Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tightrope Walker Shares His Expertise with Shelburne Students

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 9:01 AM

Kindar-Martin gives a lift to a Lake Champlain Waldorf School student - ALISON NOVAK
  • Alison Novak
  • Kindar-Martin gives a lift to a Lake Champlain Waldorf School student
Vermont native Jade Kindar-Martin taught Joseph Gordon-Levitt the ins and outs of tightrope walking for the recently released feature film The Walk, which chronicles Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between the Twin Towers. But he spent a recent Friday afternoon in October explaining the finer points of forward rolls to seventh and eighth graders at the Lake Champlain Waldorf School in Shelburne.

“Feet together, down on your hands, chin in and roll,” Kindar-Martin instructed a small group of middle schoolers during their movement class. He demonstrated the technique with an effortless series of tumbles down a long mat. In pairs, the students followed suit, looking slightly less graceful than the spritely Kindar-Martin.

Next, he demoed cartwheels, then shoulder sits and stands. Two other small groups practiced juggling with balls and scarves and walking on wooden stilts nearby.

The 41-year-old high-wire walker, who got his first taste of circus arts at age 14 when he joined Circus Smirkus, moved around Vermont when he was a kid, from Brattleboro to Montpelier, then Middlesex to Randolph. He graduated from Champlain Valley Union High School and his parents live in Shelburne.

Most of the year, Kindar-Martin and his wife, former Cirque du Soleil performer turned stunt woman Karine Mauffrey, live with their 5- and 8-year-old sons and 17-month-old daughter in Saint Cecile D’Andorge, a small village in Southern France. In the summer, the couple run a “yurt and breakfast” artist’s retreat in a valley with a 250-foot-long high wire stretching across it. Their sons go to school most of the year in a two-room schoolhouse.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: Fright Club

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 12:32 PM

'Fright Club' by Ethan Long
  • 'Fright Club' by Ethan Long
This past weekend we celebrated my daughter Pippa’s third birthday. We have several librarians and teachers in our family so we can always bet on receiving some pretty choice children’s literature for gifts.

Through the craziness of the day, I didn’t get a chance to check out the new books Pippa received until bedtime. But when I saw Fright Club by Ethan Long, I knew instantly it was from my sister-in-law, Laura, who's also a school librarian. The first clue was the quality of the illustrations: strictly black and white with only a little orange as a highlight. The characters on the cover, while traditional Halloween types — a vampire, a ghoul, Frankenstein — looked somehow more interesting.

“Did this come from Auntie L?" I asked my 5-year-old, Hadley. "This definitely looks like an Auntie L book.” She nodded an enthusiastic confirmation. She knew what a book from Auntie L meant: a good read.

Reading a Halloween book at bedtime, particularly a new one, can be risky business. Even the most well-intentioned Halloween story can be super scary, especially if you're under five and tend to fixate on the pictures. But, despite its fearsome name, Fright Club was determined to call into question the reader’s preconceptions about what "scary" means.

The story opens with a meeting of a ghost, a mummy, a spider and a witch, all commandeered by a vampire who is prepping them for "Operation Kiddie Scare." A persistent and sweet-looking bunny requests admittance into the group but is refused based upon its unassuming look. So the bunny and a few other seemingly pleasant protesters decide to take action. They surround the meeting and begin to terrify the group of haunts to show that they're scarier than those already in the club. As a result, the vampire and his crew learn a little lesson about making assumptions.

And so did the girls. People might not always be what they seem, so it’s a good idea to follow the old adage, ‘Don’t judge a book by it's cover.’

Unless that book is from Auntie L. 

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Words at Play: Becoming a Child Biographer

Posted By on Mon, Oct 26, 2015 at 4:25 PM

Our children often do funny, interesting and amazing things. Sometimes we tell family and friends about it, but I suggest you also write it down. This need not involve a lot of extra work. As part of your bedtime routine you can review the events of the day with your child and jot down anything that stands out. Some days you might not have anything new to write down, but when your child is older they will enjoy hearing about their past.

