PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT GIVEAWAY: ArtSpark at the Garden House

ArtSpark: Dance Party & Auction
Saturday, March 26th, 2011 @ 7m
at Look Park Garden House in Florence

Calling all grown-ups ready to get their groove on for a good cause! Hilltown Families and Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School (HCCPS) are offering a pair of free tickets to ArtSpark, the HCCPS’s annual benefit dance party and auction at  Look Park’s Garden House on Saturday March 26th at 7pm. Proceeds from the event benefit HCCPS. Deadline to enter to win is 03/23/11. Find out how to enter to win below.

ABOUT ARTSPARK

ArtSpark is the annual benefit gala of the Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School (HCCPS). This year’s fun event features an 80s theme, great music and dancing, and delicious food from Bread Euphoria. The silent and live auction is one of the Valley’s best, with items at all price points, from local organic food to a glorious weekend getaway, one-of-a-kind handmade furniture to local artisan crafts. So dust off your Ray-Bans, dig out those leg warmers and come Rock the Casbah in your Raspberry Beret in the beautiful Garden House space at Look Park in Florence, MA.

ABOUT THE HILLTOWN COOPERATIVE CHARTER SCHOOL SCHOOL

Founded in 1995, Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School serves 165 children in grades K through 8 from the hilltowns and the Pioneer Valley. Students use experiential, hands-on activities, the expressive arts and interdisciplinary studies to foster critical thinking skills and a joy of learning. Parents, staff and community members are all part of a school cooperative that guides and supports the academic program. For more information, please call 413.268.3421 or visit www.hilltowncharter.org.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a pair of free tickets to ArtSpark, the Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School’s annual benefit dance party and auction at Look Park’s Garden House on Saturday March 26th at 7pm is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

  1. SHARE THIS PAGE ON FACEBOOK BY SELECTING “LIKE” BELOW
  2. TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES HAS CONNECTED YOUR FAMILY WITH LOCAL SCHOOL EVENTS & OPPORTUNITIES (one entry per family) and be sure to tell us your
  3. FULL NAME and where you
  4. LIVE (TOWN/STATE)Must include your town to be eligible.
  5. ACCURATE EMAIL IN THE EMAIL FIELD BELOW (we never share your email address).
  6. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 03/23/11 @ 7pm (EST).

If you don’t win you should still go.  ArtSpark is a fun parents’ night out that supports one of our local public school. Tickets are $15 each, or $25 for two, available in advance at the school or local businesses including Bread Euphoria, State Street Fruit Store, Cooper’s Corner & The Creamery. More info, call 268.3421.

Do I Have To?: How Chores Empower Families

The Foundation of Childhood Chores

Hilltown Families presents ... Do I Have To?: How Chores Empower Families, a FREE interactive and fun presentation for adults with author Susan Tordella at 6:30pm on Wednesday, March 30th at Cup & Top Cafe (1 North Main St.) in Florence, MA. Learn how cleaning toilets, washing dishes and raking leaves empower families.

Author of Raising Able: How Chores Cultivate Capable Young People (www.raisingable.com), Susan Tordella will share how the triad of family meetings-chores-and-dinner empower children to make good decisions, enable parents to retire from family servant, and create a positive family atmosphere.

In this free presentation, expect to hear stories, laugh and participate while learning a positive system to influence children to make good decisions. The goal is to nurture young people to become trustworthy teenagers who choose wisely when they are 60 miles away going 60 miles an hour. Childhood chores establish a foundation for self-discipline and making good decisions.

This free presentation for adults will be at Cup & Top Cafe in Florence, MA on Wednesday, March 30th at 6:30pm. Donations to Hilltown Families are welcomed.  Refreshments will be available for purchase through the cafe, along with copies of Susan’s book, Raising Able.  For more information email Hilltown Families at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.  Childcare is NOT available.  We hope you can join us!

  • WHAT: Do I Have To?: How Chores Empower Families, an interactive presentation with author Susan Tordella
  • WHERE: Cup & Top Cafe, 1 North Main St., Florence, MA
  • WHEN: Wednesday, March 30th, 2010 at 6:30pm
  • COST: Free.  Donations to Hilltown Families are welcomed.
  • CONTACT: Hilltown Families, hilltownfamilies@gmail.com

ABOUT SUSAN TORDELLA

Susan Tordella, M.A., is a parenting expert, coach and author who has studied and practiced Adlerian psychology for more than 20 years. Susan credits living with four teenagers for 13 years as a teacher of how to manage people, emotions and events. A former journalist and director of a private non-profit, Susan received multiple awards for excellence in both fields. Susan has taught scores of people the Adlerian approach to manage families, business and life. She blogs at www.susantordella.com and is the author of “Raising Able: how chores cultivate capable young people.”

Photo credit: (ccl) Clogozm

Opening Celebration for Debut of “Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit” this Saturday!

Family-Friendly Opening Celebration
Saturday, February 5th, 2011 from 5-7pm
Cup & Top Café in Florence, MA

A traveling photography exhibit featuring images of life and landscapes in western Massachusetts will kick off celebrations for the fifth anniversary of the founding of Hilltown Families, an online grassroots communication network for families. - All net proceeds from the sale of images will benefit the organization.

An opening celebration for the debut of Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit Featuring Life and Landscape in Western MA happens this Saturday, February 5th from 5-7pm at Cup and Top Café (1 North Main St.) in Florence, MA, featuring work by photographer and Hilltown Families’ founder, Sienna Wildfield.

