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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Get Out!: Taking Turns

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 9:57 AM

A local ski hill provides a much-needed refresher - SARAH GALBRAITH
  • Sarah Galbraith
  • A local ski hill provides a much-needed refresher
I am just three months into parenting a toddler — my 15-month-old daughter, Elise — and I'm already tired. So tired that I dream of hiring a babysitter just so I can go into my bedroom, lie on the floor and do nothing for two hours. The idea of simply being very still and quiet seems so luxurious and dreamy. 

But when I needed a pick-me-up on a recent weekend day, I knew the answer wasn't on my bedroom floor, but outside in the ski box on top of my car. Instead of skiing together as a family, which we often do, I knew I needed some kid-free time. 

I suited up, found my ski boots and headed out the door, leaving Elise at home with my partner, Tristan. My destination was my local town forest, where there are miles of trails for cross-country tours and hundreds of acres for back-country exploring, plus an open pasture on a hillside that's perfect for making downhill turns.

At the trailhead, I unloaded my waxless back-country skis, buckled up my boots, stepped into my bindings and glided into the snow. A favorite song was playing in my head and the afternoon sun was casting beautiful, long shadows across the glistening snow. As I skied along, I noticed different animal prints. A coyote's tracks criss-crossed the hill. A raccoon's little paw marks indicated it had climbed down from a tree and wandered out into the open. A round imprint suggested that an animal may have hunkered down for a rest. Perhaps that coyote was a mother taking a break from the tiresome demands of her own toddler-aged pup. I laughed to myself, imagining I shared something in common with a tired mother of another species.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Home Cookin': Homemade Marshmallows

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 4:49 PM

A tower of marshmallows - ERINN SIMON
  • Erinn Simon
  • A tower of marshmallows
Even though the weather has been wacky lately, it's still hot chocolate season! At my house we've been experimenting with cocoa variations — spicing our cups with cinnamon and chili powder or using all white chocolate. Recently, while we were looking online for new cocoa tricks to try, we discovered a recipe for homemade marshmallows.  Marshmallows are one of those things I never even thought about making from scratch, so I was surprised by the ease of the process. And the first time we added our beautiful, springy homemade marshmallows to our hot chocolate, it was a revelation. They were so much more delicious than the store-bought kind, I don't know if we'll ever go back. Plus, they are pretty enough to wrap up and give as gifts. This recipe makes about 100, so you'll have plenty to share! We added peppermint extract to ours, but vanilla, coconut, almond or lemon would also taste great. You can even tint them with food coloring during the last part of the mixing process if you like. 

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Toddler from Waterbury Daycare Dies After Wandering Into Icy Creek

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 1:21 PM

A three-year-old boy has died at the University of Vermont Medical Center - COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT MEDICAL CENTER
  • Courtesy of University of Vermont Medical Center
  • A three-year-old boy has died at the University of Vermont Medical Center
A 3-year-old boy who wandered off from a Waterbury daycare program on Thursday afternoon and fell into an icy creek has died, according to the Vermont State Police. The police report, released Friday afternoon, indicates that Parker Berry of Hyde Park was first noticed missing when family members arrived to pick him up. He had been outside with a group earlier that day. Staff members found him in Thatcher Brook near Guptil Road in Waterbury. They performed CPR and called 911 around 4 p.m. He was taken to Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, then transferred to the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Investigators told WPTZ-TV that Berry, who was missing for an unknown period of time, was given CPR "for several hours." 

The home-based daycare program, Elephant in the Field, was profiled in a May 2014 Kids VT story, "Free-Range Toddlers: A Farm-Based Childcare Program Counters the Overprotective Parenting Trend." The daycare, run by Marlena Tucker-Fishman, is situated on a 42-acre family farm that's bordered by a meandering creek.
Daycare operator Marlena Tucker-Fishman and her son, Ezrah, in April 2014. - FILE PHOTO BY JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Daycare operator Marlena Tucker-Fishman and her son, Ezrah, in April 2014.

Tucker-Fishman, who started Elephant in the Field in 2011 — the name refers to a sculpture visible from Guptil Road — promotes a "holistic" and "nature-based" educational approach that involves lots of time outdoors. Kids participate in a variety of forest- and farm-based activities, including growing food, operating a farm stand and raising animals. 

Efforts to reach Tucker-Fishman by phone Friday morning were unsuccessful. 

Vermont State Police and the Vermont Department for Children and Families' Child Development Division are jointly investigating the incident, according to DCF Deputy Commissioner Reeva Murphy. The daycare program is registered with the state. Tucker-Fishman voluntarily closed on Friday following the incident. Except for two minor violations of DCF regulations dating back to March 2013, the program was previously in good standing with state regulators, according to DCF records.

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Get Out!: Together Time

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Sarah and Tristan celebrate bike riding and sunshine - TRISTAN VON DUNTZ
  • Tristan Von Duntz
  • Sarah and Tristan celebrate bike riding and sunshine
At the core of my relationship with my partner, Tristan, is a shared love — a need, even — to get outside. The fresh air, views and vigorous fun on bikes, skis or our own two feet is a much-needed break from a stressful day or busy work week. In our first year as parents, we learned to integrate our love for the outdoors into our new family life. I'm not going to say we're pros at bringing the kiddo along on our adventures, but we're working on it. 

