Hindsight Parenting: Anger, Quarrels & Love

Anger: The Unvarnished Truth

We had the blowout of the century last week, my husband and I.  The blowout of the century.  The topic isn’t as important as the pure seething vitriol that came from both our mouths, flung at each other with all the might we could muster.  It was a horrific display of the worst of our humanness.  I had had it.  He had had it.  For weeks the blood boiled in both of us and reached the point where the pressure cooker burst–burst wide open.  It was late at night.  The dog was sleeping.  The cat was sleeping.   Ila was sleeping…or so I thought.

The next morning, we both did our best to paste a shiny smile on our faces so that she wouldn’t suspect that our feelings for each other at that moment were less than fond (to put it mildly).  Although I didn’t notice then (shame on me) looking back now, Ila was very quiet that morning. She moved through the routine as if she was walking through molasses.  The car ride to school wasn’t full of top-of-her-lungs “Frozen” songs and she was shy and clingy when it was time for me to leave her in her classroom.  That afternoon, after picking her up, her tiny voice cut through the silence and pulled me from my very busy mind.  “Mommy, why aren’t you married to Aidan’s daddy anymore?” Read the rest of this entry »

Local Library Offers Financial Literacy Learning Opportunities

Money Smart Week Comes to the Jones Library in Amherst, MA

Libraries have long been advocates for reading and literacy for the people in their communities. Another community need now being addressed by libraries in an annual campaign is financial literacy and money management. Money Smart Week, a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances, will be observed with several free programs at the Jones Library in Amherst, MA, during the week of April 5 – 12, 2014… Read the rest of this entry »

Teach with Movies: Pairing Films with Learning Guides & Lesson Plans

Teach with Movies

Teach with Movies encompass more than 390 Learning Guides and lesson plans, as well as articles on using movies to further education.

Children love stories, and they love to learn from them. Stories take many different forms – they might be found in a picture book, told aloud from memory, read in a chapter book, or played out in real life, on a stage, or on a screen. Wherever they come from, stories help children to learn about the world around them. As adults, we make a conscious effort to help our children recognize what they’ve learned from a story, and the most common place to find stories meant for learning is in a book – but there are stories all around us, just waiting for their educational value to be taken advantage of!

Using resources offered by Teach with Movies, families can utilize the educational potential found in hundreds of movies for kids of all ages. Offering support specifically designed for parents, teachers and homeschooling families, Teach with Movies’ site is filled with movie guides that include ideas for lessons, conversation starters, follow-up activities, and more – all designed to encourage and support students’ learning… Read the rest of this entry »

Early Twentieth Century Craftwork and Artisans Featured at Historic Deerfield

Early Twentieth Century Craftwork and Artisans Featured at Historic Deerfield

Sarah Cowles (1845-1922), a member of the Pocumtuck Basket Makers, wove an image of Deerfield’s iconic c. 1699 Old Indian House in her basket. Cowles was one of a number of women who was swept up by the William Morris craze for making handmade goods. Founded in 1902 by Madeline Yale Wynne, the group made baskets principally of raffia, a product of Madagascar, and used natural dyes to color their work. Wynne chose the name Pocumtuck to reference the Native Americans who first lived in Deerfield.

The early 1900s sparked a renewed interest in the materials and craftsmanship roughly associated with the colonial period in the United States.  Known in the US as the “American Craftsman” school of thought or as the “Arts & Crafts Movement,” this interest in traditional methods, materials, and styles of craftwork was part of an international design revolution against the mass-production that new industry and machinery had made possible.  The movement, which began in the British Isles in the late 1890s, was initially a socialist rejection of the mechanized, assembly-line-style work that had all but eliminated the creativity and skill that craftsmen (and women) had demonstrated prior to the rise of industry. By elevating the aesthetic significance of these unique, unassuming, artisan-made objects, the Arts & Crafts movement created a new niche for craftworkers and pushed back against the increasing sense of excess in the design world. Ironically, these humble objects inspired by craftsmen of old were not accessible to everyone. Because the materials, time, and skill needed to create high-quality, authentic arts & crafts objects were harder to come by than what the factories produced, each object was competitively priced.

Artists in New England were particularly drawn to the resurgence of traditional handicrafts, and many joined the arts and crafts community that had sprung up in Deerfield.  These artists – ranging from metalsmiths, potters, and furniture makers, to photographers, embroiderers, and basket makers – were heavily inspired by the history of the Deerfield area, and incorporated references to the town’s history in their work.  Several Deerfield artists even achieved national recognition for their crafts.  It is these artists and their work that Historic Deerfield celebrates in their current exhibition, “A Community of Craftwork,” on view now through February 2015.   Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Pioneers of Sound Episode with Guest DJ, Elska (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Pioneers of Sound Episode with Guest DJ, Elska

LISTEN TO PODCAST: 


Listen to the modern “Pioneers of Sound!” with Elska as she takes us on a sonic journey into the world of early electronic music, synthesizers, micro-beats, bells and more.  Broadcasting from her Arctic island home, Elska teaches us about the origins of the most innovative sounds in pop music, how they were made, and then she plays us fascinating examples from pop music, art music, classical and some music that defies classification all together.  Get ready for a true sonic journey with “Pioneers of Sound!” − www.islandofelska.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
March 29th & 30th, 2014
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video:  Hiddi Hiddi is how one says “hello” on the Island of Elska!


