Thursday, January 30, 2014

Camps, Crafts & More: A Weekend Preview

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 10:33 AM

  • Courtesy of Green Mountain Club
  • Winter Trails Festival
Balmy days might feel far away, but it's not too early to start planning for summer. On Saturday, the Kids VT Camp & School Fair takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hilton in Burlington. Reps from camps specializing in art, gymnastics, farming, rock climbing, theater and more will provide info to parents looking to plan a fun-filled, action-packed season for their kids. 

Other weekend highlights:

The Green Mountain Club-sponsored Winter Trails Festival in Waterbury provides a day's worth of  snowy hikes, raptor and sled-dog demos, kids' activities and music.
A new exhibit exploring biodiversity, human and animal architecture, ecosystems and energy and water conservation opens at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich. 
  • Courtesy of Evolution Yoga
  • YoGirls in action!

Kids get in the Valentine's Day spirit with a cute craft activity at Creative Habitat in South Burlington.

Environmentally minded peeps of all ages take a naturalist-led walk in the wild woods of Winooski. Snowshoes and hot chocolate are provided. 

Girls ages 7 to 11 exercise their minds and bodies in a drop-in yoga class in Burlington. This class fills up fast, so preregistration is recommended!

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Home Cookin': Fried Brown Rice

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 9:00 AM

When I discover a home-cooked, nutritious meal that keeps my sugar-loving, turbo-charged preschooler in his seat for more than 10 minutes, I feel the need to shout it from the rooftops. I stumbled upon this fried-brown-rice dish a couple of months ago, and it’s become a weeknight staple in our house. It tastes like wholesome Chinese take-out. And because of the nutrient-rich brown rice and copious vegetables, it leaves you without any post-meal regret.

If your kids are agreeable, they can do some of the veggie prep. I bought effective, kid-friendly cutting utensils (pictured below) from this Montessori-inspired website. The plastic, serrated knives and easy-to-hold chopper make my 3-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter feel empowered in the kitchen. And I don’t have to worry they'll lose a finger while they help.

This recipe is also totally adaptable. You can sub in your kids’ favorite veggies or go totally vegetarian, replacing the chicken with tofu or extra scrambled eggs.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Bump on a Blog: Doula Decision

Posted By on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 7:59 PM

click image The doulas of Birth Journeys: Genevieve Henry, Jenna Thayer and Rachel Stanton.
  • The doulas of Birth Journeys: Genevieve Henry, Jenna Thayer and Rachel Stanton.
One of my friends is the daughter of a midwife. When I broke the news that I was pregnant, she promised she'd resist the urge to bombard me with advice about childbirth. But there was one thing she simply had to say: "Get a doula." 

Women with doulas attending their births, she told me, are more likely to have shorter labors with fewer complications. 

Sounded great to me. But what's a doula?

A doula, I learned, is a childbirth coach. You call her when you go into labor. She meets you at your house, or at the hospital, and stays with you, offering physical and emotional support, until (and after) the baby is born.

I was intrigued, but somewhat skeptical, in part because of the cost. My health insurance doesn't cover doula services. Hiring one would set my husband and me back $800.

Plus, what if the doulas just weren't my style? Childbirth is painful enough (or so I've been told); I don't want to endure it with someone who rubs me the wrong way. I worried that the doulas would be too sickly sweet, too reverent about the Miracle of Birth. I prefer irreverence. I want to feel free to scream and yell and curse the day I ever decided to have a baby. And, if I really can't cope with the pain, I want to be able to ask for drugs without feeling judged.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review: The Year of Billy Miller

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM

I first came across the brilliant work of children’s author Kevin Henkes when I was a graduate student in the New York City Teaching Fellows program. It was the first week of a crash course in elementary school teaching when one of our instructors pulled out Henkes’ picture book, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, a story about a precocious young mouseling who can’t wait to show off her new prized possession. The story is both laugh-out-loud funny and honest. The instructor read it in such an animated and exuberant way that I felt giddy just imagining sharing it with my students.

It’s been 13 years since then, but Kevin Henkes’ work continues to make me giddy. He’s written 35 picture books in his 33 years as a published author. Many of them feature Lilly, and a host of other quirky mouselings, and appeal to the younger elementary set. But he’s also penned and illustrated sweet, engaging tales for preschoolers, plus 10 novels for older readers. 