This family-friendly event is open to all to come celebrate the 5th anniversary of Hilltown Families.  Enjoy free appetizers, h’orderves, and Cup and Top Café’s delicious soups.  There will even be birthday cake, including a gluten-free one!  Let your children entertain themselves in the café play space where there will be a screening of The Nields The Organic Farm DVD for the little ones.

All photos in the show have been featured here on Hilltown Families over the years and reflect the beauty and diversity of life in our region.  This opening celebration is an opportunity to bring the community together to celebrate while raising money for the network.  All net proceeds from the sale of images will benefit the organization.

There will also be a GIVEAWAY of 5 gift baskets from 5 local businesses at the opening reception! All of the businesses included in the giveaway have products that are used or sold at the café.  Deadline to enter to win is Friday, February 4th and you must be present to win.  Find out more about the giveaway here.

The exhibit will be on display at the café for the months of February & March.  For more info on exhibit, email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com or call the café at 585-0445.


Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit” is supported in part by grants from local Cultural Councils in Ashfield, Buckland, Chesterfield and Cummington — all local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Northampton Community Farm

Vision for a Community Farm in the Pioneer Valley

Grow Food Northampton envisions a community farm to include CSA’s, microdairy, farming microenterprises, farm store, community garden plots, apprentice trainings, workshops, community celebrations, school programs and camps right in Northampton, MA. You can help to make this happen!

Grow Food Northampton plans to purchase 117 acres of prime farmland in Florence (walking distance from town center, near Meadow and Spring Sts.). Read more here.

They will be having their LAUNCH EVENT on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2nd at the Elk’s Lodge in Florence, MA from 4-8pm. There will be a historic walking tour at 4pm at the Historic Ross Homestead at 123 Meadow St. in Florence. At the same time there will be kids activities, family music, and time with the farmers at the Elk’s Lodge. At 5pm dinner will be served and there will be speakers and more live music and dancing to follow.

Learn more, get inspired, and have a great time building community together! This is a free event with encouragement to donate what you can to help Grow Food Northampton meet its fundraising goals.

A Day at Look Park

Northampton’s Big Backyard: Look Park in Florence

Kids can cool down in the Splash Park at Look Park. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

The first day of school for my gang is in the books. We wave and kiss summer good-bye. We look ahead to our fall schedule with apprehension and relief: school days, homework, swim lessons, clarinet, collapsing into a heap at the weekend. And I realize, as I pack up snacks and fill out forms and do the calculus involved with different pick ups and drop-offs, I’ve not yet written about our extra backyard. Our own backyard is postage stamp sized, but Look Park is gloriously big, and is the place we end up when we need to stretch our legs, run extra fast and meet up with friends.

Bummer boats, mini golf, train rides and paddle boat rides are extra at the park. Pay half price on Wednesdays. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

We go there for a few hours or entire day. We run through sprinklers, clamber on rocks in the creek, and play hide-and-go-seek-tag all over the play structures.  I’ve been known to occasionally indulge the boys in popsicles or ice-cream sandwiches from the snack bar. On half-price Wednesdays, we’ll ride the train through the zoo, then walk through it to feed the goats, then go for a bumper boat rides.  The boys love to bike or scooter around from one spot to the next,. It is in fact where my youngest discovered that he is truly good at biking, peddling away from me shouting,“I’m good at this! I’m good at this!”

Nearby creek bed for exploring. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

It was our first retreat when we moved here in last summer’s heatwave. We’ve been back time and again, for birthday parties, picnics and sports. Its shady play structures are the only ones we head to on warm summer days. Henry and Theo often lead us on hiking trails through the woods to discover pine cones and different views of the creek. It is the best place to take them when I am tired of kid wrangling and may need a fast retreat to the van to head home for dinner, bath and bed.

You’ll find us there this weekend for the hot air balloon festival. Hope for clear skies and bring your camera, the opportunities for pictures, should not be passed up. See you there!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.

Ticket Giveaway: Many Hands CD Release Concert at Look Park

Like This!

Many Hands CD Release Concert at Look Park
Florence, MA
Sunday, September 26th, 2010 @ 1pm-6:30pm

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Enter to win a family 4-pack of free tickets to the "Many Hands" CD Release Concert at Look Park on September 26th. Scheduled performers include Dan Zanes, Elizabeth Mitchell & Family, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Tony Vacca, Grenadilla, and the Deedle Deedle Dees. Deadline to enter to win: 9/22/10 @ 7pm (EST).

On stage at the Pine Theater at Look Park, a CD release concert for the star-studded family music CD, Many Hands, will take place the afternoon of September 26th, 2010.

Hilltown Families and local record label Spare the Rock Records have partnered up to offer two lucky families a 4-pack of free tickets to see the show.  Scheduled performers include:

Deadline to enter to win is September 22nd at 7pm (EST). Details on how to enter to win are below.

ABOUT MANY HANDS CD

With a national release this summer, Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti is the first release from the new local record label, Spare the Rock Records. This unique collection of songs is filled with uplifting messages from some of today’s very best family musicians, including: Emily Curtis, Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem, Bonga and the Vodou Drums of Haiti, Dan Zanes, Recess Monkey, Dog on Fleas, Elizabeth Mitchell, Caspar Babypants, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Jonathan Coulton, They Might Be Giants, Lunch Money, Gustafer Yellowgold, Pete Seeger, Dean Jones , Grenadilla, Baby Gramps, Randy Kaplan, The Deedle Deedle Dees, Uncle Rock, Frances England and Jerrice Baptiste.

