December 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: Motherhood, Parenting
Recently I had an essay published on mamalode.com and the response was a writer’s dream. My story was shared and discussed and appreciated. The most touching responses came from about two dozen or so mothers who private messaged me a thanks for telling the truth about motherhood…that sometimes it isn’t all rainbows and tulle tutus. And while these parents found refuge and comfort in my story, I also took repose in the fact that I wasn’t alone as a parent who has experienced hard times with her children.
Quite often in this Facebook-Instagram-Twitter universe, parents can believe that the lives of others are so much more wonderful than the lives that their families may lead. I am truly guilty of this. If you looked upon my Facebook or Instagram page for the first time, you’d see an idyllic daughter experiencing life in ways that make fantastic photo ops. I’ve even heard whispers coming out of that small town gossip mill that I speak of often that I post WAY too many pictures of my daughter being…well…spectacular. I will cop to that. I do. I certainly do because I DO think that she is spectacular and magical, but like all other families there are moments that aren’t lollipops and lullabies and I guess I should cop to that as well.
So in the spirit of full disclosure, it’s time to dispel the myth once and for all that being a parent is always and forever fulfilling and transcendent. Nope. Not in my house… Read the rest of this entry »
November 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Kathy Puckett)
Tags: Holidays, Parenting
Add Structure and Language to Your Thanksgiving Menu
Board games help to bring structure and can be a great intergenerational activity during your Thanksgiving celebration. Have a favorite ready to share together, allowing children to practice language skills and concepts.
Thanksgiving is my favorite American holiday. It is not about any one religious belief; you don’t have to buy presents; it is optional if you cook or bring food; people offer hospitality to others who have nowhere else to go; and, of course, parades, food, and football!
Children may be fine with herds of people, meals at different times of the day, free play with friends and relatives, with their parents’ attention on others and away from them; but many can become stressed with so many changes in their routine all at once. If you have a child like this, make sure you plan more than the meal… Read the rest of this entry »
November 25, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger)
Tags: Ecology, Experiential Learning, Massachusetts, Nature, outdoors, Rivers, rivers and streams, western massachusetts
Biophilia: Love of Life
When I walked with my children along and in Stonehouse Brook, I let them play, for it was crucial that they engage the brook at their own pace and comfort level. My job was simply to ensure they didn’t get hurt—but I let them slip and fall in, so they would learn how not to do that. I let them wade a little too deep so they could feel the muscular strength of water flow, and allowed them to get carried away so they would learn how to recover their feet, balance and stance.
When my daughters (now 15 and 17) were little, their most magical place was Stonehouse Brook, a lively watercourse that tumbled down from pine and oak headlands. From the age they could walk by themselves until the era of afterschool sports, they were all mine and I used our time together to live halfway indoors and halfway outdoors. I, and my wife, did this because we were concerned that their cognitive development would be shunted if their senses and their consciousness were not stimulated and challenged. For this purpose, Stonehouse Brook was perfect; it was intimate and not overwhelming, and it was very alive.
Biophilia is a word that means love of life and the person who coined it, evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson, did so because he noticed that we have an innate attraction to other living beings… Read the rest of this entry »
November 20, 2013 at 9:00 am (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Creative Free Play, Drawing Pen Pals, pen pals
More Free Drawing
My 74 year-old mother, who lives in Michigan, went through a very long hospital stay because of a hip replacement gone awry. She is too active to be confined for 3 months. My daughter and I thought about what we could do to keep grandma upbeat during her spring spent indoors. She came up with a brilliant idea one morning during breakfast while looking at a painting my mom made in high school. It hangs near the table. She zoomed off to her room and came back with a small blank notebook and a pencil. She started drawing and asked if I could mail it off to grandma with an envelope and postage for grandma to return it to us. Drawing pen pals. This started a very interesting exchange of images. I have just been the delivery person making post office runs until last week when the little purple notebook arrived once again from Michigan. For the first time in months, I looked inside. They have quite a visual conversation going. My mom draws what she see from her favorite chair or just doodles. It was fun to see that she still traces coins to get perfect circles. She did this when I was little. She still uses the v shape for birds flying in the distance. She draws things that she sees. She observes. My daughter just draws. A bit of everything and anything. Partial jokes coming from mustaches. Love for grandma. Her ant farm. Characters she imagines. I am more than happy to be the post office messenger for this drawing conversation going on between downtown Northampton and rural Michigan… Read the rest of this entry »
November 19, 2013 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: gratefulness, Gratitude, Motherhood, Parenting
The Attitude of Gratitude
When I need to rid myself of the bitter curmudgeon, when Eeyore sidles up to me wanting to bring me down (‘Oh bother…doesn’t matter anyway…’), lately when I take a moment to practice gratitude, it is my daughter’s capability to be thankful that comes to mind.
