lifestyle you would like to see Dr. Markel address? Submit your question for consideration HERE.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    3rd Annual Family Music Meltdown and Book Bash!

    Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child Banner

    Ready to Melt Down?

    River's Family Music Meltdown & Book Bash happens on Saturday, March 26th at JFK Middle School in Northampton, MA. (FREE) (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    That’s right, it’s the end of March so it must be time for the River’s Family Music Meltdown & Book Bash! It’s this coming Saturday, March 26, from 10 to 4 at JFK Middle School in Northampton — and it’s free.

    Now in its third year, the Meltdown has become a tradition for families in the Valley and beyond, featuring music on three stages, readings from nationally-known children’s book authors, crafts, bouncing, local food, and much more!

    On the music side, we’ve got familiar favorites and new-to-the-Meltdown acts. Joining the lineup for the first time this year is Grammy nominee Brady Rymer (supporting his forthcoming CD, Love Me For Who I Am, inspired by his work at the Celebrate the Children School, a New Jersey school for students with alternative learning styles. Other newcomers to the festival include Lunch Money, The Okee Dokee Brothers, The Bramble Jam, Joe’s Backyard Band, Brendan Taaffe, and the Spiral Up Kids.

    Returning favorites include Brooklyn’s Deedle Deedle Dees, who will be doing a special Women’s History Month set (and handing out free posters to fans). Returning — but this time with full bands — are the Flannery Brothers and singer/storyteller/cartoonist Keith Munslow. Other returning performers include Mister G, Under the Tree Music, Aric Bieganek, Jay Mankita, and Ratboy Jr., in addition to puppet shows from Otter & Moo Puppet Theatre and Anna Sobel.

    Local heroes Jarrett (Lunch Lady) and Gina Krosoczka serve as curators of the children’s book authors appearing on the main stage. This year, we’re thrilled to have Jarrett himself, plus Kevin Markey, Jef Czekaj, Jeanne Birdsall, and Jon Scieszka.

    We’ll also have crafts, bounce houses, Lego Duplos, gymnastics, fencing demonstrations, circus arts, hula hooping, Mad Science, dozens of local businesses, and terrific local food.

    We’ve got the full schedule, and links to videos for all of our performers, up at www.rivermeltdown.com, and you can follow the event on Facebook at facebook.com/rivermeltdown. See you Saturday!


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Bill Childs & Ella

    Bill Childs

    Bill teaches law school by day in Springfield. With his kids, he produces a radio show for kids, Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, which airs on Saturday mornings on 93.9 The River (8-10 AM, 101.5 in Brattleboro) and 103.3 Valley Free Radio (7-9 AM). He’s also a columnist for regional parenting magazines, covers music for Parenting magazine, and was a bi-monthly contributing writer to Hilltown Families. Contact him at show@sparetherock.com

    What Did Native Americans Once Call Connecticut River Clay Concretions?

    Massachusetts Treasures:
    Famous Formations: Clay Concretions
    By HF Guest Blogger, Maria Sansalone

    Thanks again to everyone who participated in the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club’s geology contest! To answer our last contest question, read the following carefully:

    Clay Concretions are flat, usually round discs of clay and silt that formed underwater along the Connecticut River. These formations are not as old as some mineral occurrences in the area. Still, they are estimated to be over 10,000 years old. Native Americans who lived close to the Connecticut River in Hampshire County called them “puddle stones” and could very well have used them as money or as jewelry for ceremonies. No one is quite sure how these discs get their almost perfect round and layered shape, but some believe that the mud and clay were spun in a circular motion by moving water, building up layers of clay silt that, over thousands of years, have hardened them into the discs we find today. The Hadley and Hatfield areas of Massachusetts are known for having some of the nicest Concretions in the country. The discs can range in size from 1 inch to 4 or 5 inches across and are regularly sought by divers and collectors today.

    WEEK THREE CONTEST QUESTION

    Here is our third and final contest question, good for two free adult admissions to the “Western Mass. Mineral, Jewelry, and Fossil Show,” on March 26 and 27, 2011: What name did Native Americans once give to Connecticut River Clay Concretions?

    Deadline to enter to win is Thursday, March 24th at 7pm (EST). Must include full name, town and an accurate email address in the comment fields below to be eligible to win. Name of winner will be posted below with directions on how to claim your tickets.

