Thursday, August 21, 2014

Packing an A+ Lunch

While many parents are excited for the start of school, packing lunches day after day can be less than thrilling. Here are 5 tips to help you pack an inspired, interactive and healthy lunch to keep your star pupil energized! 

1. Plan ahead and keep must have items stocked in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Pack as much of the lunch (if not all of it) the day or night before. Some of my favorite items I keep stocked (besides fruits and vegetables) include hummus, guacamole, Joseph’s tortillas, Beanitos chips, hardboiled eggs, canned tuna, canned wild salmon, cheese, milk and ice packs. Lunches don’t have to be complicated. Try to use the foods you already have in the house. There’s nothing wrong with packing leftovers.

2.     Include a variety of colors, textures and shapes. Put in the extra effort to make the lunch look fun and appealing for your child. If the lunch looks good, your kids are likely going to eat it. Use cookie/vegetable cutters, sandwich cutters, and silicone cupcake liners for color and portion control. I try to make lunches fun and as interactive as possible. For example, I cut shapes into cucumbers and fruit; anything that can be dipped or skewered is usually a success.

3.  Aim for a balanced lunch. Half of the lunch should consist of fruits and vegetables, a quarter protein and the last quarter should be grains, preferably whole grains. Balancing meals helps to ensure that your child gets the needed vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and fiber they need to stay healthy and satisfied. When packing lunches, I always ask myself if I have most of the colors represented and if I have items from each of the MyPlate categories. Aim for your kids to eat fruits and vegetables from all of the colors of the rainbow over the course of each day to get the most nutritional benefits.

4.     Don’t be afraid to try new foods. It’s ok if some lunches are flops, your kids will not starve! It can take many introductions to a new food before your child develops a taste for it. Offer a variety of food in each lunch and your child will have something to eat. If I’m worried something might not go over well, I show my daughter a picture of her lunch for the next day and explain what everything is. If your child is old enough, include them in the lunch planning and preparation stage.

5.     Follow me throughout the year for healthy lunch inspiration and at

Maggie Shapiro, MPH, RD, LDN

creator of Tomorrow’s Lunch

Maggie Shapiro is a Registered Dietitian and mom of two, who created Tomorrow’s Lunch to help parents and caregivers come up with healthy, colorful and creative lunches for kids. Maggie earned her MPH from Boston University School of Public Health, concentrating in Social and Behavioral Sciences, and completed her Dietetic Internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Her expertise areas include general nutrition, healthy eating, weight control, heart health, childhood overweight/obesity, and maternal nutrition. Follow her nutrition tips and advice for healthy meals and

LINX Classes at Parent Talk Playspace!

Last Spring, Parent Talk had trial classes for children at our playspace, sponsored by LINX. According to our membership survey this summer, (more on that in a later post) those classes were very popular, so we are very happy to offer a full schedule of classes again starting in September! LINX provides their enthusiastic, well trained teachers and receives the benefit of new enrollment from the Parent Talk community. Our members get conveniently located classes at a discount and Parent Talk receives 10% of the fees paid!  
Beginning September 5th classes in the Playspace will include Monday and Friday mornings.  Mondays, Miss Carry starts off at 9:25am with Family Music Makers, a "mixed age family jam session" for ages 0-4. This is followed by Sports Safari at 10:35, where 18-23 month olds  will “run like jaguars, swing like monkeys and cheer like lions."

Friday is yoga day with Miss Ingrid which uses, Kidding Around Yoga™ (KAY), teaching yoga to children in a creative and playful way. During Family Yoga, at 9:45am parents and children ages 12 months to 4 years will explore yoga poses, breathing, meditation, respect and kindness while we “moo like cows, meow like cats, sail in boats, and so much more." Then at 10:45, 3 to 5 year olds will learn yoga while singing, dancing, laughing and storytelling. 

Classes can be tried on a monthly basis, or larger blocks with benefits.

