Hindsight Parenting: A Child’s Growing Independence Brings Change

The Winds of Change

She swings by herself. Grabs the chains that hold the brown plastic rectangle that serves as a seat. Her muscular arms pull her up deftly and her bottom plops down. Her legs that are a full two inches longer than they were in June start to pump. Feet flex as her legs straighten and toes point as legs fold. Soon, very soon, actually unbelievably soon, she has a momentum that would satisfy any child. I am sitting in the swing next to her and she is chattering away about the dog and his bone and the hole he dug, but I am lost in the sight of her wispy hair and the way it covers her round cheeks as the swing takes her back and wiggles in the air like an octopus’s tentacles as the swing moves her forward.

“Slow down,” I long to say, but I know it isn’t about the swing. It’s not about the swing at all. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: The Loving Power of an Auntie

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

A Legacy of Love

My Aunt Janine was a teacher who had pop-up books and a knack for telling stories…

This August, we’re having a baby! Well, it’s not exactly our baby. In truth, my brother and sister-in-law are having their first child, and we are all over the moon. It is a guilty pleasure to watch this little life unfolding from afar, because I know sleepless nights are coming their way. I know that they may argue about the best way to get their cranky cherub to sleep, and they may wonder who else in the world is awake, rocking their own newborn at 3 am; I know I did. But now, having nursed my last baby five years ago, I see this tiny girl’s arrival with fresh eyes, and with an entirely different perspective: I get to be her aunt. Read the rest of this entry »

Parenting Green: Climate Change Education & Action

People’s Climate March

There is something important happening in September. It’s the People’s Climate March in NYC. They claim it will be the biggest climate rally in history. They also say it will be pet and family friendly, so I’m using encouraging Pioneer Valley locals to get to the march on September 21st, 2014. A local team of people are working on organizing charter bus transportation and carpooling to the march in NYC in September. You can travel round trip for $25 or less getting back the same day, so don’t let cost or time stand in the way. The atmosphere and tenor of the event is meant to be dignified, fun, impacting and empowering. This is not the place for terror and fright as it will certainly be permitted by NYC, peaceful and safe for all who come. Keep an ear out for fun, local, and creative activities leading up to the support of the rally.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Your Introduction to Sacrifice & Life on the Back Burner

Best Laid Plans

The spitting camel has wangled his way into the summer schedule!

We’re halfway through the summer. We’ve had a week of a vacation to the most popular destination in the country. We’ve had major Pinterest wins and Pinterest fails (don’t try the water blob…unless you want to sweat and swear…then by all means go right ahead.). We’ve had lesson after lesson; music, equine, swimming, OT and PT. We’ve begun the process of “real reading,” on the request of my daughter herself. We’ve gone to beaches, to parks, to fairs, to bouncy palaces, to zoos (where the camels got close and up front spitting on me for good measure) and to fancy schmancy concerts where we got to sit on the lawn and listen to the likes of James Taylor and our favorite Beatles tribute band. We bought an amazing sprinkler made up of individual flowers that spray water out at gentle angles and even put the kiddie pool directly underneath the kitchen window so that we could fill it up with warm water from the tap. Pretty successful huh? Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all…so why is it that the moment I realized we were at summer’s halfway point, I got a ginormous pit-of-death smack dab in the middle of my solar plexus? Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Rainbow Dress at the Green River Fest

Free to Be

Spinning my boy, wearing our rainbow sundresses. (Photo credit: E Goffredo)

The venue: 2014 Green River Festival. For those unfamiliar, it’s a music fest – Happy Valley style. Vendors sell food on a stick, but it’s chicken satay. The hotdogs? Grass fed beef. The fried dough is topped with rustic pesto and goat cheese. This was our third year enjoying eclectic music and family friendly extras, like circus acts and hot air balloons. It was here, two years ago, my son first expressed his desire for a dress.