Read more about this terrific CD here: Locally Produced Family CD to Benefit Haiti.

ABOUT  THE CD RELEASE CONCERT

On Saturday, September 26th, this afternoon of music at the classic Pines Theater in Look Park will celebrate the release of a star-studded family music CD, Many Hands. Net proceeds will be donated to the Haitian People’s Support Project. Scheduled performers are listed above. This event is general admission.  The park will charge regular admission to get into the park; parking season passes will be accepted, and park admission is free if you bike or walk. (Hint: bike!) Outside food will be allowed, but outside alcohol is not permitted. Coolers are not allowed. Your bags will be searched. Food and drink will be available from great local vendors. Pets are not allowed at any events at the Pines.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to the Many Hands CD release concert at the Pines Theater at Look Park in Florence, MA on Saturday, September 26th from 1-6:30pm is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

  1. SHARE YOUR WELL WISHES TO FAMILIES IN HAITI BELOW (one entry per family) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw two winners and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 09/22/10 @ 7pm (EST).

If you don’t win you should still go!  Tickets are $8 for kids, $11 for adults ($7 per vehicle), and net proceeds will be donated to the Haitian People’s Support Project. Tickets are available online through Brown Paper Tickets.

Three After-School Kids’ Concerts in May

Three Free After-School Kids’ Concerts in May
at Cup and Top Cafe in Florence, MA

Family performances at Cup & Top in Florence, MA are always engaging and fun! And best of all, they're FREE! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Tuesday May 4th @ 4pm – Laura Doherty & Mariana Iranzi
It’s double the fun at this special kids show! A familiar face at the Cup and Top, Boston kids artist Mariana Iranzi, teams up with Chicago kids artist Laura Doherty, for a lively family show! Mariana and Laura each won the NAPPA award in 2009 for their children’s recordings.

Thursday May 6th @ 4pm – The Okee Dokee Brothers
The Okee Dokee Brothers play family music that originates from their mischievous backyard adventures as childhood best friends. Listening to their banjo and guitar is like Huck and Tom whitewater rafting with Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.

Tuesday May 11th @ 4pm – Randy Kaplan
Randy Kaplan is a New York and California-based songwriter known for his incisive lyrics and songs which blend American roots, folk, alternative, and pop. Kaplan’s children’s CDs have been praised and recommended by New York Magazine, Time Out New York Kids, Cookie Magazine and Parenting Magazine.

All events are free!

Cup and Top Cafe is located at 1 North Main Street (Route 9) in the heart of Florence, MA (413) 585-0445

New Family Entertainment Series Comes to Florence!

New Family Entertainment Series in Florence Presents
Laura Doherty in Concert on Thursday, Oct. 15th

NoHo Pride and the Cup and Top Cafe have partnered up to bring you a series of live entertainment fundraising events to include children’s entertainment, local area artists such as singer\songwriters, spoken word poets, and more.

October brings their first show featuring children’s musician, Laura Doherty at the premiere concert from this series for an afternoon family performance in Florence, MA.  There will be a special intermission fun provided by Heidi Haas’s talented group of improv children!


VIDEO:  Laura Doherty – “Hot Dog” [Kids in the City]

  • When: Thursday, October 15, 2009
  • Time: 4:00 PM
  • Where: Florence Civic Center, next to the Lilly Library in Florence, MA
  • Tickets: Advance sales at Cup & Top Cafe in Florence, MA
  • More Info: www.northamptonpride.org
  • You’ll also be able to hear Laura’s music and interviews on these local radio shows:

    • Spare the Rock
      on 93.9 The River · Saturdays 8-10 AM, and also Saturdays 7-9 AM on Valley Free Radio 103.3 hosted by Bill Childs who also coordinates live music events for children.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Summer Fun: More for Your Money on Wednesdays

    Look Park Offers Half-Price on Wednesdays and Family Entertainment

    Water Spray Park at Look Park in Florence, MA

    (Water Spray Park) In addition to paid attractions, there are plenty of fun free things to do, including the Water Spray Park, Walking/Biking Paths, Playgrounds, Tennis, and even a small Zoo. There is a entrance fee to bring your car into the park. Season passes are available, and well worth the investment. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Look Park announces that all Wednesdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day will be 1/2 price for all paid attractions.

    Paid attractions include:

    • Train Rides
    • Pedal Boats
    • Miniature Golf
    • Bumper Boats
    • Click here to see prices

    Free attraction include:

    • Water Spray Park
    • Walking/Biking Paths
    • Playgrounds
    • Tennis Courts
    • Baseball Fields
    • Volleyball Sand Pits
    • Zoo

    Family Entertainment

    Also on Wednesday in June at Look Park is family entertainment at the Pines Theater at 10am. The series features a collection of children’s performers who sing, dance, and perform a variety of children’s activities on stage. Performances last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour The Look Park Children’s Entertainment Series is a program run by Look Park at the Pines Theater. The series features a collection of children’s performers who sing, dance, and perform a variety of children’s activities on stage. Performances last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour on Wednesday mornings during the summer. The shows have proven to be a great place to take children for fun summer activities. Click here for ticket prices.

