March 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Sarah Mattison Buhl)
Tags: Spring, Spring Time
March is the worst of its kind. After traveling through the inky darkness of winter, we arrive, weary, on the doorstep of March. March tells us, wide-eyed, that he is the official herald of spring, a time when daffodils shine in abundance. The most desperate among us will crack the bedroom window allowing March to sneak in. I’ve known March a long time, and while I still want to believe he is the real deal, I finally know better. Spring comes in April… Read the rest of this entry »
March 5, 2014 at 6:00 am (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer, Sustainability)
Tags: Diapers, Parenting, Sustainability, values
Your One Thing
Every day we are challenged to be authentic. Authentic to ourselves, to community, and to our loved ones through our speech or actions. There is a tendency to alter our opinions in hopes that they will match others, or in efforts to not offend, or sometimes its skewed to diffuse tension. The goal is to be expressing honestly and receiving feedback empathetically. I am about to tell a story that touched me so single pointedly around my authentic self and my values. I got a soaring feeling in my heart when it happened and I knew that it aligned with my intentions completely, though I hesitated to share it. I was concerned other people would feel guilty or ashamed if they didn’t care about this one thing to the same degree as I did. I wanted to avoid potentially hurting or alienating myself in the parenting community. What I realized in validating that assumption was that I wasn’t being authentic to myself and I was playing party to the ‘what if’s.’ If we are coveted or fear-based about what we truly are and how we express then we are teaching confusion of opinion and identity to our children.
So here it goes… Read the rest of this entry »
March 4, 2014 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: anger management, Motherhood, Parenting, preschool, relationships
“Let it Go” Let Me Let it Go!
I had a day last week. BOY OH BOY did I have a day! You know…one of THOSE days, where nothing goes right, nothing makes your child happy, and he or she whines and whines AND whines…and WHINES! When I was in my twenties and had THESE kinds of days with the boys, I would explode, implode…lose—my—mind! Yelling, stomping, snarling, slamming. I did it all.
But now I have Hindsight and I know that what I do is what my children, in the end, will do as well. I also know that a mother who loses it in an unpredictable way will not be a human being that her children will trust and therefore they won’t come to her with problems that might in fact make her blow a gasket. These are truths that I know.
The problem on THAT day last week is that as hard as I tried to remind myself of the things that I knew about anger and raising children, my body, my mind, my SOUL just wouldn’t respond appropriately. So as the day progressed and the whining got louder, more frequent and MUCHO irritating, the more I felt unable to keep the angry monster from jumping out of my throat. Even the heaviest iron boots wouldn’t keep him down.
Believe me, I tried. I did everything that Dr. Speed Dial and my constant companion, Hindsight, have taught me about being a mother who wasn’t a raving maniac. I reasoned. I hugged. I ignored. I distracted. I played and played and played and played. And still…and still…she whined. She whiiiiiiiiiiiiined… Read the rest of this entry »
February 26, 2014 at 10:00 am (Candice Chouinard, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Chores, Independence, Self Esteem, toddler, toddlers
What A Two Year Can Do
To help your toddler gain their independence, create day-to-day learning experiences that are toddler-friendly. Attach a key ring to their zipper and buy them shoes that are easy for them to put on, and watch their self-esteem soar as they get dressed to leave the house in the morning!
What can a two year old do? I often ask myself when working with a group of twos, what can they really do. How far can I push the idea of independence for which they so much strive. What is the threshold of their capabilities? Two years old is a very special age. It’s the age where they want to do everything “On my own” and “By myself.” It’s the age of the beginning of independence, self-reliance and perseverance.
Parents are sometimes surprised at how much a two year old can do. They are talented little people with a great desire to learn and grow. With a little help, a two year old can pour milk, drink from a cup, set the dinner table, use a fork and clear the table when the meal is finished. She can take her shoes off, put on a hat, and find the missing sock. With minimal assistance, a two year old can accomplish these tasks and in doing so, develop life skills and build self esteem. Yes, sometimes this can take longer, but this extra time is valuable and can afford many beneficial learning experience.