I was choosing between two upcycled t-shirt sundresses in the Maker’s Market. She makes kids’ sizes, too, but they’re more costly than I would spend on one unit of children’s clothing, especially one designed for single-season wear. He’s an only child. There’s no amortizing the cost.

I want a sundwess too, Mama. I want mine to have a numbuh fwee on it so peopew wiww know I’m fwee.

I give a non-committal response. Maybe we can.

The dress is seemingly soon forgotten – until it comes up again the next year. This time maybe doesn’t suffice because it’s accompanied by that kicker of all questions: why
Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: Summer Language Stimulation

Midsummer Language Skills

The summer months are racing ahead. Many of our children are going to day camps or traveling with family. I know from my work schedule that families are shifting their plans daily, almost hourly in some cases. Spontaneity can be a double-edged sword for children. Too much can make them off balance but too much structure can stress them out. I see some children in my practice who lose ground with inconsistent speech therapy due to their looser schedules. But I also see others who gain skills over the summer, when the rigidity of schedules is relaxed.

I’m pondering today about this. So much seems to be determined by the personality of our children. For some, a loosening of structure takes away pressure, and they can learn and be creative at their own pace. Others depend on a schedule to be okay. As parents and teachers, we need to honor these learning/living styles in order to help kids be successful and happy. Of course, this applies to the style that works for their adults as well! What’s the style in your family? Does it work for all your children? Read the rest of this entry »

Oak & Acorn: Basil Pesto & Peas

Summer foods that are easy to grow and that kids love.

One of the foods that we love to make a lot in the summer is basil pesto. We grow a lot of basil in our garden and at this time of the year it’s very abundant. We also are very lucky that many of our farmer friends hand off some of their extras to us. I love the taste and smell of basil…it’s one of my favorite culinary herbs! It works in so many dishes and also goes well in some fruity summer drinks. Just last week, we added basil to some seltzer water with simple syrup and sour cherries that we picked from a friends tree in their backyard. It was delish!

The past couple weeks we have also been eating lots of peas, in particular sugar snap peas which happens to be a favorite snack in our house. We also picked lots of shell peas from a farm we have a CSA share with, shelled them and froze them for future use. It takes a little time to do this, but it’s always nice to have these preserved in the freezer for when a recipe calls for them, like pesto!

See our recipe for basil pesto and pasta with peas

Under the Hat: Energize Your Child’s Imagination through Literacy

Reading Supports the Development of a Creative Mind!

Reading is fun

Reading requires imagination and can inspire creativity.

I was a lucky kid: my mom was a children’s book author and illustrator and I grew up surrounded by books. For years, my mom and I had a weekly date at the library. I’d always check out the maximum number of books and couldn’t wait to get home to start reading. I loved everything, but my favorite stories were the really scary ones.

Not too much has changed over the years; I still have a stack of books on my bedside table and I still love learning about all sorts of things just by lying still and reading.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: Squelching through Wetlands Reveals Nature at its Most Natural

The Beauty and Ickyness of Upland Wetlands

Thanks to wetlands, mountain rivers should be clear while valley rivers like the Connecticut can resemble a river of milk chocolate.

Last week, I stood by the side of the East Branch of the Westfield River in Chesterfield with a group of intrepid explorers, astonished by the gasp and growl of its raging flood waters. “Where’s Augustus Gloop?” I heard someone ask; “He would love all this hot chocolate!”

Laden with brown soils that had eroded from roadsides, construction sites and fields upstream, the river did look like it was made by Willy Wonka. A wild and scenic river like the East Branch of the Westfield should not look like hot chocolate because of its federally-registered conservation status, and the fact that there is little development in the hilltowns. And yet here was unmistakable proof that torrential rain on vegetation-less lands was causing extensive erosion. Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Helping Toddlers Form Authentic Friendships

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Fostering Friendships for Toddlers

By encouraging your toddler to be a good friend, they will make good friends and have lasting meaningful relationships into their later years and even adulthood!

