Monday, April 27, 2015

Strategic Shopping at the Parent Talk Sale

So, the much anticipated Parent Talk sale is only a few days away, and you've probably been seeing many emails asking you to volunteer your time or donate your unwanted children's clothing and toys, BUT I am here to talk about what the sale can do for you. I know there are many members of the community who have yet to shop at one of the sales, but even if you have, perhaps you've never thought of how much easier it can make your life to strategically take advantage of the deals waiting to be had.
A bag of 'new' toys for the car makes for a happy ride! photo
Grab Bags to Ward off Meltdowns
Think about situations that may be challenging with your children: a long car ride; going to church; a sick day at home; a rainy day; eating in a restaurant---just to name a few that come to mind---now grab a gallon ziplock bag and a sharpie and write these situations as labels on each bag. Next, bring your bags with you to the sale and fill each one with toys, games or puzzles that your child has never seen! Resist the urge to use them when you get home and find a good place to keep them until that occasion arises. Voila! Meltdown and crisis averted for very short change!
Messy play? No problem with extra clothes at the ready. photo
An Outfit for Every Occasion (or accident)
Think of all the situations that arise when you need a different outfit for your child: spills; water table at a play date; didn't make it to the potty; impromptu night at grandma's; change of clothes for school or camp---not to mention how nice it is just to have extra play clothes so that you don't have to do laundry quite so often. I stopped carrying a diaper bag pretty early on and found myself in a few scenarios when I wished I had clean and dry clothing to change my preschooler and toddler into. I plan to make a list of these occasions and put these extra outfits together from the many well organized choices that await you on the clothing floor, downstairs at the sale. Then, put the outfits in bags and place them where they can be easily accessed (a permanently packed bag for the pool; emergency supplies in the car etc.)
Clothes that fit for little $$$ (photo)
Did you grow again?
It's also very savvy to think ahead to the next season, or even to the end of this current season and buy a few things that are one size larger. I never like to do this at retail prices because I'm afraid I'll get it wrong and returns are such a hassle, but at just a few dollars per article of clothing, you can't go wrong by planning wardrobes ahead when you shop the sale. My mother used to keep huge appliance boxes at the top of our attic stairs filled with hand-me-downs from our cousins and with each new season, we went up and tried them on to see what fit. Why not even buy a few sizes ahead if you see a coat in excellent condition? Just label it and pack it away for later. The $10 bag sale is an excellent time to stock up on clothes that will fit later.
You may find something unexpected! photo
Spruce up that bedroom
You may not think of the sale as the place to look for decorative items for your child's room, but the middle room (between the toys on the first floor and the downstairs clothing) often has unexpected treasures. I found a beautiful sterling silver frame of the Make Way for Ducklings statues, decorative shelves from Pottery Barn, precious book ends, and photo albums, to name a few. It's nice to peruse the sale often if you can shop early for the things you need and come back later to take a more relaxed approach and let yourself notice things you may have missed the first time.

We hope you can pop in for a little while on Saturday, May 2nd between 8:30 and 1:00 at Christ Episcopal Church, 1132 Highland Avenue in Needham (across from the library.) AND, if you'd like to shop early with your list, there is still time to sign up for a shift to volunteer for a two-hour shift, just click here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Kicking-off Playground Season!

Though the ground is a bit soggy and most of us still have a dirty snow patch somewhere on our lawn, we can finally be certain that the days will only continue to get nicer. This winter has certainly taught us not to take the spring and summer for granted! I am ready to get started with outdoor living now. One way we are getting a jumpstart on taking advantage of local open air offerings is by helping out this Saturday in the town-wide clean-up.
I can't wait to revisit our favorite playgrounds, where we can gather effortlessly with friends and playgroups and meet new faces. But, just like our own backyards and flower beds, before we can enjoy them, we need to do some sprucing! The same thing goes for the local parks and playgrounds that we share. This weekend, the town of Needham is hosting a community-wide clean-up and we thought that if Parent Talk took part, it would be a great kick-off to playground season and a nice chance to get outside and see people!

This Saturday, pack a picnic lunch, put on your play clothes and bring the whole family to Greene's Field playground where we will have supplies ready for you to pitch in and get the park spruced up and ready for lots of action in the coming months! We will plan to meet around 9:30 and finish up in time to enjoy lunch together at the picnic tables. Please register and join us!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Let's Purge Toys for the PT Sale!!!

Are you in the mood to purge and create space? Does it feel like the toys you've been staring at (and picking up) for the past few months have lost their appeal? After enduring a long and snowy winter, (I guess we are still enduring the snow) most of us are itching for change. It will still be weeks, hopefully not months, before the playgrounds are ready for our children to run and climb but we can make some changes indoors that will give us all the mental cleanse we need. You may have guessed what I am getting at---The Parent Talk Clothing, Toy and Equipment Sale is around the corner!

