Saturday, December 29, 2012

Calling All Potty Training Parents! {Giveaway}

Written by Emily Roach

Raise your hand if you are in the thick of potty training. Not there yet? Lucky you. Today I'm sharing some of the latest gear and services available for parents in our area. Hopefully it will make the process a little easier. Plus we have an awesome giveaway for a lucky Parent Talk member!

I went to a hilarious event called "Potty Palozza" last month. It was hosted by Pinwheel Books to celebrate the launch of a new book by Kate Hayes, All About Poop. Some kids do better with potty training when they understand what is happening in their body behind the scenes. The book takes a cute look at the how and why of potty time.

Jamie Grayson, the "Baby Guy" also attended the event and had us giggling as he showed us the latest gear on the market.  I never knew there was so many potty choices. Magic Beans brought in a huge assortment of potties; some song sang songs, some ring bells and others are just down right cute.  Did you know there is a "potty purse?" I actually think this would be awesome for the car, or for us down the beach next summer while we are (hopefully) starting potty training with toddler #2.
We also got to hear from Salina Gonzales Frazier, the owner of Diaper Lab in Cambridge. If you ever think about using cloth diapers, please head to her store. They carry over 50 different brands in the store. I'll bet you had no idea there was that many cloth diapers to choose from.  We are a cloth diapering family and it made me happy to hear that children often perform better at potty training when they are not in disposables. The child feels the wetness and is more apt to ditch the diapers earlier. I really like Salina's approach to cloth diapering. She wants it to work for your family, not against it. (If anyone is interested in having Salina speak to a playgroup about cloth diapers, let me know!) She also advised using ATTITUDE Eco-Baby Laundry Detergent for cloth diapers, so even I learned something new.

It's giveaway time! A lucky member will get the Fisher Price Froggy Potty for their toddler to enjoy. Plus they will also get the Potty Time Sticker Chart to help track your child's progress. It's a an easy to use sticker chart that hangs over the bathroom door handle. You can get additional ones at CVS. 
Please enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Winner must be a Parent Talk member. Contest is open until Jan 11th.

About the Author
Emily lives in Needham with her husband Jim and two children.  After working in retail for 10 years, she decided to stay home with the kids and bake.  Emily writes the blog Random Recycling, co-manages the Parent Talk Blog, and is a board member of the Needham Farmers Market.  Disclosure: I attended a promotional event and also received a potty and sticker chart to help facilitate this review. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

How Do I Move?

Written by Annie Bauman

Preparing your home to sell can feel especially overwhelming for parents with little kids. I sympathize with sellers who worry the home has to be immaculate in order to be presentable. Interestingly, a show-ready home does not require swapping out counter tops or other costly improvements. Based on the dozens of local homes I tour every week, I've established a four-step plan that should take a busy family no more than three weeks to complete. The tasks are broken down into four action items that can be executed in two hour increments. About the length of a  toddler's nap. In less than a month, your home won't be perfect. But it will be ready. 
1) Purge. Forget scoring boxes behind Roche Bros. Head to Wal-mart  and invest in a large plastic bin for every room in your home. Make sure they are clear and big but not so big that when filled with stuff, you won't be able to lug them. For large rooms and perhaps your basement, buy several. It won't be cheap, but you'll use these again throughout your move and also to store stuff at your new home. 

Spend two hours every day for five days filling the bins with everything you will donate. All the stuff you don't want coming with you but someone else might like or need. On the sixth day bring it to the swap shop at the dump or the church or the Salvation Army. The sixth day will be much more work and will include your partner or friends. But by day seven, your house should not have anything in it that isn't coming with you. Put the empty bins back. 
Purge and it will be easier to pack and sell your home.
2) Clean. Deeply.  Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, a squeaky clean house is one of those unquantifiable features that will endear a buyer to your home. Two hours every day for five days should suffice. The first day should be a room by room trash collection. Devote the second, third and fourth day to surfaces and floors. This is yellow-rubber-gloves-on-your-hands-and-knees kind of cleaning. Use vacuum attachments. Take a baby wipe and clean the window grids. Wash out the basement fridge. Scrub stuff. On the fifth day and throughout that second weekend, turn your focus to the outside of your home. Again, no shame in hiring professionals. Time and energy may be wisely saved here. Regardless, give your house a bath. Rent or borrow a leaf blower for the back deck, garage and  front steps paying close attention to every cranny. Rent or borrow a power washer and blast off any dirt or unsightly mold. Finally, wash the windows. 

3) Fix. Assuming you are not aware of any major necessary house repairs, dedicate the beginning of week three to anything that's broken. Does a ceiling need some touch-up paint, is there a hallway light that's never worked? Could the nursery use some spackle around the curtain rods? Does the front step need replacing? Make a to-do list and tackle as many projects as you can manage each day.

