December 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Creative Free Play, pretend play, pretending, Toys
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 »
December 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Sarah Mattison Buhl)
Tags: generosity, giving, kindness, philanthropy
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 »
December 3, 2014 at 9:00 am (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer, Sustainability)
Tags: Crafting with Kids, Creative Free Play, DIY Crafts, Green Holiday, Green Living, MYO Crafts, natural materials, Parenting
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 »
December 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Ginny Hamilton, Parenting)
Tags: conquering fear, meditation, mindfulness, Parenting, rules
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.
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 »
November 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Candice Chouinard, Contributing Writer)
Tags: art and play, Creative Free Play, Parenting, toddler behavior
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 »
November 26, 2014 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Kathy Puckett)
Tags: child development, conversation, organizing thoughts, speech habits, speech language pathologist, storyboarding
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 »
November 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger)
Tags: Ecology, Hilltowns, Massachusetts, Nature, Pioneer Valley, Rivers, rivers and streams, western massachusetts
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 »
November 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Sarah Mattison Buhl)
Tags: concussions, football, protective parenting, sporting injuries, team sports
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 »
November 5, 2014 at 9:00 am (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer, Sustainability)
Tags: buy local, community commerce, greening, local business
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 »
November 3, 2014 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Ginny Hamilton, Parenting)
Tags: meditation, mindfulness, Parenting
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 »
October 29, 2014 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Kathy Puckett)
Tags: child development, conversation, organizing thoughts, speech habits, speech language pathologist, storyboarding
Barriers to Communication: Conversation
A conversation is meant for two.
Every day I use my problem solving skills to figure out the barriers that people have when communicating. This week I looked more deeply at one of my students. Once again I remembered that understanding how someone thinks will help me to know the most effective way to teach. A parent once defined my job as teaching her child how to think. Here is a good example of how speech language pathologists figure out how to help students.
Having a conversation with my student is a difficult experience because she always tells you what is important to her, which is usually an emotionally charged detail she recalls. I wait to find out what we are talking about so I can participate in the conversation, but mostly I feel like am at the mercy of the twisting and turning details she drops like breadcrumbs in Hansel and Gretel. Read the rest of this entry »
October 27, 2014 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger)
Tags: cinema, Ecology, Film, Hilltowns, Massachusetts, Nature, outdoors, Pioneer Valley, river movies, Rivers, rivers and streams, western massachusetts
Rivers in Reels: Short Guide to River Movies
A classic film set on the Potomac River…a river mighty enough to hold two film icons.
Witch hazel crane over Halloween rivers, their branchtips glowing with yellow blossoms—tassled tiny chandeliers of color, calling for sensitive notice. Catch one in the sunlight; examine the blaze that pops vibrant against the drab of forest dun and river dark. Rivers seem darker when leaves have fallen down. Soon the tiny chandeliers of the hazel will drop, too, into the flow to spin and drift and sail away deep into the frosty months of winter. Soon enough, water will show us its sterner self, as snow and ice will be with us.
Still a few weeks where we might catch some peace in a warm little microclime beside a Hilltown river: yet there’s no fighting it; it’s time for us to retreat from the outdoors a bit, and pull back into our shells of home and work. And imagination.
When it gets cold in the coming weeks, light a fire and let yourself go on a voyage on a river—at least, a voyage of imagination and feeling. Rivers are real as the rain, but they are also imagined. I love imagining rivers, and of experiencing what others have imagined, too. Rivers are always apparent; they don’t hide. But they are inscrutable and relentless, always a mystery.
Here are a few of my favorite river movies, starting with the child friendly titles then moving into PG13-land: Read the rest of this entry »
October 22, 2014 at 9:00 am (Candice Chouinard, Contributing Writer)
Tags: art and play, Creative Free Play, new baby, newborn, Parenting, toddler behavior
The Convenience of Crazy
Bringing a bit of order to creative free play.