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Elska – “Arctic Fox” [Middle of Nowhere]
  • múm – “I am 9 Today” [Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today is OK]
  • Björk - “Frosti” [Vespertine]
  • Walter Carlos – “Two-Part Invention in F Major” [Switched-On Bach]
  • Walter Carlos – “Two-Part Invention in B Flat Major” [Switched-On Bach]
  • Suzanne Cianni – “Buchla Live in 1975” [Lixiviation]
  • Elska – “Hiddi Hiddi” [Middle of Nowhere]
  • Devo – “Peek-A-Boo!” [Oh, No! It's Devo!]
  • Kraftwerk – “The Robots” [The Man-Machine]
  • Elska – “Click Click” [Middle of Nowhere]
  • Steve Reich – “Music for 18 Musicians: V. Section IIIB” [Music for 18 Musicians]
  • Talking Heads – “This Must Be the Place” [Speaking in Tongues]
  • Laurie Anderson – “Walk the Dog” [Big Science]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for March 29th & 30th, 2014

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for March 29th-April 4th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements, Hilltown Families Ticket Giveaways, Hilltown Families Events, & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 21 Community Highlights: Magic Flute to Sound of Music. Electricity to Telescope, and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: April 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families.

For your summer plans, our 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA has a list of nearly 50 summer camps & programs, and for your Easter plans, Easter Events in Western MA, 2014 has you covered!

March 29th-April 4th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Community ServiceGeologySpace/AstronomyEnvironmental ScienceAnimal StudiesSTEMHistoryOutdoor AdventuresFashion StudiesTheaterParent WorkshopMusic Studies

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Recommended Fiction Titles with Autistic Characters
  2. Supporting the Creativity of Writing
  3. Picture Books for Spring Time
  4. HFVS Weather Episode with Guest DJ, Alison Faith Levy (Radio Show/Podcast)
  5. 8 Western MA Farm Programs Offer Education for Families

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Art Spark

Click here to read the rest of our RECAP MAP!…

21 Community Highlights: Magic Flute to Sound of Music. Electricity to Telescope

The Magic Flute to The Sound of Music. Electricity to Telescope. Garlic Mustard to Bat Houses.

These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week:  Transport children into an enchanted world that blends myth, fairytale, and the archetypes of good vs. evil this Sunday afternoon, March 30th while exposing them to the wonderful world of opera! Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls presents a free screening of the Metropolitan Opera’s performance of The Magic Flute. Mozart’s famous fairytale opera features magic bells, dancing animals, dragons, a hero and heroine, and much more. This production was directed by Julie Taymor in 2004 and is adapted for children.. This production is ideal for introducing children to opera – it is funny and engaging, yet it also teaches important lessons about patience and distinguishing right from wrong.


Community ServiceGeologySpace/AstronomyEnvironmental ScienceAnimal StudiesSTEMHistoryOutdoor AdventuresFashion StudiesTheaterParent WorkshopMusic Studies


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Suggested Events for March 29th-April 4th, 2014

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in western Massachusetts, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

“Hilltown Families is an amazing resource. It is my go-to for discovering kid-friendly events each week. This website makes it really easy to find out what’s happening in and around the Valley, as well as provides great information about local resources and ideas of things to do with my child. Thank you!” – Jaime C. (Northampton, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our “Suggest An Event” bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

SUMMER CAMPS IN WESTERN MA

Summer Camps in  Massachusetts

“Hilltown Families continues to be my go-to place for family events. I really appreciated the organized list of summer camps!”

Check out our featured post, 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a comprehensive list of summer camps & programs in the region! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

BULLETIN BOARD

Helping a Parent-Helps a Child. Prevent child abuse and neglect. Caring, flexible, good listeners are needed to do weekly home visits to Hampshire County parents living in stressful situations. With three to five hours per week, you can make a difference to a family in need of extra support. Training and regular supervision are provided. The Spring Training Group for the Parent Aide Volunteer Program is forming now. Commitment to volunteering isn’t required until after the training. Having a car is required. For more information call Lydia at Berkshire Children and Families in Hadley at 413-584-5690 Ext. 144 or email lvernon-jones@bcfcma.org

Mar 29

Valley Vegfest, Saturday, March 29, 10-4, at J.F.K. Middle School in Northampton. The first–ever Western Mass vegetarian festival featuring passionate speakers, vegan food vendors, veg-friendly products, and non-profit organizations dedicated to animal welfare, healthy living, and the environment. Learn about and sample delicious healthy new foods. Enjoy entertainment and activities for kids. Speakers include author and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary director Jenny Brown, along with Neil Hornish, Dr. Kumara Sidhartha, MD, and Hannah Kaminsky. Have your questions answered during Q&A discussion sessions on a variety of topics, such as raising vegan children. Admission is free, donations are appreciated. Details at www.valleyveg.org

Mar 29 & 30

Tiny Owls, Captivating Ravens, an Enchanted Castle, Magical Roses, a Jealous Suitor, and a Lonely Beast. Full of whimsy and magic, Beauty and the Beast follows the story of a young woman who discovers the true meaning of love in an unexpected place. A moving ballet based on the fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, Pioneer Valley Ballet’s original ballet features all new choreography and a colorful cast of characters dancing to the music of Antonin Dvorak. A thrilling and opulent performance for all ages, March 29 & 30 at the Academy of Music in Northampton. Tickets and information: www.pioneervalleyballet.org

Mar 30

Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival presents Mama Doni’s Jewish Holiday Party, a live family concert on Sunday, March 30 at 3:30 PM at Lander-Grinspoon Academy, 257 Prospect St., Northampton. An award-winning singer, songwriter and performer, Mama Doni and guitar virtuoso Eric Lindberg fuse together traditional Jewish melodies with contemporary bluegrass sounds. They rock the stage with a live performance guaranteed to get every member of the family dancing. Perfect for toddlers to grandparents! $7.50 adults, $5 children (under 2 free), capped at $20/family. Advance tickets at Lander-Grinspoon Academy or Springfield Jewish Community Center. Tickets also available at the door. Call 413.584.6822 or visit PVJFF.org. Co-sponsored by PJ Library.