    FIELD TRIP TIPS

    Unless you are a professional diver and collector, it would be impossible for you and me to take a collecting field trip for Concretions into the swift cold waters of the Connecticut River! The next time your family takes a trip to a lake or hikes the New England woods, be sure to search for pegmatite, a type of rock that often contains crystal formations, or look for splashes of color in rocks as you walk. And (carefully) check pockets around tree roots. Rocks and fossils and minerals gather in tree roots and are buried or washed away by water every day. Or, consider taking a “virtual” field trip! There are a number of western Massachusetts and global geological formations that are accessible online as “dynamic digital maps,” created by researchers from the University of Massachusetts. Your next field trip leaves now at this web link: ddm.geo.umass.edu.

    For our last blog post, we’ve included an enlarged photo of a (very, very old) Clay Concretion from our Club’s Massachusetts Mineral School Display Kit.

    Best wishes to all our contest participants! It’s a bit sad to think that this is our Club’s final post and contest question! But we hope it doesn’t mean the end to your interest in fossils, rocks, and minerals. There’s a whole world of adventure out there, just waiting for you to discover…

    The Connecticut Valley Mineral Club promotes responsible rockhunting. Always ask permission to walk private lands and take only photographs, not samples, of protected geological formations. CVMC meets most months at the Springfield Science Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. For more information, feel free to visit our website: www.cvmineralclub.org.


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Maria Sansalone

    Maria works as the primary cross-reference editor for Merriam-Webster Inc., in Springfield, Massachusetts. She and her team have cross-reference checked every dictionary entry for the last two editions of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Her personal life revolves around the work that she does in memory of her son, William, for two family-oriented nonprofits in western Massachusetts: Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Children’s Hospital, and the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club. It was the desire to learn from experienced collectors about New England’s minerals on behalf of kids on treatment that led her and her husband to join the CVMC community.

    Grains of Common Sense

    AWEtv Interviews Adrie Lester

    AWEtv, better known as Authentic Women Entrepreneurs TV, has a new interview series featuring Western MA women who “speak to new ways of being in business that are joyful, creative, and sustainable.”

    In the second episode of AWEtv, Shalini Bahl speaks with Adrie Lester, a local mother and co-founder of Wheatberry Cafe in Amherst, MA. Adrie is a true visionary and educator – a women entrepreneur here in Western MA whose vision is bringing our families and community an important source of food security and a healthy dose of common sense!  See the preview here, and then visit AWEtv to see the full 26min video.

    HFVS Spring Equinox Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)

    Listen to Podcast:

    SPRING EQUINOX EPISODE
    with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn

    Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
    March 26th & 27th, 2011
    WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
    Northampton, MA

    Featured Video: Gustafer Yellowgold – “Pinecone Lovely” [Have You Never Been Yellow?]


    New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
    Radio  Facebook Twitter

    CHARITY KAHN’S PLAYLIST

    • Wendy Waldman – “Spring is Here” [Wendy Waldman]
    • Charity and the JAMband – “Get Your Booty Out of Bed” [Party Like a Twinkle Star]
    • Cat Stevens – “Changes IV” [Teaser and the Firecat]
    • Charity and the JAMband – “We Need Mud” [Rock Your Socks Off]
    • Arnold Lobel – “The Corner” [Frog and Toad All Year]
    • The Beatles – “Here Comes the Sun” [Abbey Road]
    • Bob Marley – “Sun is Shining” [Trojan Reggae Chill-Out (CD 2)]
    • Justin Roberts – “Taking Off My Training Wheels” [Meltdown!]
    • Cat Stevens – “The Wind” [Teaser and the Firecat]
    • Gustafer Yellowgold – “Pinecone Lovely” [Have You Never Been Yellow?]
    • Ruth Krauss/Norman Rose – “The Carrot Seed”
    • Charity and the JAMband – “Happy Birthday Baby” [Rock Your Socks Off]
    • XTC – “Greenman” [Apple Venus Volume 1]
    • Charity and the JAMband – “The Bird” [Party Like a Twinkle Star]

    Find out more about our Guest DJ, Charity Kahn at www.jamjamjam.com.

    Suggested Events 03/19/11-03/25/11

    Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

    SUGGEST AN EVENT

    There's a fundraising breakfast on Saturday at UMass for the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society, a fabulous animal care center that has many animal programs, including a barn cat adoption program for cats not suited for households. Details below. (Barn cat in Cummington, MA. Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

    SPONSORSHIP: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Hilltown Families has been serving & supporting our local community for over 5 years! Help us continue to serve our community by supporting the work we do! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for more information. — Help us help you!