Watching toddlers and preschoolers grow and mature is a beautiful and amazing thing. It is such a small window and one day it swings open and the toddler who was waddling and whopping with his friends just six months ago, is now the preschooler with a strong moral compass and a kind heart. It is remarkable how fast this transformation can be and it is even more incredible to be apart of it. Watching early friendships form, fostering a child natural longing for meaningful relationships, is awe-inspiring and humbling at the same time.

Laying the Groundwork: The Foundation of Friendships

Younger toddlers do not yet have the ability to see the world from others perspective. So often it is hard for them to play “with” other children. They often play “alongside” them instead. It’s not that they don’t like or care for one another, it’s just where they are developmentally. Children even at birth love one another; love spending time together.  We are social creatures; it is what we do. Put two infants face to face and anyone can see how that interaction is special in itself. However, babies and young toddler haven’t really developed a sense of what is a friendship. It is not a give and take yet; it is more a large game of take. Read the rest of this entry »

The Comment Box is Mightier than the Sword

It’s a Facebook Miracle

Uh-oh you haven’t updated your status in 5 minutes!

In the end, resistance was futile.

Since the minute Facebook stormed onto the scene a decade ago, I knew I did not want to get caught up in the hype. I began to detest all “social media,” not only as a regular person who found it tedious and self-serving but also as an actual journalist who saw the demise of the fourth estate. If anyone can say anything anytime, then who the heck knows if anything anyone is saying has any truth to it? But it was Facebook that caught the brunt of my wrath, as I watched otherwise sane people get sucked into this never-ending vortex of “status updates” and “likes” and “friends.” Read the rest of this entry »

What to Play? Make Your Own Toys!

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Getting back to creative basics, and making your own toys!

DIY toys stimulates creative free play. Make this cup & ball with materials you have at home! (Photo credit: Carrie St. John)

While looking for some DIY toys and games for my summer campers to make or design and to inspire play, I found a great book at Gabriel Books in Northampton, MA. John has amazing finds in his $1 box on the sidewalk. I am guessing these are the books he considers duds. Not his best sellers. They take up valuable shelf space. I frequently find good things in that box. I have never had it in me to be a tag sale person or thrift shop hunter but I love to stop and check on old books. This find, Easy-to-Make Old-Fashioned Toys by Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr., is dated in style and illustrations. It was published in 1979. I was 8 years old. I am dated, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Modeling a Positive Body Image

Modeling Self Confidence

“Sing silly words to the Doc McStuffins CD mommy!”  Ila exclaimed.  This is often a game that we play in the car to pass the time.  So I obliged.  I admit that I relish the belly giggles my daughter gets and so it is a challenge for me to make her laugh and the lyrics that I sing can be quite nonsensical.  The particular song that was on was Doc singing the virtues of eating a good diet; “Eat good food and your body will thank you. You’re gonna love the way you feeeeel.  Eat good food!”  But instead I sang, “Eat JUNK FOOD and your belly will be big.  You’re not going to like the way you feel.  Eat junk food!”  And then…..well…then nothing.  Just silence.  A LOOOONG silence.  And then Ila saying, “Turn off the music mommy.  Stop singing.”  I immediately did what she said out of worry and confusion.  There was a little more silence then I looked in the rear view mirror  and she was whispering to herself, “But my belly’s big.  But my belly’s big.  But my belly’s big.”

She pushed down on her stomach hard and pulled the seat belt strap tight to try and flatten it.  My heart broke.  Into a million pieces…it broke.  It happened–her first out loud moment of body hatred–just four years old. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: Small Hardships Swept Away by Joyous Enthusiasm

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

For the Kids: Summer Travel

The RV: Liberation for some. Captivity for others.

