Time to Talk: Mapping Out Childrens’ Behavior

Barriers to Learning: Part 2

Our behaviors are stitched together by a series of reactions…how we respond to things, how we process and then how we move on to another reaction. For children it is important to have some recognition of behavior and how reactions dovetail.

In my last article, I talked about how behaviors interfere with children’s learning and can impact their emotional, vocational, and economic futures. One important factor that positively impacts learning is the ability to think and reason. We can teach self-regulation of emotions. First, the child needs to understand that no one can think when they are emotional. I already explained using a 1-5 rating scale for “How big is my problem?” and “How big is my reaction?” The game “Should I or Shouldn’t I?” gives kids practice using a rating scale. Turning music on, then off for practice calming down was also mentioned in my previous article. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Positivity Downs Winter’s Walls

Cabin Fever Gratitude

It’s 4 degrees outside and snowing. Again. I’m at the kitchen counter with my coffee dregs. 10 feet away, building a marble set, he’s forgotten I’m here. What can I get done without moving? I reach my phone and type email with my thumbs. Usually, I take advantage of voice dictation, but speaking would remind him I’m here. I wonder how many generations will pass before the phrase “all thumbs” is considered an asset. Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Setting Up the Toddler Who Wants to Get To Work!

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

The Industrious Toddler

I have found that young toddlers thrive on exploring the world around them. Finding new ways to create and explore can mean the difference between a boring day and a day filled with the emergence of new skills. Lately with the snow over the babes heads, finding new ways to master skills such as cutting, grasping, gluing, sorting and creating has taking up the bulk of our art time.

Toddlers love repetition, as you may have noticed. They love the predictability of repeated motions, motions that will soon be a mastered skill. They thrive in a child-centered environment. A place where all the tools on the table are for them to explore, there is no one telling them “please don’t touch” instead all the supplies are screaming “touch me” and “ figure me out.”

The industrious art projects that can help you through this winter are just as much educational as they are fun. Help your toddler master fine motors skills such as scissors, tweezers, knives, forks, spoons by giving them the opportunity to uses such tools on a toddler friendly forum! Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: Getting Beyond the Dam

Life Will Return to Our Rivers!

The challenge we (who value these nonhuman lives) face is to turn the immense powers we have to obstruct life into powers that liberate it.

Sweet as maple syrup, the thaw is coming.

Sea lamprey, shad, herring, alewives, eels, sturgeon and the last of the salmon: all are sensing it, as they swim far offshore in the (comparatively) warm ocean. Exactly how they sense the return of Spring remains unknown, even to the brightest marine biologist; but our lack of comprehension, alone, will not prevent their return. Our dams will.

Every dam we remove increases the chances that our native anadromous fish—and all the other creatures (birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles) that feed upon them—will thrive. For this reason, I long ago joined the Connecticut River Watershed Council, which has a laudable record of success in removing the obstructions that block fish passage.  Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Play: Building the Free Play Common Core

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Play: Every Child’s Common Core

Play encourages creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, social skills…and so much more. Then there is the common core which promotes college preparation. “Free Play” Vs. “Common Core”…both in 2 corners ready to duke it out for the future of child development? Not necessarily! Create a Free Play Common Core to support creative-free play at home!

Free Play and Common Core are not two phrases usually seen together. The basic shared goal, in its simplistic form, of the Common Core State Standards is to give students knowledge and skills so they can be prepared to succeed in college, career and life. As a kid, play is a vital part of learning from the first peek-a-boo with a much loved adult to fort building with sofa cushions to running with the neighborhood kids making up games while socializing. Play encourages imagination, social interaction and play can teach self entertainment and more. All important skills to have for success on whatever path you choose. Play is your shared common core as a kid. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Your Daughter to be Assertive

5 Essential Tips for Teaching Your Daughter to be Assertive

In her debut column, “It’s a Girl Thing: Empowering Our Girls to Be Expressive, Safe and Strong,” Hilltown Families newest Contributing Writer, Nancy Rothenberg, shares essential tips for teaching assertiveness to our daughters. These tips to teach our daughters to be assertive are a starting point for investing time and energy into giving her the skills she needs to communicate with confidence. It is a gift that she will carry with her for the rest of her life

We all want our daughters to grow into confident and assertive women, able to express their thoughts and feelings without hesitation in any situation. My own personal experience growing up was one that taught girls to be quiet, “seen and not heard.”  My voice was thoroughly squelched when I was young, spending half my life adult life waking it up!  So, when I gave birth to my daughter, I was going to make sure to encourage her full expression!