I have seen lots and lots of “November is a month for Giving Thanks” on Facebook lately. Heck, I was doing the same thing LAST November. For me, doing that; posting something that you are grateful for even on the worst of days where there seemed to be slim pickin’s in the happy department was a fruitful and enlightening exercise for me. On those seemingly desert dry days of thankfulness, I somehow found something small, a three year olds giggle, a warm bed, a glass of wine, a light bulb moment from one of my students. Those little things truly reminded me on those days of drudgery or misery that life wasn’t all bad. Of course always on the lookout for Hindsight lessons, I began to realize that this attitude of gratefulness was not an easy one for me. It was not natural. It was way too easy to focus on all that was going wrong (which was plenty a year ago)… Read the rest of this entry »
November 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Rebecca Dravis)
Tags: Addison's disease, Diabetes, Gratitude, Parenting, Raising a Child with Type One Diabetes, thankfulness, Type One Diabetes
Thankful for Her Smile
Three years ago, I wrote a column for the weekly newspaper I was working for called “Thankful for her smile.” It was six weeks after my daughter Noelle’s type 1 diabetes diagnosis, and I chose to share the news with my readers in a pre-Thanksgiving column that tried to be positive, focusing on what I was thankful for instead of what I was angry about.
As this pre-Thanksgiving column was percolating in my head over the last couple of weeks, I had decided to revisit the idea of counting my blessings instead of my burdens. As life seems to enjoy throwing curveballs at me, however, that idea was almost derailed this week with yet another devastating health issue… Read the rest of this entry »
November 6, 2013 at 11:00 am (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer)
Tags: resiliency, Sustainability
In our house, it’s hard to remember how we made it from the days of paper towels by the roll and paper napkins by the stack to the cloth napkins that prevail in our home now.
The adage ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ seemed to move from a motto to a household reality pretty quickly in our home. I’m glad about that. When I talk to my husband’s grandma about some of the projects the artisans and crafters are making around here from repurposed materials she kind of chuckles about how that was just the way things were back when she was young. It’s more of a trend now, she felt, and less out of necessity as it was when she was mothering. Though like me, I believe she was glad to hear people were getting back into that type of reclaiming regardless. Perhaps we are circling back in time a bit. History does tend to repeat itself, and this is one relapse not only worth reliving, but perhaps one we are increasingly unable to do without.
Back are the days of cloth napkins and cotton bags for bringing home groceries! Even the big chain grocery stores are retraining us with posters at their entryway reminding shoppers to get their reusable bags from the car. And before we know it, we end up using these bags for a whole lot more than groceries! Whether they’re used to hold beach towels, kids snow gear for trips, sleepover items, or for on-going projects that live in our shed, it’s no wonder I’ve lost track of them along the way…
November 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: Motherhood, Parenting
Knowing Me. Knowing You.
I scrapped the column that I had been writing all week, (ah…I’ll post it another time), because of the “ah ha” moment that I had while trick or treating with my daughter, Ila, last week. Sometimes it isn’t Hindsight that teaches me, it’s my own child. This won’t be a surprise for most parents, however I think that it is to me because I was NEVER open to that while raising my sons. So I suppose, Hindsight had a hand, in helping with knowing to look for those moments of learning that I cherish now so as a mom. A child can teach so much to the uptight adults of the world if we would just be on the lookout for the lessons…
October 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Kathy Puckett)
Working Towards Independence
This week I have been thinking about independence. As a parent, grandparent, and a professional who works primarily with children, I know how difficult it is to protect our children and at the same time
foster their independence. I have seen children who have a nurturing paraprofessional who inadvertently makes the child dependent on them. I have seen older children who are not at all prepared for their futures because everything was done for them. I have seen parents who
choose not to discipline because they are afraid to lose their children’s love. They won’t ask the child to do something because it is so much easier to do it themselves. We all have done these things, but if we have our children’s best interests in mind, we know that we should help them to feel capable of accomplishments as a priority.
