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.

Read the rest of this entry »

What to Play? Creative-Free Music Making!

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Make Some Noise

This month is dedicated to the younger set. All the big kids we know have baseball or track or bike rides with friends keeping them active in this warm weather. The toddlers and preK set are looking for things to explore and play with. How about some music/noise? Noise is always attractive to make when you are three. Noise brought outside however, is more attractive to the adults in the house!

Here is a plan for loud bead shakers:

Materials:

  • empty and dry small plastic water bottle from the recycling bin
  • various plastic and wooden beads
  • colored duct tape
  • 6 inch wooden dowel that fits snug in the open end of water bottle (sand the ends smooth)

Add a handful of various beads to the bottle. A funnel will help little ones get the beads in the small opening. We have found a mix of pony beads, wooden beads and fun decorator beads make the best noise. If needed, wrap a length of duct tape around one end of the dowel to secure a tight fit. Place the dowel completely into the opening of the bottle. If you push the dowel into the bottle an inch or two beyond the opening, that is okay. The dowel helps the beads rattle around and prevents beads from getting stuck in the opening. The final step is to cut a 6-8 inch length of duct tape and secure the dowel to the exterior of the bottle opening. SHAKE! This shaker is loud. Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Stepping Out of Motherhood and into Yourself

The Woman in Me…

When I mothered my sons, I was consumed by it. It was my job, my calling, my duty. I let everything else go. I became mired down in the details, in doing things right and doing things wrong. Their mistakes were my mistakes. Their mountains were my mountains. Their triumphs were my triumphs. Their sadness, their anger, their tragedies; all mine. I was their mother and that is all. I lost myself. Logan the singer was gone. Logan the writer hadn’t been born. Logan the academic hid her opinions and quest for knowledge. Logan the reader only showed up on a beach in the summer for 30 minutes while the boys were securely and happily playing with their step father. I didn’t even USE my own name. When I spoke it was in the third person. “Mommy will get you a drink.” “Don’t forget, mommy will pick you up at 5.” “Mommy was so proud when you hit that homerun.” The woman in me wanted…longed for SOMETHING, but I thought it was a betrayal to my sons to go out and chase “my dreams.” When I had a chance to work as a staff developer for Columbia Teacher’s College, I turned it down. I couldn’t possibly uproot my boys. When someone asked me to join the community musical and try out for a lead role, I scoffed at the idea. Too much time away from my sons. Who would make them dinner. Who would make sure they did their homework. Who would intervene when the vitriol started between them. I played it safe. I was just their mom, and that’s all they ever saw me as–their mom. As my sons grew, I began to look forward to the day where they didn’t need a mommy as much and perhaps I’d be able to become the woman that was tucked away because of and overruled by the mother in me.  Read the rest of this entry »

Oak & Acorn: Rhubarb Crumble in Season

Rhubarb Crumble

It’s that time of year when little green things are starting to come out of the ground, flowers are blooming and the trees have their leaves again. Without the work of planting new seeds, we get lucky to have those few perennials that come back each year. The only things that I have coming back from last spring are a variety of herbs and rhubarb. Rhubarb is a vegetable that is known for its large leaves and tall, thin red stalks but is mostly known for its strong tart flavor. It’s an easy thing to grow with kids and also doesn’t require a lot of maintenance like other vegetables or fruits. Generally people will combine something sweet with the rhubarb to complement it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Just My Type: Fenway, the Perfect Ending to a Trying Day

Root for the Home Team

The following is a letter I wrote to the Boston Red Sox:

Dear Red Sox,

Sometimes blessings come in unusual packages, like wrapped up in rawhide.

My husband and I attended the Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Wednesday, May 7, with our 8-year-old daughter. It was her first trip to Fenway Park. We wanted to share our story with you.

Right before the game started, a staffer named Mick came to us in our bleacher seats and ask if we wanted to move to better seats, as he had three extra seats in the State Street Pavilion section that were not being used. As we were sitting in the “cheap seats” in the very back corner of the park, under the Jumbo-tron, we agreed and followed him to awesome seats right above the Red Sox dugout. Along the way, he told us he approached us because it was hard to find a party of three and he had seen my daughter wearing her “first visit to Fenway” button.

Here’s what Mick didn’t know: Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: Memories That Make a Life

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

The Only Memory That Matters

May is the essence of all my lovely childhood springs…

May is the essence of all my lovely childhood springs. I’m pretty sure I didn’t know at the time that the month was actually May but, in hindsight, it must have been, because the high school band could be heard practicing their marching music in the distance for the Norwegian Syttende Mai parade—a major annual event in my small, Midwestern hometown. My mother opened all the windows and let the warmish springtime breeze drift in along with the band. I remember the sheer, white curtains billowing around her as my mom took down the heavier winter drapes. I remember our enormous crabapple tree heavy with pink blossoms. I remember eating my Chef Boyardee Ravioli out of an orange plastic bowl, while sunning my newly rediscovered knees on the back steps. In my memory, I often ate my lunch on those back steps, but did I? Am I recalling one day in May that somehow got changed in my memory to a lifetime of May days focused on my knees? One thing I know for sure is that apple tree has grown a lot from then until now. Maybe my memory of May has grown in proportion to that tree. Details lost in remembering? Read on

