Thursday, October 30, 2014

Needham Winter Marketplace

Who could use a fun mom's night out?  How would you like to have your holiday shopping done before you sit down to eat Thanksgiving dinner?  Mark your calendars for Friday November 21st for our Needham Winter Marketplace!  This seasons' marketplace will take place at the Village Club (83 Morton Streeton 11/21 from 7-10pm.  We have some amazing vendors lined up, including Rodan and Fields, Stella and Dot, MADLEY, and many others (see complete list below). 

Join us for a night of holiday shopping and socializing, complete with music, cash bar and desserts!
Tickets are $10 in advance, and $15 at the door, and your admission gets you a drink ticket (good for beer, wine or soda) and a fun swag bag to hold all of your purchases!  In addition, 10% of all ticket sales will be donated to Riverside Community Care, which provides goods and services to children and families in need. 

To reserve your spot, please visit Looking forward to seeing you there!
2014 Needham Winter Marketplace Vendor List:
Stella & Dot
Usborne Books
Zinnia Designs
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Possums Blossoms by Cherry Picked
Scout Bag
The Purple Carrot
Ribbon Candy
Hamilton Grace
Rustic Marlin
Ruby Ribbon
Caitlin Dunphy Photography
Yogadude Clothing
Ginger Lane 
Cara Soulia Photography

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Do you often ponder 'The Way of Boys?'

Whether you have a daughter or son, chances are likely that if you are a parent, you have been engaged in a conversation about the differences between raising girls versus raising boys. Maybe you have a son who does not fall into the classic characterization of being more physically active and perhaps your daughter does not like to sit and color. Still, there are notable differences and many of us who are raising boys worry about how we can best channel their 'energy' and how they will be perceived in school. As a former teacher, I found that little boys performed better and sustained attention longer when they were physically engaged through kinesthetic learning. Alternately, I noticed that certain, more 'traditional' classrooms did not serve boys as well. Now that I am a mother to a son and daughter whose personalities fall into stereotypical gender categories, I am grasping for ways to nurture my son's potential when the things that came naturally to me and were effective for my daughter are not working! Thankfully, Parent Talk is offering an expert speaker, Dr. Anthony Rao, who will address a sold-out audience on 'The Way of Boys.' 

Dr. Rao (pronounced RAY-OH) is a psychologist who worked in the Department of Psychiatry at Children's Hospital in Boston (see below for his full bio.) He has held numerous interviews and has been published by many prominent publications for articles addressing the challenges of educating boys. Dr. Rao had this to say about his upcoming lecture:

What are the important trends facing boys in today's fast-paced, highly-competitive world? Many boys are struggling and we've turned mostly to medications for help. What if we're missing something basic. When we understand how boys develop - how boys think and navigate in the world - we start to see their hidden talents and gifts. Join me for a candid and upbeat discussion on raising and educating boys successfully. Let's help boys feel more confident and find their power in positive ways.

If you are not one of the many people who registered for this lecture, you can also order Dr. Rao's book, "The Way of Boys." I think this would be a great selection for a book club discussion. If you are interested in reading and discussing the book, please write in the comments after this blog! If you choose to order Dr. Rao's book, please click here and enter Parent Talk as your charity of choice.

Bio for Dr. Anthony Rao (note: pronounced Ray-Oh)_
For over 20 years, Dr. Rao worked in the Department of Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital Boston where he served as Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He’s been a featured expert idocumentaries for the A&E series Investigative Reports and MTV’s True Life. He regularly appears on news segments pertaining to childhood issues and most recently was featured on Chronicle to discuss challenges educating boys. He’s been interviewed for articles in many publications including The NewYorker, Parent's MagazineThe Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Times.

Who wrote this blog?
Liza d'Hemecourt is the Blog Coordinator for Parent Talk. She lives in Needham with her husband and her daughter and son, who are nearly three and nearly two years old respectively. Liza went to Boston College for theater and education. She performed in community theater and taught Kindergarten and first grade before having children. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Treat your Tricky Toddlers with these Halloween Activities

Boo-tiful Bananas, Creepy Crackers and Goopy Ghosts! These spooky snacks and this freakishly fun craft are sure to make your little monsters smile.

Depending on the age of your child, this healthy treat also provides a great fine motor activity. The banana and clementine peeling, and celery stalk slicing are the most labor intensive step of the first picture. Then, just help your child insert mini and regular chocolate chips for the banana ghost's eyes, and poke the celery piece into the clementine as the stem---voila!
I like these salty spiders because you can tailor them to your kids' tastebuds! For a healthier spin, try whole wheat Ritz crackers. Spread whatever your child likes to eat between the two crackers: peanut butter, nutella, cream cheese, fluff, hummus, jelly---you name it! Before putting the top cracker over the spread, have your helper, put the four pretzel stick legs on each side. Then add a dolop more of your spread for each 'eye' and the kids can add raisins, craisins, blueberries or chocolate chips for the eye balls!
Those snacks were pretty clean and simple but now things are going to get messy! I LOOOVE this Goopy Ghost project because it qualifies as a craft and a sensory activity; it is process and product! Plus, chances are you have shaving cream and white glue at home, maybe even googly eyes?? Spread out some newspaper and let your kids dig in...
Here is what you need: 
  • paper bag/heavy construction paper/flattened cardboard box
  • 3/4 cup of shaving cream with 1/4 cup of white glue
  • googly eyes
  • black paper
  • scissors
  • large Pyrex mixing bowl or Rubbermaid basin