Now, I have a preteen whose voice is loud and clear. I chuckle to myself saying,”Can she just stop being so sassy?” But I trust that with the self- awareness that comes in time, the self-correction that comes through the influence of her peers, and supportive parental guidance along the way, she will know when to take up lots of space with her voice and when to choose to be silent.

Girl empowerment has been my focus for the past thirty years, not only for myself and my daughter, but for all girls and young women.  Being assertive is an important skill that supports empowerment in all girls. Here are five tips that support teaching our young girls to be assertive as they blossom into their full empowered selves: Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: The Tradition of Girl Scout Cookies & Personal Growth

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

It’s Not About the Cookies

This month in “The Good Life,” Sarah shares her experience as a Girl Scout leader as to the motivations and inspirations of young girls selling Girl Scout cookies.

The winter days seem longer than ever this time of year, and hope remains distant with all the ice and darkness.  However, I don’t have to look very far to find inspiration, and you don’t, either.   The Girls Scouts are coming your way, fueled by goal-setting websites and friendly competition.  It is Cookie Time, and I am a Girl Scout leader.

I was not a Girl Scout as a child, but I wish I had been.  I didn’t know much about it, but knowing what I know now makes me a believer.   These girls are smart, achievement-oriented women-to-be, and I now understand that the Cookie Sale isn’t about the cookies.    The girls set personal goals, and order the number of cookies they think they can sell months in advance.  There are incentive prizes for the  youngest girls, and they pour over the brochures, dazzled by the enviable stuffed animal they can earn by selling 125 boxes.  This year it is a “plush cheetah,” and  it is the object of  every ten-year-old’s intense desire.

However, something happens as the girls grow over the years, and they seem to love the challenge more than the prizes (well, almost more) as time goes on…  Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: The Importance of Applying Reason & Scaling Problems

Barriers to Learning: Part 1

LEGO exercises can be a path to reason. Certainly calming.

This week I’m thinking about my students and how they’ll function in the world. Will they have the social skills to keep a job? (Social skills are a stronger predictor of job success than the ability to do the job.) Will they have the skills to be available for learning while in school? Although I often feel overwhelmed and powerless about the state of the world, I am very thankful to have skills and materials that can address barriers to learning for my students. At least, in my little corner of the world, I can start them on the right path. One parent described my job as teaching her child how to think.

For many of my students, their behavior at school and home is their biggest barrier to learning and to having successful futures. Although this is partly the realm of a psychologist, or a trained ABA practitioner, as a speech-language pathologist (SLP), I am the expert for social communication. I am the teacher who helps them discover what is expected in a situation and what is unexpected and that there are consequences to the choices we make and the ways we communicate. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Remaining Color Blind

Technicolor and Skin Color

 "WIZARD OF OZ ORIGINAL POSTER 1939" by MGM - http://daw.dyndns.org/images/movies/posters/wizard%20of%20oz.jpgalt source: [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.Last month, we took our son to see the Wizard of Oz on the big screen. This all-time favorite had yet to debut on family movie night due to my hubby’s flying monkey terrors. As the one who gets called for nightmares at 2 a.m., I had no need to introduce flying monkeys yet. But the rare chance to watch on a big screen was worth the risk.

We needn’t have worried. In the age of computer generated animation, his baseline of what looks real is vastly different than mine was at age 5. Hoisted up to the movie poster for a Facebook photo op, my kiddo commented on the image of Dorothy and Co. on the yellow brick road, Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Making Nice With Ice & Snow

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Frozen

No, this piece is not about a Disney movie that I am sure in part I have not seen because A: Oh Please No! and B: My daughter is only 4 months old- Instead this is about being literally frozen. Frozen, so cold that even 36 would be warm. Frozen so hard that the play yard and bike tires seem a solar system away. This inaccessibility is only intensified by the constant fear of the hum of boredom coming around the corner.

Toddlers and preschoolers can really spend a lot of time outdoors in the proper clothing. But there is a limit. This recent winter weather has been far from “kid friendly.” Snow is one thing, soft and fun once you shovel out, but ice is a whole different beast. Here are a few great ways to grab that beast by the horns and let the kiddos blow off some steam… Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: Listen to the Story of the River

The Importance of Escaping to the River

Be adventurous and skirt the edge, but do be careful; use snowshoes, stay clear of ice jams, and have a friend close by if you can’t resist walking in spots that clogged with frozen floes.