In order to help your child have these experiences, make tasks child friendly so that they can participate. Here are some 10 easy chores a two year old child can do: Read the rest of this entry »
February 26, 2014 at 8:00 am (Contributing Writer, Kathy Puckett)
Tags: language development, vocabulary
How to Get Through the Winter: Talk to Our Children
Spread the word about the importance of talking and reading to our children, and stay active in the winter! Peruse Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events for opportunities that get you out and engaged in your community… especially in the when it’s cold outside! (Photo credit: (c) Sienna Wildfield)
A long time ago, when I worked as a receptionist, I noticed that during a New England winter, people either looked energized or run down. Since I totally knew why people looked tired after colds, flu, freezing temperatures, and never-ending snow removal, I decided to focus on the ones who were energized, as a kind of sociological study. I simple asked them how their winter was going, and their answers explained it all. They stayed active. They skied, ice-skated, snowshoed, made snowmen, and took trips to local events. They worked with the weather, not against it, and they loved to talk about what they were doing.
When I work with children, the ones who tell me they did nothing over the weekend are the ones I worry about. They’re not going to talk much, and that’s what my job is all about. Once I get kids talking, I see where gaps are in their abilities and figure out how I can help them express better. I prefer this natural method of probing their vocabulary, grammar, and narrative skills.
When kids are active, they come in with enthusiasm and lots of stories. It is natural to want to share a fun experience using language. I work with some kids with limited or no language, but when they’re happy and thinking about their good experiences, they find an icon to show me the topic. They just need to share… Read the rest of this entry »
February 24, 2014 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger)
Tags: Chesterfield Gorge, Hilltowns, Massachusetts, outdoors, Pioneer Valley, Rivers, rivers and streams, Trustees of Reservation, western massachusetts
The River Will Rise
Bridge remains at Chesterfield Gorge. (Photo credit (c) Sienna Wildfield)
This shivery month of melt, please bring your family to the upper neck of the Chesterfield Gorge and look across the Westfield River. You’ll see a twenty-foot tall stone wall tower— the remains of an old colonial bridge, a massive abutment built in 1769 by meticulous stackers of dark granite schist.
I remember looking at it a few years ago, marveling at the brawn and artistry of the backwoods engineers who made it. They must have believed their incredible backaches were worth it, that their bridge would stand for centuries, and they and their progeny would make a living collecting tolls where hemlocks now cluster and choke.
Over two hundred years have gone by, the bridge is long gone and the road it extended is a deer and porcupine highway. Another two more centuries will go by, I imagined then, and the abutment will remain unstaggered, a gratifying, even beautiful, example of our manipulation of the biome to achieve economic goals. And aside from this, I thought, the imperturbability of the stacked stone next to the swift and crashing rapids is, itself, a story that offers a lesson… Read the rest of this entry »
February 19, 2014 at 11:00 am (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Creative Free Play, Outdoor Play, winter games
Tag in the Snowy Darkness
Looking for something to spark play and get you moving in the middle of a long, cold winter? How about flashlight tag… in the snow!
My daughter and I are finding it hard to get ourselves outside to play this month. The initial, “Yeah! It’s a snow day!” thrill is disappearing as the winter goes on. Sunny days and more hours of early daylight are fooling us into thinking we can try to head out minus the necessary hats, mittens and scarves. She has grown tired of the gear and bundling time needed to enjoy the cold and snow.
“Mom, we could just stay in to snuggle up to read or make something inside.”
“Kiddo, we should get a bit of fresh air. Let’s at least go for a walk or sled ride. I’ll pull you.”
The moans and groans commence.
So here I go. Time to add spark to a long, cold winter and get us moving. Read the rest of this entry »
February 18, 2014 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: love, Motherhood, Parenting, preschool, relationships
What Love Is
When you read this, Valentine’s Day 2014 will be a memory, but the column was penned the week before…so bear with me. Anyways, is there ever really any BAD time to talk about love? And truly, is there anyone more qualified to speak about this particular subject than a mother?
Although I didn’t grow up with the best model of what love is, the older I get the more chances I have had to observe those that are experts at it. Not only have I observed it, but I’ve experienced great love from so many special friends and family, that it is impossible not to learn more and more each day and give it back to my children. And although I have a lot to learn about the strongest emotion in the world, I am beginning to understand the nuances of this complicated thing called love: Twenty ideas of love…
February 17, 2014 at 5:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Rebecca Dravis)
Tags: caregiver, Diabetes, Parenting, Raising a Child with Type One Diabetes, SAHM, Type One Diabetes
Working it Out
I got my first full-time job as a junior in college, working the graveyard shift in the composing room of the Troy Record. I was hoping it would lead to a job in the newsroom, as I was studying journalism at Russell Sage College; it eventually did, and I started my career as a newspaper copy editor a couple months before I graduated. From there, I went on to work at several daily and weekly newspapers in the Northeast over the years, including the entire time I was pregnant with my daughter, Noelle, and seven weeks after she was born.