    BEST BETS

    Saturday, March 19th from9:30-11am – LEGOS: The Lenox Library hosts their fouth annual Lego Build-a-thon! Participants must bring their own Legos- the goal of the build-a-thon is for participants to build an original structure from scratch that is capable of operating a fishing line. Prizes will be given to all participants! Ages 5-14. 18 Main Street. 637-0197 Lenox, MA. (FREE)

    Carrying on through the afternoon on Saturday, March 19th from 9am-3pm - MAPLE FEST: 26th Annual Chester Hill Maple Fest. Enjoy breakfast (including pancakes with Chester Hill maple syrup!) from 9-12, a craft fair, visits with baby animals, a raffle, and live music from the Pioneer Valley Fiddlers. 335 Skyline Trail. 667-8725. Chester, MA. (FREE entrance)

    Sunday, March 20th at 12Noon – PARADE: The 60th Anniversary St. Patrick’s Day Parade leaves the K-Mart Plaza at noon. Bring the family to this iconic St. Patty’s celebration. http://www.holyokestpatricksparade.com Holyoke, MA (FREE)

    Sunday afternoon, March 20th from 3-5pm - FAMILY DANCE: Community Family Dance at First Churches (enter across from the Iron Horse). There will be live music and dances will be taught to families. All ages 3yo & up. 230-7037 Northampton, MA (>$)

    MARK YOUR CALENDAR

    Wednesday, March 30th at 6:30pm – PARENT WORKSHOP: Hilltown Families presents … Do I Have To?: How Chores Empower Families, aN interactive and fun presentation for adults with author Susan Tordella at Cup & Top Cafe. Learn how cleaning toilets, washing dishes and raking leaves empower families. 1 North Main St. Florence, MA (FREE)

    Sunday, April 10th from 4-7pm – BIRTHDAY BENEFIT BASH: Hilltown Families Birthday Benefit Bash at Bread Euphoria!  A celebration to bring the community together while supporting Hilltown Families with a birthday party!  Family concert with Mister G.  Pizza and birthday cake from Bread Euphoria. Save the date now.  More details to come! Haydenville, MA (FUNDRAISER)

    BULLETIN BOARD

    MEET THE DOULAS DAY! Sunday, March 20, 2-4 PM at Cradle, Third Floor, Thornes Marketplace, Northampton. Drop in any time to meet birth and postpartum doulas and other professionals in a relaxed atmosphere. Free refreshments, free raffle, and free 15-minute massages for pregnant mamas! Learn more at www.greenriverdoulas.org.

    MUSIC CLASS: New 8-Week Music Class Series with Mister G in Northampton beginning April 4th/5th: Mister G’s Community Chorus for kids 6-10: Imagine the Young at Heart Chorus for kids! Join the coolest chorus for kids singing Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Patsy Cline and Mister G’s originals. The chorus will be joining Mister G on the main stage of the WRSI Meltdown. Mister G’s Jamboree for kids 1-5: Sing, dance…you’ll even learn Spanish in the Jamboree! Mister G developed an innovative approach to early childhood music immersion while teaching at the Smith College Campus School. Just back from touring in Mexico and Guatemala, Mister G has taken the Jamboree all over the world. For class times, locations and registration visit: mistergsongs.com

    SLEEP WORKSHOP: Monday, March 21, 2011 at 630pmFREE Helping Your Child Sleep Workshop led by local social worker and child sleep consultant, Jen Zajac, MSW, LICSW, in the Northampton Forbes Library Community Room. Jen Zajac has over 11 years of experience working with children and families in the Pioneer Valley. She will provide a brief discussion regarding the basics of infant and toddler sleep patterns. Suggestions regarding how to keep children well rested including a basic overview of naps and night sleep will be provided. Simple strategies regarding how to respond to middle of the night awakenings will be discussed. The remaining time will be open for individual questions. Registration is required at www.HelpingYourChildSleep.com

    PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Save the date for ArtSpark, Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School’s annual party & auction at Look Park’s Garden House in Florence on Saturday March 26th at 7 p.m. The event features music & dancing, food by Bread Euphoria & a cash bar. A good time for a good cause, with auction items at all price points, from a carton of fresh eggs to a weekend getaway & one-of-a-kind furniture & crafts. This year’s theme is the 1980s, so dig out those legwarmers, dust off your Ray-Bans, start growing that mullet & get ready for some fun. Tickets available in advance at the school or local businesses including Bread Euphoria, State Street Fruit Store, Cooper’s Corner & The Creamery. More info, call 268.3421.