Apr 7-Jun 16

StoryCatchers: Writing to Discover is offering an afterschool writing workshop for girls in 5th and 6th grade. Held on Monday afternoons (3:30-5:30) in a peaceful Florence yoga studio, girls will explore, invent, and imagine the stories they have to tell. Writers will gather, have a snack and be offered a prompt — a found object, a quote, an image, a piece of music – before settling down to write. We will reconvene to listen to one another’s words, discovering our answers to Mary Oliver’s question: “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” Meets Mondays between April 7-June 16 (except April 21 and May 26). $180 for 9 weeks. Learn more at www.storycatchersworkshops.com or email info@storycatchersworkshops.com.

Apr 10

Greenfield Center SchoolThe Center School presents: Parenting, Teaching & Promoting Advocacy for Transgender Children, An Evening with Lori Duron, New York Times Book reviewed author of Raising my Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son, Thursday, April 10th at 7:00pm at Seelye Hall, Smith College in Northampton. Based on her (one million subscribers & counting) blog, Rainbow is the first memoir written by a mother that chronicles the daily joys & struggles of raising a gender-variant child. For the first time ever in the Pioneer Valley, Ms. Duron will speak in an evening sponsored by The Center School. The event is free to the public. Tickets are limited & subject to availability, so please call 413-773-1700 to reserve. www.centerschool.net

Open House: May 3

The Ashfield Community Preschool invites you to join them for their annual open house on Saturday, May 3 10am-Noon. This event is for families with young children ages 2 years nine months – 5 years who are looking for quality care and small class sizes in the rural Hilltown of Ashfield, MA. Children who attend the preschool participate in a hands-on gardening program, growing a sunflower house and pumpkin patch. This year they will add a butterfly garden. In this pastoral setting the preschool offers a six week summer program with walking trips to visit local Ashfield artists. Join their staff on May 3. Tour their facility and grounds and register for summer and fall sessions. The preschool is located at 103 Baptist Corner Rd. 413-628-3248.

Jun 25-Jul 25

Share a local Hilltown summer experience with a student from Spain. Since 2008, Home Stays USA has arranged home stays for Spanish students. They look for host families with children of the same gender and close in age and interests to create a strong, intercultural relationship. Hosts invited on two-day group trip to New York City. Local organizers Joe Bock and Paula Garcia, from both Spain and America, are always close-by and in touch to ensure a successful stay. If attending a camp, organizers arrange camp paperwork for student if necessary. Airport transportation provided. Many references available upon request. June 25-July 25. $700 stipend provided. A great way to make a friend in Spain, have fun and represent the great Hilltown area.

Introducing The School for Contemporary Dance and Thought (SCDT), offering innovative dance training and performance studies for all ages. SCDT is made up of a collective of seasoned teachers who are independent performance artists with international experience. Classes include: Creative Contemporary Dance (ages 6-12) Song, Story and Dance (ages 2.5-4) Friday morning advanced Contemporary Dance, Hip-Hop Urban fusion for kids and adults Contemporary Indian Dance (ages 6-12) (Mohiniyattam/Bharatanatyam), Shaking Practice, and The Observatory: Tuning Scores Laboratory. Please visit the website for class schedules, faculty, and registration information: scdt2014.weebly.com

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your April vacation program, afterschool class, community event, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, wellness program or business featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
March 29th-April 4th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | School Closings

Berkshire Family Fun

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Berkshire Family Fun: April 2014

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
April 2014

Find out about community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County for the month of April. We’ll be adding to this list as the month progresses, so be sure to check back each week. Do you have an event you’d like to include in this list? Email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

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Easter Events in Western MA, 2014

Easter Events in Western MA 2014

During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Check our list of Easter events for an egg hunt nearest you, along with Easter craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances.

Community events that celebrate Easter take place through April 20th. We’ll be adding to this list as events come in, so be sure to check back: Easter Events in Western MA 2014.

Edible Books Connect Culinary Arts & Literature

The Edible Book: A Benefit for the Friends of the Forbes & Lilly Libraries

The Forbes and Lilly Libraries are holding their Edible Book event on Sunday, April 6th this year, an annual event that crosses culinary arts and language arts with creative free play!

If you could make a piece of art that describes your favorite book, what would it look like? If you created a food whose flavor matches your family’s favorite story, what would it taste like? And what do you think would happen if you combined your art piece with the book’s perfect flavor match? Create a real-life edible artistic masterpiece – just like you’ve imagined! – by participating in Forbes Library’s event, Edible Book Northampton!

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Let Them Grow: Learning Activities for Mud Season

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Mud Season Activities

Mud Season is the time between winter and spring. It is when the snow disappears and the grass has yet to grow. It’s when mud is the primary ground cover. It is still often too cold to take your toddler out for long periods of time, but it is warm enough to get out there for a short spell and get dirty. It is in between snow boots and galoshes; ice and mud puddles. It is the time of year that we start to think about spring but it isn’t spring enough to be able to act like spring yet… or is it? Here are several learning activities you can take advantage of during mud season with your young children that have hints of spring and loads of fun: Learning Activities for Mud Season

Language Play: Learning to Play an Instrument Support Language Skills

Hearing, Language, Learning and Music

Wondering how to help encourage kids to practice their musical instruments? See what works for other parents in western MA and suggestions working musicians offer too in Hilltown Families post, “Getting Kids to Practice Their Musical Instruments.” (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The last two weeks, I participated in an online continuing education training concerning language listening skills. I came away in awe of the new research being done on something that we don’t really think of as necessary to learn. We think of it as something optional to learn or even optional to have available at our schools. All the latest research shows us that learning to play an instrument helps us to listen to language and improves learning and cognitive function throughout our lives! But it’s especially a benefit for kids with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder (listening and understanding language at the level of the brain), specific language impairment, autism, and stroke recovery.