A walk alongside one or our rivers is a walk with a companion, even when alone. Cares of the world will ping pong and even hornet in the head ‘til settled by rushing water. Give a river a chance, when one’s thoughts have quieted down: listen—it tells a story, and like every really good story, it draws us out of our heads and into another.

Asked how I began to love rivers so much, I recall how as a lad I’d scoot to the flow whenever things stagnated, or became too crazed, in a house with three brothers. No matter the boredom or conflict I escaped from, the river—Silvermine river it is—settled the ping pongs in my head by providing fresh and loud sensations, and endless opportunities for adventure. Rafting down it in cold April floods, in cheap inflatable pool rafts that punctured instantly (unless steered by experienced skippers), introduced me to hyperthermia, blue lips and the need to pack hot chocolate in thermos.’ (We wore cotton back then, and I remember shivering for hours like a wet cat on an iceberg. The experience toughened me up, and made me realize that dressing correctly makes all the difference between teeth gritting and laughing when on the adventure. To this day, I dress so I when sleep in snowdrifts, I purr.) Read the rest of this entry »

What to Play?: Build Your Own Entertainment

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

User Designed & Constructed

It is cold outside. Infrequent snow fall downtown has left little snow for sledding this season or to properly build snow people. What to do outside? During a recent play date I bundled up my children and said, “Outside. We all need some fresh air.” A short walk around the neighborhood would get the bodies moving for a few minutes. It happened again. Just a few minutes of “what to do?” stares and mumbles had them thinking and planning.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: Grounded. Disconnected. But Grateful.

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

Sweetness of Strangers Gives Strength In A Crisis

A helping hand is so poignant and strength-giving when it comes from a stranger.

I was in Florida just after Christmas visiting my dad. It wasn’t an expected trip, but the emergency sort filled with last minute searches for one-way plane tickets, and feverish texting with family. At the time I was sick with worry, exhausted from lack of sleep and answers, and restless from endless hours spent waiting for doctors to share the tiniest crumb of news from this test result or that scan. Dad had been on vacation, but was ready to call it quits. He wanted to go home, and so did I. We wanted the comfort of our own beds, the warmth of our own coffee pots, and the familiar light from our own kitchen windows. We wanted to be exactly where we were before all of this discomfort and uncertainty happened. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: 2015 Resolutions to Connect, Play & Practice

Resolve. Re Solve. To solve again.

Recently, a friend lent me CDs by poet David Whyte. I’ve been listening in the car as Whyte reads and reflects on poets from William Shakespeare to Mary Oliver. People who choose words so carefully make me look differently and think differently about how a word sounds and what those sounds mean.

This fall, my kiddo began bringing home Words of the Week from kindergarten. His teacher posts words like WITH and THE as passwords to enter the classroom, to help kids learn by looking. Participating in his early reading, I find myself taking apart words. Paying attention to how the words I use fit together for sounds. For meaning.

Like that blessed and cursed word: RESOLVE.

Resolve. Re Solve. To solve again.

Something you just solve once, just figure out like 2 + 2, doesn’t need to be re-solved. We re-solve those things that aren’t easily fixed. That we’ve tried a few different solutions for, yet haven’t yet found one that sticks.

So here, dear readers, in no particular order, are my daily re-solutions for 2015: Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: Sounding out the New Year for Kids’ Development

New Year’s Resolutions: Articulation and Early Reading

Making New Year’s Resolutions? How about resolving to create a culture of reading in your family, supporting language development while connecting with your kids.

It’s hard to believe that yet another year is over and that a New Year is beginning. It’s time to make some resolutions for the future. My resolution is to spread clear and helpful information to parents. What are you resolved to do in the future?

Here’s some helpful information. As I’ve written in the past, young children mispronounce words in the cutest ways. At what point is it a problem that needs a speech-language pathologist? It usually becomes a problem for grandparents. They begin to admit that they need a parent’s interpretation to understand their grandkids. Then you may notice that their peers don’t understand. The child may start being aware that peers are reacting to their speech and begin to think that speaking is hard. If a child shows any frustration around communication, it’s time to seek help. Read the rest of this entry »

Under the Hat: Feliz Navidad – The Art of Making Bilingual Happen

Artists Interpretations Bring Music Diversity

I usually post videos and write about the songwriting process here in my column for Hilltown Families. But every once in a while I like to perform music by other artists! This month found me in Tuscon, Arizona, singing the holiday classic, “Feliz Navidad,” surrounded by beautiful catci.