    PANCAKE BREAKFAST: Saturday, March 19th from 9am-12noon: Berkshire Trail Elementary School’s first annual pancake breakfast!  The event is a fundraiser for the school, and proceeds will go towards purchasing show shoes for the schools P.E. class and outdoor exploration during the winter months in science classes.  Most of the food will be donated by local vendors, and GLUTEN FREE pancakes will be available!  2 Main Street.  634-5327.  Cummington, MA.  (SCHOOL FUNDRAISER)

    SATURDAY WINTER FARMERS’ MARKETS:

    HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW: SPRING EQUINOX EPISODE

    Hilltown Family Variety ShowTune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am.

    HFVS Guest DJ, Charity Kahn of Charity and the JAMBand, has put together a lovely spring equinox show for this weekend, featuring music by Justin Roberts, XTC, Cat Stevens, Bob Marley, along with several of her own songs.  Featured story on this weeks broadcast, The Corner by Arnold Lobel, and The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss.

    Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • Podcast: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!

  • WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Affordable Family Fun in the Berkshires

    Lots of Free and Cheap Family Offerings in the Upcoming Weeks

    ‘Love of a Lady,’ a 20-minute DVD short story written by Ruth Heuberger and illustrated by her husband Hans will screen at the Mason Library in Great Barrington on March 10. (Photo credit: Hans Heuberger)

    It appears mud season has arrived in the Berkshires and so, too, have a plethora of upcoming activities for families. From great ideas for a Parents Night Out to Lego competitions, marionettes, movie shorts and more I’m sure there is bound to be something for everyone.

    LET THEM BUILD

    My 9-year-old is a Lego fanatic. Not a holiday or birthday passes him by without a box filled with endless creative possibilities being placed in front of him. On Saturday, March 19, the Lenox Library is holding its fourth annual Lego Build-a-thon for 5 to 14 year olds from 9:30 to 11 a.m. All participants must bring their own Legos to build an original design from scratch capable of operating on a fishing line. Building starts promptly at 9:30 a.m.; a zipline demonstration will be held from 10:14-10:45. Prizes will be awarded for all participants. For more information and to register call 413-637-0197.

    MORE AT THE LIBRARIES

    In my last column I lauded local libraries and the myriad activities they offer FREE for families like the Lego competition above, and in the upcoming weeks they are at it again. The New Lebanon Library in New Lebanon, N.Y. is just over the boarder and close to many Berkshire towns and it serves as a local community center, cultural venue and education satellite facility for the town. On Friday, March 18, families can attend one of the library’s many Family Movie Nights and watch a screening of the 2010 hit Megamind. It begins at 6:30 p.m. Then on March 24 the library will host a Family Craft Night featuring the making of clay pot wind chimes. Both of these events are free. The library is located on Route 20. For more information about its upcoming events call 518-794-8844 or go online to newlebanon.lib.ny.us.

    Last week I had the opportunity to talk to a wonderful woman and author of the short children’s story Love of a Lady that tells the story of one family’s attempt to adopt a shelter dog in France: they don’t return with the dog they have chosen, but the original owner gets his long-lost pet back. That author was Ruth Heuberger, a Great Barrington resident, who along with her artist husband Hans turned the short story into a 20-minute DVD with Hans’ beautiful illustrations and Ruth narrating the sweet, heartfelt story. The DVD is aimed to serve as a book-raiser for local Head Start programs around the county and throughout the country when screened. The next “Love of a Lady” book-raiser and screening will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 19, at the Mason Library in Great Barrington. Those who attend are encouraged to bring a new or gently used book to donate to the Great Barrington Head Start students. Each child in the program will receive one of the donated books to take home as their own. The library is located on Main Street; call 413-528-2403 for more information. If you would like to find out how you can get a copy of the DVD to screen as a benefit for your local Head Start program e-mail Ruth Heuberger at haruhe@verizon.net.