Henkes’ newest literary offering is The Year of Billy Miller, a short novel featuring a thoughtful and anxious second-grade boy. I learned in a teacher workshop that kids tend to like books featuring characters a bit older than themselves, and I’ve found this to be mostly true. I’m always on the lookout for intelligent, age-appropriate novels to read to my first-grade daughter, Mira, so I was excited to give Billy Miller a try. 

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Frolicking in the Frost: A Weekend Preview

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Ice on Fire in Montpelier - KIM SMITH
  • Kim Smith
  • Ice on Fire in Montpelier
Baby, it's cold outside. But temperatures will be warming up — slightly — this weekend. For families gutsy enough to brave the outdoors, a handful of winter festivals, with activities ranging from candlelight snowshoeing to snow volleyball, will help combat cabin fever. Just be sure to bundle up!

Shelburne Farms is transformed into a bustling winter wonderland — with sled-dog rides, snow play, popcorn-ball making and face painting — during the Shelburne Winterfest

The capital city hosts Frostival, three days of physical activities, from hula hooping to Scottish country dancing. On Sunday afternoon, winter games, singing and a raging bonfire at the North Branch Nature Center's Ice on Fire celebration cap off the festivities.     

The Stowe Winter Carnival winds down on Saturday with an ice-carving competition. 

Lake Morey Resort hosts Ice Sports University Weekend, with classes and competitions in pond hockey, curling, ice fishing, snowshoeing and more.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Home Cookin': Yogurt and Peanut Butter Fruit Dip

Home Cookin'

Posted By on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 1:23 PM


At our house, the after-school snack is seemingly the most important "meal" of the day. Three boys pour out of the school bus each afternoon, letting out painful cries for help. "I'm staaaaarving!" they moan. I made this tasty dip on one of those "What can I throw together to resemble a snack?" kind of days. It was a hit!


Yogurt and Peanut Butter Fruit Dip

1 cup plain Greek yogurt (although any yogurt will do)
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix everything together until smooth and creamy. Serve with fruit. Our favorites were apples and graham crackers, but use whatever you find in the cupboard or fridge that seems good for dipping.


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Monday, January 20, 2014

Bump on a Blog: Newly Minted Moms

Posted By on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 9:22 PM

Baby's-eye view: Katie with Asa at six months.
  • Baby's-eye view: Katie with Asa at six months.
I don't know much about parenting, but I do know this: All the books in the world couldn't prepare you for it. That's why it helps to know people one step ahead in the game.  

I asked three friends who have recently become moms to tell me what it's really like on the other side. Their thoughtful and honest responses had me giggling and weeping and snotting with excitement all over my keyboard. 

Katie Flagg, a Seven Days staff writer, lives in Shoreham with her husband, Colin, and 6-and-a-half-month-old Asa. Julia Steen works for the Counseling Service of Addison County. She and her husband, Brian, live with 3-month-old Rowan in Salisbury. And Sarah Wylie is a community tobacco specialist at the Vermont Department of Health. She lives with her husband, Peter, and their 6-week-old daughter, Josie, in Burlington.

MEGAN: Is there anything you wish you'd been told before you had your baby?

KATIE FLAGG: Friends kept warning us, "Go out to dinner now! Go see movies now!" There was a part of me, based on those warnings, that really believed life as I knew it was going to be OVER after the baby arrived. What surprised me is how little things changed. Yes, it's exhausting. Yes, suddenly going to the grocery store is a lot more complicated. But, ultimately, my life still felt like my life, just with a little new person involved.

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Winter Greens: A Guide to Indoor Farmers Markets

Posted By on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Burlington Winter Farmers Market - JOHN JAMES
  • John James
  • Burlington Winter Farmers Market

When I think of farmers markets, I imagine reclining on the grass in shorts and sandals, listening to live music and chomping on samosas. But even when the weather isn't picnic-blanket-worthy, families can still enjoy local bounty, mellow music, crafts, baked goods and international cuisine. 

Below is a sampling of farmers markets open for business through the winter months. Chomp away!

The Burlington Winter Farmers Market gets Memorial Auditorium bustling every other Saturday until the end of March. The next market is February 1.

Montpelier's Capital City Winter Farmers Market takes place two Saturdays a month through April at Vermont College of Fine Arts. The next one is February 8. 