The summer my now-24-year-old daughter, Alice, was 5, we lived on King Street near the center of Burlington. At that time, there was a fountain on the top block of Church Street. One afternoon we walked to the fountain. Alice was wearing a blue bathing suit with pink jelly sandals. She went into the fountain and when she came out she asked to borrow my hat. She took the hat, put it on the ground in the middle of Church Street and began doing her version of tap dancing. I was sitting nearby, browsing though a magazine. Every once in a while I glanced up at Alice. She seemed to be enjoying herself. A few minutes later she returned with the hat. Much to my surprise, it had seven dollars in it. That was the start of her performing career. She went on to study drama at the University of Vermont.

For her senior project at UVM, Alice wrote a play which incorporated this true story I wrote down for her:

When Alice was six she saved enough money to buy a purple purse. The store that had the one she wanted was in the mall in downtown Burlington. At the time we lived nearby. One afternoon, Alice collected all the money she had saved and left the house without telling me. Luckily I saw her go and followed her as she went to Main Street and patiently waited for the walk signal. She confidently marched up Church Street, found the store and made her purchase. As she turned to leave she saw me and said, "Hi, dad, how do you like my purse?"
I said, "It's very nice, but next time please tell me before you leave the house."
"Sure," she said, and we walked home together.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Home Cookin': Cinnamon Rolls

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 12:20 PM

Cal rolling up the dough
  • Cal rolling up the dough
The weather is cool, the leaves are falling and we are in heavy baking mode at my house! This weekend my 8-year-old son Cal and I made cinnamon rolls together. Besides being delicious, they were so much fun to make. The dough is easy to whip up and involves a good amount of kneading — always a great kid job. And the rolling is challenging enough to be fun for a bigger kid who really wants to say "I made these!"

These rolls are made with a yeasted dough, so they do need to rest and rise twice. This makes them difficult to make for breakfast, unless you use my trick! Make the dough in the evening and place it in your fridge in an oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap overnight. In the morning, all you have to do is roll out the dough and fill it (Cal's favorite part), let the rolls rise for about 30-40 minutes, and bake. Since these are best eaten warm, this method makes for a fantastic weekend breakfast treat. 

We used the basic recipe from my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook, with a few tweaks to get some great caramelization in the bottom of the pan. 

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Will You Go Out With Me?: Fleming Museum — Come for the "Sex," Stay for the "Wood"

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 11:29 AM

Not our most flattering angle, but you can't take photos inside the museum... - RYAN MILLER
  • Ryan Miller
  • Not our most flattering angle, but you can't take photos inside the museum...
The mention of sex is probably long overdue in this column since I’m ostensibly here to discuss our efforts to maintain a healthy relationship. However, this being a family-focused publication, and me being a person you might run into randomly at the grocery store, I’ve left that topic out on purpose. Until now.

But don’t get too excited/appalled. I’m bringing it up now in an academic context. Thinking we might find some inspiration, or at least something provocative to talk about, Ryan and I visited the Fleming Museum on the UVM campus to view the recently-opened exhibition, “Sex Objects: Perspectives on Gender and Sexuality.”

A friend alerted me to the existence of the exhibit (the same friend, by the way, who so generously divulged the location of her secret skinny dipping spot) and I knew it would be an easy sell.

“Hey, babe," I asked Ryan. "Do you wanna go see a museum exhibit about sex?”

The tricky part was finding the time. The Fleming is open until 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, but generally speaking a museum date means a daytime date. Since both of our kids are in elementary school now, we have some flexibility as long as work allows it.

(Sidenote: I highly recommend daytime dates. The novelty of getting out together in the daylight adds an element of unfamiliarity that can be just enough to start the date off on a fresh note.)

We agreed that we could each carve out a two-hour block of time on a Wednesday morning to go get arty.

