Thursday, June 27, 2013

Go Fourth!

A guide to statewide Independence Day festivities

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Burlingtons Rock the Dock Celebration
  • courtesy of the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center
  • Burlington's Rock the Dock Celebration
Fireworks light up the state for the Fourth of July, but there’s more to these celebrations than smoke and lights. The festivities are a chance for families and neighbors to come together and commemorate the anniversary of our nation’s independence. Ready to party, patriot-style? Vermont towns host parades, street fairs, cookouts, concerts and even outhouse races. Read on to find the fun in your own hometown.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , ,

One-on-One With My Military Kids

Home Front: Diaries of a Vermont military family

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Chandler, Chase and Charlie Lehman - PHOTO BY LUANN BAILEY PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Photo by Luann Bailey Photography
  • Chandler, Chase and Charlie Lehman

Chandler, Chase and Charlie Lehman
  • Photo by Luann Bailey Photography
  • Chandler, Chase and Charlie Lehman

In an effort to better understand how my kids feel about being a military family with their dad deployed, I thought it would be enlightening to interview them. You never know what kids are going to say, am I right?! I wrote up a list of questions and had my mom interview the boys, thinking they’d be more candid with her.

Chase, my 9-year-old, didn’t answer all of the questions. He’s had the hardest time of all my boys during this deployment. When their dad is able to talk with them, Chase doesn’t want anything to do with it. It’s been heart-wrenching to watch him struggle so deeply with his dad’s absence.

We’ve all struggled, but I can see a growth in my boys that I know would never have come otherwise. While most kids are innocent and naive about war, military kids are forced to grasp grown-up thoughts and feelings. They’re constantly confronted with troubling news reports and even casual comments from friends about bombs and terrorists. Our fight at home hasn’t been won with jets and gunfire, but with patience, hope and courage.

I’m happy to say that our boys have shown their resilience and strength, just like their dad. And, if I do say so myself, they’ve learned a thing or two from their mom, too.

Here’s what they had to say about it.

Continue reading »

Tags: ,

Families Out and About: A Hot Day at Button Bay

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Exploring the playground at Button Bay State Park - PHOTO BY ALISON NOVAK
  • photo by Alison Novak
  • Exploring the playground at Button Bay State Park

Exploring the playground at Button Bay State Park

When my kids recently asked what the word “humid” meant, I likened it to “walking around in a bowl of soup.” That’s what it felt like last weekend, and the forecast for the coming week looked just as steamy.

Pool club memberships are expensive and sometimes lake swimming just isn’t appealing. So where can families go to get some relief from the heat?

On Saturday, we found one answer at Button Bay State Park in Ferrisburgh. The 253-acre park sits on a bluff overlooking Lake Champlain, and offers camping, nature trails and boat rentals. But on our visit, we only had eyes for the pool.

My husband, Jeff, and I brought along two neighborhood friends in addition to our own kids, for a total of four kids between the ages of 3 and 7.

Theo, our 3-year-old, spent most of his time cavorting in the pool’s shallow wading area, playing with the little spouts that shot water into the air. Our 7-year-old neighbor, a confident swimmer, was thrilled to go down the twisty water slide at the opposite end of the pool. Mira, our 6-year-old who is still learning to swim, and her 5-year-old friend stayed somewhere in the middle, practicing their underwater moves while still able to put their feet on the pool’s bottom.

There were several dozen kids splashing around, so Jeff and I had to be vigilant to keep tabs on all four of our charges. But the small size of the pool and the watchful lifeguard on duty gave us an added sense of security. And when the kids tired of the water, we set up towels on the grass nearby for a picnic lunch and monkeyed around on the large play structure next to the pool.

If you asked the kids what their favorite part of the trip was, though, all four of them would probably have said the double-chocolate-fudge ice cream cones from the Love Shack in North Ferrisburgh, where we stopped on our ride home. My coffee milkshake wasn’t half bad either. Hey, if it’s gonna be hot and humid, we might as well make the best of it!