Like some families, I am traveling with mine this month for summer vacation. We started in Albuquerque with the five of us, my father-in-law, and an RV.  This is not a trip I would have imagined taking prior to my married life.  The mere suggestion of such a hideous vacation would have sent my snobbish idealism into overdrive. A lot has changed since then. When my kids were little, my friend Kristie wisely advised me to plan our trips around them.  She said, “When they’re happy, you’re happy.” She also told me to wear elastic pants so I could go to the bathroom one handed while holding an infant in the other (Namaste, my dear friend.  Namaste).  On day eleven of our 23-day trip, I’ve decided to write about hardship. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Finding the Time to Get Grounded

Around Here Somewhere

Believing it best to start honestly, I have a confession to make: I’ve lost my daily yoga practice. I know it’s around here somewhere. In fact, I’ve used it a few times recently. But then I misplace it again. It’s somewhere under the pile of magazines I want to sort before recycling; the outgrown toys I think might bring in a bit extra on Craigslist; the clean now-too-little big boy underpants that need a new home. (Can you donate underpants or is that too “eew?”)

Haven’t unrolled the mat in a while? Breathe. Stretch. Set the intention.

I miss it. I’ve had it for years! Each morning, I’d drag myself out of bed, pee, then go to my mat. Sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes more, sometimes just 10. Sometimes I’d fall back asleep there for a bit. Regardless, the act of breathing, stretching, connecting within – the intention to start my day on the mat – changed my day off the mat.

Don’t get me wrong. I then went on to drink my coffee, was often late to work, and didn’t necessarily greet my fellow commuters with enlightened bliss. But I felt better physically. Was more grounded. More clear headed.

So where did it go?

Read the rest of this entry »

Parenting Green: Make Yourself Re-useful

Lead by example and develop new habits in reusing materials

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. But do it from reusable water bottles.

I know this to be true about water bottles… They make you drink more water; especially when they’re new, and you’re a kid. It’s worth it to me for our kids to get excited about the purchase of a new one, especially now that summer is finally here. I often forget in those first weeks about switching gears into full-hydration mode, and making sure that everyone is drinking enough water. Without fail, getting a new containment method for liquids provides enough entertainment that even I have fun drinking more.

There are so many choices of BPA free plastic ones and gloriously colored stainless steel ones, you’ll be sure to find your muse. In the $15-30 sticker price, you might convince yourself you’ll be done buying them because they last forever, but they also get lost so easily. (Maybe they’re all where I left my reusable bags.) Then I think about all those moments when I want a cold drink when I’m out and about: an iced coffee, or chai, or a smoothie from the cafe. These are ALL moments we can hand our reusable container over the counter and have it filled up. Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: The Rise and Fall of The “Cool” Kid

Popularity is a Bad Word

Most of know the movie and how cool kids had quite the air about them. Of course it’s not restricted to girls. Popularity and ‘cool’ kids applies to boys too.

Dear Moms and Dads of Future Cool and Popular Kids,

I’ve seen your children—in my classroom, on the playground, at my daughters preschool. I’ve seen them shun the non-conformists, the quirky kids, the ones who may be poorer, or look different, or think different. I’ve seen them. I know them. I once wanted desperately to be them (and perhaps in retrospect WAS one of them.)

It must feel mighty comfortable there on the top. It might feel good to have the daughter who is the “it” girl or the son who’s the “it” guy. However, don’t get too comfy with your child’s top of the world status. Nope. I wouldn’t. Here’s the thing, I know something because of my mighty friend, Hindsight, that was just confirmed by scientist Joseph Allen. It might be great to be on top of the school food chain but that stature is short lived and quite often those kids deemed popular flounder as young adults because they don’t learn the highly necessary skill of learning to adapt to challenges and the constructs of real life. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: Applying the Puppy Blueprint in a Toddler’s World

Puppy and Toddler: Nine Teaching Tips

The Puppy learns through play as it helps sharpen the senses and develop problem solving skills- just like toddlers.

I bought a 4 month old puppy last month. It’s been a lot of years since even my grandchildren have been “puppies” and I’m working to reacquaint myself with the motivations of my new dog, Cricket. Luckily, I’m also working with toddlers lately in my practice. I’m finding that I can use many of the same guidelines when teaching both.