But this is not an autobiography. This is looking forward.
For the first time since that first job in Troy, N.Y., I am not working full-time anymore… Read the rest of this entry »
February 10, 2014 at 11:00 am (Contributing Writer, Sarah Mattison Buhl)
Tags: A Love Letter, Love Letter, Valentine's Day
A Love Letter
My daughter is curious about love. She is ten going on 25, and wants my dirt. “Who was your first kiss?” Tim Rikkers. “Were you in love with someone in high school?” Yes. “Did you ever curl up and cry really hard over someone?” Gulp. The last response gets stuck in my throat like a long-forgotten bone. Yes, I answer honestly, wanting her to know the truth about me and inevitably, herself. I explain that it was a really long time ago, and that the morning he left, I felt as though my heart walked away from my body. “Did you tell your mom?” No, I admitted, I hadn’t. My mom wasn’t the touchy-feely type, and had little time for foolishness. But if someone could have told me a few things about love ahead of time, I would have listened hard. There are lots of articles on the general topic, but most are written with the finger pointing squarely at the other person, and what they are sorely lacking. They have titles like, “11 Signs you are Dating A Boy, Not a Man,” and “30 Signs you are Dating a Jerk.” But everyone knows, or has at least heard, that you can’t change people, you can only change yourself. So assuming that my young adult children will not associate with complete sociopaths, there are some things I want them to know before I miss the opportunity. A “love letter” to them would read something like this: Read the rest of this entry »
February 5, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer, Sustainability)
Tags: Gift Wrapping, Reducing Consumption, resiliency, Sustainability, sustainable holidays
Reducing the Consumption for a Family of Five
I was putting out the trash this week and it kind of hit me how little our family of 5 (with 3 children under the age of 10) had to throw out. I have to admit I saw it as an opportunity to share just how second nature it is for us to do the handful of extra things that make a big reduction in our weekly waste. My kids were curious why I was taking the pictures, as they always are, and I thought it was a great opportunity to have them take notice too on how little trash we send away and how much we take responsibility for. “It’s because we compost.” I told them, “And because we cloth diaper.” Imagine if all this extra stuff had to go in the barrel to be sent off to the dump?! We’d be filling two barrels!
With landfill issues coming to a head, conservation commissions are scrambling to do assessments of their towns and promote recycling and waste reduction. I have heard that in 2016 Massachusetts will be lifting the ban on incineration, except, they are just going to call it something different. To me, that’s a red flag. There seems to be more reactionary measures than preventative ones to our problems. Why not take a proactive approach? We don’t have to ‘do it all’ whatever that may be. For our family it really boils down to 6 things that we do with a little extra effort to reduce our trash. So I hope that these suggestions come not as a wall of guilt if you’re not already incorporating them, but as seeds of opportunity for change: Six Steps Towards Reducing Your Family’s Waste…
February 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: Motherhood, Parenting, preschool, relationships
She walks into the party. Her patent leather shoes shine, stockings are straight and sleek. Her hair is in a perfectly high ponytail with red grosgrain ribbon to hold it in place. When she arrives, she is happily greeted by the other children attending. They surround her. Two grab her hands and lead her to the awaiting bouncy houses. She scurries up the ramp and begins to bounce. Her laughter mixes with the laughter of her friends.
Her mother is greeted by the other moms. She knows them all by their first name. She is gloriously adept at making small talk; remembering to ask about this one’s son and that one’s husband, commenting on the fierce cold, and sharing recipes for perfect Valentine treats. She is pulled together perfectly; jeans, boots, and long sweater. Her hair, in a high pony tail, matches her daughter. She nods her head in sympathetic agreement as she listens intently to one of the other mothers exclaiming how she would just PERISH if she wasn’t able to go out every weekend “just to get away for a bit.”