4) Appoint. This is critical. We assume that a buyer won't mind that the linen closet is in the baby's room or that all the Christmas stuff is shoved into a corner of the basement. Not true. While your better half is working on repairs, this is the time to organize the home you always wanted. (But were too exhausted to!) Whether your 'out building' is used for extra storage or as a water color studio is beside the point. Just make sure the purpose and possibilities of every room are clear to a buyer. 

About the Author
-Annie Bauman is a Parent Talk member, mom to twin 8 Yr olds and a 3 yr old and a Realtor for Coldwell Banker in Needham. Her last two sales were the inspiration for this article. A bedroom from one of those sales is featured here.  Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Needham, MA  
781.343.4068 (office)
617.510.4994 (mobile)

photo credit: dataceptionist via photopin cc

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We need you – and your recipes – for the new PT Cookbook! Contribute a recipe today!

A group of committed ParentTalk members is putting together a family cookbook to sell in 2013, with all proceeds benefitting ParentTalk.  Please participate and contribute a favorite recipe to this worthwhile project!  We need your “family favorites” and your “go-to recipes” for appetizers, entrees, salads, desserts and side dishes.  (Feel free to submit recipes that you got elsewhere; just attribute it accordingly.)  Please submit your recipes to by January 31.  Here are a few “starters” to whet your appetite!


Honey-Apple-Brie Phyllo Cups
By Vidya Kagan
(Full disclosure:  I got this recipe from a Pampered Chef party I hosted several years ago.)

This recipe marries so many of my favorite ingredients, and the finished product is delicious!  The apples and honey provide a touch of sweet, the walnuts and brie give a touch of salt, and the phyllo cups hold everything nicely to make a simple yet elegant presentation.  It is also a very kid-friendly recipe. After prepping all of the ingredients, get your kids to help you assemble each phyllo cup.  It’s fun and easy, and you might even get them to try one!

1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 medium red apples, finely diced (about 2 cups)
¼ cup honey
1 4-inch round (8 oz.) Brie with rind
2 packages mini phyllo cups, 30 cups total (you can find these in the freezer aisle of your grocery store)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Combine lemon zest, walnuts, apples and honey in a large bowl.  Mix gently.
3.  Cut Brie into thirty (30) ½-inch cubes.
4.  Arrange phyllo cups on a large baking sheet.  Place one Brie cube into each cup.  Top Brie with a small scoop of the apple mixture.  Bake 6-8 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Curried Cashews
By Vidya Kagan

When I was a kid, I remember my dad always eating nuts.  Cashews, peanuts, pistachios, almonds … you name it, we had it, and he was eating it.  My dad always preferred spicy and salty snacks over sweets, and years later, so do I!  Experts tell us that nuts are good for us, so why not give this recipe a try?  These curried cashews are super easy to make, a total crowd-pleaser and incredibly addictive.  You can serve them at a party or eat them as a snack. They’re delicious AND versatile!
6 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons curry powder
4 teaspoons kosher salt
6 cups unsalted cashews (if using salted cashews, omit the kosher salt)

1.     Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 250°F.
2.     Whisk lemon juice, curry powder and salt in a large bowl. Add cashews; toss to coat. Divide between 2 large rimmed baking sheets; spread in an even layer.
3.     Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until dry, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Becoming a Helper

We don't have anything profound to share; no comforting words to ease the fear and pain brought on by the tragedy in Newtown last week.  As parents with young children we're reeling over what happened and our hearts ache for the families who lost their loved ones.  We were searching for something, anything we could do for the families suffering when we came across this:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. "To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."  - Fred Rogers

While no amount of thoughtful notes, kind gestures or financial donations will be able to heal the hearts of families in Newtown, we found some solace in becoming a "helper."  One of many "helpers" that make it abundantly clear that there's a legion of caring people - near and far - holding their hands and gathering around them in support during this time. 

If you too have been looking for what you could do, we've compiled a few ways to help below. Please feel free to share more ideas and thoughts in the comments.  

Donate to one of the funds set up to help the Sandy Hook Families
Set up by the parents of children who survived and other locals, this fund will help with funerals, as well as ongoing living expenses such as food, mortgage payments, daycare, insurance and fuel until they are back on solid ground.

A new fund founded by Brian Mauriello, who describes himself as a long-term Newtown resident and a parent, to pay for short-term expenses as well as a memorial and a multi-generational foundation fund for the Newtown, Connecticut, community. He is seeking board members.

-- Sandy Hook School Support Fund  
c/o Newtown Savings Bank 39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470
This fund was set up by United Way of Western Connecticut and the Newtown Savings Bank to provide support services to the affected families and community. Among other efforts, it will support day and night walk-in hours at the Newtown Youth and Family Services Counseling Center

-- The Newtown Rotary Sandy Hook School Fund 
PO Box 263, Newtown, CT 06470
Dedicated to supporting the immediate and long-term needs of those in the Newtown community who were affected by the Sandy Hook School shooting.