    Here is their current July schedule:

    • July 15Ed Popielarczyk
      Ed takes a lot of pride in bringing smiles to his friend’s faces. Whether he is performing a magic show or making a balloon creation, he is entertaining. The magic in what he does is not making a big duck riding a motorcycle out of balloons or fooling someone during a magic show, but the laughter that it brings. That is the TRUE MAGIC!!
    • July 22Gerwick Puppets “The Case of the Missing Woodpile”
      Marylou and Bruce star in this musical mystery. They’re busy with all sorts of summer activities, when suddenly the pile of wood for a chicken coop disappears! Jon Klein, an instructor at Berklee College of Music, wrote the jazz score. All puppets sing as well as try to solve the mystery.
    • July 29 – UNH Little Red Wagon Tour
      The Little Red Wagon’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is specifically designed for young audiences. Fairies, maidens, magic and fools abound in this wonderful introduction to the world’s greatest playwright. With audience participation and a good dose of comedy, it’s easy to enjoy Shakespeare’s most popular play. Appropriate for all ages.

    Let other families in the region know about special events and destinations this summer.  Click here to post your event/suggestion.

    Free Music for Little People Show After School in Florence

    Join Marcy Gregoire
    at the Cup and Top in Florence, MA
    for a FREE after school show on
    Wednesday, Feb. 11th at 4pm!

    Cup and Top8***
    (click image to enlarge)

    An afternoon of FREE music, movement, and lots of laughter! Come enjoy Marcy’s music, and let your kids play various instruments and take the stage with Marcy. Bring your kids, your friends’ kids, your grandparents, and don’t forget the camera!  Face painting starts at 3pm, music at 4pm.

    Every 2nd Wednesday: come back for more on March 11th! Cup & Top Cafe is located at 1 North Main Street in Florence, MA. 585-0445.

    BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag!

    River Valley Market Co-Op Update

    CMYO: Come Make Your Own at the River Valley Market Bag “Sew-cial”

    Show the kids a way as a family we can be sensitive and proactive in the conservation of our resources! The next River Valley Market bag sew is scheduled for April 15 from 6-8:30 pm at the Rocky Hill Co-Housing Common Room in Florence. Come make a unique cloth shopping bag and sew on your very own River Valley Market logo patch.

    No sewing experience is necessary – experienced people will be on hand to help you. Bring sewing machines, fabric, and thread if you have them. Our first co-op bag sew-cial took place in March. About a dozen people came, and we had a GREAT time. Many people made bags to take home and use themselves, and those who were speedy enough to make extras left some behind for future co-op shoppers.

    For more information and directions, contact Nan Childs at 586-1071.

    Mid-Winter Kids Concert this Saturday with UNCLE ROCK!

    UNCLE ROCK TO PERFORM
    A MID-WINTER FAMILY CONCERT
    ON FEBRUARY 2ND @ 10:30AM
    AT THE FLORENCE CIVIC CENTER

    (c) Hilltown Families - Uncle RockReturning to the Pioneer Valley for a February Family Concert, Hilltown Families (that’s us!) is pleased to present NY based indie kids musician Uncle Rock, performing new music from his most recent release Uncle Rock U. A good time for all ages, this family concert will be held at the Florence Civic Center (at 90 Park Street, next to the Lilly Library who have posted good directions on their web site) on Saturday, February 2nd at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $6 per person, infants free. All proceeds go to the artist.

    • Family Concert (all ages)
    • Saturday, February 2nd, 2008
    • 10:30 a.m.
    • Florence Civic Center in Florence, MA (next to the Lilly Library off Route 9)
    • $6.00 per person. Infants free.
    • General admission.
    • Email with any questions

    NEW MUSIC: UNCLE ROCK U

    Uncle Rock U, a collection of 17 songs, explores the joy, excitement and imagination of childhood. The album also reflects Uncle Rock’s indie-rock background (former bassist with The Fleshtones), his theatrical gifts (the lead in the London production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story) and his knack for connecting with children (being a dad himself, as well as a preschool teacher).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Suggested Events 01/26/08 – 02/01/08

    DISCOVERING WORLD CULTURES AT CAM

    Families wanting to broaden their children’s global awareness through fun activities like traditional folks arts, folktales and ceremonies, should check out the following series of three Art & World Culture Playshops happening at the Children’s Art Museum (CAM) in Shelburne Falls, MA (next to the Trolley Museum):

      TIBET: SAND MANDALAS & PRAYER FLAGS

      This series will begin this Friday (February 1st) with Sand Mandalas & Prayer Flags of Tibet from 4pm-6:30pm. Sand Mandalas are an ancient Tibetan art form that were used to teach compassion, environmental relations and impermanency. With Tibet being one of the last ancient civilizations, teaching kids the history behind this ancient art form can supplement their global awareness of world civilizations and cultures. Making a sand mandala and prayer flags joins the art and history together into a creative and tactile experience. Click here to see a video of Tibetan Monks making a traditional sand mandala. All ages are welcomed. Pre-registration is required ($). Click here to reserve your spot, or call 413.625.2030. Co-sponsored by Hilltown Families.  (Postponed to Sunday 02/03 @ 10am)

      RUSSIA: MATRYOSHKA MADNESS

      On Sunday, February 10th at 10am, Russian traditional folk art will be discovered with Matryoshka Madness. Not only can this traditional Russian icon be used to educate your kids about fertility and motherhood, it can also be used to teach them about world culture and customs too. In this playshop, families can discover Russian culture through the traditional Russian Folk Art by painting their own heirloom Matryoshka Dolls. (Please pre-register now for this class to reserve your Matryoshka Doll). All ages are welcomed. Pre-registration is required ($). Click here to reserve your spot, or call 413.625.2030. Co-sponsored by Hilltown Families.