Step 1: Make an outline of a ghost on the heavy paper and set it aside (do not cut it out yet)
Step 2: Mix shaving cream and glue and put it on top of the paper
Step 3: Let your child explore the goopy mixture 
Step 4: During exploration, ask your artist what kind of expression his ghost should be making: happy, sad, surprised etc.) then cut out that corresponding shape from the black paper
Step 5: Add the googly eyes and mouth right on top!
Step 6: Allow to dry (this may take a while) and finally cut out the ghost shape

Have fun and Happy Halloween!

About the author:
Liza d'Hemecourt lives in Needham with her husband and her two toddlers. She went to Boston College for theater and elementary education. Before starting a family, Liza taught kindergarten and first grade. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Charities Reap the Benefits from Sale Donations

For many families in the Greater Boston area, the annual Parent Talk Used Clothing, Toy and Equipment Sale is a prudent way to meet the ever changing needs of young children. It is a way for residents in and around Needham to participate in a great exchange of goods, as they can volunteer to work the sale, donate and consign items they no longer need, while picking up what they do. The sale builds community, but also has a much farther reach, providing ample donations to charities in the Boston area and as far away as the Dominican Republic.

Volunteers from Parent Talk begin the multistep process of organizing the sale by setting up a POD weeks in advance where people can begin dropping off things they wish to donate. By Saturday morning, October 18th, thousands of items will have undergone a rigorous inspection and pricing system before they are finally hung up and neatly categorized for the lines of shoppers to peruse beginning at 8:30am. At noon, the extreme bargains can be had during the one hour bag sale at which time volunteers distribute grocery bags to be filled for a total of ten dollars. Surprisingly, at 1:00, there is still plenty of product remaining and this is when representatives from participating charities are invited to walk through the two and half floors, choosing items that will fulfill needs of the communities they serve. 

The charities who receive goods from the Parent Talk sale include Arm 2 Arm, Baby Bundles, Bagong Kulturang Pinoy, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, Circle of Hope, and Room to Grow. The feedback from their representatives is a testament to the far reaching impact of this one volunteer organized event:
We are so grateful that Circle of Hope is one of the charities that is able to select unsold items at the end of your sales.  Our volunteers bring back beautiful, high quality items that we are proud to deliver to our clients.  Parent Talk makes a real difference in the lives of many homeless people!
Terri Larrabee from Arm2Arm had this to say after being invited to return to the sale again this year:

We get such great clothes from your sale for the Haitian people in the bateys in the Dominican Republic.  We just got back from our trip a week ago and brought suitcases filled with clothes, shoes and medicine.  Thank you so much for including us.
Attached are a couple pictures of the children on our recent trip.  Milton, the boy with cerebral palsy whom one of your members donated a running stroller, is doing well and his mother is still using his stroller to get around the dirt paths.  It has improved their lives greatly and when we saw him last week, his mother was anxious to show us how well he was doing.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fun at Drumlin Farm and Future Events

With the million things that need to be done swarming around in my head, it can be hard to research and execute a fun outing with my children. Thankfully, there are two people on the Parent Talk board who do that for us! Over forty people attended the recent mid-week trip to Drumlin Farm with Parent Talk event coordinators, Ellie Beasley and Kate Swenson. Registering for the event was just the motivation I needed to check one more thing off my 'Fun Fall To Do' list! 

It would have been easy to do our usual playground routine since it was one of the final few warm sunny days of fall, but I was so glad to have joined the crew of moms pushing our strollers along the dirt path while our toddlers bawked at chickens and pointed at pigs. Getting my one and half and two and half year olds out of the house to be on time for something is always an adventure but I found solidarity on the hayride as I looked around at moms wearing infants in Bjorns and holding their toddlers' hands. I was sure that I had not been the only one who struggled to get out the door or who was grateful to be out of the house! We even got to relax a little on the hayride after the driver announced, "I spy a rooster way up high;" of course, we had to point out the weather vane as we slowly passed the big red barn.

If you were not able to get out the door or were not aware of this event, maybe you can come to something soon! Click here for more information on these upcoming events: 

Have any ideas for an event that you would love to see Parent Talk coordinate? Write it in the comments option after this blog. We would love to hear from you!