Learn more
I have already started preparing in two ways:

1. When I am playing on the floor with my kids and they aren't looking, I grab an opaque bag, like a plastic grocery bag, and rummage through toy baskets, tossing in items that are no longer relevant to them (or me!) We have had holidays and birthdays that have dumped many a plastic play-set and random figurine into the mix, and you know how the saying goes, less is more. Remember that if you would prefer to see some return for the items you give to the sale, you can request a consigner's kit.
Toys aplenty to renew your collection (after you clean it out, that is)
2. I am making a mental list (which needs to materialize soon) of what I think my kids 'need' to further their play at this stage of the game. My husband looked at me last week and said, "You know how some people are crazy cat ladies? Well you're a crazy toy lady." He's right, I love toys and spend a lot of time organizing them and trying to find new ways for my kids to play with them. But, even I have to admit that before I can bring more toys in, I need to clear some out. 
Buy wardrobe staples for the spring and summer and save $$$
This is what I love about the Parent Talk Sale: it comes at the perfect times of year when wardrobes and toys need an overhaul and it is one stop shopping to accomplish 'out with the old and in with the 'new.' 

Here are some items for Spring that most of us will need and will likely find amid the myriad of items donated and consigned to the sale:
  • rain coats and rain boots
  • spring and summer clothing
  • outdoor ride on toys
  • games and puzzles your child has not seen
  • toys to save for a rainy day
  • books to freshen up your bedtime routine

The Spring 2015 Parent Talk Sale is scheduled for Saturday, May 2

Plenty of room for your donations!
1. The POD has landed, so donations are being accepted! Email for the drop off location and any further information.

2. If you are interested in shopping before the general public (and finding all the best deals!) schedule a 2 hour volunteer shift (anytime between Thursday, April 30 - Saturday, May 2). To register for a volunteer shift, click here

3. For those interested in consigning, please email to activate or renew your seller's number and ask for a current seller's kit (includes blank tags.)
If you have any other questions or need further encouragement to get involved, please email Seema and Diane at or visit

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Family Volunteer Project: Project Night Night Bag Stuffing Drive

As conscientious parents, we look for ways to exemplify positive values to our children but sometimes it can be tricky to find age-appropriate opportunities to put them into practice. Once again, Parent Talk takes the guess work out of it by bringing us Project Night Night, a charitable program perfect for involving little ones in the process of giving, from start to finish.

Project Night Night is a non-profit organization that collects and donates canvas tote bags filled with books, stuffed animals and blankets to homeless children in shelters. Each canvas bag stamped with their precious sheep logo is a perfect backdrop for you and your child to decorate. Together, choose a gently used or new stuffed animal, book and a new blanket (with tags) to fill it after decorating. The most important part of this activity could be the explanation you provide regarding how happy these bags will make their recipients. 

It can be uncomfortable and difficult to know how to address the topic of homelessness with children and depending on their age, you may not feel it is appropriate to be very specific. As is the case with most important topics we want to impress upon our children, turning to literature can help. The following books vary in terms of the age of their intended audience, but a local librarian or teacher may have other recommendations. 
Intended for grades K-4, two children discover a homeless woman living in their neighborhood and learn how easy it can be to make a difference in someone's life.
This book was written for children ages 4 to 8 and is beautifully illustrated and artfully told. It tells the story of a sad by who has no home but finds hope in taking care of geese. The story intertwines real world problems with a mythical and unexpected ending.

Set in Paris, this beautifully illustrated story depicts the unlikely match of a man with no family who ends up helping a mother and her children who are living under a bridge.

Participating in our Project Night Night Bag Stuffing Drive is easy - in fact, Parent Talk invites you to fill bags at home with your family, with your playgroups, preschools, sports teams, girl scout troups - you name it! There are four steps to get involved:
1) RSVP to Jenny at by Friday, April 3rd, and indicate how many canvas bags you'd like to reserve and fill. Each bag costs $3.50; checks can be made out to Parent Talk, Inc and delivered when you pick up your empty bags.
2) Stuff your bags for the gender and age (0-12 years) of your choosing. Each completed bag should contain these 3 items: a new or gently used book, a new or gently used stuffed animal, and a new blanket (with tags, please).
3) During the week of April 6th, pick up your empty bags in Needham (location TBA). You and your child(ren) or group may decorate them, stuff them, and prepare them to be sent to a local child in need.
4) Drop off your filled bags by Monday, April 13th in Needham (location TBA) for delivery to local area shelters.
If you have any questions, or would like to volunteer to deliver filled bags to shelters in mid-April, please contact Jenny

Monday, March 23, 2015

Past and Future Parent Talk Events With Your Kids!