      JAPAN: CELEBRATING GIRLS DAY

      Then, on Friday, February 29th at 4pm, just prior to Japan’s National Girls Day, CAM and Hilltown Families will be sponsoring a Mother/Daughter Tea, serving Peach Blossom tea and symbolic snacks. National Girls Day is also know as the Japanese Doll Festival, or Hinamatsuri. Our craft will be Kokeshi Dolls. All ages are welcomed. Pre-registration is required ($). Click here reserve your spot, or call 413.625.2030. Co-sponsored by Hilltown Families.

      SATURDAY MORNING KIDS CONCERTS YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS!

      • This Saturday (01/26) check out the Deedle Deedle Dees at Lyman Hall in Northampton at 10am.
      • Next Saturday (02/02) join us for a kids rockin’ concert with Uncle Rock at the Florence Civic Center at 10:30am.

      THIS WEEK’S LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS IS SPONSORED BY:

      GRENDEL BOOKS (www.GrendelBooks.com)

    • Become a Sponsor
    • To find out how you or your business can help support Hilltown Families by becoming a sponsor, drop us an email or give us a call at 413.296.0096 for more information. By having individuals in our community and area businesses become sponsors, Hilltown Families can continue to offer a weekly list of suggested events, a weekly podcast, updated resources, articles and much more.

      • Submit an Event

      If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, or would like to submit your event to the Hilltown Families calendar of Suggested Events, email Sienna at swildfield@juno.com, or post your event on our community bulletin board. Comments are warmly welcomed!

      Local forecast | Get directions | Free Museum Passes | School Closings & Delays

      Events Happening in the Hilltowns
      The following key represents the sum cost of one adult and one child:
      (>$) Under $10; ($) Between $10-$19; ($$) Between $20-$44; ($$$) Over $45

      Saturday – 01/26

      8am – FAMILY RADIO – (Air Waves) While traveling around town, tune-in to WXOJ 103.3 FM in Northampton, MA, from 8-10am to hear fabulous family-friendly music on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child with the Deedle Deedle Dees! [All ages] (Free)

      8am & 9:15am – KIDS BASKETBALL – (Worthington) Throughout the winter months, the Worthington Recreation Department is offering co-ed basketball program for kids at the town hall. Grades 1-2 begin at 8am. Grades 3-4 begin at 9:15am. No registration is necessary. 413.238.5500 [Ages 6-9] (Free)

      9am – TRAINS! – (West Springfield) The Amherst Railway Society will be holding a weekend Railroad Hobby Show at the Eastern States Exposition on Saturday & Sunday. Bring your young train enthusiasts to see over 35 operating layouts, visit with historical societies, clinics and more. www.AmherstRail.org [Families] ($)

      10am – FAMILY BOOK CLUB – (Williamsburg) Family Book Club will be at the Meekins Library.Click here for more info. [Ages 9-12] (Free)

      10am – KIDS CONCERT – (Northampton) The Deedle Deedle Dees will be performing at Lyman Hall at the First Churches in Northampton, MA. There will be pancakes, carnival games, live music and dancing! Click here for more information. [Families] ($)

      11am & 1pm – THEATER – (Amherst) In the auditorium at the Eric Carle Musem, Castle Hill Theatre Presents an original adaptation of the Norse myth, Tatterhood. 413.658.1126 [Families] ($, ticket price does not include museum admission. Borrow a museum pass from your local library)

      1pm-3pm – NATURE EXPLORATIONS – (Williamsburg) Mass Audubon will be hosting Nature in Winter at the Meekins Library (indoors/outdoors). 413.268.7472 [Ages 4-8] (Free)

      1:30pm – 3:20pm – ICE SKATING – (Greenfield) The Collins/Moylan Memorial Skating Rink will have a public skate. Skate rentals available. 413.772.6891 [Families] ($)

      2:30pm-4pm – FAMILY ART WORKSHOP – (Haydenville) Art Star invites families to come make art together with art projects that celebrate the family. Materials included. 413.896.3709 [Families] ($)

      4pm-6:50pm – ICE SKATING – (Amherst) There will be a public skate at the Mullins Center Ice Rink. Skate rentals available. 413.545.3990 [Families] ($)

      Read the rest of this entry »

      Snowman in My Freezer Episode on HFVS (01/15/08)

      LISTEN NOW

      HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW
      Snowman in My Freezer Episode

      with Sienna & Persephone

      WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
      Northampton, MA
      Tuesday evening @ 7pm

      01/15/08 PLAYLIST

      listen now | subscribe to podcast | archived shows | contests

      PLAYLIST

      FEATURED VIDEO

      If you like the kitschiness of Rosemary Clooney’s song, “Suzy Snowflake,” you have to see this video put to Soul Coughing‘s version of this classic winter song.

      UPCOMING PERFORMANCES

      Deedle Deedle Dees Concert on Jan. 26th 2008

      This winter there are THREE excellent kids concerts happening that you won’t want to miss: The Deedle Deedle Dees, Uncle Rock, and Princess Katie & Racer Steve! All three bands are returning to the area from New York. If you missed them the first time, or want to come see them again, here’s your chance to see them in our area.