Know before you go:

Button Bay State Park is located at 118 Button Bay State Park Road in Ferrisburgh. Its pool is open daily from Memorial Weekend through August 17, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 3-7 p.m. Park admission is $3 for ages 14 and up; $2 for ages 4-13; and free for kids under 4. For more information, visit

Vermont Cookie Love’s Love Shack is located at 6915 Route 7 in North Ferrisburgh. It offers cookies, scones, creemees and hard ice cream. For more information, visit


This post was written by Kids VT contributor Alison Novak, who lives in Shelburne with her husband and two kids.

Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Water Wednesdays

A concert series for "Connecting the Drops"

Posted By on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Alpenglow will perform on the Marketplace on July 10. - COURTESY OF ALPENGLOW
  • courtesy of Alpenglow
  • Alpenglow will perform on the Marketplace on July 10.

Alpenglow will perform on the Marketplace on July 10.
  • courtesy of Alpenglow
  • Alpenglow will perform on the Marketplace on July 10.
By all accounts, it's been a wet year in Vermont. According to a recent story in Seven Days, "12.37 inches of rain fell between May 18 and June 11, making that 25-day stretch the wettest in 130 years." And, as we found out this weekend, the storms haven't stopped coming now that it's officially summer.

We're not here to give you a weather report, but we do want you to think about where all that rain is going. That's why Kids VT collaborated with the Let It Rain Stormwater Program on "Connecting the Drops," a public art project that teaches Vermonters about the negative effect of stormwater runoff on Lake Champlain — and what we can do to stop it. As we explained in our May issue, Kids VT contributed a fun, original story walk to an outdoor exhibit of artist-decorated rain barrels, which start at the top of the Church Street Marketplace and end at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.

To further support the health of Lake Champlain, we'll have a table at a weekly Church Street Marketplace concert series organized by ArtsRiot and the Let It Rain Stormwater Program. The series kicks off this Wednesday. Come for live tunes, kids activities and prizes — and make sure to play our brand-new educational video game, Runoff, while you're there. (Check our forthcoming July issue for more details on that!)

Here's the concert schedule:

June 26: Houndmouth; Caroline Rose & Jer Coons
July 3: Barbacoa; DJ Disco Phantom
July 10: Alpenglow; Henry Jamison
July 17: Leif Vollebekk
July 24: The Movelles; Great Western
July 31: Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band

See you there!

Carolyn Fox
  • Carolyn Fox

This post was written by Kids VT managing editor Carolyn Fox.

Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Families Out and About: A Summer Night at Shelburne Museum

Posted By on Thu, Jun 20, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Mira, Jeff and Theo Novak

Shelburne Museum is one of my family’s favorite daytime destinations. But on Wednesday, we rolled into the museum’s parking lot just after 5 p.m. for the first night of its art-themed, family-oriented SMArt series. The featured entertainment was the Left Eye Jump Blues Band, and there was a special barbecue menu for the occasion.

We usually explore the museum by foot, but the kids were weary from an active day. So we caught the shuttle outside the Admissions building down to the café. As we neared our destination, we heard the wails of an electric guitar and my 6-year-old daughter, Mira, got a second wind. “Oh, yeah!” she exclaimed, doing a little shimmy in her seat.

We grabbed a table and ordered some food — brisket sandwiches with corn and potatoes and Magic Hat beers for the adults, and flatbread pizza and limeade for the kids — and sat down to enjoy the tunes and the gorgeous blue skies.

There were about 50 people gathered when we arrived — some young families like us, as well as older folks without kids. The crowd was low-key, watching the band from picnic tables or the camp chairs they’d brought, but that didn’t stop Mira from busting out some of her signature moves in the gravel patch in front of the band.

Looking around, I noticed a few people around me had packed a picnic dinner. It was something I wished I had the forethought to do, considering the $12 price tag on my mediocre cafeteria-style meal. The creemees and popsicles we treated ourselves to for dessert were a nice way to end the meal, though.

After about an hour of music, stick collecting and fairy-house making, we still had 45 minutes to visit some of our favorite museum sites before the 7 p.m. closing. At my 3-year-old son Theo’s request, we hopped aboard the Ticonderoga, a restored 220-foot steamboat, and climbed up to the very top. And none of us could resist a post-dinner carousel ride. Our family had the vintage horses all to ourselves, so we took a whirl and then asked for one more. It was the stuff that summer nights are made of.