We had been to the Fleming once before, but not to look at art. It was for a PechaKucha night years ago and I didn’t even remember that until we walked into the atrium, so this date qualified as going somewhere new to us. The “Sex Objects” exhibit is the first one you pass upon stepping foot in the building, which makes me think someone there thinks it’s a pretty special collection of art. And where a thong from Bertha Church can sit alongside a pair of ancient Turkish shoes with turned-up toes in a glass enclosure, you know there is at least something to talk about.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Acclaimed Education Documentary Comes to Burlington and Winooski

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 1:56 PM

Want to see what Education Week calls "among the best edu-documentaries ever produced"? You have two upcoming opportunities. Most Likely to Succeed, a film that examines the history and shortcomings of American education, will be shown this week at Burlington High School and next month at the Winooski Performing Arts Center.

In the film, documentarian Greg Whiteley asks this question: Why has our education system stayed the same while our economy has drastically shifted due to changes in technology? After giving a brief overview of the history of the American educational system, Whiteley looks at alternative schools that are approaching learning in new ways, including San Diego's High Tech High. The network of charter schools has a unique educational model — one that favors personalized, project-based learning, giving teachers the freedom to teach as they choose, and focuses on soft skills like collaboration and problem solving.

Both screenings, which are sponsored by the Partnership for Change, will be followed by a discussion and are free and open to the public.

Most Likely To Succeed, which runs 1 hour and 26 minutes, will be shown on Wednesday, October 21, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Burlington High School and Thursday, November 12, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Winooski Performing Arts Center at Winooski Middle and High School. 

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Get Out!: 5 Books Your Outdoorsy Child Will Love

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 12:03 PM

A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee
  • A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee
For parents who are aiming to raise their children in nature, there are lots of books that focus on outdoorsy fun. With the fabulous fall hiking season upon us (but fading fast), here are five picture books for young children that get me and my family excited for a hike.   

Stella & Roy Go Camping, by Ashley Wolff
This book takes place in the Yosemite Valley, which is a dream destination for my own family. Two children go hiking with their mother and talk about the many awesome animals — including bears — they see along the way. 

A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, by Chris Van Dusen
With fabulous illustrations and an old-timey feel, this book tells the story of a charming man and his dog on a camping trip. The pair have some adventures with wildlife and a mishap? with a waterfall that should hold little ones' interest. 

Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
An inquisitive girl asks her mom whether princesses do things like climb trees, ride bikes and play outside. The book helps smash gender stereotypes while, at the same time, encouraging girls to play and explore outside. 

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Diaper Drive Helps Families in Need

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 1:45 PM

Jason Fitzgerald atop the diaper wall
  • Jason Fitzgerald atop the diaper wall
Get Jason Fitzgerald taking about the annual Dee Physical Therapy Diaper Drive and he sounds like a kid at Christmas.

“I love this time of year, because — from the middle of October until the end of December — I get to see all these people that I, literally, only see once a year,” says the clinical coordinator and exercise physiologist.  

Now through Dec. 22, all three Dee clinics will collect disposable diapers for families served by the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS). This is the ninth year for the project, which has yielded donations of about 160,000 diapers since its inception.

The 42,000 diapers collected last year are just now running out, says Becky Holt, development and communications director at COTS. The drive has provided a full year’s worth of diapers for COTS clients for each of the last two years, Holt says. “We are beyond grateful.”

Fitzgerald came up with the idea while out for a run one morning. Recognizing that there were already many worthwhile fundraisers, he wanted to help give families a necessity that can be a financial burden. The father of two didn’t have to think on it for long.

One child uses about 3,000 diapers a year, which adds up to about $720, Holt said via email.  "For homeless families who are struggling to save money to return to stable, permanent housing — or for those working hard to make ends meet to keep their housing — the diaper drive is an incredible way to help them reduce costs, save money and care for their child.”

Dee patients — past and present — chip in. “So it’s this huge reunion every year,” Fitzgerald says. One woman, who was a patient eight years ago, collects diapers all year and delivers a carload. A guy in Connecticut and a guy in Florida each order online and have the diapers delivered.