Send a card or flowers 
The school address has been widely circulated over social media and in the news, however keep in mind there has been no official release from the school that they have the staff necessary to process the cards. The address for the elementary school in case you decide to send a card there:

Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickenson Drive
Sandy Hook, CT 06482

Another option is to send cards and notes to the local funeral homes who have staff available to handle the letters of support that are delivered for the individual families. 

Do good in their name
Support a cause in one of the families or child's name or vow to do random acts of kindness in honor of each of the children. 

With hugs and kind thoughts to all of your families,
Mary & Kate

photo credit: Douglas Brown via photopin cc

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Time and Sanity Savers

The seven days of Hanukkah have raced by, Christmas is fast approaching, and soon we’ll be correcting 2012 with 2013 – this time of year time takes on a unique preciousness. Already jam-packed schedules and never-ending lists must magically make room for all that goes into making the season special.

At a gathering of Parent Talk’s Career Moms this fall the topic of the evening was “time saver” – helpful anytime of year, but especially when we’re all attempting to make it to the holiday season finish line with a little grace, dignity and sanity.

Here are a few highlights you will hopefully find helpful…

Finding Balance

  • Telecommute, work part-time or shift your workday to hours that better fit your family’s schedule – don’t be afraid to ask, your employer just might surprise you.
  • Amazon Prime -- orders arrive in 48 hours, shipping is free and you avoid wasting your precious weekends driving around, shopping and waiting in lines.
  • Buy cards (happy birthday, new baby, wedding, sympathy, get well, etc.) in bulk and stow them away, instead of running to the store every time you need to put a message in the old fashioned mailbox.
  • When you see something you know someone would like, buy it, even if their birthday, Hanukkah or Christmas are months away, stow it away – you’re there, save yourself some time, heck, you might not remember this gift when the time comes. 
  • Buy yourself a little extra time in the morning, set your alarm a few minutes earlier -- it will make getting out the door in the morning so much easier.

Leveraging Tech

  • Coordinating multiple schedules is a constant challenge. Several Career Moms use Google Calendar to get the job done. Others recommend checking out – you can coordinate multiple schedules, shopping & to do lists, and meal plans, and access it all via your home computer or smart phone.
  • Use that camera you’re always carrying around with you – your smart phone – to capture visual reminders.

In the Kitchen
Make the freezer your friend

Taming the Adorable, Little Beasts

  • Beep & Boop – this free iPhone application “is a simple, fun app…that turns learning good behavior into a game kids love”.
  • Layout clothes for the whole week – eliminates one more thing for you to do in the morning and encourages kids to dress themselves.
  • If you have a bathroom upstairs and down, buy toothbrushes and toothpaste for both – eliminates running back upstairs to brush forgotten teeth when you need to be running out the door.
  • Don’t be afraid to share the work with your little ones – age-appropriate chores (setting and clearing the table, watering plants, helping with the garbage, even a preschooler can put away silverware) help them build self-esteem and learn the importance of pitching in.
  • Find a Mother’s helper and use them -- buy yourself some time to get things done, or just read a magazine.
Hope you find a tip or two to help you through this holiday season, and through the coming New Year.

Lollie Weeks blogs about life in suburbia, being a parent with ADD, her culinary adventures, Pinterest obsession and doughnut addiction at The Fortuitous Housewife. She lives in Needham with her Handsome Husband, the Baron of Boredom, Master of Mischief and their not-so-bright, but oh-so-sweet Border Collie, Zara.
photo credit: via photopin cc
photo credit: aprilandrandy via photopin cc

Monday, December 3, 2012

Top 5 Holiday Gifts for Your Kids – Recommendations from an Estate Planning Attorney