October 29, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Mister G, music, Video)
Tags: Mister G, music, Music Education, Songwriting
Making Songwriting Twice As Fun
I’ve been traveling and performing around the world for many years, but singing my bilingual songs on a big stage in Mexico City or a little mountain village in Guatemala was the most fascinating and rewarding experience I’d had as a touring musician.
I started writing songs long before I learned how to play an instrument. My parents still tell stories about me banging on pots and pans and making up nonsense sounds with melodies before I could speak. You may have a kid like that too. Lots of kids love to experiment with rhythm and sound. It’s all part of the joy of using your imagination and creating something from nothing. It’s not that unusual, after all.
What’s unusual is to find someone who doesn’t love music. There’s a saying that music is the universal language. Over the last few years, I’ve learned some other wonderful lessons that have made me understand how true that old cliché really is. And the best part about the lessons I’ve learned is that they really happened by accident.
Here’s the story: my first CD, Pizza for Breakfast, came out four years ago. I’d been writing and performing for grown-ups for a long time, and I thought it would be fun to make a record for kids. The songs on Pizza for Breakfast were inspired by my former elementary school students at the Smith College Campus School in Northampton, MA. Shortly after the CD was released, my wife (Missus G) and I took a trip to Colombia in South America…
October 28, 2013 at 6:00 am (Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger, Nature Based Education)
Tags: Massachusetts, Nature, outdoors, Pioneer Valley, Rivers, rivers and streams, Watershed, western massachusetts, Westfield River
Take Me To The River
(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)
I really love looking at pictures of people enjoying rivers. Lakes, ponds, pools and the ocean: these are great, but (with the exceptions of oceans) they are stagnant. I do love oceans, yet they’re too big to get a handle on and—dare I say it—beaches get boring.
Rivers, on the other hand, are dynamic and have tons of personality (Our rapid biotic assessments show us how different they are.). When we get near them after escaping buildings and cars, we experience a liberating emotional release—as Ray Davies so perfectly captures in the song, “Sitting by the Riverside” by The Kinks.
Whether it’s a leap of joy and dash to the edge, or a stoical surrender of complex thoughts to the onward round-the-bend flow, or a bright flash of sensory expansion as one is enveloped in a fresh kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and smells…People like to take pictures of themselves and their friends when they are next to rivers, and these kinds of emotional states are recorded…
October 21, 2013 at 6:00 am (Contributing Writer, Rebecca Dravis)
Tags: Diabetes, Parenting, Raising a Child with Type One Diabetes, Type One Diabetes
And Then There Were Two
The news hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.
A little girl in my daughter Noelle’s circle of friends had been fighting to recover from diabetic ketoacidosis at Baystate Medical Center recently, and now is an officially confirmed type 1 diabetic. The email from her parents came on a quiet Sunday morning in late September, just two days before we were to mark the third anniversary of Noelle’s type 1 diagnosis.
I was not prepared for this. While I had always wished for the support of another local diabetes family, I guess I always assumed it would come by someone moving into town, or meeting someone I hadn’t known before. I never in a million years thought about it coming in the form of a new diagnosis of another innocent little girl whom we already knew…
October 16, 2013 at 6:00 am (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Tags: autumn, Creative Free Play, Nature, Nature Art, nature based education
Searching for Fall
Scavenger hunts appear to be popular right now. They are being used for local fundraisers. They are mentioned on many television programs this fall. Local college groups are joining in. So we went on a nature scavenger hunt of sorts.
Head outside with the kids to hunt down the visual signs of fall with a mental list of outdoor things specific to the season. Brilliant red leaves. Acorn tops. Pine needles. Helicopter seed pods. Colorful fall flowers. After all your collecting, stop in the woods and make a nature collage on the ground. This took a bit of convincing at our house because this will not be permanent. There was a bit of concern about leaving our project behind…
October 15, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: cutting the cord, Motherhood, Parenting, Teens
Five Things Hindsight Has Taught Me About Cutting Cords…and Cords That Cut
We all have heard the term, “cut the cord,” and most seem to generalize it to birth and our children’s transition to adulthood. However, that phrase is so much more. So-Much-More. Here are 5 things I have learned about cords and cutting:
Cutting the cord often signifies an ending–for the parent–but it is truly a beginning…for the child. The first time the cord is cut is literal and physical, but a beginning, a beautiful beginning. The tiny infant emerges from the dark in which he or she resided for nine months. It is his or hers first sweet breath of Earth’s life sustaining air. It is the eyes first experience of incredible and illuminating light. It is the ears first chance to clearly hear the veritable voices that will fill his or her head and heart for years and years to come. Cutting the cord frees the child so that he or she can be wrapped in the loving and awaiting arms of a mother who will cradle him or her in literally and figuratively for the rest of her live long life. It is often the first monumental and significant task of a father who with scissors in hand and tears in his eyes releases his child into the world. Cutting the cord is a beginning…
October 14, 2013 at 2:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Food, Northampton, Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser)
Tags: western massachusetts
Note 30: A Sense of Place Through Community
Final Mash Notes tips the hat to Hilltown Families
Fine Hilltown Families readers, I’ve professed my love for many things in Paradise over the past twenty-nine Mash Notes, from frozen treats to farmers’ markets to Main Street to relative lack of signs. My ardor for this place, even with winter on its way, hasn’t ebbed one bit. But I think I’ve written plenty of Mash Notes now (besides, I have a Facebook page called Only in Northampton where a little more love for Paradise flows).