They all get stacked in the three Dee PT clinics. “The Great Wall of Diapers” in the South Burlington location is 8 feet tall, 30 feet long “and it literally bisects our entire clinic,” says Fitzgerald.

If you'd like to help build the wall, you can drop off diapers at these three locations:

• Dee Physical Therapy, 23 San Remo Dr., South Burlington

• Dee Physical Therapy at the Field House, 166 Athletic Dr., Shelburne
• Dee Physical Therapy 52 Farmall Drive, Hinesburg
Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays.

If you'd like your donation picked up, call 865-0010.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review: The Book With No Pictures

Posted By on Fri, Oct 16, 2015 at 9:00 AM

I'll admit it. I picked up The Book With No Pictures off the shelf at the library because it was written by B.J. Novak, of The Office fame. When I showed  my husband, he gave it an eye roll.

“That’s just a cheap trick. That’s just another famous celebrity who takes advantage of being famous and gets a book published,” he said. And he’s an even bigger fan of The Office than I am.

But he had a point. A few weeks ago I eagerly opened up Jimmy Fallon’s new children’s book, Dada, only to feel disappointed that there wasn’t anything in the book that knocked my socks off like a Fallon vs. Timberlake lip-sync battle. 

But Novak also has a critically acclaimed adult book to his name, so I decided to try this one out with my girls. 5-year-old Hadley was intrigued by the idea of a book with no pictures. We had recently started reading Charlotte’s Web but this book looked different than a chapter book. It looked like, well, a picture book.

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Book Review: Flora's Very Windy Day

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 9:00 AM

They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but it was absolutely the cover of Flora’s Very Windy Day that grabbed my attention. On it, a big sister and little brother holding hands float across the sky, buoyed by a strong wind. Behind them, the tops of houses sit in front of an autumnal hillside. The whimsical picture piqued my curiosity. Why were the pair floating?

The cover wasn't what caught the attention of my 5-year-old daughter, Hadley, though. It was the picture accompanying the publication information page: the older sister, Flora, working intently on painting a picture alongside a bored-looking younger brother, Crispin. The picture on the opposite page was of the same scene, only this time Crispin had knocked over everything on the table — paints, picture and jar of crayons. This is an experience Hadley can relate to, thanks to her 3-year-old sister, Pippa.

In the story, Flora and Crispin's mother send them outside on a fall day. The siblings pull on their boots and jackets and head out into the gusty afternoon. Flora's weighty red boots keep her grounded but her poor younger brother doesn't have the privilege of such fine footwear and ends up in the air, lifted by the wind along with the red and golden leaves. Flora quickly discards her boots in an effort to retrieve her brother and gets swept up with him. They float through the sky, coming into contact with various personified things, including rainbows, clouds and the moon, until the wind sends them on their way home. Through the course of their shared adventure, Flora realizes that maybe she doesn't really mind her little brother so much.

Phelan’s illustrations and color palette are pleasing; the fall leaves floating through the air remind me of the ones outside our window this time of year. And the dynamic between the kids and their mother, who ushers them outside, reminded me of my own carefree childhood. I also appreciated the story's rich vocabulary, which prompted questions from Hadley like "Mom, what's a talon?” and “What are bellows?” Any story that introduces a few (but not too many) new words, is a keeper in my book.

As we reached the last page, where a grounded Flora and Crispin share cookies made by their mother, Hadley’s mouth stretched into a smile as she noticed Flora's arm reaching around her brother.  I could only surmise that she identified with that feeling of gratitude for the same sibling that kind of drives you crazy that only a big sister or brother can understand. 

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Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center

Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center

Burlington, VT

Summer is all about fun, new friends, and exciting adventures. Community Sailing Center summer camps are designed to teach kids ages 6 through 17 the safety, skill, and joy involved in the life-long sport of sailing. Organized by age group and led by certified instructors, camp options include sailing-only and…(more)

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