    One last library event, besides the ongoing story hours at most local libraries (check the Hilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events), is scheduled for Saturday, March 26, at the Stockbridge Library. “Haiku for Kids” will feature local poet Mike Miller who will teach kids about the haiku and encourage them to write and illustrate their own work. I will be speaking to Miller later this week for an article to appear in The Advocate (advocateweekly.com) and online at thefamilybeat.com next week so be sure to check them out to learn more. The event begins at 11 a.m. The library is located on Main Street in Stockbridge. For more information call 413-298-5501.

    CELEBRATING STUDENT CREATIVITY

    Did you know that March is not only Music in Our Schools Month but it is also National Youth Art Month? Community Health Programs and the Renaissance Art School in Great Barrington will be celebrating with the opening of a student art gallery on the walls of CHP’s newest health-care facility located at 444 Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington. An opening reception will be held Friday, March 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. More information at 413-528-9311, ext. 1179, or 413-528-9600.

    SING A SONG

    There are always opportunities for kids to show off their creative side in the Berkshires — artistically, musically and on stage —with great rewards. On April 9 and 10 Berkshire Lyric will hold auditions for its 2011 Young Musicians Scholarship program at Kimball Farms on Walker Street in Lenox. Auditions are open to young musicians ages 13 to 21 who reside in Berkshire County. Applicants are asked to prepare two pieces and are requested to provide their own accompanist as by March 31. Applications are available from Berkshire County music teachers, at the Berkshire Athenaeum, the Berkshire Music School, or by calling Anna Stevenson at 413-442-5968. Winners will perform at the annual Young Musicians Concert at Trinity Episcopal Church in Lenox on May 1.

    SPEAKING OF PERFORMING

    There are plenty of theaters in Berkshire County but sometimes you don’t have to look any further than your local school system to find a fun, inexpensive production to take the kids to. This week you can catch the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown courtesy of students at Mount Everett Regional High School in Sheffield. Performances begin today March 17 and run through Sunday, March 20. For show times click here. All performances will take place at Berkshire School in Sheffield. For more information call 413-229-8754, ext. 127. ($)

    Also courtesy of a local school, families can catch a rendition of Billy St. John’s Peril on the High Seas on March 19 at 7 p.m. featuring St. Stanislaus Kostka School eighth-graders. The production will be performed at Kolbe Hall on Hoosac Street in Adams. For more information call 413-743-1091. ($)

    SOMETHING ACTIVE

    There is no lack of inactivity in our house as the kids bounce from one sports season to the next with maybe a week break in between, but if you are looking for other ways to keep your children active in the Berkshires, Berkshire South Regional Community Center is a good place to start. On Saturday, March 19, the center will be holding a free afternoon of archery instruction for girls in kindergarten through grade 12. Participants can explore the sport of archery, an active, no-impact exercise that promotes healthy competition. Times are 1:30 to 3 p.m. and 3 to 4:30 p.m. To register call the Crissey Road, Great Barrington center at 413-727-7129 or e-mail ccoursey@gscwm.org.

    I PROMISED MARIONETTES

    There are two opportunities in the upcoming weeks to see Robbins-Zust Family Marionettes in the Berkshires and both of them will take place at Marketplace Café on North Street in Pittsfield. On March 19 the company will present “Jack and the Beanstalk” and on March 26 they will present “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Both events begin at 11:30 a.m. and best of all … they are FREE! For more information call 413-358-4777.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Kids Can Learn Songs and Sing with the Expandable Brass Band

    THE EXPANDABLE BRASS BAND
    Saturday, April 2nd @ 1pm
    At Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton, MA

    Kids are encourage to join the band an hour before the show for free opportunity to learn songs with the band.

    Hilltown Families and Spare the Rock presents a FREE show with The Expandable Brass Band on Saturday, April 2nd as part of the No Nap Happy Hour Series at Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton, MA at 1pm.

    Families are encouraged to arrive early (12Noon) for an opportunity to learn songs to perform with the band!

    The Expandable Brass Band is a local Western Massachusetts street band formed by people who want to spread the joy of playing in the street both for the fun of it and in support of others working on important social issues, especially in their community.

    The band features a playful and lively mix of brass and percussion instruments that are sure to intrigue and engage kids and parents. Personal instruments are welcome but not required since noisemakers will be available.  The Flywheel Arts Collective is located in the Old Town Hall at 43 Main St., Easthampton, MA.