Can you picture it? I can…but that’s it. I can only PICTURE it. None of this scene has ever really happened in this girl’s world; not last year, not last month, and not at a party last weekend… Read the rest of this entry »
January 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Kathy Puckett)
Tags: brain development, Language, memory, Speech, speech language pathologist, whole body listening
Language and Memory
We think about memory as we and our relatives age. It seems like it gets harder and harder to remember people’s names or the places we did things or what was said. We know that a lot of this is the normal aging process or too much on our plate at once. Unfortunately, people are much less aware of childhood memory problems. We expect our children to never experience memory gaps because they are young with fresh absorbent brains, but it turns out that many children struggle to remember things… Read the rest of this entry »
January 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger)
Tags: benthic invertebrate, Ecology, Hilltowns, Massachusetts, Nature, outdoors, Pioneer Valley, Rivers, rivers and streams, western massachusetts
Ice-Walking Bugs, and the Lessons They Teach Us
(Photo credit: (c) Sienna Wildfield)
For the next two months or so, if the weather isn’t too bizarre, we’ll be knee deep in snow, and our rivers and streams will be flowing beneath their softest, whitest blankets, like restless kids dreaming of bodysurfing at the beach. When it’s really really cold outside, the river becomes the warmest part of the biome—kinda like our beds become the warmest part of the house when the frost creeps over the windows.
A few weeks ago, when the temp was in single digits, I saw bathtub steam rising off the Westfield River. In the squeaky-snow brilliance of the unclouded morning, more vitality in a deep breath than a whole pot of coffee, I had a flashback of some Rocky Mountain hotsprings, arrived at after two days of backcountry snowshoeing and skiing. Like a chrome grasshopper off the top of an ear, a gleaming sliver of myself leapt to that river steam, magnetized by the delicious feeling drifting in the wavering mist: of the coincidence of opposites, wet/dry hot/cold, manifesting as a high country hottub, as exclusive and elegant as they come. I wanted to jump into this fantasy, but didn’t—because I knew that water was so cold that it burns… Read the rest of this entry »
January 22, 2014 at 9:00 am (Candice Chouinard, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Art, art supplies, Creative Free Play, Creativity, toddlers
Art Under Three
Creating art with children under three years old can be challenging if you don’t remember that it is not about the artwork itself. For a toddler there is no end result in sight. Rather it’s the process; it’s the doing. Art with this age group is the art of creating and mushing and mixing and smearing. It is the art of identifying colors and textures. It’s a depth of imagination that many of us have forgotten about.
Art with the under three crowd is messy and scattered. Projects at this age are never finished – well, until they are crumpled, ripped into pieces and thrown at the walls. That’s why when we introduce art to children in this group it is important to have age appropriate expectations and to be prepared… Read the rest of this entry »
January 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: Motherhood, Parenting, preschool, relationships
Fluent in Preschool
You did it!!! It may not have been smooth sailing at times, but at least the dingy didn’t capsize! You made it through the sleepless-nights-poopy-diapers-tantrum-throwing-potty-training years of infancy and toddler-dom. Now, you have a preschooler, and he or she can speak! What does that mean? All of that incessant crying to get what they want—done! After all, you are living with a pint-sized communicator–all right–a rudimentary communicator, but at least able to say what he or she wants and needs. Now it’s going to be much easier, right?
Maybe…It really depends, because you see, those teeny humans, like any human learning a new language, may use a word or utterance in a way that it is not meant to be used. And without a translation guide, parents are…well… back in that dingy without a paddle. Luckily, not only have I unlocked the code to the top five most misused words and phrases by preschoolers, I have devised a parental action plan to take for each, and share them with you here: Top Five Most Misused Words and Phrases by Preschoolers…
January 20, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Leslie Lynn Lucio, Recipes)
Tags: Beet Brownies, beets, Dessert, Healthy Dessert, Vegetarian
If you are having a sweet craving but want to add a little healthy nutrition, try this recipe for Beet Brownies! [Photo credit: (c) Leslie Lynn Lucio]
Recently we had some rainy days, so we spent a lot of time doing activities indoors. Whenever we have days like that, we do things like play games, read books, do a puzzle and usually we end up baking a delicious treat or some yummy food together. I don’t like giving my six-year old daughter Thu, too many sweets but I admit that I was the one craving a sweet really bad the other day that I decided we should bake something. While going through the kitchen, I saw some beets and thought that maybe we should give it another go to make some beet brownies.