In a three year assessment of kids who had music training vs. those who didn’t, the kids with training did better at reading, speech in noise, and had stronger brain responses to sounds including language. Their brains changed! Of course, the longer the training, the better the cognitive changes, but scientists now know that the effect usually requires at least two years of music training. These results appear to be long term, too. Musicians have much fewer problems when older with hearing in noise, even if they’ve stopped their training at some point. We’re not talking about listening to music; we’re talking about active engagement in learning music. Current research studies are focusing on the effects of singing and drumming on understanding language…

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PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Music from Around the World with Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton

Music from Around the World with
Sierra Leone‘s Refugee All Stars
Iron Horse Music Hall ♦ Northampton, MA
Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 @ 7pm

Tix Promo: Sierra Leones

Enter for a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets we’re giving away to see Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 at 7pm. Deadline to enter: 4/6/14. Details below.

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

We are continuing to offer tickets to Dean’s Beans Music from Around the World monthly concert series at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA. For April we have two pairs of tickets to giveaway to see Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, a musical group formed in West African refugee camps, at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA on Wednesday, April 9th at 7pm. Win a pair of tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. These concerts are also a great opportunity to expose older children with audience skills to music from around the world. Deadline to enter to win: 04/06 @ 11:59pm (EST). Enter for a chance to win!

ABOUT SIERRA LEONE’S REFUGEE ALL STARS

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars have risen like a phoenix out of the ashes of war and inflamed the passions of fans across the globe with their uplifting songs of hope, faith and joy. The band is a potent example of the redeeming power of music and the ability of the human spirit to persevere through unimaginable hardship and emerge with optimism intact. From their humble beginnings in West African refugee camps Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars have performed on some of the worlds most prestigious stages and matured into one of Africa’s top touring and recording bands. — www.refugeeallstars.org

Enter for a chance to win!

Textile Exhibit Celebrates Muslim Female Identity

Textile Exhibit Celebrates Muslim Female Identity
Westfield State University through April 5th, 2014

Westfield State University’s Arno Maris Gallery presents “Threads that Bind,” a Middle Eastern textile exhibit, which will be on display until April 5. A reception will be held on Thursday March 27 from 5:30-8 p.m. with exhibit curator Dr. Christina Swaidan, associate professor of art history at Westfield State. This exhibition inspires further discussion both about textile and fabric arts as well as Muslim culture and the representation and daily lives of Islamic women. See our discussion questions for ideas to spark conversation with your kids and/or students.

The Arno Maris Gallery at Westfield State University invites you and your family to its current exhibition, Threads that Bind. This display of Middle Eastern textiles highlights items of Muslim women’s clothing such as the abaya, an all-purpose robe-like dress that is worn both to Mosque and while entertaining family and friends at home, and the salwar kameez, which is comprised of a set of loose, pajama-like pants and a tunic top. Curator Dr. Christina Swaidan, an associate professor of art history at Westfield State, organized the exhibit with the intention of educating the college and local community about women in Islamic culture.

“When most people picture a Muslim woman, they imagine a shadow: a demure woman draped in all black,” says Swaidan. “She is viewed as devoid of personality or individuality.”

But the clothing and textiles in Threads that Bind are anything but demure or shadow-like: vibrant colors serve as the background for rich details like lace, embroidery, and other embellishments. And, according to Swaidan, the designs on the garments are often unique to the region in which they were produced, which could immediately signal the origin of a garment (or its wearer) to others familiar with the various patterns.

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Flowers for Friends: Free Friday Family Workshop with Hilltown Families

Flowers for Friends: Family Workshop
with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden
Friday, April 11th, 2014 from 4-7pm

Share a small act of kindness to another! Decorate pots and plant posies to pass along to others in your community with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 11th from 4-7pm (FREE).

In the spirit of spreading kindness to others, Hilltown Families presents a free family workshop, Flowers for Friends, at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 11th, 2014, from 4-7pm.  Families are invite to join neighbors & friends in a free community art event, painting terracotta flower pots to plant with pansies and pass along to another in their community.

Participating families are encouraged to give their posy to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice.  — Pay it forward with a small act of kindness!

This is the second year in a row we are coordinating this event. See photos from last year here and check out this video that features last year’s event:

Flowers for Friends is the fourth in a series of five Free Friday Family Community Service Nights that Hilltown Families and The Art Garden are offering, thanks to a grant from the Xeric Foundation. All materials included. Space is limited for this free event and pre-registration encouraged.

Click here to sign up…

Vernal Pools in Western MA

Vernal Pools: Community Resources & Events Supplement Interests & Education

Studies of vernal pools support learning in many areas of interest, and a close look at amphibian reproduction can help to spark children’s curiosity about other aspects of amphibian life. Find out what’s happening in Western MA this spring!

Along with the greenery of spring comes a reawakening of wildlife, and some of western Massachusetts smallest and most fascinating creatures make their debut as soon as the snow melts! One sure sign of the change of seasons is the sound of peepers – noisy wood frogs who have made their way from their winter residences to the vernal pools that have filled with fish-free water thanks to the melting snow. Vernal pools aren’t just home to wood frogs, though. Their amphibious neighbors include salamanders, fairy shrimp, and tiny mussels, making vernal pools a fascinating (and usually temporary) incubator for many species.

