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Monday, December 30, 2013

Bump on a Blog: Polyester Onesies & Ruffled Undies

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 3:03 PM

Yes, I once wore undies with my name on them.
  • Yes, I once wore undies with my name on them.
When I called my mom to tell her I was pregnant, she screamed. She was in a Starbucks at the time, and I could hear her stumbling into tables and over other customers as she dashed outside, hysterical with joy. 

My mom had recently begun dropping not-so-subtle hints about her desire to become a grandmother. She'd tell me about friends of hers whose daughters were pregnant, and then she'd add wistfully, "I'll probably be dead before you or your brother ever have children."

Au contraire — both my brother and I are expecting babies this spring, within a month of each other.

Once my mom got over the initial shock of the double-header baby news, she started to get excited about the details. When I came home for Christmas, she suggested, we could go through the attic and dig out all the baby clothes I used to wear. Maybe I could reuse some of them. 

So last week, at my parents' house in New Jersey, I took a stroll down a very polyester, very pink, memory lane. 

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Year's Eve, Family Style

Posted By on Sat, Dec 28, 2013 at 9:00 AM

No wild plans for ringing in the new year? Have no fear. First Night events in Burlington and St. Johnsbury provide hours of fun for the whole family. These celebrations — featuring everything from dancing dragons and clever clowning in the Queen City to sky lanterns and belly dancers in St. J — are sure to toot the noisemakers of young and old alike. And for the grown-ups, there’s an added perk: no nasty champagne hangover the morning after. 
COURTESY OF FIRST NIGHT BURLINGTON
  • Courtesy of First Night Burlington

FIRST NIGHT BURLINGTON: Monday, December 31, noon to midnight, in downtown Burlington. All ages. $5-30 First Night Button; free for kids 2 and under; additional $4 tickets required at select venues. Info, 863-6005, firstnightburlington.com.

A2VT: This African hip-hop trio, who gained attention for their video “Winooski, My Town” celebrate diversity through song, dance and rap. Contois Auditorium, City Hall, 7-7:40 p.m.

Burlington Taiko: Kids and parents tap their toes in time to thundering Japanese-style percussion. Flynn Center MainStage, 7:30-8:30 p.m. $4 ticket required.

Cartoon Fest: Families sit back and relax with popcorn and classic Looney Tunes. Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas, noon-11:45 p.m.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Bump on a Blog: Gender Reveal

Posted By on Mon, Dec 23, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Real human feet!
  • Real human feet!

Surviving the night before my 20-week ultrasound felt exactly like agonizing through Christmas Eve when I was a kid. I spent the night staring at the clock, counting the hours until morning arrived. 

It's only been four and a half months, but it feels like I've been pregnant forever. The last time I had an ultrasound, I saw what looked like a chubby worm wiggling inside my uterus. It was cool. But freakish, too. All I've known about this strange, squirming creature since then is that it's been making me sick.

I couldn't wait to know something more. 
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My  husband, Daniel, and I had decided  early on we'd want to find out the gender. We figured we'd have enough surprises on the day the kid  is  born.  Why not enjoy one of the surprises early?

Nine a.m. finally rolled around, and we checked in at Maitri in South Burlington. A nurse eventually ushered us into the ultrasound room, and I started to get nervous. What if the baby was missing a limb? Or worse, what if there wasn't a baby in there at all? I'd read about psuedocyesis...

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Review: Too Many Toys

Posted By on Fri, Dec 20, 2013 at 9:00 AM

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Anyone who has watched a baby bang on pots and pans and tear up wrapping paper in lieu of engaging with actual toys will appreciate David Shannon’s playful picture book Too Many Toys.

Shannon is best known for his series of toddler and preschool books featuring David, a naughty, crudely drawn little boy who pours macaroni and cheese on the dog and runs down the street pants-less to the chagrin of his exasperated, but loving, mom. But Shannon also has a batch of books for slightly older readers that he’s both written and illustrated. Not only are his drawings humorous and rich; he spins a darn good yarn.