Well, I am officially a mother now. Not just a care provider from 8-5, I am a Mama. I can’t send my daughter home after I have cleaned up and waved goodbye to all the other children. She stays – always.
I have historically been enthusiastic advocate for the arts and as my Bio states: “I revel in hands on messy projects.” But now, I see why some parents avoid it. The ‘messies’ are not convenient. Messy projects do not fit neatly into the nightly routine, the bath, the story and bedtime. It throws a big greasy wrench into the nice white mix of the night and clunks around in there distracting you. It distracts us from the dishes, the laundry and that book that you have really wanted to start. So how do we as parents, balance those projects with the rest of our lives? Read the rest of this entry »
October 15, 2014 at 9:00 am (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Tags: adoption, adoptive family, college friendships, Friendship, good with kids, kid friendly
Forest People in Massachusetts and Michigan
This October I am paying tribute to one of my college roommates. I first met, Erica, Labor Day weekend 1991. Twenty-three years ago. I was starting my sophomore year at the University of Michigan School of Art. Erica and her two assigned roommates, Katie and Ellen, were two doors down the hall in a converted triple. This means three freshman are mushed into a double room. Lots of freshman entered the Residential College that year ready to start an intensive language program on top of their regular major. As the year progressed, I was amazed at how they made that tiny room work for three while becoming life long friends. I was in and out of my single room odd hours staying up late juggling studio work, academics and my job downstairs in our dorm. Those three women at the end of the hall were a definite bright spot during a very stressful year.
I learned early that Erica was excellent with kids. Some people just have the “kid thing.” Erica was one of them. She watched little ones for extra spending money. When my niece or nephew visited on siblings weekends (I was the youngest of five, so no little sibs to bring), Erica just had the ability to talk with them and help them fit right in with our house full of crazy college women. Read the rest of this entry »
October 13, 2014 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Sarah Mattison Buhl)
Tags: Parenting, race against the clock, rat race, running late, schedules, Stress, time
Where Has the Time Gone?
I’m not sure exactly what I did with my time when I was, say, 22. I know I was living with my BFF in an apartment in Milwaukee, WI, and working in an art gallery downtown. I did not have a computer, a smartphone, or a Facebook account. I think I read. I think I read the mail, read magazines, read books. I remember going to an upscale hotel where I had a gym membership and I exercised. I went out, I had people over. There was no reality TV, but I had plenty of time to watch it if there had been. But, where has the time gone? Really. Where has it gone? Read the rest of this entry »
October 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Food, Jim McSweeney, Nature Based Education, Sustainability)
Tags: arborist, gardening, Hilltown Tree and Garden, root vegetables, roots, storage, Western Massachuestts
Roots, Putting Them Up
Red & white onions, pumpkins and delicata squash ready for storage.
If you did not (despite good intentions) plant carrots, beets, onions, garlic, etc… it’s not too late to enjoy them well into the winter. The majority of our locally grown root crops can be stored with ease for up to 8 months. The easiest ones I normally store are: winter squash, potatoes (sweet and regular), onions, garlic, carrots and beets.
Think about visiting a local farmer or farmers’ market and asking about their “seconds” (ones with blemishes) that they normally do not sell. You can often get storage crops really cheaply if you get it in bulk. With proper storage this will take you through the winter for all your veggie needs.
Here is the way I store the my roots: Read the rest of this entry »
October 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Ginny Hamilton, Parenting)
Tags: Family Travel, mindfulness, Parenting, parenting and yoga, practicing yoga as a parent, stuffed toy, stuffies
Things that Fly
My boy is at school. Kindergarten. A whole new world. He’s only a mile away, much closer than the preschool over-the-river-and-through-the-woods. Still, it feels farther. Distant. I was in and out of his preschool room. Most days we said goodbye at his cubby-hole, but there were regular opportunities to come in and play, read a book, or just cuddle until he was settled.
Now, we say goodbye as he sprints out to the bus. If he remembers to say goodbye. He goes into a big building and hangs his new big backpack in a cubby I have never seen. May never see.