Vernal pools truly come alive at a very specific time during the spring. On the first rainy night when the temperature stays above 40 degrees, frogs and salamanders migrate from their winter homes to their annual breeding grounds, filling the pools with the sounds of mating and an abundance of eggs. While it can be tempting for rainboot-clad kiddos to stomp right on into a big, shallow puddle in the woods, it’s important to know whether or not they’re romping about in a vernal pool. Such pools house the eggs of many species of frogs and salamanders, and humans’ springtime frolicking can easily disturb these eggs and negatively affect populations. However, spending an afternoon exploring along the edges of a vernal pools is nature’s classroom at its best! Families can learn to identify commonly found species, and can watch a vernal pool over the course of the spring, summer, and fall (and maybe even winter) to see how it changes… Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: Celebrate the Shortnose Sturgeon!

Our Friend, the Shortnose Sturgeon

Short-nosed sturgeon

Since the Atlantic Salmon was declared extinct in the Connecticut River two years ago, I have wandered the river banks with students, wondering what a healthy living river is like. That the Shortnose has survived under such duress, with such poor assistance provided by humans, made us love it—because it expresses the brisk vitality that remains in that 400 mile waterbody. The Shortnose does not give up, and neither should we. Before we lose this last clan entirely, let us try to assist it, and raise the Shortnose’s image and story to the forefront of our biocultural awareness. Let this environmental-adapter epitomize us and our still beautiful Nonotuck biome, at this moment of epochal transition.


Spring equinox has passed and the great thaw is underway, turning greys into green and silence to chansons. Have you enjoyed the cold (as much as the otters, who fished the icy pools)? The ice it brought let us walk rivers and tributaries as if they were sidewalks, and grand boulevards. What a wonderful feeling!

The perspective gained by walking above the river was as rare as the record-breaking weather that enabled it. Seeing the way trees lower, extend and up-curl their limbs over the water, to catch the sun on each yearning pinkytip; and noticing deep punctures of buck hoof puzzled over by bobcat pads as wide, soft and light as hamburger buns—such perceptions awaken dormant parts of human being, sparking awareness of how lucky we are when we find time to unplug. Despite the best attempts of technologists to rewire us, we’re wild; and, when we step into places without signs or brands or passwords, a brisk vivacity and slight confusion welcomes us, and matches our character, as Shakespeare made plain in this description of some dukes chillin’ in the forest of Arden: Read the rest of this entry »

Environmental Film Festival in the Berkshires

Project Native 4th Annual Environmental Film Festival
March 29 & 30, 2014
Great Barrington, MA

For the past three years, Project Native has hosted a successful day-long environmental film festival. This year they are expanding the festival to include an evening screening at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA, on Saturday, March 29th in addition to the festival on Sunday, March 30th at the Triplex Cinema.

The festival will kick off Saturday, March 29th at 7pm with a special screening of Revolution, an award-winning film by Rob Stewart, director of Sharkwater at the  Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA. Startling, beautiful, and provocative, Revolution has already won awards at international film festivals. Revolution is not just about the environment—it’s a film about hope and inspiration. It is an urgent call-to-action with an uplifting message that tells us it’s possible to alleviate the damage already done. While creating this film, Stewart met with experts in their fields to investigate the important issues affecting our lives. In an effort to uncover the secrets to a safer world, Stewart goes on an adventure filled with action and drama that will leave audiences around the world, at any age, inspired about how they can get involved in the fight to save our planet.

“Our goal is to not only show the problems facing our world, but to also inspire action for positive change,” says Karen Lyness LeBlanc, Education & Outreach Coordinator for Project Native. Project Native is encouraging middle, high school and college students in the area to attend and bring their friends. This event is FREE, thanks to support from the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation. A panel discussion will follow the film.

Then on Sunday, March 30th, screening at the Triplex Cinema…

HFVS Family & Friends Episode with Guest DJs, Mike Carrera and Debbie Cavalier (Radio Show/Podcast)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Family & Friends Episode with Guest DJs, Mike Carrera and Debbie Cavalier

LISTEN TO PODCAST: 


Join Mike Carrera and Debbie Cavalier on a fun musical journey all about friends and families.  Sing along with fun songs, hear stories about Debbie and Mike’s family and friends, and learn more about their favorite songs. Get ready for a super fun time! – www.debbieandfriends.net

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
March 15th & 16th, 2014
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video:  “Cinderella”  by  Debbie and Friends off of the album, Variety Show.


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Justin Roberts – “D-O-G” [Not Naptime]
  • Kenny Loggins – “House at Pooh Corner” [The Essential Kenny Loggins]
  • Sister Sledge – “We Are Family” [The Best of Sister Sledge]
  • Debbie and Friends – “When You Were One” [Variety Show]
  • Debbie and Friends – “I’ve Got a Song” [Variety Show]
  • Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer – “Is Not, Is Too!” [Scat Like That]
  • Steve Songs – “We’re On Our Way” [Marvelous Day]
  • Pharrell Williams – “Happy” [G I R L]
  • Debbie and Friends – “Cinderella”  [Variety Show]
  • Bill Harley – “You’re In Trouble” [You're In Trouble]
  • James Taylor – “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” [James Taylor: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1]
  • Debbie and Friends – “Love is a Family” [Story Songs and Sing Alongs]

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for March 22nd & 23rd, 2014

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for March 22nd-28th, 2014 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including Bulletin Board Announcements, Hilltown Families Ticket Giveaways & Hilltown Family Variety Show.

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 24 Community Highlights: Middle Eastern Textiles to Victorian Clothing. Big Band Music to Holograms., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: March 2014, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families. For your summer plans, our 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA has a list of nearly 50 summer camps & programs!