Too Many Toys tells the story of Spencer, a little hoarder who isn’t happy when his mom tells him he has to pare down his overflowing collection of playthings.

Shannon captures the over-the-top culture of gifting in words and pictures. Not only does Spencer get toys on his birthday and on major holidays but, Shannon writes, “He got toys at the Drive-thru with his Kidburger, and at school for having lots of Peace Person Points, and at the dentist and the doctor when he didn’t squirm.” 

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Help for Last-Minute Shoppers

Posted By on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Vermont's Own Nutcracker - COURTESY OF VERMONT BALLET THEATER SCHOOL
  • Courtesy of Vermont Ballet Theater School
  • Vermont's Own Nutcracker
A parade of holiday events marches on this weekend. Highlights include Vermont's Own Nutcracker at the Flynn in Burlington, ice skating with Santa in Stowe and an old-fashioned Christmas celebration at Health Hero Island Farm in South Hero.

For many dawdlers, though, the days leading up to Christmas will more likely be spent scurrying about in a burst of last-minute buying. It’s not just the big box stores that have extended hours in the coming days. Below is a sampling of kids’ retailers in our area keeping their doors open a little later than usual to cater to procrastinating purchasers.

(If you want a more extensive list of where to buy local this season, here’s a link to November’s Kids VT holiday gift guide.)

Bear Pond Books (77 Main St., Montpelier, 229-0774) is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

The upstairs of this independent bookstore is devoted to kids books and fun items, from moon-shaped nightlights to clothing emblazoned with familiar literary characters such as Harold and his Purple Crayon. A cozy, oversize chair and braided rugs in the corner of the room invite parents and children to curl up together and read. “People definitely do just sprawl out here,” says owner Claire Benedict.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Home Cookin': Holiday Cookies

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Theo, showing the (unplugged) KitchenAid a little love.
  • Theo, showing the (unplugged) KitchenAid a little love.
I’ve rediscovered my buttercup-yellow KitchenAid stand mixer thanks to my three-year-old son, Theo. I registered for the heavy-duty machine when I got engaged 10 years ago — quite honestly, because my 25-year-old self thought it would look pretty in the kitchen. The über-appliance didn’t magically turn me into a serious and meticulous baker, as I hoped it might, so it quickly lost its prime real estate on the countertop in favor of more practical things.

It’s been gathering dust for years, but, from the moment Theo spied it in the basement’s back closet, he was in awe of its shine, heft and potential power. At his recent urging, I lugged the behemoth back up to its proper home, extracted the dried play dough from the hole behind the silver KitchenAid disc and vowed to make up for lost time.

I’m more of a pumpkin-bread/banana-muffin-type person when it comes to home-baked treats — erring on the healthier side for my kids’ sake and mine. Cookie baking and decorating, however, is pretty much a requirement during the holiday season. 

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bump on a Blog: Prenatal Yoga

Posted By on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 1:09 PM

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I've read that exercise during pregnancy is crucial, not just to prepare for the physical challenges of labor and delivery, but for the child's brain development. Babies of moms who exercise during pregnancy tend to come out smarter — and with more robust cardiovascular systems — for example.

Bad news for my little spawn. Until last weekend, I hadn't gotten significant exercise since the nausea kicked in around week six (unless you count my frequent dashing to the bathroom to hurl). Would our baby be a dullard? 

The thought of my brainless fetus wasn't the only thing that finally got me moving. I've recently started feeling like an old lady. I heard a distinct creaking in my bones as I peeled myself off the sofa and braved an enormous snowstorm to get to Evolution Yoga last Sunday morning. 

I'd gone once already, several weeks before, and had been both fascinated and intimidated by the sheer number of pregnant ladies in one room (37, including the instructor, Susan Cline Lucey, who was, at the time, two weeks from giving birth to her son). I couldn't stop staring at all the bellies — especially to see how women navigated the world with their giant floating orbs. One looked like she'd swallowed a basketball, yet with a little negotiating, she folded herself into pigeon pose and the baby all but disappeared.

Still, the close quarters meant we all risked getting kicked in the face. 