The song was written and made famous by the great Puerto Rican singer and guitarist José Feliciano. One of the the things I’ve been focusing on over the last few years is writing songs in both English and Spanish. José Feliciano was one of the first artists to write bilingual songs and “Feliz Navidad” has been a holiday staple ever since it was first released in 1970.

What makes a song memorable? Is is the melody? The melody? The chord progression? The particular style of the singer and the musicians? For a song to become a classic, it’s really got to be a combination of all of those elements. Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Enough About Me, Let’s Talk About Me

Give Yourself a Gift Everyday

In April of this year, after some unforeseen and life-shaking circumstances, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I needed to make some changes. Life-quaking things often bring these realizations, and this time was no different, but as I pondered what to do, I became increasingly aware that my options were not abundant for so many reasons. I knew from experience that hoping that those around you would change, needing them to change for you, wishing and dreaming about the day they would wake up after experiencing three ghosts completely renewed in a Scroogian way–well–it wasn’t happening. The changes I needed to make had to be my own. But how?

Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Empowering Children to Support their Wellness

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Making Sick- Ok

Children love creating in the kitchen and by allowing them to help create herbal remedies; it can open the discussion on wellness and how food and plants can keep us healthy in the winter months. – To discover more folk remedies for colds and flu, check out this post from the Hilltown Families archives: 25 Western MA Folk Remedies for Colds & Flus

Having a sick child is the only thing worse than being sick yourself and ‘tis the season. In our Family Child Care, we are very particular in paying attention to the cleanliness of the children and ourselves. As the frequently used adage goes around here, “hand washing first.” When the children arrive from home they are first asked to wash their hands. They also wash after toileting and before eating. The children love washing their hands, we make it fun by singing, making lots of bubbles and discussing the importance of those clean little paws. They are also beginning to understand the importance of it without us, as adults bombarding them with too big words like “contagious” and “spread of infection”; words that can only scare a child without fully understanding them. Often in their private little circle they can be overheard pretending to wash at the play sink, or wiping their sneezes away with a tissue– this is when you know you have done a great job!

Children around the age of two begin to learn about germs. They do not really have any real sense of the huge impact this imaginative creature can have on them but they begin to follow along with the social cues we are teaching them; “cover your mouth” and “ wash both hands”. Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: The Survival Instinct of the Sea Lamprey Endures…for 460,000,000 years

Why I Love Sea Lampreys

Sea Lampreys: A lot to love, and even more to admire.

Our rivers—the Westfield and the Connecticut—are alive. They could be more alive than they are, but the Holyoke and Turners Falls dams on the Connecticut and the West Springfield dam on the Westfield prevent that vivacity. These dams make anadromous fish (that spend part of their lives in fresh water and another part in salt water) go extinct.

I have wondered how it is that people can allow these extinctions to happen, without feeling absolute horror and guilt, and preventing any more of them. One reason is that we don’t know why their lives are valuable. Read the rest of this entry »

What to Play? T’is the Season of…Silly Walks!

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Silly December Walks

monkeys, dogs, cats, snakes, alligators, hawks, chickens, bunnies, ninjas, marshmallows, horses, giraffes, elephants, sharks, butterflies, otters, ants, spiders, gorillas, bumble bees, lions, octopi, snails, bugs, reindeer, pigs, fairies, dinosaurs, snowmen, penguins.

Another busy month is here with a school vacation that provides hours and hours for free play. Pick three animals. Air, land or water. Now walk, fly or crawl like that animal in the snow, down the grocery isles or while picking up the living room before holiday guests arrive. No talking. No giggling. Not even a whisper. Simple. Easy. December family free-play.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: Every Act of Generosity & Kindness Counts!

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

 One Makes a Difference

Every act of generosity and kindness counts, no matter how big or small! Support Hilltown Families  with a tax-deductible donation, and watch your gift of generosity keep on giving!

