Lead the Way Magic Google 8-Ball!

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

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…

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Hindsight Parenting: Teaching Yourself to Glide… and Never Stop Learning!

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 »

Parenting Green: Winter Curiosity & Outdoor Play

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 »

Under the Hat: Curiosity and 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 »

Let Them Grow: Fresh Ways to Engage Toddler’s in Creative Free Play

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

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!

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Language Play: Caroling and Language Learning

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 »

The Ripple: Gifts Under the Hemlock

Gift to Receive by Being Present

Our hills are gemmed with gifts—receive them 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 »

Let’s Play: Indoor Forts Inspiring Creative Free Play

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Pop-Up 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 »

Hindsight Parenting: Finding Hidden Gifts

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 »

Just My Type: The Cat Knocked Over the Christmas Tree

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 »

Parenting Green: Eco-Gift Wrapping Ideas for the Holidays

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…

Hindsight Parenting: Dispelling the Myth of the Perfect Parent

Commiserate

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 »

Language Play: Add Structure and Language to Your Thanksgiving Menu

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 »

The Ripple: Rivers and Experiential Learning

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 »

Let’s Play: Drawing Pen Pals

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

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 »

Hindsight Parenting: Lessons in Gratitude

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 »

Just My Type: Counting Blessings Instead of Burdens

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 »

Parenting Green: Cloth Trumps Paper

Reuse

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…

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Hindsight Parenting: Lessons From Children

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…

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Language Play: Growing Independent Children

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.

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Under the Hat: The Journey of 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…

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The Ripple: River Therapy

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…

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Just My Type: Helping Others with 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…

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Let’s Play: Nature Based Play & Art in Autumn

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

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…

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Hindsight Parenting: Cutting Cords

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…

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30 Mash Notes ❥ 1 Community

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

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!

Parenting Green: Repairing and Connecting to Our Communities

Repairs

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?…

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Hindsight Parenting: How to Raise Emotionally Resilient Children?

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…

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Language Play: Learning How to Learn

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…

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One Clover & A Bee: Poems for Autumn

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.

New Sounds

by Lilian Moore

New sounds to
walk on
today,

dry
leaves
talking
in hoarse
whispers
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…

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