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Oddly Well Adjusted: When Lice Attack

Posted By on Fri, Dec 13, 2013 at 2:31 PM

click image owa_blog.jpg
“Ugh, my head is so itchy,” groaned my son.

“Well, your hair looks like we styled it with an eggbeater, so wear a hat today and we’ll deal with it tonight," I said.

It was the week after my then-five-year-old’s last day of preschool. He was sporting his first real haircut, an ’80s-skater-style flip of curls. It was a compromise: I loved the long beautiful spirals he'd had before; he wanted a blue mohawk.

That afternoon, fully embracing summer's arrival, we attended a strawberry festival. Several times he whipped off the hat, exposing his ridiculous rat's nest to itch his head like a madman.

“Come on! Put your hat back on. It was bad this morning, but now it’s all smushed from your hat and it's even worse," I said. "I’m sorry. I’ll fix it when we get home.”

“But this hat is so itchy!”

“I’m sorry," I said. "Please.”

Now, before you start thinking I'm a terrible mother, let me defend myself: I was eight-ish months pregnant at the time. Controlling my son's hair  — a process that involves yelling (from both of us), copious amounts of conditioner, and 15 minutes of crouching over the side of the tub — felt a little like an Olympic sport.

That night, I drew him a bath and prepared for the main event: Shampoo, condition, crouch. Comb, yell, comb, get yelled at, recondition, comb, comb, comb. Un-crouch. Attempt to stand up straight. Phew. 

At bedtime, we read some books and, as usual, snuggled until he fell asleep. Once I was off duty, I made my way out to the couch. Gradually, the fear I’d been swallowing all day began to bubble up. I couldn't ignore it, so I Googled it.

Lice.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Teaching Kids to Code at Colchester High — and Across Vermont

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 12:41 PM


There are no computer science classes at Colchester High School, but this week, all 750 students there will receive an hour of computer-programming instruction, courtesy of an initiative called "Hour of Code."

The nationwide effort, launched Monday at the start of Computer Science Education Week, aims to expose kids in grades K-12 to computer-programming or "coding" instruction. It's organized by the nonprofit Code.org, which is backed by major tech companies such as Amazon, Apple and Google. These companies have a growing number of computer-programming jobs and are concerned that not enough qualified programmers and software engineers are being trained to fill them.

Because most K-12 schools don't teach coding, the organization provided lesson plans, including a series of free, self-guided tutorials that revolve around popular games such as Plants vs. Zombies and Angry Birds. Code.org hopes that 10 million kids around the country will each spend an hour this week on the tutorials. So far, it reports, about 9.5 million kids have met that goal.

That includes thousands of students from more than 110 schools across Vermont. Elementary, middle and high schools from Bennington to Castleton, from Lyndon to Cambridge, are participating. Some are offering the opportunity to certain groups of students; others, like Colchester High School, are opening it to the entire school. 

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Giddyup and Go!

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 11:29 AM

COURTESY OF BILLINGS FARM AND MUSEUM
  • Courtesy of Billings Farm and Museum
When Massachusetts composer James Lord Pierpont wrote “Jingle Bells,” in 1857, he intended the song to celebrate Thanksgiving. The catchy tune about dashing through the snow is now undoubtedly associated with the Christmas season.

Leading up to the holiday — and beyond — you'll find numerous local opportunities to be pulled o’er the fields (and streets) in horse-drawn sleighs and wagons. With any luck, your family will be laughing all the way. 

• Ponies from the Green Mountain Miniature Horse Club pull passengers around the top block of Church Street in Burlington this Saturday and next. Click for info.

• At Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, horse-drawn sleigh rides are part of the Christmas at the Farm celebration throughout December, as well as Wassail Weekend on the Farm this weekend. Click here and here for info.

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The Pre-College Media Production Academy is an intensive 16-day learning experience that introduces current high school students to the professional methods of visual storytelling techniques used in the broadcast industry. Students will earn three transferable college credits while gaining skills in the production of video and audio for journalism, radio,…(more)

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