      JANUARY 26th @ 10amThe Deedle Deedle Dees will be performing at Lyman Hall at the First Churches in Northampton, MA. There will be pancakes, carnival games, live music and dancing! Co-presented by Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child and Flywheel Arts Collective. Check out The Deedle Deedle Dees at www.thedeedledeedledees.com.

      Uncle Rock on Feb 2nd 2008 at Florence Civic Center

      FEBRUARY 2nd @ 10:30amUncle Rock will be at the Florence Civic Center (next to the Lilly Library off of Route 9) in Florence, MA. Presented by Hilltown Families. Uncle Rock just release his third album, Uncle Rock U. Visit Uncle Rock on-line at www.unclerock.com. Click here to print out a poster and help us spread the word!

      Princess Katie & Racer Steve on March 8thMARCH 8th @ 1:30pm Princess Katie & Racer Steve will be whoopin’ it up at Lyman Hall at the First Churches in Northampton, MA. Come in costume if you’d like! PK&RS just released a new album too, Fast & Feisty. Performance is co-presented by Hilltown Families & Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. PK&RS have a cool website at www.princessracer.com.

      THIS WEEK’S CONTEST

      This week we’re offering music by Baby Rock Records and apparel from Beethoven’s Wig:

      • A sampler CD by Baby Rock Records, Rockabye Baby!, featuring lullaby renditions of favorite rock bands.
      • Youth size small t-shirt submitted by Beethoven’s Wig to the HFVS T-shirt Review.

      Beethoven’s Wig
      There seemed to be an equally positive response from kids and parents on this design. They all liked the otherworldly, flowing wig on Beethoven’s head. “I like that his wig is tubes,” commented Ruben (age 10). And Ruben’s parents, found the design fun, fanciful and imaginative. “Best graphic,” wrote Gus (Ruben’s dad).

      HOW TO WIN: For your chance to win, simply post us a comment below. We’ll randomly draw a winner from everyone who leaves a comment. IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is 01/22/08 @ 7pm (EST).

      CONGRATULATIONS TO

      Read the rest of this entry »

      February Family Concert with UNCLE ROCK!

      UNCLE ROCK TO PERFORM
      A MID-WINTER FAMILY CONCERT
      ON FEBRUARY 2ND @ 10:30AM
      AT THE FLORENCE CIVIC CENTER

      • Click here to print out a poster to post, and help us spread the word!

      (c) Hilltown Families - Uncle RockReturning to the Pioneer Valley for a February Family Concert, Hilltown Families (that’s us!) is pleased to present NY based indie kids musician Uncle Rock, performing new music from his most recent release Uncle Rock U. A good time for all ages, this family concert will be held at the Florence Civic Center (next to the Lilly Library who have posted good directions on their web site) on Saturday, February 2nd at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $6 per person, infants free. All proceeds go to the artist.

      • Family Concert (all ages)
      • Saturday, February 2nd, 2008
      • 10:30 a.m.
      • Florence Civic Center in Florence, MA (next to the Lilly Library off Route 9)
      • $6.00 per person. Infants free.
      • General admission.
      • Email with any questions

      NEW MUSIC: UNCLE ROCK U

      Uncle Rock U, a collection of 17 songs, explores the joy, excitement and imagination of childhood. The album also reflects Uncle Rock’s indie-rock background (former bassist with The Fleshtones), his theatrical gifts (the lead in the London production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story) and his knack for connecting with children (being a dad himself, as well as a preschool teacher). Read the rest of this entry »

      Gustafer Punches Cheese in Florence

      Gustafer Yellowgold at the Florence Civic Center

      Gustafer Yellowgold in Florence (c) www.HilltownFamilies.orgLast February, Morgan Taylor and Rachel Loshak from Gustafer Yellowgold came to the Pioneer Valley for a memorable family performance at the Flywheel in Easthampton, MA. Well, lots has happen between then and now (for one thing, Flywheel closed their doors in March, with hopes to open again in the Old Town Hall in downtown Easthampton, a very exciting prospect! Click here to read Valley Advocate’s article). This past weekend they performed at the Florence Civic Center in Florence, MA, presented by Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child.

      Christy & Kai at the performance (c) www.HilltownFamilies.orgSince their last gig in our area, Gustafer Yellowgold came out with a new CD/DVD this fall, Have You Never Been Yellow?, a sequel to their first album, Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wide Wild World. This weekend’s performance included several songs off of their new CD, including “Punching Cheese,” “The Mustard Slugs” and “Beard For All Seasons.” Each of their songs is a blend of minimally animated illustrations that are accompanied by Taylor’s catchy and original ballads for a truly different multimedia experience. Here’s their performance of “The Mustard Slugs:”

      Another exciting thing that has happen since their last visit is that their newest CD won the number one position on the Fids and Kamily Award, which Hilltown Families was invited to participate in as a judge! Congratulations! In a recent post to Hilltown Familes, Fids & Kamily 2007 Awards … My Vote!, written by HF Contributing Writer, Bill Childs from Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, Childs writes:

      Liam during the performance (c) www.HilltownFamilies.orgHave You Never Been Yellow? – Gustafer Yellowgold (www.gustaferyellowgold.com). Gustafer is a small yellow fellow from the sun, and this, the second CD/DVD set to follow his Earthly exploits, is sweetly hilarious and musically rich. The CD stands on its own, but the DVD “moving story book” is what makes the package very nearly perfect.