    Q&A: Ways for Western MA Families to Support Japan

    Question and Answer

    Many Western MA families are looking for opportunities to offer support to families in Japan during this very difficult time. All are welcome to share and organize events here and on the Hilltown Families Facebook page. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Emails are coming in from families in Western MA looking for ways to offer support for the events happening in Japan. Please share your ideas and opportunities here for others to discover.

    • Amy Wilkinson Ware writes: Money, money, money. Give your dollars to a reputable organization such as the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders. It is understandable to want to send something “real” like supplies, but money in the hands of these organizations can purchase those supplies many times over. At our local level, we can hold concerts, vigils, and other events. And what we should gather is always dollars.
    • Andi Turowsky writes: Here’s a good link from a friend of mine to help determine a good place for your money: www.charitynavigator.org
    • Megan McD writes: Thinking close to home – consider going to the Safe & Green event on March 21st about a green nuclear free future: www.safeandgreencampaign.org
    • Abbe Laine Schiowitz writes: We are two years old and today we did an emergency preparedness kit and yesterday we read a book about Japan and a book about natural disasters: makedoseebe.blogspot.com
    • Lyza May writes: This site lists some organizations that are helping. www.tricycle.com
    • Deborah Chandler writes: For healing and nourishment, for everyone and also those exposed to toxins/radiation: midnightapothecary.blogspot.com
    • Jennifer Friedman writes: My daughter Sage decided to sell her toys, books and handmade sculptures to raise money for ShelterBox to help the people in Japan. There is a direct link to her fundraising page. The money goes straight to ShelterBox, and after your donation of any amount, Sage will send you a toy, book or sculpture.  HERE is the link.

    Co-Op Conversations First Tuesday of the Month

    Nearly 100 people Engage in Co-op Conversations!

    We are so excited about the level of interest in the Old Creamery Co-op. Nearly 100 people turned out for six lively “Co-op Conversations” held over the past two months. These small group meetings provided a great forum for members of the Creamery Co-op board of directors to provide an update on how things are going with the transition to a community-owned Old Creamery.

    Each meeting was highly interactive – full of questions, ideas and information, and of course great refreshments. We shared what we have learned from our customer surveys, a staff survey, and an outside market study, including evidence that the Creamery is a valued resource now, has great potential to serve the community for a long time, and needs to make some changes to product offerings, service, retail space and parking in order to better meet community (and Co-op member) needs.

    We talked about changes that have already been made in the Old Creamery because of the enthusiastic feedback from well over 300 survey respondents. We hope you will notice the addition of breakfast sandwiches to the deli menu, the new weekly sales specials, the new in-store signage, and the re-organized bulletin boards.

    A dedicated group of people is currently working with a volunteer architect to develop plans for physical improvements to the building and grounds. The work will improve the space and experience for customers in the store, as well as provide better work flow for staff. We will also increase the shopping space. We hope to unveil the plans for the “New Old Creamery” in the coming weeks.

    Throughout these Co-op Conversations people asked, “What can I do to help?” The answers are easy. Do more of your shopping at the Old Creamery and keep telling us what we need to do to make that happen! Help us get more Founding Member-Owners for the Co-op by telling your friends and family about our exciting venture and what you love about the Old Creamery. (The number of founding memberships is a sign of necessary community support and an important indicator of the future viability of the Co-op.)

    These Co-op Conversations were so helpful to the Co-op Board, that the board has decided to hold one each month for the foreseeable future. The conversations are open to all and will be held on the first Tuesday of every month at 7:00 PM in the Sustainability Library over the Old Creamery. Registration is required. Please RSVP to outreach@oldcreamery.coop to attend any of these sessions.


    Goings-On at the Old Creamery Co-Op by Cherylann Richards

    Cherylann Richards is the Outreach Coordinator for the Old Creamery Co-op and writes about the ongoing adventure of working to transition the locally beloved Old Creamery in Cummington into a community owned food cooperative. Cherylann is a past employee of The Old Creamery and completed her Masters of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School this past May.  She is in the process of becoming an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a board certified chaplain with the ultimate goal of working as a medical chaplain.  Cherylann loves Old Creamery made chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and all things outdoors; cross country skiing at Notchview, hiking or swimming with her dog Tula, camping, and bicycling.- Check out Goings-On at the Old Creamery Co-op every third Wednesday of the month.

    PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Lori McKenna and Lucy Wainwright at Memorial Hall

    Lori McKenna with Special Guest,
    Lucy Wainwright Roche
    Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls, MA
    Sunday, April 3rd @ 7pm

    Continuing our Parents’ Night Out promotions, Hilltown Families and Signature Sounds Concerts have partnered up to offer a pair of tickets for one lucky couple to see Lori McKenna in concert at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls on Sunday, April 3rd at 7pm with special guest, Lucy Wainwright Roche.

    Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win: Wednesday, 3/30/11 at 7pm (EST). More details below.

    ABOUT LORI MCKENNA

    "There are so many ways for love to rupture, and so many ways for it to heal, and Lori McKenna has songs for most of them." - The New York Times

    Lori McKenna’s first name is actually Lorraine. Now you know. She is named after the mother she lost when she was only seven, but whose impact on Lori’s life reverberates to this day. In her sixth album, Lorraine, she considers the influence of her mother, who died at roughly the same age Lori is now, as well as her own place in relationship to her husband, family and community. It is her most personal album to date.Lori’s unusual combination of professional and personal life, at least in the context of the modern music industry, is well-documented. She grew up in Massachusetts in a musical household. Her father was an excellent singer, and her mother played the piano. Two of her older brothers were songwriters, one of whom (Richard) she considers largely responsible for her career. He accompanied a reluctant Lori to open mic nights and gave her confidence that she was good enough. She began performing her songs in public at age 27, after she and her husband Gene already had three children. She and Gene continue to maintain a happy home in Stoughton, Massachusetts, adding two more children to their full lives.

    The album closes with a prayer to Lorraine. Lori used to pray to her mother when she was a child: there was a strong sense that Lorraine was watching over her. “I think I made better choices in my life because I felt she was there,” Lori says. “Still Down Here” is a prayer that Lorraine and all the loved ones who leave their earthly burdens behind remember the ones still here on Earth, still in need of their love and guidance. With a daughter so empathetic to the human condition and so loyal and loving to her family and community, one guesses that Lorraine is looking down, very proud. http://www.lorimckenna.com

    ABOUT LUCY WAINWRIGHT ROCHE:

    "Sincere and raw at times recalling Joni Mitchell and Patti Griffin, Roche's bittersweet voice jumps out; she paints an indelible image." -NPR Song of the Day

    Lucy Wainwright Roche released her first full-length album simply entitled, LUCY on October 26, 2010. LUCY is well worth the wait. Special guest singers include pals Girlyman and the Indigo Girls as well as The Roches, Loudon Wainwright and Kelly Hogan. Backed by great musicians including: Steuart Smith (The Eagles) and David Mansfield, and produced by LWR and Stewart Lerman, the album features ten new original songs and a cover of a classic Paul Simon song, plus a surprising bonus track which features This American Life’s Ira Glass.

    Her tales of life as seen from the road are masterfully told, she moves in and out of stories and song, creates a unique tapestry, weaving the ordinary into the magical, and she brings us all along with her. You won’t hear a false note from this shining star, she’s heartbreaking in a good way — and funny –Lucy’s a masterful performer. She’s a straight shooter, simple and direct, with loads of charm, but watch out, her hauntingly angelic voice and wickedly perceptive songs, will get you every time. http://www.lucywainwrightroche.com

    HOW TO WIN

    Your chance to win a pair of tickets to see Lori McKenna in concert at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls on Sunday, April 3rd at 7pm with special guest, Lucy Wainwright Roche, is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

    1. SHARE THIS PAGE ON FACEBOOK BY SELECTING “LIKE” BELOW
    2. RECOMMEND A SONG FOR OUR COMMUNITY PLAYLIST and be sure to tell us your
    3. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
    4. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
    5. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address)
    6. We’ll randomly draw two winners and will share the results below.

    IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 3/31/11 @ 7pm (EST).

    If you don’t win you should still go! Tickets available on-line at http://www.signaturesounds.com or at Turn It Up!, Boswell’s Books, Elmer’s, and World Eye Books. 665-4036

    Six Rules For Teens

    Bill Gates Would Make a Great Parent!

    I recently joined a blog network full of moms who write about their kids. Being new there and in order to find some connections, I started a discussion group called “Got Teens” for moms of adolescents. Pretty soon the moms started coming out of the wood work to join–mostly to commiserate with others about their teens. I have to admit at first it felt good to realize that the adolescent experiences that we have in our home are not unusual.