Do you find yourself looking for activities to do with your children during the week that go beyond your usual routine? Perhaps you want to meet more moms, maybe you are relatively new to the area and not yet aware of all the children's enrichment programs and classes available. Parent Talk's event coordinators, Ellie Beasley and Kate Swenson, have been doing a fantastic job this year by taking the guess work out of it for us and bringing fun opportunities for our little ones that allow us to get out, socialize and build connections within the community. Here are a few highlights of some recent successful events. I, for one, need to be better about checking the Parent Talk website and looking at the calendar under events so that I can work these into my monthly planning. Luckily, there will be many more options to come! Hope to see you there!

Let's look back at some of the fun you may have participated in from recent events. If you missed out, be sure to take note of what is in store for upcoming plans listed at the bottom of this post! 

Valentine's Day at Wingate
In a world of commercialized holidays, it was wonderful to have an event about the simple things: good music, good company and GIVING LOVE.

The Residences at Wingate, an independent and assisted living facility located on Gould Street in Needham, had an amazing team and made hosting the event at their space seamless. From the marketing staff to the activities staff to the amazing kitchen staff we couldn’t have been more helped and welcomed. The residents were very friendly and so sweet to the children.  Some even took the opportunity to hold the babies in attendance!

Between all the snowy days and school closings, it seemed like everybody was itching to get out and celebrate SOMETHING. It was perfect timing for Parent Talk and The Residences at Wingate to team up and host a Valentine’s Day party. The party promised Valentine staples like sweet treats and heart-themed crafts while also boasting a concert from the popular children’s entertainer, Stacey Peasley.

Children were invited to make a “paper love bug” for the crafting portion of the event and some even opted to give their completed decorations to the residents to brighten their day! What a great act of giving.

Stacey Peasley and Friends provided great entertainment for the group of young and old. With an appropriate mix of “love” themed songs (there was even some old Johnny Cash!) and children classics like “Wheels on the Bus”. ~Kate Swenson

Elmo Storytime

On a cold Saturday morning in January, Parent Talk members and their families kept toasty warm reading stories and dancing with Elmo at the Dover playspace. This free, popular annual member event was sold out again this year with 100 people in attendance. Everyone’s favorite Sesame Street character gave out hugs and high fives to the admiring children, posing for photos and even doing the hokey pokey with his fans after reading a few Elmo-themed stories. Families lingered long after the end of the event, coloring drawings of Elmo, playing in the playspace, running up and down the hallways in a spontaneous game of Red Light/Green Light, and catching up with friends. It was the perfect way to spend a wintery morning! ~Ellie Beasley

Mini Athletes Trial Class

On a weekday morning in March, Parent Talk members and their kids participated in private trial class at the incredible Mini Athletes facility in Norwood. Ranging in age from 2 to 5 years old, our “mini athletes” worked up a sweat and had a ball! The 1-hour mixed sports program was tailored specifically to our group of 16 kids, and included stretching, an obstacle course, running games, relay races, bubbles, a mini dodge ball game, and much more. Little siblings made their own fun on the sidelines with balls and toys that the coaches had provided to keep everyone entertained. Most of us stayed afterwards for lunch in the party room---we had some hungry kids after a morning of activity! It was such a fun way to learn about Mini Athletes, a fabulous place for kids’ sports classes and birthday parties, as well as a perfect venue for our kids to get their energy out after being cooped up inside all winter! ~Ellie Beasley

Please mark your calendars for these upcoming events:

  • March 27th- Parent Talk Happy Hour Spin @ CycleBar Wellesley Register Here
  • April 4th - Easter Egg Hunt at the Residences at Wingate. Registration and details coming soon!
  • April 7th- New England Sports Academy Parent Talk Open House Register Here
  • April 12thPuddlestompers/STEM Event at Bright Horizons. Information and registration coming soon!
  • May 31st- Barn Babies at Defazio Tot Lot. Registration to open at a later date

Monday, March 16, 2015

March Mayhem - What You Should Know

March Mayhem, an exciting new Parent Talk event, is coming to Needham on Saturday, March 21st!  We've been getting a lot of questions about this event so the following FAQ has been put together.


What exactly is March Mayhem?
This event is a Texas Hold 'Em style poker tournament and so much more.  Several large screen TVs will be setup around the venue so that you can keep track of what's happening in the big tournament games.  You can also try your luck at our March Mayhem Raffle.  Five raffle tickets will be included with your event registration fee and additional tickets will be available for purchase that evening.  There will also be a cash bar available and some of our sponsors will be on site.  J. Hilburn will be taking measurements for suits and displaying their clothing.  If you want, you'll be able to order a custom tailored suit, sport jacket, or shirt on the spot!  Rooster's Men's Grooming Center will be there offering hot towels, neck trims, and beard/mustache shaping as well.  Even if you don't last very long in the poker tournament, you'll want to stick around.