Check out the recipe…
January 20, 2014 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Rebecca Dravis)
Tags: Diabetes, Parenting, Raising a Child with Type One Diabetes, Type One Diabetes
Safe and Sound
Every day when I send Noelle off to school, I am putting her life in the hands of people who are virtual strangers.
“I don’t ever want to talk to you again!”
My daughter, Noelle, uttered these words as she flew out the front door to wait for the school bus. She was angry because she and I had just tussled over her use of her new iPad Mini before school, and this was her parting shot to me.
Tears sprang to my eyes as I watched her board the bus. Logically, I know kids say these kinds of things to their parents all the time when they are angry and full of youthful drama. But on a purely emotional level, I was devastated, and it didn’t take much soul-searching to realize why. Every day when I send Noelle off to school, I am putting her life in the hands of people who are virtual strangers. The people who work at her school are, without a doubt, kind, well-meaning and professional, but they are effectively strangers… Read the rest of this entry »
January 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Art, Children's Literature, Creative Free Play, Picture Books
I am currently working with a small and energetic group of 2 and 3 year-olds. Our daily routine involves lots of food, group activities and free play with the usual suspects—cars, babies, trains, play food and building toys. We have art time with play dough, paints and simple projects. And, of course, we all (including the 2 adults) need outside time to run and breathe in some fresh air before lunch and nap. The cold, cold days mean less time to run outside. There is only so longthose short legs can trudge through the snow piles and those tiny fingers can keep warm and dry. Everyone loves a snowy day but the frigid temps often take over.
We are constantly seeking new activities to spark play and imagination. We need to keep those minds and bodies engaged through the winter cold. I turn to favorite books to add surprise games. During the fall a train book slowly became a pre-nap favorite—The Goodnight Train by June Sobel. One little one insists upon it before a final heads down, blankets on and “Have a good sleep, everybody.” Like many children with favorite books, they have it memorized. If I skip a word or say the “Choo, Choo, Sleeeeep, Sleeeep” line with different emphasis they catch me. I like to change things up for my interest but not the kids…
Read the rest of this entry »
January 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Sarah Mattison Buhl)
Tags: New Year's Resolutions
Signs Point to Yes
When I look back on the dimming horizon of 2013, I marvel at the abundance of the year. We bought a house, we made new friends, we realigned our thinking, transitioning from moving trucks, packing tape and uncertainty, to a minivan, a tire swing, and this old place- -our new home. My family traveled thousands of miles to get here, the five of us taking a leap of faith toward Northampton, MA. It had the right ingredients: a progressive college town, good opportunities, good schools, and family near-ish. We considered other places, trying to piece together a new life after a year abroad, but like so many situations, we chose our path based on what we knew, and took small steps until this place, this opportunity, revealed itself as the best choice out of many good ones. It wasn’t luck. We did our research. We thought about the kind of life we wanted, and I Googled endless conversation threads on City-Data. I’ve come to think of Google as a sort of Magic 8-Ball for the 2000’s. Is Northampton the right place for us? Signs point to yes…
Read the rest of this entry »
January 7, 2014 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Fisher Girls Never Give Up!
I teach. I have for 22 years, many grades 3rd through 8th. I parent. I have for 20 years, making (as you know) many mistakes along the way. I learn. I have been for many years, vowing to use hindsight as a guide to do better. I seek. Perhaps for the last three years, always on the lookout for ways to improve myself and the world around me. My trusty Doctor Speed Dial tells me that if you put all those things together, one could say that I am constructive.
Dictionary.com’s definition of “constructive”: Helping to improve; promoting further development or advancement (opposed to destructive ).
I like that last part. “opposed to destructive”. The phrase fits my state of mind, my evolution, and my intentions for myself, my children, and heck, for the universe itself over these past few years. I make a conscious effort to stay away from those that are destructive or mean or energy-suckers (as my husband so eloquently puts it). Instead choosing to put emphasis on the good, on what could be learned in any situation, concentrating on a gratitude attitude… Read the rest of this entry »
January 1, 2014 at 6:00 am (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer, Sustainability)
Tags: curiosity, Gift Wrapping, gift wrapping alternative, nature awareness, Nature Based Learning, nature based play, nature-deficit disorder, resiliency, Sustainability, sustainable holidays, Wrapping Paper
Winter Nature Play
I am always amazed at how the kids tend to be the ones to notice the pulse of our natural world through their curiosity. It’s how discovery happens! We just have to bring them to the opportunity and they will certainly find it. — What are some of the ways your family stays connected to nature within the limits of winter?
