Thursday, July 25, 2013

Families Out and About: Slip-Slidin’ the Day Away

A summer visit to the Pump House Indoor Waterpark

Posted By on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Jay Peaks Pump House Indoor Water Park

An indoor water park isn’t the most logical destination on a gorgeous summer day. But last Sunday, spurred by my 6-year-old’s incessant begging, my family made the hour-and-a-half trek north to the Pump House Indoor Waterpark at Jay Peak Resort for a day of wet-and-wild fun.

We’d been to the Pump House several times, but only as an antidote to cabin fever in the dead of winter. Without a blanket of thick snow, the resort was easier to navigate. And the mild weather meant no jarring transition from winter boots and coats to bathing suits.

It also meant fewer crowds, as we happily discovered upon entering the building around 11 a.m. After quickly suiting up in the locker room, my daughter Mira, 6, practiced her swimming skills in the pool in the middle of the park. Then she moved on to the Double Barrel Flowrider (Pumphouse-speak for a surf-wave machine) for some boogie boarding.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Home Cookin': Carrot Cake With Cream-Cheese Icing

Posted By on Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Carrot cake with cream-cheese icing - PHOTO BY CAROLYN FOX
  • photo by Carolyn Fox
  • Carrot cake with cream-cheese icing

Carrot cake with cream-cheese icing

Getting kids to eat their veggies can be a struggle. Not so with this cake, which is loaded with carrots but still sweet and spiced with cinnamon. It goes down easy — especially when there's cream-cheese icing. Your little ones will eat it up.

Carrot Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs
1 cup oil
3 1/2 cups grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until they're frothy. Slowly add in the oil. Gradually add in the flour mixture, stirring until smooth. Fold in the carrots.

Pour the batter into a greased 9-by-13" sheet pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake pulls out clean.

Cream-Cheese Icing
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 eight-ounce package of cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a bowl. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup of powered sugar at a time, until you've reached your desired texture and sweetness.

Smooth the icing over the cooled cake. Cut into small squares to serve — or stack two squares for a "layer" cake.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

And Then He Came Home

Home Front: Diaries of a Vermont military family

Posted By on Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 4:58 PM


Our deployment journey started out with a boom. Literally. A tree fell on our house just before my husband, Matt, deployed overseas, and I knew the next six months were going to be a doozy.

The "deployment curse" continued to wreak havoc over that time. Even a few days before Matt came home, I paid $800 in car repairs and enjoyed the thrill of a child with pink eye.

Matt's homecoming was filled with cheers and tears. Not by me. I was too happy, relieved, excited, nervous — don't make me pick an emotion — to make a sound.

"I'll let you run ahead and hug him first," I told my three boys as we saw him coming. "But you better hurry."

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Families Out and About: A Magical Rainy Beach Day

Posted By on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 4:27 PM

Sometimes the sun doesn’t come out when you want it to. But don’t let the weather dampen your spirits on what’s looking to be a wet summer. My family braved a trip to Burlington’s North Beach on a recent rainy Saturday — and we were rewarded with our own private, sandy beach on the largest lake in Vermont.

Having watched the Doppler, we were confident that the showers were thunder- and lightning-free. So we packed our tent on top of the other beach supplies and hit the road. It was a thick, humid morning when we arrived at North Beach with our party of five kids under the age of 9. We were all ready to have some fun, with or without the sun.

We freed the children from the cars and they immediately dashed to the playground. To their delight, they found that the slide had transformed into a waterslide! The passing showers had also weeded out the normal crowd of beachgoers. Under these deserted conditions, the kids remained in sight the whole time as they chased seagulls, ran in and out of the water, rode their bikes on the grass, played on the swings and built sandcastles.

The adults cooked burgers and hot dogs on the charcoal grills on the beach, and pitched our big tent over a picnic table for protection from the rain. When our waterlogged, blue-lipped children finally stopped running long enough to eat, we wrapped them in dry towels and put on their sweatshirts as they ate marshmallows with their sand-covered hands.

It was a glorious day, one we all agreed was made even more magical with the rain. And let’s just say there was little fuss at bedtime — everyone got a great night’s sleep!

It’s a goal of mine to teach my kids to adapt to life; it’s not always going to be sunny. That day, we taught them to dance — or rather, swim — in the rain.

Brooke Bousquet
  • Brooke Bousquet

Brooke Bousquet is the lead designer of Kids VT. She lives in Winooski with her husband and two sons.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Little Monsters

Throw the first pitch at a Vermont Lake Monsters game!

Posted By on Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 12:11 PM


Bringing up a baseball enthusiast? The whole family will have a ball at the Vermont Lake Monsters game on July 18th, hosted by Kids VT. Here's the best part: We're choosing one lucky child to throw the first pitch of the game! Leave a comment below telling us why your kid deserves to be picked. We'll choose a winner this Friday, July 12.


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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tune Time

Ten family-friendly — and free! — summer concert series

Posted By on Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 11:12 AM

When it comes to music, Vermonters are spoiled this time of year. In addition to big waterfront festivals, practically every village green in the state comes alive with the sound of music in the summer. You can lay out your picnic blanket and catch some great tunes nearly any day of the week.