Obviously, children have many more cognitive skills than dogs, but I’ve found that some general guidelines apply to both toddlers and puppies!

1. A puppy and a toddler learn through play. It’s their “job” to use all their senses to develop fine and gross motor skills, social skills, and problem solving skills. As disruptive as that can be for time schedules and efficiency, learning happens in play. Toddlers are experiencing most things for the first time. So allow time for these rich moments of exploration. (Last night, during potty time outside, Cricket discovered fireflies!) Also, all activities should be fun so they will want to do it again. Repetition is how they learn deeply. It’s up to the adults to keep activities safe and fun.

Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Pulling the Chicken Chore Card

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Keeping Chickens with Toddlers

Chicken CoopHaving chickens is rewarding in many ways; they connect us directly to the food chain, give us a sense of belonging to the land and allow the children to take a hands on approach to caring for animals. Having chickens in or backyard brings the farm to us. It gives us the familiar rewarding feeling that hard work can bring. This sense of accomplishment is tri-fold to a toddler!

We have just recently begun the art of animal husbandry at our family day care, and my toddlers love chickens! When they pull the chicken chore card, they are so excited, becoming focused and eager. The chicken chore is combined with the compost chore, since the compost area is nearby. We usually have four chicken and compost helpers per day. With the proper preparation is in place, I have found caring for chickens to be extremely easy and rewarding for toddlers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: Lifeline Waterways

River Trees

Make the world of rivers bigger than the world of pavement inside of you!

Imagine—by float, boat or walking, you’re in the river as it wends past farmland, backyards and woods, through plains, valleys and gorges. After an hour, the initial thrill of united movement, of flesh and water and flow, has passed, and so have the conversations. The river begins to insinuate your skin and re-network your synapses; you start thinking like a river. Feel the expansion.

Hear the river sound; its voice (like ours) combines the everything it passes through, and that passes through it (for it breathes and eats with its mouth open): the more obstructions, the more turbulence; the more turbulence, the louder the growl. Read the rest of this entry »

What to Play? Summer is Time to Absorb the World

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Stories and Reading and Writing and Drawing

The flood of articles is out for the end of the school year. Summer reading. The percentage of material lost over the school vacation. Summer classes. Summer learning activities. Educational trips. I ask, “Is there a play solution to all these things we, as parents, are told to worry about during July and August?” Absolutely.

I believe summer vacation is vacation. A break from the routine of school. Time to be a kid. Time to explore your favorite things.

I have an avid reader. Books are the favorite free time activity at our house. The trick is to keep up with her. Library visits. Bookstore finds. Recommendations from friends.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Nothing Beats Planning for the Summer

Creative planning can maximize summer fun for kids

It’s that time again!  Although I look forward to it all year, I also DREAD it as well.  Summer!

Time spent with our children–Yippee!

Time spent with our children–UGH!

The dichotomy of feelings that come with school-free children are ones that many parents feel, including me…ESPECIALLY me.  Last year, I tried to head off the dread and doom by planning, planning, planning, searching, searching, searching for fun things to keep my preschooler occupied. I began this searching/planning process in May. It was a rousing success.  Summer with my posse of “things to do” went smoother, felt better, and was enjoyable.

So this year, I decided that summer would be an even bigger success and much less stressful if I started planning in January.  I have to say I am pretty pleased with this year’s summer ideas.  I have broken them down for you into three categories as shared on my Pinterest board:  Outdoor Activities, Rainy Day Activities, and Summer Day Trips.

Read the rest of this entry »

Just My Type: The Treasured Moments of Watching A Child Sleep

Sleeping Noelle

Amid all of the stress and anxiety of raising a child with two autoimmune diseases, I have found something to cherish.

When our children are babies, we look at them a lot when they are asleep. That’s partly because they sleep a lot, and partly because they look so precious while sleeping. But we also want to make sure they are OK: I’m sure many of us have put our hand on a sleeping baby’s chest to make sure he/she is breathing!