Upcoming SMArt series dates at Shelburne Museum:

Through the Looking Glass, Wednesday, July 10, 4-7 p.m.
An Alice in Wonderland-themed evening

Mini-Golf Mania, Wednesday, August 7, 4-7 p.m.
Golfers of all ages play nine holes inspired by the museum’s grounds and buildings

On Wednesdays in July and August, select buildings at Shelburne Museum are open until 7 p.m.

SMArt series programs are free to members, $11 for Vermont residents, $5 for children ages 5 to 18, and free for children under 5. For more information about the series, visit:


This post was written by Kids VT contributor Alison Novak, who lives in Shelburne with her husband and two kids.

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Home Cookin': Strawberry Cake

Posted By on Wed, Jun 19, 2013 at 8:46 PM

Strawberry Cake

Strawberry season is here! And if you're anything like me, your weekend plans involve visiting your closest u-pick patch. (Click here to find a nearby spot to take your family.) While nothing beats eating the juicy, sun-warmed berries straight from the patch, sampling them in this simple strawberry cake ranks a close second.

Strawberry Cake

Adapted from The Kitchen Sink Recipes

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
roughly 2 and 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
2 tablespoons sugar (raw or sanding sugar if you have it), for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a nine-inch pie plate or cake pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and 1 cup sugar. Mix until pale and fluffy, about three minutes. Add in egg, milk and vanilla, and mix. Gradually add in the flour mixture.

Transfer the mix to your pie plate or cake pan. Arrange the strawberries as closely as you can get them on the top, placing the cut sides down. Sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake about an hour longer, until the cake is firm and golden.

Carolyn Fox
  • Carolyn Fox

This post was written by Kids VT managing editor Carolyn Fox.

Tags: , , ,

Monday, June 17, 2013

Carried Away

Bitybean wins “Best in Show” at the New York Baby Show

Posted By on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 4:07 PM

  • courtesy of Bitybean

  • courtesy of Bitybean
Size matters — at least where child carriers are concerned. So says Charlotte-based Bitybean. The company's sleek, unisex fabric carriers, created in 2012 by Vergennes resident Douglas Hartwell, weigh just eight ounces. When not in use, they roll up into a package that's roughly the size of a child’s water bottle.

As we reported last December, Bitybean made a big splash in its first year, earning a 2012 Innovation Award from the internationally recognized Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. And a few weeks ago, Bitybean received its second major distinction: It took home one of five “Best in Show” awards at the New York Baby Show, held on May 18 and 19 in Manhattan.

According to an article in New York Family, the five winning products “comprise a range of innovation, function, design and value.”

Commented one judge, “A child carrier that you can tuck easily into a diaper bag? I desperately wish that I had one of these when my children were babies. Would have been a lifesaver. This is one of those products that causes you to think — why did no one think of that sooner?”

Want to try on a Bitybean carrier yourself? You can pick one up locally at Kids City, Outdoor Gear Exchange and Onion River Kids, or buy one online at

Carolyn Fox
  • Carolyn Fox

This post was written by Kids VT managing editor Carolyn Fox.

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Home Cookin': Dinner, Two Ways

Grilled cheese for kids and adults

Posted By on Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 9:00 AM

The Novak boys
Whenever I make sandwiches for dinner, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. It’s quick, easy and doesn’t involve sweeping up grains of rice or mopping splattered tomato sauce from under the kitchen table. And with a serving of fruit and vegetables on the side, it’s nutritiously well balanced, too.

One of my family’s favorite sandwiches is the grilled cheese served from the Farm Cart at Shelburne Farms. It’s simple and tasty, consisting of melted Shelburne Farms cheddar between two slices of sesame-wheat bread from O Bread Bakery, housed right on the farm. If you visit Shelburne Farms, which my brood does regularly during the summer months, you don’t even have to set foot in the grocery store to acquire the main ingredients.

For dinner the other night, I made my kids the classic version of this sandwich on our panini press, using Shelburne Farms Farmhouse cheddar aged six to nine months. My kids prefer young cheddar — as opposed to the farm’s one- or two-year-aged cheeses — because it’s milder.