Need help keeping track of it all? We’ve compiled a list of our favorite family-friendly summer concert series below. Bonus: They’re all free!

Check out our calendar section, in print or online here, to find more.

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Home Cookin’: Strawberry Topping, Two Ways

Sweet treats for kids and adults

Posted By on Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Theo Novak at Last Resort Farm in Monkton
Berry picking is one of those quintessential summer activities that’s fun for both kids and adults. There’s a plethora of patches to choose from in our area, but my exciting discovery this strawberry season was the Last Resort Farm in Monkton.

The farm is a bit off the beaten path, to be sure, but a couple of things set it apart from other berry operations. First, its berries — and other produce — are 100 percent organic. Second, they have special rows reserved for kids, ensuring your preschooler’s fruit frolicking won’t interfere with the more serious-minded adult pickers. (You know them, those stoic folks in wide-brimmed straw hats who look to be harvesting enough berries to make several dozen jars of jam).

On a recent weekday morning, my 3-year-old son, Theo, and I decided to hit the Last Resort fields. Farmer Eugenie Doyle handed us a tray and gave us the lay of the land — and a tongue-in-cheek warning that tasting the berries while picking was required.

When we got to the kids area, a young worker directed us to a row with lots of ripe berries. Theo had a grand time leisurely picking and eating them, while I worked my way down the row, filling up my tray with a heaping pile of ruby-red jewels.

More than five pounds of strawberries and $22 later, we were ready for the picturesque drive home and to put the fruit to good use. All week, I tossed strawberries into smoothies and packed them in camp lunches. We even had an underwhelming experience making homemade fruit roll-ups. (Really, who has time to lurk around the oven for several hours, constantly checking to see when the strawberry paste is dry?)

My favorite preparation of the bounty, however, was macerated berries atop the Original-flavor frozen yogurt from SoYo in Burlington. It sounds fancy, but maceration is really just a simple cooking technique that calls for soaking fruits or vegetables in liquid in order to soften and add flavor to them.

For the kids strawberry topping, I macerated the strawberries in a bit of sugar and lemon juice. For the adults, I went more gourmet, with balsamic vinegar and a chiffonade of basil from our garden. The strawberry juices ran all over the frozen yogurt, turning it a pleasing shade of pink. It was better than delicious — it was summer in a bowl.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

One-On-One With My Deployed Husband

Home Front: Diaries of a Vermont military family

Posted By on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 12:51 PM



I was so intrigued by my kids' answers when I interviewed them about their deployment experience that I wanted to hear what my husband, Matt, would say in response to similar questions. His answers touched my heart so deeply. In a place of turmoil and constant stress, he was able to see through the chaos and find optimism and hope.

In Matt's answers, he doesn't focus on how difficult his deployment has been for him, but rather on how we — his wife and kids — have struggled with it at home. He doesn't mention the hardships he faces personally, on a daily basis. There is no mention of the unappealing food he eats, or the uncomfortable living situation he's in. Just the other day, I saw a picture of one of the bathrooms at his base and I thought, You've been using that? It brought me to tears. Oh, what we take for granted.

None of this comes to mind when Matt is asked about his least favorite parts of deployment. Forget the constant threat of an impending attack. He misses us. It's people like him that make this world a better place to live in, and I'm proud to share this journey with him.

Why did you join the military?
I wanted to serve my country like some of my family before me had. I feel privileged to live here [in America] and want to do my part to contribute to that freedom.

What is your least favorite part of being in the military?
Being away from my family during deployment.

What is your favorite part of being in the military?
Knowing that I am a part of something bigger than myself. Knowing that I am making my family safe and proud.

What is the worst part of deployment?
Not being able to help out my family when they have been in need while I am deployed. Knowing that they are suffering and being absolutely helpless to them has been difficult.

What is a positive of deployment?
I have a great sense of pride and accomplishment that my family and I have made a difference.

What has deployment taught you about your wife?
She is even stronger than I thought. She can handle anything that comes her way.

What has deployment taught you about your kids?
That they like structure and normalcy. They can accomplish things out if their comfort zone but may have to be prodded a bit.

What has deployment taught you about yourself?
That I need my family even more than I ever thought I did.

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.

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Home Cookin': Sweet Cherry Pie

Posted By on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 7:53 AM

  • photo by Carolyn Fox
  • Sweet Cherry Pie

Sweet Cherry Pie
A friend recently clued me into the fact that Champlain Orchards in Shoreham has u-pick cherries, of the sweet and sour varieties. Like all good fruits in Vermont, cherries have a short, but sweet, picking season — so get 'em now, while you can. And when you do, may I suggest baking them into this glorious cherry pie?

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Champlain Game Academy

Champlain Game Academy

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This summer program allows high school students to explore their passion for games in Champlain’s state-of-the-art Game Studio. They will be living in the residence halls, taking classes with Champlain industry-expert professors, and exploring all that Burlington has to offer. Their mission? To develop a playable game in two weeks.…(more)

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