March 22nd-28th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


STEMFashion StudiesEnvironmental ScienceCulinary ArtsLocal HistoryMaple SeasonAnimal StudiesGovernmentArtDance StudiesParent WorkshopsMusic StudiesWritingFilm/Video

RECAP

Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Volunteer with Gray House in Springfield
  2. Seasons at Our Table: Maple Sugar
  3. Maple Dessert to Follow a Spring Dinner
  4. Language Play: 22 Apps that Increase Children’s Vocabulary
  5. HFVS Classical Music Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Art Spark

Check out our giveaways…

24 Community Highlights: Middle Eastern Textiles to Victorian Clothing. Big Band Music to Holograms.

Sugar season is an integrated part of New England culture. Whether you’re visiting or have lived here all your life, get out into your community during the first harvest of the year and enjoy the many cultural opportunities that celebrate maple syrup! This week we are featuring Maple Day at Hager’s Farm Market in Shelburne. On Saturday, March 22nd, there will be demonstrations, an old fashioned sap boiling, maple cream and maple candy making, as well as tons of maple-y treats (tons!). Enjoy this delicious springtime New England treat and learn about its history and how it’s processed.

Middle Eastern Textiles to Victorian Clothing. Big Band Music to Holograms. Mud Season to Maple Syrup

These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week: Performance artist Kandie Carle will be at the Storrs Library to perform her free one-woman show, “Victorian Lady,” on Monday evening, March 24th. Carle will use authentic Victorian and Edwardian clothing to interact with the audience and to take them on a journey into the past through fashion. She will discuss the history and significance of each item of clothing in order to give audience members an idea of what fashion, etiquette, and lifestyles were like during the Victorian and Edwardian era, including interesting anecdotes and ‘myth busting’.


STEMFashion StudiesEnvironmental ScienceCulinary ArtsLocal HistoryMaple SeasonAnimal StudiesGovernmentArtDance StudiesParent WorkshopsMusic StudiesWritingFilm/Video


Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for March 22nd-28th, 2014

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in western Massachusetts, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

“The resources made available (and sent to my inbox!) have been such a treasure chest of information! I’ve followed up on many, and learned about so many others… This is like a quilt of the region–all the squares brought together into a wonderful blanket of information and opportunities. Thank you!” Toni H. (Northampton, MA)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our “Suggest An Event” bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families… help us help you! Click HERE to find out more.

SUMMER CAMPS IN WESTERN MA

Summer Camps in  MassachusettsOur summer camp guide is up! Check out our featured post, 2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a list that will wow and dazzle you! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans! — Do you have a summer camp or program you’d like to have included in our comprehensive list? Find out how you can submit your listing HERE.

BULLETIN BOARD

Mar 22

SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival featuring Avner the Eccentric, Saturday, March 22, 2 pm – 6:30 pm, Memorial Hall, Shelburne Falls. Piti Theatre Co. presents its’ 5th annual delicious potpourri of theatre, music, clowning, syrup tasting, mural-making and . . . free pickles. This year’s headliner is Avner the Eccentric, a master of physical comedy and member of the International Clown Hall of Fame who will also offer a workshop on 3/23 for ages 15+. “Here is what Avner the Eccentric does best: he reduces his audience to laughter and giggles and applause.”- New York Times. Also featuring Piti’s “Elmer and the Elder Tree” and storyteller-musician John Porcino. Schedule and tix: www.ptco.org/syrup; info@ptco.org

Mar 29

Valley Vegfest, Saturday, March 29, 10-4, at J.F.K. Middle School in Northampton. The first–ever Western Mass vegetarian festival featuring passionate speakers, vegan food vendors, veg-friendly products, and non-profit organizations dedicated to animal welfare, healthy living, and the environment. Learn about and sample delicious healthy new foods. Enjoy entertainment and activities for kids. Speakers include author and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary director Jenny Brown, along with Neil Hornish, Dr. Kumara Sidhartha, MD, and Hannah Kaminsky. Have your questions answered during Q&A discussion sessions on a variety of topics, such as raising vegan children. Admission is free, donations are appreciated. Details at www.valleyveg.org

Mar 29 & 30

Tiny Owls, Captivating Ravens, an Enchanted Castle, Magical Roses, a Jealous Suitor, and a Lonely Beast. Full of whimsy and magic, Beauty and the Beast follows the story of a young woman who discovers the true meaning of love in an unexpected place. A moving ballet based on the fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, Pioneer Valley Ballet’s original ballet features all new choreography and a colorful cast of characters dancing to the music of Antonin Dvorak. A thrilling and opulent performance for all ages, March 29 & 30 at the Academy of Music in Northampton. Tickets and information: www.pioneervalleyballet.org

Mar 30

Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival presents Mama Doni’s Jewish Holiday Party, a live family concert on Sunday, March 30 at 3:30 PM at Lander-Grinspoon Academy, 257 Prospect St., Northampton. An award-winning singer, songwriter and performer, Mama Doni and guitar virtuoso Eric Lindberg fuse together traditional Jewish melodies with contemporary bluegrass sounds. They rock the stage with a live performance guaranteed to get every member of the family dancing. Perfect for toddlers to grandparents! $7.50 adults, $5 children (under 2 free), capped at $20/family. Advance tickets at Lander-Grinspoon Academy or Springfield Jewish Community Center. Tickets also available at the door. Call 413.584.6822 or visit PVJFF.org. Co-sponsored by PJ Library.