Parenting Green: 6 Reasons to Bike Ride with Your Family

Biking with Your Family

It just feels good to get out on a bike. It’s liberation, it’s exhilaration, it’s exercise, it’s transportation, and it’s free*! The little trips add up and if you can run your smaller errands by bike you’ll likely feel better, live longer, and save money. Now that you have a family, don’t let transporting children be the burden that puts you in the car. Taking them biking is fun and you can plan what type of biking system to use based on the length of the trip, the time constraints, or the weather. So really, it’s just about integrating it into your life and creating a new habit (or reviving an old one!).


We used to live in the Hilltowns and taking biking trips around where we lived was challenging, I won’t lie. The driveway was gravel (which is a hard surface for kids to get moving on) and we were surrounded by a lot of hills. These can be deterring factors. Finding a large paved lot or getting to a place that has less inclines can make it easier for everyone. If you’re schlepping from the Hilltowns into the Valley to do your grocery shopping you might as well bring your bikes to get around town and enjoy the paved paradise…I challenge you to watch how cars get stuck in traffic while your crew keeps in forward motion! Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Parenting An Adult

Give and Take: Parenting An Adult

Son1 is twenty, and it’s no secret that in many ways I bumbled and fumbled my way through raising him. Just as it’s no secret that I use those bumbles and fumbles to guide my parenting decisions for his four year old sister, Ila. Looking BACK has made it easy to move FORWARD…but parenting an adult…well…once again, I find myself in unchartered territory. When it comes to knowing what’s appropriate and not appropriate, what actions stay behind the imaginary line and what actions step over that line, I have no experiences to lean on. And so, I will admit, that I’ve been a bit nervous. I mean, he was a guinea pig once. I don’t want him to be one again.

But believe it or not Hindsight’s wisdom DOES provide me a road map. After all, the things that make up good parenting at four, probably make up good parenting at any age. So lately, I decided to try this theory out. Could I transfer my new parenting truths when it comes to Ila and make them parenting truths for my 20 year old? This is what I came up with: Read the rest of this entry »

Language Play: Learning Isn’t Accomplished in a Straight Ascending Line

Carry Over Time

So it is finally spring in western Massachusetts. And for kids in school this is a time of field trips, assemblies, and visits to the next grade. The pleasures and fears of the future intensify during this time. Then school is over and they are free to enjoy a break, sleep in, and be outside in the sunshine.

This building of intense feelings may affect our children. It often makes it harder to reach them! The best thing we can do to ease the change is to keep things calm and light and help our children stay in the moment. When people are emotional, they can’t think or access their knowledge. I have often told my high schoolers that the best thing they can do before a test is to relax so their brains will work better. This is true because our emotions can block access to our memories. For younger children, it is up to us to control things since they haven’t yet developed the inner control to do this for themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Under the Hat: How Books Can Inspired Songwriting

Under the Hat: Setting the Stage

Ever since he was a little kid, Mister G has loved to read and make up stories. His parents read to him all the time and took him on weekly trips to the library. Looking back, he now sees that this love of books set the stage for his career as a songwriter.

In this month’s Under the Hat, Mister G and his mom, children’s book author/illustrator Karen Gundersheimer, reminisce about the role books and stories played in their household when he was growing up.

Next time in Under the Hat…

The Ripple: The Cure For All Things Pavement

The Cure for All Things Pavement

Make the world of rivers bigger than the world of pavement inside of you! Tuning into this “wheel of time” is one way that we leave our pavement-based perception of place. If you are lucky, you’ll get to see mergansers, a sort of river loon, as they hunt for the same trout that are hunting the invertebrates.

Before there were roads, there were trails and before there were trails, there were rivers. The Nile and the Mississippi—can you see Cleopatra and Huck & Jim making their ways on these liquid highways? Have you heard the tale (more or less true) of how Native Americans followed the paths of deer that traveled up and down food-rich riparian corridors; and that Routes 5 & 7 were laid over such paths?

Once upon a time, people knew their places from the perspective of the river; and what is so wonderful is that this perspective is still available to those who pine for a way of seeing, and being, that is not pavement-based. This summer, you could float down the Deerfield or Connecticut Rivers—and you ought to!—but floating down means that you’ve already driven up it. Nothing wrong with that; in fact it can’t be avoided given our moment in time; but the proper way to get the feeling and the vision of being placed in a biome is to head upstream, like the Atlantic Shad are doing right now. (Reminder: the operators of the Holyoke and Turner’s Falls dams open their anadromous fish viewing stations around Mother’s Day, and—despite the fact that both dams are causing extinctions—they are worth visiting.)

If you want to change the way you and your family view your “place” by leaving the pavement and making your way up a river valley, you are lucky! Read the rest of this entry »

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