      And the last bit of exciting news we’ll share, Morgan and Rachel will be expecting their first child in a few months! Kudos you two! Wishing you wellness and joy.

      Gustafer Yellowgold in Florence!

      GUSTAFER YELLOWGOLD
      At the Florence Civic Center
      Sunday, Dec. 9th @ 4:30pm

      The critically acclaimed multimedia musical moving book, The Gustafer Yellowgold Show, returns to the Pioneer Valley with a performance at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 9 at the Florence Civic Center, off Route 9 (next to the Lilly Library) in Florence, MA, hosted by the Valley Free Radio program, Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child.

      Brainchild of artist/songwriter/performer Morgan Taylor, Gustafer Yellowgold concerts are a unique blend of live music and moving image, projected in vivid color onto a big screen. The minimally animated illustrations are accompanied by Taylor’s catchy and original story-songs for a truly different multimedia experience that entrances children and adults alike. As always, Morgan Taylor will bring his distinctive brand of humor to the show, as he interacts with his often verbally inquisitive audience.

      Gustafer Yellowgold is a friendly creature who came to Earth from the Sun and has an interesting magnetism for making friends with some of Earth’s odder creatures. His best friend is Forrest Applecrumbie. the smartly dressed Pterodactyl, with whom he built a small cottage-style home on the edge of an uncharted wooded area in Minnesota. Gustafer has a pet eel named Slim (short for Slimothy) and a dragon named Asparagus who lives in his fireplace. For recreation, he enjoys punching cheese.

      Since his creation in 2005, Gustafer Yellowgold has become an international phenomenon, praised by Newsweek as “full of great pop tunes and hand-drawn animation about a li’l fella from the sun.” The Chicago Tribune enthused, “Gustafer Yellowgold has made kids’ music so cool that teenagers and ultra-hip bands such as Wilco want to get in on the act … A shiny blend of pop art and pop tunes.”

      Possessing an unusual crossover appeal, The Gustafer Yellowgold Show has performed as the support act for Wilco and The Polyphonic Spree, as well as headlining kids’ venues all across the U.S., in London, and even in Seoul, Korea! Morgan Taylor’s other projects include playing bass for The Autumn Defense (featuring John and Pat from Wilco), as well as a recording project with Tony Award winning songwriter Duncan Sheik.

      (c) Hilltown Families - Gustafer Yellowgold Concert

      Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wide Wild World, released in March 2007, is a 2007 NAPPA Gold winner and an official selection of the KIDS FIRST! Film and Video Festival. A second DVD/CD set, Gustafer Yellowgold’s Have You Never Been Yellow?, released in October 2007, is the first-place winner of the 2007 Fids & Kamily Awards, modeled on the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop Poll.

      • Tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show on Tuesday, December 11th at 7pm as Morgan Taylor of Gustafer Yellowgold does a guest DJ set with co-host Persephone, and discover how you can win their music and the T-Shirt they submitted to the HFVS T-Shirt Review.
      • Tune in to the Fids & Kamily Awards Episode on the Hilltown Family Variety Show, featuring all the winners of the F&K Awards, including Gustafer Yellowgold.
      • Click here to read about Gustafer Yellowgold’s performance at Flywheel in Easthampton, MA last February.

      Pop Rockets Blast Off!

      HFVS Tips its Hat to the Pop Rockets

      Pop Rockets at Cup & Top - (c) 2007 Hilltown Families

      This week’s episode of the HFVS was an encore presentation of the episode, King of the Insects. It was a big hit with all our budding entomologist so we thought we’d play it again … But mostly because we needed a little R&R following the HFVS 1st Annual T-Shirt Review Mini-Fest & Ice Cream Social that happened this weekend in West Chesterfield, MA.

      The review/fest/social was a big success and as far as I could tell everyone had a blast. I’ll be posting more updates and photos from the review, but first I wanted to thank the Pop Rockets for their “Blast Off” performances during the event. They were a big hit!

      POP ROCKETS CD RELEASE PARTY

      I first saw the Pop Rockets at Cup & Top in Florence this past spring. This four-piece band rocked the house. The place was packed. Moms and dads got jazzed up on fresh cups of joe, as the music pulled kids off laps and onto the dance floor. They had their waist high audience jumping up and down, twirling in circles like spinning tops. (OH!!! I get it … Cup & Top … duh!) I recall one parent referring to their performance as “a rock concert for kids.” That it was!

      This summer we saw them perform again in Deerfield and were very excited to learn they had a new CD coming out. So we invited them to be our featured band during the HFVS’s 1st Annual T-Shirt Review Mini-Fest & Ice Cream Social. And once again they rocked the house, er, lawn. More on that to come.

      On Sunday they were back at Cup & Top for their new CD Release Party, pictured above with Hilltown Families and friends. They performed all their new songs including “New Sneaker Jive,”which I now consider one of may favorite shoe songs, along with “Where’s My Shoes Blues” by AudraRox, “Shoe Bandit” by Uncle Rock (all artists that have also performed at Cup & Top with in the last year). Here’s a video from their recent Cup & Top performance:

      POP ROCKETS AT THE T-SHIRT REVIEW

      Read the rest of this entry »

      Sandy Sandwiches and Local Food at Cup & Top

      Storyteller Keith Munslow Visits Florence

      SANDY SANDWICHES AT CUP & TOPKeith Munslow at Cup and Top (c) Hilltown Families [Things to do in Florence, Massachusetts]

      Acclaimed storyteller, musician and visual artist, Keith Munslow was at Cup & Top this past Saturday following a live on-air performance and interview on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. Keith’s performance was interactive and funny, filled with original songs and stories. His performance included a storyboard of cartoons that he would draw on-the-spot. Several families got to take home his poster sized drawings following his show.