About the Author:
Liza d'Hemecourt lives in Needham with her family. She studied theater and elementary education at Boston College, then taught kindergarten and first grade prior to starting a family.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Play Space and Party Room Spruced Up and Available to Rent

A Parent Talk membership affords us with great community building opportunities and unites us as families with a common goal: to raise happy, healthy children while having fun and making friends in the process. You may already be taking advantage of the Yahoo message board to find a great painter/plumber/daycare etc. Maybe you have even been to one of the organized events like the trip this past week to Drumlin Farm, but did you know that we have a beautiful, large, clean space that you can rent for your next Halloween/birthday/playgroup or holiday gathering? It is down the hall from the Dover play space and just underwent a major face lift. As a ParentTalk member you can rent out the play space as well as the room next to it for a nominal fee. 
The newly tiled floors will make clean-up a snap!
The play space is an 1800 square foot indoor space at the Caryl Community Center in Dover, three miles from Needham Center. It is made for children age 5 and under to play, and features age appropriate toys and play structures to engage children's imaginations. The party room was renovated this summer, and the playspace is undergoing a big toy clean-out and replenishing in the next month. If you haven't been, now is the time to check it out in person to see all the changes.

The room next to the play space is room #215, and you are able to have food and drinks in this location. The space has been freshly painted, has a newly tiled floor, a wall to wall blackboard and windows! Bring your decorations and entertainment, or let the children play in the play space and move into the party room for cake. Tables and chairs are provided, and the room can hold parties both large and small. 
The blackboard provides a blank slate for your decorating ideas
At $75 for the rental the price cannot be beat. The play space is available for private rentals on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and only you and your guests will be able to access it during your event. There is even an Elmo costume available to rent for $30! 

To see when Parent Talk play space and party room are occupied click here

If you are interested in booking your party, please go to this page for further instructions.

Dates are booking fast for this fall, so don't wait and book yours today!

About the author:

About the Author:
Betsy Deitte is the Play Space Party Rental Coordinator. She and her family moved to the Broadmeadow are of Needham in 2012. Betsy is a former nurse who hung up her scrubs to take care of her three most important charges: Elise, age 4, Annabel age 2, and Elliot age 1.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Taking Time with Toys as the Parent Talk Sale Approaches

At times I think that toy organization and acquisition could be a full time job. I can lose myself in the task of reassigning the proper Fisher Price Little People figurines to their various vehicles and scenery. And I love watching my kids interact with their toys. I know I am not alone in my toy-centric mindedness; I have heard moms in my playgroup proudly boast after replacing all the pieces of a wooden puzzle as we collectively piece back my toddler-torn living room. Then there is my husband's aunt who finds great joy in pulling out her grown children's toys for my toddlers to use. She says that the toys are attached to so many memories and emotions because they were constantly underfoot and she spent so much time picking them up! Still, toddler toys seem to have a relatively short shelf life---so with the long, cold months looming and the Parent Talk Sale on the horizon, how do you choose what to keep, what to part with, and what to buy and bring home to keep those babies busy!

Take time to sort your toys and crafts before the Parent Talk Sale

Toy rotation seems to be an effective way to keep things fresh but does require extra space and a bit of foresight. Keeping a large Rubbermaid container on hand and tossing in a few toys that seem to have gone stale can be a lifesaver when you unveil them again on a snowy or sick day. Diane Solomon, PT Sale co-chair, buys toys from the sale and purposefully puts them away until one of those days in the doldrums of January when you are at your wits end stuck inside. I find that sometimes simply moving a toy to a different location in my home can give it 'new life.' My house is relatively small, so in the winter time, I set up a few things in front of the sliding glass doors of my dining room. It is a bright, sunny spot and I can interact with my kids playing while I get things done in the kitchen. Still, I am at the point where my kids' toys don't seem to be holding their attention so I know it's time to sort out the 'baby' toys and make room for more.
Toy rotation bins keep clutter at bay. (source)

Parting with toys is a complicated endeavor. There are many factors that easily lead us to storing lots of brightly colored plastic. What if you have another child down the road? Is there a family member who could use these toys? Your kids don't play with it but it was very expensive.  Maybe you want to save certain things for your future grandchildren...I certainly have been hanging on to a lot of useless toys, clothing and gear for many of these reasons. BUT this year, I am going to part with certain things in order to buy other things from the sale that my children will use and that will, in turn, make my life (and winter) easier and less expensive.

For me, toys that fall into the following categories are going to the POD: 

  • I have duplicates or similar versions
  • It is a toy that was passed on to me and has no sentimental value 
  • My children never latched on to the toy and it has always taken up space 
  • It is a toy I can easily replace if necessary 
  • If it looks brand new or was very expensive, I am consigning it instead of donating!  

Now, if you have ever shopped the Parent Talk Sale, you know that it is no nonsense if you want to get the best stuff. In other words, make a list of what you want to find and get ready to grab it when you see it! I have been trying to think about where my kids are developmentally and what kind of toys will challenge, engage them and encourage imaginative play. I won't share my list in case you are shopping beside me! 

Happy sorting, purging and list making, then let the great exchange of toys, clothing and gear begin! For more information on the October 18th Parent Talk Sale, please visit our website with all the details and contact information. 

About the author:
Liza d'Hemecourt lives in Needham with her husband and two children. She studied theater and education at Boston College and taught kindergarten and first grade prior to starting a family.

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