However, I can’t end this column without my final missive of appreciation and it’s for Sienna Wildfield, whose brainchild is Hilltown Families. And what an amazing vision she’s nurtured: to create a sense of place for families not through a physical place, like a farm or a school, rather through connections. By which I mean this network, for example provides a vehicle for people to find one another through interests or events or simply answers to simple questions and the sharing of resources. But that’s not all.
Sienna has an idea that community can be found through community events—to learn, to play and to serve. She’s worked hard to form meaningful partnerships to support all these areas. From citizenry in field science to winter wear swaps to Valentine card making to festivals for the springtime, there’s a place that’s not a place but is rooted in our community. It’s Hilltown Families. I am grateful to be part of this family, and this place.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser
Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!
October 2, 2013 at 9:00 am (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer)
Tags: resiliency, Sustainability
There is a sentiment of resiliency and connection to our community when we participate in sustainable practices…
Every time I walk into a home and see the paper cuts of Nikki Mcclure’s work hanging on a wall or a page of her calendar looking back at me, I’m reminded of the sweet work that it is being human. I’m immediately flooded with ideas of repairing, reusing and reclaiming our creative heritage. Inspired to pick up thread and attend to the basket of mending that covers my worktable. Days and weeks go by, and now that basket has been demoted to the closet, almost forgotten about. Within are the possibilities of new outfits, stockings, and pants, so long forgotten when they reappear mended, that it will feel like a new wardrobe. How is it then that I feel the need to go shopping instead?…
October 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: emotional resiliency, Motherhood, movement dyspraxia, Parenting
Embrace Her Quirks
“Embrace her quirks,” said the world renowned pediatric neurologist. “More importantly, help her to embrace her quirks.”
“Ah,” said Hindsight. “Therein lies the problem because YOU my dear Logan are completely and utterly NOT equipped to teach a child that.” (Maybe it wasn’t Hindsight who said that…maybe it was my subconscious, or the Doubter, as I like to call him.) Anyways, that statement, “Help her embrace her quirks.” has paralyzed me.
Each year we go on a yearly trek to a magical place called Rochester to visit a very informed, much respected, very busy, Dr. Mink. He has been my daughter, Ila’s, pediatric neurologist since she was 11 months and we have always felt completely at ease with him because of his wealth of knowledge and his concrete suggestions and ideas to try and tackle what seemed to be an unidentifiable movement disorder in my daughter.
Each year, we leave his office with a plan of action that the brilliant therapists that are involved in Ila’s life play out in the utmost professional and serious of manners. Because of their hard work, Dr. Mink was duly impressed by the level of strength that she presented with in comparison to our last visit. However, there were still questions and concerns. Things we needed answers to; like why she seemed to disconnect at various times—going into a trance like state? Why was it that her interpersonal relationships didn’t seem to go smoothly? Why do noises seem to bother her so much, and why, even though she has a very strong pair of glasses, is she still struggling with visual perception?
His answer was definitive. She seems to fall into the category of a child with movement dyspraxia…
September 25, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Kathy Puckett)
Tags: Language developlent, Learning
Learning How to Learn
Since it’s the first month of school, I was talking to a parent about a flash card app called Quizard and the benefits of repetition in learning academic content. Children’s job is to go to school and learn as much as possible while there. In elementary grades, they get the skills necessary to read and write, and essential math concepts and facts. In fifth and sixth grades and beyond, they apply their skills to learn content.