Mar 30; Apr 3-May 29

Kathryn Roszko, a functional stoneware potter of CyclePottery in Hatfield, is offering an Adult Beginner Wheel Throwing class: 8 classes on Thurs. from 9-11am, Apr 3-May 29 (skipping Apr 24), w/open studio time on Sat. 2-4pm. Drop the kids off at school and enjoy some quiet, creative time for yourself making pottery! Interested in a Tues. class, same time? Contact Kathryn. Cost: $260. Includes 25 lb bag of clay, tools, glazes, firings & studio time. Also Parent/Child Workshops: Limited openings on Sun., 30, 2-3:30pm. $25/pair for lesson + $10 for Kathryn to trim, glaze & fire work. See www.cyclepottery.com for more info, call 413-219-9594 or email kathryn@cyclepottery.com. 4 students max/class, allows for individualized attention!

Apr 7-Jun 16

StoryCatchers: Writing to Discover is offering an afterschool writing workshop for girls in 5th and 6th grade. Held on Monday afternoons (3:30-5:30) in a peaceful Florence yoga studio, girls will explore, invent, and imagine the stories they have to tell. Writers will gather, have a snack and be offered a prompt — a found object, a quote, an image, a piece of music – before settling down to write. We will reconvene to listen to one another’s words, discovering our answers to Mary Oliver’s question: “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” Meets Mondays between April 7-June 16 (except April 21 and May 26). $180 for 9 weeks. Learn more at www.storycatchersworkshops.com or email info@storycatchersworkshops.com.

Open House: May 3

The Ashfield Community Preschool invites you to join them for their annual open house on Saturday, May 3 10am-Noon. This event is for families with young children ages 2 years nine months – 5 years who are looking for quality care and small class sizes in the rural Hilltown of Ashfield, MA. Children who attend the preschool participate in a hands-on gardening program, growing a sunflower house and pumpkin patch. This year they will add a butterfly garden. In this pastoral setting the preschool offers a six week summer program with walking trips to visit local Ashfield artists. Join their staff on May 3. Tour their facility and grounds and register for summer and fall sessions. The preschool is located at 103 Baptist Corner Rd. 413-628-3248.

Jun 25-Jul 25

Share a local Hilltown summer experience with a student from Spain. Since 2008, Home Stays USA has arranged home stays for Spanish students. They look for host families with children of the same gender and close in age and interests to create a strong, intercultural relationship. Hosts invited on two-day group trip to New York City. Local organizers Joe Bock and Paula Garcia, from both Spain and America, are always close-by and in touch to ensure a successful stay. If attending a camp, organizers arrange camp paperwork for student if necessary. Airport transportation provided. Many references available upon request. June 25-July 25. $700 stipend provided. A great way to make a friend in Spain, have fun and represent the great Hilltown area.

One’s never too old, and rarely too young to study violin! Vicki Citron, experienced teacher of over 30 years, offers Suzuki violin lessons for ages 4 and up. Learn violin the way we learn language – through listening, imitation, and practice. Vicki understands different learning styles, has a passion for music and a love of children. She creates a positive environment where play and discipline are equally valued. Watch your child’s confidence and mastery grow through carefully prepared steps which guarantee success. Weekly private lessons and group classes in Shelburne. For more information: citronmusic.com, 413-625-6269 or citronmusic@gmail.com.

Helping a Parent-Helps a Child. Prevent child abuse and neglect. Caring, flexible, good listeners are needed to do weekly home visits to Hampshire County parents living in stressful situations. With three to five hours per week, you can make a difference to a family in need of extra support. Training and regular supervision are provided. The Spring Training Group for the Parent Aide Volunteer Program is forming now. Commitment to volunteering isn’t required until after the training. Having a car is required. For more information call Lydia at Berkshire Children and Families in Hadley at 413-584-5690 Ext. 144 or email lvernon-jones@bcfcma.org

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your April vacation program, afterschool class, community event, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, wellness program or business featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
March 22nd-28th, 2014

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | School Closings

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Art + History + Technology = Steampunk Springfield!

Unique Subculture Links
Visual Art and Design with Industrial History
March 22 – September 28, 2014

In conjunction with several other local institutions, this spring the Springfield Museums will be hosting, “Steampunk Springfield: Reinventing an Industrial City.” This series of exhibits and events explores the cross-disciplinary subculture and literary genre known as “Steampunk.”

What is Steampunk? Steampunk is expressed primarily through fashion, two- and three-dimensional art, and fantasy writing, with an emphasis on science fiction, historical fiction, and horror stories a la Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, and H. G. Wells. Steampunk is a genre of alternate history, in which historical events, people, and places are reimagined, frequently in post-apocalyptic scenarios or the American “Wild” West, as well as in the Victorian era. Steampunk seeks to answer the question: “What would the world be like if the steam-powered mechanical technology of the Victorian era was incorporated into current technology and all other aspects of human life today?” The Springfield Museums’ response to this question, as presented by guest curator and well-known Steampunk artist, Bruce Rosenbaum, is a truly unique contribution to the genre.

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For the past few months, Rosenbaum – dubbed the “Evangelist of Steampunk” by Wired Magazine – has collaborated with members of the Springfield Museums’ curatorial staff to reinterpret the Victorian-era items in both the art museum and the history museum through the lens of Steampunk iconography and mythology.  Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Play: Mix and Match Creatures

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Mix and Match Creatures

Mix & Match Creatures inspires creative free play while supporting quality family time!

We were spoiled over our February stay-cation. The end of a relaxed week brought 50+ temperatures and SUN. With books and beverages in hand we sat outside in February enjoying a warm-ish afternoon. Spring appeared to be on its way. We were fooled. The frigid, icy mornings returned with the restart of school. This put me over the edge. I am joining the throngs of other whiny voices waiting for warm breezes and lighter jackets. We were hibernating as much as possible.