Our family bike ride last weekend was a great success. After lunch, and just as our 15-month-old daughter, Elise, was winding down for her mid-day nap, we set out on two wheels. We dressed Elise in warm layers, mittens and a hat and bundled her in a down bunting, then strapped her into our bike trailer. With the addition of her favorite blanket and stuffed animal, she was ready for nap time on the go.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Nonprofit Provides Tech Training for Burlington Parents

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 9:46 PM

Angolan parent Mambweni Makumba with Technology 4 Tomorrow's Carly Stine - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Angolan parent Mambweni Makumba with Technology 4 Tomorrow's Carly Stine
When South Burlington High School started using an online grading system, former student Carly Stine remembers that the transition wasn’t easy for her parents. Instead of just getting Carly's grades through the mail, they had to get used to looking them up online. Today, Stine, 23, is a program manager at Technology 4 Tomorrow (T4T), a non-profit that runs technology training workshops across Vermont.

This week, Stine ran a 90-minute iPad training course for graduates of Parent University — a two-month program started by the Burlington School District last spring to equip parents with the skills and knowledge to become partners in their children’s education and development. Though PU isn’t created specifically for New American or English Language Learner parents, many of them participate in the program because they are new to the school district and its culture, said Ali Dieng, Parent University's program manager. Parents who complete one cycle are allowed to sign up for another to encourage continued learning and self-improvement.

During Parent University's second session last fall, volunteer teachers from partners including the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity and Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program/US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants led classes in English, financial literacy, parenting skills and other subjects. T4T ran a one-off technology class, and parents clamored for more, said Dieng. When PU's third session starts up again in April, participants will be able to take weekly tech classes.

In the meantime, when the Burlington School District donated 23 used iPads to Parent University and its graduates in January, Dieng reached out to T4T to request training for parents in between Parent University sessions. This way, the PU participants and Stine will have the opportunity to get to know each other before the new session starts, Dieng reasoned.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Home Cookin': Seeded Whole-Wheat Bread

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 1:08 PM

Seeded whole-wheat bread - ERINN SIMON
  • Erinn Simon
  • Seeded whole-wheat bread
I bake bread pretty often at home, but almost always default to my favorite basic crusty white loaf.  Truthfully, I feel a bit overwhelmed by the vast world of bread making. There's so much to learn, and I can never figure out where to start. But this weekend, while browsing baking blogs, I came across a lovely little recipe for whole-wheat bread with a mix of seeds that inspired me to break out of my baking rut. I changed things up a bit to make the process more like the trusty recipe I usually follow. And I used my stand mixer, but let my 4-year-old daughter, Sadie, hand-knead the dough before we shaped the loaves since it's her favorite part of bread making.

You can adapt this recipe to use any seeds you like. We had flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame on hand, which was a delicious combination. We ate some that was still a bit warm from the oven spread with butter and, the next day, it made incredible peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I think we have added a new bread to our repertoire!

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Review: Bugs in My Hair

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 1:55 PM

Bugs in My Hair
  • Bugs in My Hair

In early October, my family experienced what now seems to have become the new normal in schools: my kindergartener got lice, which was rampant in her classroom. A friend and preschool teacher recommended the picture book Bugs in My Hair by David Shannon as a way to find a bit of humor in the situation.

At first, I was apprehensive. The cover of the book totally grossed me out. On it, there's a close-up face shot of a louse, parting strands of hair, looking directly at the reader. It felt very personal and intense, like my space had just been invaded. Which is to say, it completely captured its subject matter.


The story begins with an illustration that really spoke to me: the back of a mother as she runs in terror from her little boy. The text reads, “One day, my mom made a terrible, awful discovery... HEAD LICE!” This was pretty much my reaction last fall when I saw one of those disgusting bugs clinging to my daughter’s long, thick hair.


The book addresses the whole range of feelings you and your lice-afflicted child might be feeling, from shame to overreaction. The latter sentiment is portrayed with a true-to-life-size picture of insect next to an oversized version on a little boy’s head. Then it continues with a scene of the entire classroom vigorously scratching their heads. There's even a louse hiding behind a book in the back row, reminding us of its sneaky and unsuspecting presence. My girls squealed when they saw that. “What?!  A bug in the classroom? Reading a book?! Mom!”


The story acknowledges how overwhelming the prospect of getting rid of a lice infestation is with an oversized image of "Bugzilla" destroying a city. Then it follows the narrator and his mom as they consider some of the common, unappealing ways people try to get rid of lice, including head shaving, lice bombs and mayonnaise. One of my favorite pages in the book comes next — a close-up view of a tight-toothed nit comb squeezing the lice and nits, or eggs, out of strands of hair. My daughters thoroughly enjoyed the accompanying caption: “The party’s over, Little Nasties!” They've taken to using that phrase frequently around our house.


The story ends with a picture of the little boy wearing a protective armored mask like a Medieval knight. We closed the book feeling not just entertained but also fortified against lice, should they attempt to engage this family in battle again.



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Shelburne Museum's LEAP (Learn and Play) Summer Art Camps

Shelburne Museum's LEAP (Learn and Play) Summer Art Camps

Shelburne, VT

Shelburne Museum’s summer camps offer experiences for ages 4-16. Engage your creative side, explore nature and create art inspired by the beautiful grounds of Shelburne Museum. Our exciting, fun hands-on days emphasize the creative process and offer new perspectives on Vermont and American artistic traditions. Camps available in June, July…(more)

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