I love the adage, ‘there is no bad weather, just bad clothing.’ especially this time of year when the winter winds and flakes can make you feel like it’s not worth the fight to get bundled. What’s your strategy for getting the kids geared up before the inner heat you’ve created sends your minds to a boiling point!? Sometimes I don’t get the process down so wisely. I feel like if our coat area was set up more like a firehouse station, we might gear up and get out…it’s always a back and forth with finding gloves, the hat, and which door the snow pants are hanging up at. Keeping myself from getting overheated helps me have more patience in that process. Luckily we have a screened in porch so I can send the bundled baby and big kids out once they have their gear on, and they can wait there until I get winterized.
It was really about commitment the other day when the idea to go outside in the falling snow came over the living room where free play was happening. There was no pressure of schedule to follow, we didn’t have to be anywhere at any particular time. We knew that the need for physical activity was necessary and that being outside was always welcomed and enjoyed once we got there. Somehow we kept the momentum going even with the resistance voiced by the happily engaged big kids. I think that’s where the commitment came in. We had a vision and we didn’t waver. We wanted to go for a walk in the trails at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. There were plenty of easy trails and a lookout tower that we could climb. It would be fun… Read the rest of this entry »
December 31, 2013 at 6:00 am (Contributing Writer, Mister G, music, Video)
Tags: Mister G, music, Music Education, Songwriting
Songs in the Desert
As I write, I’m sitting in the Arizona desert surrounded by giant cactus and enormous mountains. For a songwriter from New England, it’s a lot like being in a candy store. The landscape, the people, the food, the music — everywhere I look there are fascinating things to see, touch, taste, smell and hear. Songwriters depend on their senses for inspiration and this year I’ve had more than my fair share of sensory stimulation. From performing in big cities and small villages in Mexico, to touring coast to coast around the United States, I’ve been fortunate to witness an amazing range of people and places… Read the rest of this entry »
December 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm (Candice Chouinard, Contributing Writer)
Tags: busy bins, Creative Free Play, day care, Play, pretend play, toddlers, winter play
Bringing the Outside In: Activities for Toddlers
It is important to recognize that at around the age of 18 months, toddlers begin to use their imagination in play. An outdoor themed bin for an older toddler should support this imaginative play and can consist of a variety of outdoor elements….
With the cold weather upon us, it is tough for a toddler to spend long bouts of time outside at the park or walking in the woods. Even with good gear, a toddler’s span outside in the cold weather is limited, so be creative and bring the outside in with the help of a “busy bin.”
The concept of a busy bin is not something I created, but one that I use regularly to keep toddlers engaged, inspired and imagining. Create several bins with your toddler and rotate their use to keep your child engaged. By helping your toddler assemble child friendly busy bins, you are encouraging imagination and innovation. Collecting the busy bin contents and putting them together with your toddler will give them a sense of ownership, as well as teach them the benefits of following through. When a bin begins to lose its appeal, simply store it away, switching it out with a different one!
Read the rest of this entry »
December 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Kathy Puckett)
Tags: caroling, language therapy, Melodic Intonation Therapy, Singing
Christmas Singing for Language Skills
Singing together with family, neighbors and friends is one way of enhancing children’s language learning…
Although Christmas is not part of my cultural heritage, I have always loved Christmas caroling. I like it for the joy of singing in a group to cheer listeners. What a great non-commercial way to give! If I’m outside I like to breathe all that wonderful fresh air, blending my voice with others to make chords. I like the way the words fit the rhythm of the music and that the vocabulary is specific to Christmas. I like learning more obscure gems and music in other languages. About 2 weeks before the holidays, I start wanting music around me while I do chores. This seems to escalate as Christmas draws nearer… Read the rest of this entry »
December 23, 2013 at 10:00 am (Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger)
Tags: Ecology, Experiential Learning, Massachusetts, Nature, outdoors, Rivers, rivers and streams, western massachusetts
Gift to Receive by Being Present
For the next few months, the deep chills of winter will freeze our higher elevation watercourses—and invite us to wander in a winter wonderland.