I was teaching in a high school when I found an online flash card site called Studystack. Most of my kids struggled with biology, math concepts, and vocabulary. I showed the site to the biology teachers. The teachers or I made online flash cards on the website. In one class, using them was part of the homework assignments. In another, they were used in class during down time between units or during review time before tests, for instance. Eventually, some students learning office skills volunteered to enter the MCAS math vocabulary for a school-wide resource. By the way, the Quizard app can download vocabulary from the Studystack site; and you can add photos and use it on mobile devices.
But my biggest revelation came when I used this resource with my language-learning disabled students…
September 25, 2013 at 9:00 am (Amy Dryansky, Contributing Writer, Poetry)
Tags: Language Arts, Literature, Poetry, writing
Fall Changes—Poems for Outside & In
Fall is a great time for poetry. The season is bursting with vivid sights, sounds and smells. It’s wonderful to be outside, taking in the warm autumn colors that surround us and that late-day, slanting light that makes everything look like it’s dipped in honey.
The next time you’re enjoying the out-of-doors, bring this poem by Lilian Moore along. It’s an easy one for little kids to remember, and is fun for saying aloud and making into a game, because the poem breaks down the experience of crunching through dry leaves so that we can feel every step.
Try saying it with your child as you walk, using the line breaks as a guide to where you should slow down and speed up.
by Lilian Moore
New sounds to
under bare trees.
Indoors, many of us are also making transitions, starting school or other new routines, taking stock of the year ahead. When it’s time to pull out the sweaters and long pants, there might be some surprises…
September 23, 2013 at 9:00 am (Citizen Scientist, Community Based Education, Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger, Nature Based Education)
Tags: Adopt a River, Benthic Invertebrates, Citizen Scientists, community engagement, Connecticut River, Ecology, Environment, Environmental Steward, Massachusetts, Nature, outdoors, Pioneer Valley, Rapid Biotic Assessments, rba, Rivers, rivers and streams, Watershed, western massachusetts, Westfield River
Hilltown Families Citizen Scientists
4th Annual Assessment of the Westfield River
A few days ago a friend of mine, the talented Northfield potter Tom White, posted a Facebook picture of himself holding a wild King Salmon he caught in Pulaski, NY, on the Salmon River near Lake Erie.
That’s what 30 pounds of pure aquatic vitality looks like—and once upon a time our CT, Westfield and Deerfield rivers were teeming with their cousins, the Atlantic Salmon, that were declared extinct last year by the National Fish and Wildlife Service.
This past Friday, Hilltown Families Founder, Sienna Wildfield, and an energetic group of Hilltown Families citizen scientists and I conducted our fourth annual rapid biotic assessment of the Westfield River in West Chesterfield, and we marveled at how alive this beautiful watercourse is! Consistent with the two assessments we’ve done since hurricane Irene, we found that the populations of crab-like bugs has shrunken while the worm-types have increased (Compare assessments: 2011 & 2013).
Though we would like to find a wide variety of river bugs, because biodiversity is a sure sign of ecological health, we did catch five types of the “most wanted” cold-water oxygen-loving bugs. They signaled that the Westfield River continues to enjoy “exceptional water quality,” the highest of EPA rankings. YAY!
September 18, 2013 at 9:00 am (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Creative Free Play, walking
We are in the routine now. School drop off. After school play dates. Homework. Dinner. Reading. Bedtime. That means we need to add a little silly play to our day.
The morning walks to school can be quiet. Northampton is just waking up. Shop owners are unlocking doors and unrolling awnings. We cross paths with the BID crew. We wave to the family and dog biking to their school. There is only light traffic on the streets. I added in a little play so my 8 year old walking partner can expel energy before arriving at school to focus on the day ahead. If I do something out of the blue, she will usually join in because I am being silly. Some mornings I start skipping up the hill to Main Street. Sometimes I close my eyes, grab her hand and say, “Lead me to the crosswalk.” She loves the days we bring the Razor and take turns riding. Mom on the scooter is entertaining. Last week we took giant steps to try for the fewest steps possible in one block.
This started as morning play but gradually the walk home caught the sillies…
September 17, 2013 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: admitting mistakes, apologize, Motherhood, Parenting, relationships
“Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them.”
I hate to break it to you…but we. are. human. Ok. Ok. Sit down and take in the statement. Breathe it in. Breathe it out. I know, I know, I know. We are parents ergo not prone to making mistakes. Right??? Um. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
What IS it about giving birth that makes some of us immediately lose our ability to admit that possibly we might have made a mistake or two…or three. I am entirely guilty of this and I was reminded this week how absolutely damaging that not correcting a wrong can be.