Apparently, stuffies don’t go to kindergarten.
I remember him that very first day, all wrinkled and noisy. Read the rest of this entry »
October 1, 2014 at 9:00 am (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer, Sustainability)
Tags: Activisim, Climate Change, Parenting, people's climate march
Reflections on the People’s Climate March
NYC Sept 21st, 2014
I felt it was important to go to the Climate March because it was going to be historic—the largest climate rally in history, and people from all over the globe had an opportunity to share a collective stance. Indigenous groups joined with hundreds of thousands of people to be speaking with the same voice with a lot more presence. Singer Angelique Kidjo spoke with Amy Goodman from Democracy Now as she represented the women in Africa who are paying the price for climate change as it is directly affecting their crops and their livelihood right now. In some way I felt just as unheard as them. Al Gore and Bill McKibben stood strong leading the march though all fame aside there was an overall voice throughout of truly this being about ‘us the people.’
So what made my husband and I want to bring our children when the thought of taking 3 kids to the grocery store is daunting? Well, I guess it’s because we recognized that daily discomforts and mood shifts would be a part of our day with kids anyway, so we were ready for that. It was just something we were going to do. To have them not only experience a civil action for a cause they believe in, but also to let them know just how important our actions are. It’s a unique opportunity to broadcast the small ‘work’ we all do every day as individuals to minimize our impact. Read the rest of this entry »
September 30, 2014 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Mister G, music, Video)
Tags: love to read, Mister G, music, Music Education, Reading, Songwriting, Video Blog, Vlog
Love to Read
Over the last few years, we’ve spent a lot of time touring around the US and Latin America. No matter where we go, we see kids playing video games and watching lots of television. Whatever happened to reading?! It’s not just kids, of course. All of us are spending more time in front of screens than we used to.
The songs I wrote for my new Mister G album, The Bossy E, are meant to reconnect kids with their innate love of learning and being creative. All of us love being transported by a great story. When I was a kid I used to stay up past bedtime reading under the covers with a flashlight. Does that happen these days? I certainly hope so.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think it’s a fundamentally different experience to read a book (and use your imagination to envision the characters), versus watching a movie (where everything is explained for you). Read the rest of this entry »
September 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: back to school blues, child anxiety, Motherhood, Parenting, relationships
Who She Is Is Just Fine With Me
When our children encounter difficulties, when they run into brick walls or have a problem that needs to be solved, we need to meet them where they are, help them grow with what they already have in a way that they can.
I have been working against my daughter, Ila, under the guise of “improvement” and the misguided statement “she must be able to do such and such in order to be successful.” I have been working against her, which in turn has been sending her a message that she is not good enough just the way she is, which, of course, is not a message I want to send her at all.
Confused? Let me give you an instance: Ila gets anxiety everyday before going into her kindergarten class. When the door opens, and the teacher steps out, she buries her face into my legs, or if I am squatting down at her level she grips my hair or scarf with a vice-like hold. I have to peel her off me by prying her fingers open and kind of giving her a loving pat on the bottom towards the classroom while her chin quivers as if I am torturing her. This, as you can imagine, is agonizing each day, and so I decided that as her mom, I needed to “right” it, fix it, and make it so the anxiety was gone. I decided to start with a good heart to heart conversation. Read the rest of this entry »
September 24, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Kathy Puckett)
Tags: child development, language practice, motor maturity, speech development, speech habits, speech language pathologist
Observing and Coaxing Your Child’s Speech Development is A Sensitive Art
If a child seems lost for words, let them work a little to find them.
So we all know that kids make cute speech errors when they are young. My son is almost 40 years old but I still think “hopicopter” when I see a helicopter. It seems like yesterday that he was saying that! One of the dilemmas for a new parent is when family members think something is wrong with a child’s speech. How do you know if they are correct?