    Over and over I have heard stories of sons and daughters yelling and screaming at their parents, refusing requests and, of course, the daily, hourly-heck-by the millisecond-slamming of doors. At first, it satisfied me that perhaps I hadn’t done anything “wrong” when raising my sons, but instead perhaps it was generational or “normal” for kids between the ages of 14-18 to torture their parents with explosions that rock the house over something as simple as an innocent comment like, “Whew, Aidan your feet are stinky!” At first it satisfied me…at first, but then Bill Gates got involved and now I am back to thinking that parents of this generation ARE partially responsible for the lack of respect, lack of work ethic and just a general lack of politeness that perhaps other generations had to a degree.

    Bill Gates? You ask. Yes, Bill. Last week I received an “urban legend “ email that was an excerpt of a high school graduation speech that was supposedly given by Bill Gates, which was later proved not to be the truth. However, WHOEVER wrote the list was a parenting genius, pure and simple. In it was 11 things that are never taught in school (and I contend at home as well.) I will give you the link to the whole list at the end of the column, but I wanted to address SOME items of things of which I (and perhaps other parents…or maybe it’s just me…anyhoo…) was guilty of NOT teaching or allowing my sons to experience.

    Rule one was Life is not fair – get used to it! I get sweaty reading this one, mostly because I know that for many years I shielded my boys from the bad and unfair. Not only did I shield them from it, if something unfair happened, I would vehemently try and right it so as to spare them any feeling of discomfort. Although I meant well, it backfired on me and unfortunately my boys. Instead of raising obliviously happy-go-lucky sons, I instead created two little men who think that they are entitled for things in this world to ALWAYS be fair and equal. And, like Bill says, we know that just doesn’t happen. Instead of making things happy and shielding them from the sad, I should have equipped them with a sense of balance that sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to, but there will be other chances if perseverance is their guide.  Read the rest of this entry »

    Southern Hilltowns Domestic Violence Task Force Letter on Cyberbullying

    Dr. Hinduja also suggests being alert to the signs of cyberbullying. If your child unexpectedly stops using their computer or cell phone, appears nervous when an instant message or text appears, or seems uneasy about going to school or going out in general, talk to them about what is going on.

    Southern Hilltown Domestic Violence Task Force writes:

    Bullying is different than it used to be. It still happens between classmates and within dating relationships like it always has. But cell phones and the internet have changed the landscape. Twenty years ago if you were bullied you knew who was bullying you and could usually get away from the bullying after school. Today, cyberbullying (bullying through the use of technology) can happen 24/7. It can happen anonymously through unidentifiable email addresses or pseudonymous screen names on social networking sites. Further, the bullying can be shared with a large number of people with a simple click of the mouse. Basically, bullies have more sophisticated tools than they used to have. With new technology they can reach further and can inflict greater harm.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Q&A: Kids Driving You Nuts?

    Question and Answer

    "Mommy, Mommy, LOOK!" (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Vent! What are your kids doing these days that’s driving you nuts?

    • Myssie Casinghino writes: “Oy, the potty mouth. I am fine with a bit of stinky-poo humor, but this 5 year old has taken it to the next level. Sometimes it seems that every other word is poop, butt or fart. I might be able to ignore it if my 14 month old wasn’t mimicking EVERYTHING he does!”
    • Susan Rees writes: “breathing”
    • Dawn Kim writes: “Fighting! Pick your battles, please!”
    • Swansea Benham Bleicher writes: “Getting sick!!!!! Argh!”
    • Andrea Slattery writes: “Hearing the words “It’s not fair” Over and over like broken records! The worst part is its over ridiculous things like who gets which cup at the supper table!!!!”
    • Sienna Wildfield writes: My daughter is on the quest to blow the perfect bubble.  The constant, “Mommy, Mommy, LOOK!” coming from the back seat of the car while driving 65mph down the highway is about to drive me off the side of the road, literally!  But to her defense, she is getting pretty good!

    What is the Massachusetts Official State Gem Stone?

    Massachusetts Treasures:
    Official State Gem Stone of Massachusetts
    By HF Guest Blogger, Maria Sansalone

    Thanks so much to everyone who contributed entries for Week One of the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club’s geology contest, good for two free adult admissions to the “Western Mass. Mineral, Jewelry, and Fossil Show,” coming up March 26 and 27, 2011. We invite you to join in for Week Two. Are you ready for your next contest question?  Read the rest of this entry »

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