Want to know more? Visit the Parent Talk page on the LINX site to learn more about the classes, schedules, program goals and prices.  It’s where you can register for classes as well.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ready for a FROZEN sing along?

"Winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle, but put me in summer and I'll be a .....Happy Snowman!"

Olaf couldn't have said it any better -- Parent Talk has made this a great summer as we present Olaf, Elsa, Anna and friends in Disney's ' FROZEN' on the big screen at Flicks on the Field on August 23rd!  Costumes are encouraged for our sing along version of the movie.

Flicks on the Field is a free annual event we have every summer -- it is an opportunity to have an enjoyable and memorable night out with the whole family.   Get your blankets, lawn chairs, and pack a dinner.  This is more than a town event -- it is open to anyone in towns near or far and we hope that people will spread the word and invite friends!

There will be entertainment from 6:30pm until 7:30 -- this includes a talented magician, crafts, music and games provided by our premier sponsor, LINX, and songs, photos, and a princess parade led by Elsa and Anna!  This is also a great way to spend the pre-bedtime hour in case your little ones cannot stay for the movie.

Across the street, Orange Leaf be serving our 'Frozen' treats and will give 20% of proceeds to Parent Talk.  Our beloved Needham 'Hot Dog Guy' will have his truck available for other snacks and refreshments.

We hope to see you all there on the 23rd, and hope you will join us in making 'Flicks' an annual family tradition!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How to Connect Amazon Smile to Parent Talk

If you are an Amazon shopper, you may have noticed the new pop ups calling out their Amazon Smile program. This is an easy way to help support your favorite charity, at no cost to you. For every purchase you make while on the Amazon Smile site, a small percentage kicks back to the charity you designate. If you are so inclined to choose Parent Talk, we are now set up to accept the donations through Amazon Smile.

First steps, click on the pop up to set up your Amazon Smile. Search for Parent Talk and check to make sure it reflects our organization's details.

When shopping for Amazon, if you visit the main site, sometimes they will remind you to hop over to the Amazon Smile site. Then your qualified purchases will all counts towards the donation. One quick tip is to install an Amazon Smile bookmark, or extension, in your browser window. Then you can go directly to the site.

Thanks in advance for choosing Parent Talk. All the money raised helps bring in new lectures, pays for the Playspace and events for kids and parents in the coming year. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Preparing for Kindergarten Separation

When I taught Kindergarten, prior to having my own children, I noticed each September that the transition for parents was often as wrought with emotion  as it was for the five-year-olds.  We built in plenty of time to help ease the children into the school year but I now think we could have done more to equip moms and dads with strategies and tools so that they could help themselves and their children start off on a positive note.

Preparation is the most obvious way to get yourself and your child ready for a new experience.  This is where literature can be so helpful.  Books with social stories such as "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn and "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes are a great way to develop talking points while spending quality time.  Local librarians and your child's teacher may have book lists and recommendations.

Incentives can go a long way with a child who has difficulty transitioning. In the car on the way to school or at the breakfast table, tell your child what will happen after school.  This does not have to be going to pick out a new toy at the store, but can be as simple as planning to have a favorite snack together or play a favorite board game. I can recall so many excited little faces telling me with great satisfaction exactly what they would be doing when they got home from school. Other incentives can include a special sticker on a chart for giving a quick kiss goodbye and skipping in the door or working toward and end of week 'treat' for being cooperative in the mornings.

Building in predictable and sustainable routines early can set the tone for stress free mornings for your child even as you race to get everyone out the door with what they need and where they need to be on time.  Think about ways to make your Kindergartener as self reliant as possible with these routines. Is there a place where he/she can unpack and repack the back pack each day? Can clothing be laid out the night before? What about laminating a check list that you and your child can mark off together each morning? The same goes in the classroom as at home, when children know what is expected of them and outcomes are predictable, they feel more secure and confident.