      Keith’s style reminded me a lot of another storyteller I admire, Bill Harley. I later learned that Bill helped produce Keith’s newest album, Dressed Up For The Party. That explains everything! Two very talented storytellers. Boogedy Boogedy is the running catch phrase for anything scary in our house – that comes from Bill Harley’s story, “The Swamp Monster,” from his award winning album Blah, Blah, Blah.

      But this article is about Keith, who had the kids enthralled with his story, “The Bellywog;” a story about the critter that visits our tummys at night leaving us with a belly ache in the morning before moving on to the next persons house, and the round of remedies that are offered by well meaning folks. Persephone’s dad came with us and I caught him laughing once or twice. A sure sign that Keith can entertain even the most cynical of audience members. (That’s high accolades, Keith!)

      Click here if you’d like to find out where and when Keith Munslow will be performing in the area, or here if you’d like to discover Bill Harley’s performance schedule too. They are both from Rhode Island so they are sure to be in our area again soon.

      LOCAL FOOD AT CUP & TOP

      Following the performance, our family had lunch at Cup & Top. The owner, Helen, does a great job at using local food in her menu items, including fresh herbs from her own personal cafe garden in Florence. They also make their own pastries (including a gluten free selection) and yogurt with fresh local milk from Mapleline Farm in Hadley, MA. To follow is a list of many of the items they serve up from local farms and local providers:

      • Appalachian Naturals Dressings (Goshen, MA)
      • Bread Euphoria Organic Bread (Haydenville, MA)
      • Dean’s Beans Coffee (Orange, MA)
      • Diemand Farm Eggs (Wendell, MA)
      • Enterprise Farm Organic Produce (Whately, MA)
      • Gus & Paul’s NY Bagels (Springfield, MA)
      • TeaGuys Loose Leaf Tea (Florence, MA)

      Local School Bus to Run on Vegetable Oil

      Dancing Skunks and Stolen Toes in Florence

      Family Concert at Cup & Top with Mr. Richard

      Mr. Richard @ Cup & Top

      “Richard Peeples [Mr. Richard] has a gruff singing voice that suggests he is more cartoon character than human, but that’s just part of his charm. On his second CD, he lathers his native Louisiana groove and gumption onto songs about dancing skunks and stolen toes.” – Cookie Magazine, April-May 2007

      This past Saturday Mr. Richard did a free performance at Cup & Top in Florence, MA, presented by Valley Free Radio’s Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. Read the rest of this entry »

      Princess Katie Holds Court in Florence

      Eat Your Art Out

      Eat Your Art Out in Northampton
      Thursday, April 26, 2007

      Hey hilltown families – have plans to have dinner in the “city” Thursday evening? Take your family and have a great meal at one of your favorite restaurants and, at the same time, help support the arts in Northampton.  And it just so happens that Take your Daughter/Son to Work Day is on the same day.  If you work in Noho, have lunch together too for a double duty lesson on civic support along side the balancing act of work and family.

      On Thursday, April 26, 28 generous dining establishments will donate 10% of their receipts for the day to the Northampton Center for the Arts to help underwrite the Center’s community arts programming.
      Read the rest of this entry »

      Local Celebrations for the Week of the Young Child [April 21-28, 2007]

      Ways to Celebrate the Week of the Young Child (2007)

      (c) Hilltown FamiliesHilltown families are invited to join hundreds of local organizations around the country that will celebrate the Week of the Young Child.

      • WYC honors children from birth through age eight in America.
      • WYC honors the adults who help children make the most of the opportunities of their early years.
      • WYC offers a chance to celebrate the learning opportunities of young children.
      • WYC recognizes the responsibilities we share for young children make the most of the early years.

      There are several local celebrations during the Week of the Young Child designed to build broader support for early childhood programs that nurture young children’s early learning and growth:

      Read the rest of this entry »

      Elizabeth Street in Florence


      Elizabeth Street did a live family concert this Saturday morning in Florence, performing music from their debut album, Different.

      “Sometimes my initial response to new music is, “Wow, that’s really, um, different.” And by different, I mean bad. But sometimes different is good, as in the case of Different, the debut album from Elizabeth Street,” says CoolMomPicks.com

      “In kids’ and family music, there are many albums with decent music but with lyrics that are just too… obvious. It is possible, however, to write lyrics that are direct enough for kids that aren’t so obvious as to make the parental eyes roll, and it’s that fine line that [Elizabeth Street] walks on [their] album,” writes Stefan Shepherd on ZooGlobble.com. Read the rest of this entry »

      Hayrides at Look Park

      (c) Hilltown FamiliesThe moon was nearly full and the holiday lights were strung about. A beautiful night for a hayride at Look Park in Florence, MA. The kids got to pet the horses and even offer a carrot or two.There are over 50 different holiday light displays, including Christmas and Hanukkah icons, an assortment of animals, and all the way from Scottland, Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster.

      The hayrides are being offered by Stillwater Stables of Chesterfield, MA, and take about 25 mins to travel around the park. The cost is $3 for kids and $5 for adults. They will be giving hayrides at the park every Friday and Saturday evening from 5-8pm, through 12/23/07.

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