The Norwich Winter Farmers Market runs on the second and fourth Saturday of each month through April at Tracy Hall.

The Rutland Winter Farmers Market hosts more than 50 vendors every Saturday until May 3 at the Vermont Farmers Food Center. 

The Middlebury Winter Farmers Market happens every Saturday in March and April at Mary Hogan School. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Home Cookin': A Child's First Bread

Posted By on Wed, Jan 15, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Vermont has no shortage of good local bread — from the sliced sesame wheat loaves from Shelburne’s O Bread, to the jalapeño-cheddar rolls from Burlington’s August First, to the crusty baguettes from Middlesex’s Red Hen Baking Co. With such a bounty nearby, I’ve never felt compelled to bake bread at home. But on a recent rainy, icy morning, when getting out of the house with a three-year-old seemed like an insurmountable task, my son, Theo, and I decided to give bread baking a whirl.
Theo happily punching the dough.
  • Theo happily punching the dough.

We used a recipe called “A Child’s First Bread” from a new cookbook, Sylvia’s Table by Liz Neumark with Carole Lalli. After Neumark’s youngest daughter died just before her seventh birthday, the mom of three other children bought a farm and established the Sylvia Center — a non-profit that teaches kids in New York City and the Hudson Valley how to make fresh, healthy food. Sylvia’s Table isn’t a kids’ cookbook per se, but it includes many family-friendly recipes inspired by the Sylvia Center's work.

Theo and I got started by mixing together yeast, sugar, warm water and bread flour, then letting it sit for 10 minutes until it began to bubble. Theo had never encountered yeast before, so we watched a couple of YouTube videos about how the fungus does its job. Theo really understood — and wasn’t grossed out by — the concept that yeast is alive, a little organism that greedily eats up sugar and then burps out carbon dioxide, which creates the air bubbles that make bread fluffy.

Stage two required adding the remainder of the flour to the bubbly mixture we’d created, and then kneading the dough for about 10 minutes. I’m not sure Theo ever mastered the recommended kneading technique of pushing the dough away with the heel of the hand and turning it back over itself, but he sure did have fun manhandling the big lump of dough.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Bump on a Blog: The Dad-To-Be Speaks!

Posted By on Mon, Jan 13, 2014 at 2:26 PM

I took this photo last summer right after we decided for real to have a baby.
  • I took this photo last summer right after we decided for real to have a baby.
So much of the hullabaloo surrounding pregnancy is focused on the mom-to-be — for obvious reasons. And I'm not going to lie: I love the attention. But sometimes, I worry that I'm leaving my husband out of the equation. 

He may not be carrying our baby, but he's barrelling blindly toward parenthood just as I am. And I couldn't do it without him.

So here he is, the man who holds my hair back while I barf; cooks me exorbitant breakfasts on demand; rubs my back; fetches my industrial-size bottle of Tums; watches with awe as my belly grows; and dreams with me about our new family. His name is Daniel, and last week, I interviewed him about his impending fatherhood.

MEGAN: Have you always wanted to be a dad? 

DANIEL: I didn't always want to be a dad. When I was 7 or 8 my oldest sister Jean had her first kid. I had to hold the baby on the couch. It was one of those things that you do when everyone is oohing and aahing about the miracle of life. Someone asked me if I was ready to be an uncle at so young an age. I shrugged my shoulders. Someone else asked me if I wanted to have my own children one day. At the time, the answer was a solid no. I didn't mind that my sister had just had a baby, but the thought of me having one of my own was appalling.

However, in sixth grade, I started officially dating my first girlfriend. I knew it was official because she had written her telephone number on a scrap of paper and given it to me. I carried her number straight home, clenched in my fist, and carved it into the top of my dresser with a utility knife. And, while I still had the knife in my hand, I started imagining what our children would look like, hers and mine. I didn't feel particularly happy or sad so much as tremendously accomplished. I had crossed a threshold. I knew then that I would have kids, and I would have them with her. She broke up with me a week later.

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School of Creative and Performing Arts (SOCAPA)

School of Creative and Performing Arts (SOCAPA)

Burlington, VT

SOCAPA offers intensives in the arts for teens in Burlington or East Burke, VT. SOCAPA provides a place for young artists to explore their craft in a supportive, creative environment. SOCAPA students come from all over the world to attend intensives of their choosing. Programs include: filmmaking, acting, photography, dance,…(more)

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