One of my children is going through a nightmarish time and while I am not in anyway saying or even thinking that the choices he is making, the troubles he is having and the consequences he is facing is in totality or even partially because of the parenting he received (or didn’t receive) from me, I did however have a moment with him this week that reminded me about the importance of immediately admitting and apologizing and setting straight a mistake the instant that you realize your error…
September 16, 2013 at 11:00 am (Berkshire County, Contributing Writer, Rebecca Dravis)
Tags: Autoimmune Beta Cell Apoptosis, Diabetes, Parenting, Raising a Child with Type One Diabetes, T1D, Type One Diabetes
Nothing Left to Give
Diabetes has a way of crowding out everything else in life. Nowhere is that more true than with childhood illnesses and injuries.
You see, even though my daughter, Noelle, has type 1 diabetes, she does have normal kid problems. Sometimes that’s hard to remember, and sometimes it’s even harder to deal with. It may sound strange, but I dump so much time, energy and anxiety into caring for her diabetes that I have nothing left for the bleeding scratch on her knee: “Oh, it’s fine, go hold a tissue on it.”
September 9, 2013 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Food, Northampton, Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser)
Tags: culinary arts, Farmers' Market, Food Security, Local Food, Pie Contest, Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser, Tuesday Market, western massachusetts
Note 29, We Eat Pie for Good Purposes
Kids ages 13yo and younger interested in culinary arts and local food are invited to bake their favorite fruit pie using local ingredients to submit to the Tuesday Market annual Pie Contest happening on Tuesday, September 10th. ❥ Baking a pie is a great way for food-enthusiastic kids to learn and/or practice kitchen skills, including basic math and kitchen chemistry. Utilizing local foods (berries, apples, peaches, milk, butter, or maybe even local flour!) in a pie can also help to connect youth with the network of local food that surrounds them here in Western MA.
FoodStampsX2 is the brilliant brainchild of Ben James and Oona Coy, farmers (Town Farm) and farmers’ market managers (Tuesday Market) in Northampton (not to be confused with their brilliant children, Silas and Wiley). The idea was pretty simple: make sure that people could use their SNAP (food stamps) benefits at the Tuesday Market. Then, the idea got better: have the first ten dollars’ worth of benefits doubled at the market for those receiving SNAP benefits. The FoodStampsX2 represents win-win: local food to people that may struggle to afford it along with a boost of dollars to hardworking farmers growing food locally.
Enter Gina Hyams, my Berkshires friend (and extraordinary connector; it’s her superpower). Her Pie Contest in a Box inspired my son. The scene went like this:
My son Ezekiel, on couch, examining Pie Contest in a Box: “Let’s have a pie contest.”
Unattributed idea that belonged to one of us: “At the Tuesday Market.”
Me: “To raise money for FoodStampsX2.”
Tuesday September 10th, 2013 is the third annual Pie Contest at Tuesday Market to help raise money for FoodStampsX2…
September 4, 2013 at 6:00 am (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Food, Locally Grown Food, Organic Food
The Language of Local Food
One year my family planted brussels sprouts… We watched this plant grow and grow and it was almost fall and nothing had appeared at the top of the plant yet. I was expecting buds within the leaves at the top of the plant much like a cabbage or broccoli grows. Only later did we discover the whole time these little buds were being made along the length of the stalk beneath the foliage. It was so cool!
In celebration of the harvest time, we spend a lot of time as a family eating. And it’s good eating. Super fresh and delicious plums like you’ve never had from the supermarket in the winter, delicious corn that pops right off the cob (and lets not forget about the butter and salt, that’s super delicious too), cucumbers so crisp and refreshing it almost replaces the need to shower, and soon to be soups of fall squashes put to puree.
Creating an association with eating that starts with where our food is grown, is a certain way of instilling a language around vibrant and healthy living. Weather you only have room for pots of veggies growing on your patio, or you can dedicate a spot in your yard for a garden, or even if none of those apply to your family’s ability to integrate growing food at home, taking regular visits to a farm can certainly help create that context. Just as we pick up our language, as infants being immersed in the spoken word, so is true of the rest of the information we store, especially around food choices and where we get it…
September 3, 2013 at 6:00 am (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: Birthdays, Motherhood, Parenting, relationships
Keeping it simple with close family and friends.