First off, speech is developmental. We don’t learn how to use all the speech sounds at once; they come into our speech over years of practice speaking. The first big concern is making sure our children are speaking so they will achieve the motor maturity to practice the sounds they can say and attempt new sounds. So getting your toddler to talk is always good. Unfortunately, we as caretakers are enablers. And we are psychic! We fill in words or ask yes/no questions rather than make our kids work a little (After noticing the child reaching for the ball, we say, “did you want the ball?”). Acting dumb is often my first instruction for parents. Choice questions really work (“I don’t know what you want. Do you want the ball or the block?”). Read the rest of this entry »
September 22, 2014 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger)
Tags: Connecticut River, Ecology, Hilltowns, Massachusetts, Nature, outdoors, Pioneer Valley, Rivers, rivers and streams, western massachusetts
Touch the River and It’ll Touch You
The Connecticut River is the lifeblood of the Pioneer Valley.
Thinking of how important it is for nature-lovers to spend time “being in” nature, the conservationist Aldo Leopold wrote: “We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in.”
Ethics involve what we judge to be right or wrong; and Leopold is correct: if we are to be ethical—if we are to wisely judge the rightness or wrongness of a thing—we need to have a direct experience of it. It’s easy to forget that a river is alive, and has a life that is valuable unless, from time to time, you touch it. Unless we touch the river, we can’t understand enough about it to be ethical towards it.
Rivers have always provided humans with perfect places to live, whether it be the nhà sông of Vietnam, the chickee hut of the Mississippi shrimp catcher, or the highrise of a hedgefund manager towering over the Hudson. We’ve always been attracted to rivers because they, of all landscape features, are the most alive: kinetic in movement and full of creatures. There is a big difference between viewing a river, though, and touching it. I want you to touch a river this month if you haven’t lately—and let that river be the Connecticut, which flows for over 400 miles from just over the Canadian border to Long Island Sound.
One way to touch the Connecticut River is to volunteer to assist the Connecticut River Watershed Council’s Source to Sea Clean-up, scheduled for Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27, 2014. Read the rest of this entry »
September 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Tags: art bombing, Arts and Crafts, Creative Free Play, Drawing, parent child collaboration, sidewalk chalk, third grade
Free Play, After School
We’ve all heard of Yarn Bombing… how about Art Bombing? Read on for Carrie’s Art Bomb idea, a fall version of her Play Bombs spread throughout the community in the spring.
We made the switch again. Library Monday. Music Tuesday. PE shoes needed Wednesday and Thursday. Art Friday. Nightly reading. Pack the lunch. We are in the school routine but missing something.
Third grade could not come quick enough for an 8 year old at our house. Third grade means being on the top floor with the big kids, having the teacher she wanted and more freedom and responsibility for herself and her school work. Third graders earn a second grade buddy in the spring. She is even excited about the tests in March and April. The school makes a big fuss over the third through fifth graders during testing. She wants the fuss. Curious.
“Mom, can I add blank paper to my backpack tomorrow?”
“Mom, can we just play after school today?”
“Mom, can we just draw all day Saturday? Both of us at the kitchen table?”
The answers are, “YES!”
I see what is missing. I realize the social and academic bonuses to school but September always leaves me with the feeling that the hours of 8:50am to 3pm are an obstacle to my fun time with my kiddo. I grow accustomed by October. September is my transition month as the mom with a kid growing up, quickly. We will transition together. Read the rest of this entry »
September 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Jim McSweeney, Nature Based Education)
Tags: arborist, gardening, Hilltown Tree and Garden, landcaping, Western Massachuestts
Four September Garden Chores To Enrich The Family Gardening Experience
The gardening season is starting to come to an end and it’s time to start to think about how to help your garden for next year. This is a perfect opportunity to get your kids thinking about the design of your family garden, and the importance of completing the season through some fall garden chores. Here is a list of four chores I would suggest you do with your kids this weekend or next: Read the rest of this entry »
September 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Sarah Mattison Buhl)
Tags: Back-to-School, County Fair, last days of summer
Summer’s Sweet Relief
This way for a welcome diversion!