But once the children are sleeping through the night, once they are toddlers and preschoolers and big kids, how often do we have that peaceful moment of just observing them while they sleep?

Diabetes has given me that. Read the rest of this entry »

Oak & Acorn: Local Strawberry Smoothie

Take advantage of strawberry season!

In June, Western Mass is a blush of strawberries as harvest approaches. Don’t be afraid of buying too much as they can be frozen and used throughout the year.

It’s been really exciting the past few weeks in Western MA. Everything is growing like crazy, farmers’ markets are getting busy and the first of CSA share pick-ups are starting to happen. We are pretty lucky to live in an area where we are surrounded by such rich soil, have access to local farms and live where we can know where our food comes from. Thankfully, a good number of farms in the area also offer subsidized community agricultural shares.

One of my favorite things to see at the farmers’ market, is the abundance and variety of beautiful foods. I also appreciate the hard work that goes behind all that we see and buy at the market. It takes a lot of sweat and dedication to make these things happen.

This week at the market, I was really excited to see that it’s Strawberry season. The sweetness and beautiful rich reds in them, say enough. I usually try to get as many as I can, from either local markets, pick your own farms or from my own garden. If you ever find you have more than you need, just freeze them and use them throughout the year. I still have a few quarts of local berries in my freezer from last summer, that go well in many things. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: Making a Wish Trains Us to Think Positively

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

I Still Wish

This month, I will wish on my birthday candles like I always do every year. But this year I finally realize I am not the only one wishing!

I still make wishes. June is my birthday month, and on the 19th I will make a cake with my kids, light the candles, blow them out and make a silent wish. Why? Because although I will be 45 this month, I still lean toward optimism and occasionally towards magical thinking. I have never, and will never squander a wish because in a time when we are on the precipice of the 6th Mass Extinction, I need to be a believer.

I’ve been thinking a lot about wishes, and did a little research. A few years ago new age spiritualists and self-help gurus were tripping over themselves to promote an old idea made new again in a book called The Secret. The idea is that like attracts like, meaning if you think negative thoughts, those negative things will happen to you. If you think positively, your thoughts will become reality. This is also known as the Law of Attraction. Supporters of the Law suggest that life has a catalog, and that you can order exactly what you want, and it will be provided for you. So for example, my friend Jen has always admired a stately brick Colonial home in town. She should “ask” the Universe for it, then believe it can be hers- maybe even take a tour and plan where her furniture will go. The best part is that she doesn’t have to figure out how to make it happen. The Universe takes care of that for her. The house is Jen’s for the asking. She will be really happy when I tell her. But what if she isn’t the only one wishing? What if someone else likes that house (like the people who live there), and they wish to stay FOREVER? What if her husband really likes their current house and hopes to stay there with her until they can’t get to the second floor without a Stair Chair? Read the rest of this entry »

Parenting Green: Facilitating the Climate Change Conversation

Kids and Climate

My kids are getting older and are more tuned into our conversations. Remember the days as a parent when you could talk ‘adult’ in the front seat about things that interested you and the kids paid no mind?  Now at age 6 and 10 our two oldest are more aware and have context for the information they are absorbing, coupled with the fact that they want to understand what the adults are talking about. There’s no changing it; we are in complex times and as parents we are facing the challenge of how to digest this information and create a productive environment for our kids to thrive in.

We knew as parents we’d be met in their adolescence with difficult conversations about sex, drugs, violence, mental illness, and death… Can we add climate change to that ‘complex’ list?   Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: The Great Balancing Act of Relationships

Positive reinforcement means longer living relationships

Some believe that the relationships you have with your children are the only “required” relationships, in that one must keep working on them for the rest of their lives. They are the only ones we’re not allowed to give up on. Some believe that parenting is a constant try and re-try. Some believe that a good parent is constantly evolving so that the connections we have with our sons and daughters remain strong.