My daughter, Ila, turns 4 this week, and…and…and…(Ok Logan…DEEEEEEP breath!) andwearen’thavingaparty! Phew…there I said it. Yup. I said it. My name is Logan Fisher and I am not having a birthday party for my daughter. Ok now, Martha Stewart…stop tapping your toes, unclench your fists and uncross your arms. I did NOT say we weren’t celebrating the day. We still are, but we aren’t having a balloons-kids-favors-games-screaming-paper-ripping-streamers-hanging-get-down-with-music-party. I am not sure why this decision has been bothering me so much…ok…that isn’t all together true…I do THINK I know why it is bothering me, but that is a phrase that is probably harder for me to say than the “we are not having a party” thing…
August 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Kathy Puckett)
Tags: Agricultural Fairs, Language developlent, math games
Fair Season Language Games
I’ve never lived in a place so rich with fairs! We’re lucky to be able to go to so many. For my family, it has become a New England summer/fall ritual that harkens back to a simpler time when people got together to play and eat with their neighbors. Enjoying life together in this way, creates a sense of community so naturally. It combines the cycle of the yearly harvest with pride in our achievements in art, craft, food, animal-raising and gardening. It gives us a solid sense of identity and camaraderie. The thrill of the rides, the lights against a dark sky, the people of all generations surrounding food stands, eating at picnic tables, strolling, and running in the delight of being alive. All in all, a country fair is a great human experience. It slows us down so we can experience who we are again.
I remember the drive home from the Cummington Fair one year with my grandson. It was the first fair where he was self-conscious, even though he had been there before as a baby. Even though it was late, he hated to leave. On the way home, he tried to console himself in the back seat: “We can come back tomorrow night.” We explained that the fair was a special, once a year event, BUT we could prolong our pleasure by talking about what we saw and did until we got home. And so a new set of language games were born for the trip home…
August 26, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Citizen Scientist, Community Based Education, Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger, Nature Based Education)
Tags: Ecology, Massachusetts, Nature, outdoors, Pioneer Valley, Rivers, western massachusetts, Westfield River
Rivers as Circulatory Systems
Be a steward of the river! Join Hilltown Families and Biocitizen as we do our 4th annual rivers health check-ups, through the EPA approved method called Rapid Biotic Assessment or “RBA.”
It might sound like a stretch to say that rivers are the blood vessels of the earth, but ecologists (who understand that even empirical descriptions of nature are metaphorical) have no difficulty viewing rivers as circulatory systems. Start with the rain cycle, for example: the science of which tells us that there is a finite amount of water on earth that gets pumped around, over and over again—and, it’s the exact same water the dinosaurs drank and swam in! Move on to the fact that every dawning civilization began by developing agriculture in valleys, whose soils were annually replenished by spring floods—which means that even the letters I use to write this, first invented in the “fertile crescent,” are brought to us by the charitable trust and generous sponsorship of flowing waters.
Next, enjoy this exercise of your imagination, if you will: even now your own warm blood consists of water that, at one point or another, tumbled down mountains, splashed over rocks and spilled into basins. That connection is actual. What you are imagining is real. Not some new age fluff or sci-fi gobbedygook…
August 21, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Back to School: Free Draw & Planning
The family calendar.
My little one will be considered a big kid by school standards this September. As you enter second grade, the teachers no longer look for a parent at 3pm pickup for walkers. The kids file out of the classroom, down the hallways and burst out the doors onto the playground—free! No one checks to see that my girl has an adult. Yikes! A new fall plan will be in place just in case I am running a minute late. Fall plans are also in the works just to keep us running as smooth and stress free as possible…
August 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: Body Image, Motherhood, Parenting
Let’s Talk About Beautiful Bubbies!
The other night, my daughter Ila and I were relaxing on the couch watching Rio when she began to press her hand on my left breast (calm down…it was completely covered in pajamas AND a wrap). Now my instinct was to take hold of her hand and firmly say something like, “Stop it, Ila! That isn’t appropriate” because after all…it isn’t. But Hindsight’s voice intervened and whispered that a slicing comment like that might just be one of the reasons that my boys don’t see me as a safe person with which to carry on a conversation. So I gritted my teeth, searched the recesses of my brain that housed a voice of reason and chose to say instead, “Ila, can I ask you why you are doing that with your hand?”
She turned to face me on the couch, blinked and innocently answered, “I am trying to make your bubbies flat…”
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