Few places are more “Christmas-y” than our snow-laden hemlock forests; and since hemlocks love shallow wet soils and grow near bouldery brooks and streams, they beckon us, who yearn to be present when and where our biome most clearly expresses its unique vivacity. Snow settles on their dark green needles, very “zen” if you see it that way, and Currier and Ives, if that’s what you’re looking for. Snow settles on needles anyway it wants, of course—and being with those we love when the crow lands and shakes the hemlock and spills the sprinkles that glisten in sun above the brook is magical. Most of the holiday advertising we are deluged by tries to convey what is freely offered by our own hills—receive the gift, by wrapping up and presenting yourself to the hemlocks and their hidden icy grottoes… Read the rest of this entry »
December 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Tags: blanket forts, Creative Free Play, Forts, Indoor Forts
We celebrate Christmas with our extended family which means we pack suitcases, ship gifts and fly off to Grandma’s in Michigan the morning after school is out for winter break. This also means the break offers little down time for us, so I declare the weeks of December as our free time. We limit holiday gatherings and play dates to one a week. We say, “No way!” to the mall crowd. We carve out more time at home. We make time to sled, if the snow falls. There is definitely time to make a batch or two of our favorite holiday cookies. We have time to just be. We make sure to wander through downtown after dark to enjoy the people, lights and an ice cream at Herrell’s on a cold night. No rushing about… Read the rest of this entry »
December 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Looking Back. Finding Gifts.
This past year, if you read all posts to my “Hindsight” column, you would have noticed a theme. At least I noticed one. Hindsight has taught me that the importance of seeing the positive, being grateful for the small stuff, and freely communicating appreciation is what being a family member is all about. I have discussed these realizations over the past year in many different ways. But this past week, or perhaps several weeks, those realizations, Hindsight’s realizations, have hit me over the head like a Christmas present full of rocks. Focusing on gratitude, appreciation, being positive aren’t actions that are reserved for your children. I mean, I have learned the hard way that they are all must do’s if you are a parent, but how about if you are a human? Yes, I dare say that these qualities, if you choose to live in a constructive manner, must permeate all the moments of your lives and be shared with ALL loved ones, not just your children… Read the rest of this entry »
December 16, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Rebecca Dravis)
Tags: Diabetes, Parenting, Raising a Child with Type One Diabetes, Type One Diabetes
A Merry Little Christmas
The cat knocked over the Christmas tree.
I realize there is probably nothing too unique about those seven words. People with pets deal with this kind of thing every Christmas. We even have dealt with it before; years ago when we had both a dog and a cat, our tree was tied to a wall via some twine and a couple cup hooks.
But for some reason that didn’t occur to us this Christmas, the first we are celebrating with our new cat in our home (Last Christmas, the first year we had him, we spent Christmas in Florida and didn’t do any decorating.). Maybe it’s because we had other things on our mind – mostly Noelle’s new health issues. Or maybe it’s because I debated whether to even put up a tree this year – mostly because Noelle’s new health issues have not put me in a happy jolly mood… Read the rest of this entry »
December 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer, Sustainability)
Tags: Gift Wrapping, gift wrapping alternative, resiliency, Sustainability, sustainable holidays, Wrapping Paper
Reusable & Creative Wrapping Alternatives
Alright, it’s here. We have turned the corner into winter and holiday season is upon us. There is excitement and anticipation and joy ahead (as well as a healthy dose of anxiety and stress). I usually reflect on the previous year’s gift giving and how to come up with original ideas this year that save us money, time, and just feel good. This year I’m focusing on hand-made because I know it feels good for me to get creative. I purchased materials I was excited about (felt fabric) and could create a myriad of projects from (french press cozies, pencil holders, bookmarks, ornaments, pot holders, etc). I also realized that some of the things I make regularly anyway are enjoyed by others and to celebrate that. Are you known for your cooking or baking? Do people love the photos you take? The other year we cut out family pictures and put them into old bottle caps and covered them with epoxy resin, and put a circular magnet on the back as keepsakes. Spending less on tangible things and focusing more on giving hand-made helps us tap back into the idea that it’s about the gesture and not the grandeur.
Wrapping paper is often just used once and then thrown away. I wanted to share some sweet, easy, and achievable ideas I have seen as alternatives to traditional gift wrap… Read what ideas Angie shares this month…
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