I disagree. Not with the sentiment that as a parent we must work and work each day at the relationships that we have with our children. Not even with the idea that we shouldn’t give up on or break up (so to speak) with our children. Hindsight has taught me that our connections with them must remain the most important things that we hold on to as parents. As a parent, I do believe these things to be true.

What I don’t believe is the statement that your children are the ONLY relationships that one isn’t allowed to let go. I believe that marriage, one’s relationship with your child’s parent, also needs to be a priority and should be a relationship that we not only nurture, but hold on to, cherish, and work on, work on, work on. Now of course that isn’t to say that there aren’t toxic relationships; abusive, detrimental or one-sided that must be let go of immediately. But the OTHER kind of marriage; the-leave-the-toilet-seat-up-beer-cans-in-the-living-room-sticky-jelly-on-the-cutting-board-stop-yelling-at-me-did-you-just-flirt-with-that-waitress?-can-we-do-something-besides-watch-tv kind of marriage must not be given up on. I believe that like the relationship you have with your children, a marriage should be a perseverance for the long haul. Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Backyard Bird Paradise Brings Toddlers Closer to Nature

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Feeding the Birds, Feeding the Curiosity

The Downy Woodpecker is one of six species of woodpecker found in Massachusetts. They are easily attracted into your backyard by building simple Woodpecker feeders.

Now that the warmer weather is here, it is easy for us to work outdoors.  Creating a backyard bird paradise is easy and fun.  By encouraging your toddler to take ownership of the feeders you will enable your child to build a great relationship with the nature in his or her own backyard.

Relating to nature allows toddlers to feel connected to something bigger, something beautiful and something alive. Toddlers love the opportunity to watch the world; by creating a backyard bird attraction you bring nature to your home and to your child.

In western Massachusetts, there are some very amazing birds that will join in the feeding frenzy if you put out the right seed, including Cardinals, Blue Jays, song birds, and of course the famous Woodpeckers.

Woodpeckers are intriguing to watch and can be easily attracted to your feeders. Using store bought or homemade suet and feeder, you can attract several different types of woodpeckers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: Consensus Building Equates Better Planning

Summer Planning with Children

Planning out the days of summer can be a challenge. But success in having these plans come to fruition comes by having buy-in from your stake-holders in the planning process.

It’s that time of year when summer plans must be considered and finalized. No getting around it. But should the responsibility of figuring out future plans rest on one person? From my experience, although easier, I’d advise against that.

This topic takes me back to a client of mine during graduate school. At the time, I went to the University of Arizona, where research was conducted on the viability of group therapy for people who had had strokes. Each person had different limitations that made it hard to communicate with the rest of the group. One man — I’ll call him John — only had a few words to express himself after his stroke. Since I also was responsible for his individual therapy, I decided to make a small book with topic pages and pictures he could point to, so others would know what he was thinking about during group therapy. I worked hard to make sure he knew where the pictures were located and knew how to use the book and we practiced in every session. I made one for our practice and his group sessions, and another identical one for home. At the end of the semester, John’s wife asked me over for supper. As we were eating, I noticed that John was completely unable to contribute to the conversation and I suggested that he get his book. Neither of them had a clue where it was. I realized that I had taken full responsibility for the vocabulary I decided would be helpful, and never asked for what they wanted or needed. So they were not at all invested in using it with each other all those months. It never became part of their lives. It was only my therapy tool, virtually useless without my guidance. Ouch!

Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: When I Jump into Your Flow

When I Jump into Your Flow

When I jump into your flow
You’ll take me wherever you go
ever you go, ever you go
You’ll take me wherever you go

Flow.

We’re in one, and sucked into bigger flows that swept into bigger flows. And on and on. Minnows circling in eddies. In white water, stonefly nymphs cling to stone. Anadromous fish are making their way up whatever tributaries aren’t dammed, and being watched and counted at Holyoke and Turners Falls dams. Visit them, because their populations are declining and might soon vanish—just 397 Blueback Herring, for example, have passed Holyoke Dam as of May 21st.

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