I think of December as the time to donate to charitable causes. It isn’t logical, it’s emotional. In truth, July may be a better time to give because everyone is feeling generous and benevolent in December. July on the other hand, is like a desert in the philanthropic landscape. But I will stick with December, because like many of you, my heart is softer, and my compassion for others is somehow boundless this time of year. But is my heart softer because I give? Maybe one day I will give in July, too…and maybe April. Maybe through giving my compassion grows?

Philanthropic thinking is something which develops over time, and is often inspired by someone else. As a child my dad purchased a red poppy without fail on Memorial Day. He would give it to me. At the time I didn’t know what Memorial Day was about, and to me that poppy was just further proof that my dad loved me a whole lot. I also didn’t know that he was teaching me something. I remember watching the Jerry Lewis Telethon where Jerry, on the brink of exhaustion, would plead for pledges for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. My ten-year-old self called and pledged the ten dollars my grandma had recently sent for my birthday…and immediately regretted it. Ten dollars was a lot of money to a kid then, and Jerry influenced me with his dramatic sweat and tears while I ate my Count Chocula that morning. What had I done? I immediately went to my dad, and told him I was saving that money for something special. He never wavered. When the envelope arrived in the mail, I signed over the check. He taught me something.  Read the rest of this entry »

Parenting Green: Eco-Craft Ideas for Holiday Gift Giving

Family Creative Free Play Pays Big Dividends in Crafting Memories for the Holidays

Carving out time to craft has proven to be an essential activity for me. It allows for creative free-form time amongst the schedules, the routine, and the prescribed. I love it when I get into a project alongside the kids. Sometimes it’s baking. Sometimes it’s seed saving and sorting. Sometimes it’s specific materials that inspire a project. I found myself enamored by this beautifully dyed wool roving at the Hartsbrook School holiday fair in Hadley, MA, last weekend and spoke with the vendor about all the ways we could work with the material as a family. I was inspired to try something new. I had never needle felted before and thought that it would be something at least my 10 year old could get into. What I didn’t realize was she was already doing this craft at her school. It’s true the material sat in our fabric closet for exactly a year before I actually put it to use, but I was reignited to the idea when a neighbor showed me some of the needle felting she was doing alongside her billowing basket of cookie cutters, and I jumped in. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Moving Beyond the Edge of Code Yellow

The Edge

Our new neighbor stands at her mailbox. I cross to say hello. My son runs to join me, freezes at the edge of the driveway like a dog approaching an invisible fence. I look both ways with exaggerated movements, no cars in sight for 100 yards. Hold out my hand.

Come on.

NO!

This IS a good thing, I remind myself. We live on a busy street. I walk back. Take his hand. We cross together.

♦♦♦ Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Finding Ways to Allow Little Kids to Express Big Emotions

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Making Thanks Tangible

These ARE big feelings for little people. How do you get your child to express a clear emotion?

As everyone knows children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, can have a hard time expressing their emotions in socially acceptable ways. Young children love their parents, love their bothers and sisters and their families and friends more than they have the words to express. They cannot spend hours contemplating the complex feelings and compiling a love letter to mommy. They often don’t know that pushing and hitting and jumping on aren’t the only ways to show their friends how much they really appreciate them. With Thanksgiving coming, I thought this would be a great time to offer a few suggestions on how young children can acknowledge their feelings for the people that are so important to them. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: How Listening Removes Pressure to Perform

The Power of Listening

Time pushes against our ability to listen, to absorb and to progress thoughtfully.

Sometimes I am trying to do therapy and the client balks. It is obvious they feel overwhelmed. I have to remember to put myself in their shoes, instead of pushing my agenda. There is so much pressure on people today. I know that I myself often just want to jump off the conveyor belt of life, and into a simpler time. I can actually remember times of little stress as a child growing up in the 1950s. I miss those unplanned moments of exploration and discovery. Just to be able to have time to read a book lately seems such a luxury!

When I work with kids, some can ignore the pressures on them while others can’t. I remember that my experience growing up was much freer, with more play time to develop. All one has to do is look at the current Core Curriculum for kindergarten to get a clue!

Doesn’t sound much like play time! Read the rest of this entry »

The Ripple: Rivers Can Fly

The Importance of Flying Rivers

Flying Rivers have receded in the Amazonian rain forests but can be seen around our very own Mount Tom! However you won’t see them in Fall. Wait for a humid August day, and you’ll have more luck.