Don't forget to build in time at the end of the day to hear all about your child's experience.  Be sure to use open ended questions to get the most information instead of simply, "How was your day?" This is also where it is critical to avoid making judgements when you hear recess stories.

Finally, we all sometimes cringe to realize that our own insecurities can be so easily passed along to our children.  Have confidence in your child's teacher and only let your child hear you speak in a positive manner about him or her.  Remember that for the first several weeks of school, the teacher will be devoting a lot of time to getting to know the students, building classroom routines, assessing skills and creating a safe and happy environment where the learning can take place.

About the Author

Liza d'Hemecourt lives in Needham with her husband Mike and her two children, Elizabeth and Mikey (ages 2.5 and eighteen months.) She studied theater and education at Boston College. Liza taught Kindergarten and first grade prior to having children.

Remember- if you shop Amazon for the books listed above, please consider adding Parent Talk as your preferred charity to receive a portion your purchase, at no cost to you, in Amazon Smile.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Organizing Tips

Summer is here, finally it's time to get outdoors and enjoy those long summer days and create some fun family memories.

Summertime comes hand in hand with lots of fun gear, anything from sports equipment, yard games and water fun. Between my two boys we have balls of every kind in the basement, bats, rackets, sticks, clubs, bikes, scooters, skateboards,ride-ons, games, fishing rods, water fun, beach and pool stuff, kites and the list goes on. Don’t waste time this summer looking for stuff, get organized with some easy storage solutions and helpful tips.

Utilizing your walls and ceiling by hanging equipment up and off the floor can maximize floor space and make for easy access. The family bikes are perfect for hanging up with the help of large hooks from the ceiling and large net bags are great for ball storage and can be hung from the walls. Large baskets or boxes are also good for ball storage. All the bats and different sticks can also easily be hung up with the use of specialty racks found at the hardware store. 

Some simple shelving and bins can help with the smaller things but don’t run out to buy new if you don’t have to; try and work with what you have at home and recycle! Keep in mind that organizing in groups can simplify and make it easier for the kids to access their things. When the children can see their gear, they will play with it, enjoy it and know where to put it back at the end of the day.

Summer 101: Preparing a bag that you can take on every trip so that your family can enjoy safe fun in the sun is essential in the summer. Sunscreen, bug spray and a bottle or two of water is so important to survive the sun and heat. So be prepared and stash them in your favorite summer bag and keep it in a convenient location. Having it ready will save you time so you can focus on other things you need and there always are!

Storing a few simple plastic bags or large zip locks in the car can be very useful when you have wet clothes, swimsuits, smelly sports gear or when you just need a trash bag for the picnic leftovers! And I never leave home without my all time favorites wet wipes which are good for nearly everything!

Enjoy a fun and safe summer!

About the author
I live in West Roxbury with my husband and two boys. My love of aesthetics, studies in Architecture and Interior Design, and my organized nature keep me looking for the best solutions to suit my family’s ever-growing organizational needs. I can help your family with any storage/design problems you have in the home or office.  

Organized by Danielle Weil

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How Can We Make Parent Talk Even Better?

Hello friends. It's a new year for Parent Talk as the school year comes to a close. There is a new Board in place and we want to hear from you on what would make Parent Talk even better.

We recently started sending out a survey to our members so we can hear from you about your favorite benefits of being a Parent Talk member. Is it the playgroups? Lectures? Volunteer opportunities with your kids? Can we do any of these things better? If you have a great idea, or gripe to share, this is the place. Parent Talk runs as a volunteer organization and we appreciate getting input from all of our members.

Our goal is to have everyone share their ideas. Last year we had 127 responses. Can we get this number up to 150 this year? 

Extra benefit~ everyone who completes the survey is entered to win a free party at the playspace. Remember, it doesn't just have to be a birthday party. You can reserve the space to host a back to school party, Halloween party or other fun filled event. here to fill out the survey. Thank you in advance!

photo credit: Marcus Ramberg via photopin cc

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