The bread and cheese stayed the same for my husband and I, but I added a healthy slathering of fig chutney and a fistful of baby arugula for a more “mature” sandwich.

Dinner — and clean up — was a breeze that night. And upon eating our cheesy sammies, we were transported to an afternoon on the farm, minus the barnyard chickens pecking at our heels for a piece of the deliciousness.

Continue reading »

Tags: ,

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Finishing Strong

Home Front: Diaries of a Vermont military family

Posted By on Thu, Jun 6, 2013 at 10:00 AM

The final months, then weeks, of Matt's deployment feel like the last leg of a marathon. I can start to see the end. The finish line is still a ways off, but, just barely, I can make it out. It's there; I'm close.

I look back and think, "Wow! I really did all that?!"

My legs feel every mile, but I'm feeling hopeful. I'm going to finish!

Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, I begin to feel fatigued. I start running out of breath. My hopefulness wanes; my optimism stumbles. Maybe I should quit. I'm close enough. I've done good enough.

But, no — I'm not a quitter. Every step brings me closer. Even when my stride has slowed, I'm still moving forward.

I begin to breathe deep, pulling every ounce of energy left from every part of my body. I can do this. I have to. Everyone is counting on me.

I'm going to finish strong. Before I know it, I'll be in the last stretch of this deployment and I'll get that adrenaline rush that pushed me through to the end. Hang on, lungs. Keep breathing.

We're almost to the finish line.

Tasha Lehman
  • Tasha Lehman

Tasha Lehman is a mother of three boys living in Vermont. Her husband, Matt, is a first lieutenant in the Vermont Air National Guard who recently headed overseas for his first deployment. The “Home Front: Diaries of a Vermont military family” series chronicles their journey. Read more about their story in February’s “Use Your Words” essay.


Monday, June 3, 2013

War in a Different Time

Home Front: Diaries of a Vermont military family

Posted By on Mon, Jun 3, 2013 at 12:30 PM

As we continue on in our deployment journey, I become increasingly aware of silver linings. Yes, even with the deployment curse hard at work, I'm realizing how lucky we are.

I've been thinking, in particular, about how technology has affected this deployment. There is wi-fi in certain areas of the base where my husband is stationed. He has an iPad and his iPhone with him, so when he can access the wi-fi, he can FaceTime, iMessage and even play a game of Words With Friends against the boys. It's easy to feel frustrated when I don't get an iMessage when I expect to hear from him. But I've stopped myself, on many occasions, to consider how fortunate we are to be experiencing a deployment in this age of technology.

Many years ago, wives were lucky to receive a letter in the mail a few times over their husband's entire time at war. Even just a few years ago, troops were lucky to make a weekly phone call. This still holds true for many service members, depending on where they are located while serving overseas. I talk on Twitter with other military wives who still endure that kind of disconnect in communication.

You can see why I count myself lucky. I struggle with a day's worth of no communication, wondering if he's OK. Did something bad happen? Is he just really busy? I cling to my phone like I never have before. There's never a good time for your loved one to be at war, but I am taking a moment to be grateful that our time is now.

Tasha Lehman
  • Tasha Lehman

Tasha Lehman is a mother of three boys living in Vermont. Her husband, Matt, is a first lieutenant in the Vermont Air National Guard who recently headed overseas for his first deployment. The “Home Front: Diaries of a Vermont military family” series chronicles their journey. Read more about their story in February’s “Use Your Words” essay.


Sign up for Wee-Mail!

camps central

Future Genius Virtual Camps

Future Genius Virtual Camps

Winooski, VT

Future Genius virtual leadership camps for Ages 10-14 focus on 21st century sustainability education and stewardship. Through exploration of the U.N. Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including ending poverty, fighting inequality, and tackling climate change, Future Genius activates youth to become agents of change—future leaders and problem-solvers—energized to transform the…(more)

other camps » learn more »

Recent Comments

Most Commented On

Reader Reviews

  • Re: Thrive After School and Summer Program

    Rating Star Rating Star Rating Star Rating Star Rating Star
    • Thrive has high quality staff and provides enriching activities and relationship- building for elementary- aged…

    • on March 12, 2020