Perhaps you’ve heard that California is experiencing a very severe drought caused by climate change.  Since most of our fruit and vegetables are grown there, now is a great time to become knowledgeable about our regional food system, and to redouble support for our farmers who can supplement the shrinking Californian supplies. Compared to the rest of the nation, we’re lucky to have such a vibrant and energized agricultural base. A few years ago, a study was done to see if Northampton could grow enough food to supply its own population; and the answer is—if everybody’s vegetarian—”yes.” What good news! Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Play: Creative-Free Play Keeps Spaces Shifting

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Empty Rooms

Empty rooms are great catalysts for energizing creative-free play!

I live with a re-arranger. Every three to four months she requests assistance moving books and furniture to make her room “just perfect.” The bed goes up so she has a nook below. The bed goes back down. Other times the bed needs a tent over it to hide in. I indulge this. I see no good reason not to. She is making her space her own.

Six years ago we moved and I brought her tricycle into the completely empty living room so she could ride around and around while I cleaned kitchen cabinets and scrubbed bathroom tiles. I placed a large sketch pad, pencils, markers and books in the empty playroom. She rode in circles. She drew piles of pictures to decorate her new room. She flipped thru her favorite picture books over and over. I did a lot of cleaning without interruption. Preparing the house for our move-in was the beginning of her free play in empty rooms and spaces as part of the re-arranging addiction. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: A Parent As Sports Spectator

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

Will They Be Okay?

Watching your child enter the world of contact sports can rankle the nerves.

I am not athletic. I am not competitive. I do not have a favorite sport. I married a man who duped me into believing he was a moderate baseball fan. He was boycotting major league baseball during their strike close to 20 years ago when we met. It turned out that when the strike was over he was not a moderate fan. He was a fanatic. It was too late for me to run the other way; He had me at “hello.”

We made a family of three, then four, then five. As our kids started choosing activities, my husband was very clear that he didn’t want them to feel like they had to play his sport, or any sport for that matter. He offered them the freedom to explore, and I wholly supported and appreciated his efforts.

In sports, our eldest, Sam, tried wrestling, soccer, and t-ball before coming to football. We knew that every sport came with risks, and the one that we were the most afraid of was head trauma. My husband played football in high school, and was taken off more than once and diagnosed with serious concussions. We watched the documentaries on football and head injury, and the sobering interviews with broken ex-NFL players and their families. We knew football was risky, and successfully avoided it until Sam was in the 7th grade. He wanted to join the team. Read the rest of this entry »

Parenting Green: Buy Local First

Greening Our Social Landscape

Our environment is more than the botany around us! When we admire our landscape we recognize that it also includes the views of markets, public spaces, and a bustling community of likeminded people engaged in businesses, and schools. All these things attract us as inhabitants. So when we think about preserving our environment by doing helpful things like recycling, river clean-ups, and using reusable bags, we can also consider efforts made in greening our social landscape as equally supportive.

We value face-to-face interactions. Getting our questions answered, being helped in person to find what we need, having conversations with real people about life, our kids growing up, and what’s going on around town. I want to introduce you to the concept of buy local first. If you live in the Pioneer Valley of Western MA you likely have heard this term, or even have picked up a copy of the Pioneer Valley Local First guide. It’s all about shopping local. You know why? Because when you make a purchase at a local business, significantly more money will recirculate into the community keeping it vibrant. There are 10 reasons (and really good ones, some that you might not even think of make a shift but they all do)! You can read them in more detail in Pioneer Valley Local First post, “Top 10 Reasons to Shop Local First!” If you’re more of a visual learner, you can click on this graphic to view more.

I wanted to highlight my favorite 3 and elaborate from my own experience: Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Maze of Meditation Leads to the Senses

You are Here

Meditation is like a kindergartener in a corn maze.

My kiddo has been drawing mazes for months. They started as amorphous, blobby worm-like passages with an S for start and an F for finish at opposite ends. But they’ve grown. Evolved. Mutated into intricate intestinal networks. He fills sketchpad after sketchpad, after sketchpad with twists and turns and traps of more and more complexity. We’ve invested in cap erasers and a $1 flea market electric pencil sharpener, so packed with shavings I did wonder about the presence of actual lead from pencils of old.

On a recent Saturday, we coughed up $25 for a family excursion to a local corn maze. Not one for such seasonal fanfare, I was pleasantly surprised to find the experience worth the expense. My imagination had pictured a box hedge maze straight out of the Shining or Harry Potter, depending on your generational frame of reference.  Read the rest of this entry »

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