The little one has also retreated to avoid going out. She is reading and drawing around the clock. Small breaks are only taken for food and to carry the cat around the house. He has convinced her he needs private transportation from her bed to his lounging spot in the living room. It is exactly like the Olivia Trains Her Cat book! I had no idea cats had this power over kids until now.

I love that she reads and draws but I would like to interact with my girl. What can I set up at the table to entice her into a little family time?  Mix and match creature drawings…

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Comedian Brian Regan at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton

Comedian Brian Regan
Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA
Sunday, April 13th, 2014 8pm

Comedian Brian Regan comes to the Calvin Theatre at 8pm on Sunday, April 13th, 2014. Never lapsing into profanity or being gratuitously offensive, Brian is a great comedian for families with older children. Enter for a chance to win a 4-pack of tickets and take your family, or bring a group of friends!

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group continue with our partnership to offering families a chance to win free tickets to see performances in Northampton, MA! For April we are pleased to offer a chance to win a 4-pack of tickets to see Comedian Brian Regan at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Sunday, April 13th, 2014. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 4/8/14 by 11:59pm (EST). Details below…

ABOUT BRIAN REGAN

Brian Regan has distinguished himself as one of the premier comedians in the country. The perfect balance of sophisticated writing and physicality, Brian fills theaters nationwide with fervent fans that span generations. Brian can turn the most mundane situations – like going to the eye doctor to get fitted forglasses, or trying to decide how many fig newtons to eat in one sitting – into side-splitting stand-up material. With his first appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in 1995, Brian solidified his place on the show and recently made his 26th appearance.  Never lapsing into profanity or being gratuitously offensive, Brian is a great comedian for families with older children.

Click here to find out how you can enter for a chance to win…

Spring Equinox in the Pioneer Valley

Celebrate the Vernal Equinox at UMass Sunwheel in Amherst

This Thursday, March 20th, 2014, on the day of the vernal equinox, families can visit the UMass Sunwheel in Amherst for a morning and/or evening gathering…

As we spend the month of March scouring the local landscape for signs of spring to appear, we often forget to prepare ourselves for the truest sign of spring there is: the vernal equinox. Marking the very first official day of spring, the vernal equinox is the moment at which the sun is located directly over the Earth’s equator. Along with a shadow-less noontime around the equator, the equinox brings six months of darkness to the south pole and six months of a perpetually visible sun to the north pole. And here in western Massachusetts? We get the beginning of springtime, lengthening days, gradual warmth, sweet maple syrup, and community celebrations that mark the change of season… Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: When Little Boys Grow Up

Not Nurse Nightengale

When Son1 was 17 he had the brilliant idea that he wanted a three person sling shot. It was made out of high tech stretchable exercise bands and was made to launch water balloons at “friends.” I immediately said no to the ludicrous idea knowing full well it wouldn’t be just water balloons that he and his friends would be launching…Nuh uh. I knew my son well enough to know that there would be lots of mischief making with a toy like that. Not surprisingly however, his father DID purchase it for him and my super mom senses were correct that he would choose to use said toy in a way that was NOT recommended…yup…that one fateful day in which he decided to put a potato in the harness that was meant for a water balloon. Yes, I said a potato.

So…picture this if you please… Read the rest of this entry »

Grassroots Diaper Drive to Support Families in Need

Spring Diaper Drive in Franklin County to Support Community

Host a Diaper Drive this spring in your place of work, faith community, neighborhood, school, civic organization, or any group you belong to. It is easy and a positive way to support families and a great way to incorporate service-based learning with your children.

Diapers matter in a big way!  The health and social consequences for babies and families who do not have sufficient diapers can lead to a whole mountain of problems. To help mothers and families in need, Spring Diaper Drives are being organized to benefit young children and families living in Franklin County.

Sponsored by the Perinatal Support Coalition and the Early Childhood Mental Health Roundtable, two groups of professionals from a range of organizations that serve young children and families, this Spring Diaper Drive can help “close the diaper gap” and help low incomes mothers and families meet their diaper needs… and organizers are looking for families who want to volunteer by organizing a diaper drive in their community to donate to the Spring Diaper Drive!

Reducing diaper need for low income mothers has huge ramifications for maternal and child health, mental health, the child’s development and school success, and the mother’s access to future economic opportunity.  Did you know that….  Read the rest of this entry »

Legacy of Music, People and Place: Holyoke 1800 – 1950

Wistariahurst Museum is launching a new historical and cultural project entitled, Legacy of Music, People and Place: Holyoke 1800 – 1950. With funding support from the Holyoke Cultural Council and the Country Dance and Song Society, Jacqueline Cooper is collaborating with the museum as the Project Director and is working to develop sketches of Holyoke’s past to form a collective of local music culture from 1800-1950.

Cooper and Wistariahurst are seeking to include community members of Holyoke and nearby towns to participate by sharing personal music-related memories. They are looking for community members, elders, descendants of earlier settlers, immigrants, and travelers who can share stories or family anecdotes related to particular songs that were listened to, played, sung, danced to and enjoyed in households, factories, at gatherings, or in clubs, churches, community centers, etc. They are looking for stories that not only represent local culture, but also reflect what working people at the heart of the community thrived on.

Do you, your parents, your grandparents, have a memory to share? Being interviewed for this project is an inspiring opportunity to have a music-related memory as part of Holyoke’s cultural heritage collection.  The research is the foundation for Legacy of Music, People and Place: Holyoke 1800 – 1950, a live music and storytelling production to be performed at Wistariahurst in July of 2014.
Click here to find out how to participate…

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