J Hilburn suit

Do I need to know how to play poker?
Absolutely not! This poker tournament is for players of all skill level from beginner to experienced.  Plus, this is a tournament event.  So, you simply pay your entry fee and you will be given chips to play with.  There will be no cash betting at the tables.

Bernard Lee, a professional poker player with more than $2 million in career tournament earnings, will be providing a 30-minute seminar on the basics of No Limit Texas Hold'em from 6:30 - 7:00. In addition, our friendly dealers will guide you through the game and help answer any questions you might have during the game.

Who can play?
Anyone over the age of 21 is welcome to play in the tournament and the event is open to all regardless of Parent Talk membership status.  So feel free to bring all your friends and your poker buddies.  We welcome players of all skill levels as well.  To register in advance click here.

How much does it cost to play?
The registration fee is $65 in advance and $75 if purchased at the door.  There will be no out of pocket betting at the poker table so the maximum loss you might incur playing is limited to your entry fee.  Your registration fee also includes 5 raffle tickets.  Additional raffle tickets will be sold at the event in groups of 5 tickets for $15.  To register in advance click here.

Win a Shinola watch!

 What can I win?
Prizes for the poker tournament are:

1st Place - a men's Shinola watch (retail value $750) donated by Long's Jewelers and a VISA gift card

2nd Place - $100 Capital Grille gift card, a set of 4 Capital Grille steak knives ($85 retail value), and 3 cases of beer from Sam Adams

3rd Place - $50 Davio's gift card plus a gift basket of beer and accessories from Clown Shoes Beer

Raffle prizes are gift certificates courtesy of our sponsors:
•5 Guys Burgers & Fries
•Rooster's Men's Grooming
•Ace Ticket
•J. Hillburn Men's Clothing
•VO2 Max
•Boston Sports Club Wellesley

Don't miss out on this incredible event.  Click here to register now and make sure to share this with any of your poker loving friends or any friends who've ever wanted to learn to play poker.  See you there!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Searching for Signs of Spring

The vernal equinox, or first day of spring, is around the corner on March 20th but with this very thick blanket of snow, we won't be seeing daffodils until much later! So, how can we 'push spring' a little bit, lifting our spirits while teaching our little ones at the same time? Feed the birds! An especially snowy winter like this one, is very hard on our feathered friends and if you believe that seeing a red breasted robin is a sure sign of spring, try one of these feeding activities.
A great way to begin is with a book. Riki's Birdhouse, by Monica Wellington, is one of my daughter's favorites. In it, you see the way a little boy welcomes birds to his backyard through each changing season. The book also provides some great information at the end about building and installing a birdhouse, birdbaths and feeders, as well as identifying certain common birds. My favorite tidbit from the book for our purposes is the Bird Food Cupcakes recipe, which is as follows:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups birdseed mixture
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup melted vegetable shortening or suet
  1. Mix ingredients together in a bowl
  2. Drop the mixture into greased or lined muffin tins
  3. Push a stick through the middle of each cupcake
  4. Chill until hardened. Remove the sticks and paper linters. Thread string through the holes and hang. 
To purchase a copy, please consider using Amazon smile and selecting Parent Talk as your charity of choice! 
more about the book!
If you want to set up a more longstanding birdfeeder that you can begin watching with your child, there are few things to keep in mind for success. The birds need to feel safe from predators in order to visit the feeder so place it around twelve feet from some type of brush or bush that they can easily retreat to if feeling threatened. Also, be sure not to place any feeder less than thirty feet from a window to avoid confusing them and causing traumatic collisions! To learn more about bird feeding specifics, I found this website helpful. Also, consider taking a trip to the Needham Garden Center on Chestnut Street. They have a wide variety of bird feeders and food, plus great customer service!

more ideas
This birdfeeder made from a re-used water bottle is an easy and inexpensive way to try your hand at bird feeding while involving the kids! Just cut the holes, insert wooden spoons or chopsticks, fill with feed and hang. But even simpler, and more hands on for little ones is the classic peanut butter covered pine cone rolled in birdseed (or have them sprinkle it on with a spoon!) It may be tricky to go for a winter walk and find an uncovered pinecone, but maybe you have some accessible branches you can reach from these high banks! Another option I came across is to use a toilet paper roll. Also, if you do not want to use peanut butter, use 1/2 cup of suet or shortening, combined with 1/2 cup of oats or cornmeal and then try pressing the covered pinecone or toilet paper roll onto birdseed poured out into a pie plate.
I hope these ideas spring some hope into an afternoon for you and your baby birds! Let the countdown to green grass begin! Once the snow has melted, there are so many other ways to make your backyard a sanctuary for birds and birdwatching is a great way to teach patience and to instill an appreciation for nature.

About the author:
Liza d'Hemecourt is the Blog Coordinator for Parent Talk. She is a former kindergarten and first grade teacher. She lives in Needham with her husband and stays home to raise her two and three year old children.

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