Last weekend, I went with my littlest kids to the Tri-County Fair in Northampton, MA. It turns out that there have been close to 200 of them, and it is the oldest “agricultural fair” in the Nation. Being at the fair is a throwback. Not to a gentler age, but to the inescapable grittiness that has always been part of fairs everywhere. Sure, some things are different. In 1816, a person might have eaten beans and ham with corn bread on the midway. Now people eat fried cheese cake and chocolate covered bacon. Decades ago, a new showcase food might have been the now blasé ice cream cone. Last weekend I saw caffeinated peanut butter.
We spent money on slushies in swirly cups, “won” 50-cent stuffed animals after spending ten dollars, and saw an arctic fox. It was hot. We had a terrific time. You see, we were celebrating the beginning of a new school year. The earlier part of the day was spent trying frantically to connect with friends and make last minute plans for the final day of summer. Tensions and anxieties were running high as the kids feverishly recognized that summer was coming to an end. When it dawned on me that the real reason for their irritation and frustration was time, or really, lack of it, I changed my course. Read the rest of this entry »
September 2, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: child independence, growing up, Off to College, Parenting, Parenting Advice, Parenting Styles
Five Things You Don’t Do The Day After Leaving Your Child at College
Although he’s twenty, just last week, Son1 went “off” to college for the first time. For the past two years, he’d been attending classes at our local community college trying to figure out what he wanted to do. This past spring, all his hard work there paid off and he was accepted to many colleges and universities. He chose a college in Connecticut. (Not a huge surprise since Magicalfairyprincessgirlfriend goes there as well.)
Since this is a first for me, a child leaving…really leaving the nest…I had no Hindsight to lean on, and so I had to rely on my gut instead. The week before, I kept checking in with myself on how I was feeling with all this moving away to a new state, new city, hours away from his family. And well…for the entire week before…heck even while I was setting up his chic dorm room my gut said that I was just fine. All I was feeling, seemingly, was pride and excitement. This move ultimately was what every parent strives for while raising their children. He was unfurling his wings, moving into adulthood with grace and assurance. I am proud. I was and am excited. Even as I said goodbye, the pride swelled in me. “Off you go first born love of my life. Go and live this experience to the fullest.” Then I got in the car…Then I got home. Then…then I woke up the next day and well, the pride and excitement was still there, but so was this distinct melancholy; a weepy sort of lonely feeling that got worse as the day went on. I realized very quickly that the day after dropping my child off to college was going to feel worse than the day of. Tear triggers were everywhere and I learned the hard way the top five things NOT to do the day after dropping your child off at college… Read the rest of this entry »
September 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Ginny Hamilton, Parenting)
Tags: Family Travel, mindfulness, Parenting, parenting and yoga, practicing yoga as a parent
Enjoy the Ride
My five year old son is in his room, slamming the door. Deliberately and with precision. He’s got highly sensitive ears – auditory processing the occupational therapist calls it – and I can only assume he’s seeking Just. The. Right. Sound. The SLAM! that will echo through the walls and into my bones set my teeth on edge. Sound rises above the bathroom fan but is muted by the water pressure, warm streams trickling down my hair, ears, face, shoulders. The water, the curtain, the closed door give me the ever so slight space I need to view the scene with a hint of detachment. Amusement, even, though shame lingers around the edges, like mildew never quite scrubbed from the grout.
Occupying the weeks between school and camp, we’re back from a 3 day urban adventure: Amtrak, NJ Transit, and a myriad of subway lines. He’s a stellar traveler, fueled by curiosity and wonder and an obsessive love of trains. Take him out of his ordinary and he shows his extraordinary. I thoroughly enjoy time with the big boy he’s becoming.
So it’s no surprise really when blubbery-whiny-tedious boy returns upon arrival home. And along with him, short-tempered-uninspired-reactive Mama. Read the rest of this entry »
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