Written by Rachel Schneller Ziegler
As the winter holidays approach, if you are like me, you scour the stores, catalogs, and on-line retail websites for great holiday gifts for your kids, ones that won’t end up in the bottom of the toy bin by New Year’s Eve.  Although my recommendations may not result in shouts of joy, consider giving them to your children this year.  These gifts will help to ensure that future holidays are bright and will give you peace of mind.
  1. Appoint a Guardian for Your Children.  Prepare a Will in which you appoint a guardian for your children upon the death of you and your spouse.  If you die and have not done so, a court will select a guardian, but may not choose the right person.  
  2. Prepare a Revocable Living Trust.  Prepare a Trust to hold, manage and use assets for the benefit of your spouse and/or children after your death.  A Trust will ensure that your assets will be held and managed by a Trustee selected by you pursuant to terms set by you.  It may even save estate taxes.
  3. Buy Life Insurance.  Every parent of young children should have a life insurance policy to replace income and maintain the family’s lifestyle in the event of death.  Consider that a stay-at-home mom may also need a life insurance policy to cover the costs of child care and household help.    
  4. Save for College with a 529 Plan.  A 529 plan is an investment account to fund your child’s college education.  Money contributed to the plan grows tax-deferred and distributions used for your child’s college expenses are tax-free.  It is a low maintenance, flexible, and valuable way to save for college.     
  5. Ensure Access to your Electronic Accounts.  If you manage finances and accounts on-line or by e-mail, make sure someone can access them after your death.  This will ensure that your assets will be accessible to your spouse or child’s guardian or trustee upon your death. 
Rachel Schneller Ziegler is an attorney with the Kaiser Law Group in Wellesley, Massachusetts concentrating in estate planning and estate administration.  She is happy to respond to concerns or questions about your estate plan at (617) 641-0000 or
Disclaimer:  This information is not a substitute for legal counsel.  Nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.  Please contact an attorney for advice specific to your needs.
photo credit: || UggBoy♥UggGirl || PHOTO || WORLD || TRAVEL || via photopin cc

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Join in the PT Cookbook Fun(draiser)!

Parent Talk is putting together a family cookbook to sell in 2013 (all proceeds from the cookbook will benefit ParentTalk).  Please consider contributing a favorite recipe today!  Send all recipes to Here are two recipes to get you thinking.  Might as well start with dessert, the best part of ANY meal! 

Pumpkin Glazed Cookies by Alexandra Etscovitz

My husband loves pumpkin pie....even in July! I love to make these cookies for Thanksgiving.....or a trip to the beach :). They are really easy to make and definitely a fun fall treat for your kid's lunch box (or your own). :)

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered Sugar

1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2)  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl.
3)  Beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended.  Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
4)  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.
5)  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
6)  To make the glaze:  Combine the powdered sugar with water until it is creamy. Drizzle over cooled cookies.

Magic Bars by Vidya Kagan
Magic Bars are just that:  totally magic.  I first tried these when I was in grad school at Cornell.  My kind younger sister (the baker in our family) sent me a care package filled with her magnificent chocolate-chip cookies and this new gooey, coconutty, chocolaty treat as well.  What were these beautiful morsels of goodness?  I took one bite and fell on the floor – these Magic Bars were the best things I’d ever tasted, bar none (pun intended).  Fast forward about 10 years, when I had a house, kitchen and a husband who loves to eat.  I looked up this Magic Bars recipe and added it to my cookbook binder right away.  It’s been a staple in our house ever since and always makes an appearance – and disappearance! – at our annual neighborhood holiday party.

Magic Bars
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups flaked sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees if using a glass dish).
2.  Put butter in a 9”x13” baking pan and put the pan in the oven for 5 minutes to melt the butter.
3.  Remove the pan from the oven.  Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the butter; pour condensed milk over the crumbs.  Top with remaining ingredients.  Press down firmly with fork.
4.  Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.  Chill if desired.  Cut into bars or diamonds (about 24-bars).  Store at room temperature.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Need ideas on what to buy your family this holiday season? We've compiled a list of some of our favorite suggestions from bloggers this year. From "all things boys" gift ideas to "free gifts," we have something for everyone on your list. Plus, if you do any shopping on Amazon this holiday season, click through via a Parent Talk link and the organization will get a little kick back.

101 Holiday Gift Ideas for Boys this Season
By Audrey McClelland, Mom Generations/Audrey Confidential

Toddler Holiday Gift Guide 2012
By Emily Roach, Random Recycling

101 Best Holiday Gifts for Baby
By Audrey McClelland, Mom Generations/Audrey Confidential
51 Free Gifts Your Spouse Could Give You for the Holidays

By Audrey McClelland, Mom Generations/Audrey Confidential

Holiday Gift Guide 2012 for Moms
By Emily Roach, Random Recycling

25 Holiday Gift Ideas for the Gardener in your Life

By Audrey McClelland, Mom Generations/Audrey Confidential

Ultimate Holiday Guide: Holiday Recipes, Decorating Tips, Fashion Advice and SAVINGS!

By Audrey McClelland (Mom Generations/Audrey Confidential), Vera Sweeney (Lady and the Blog), Dawn Sandomeno and Elizabeth Mascali (


Audrey McClelland
Audrey left the fashion world of Donna Karan International in NYC to raise her brood of boys (4 of them!) in her home state of Rhode Island. She’s learned that you can take the girl out of the Fashion District, but you can’t take the Fashion District out of the girl. Audrey brings her fashion expertise and mom experience to Mom Generations. But here... on "Audrey Confidential" she's just "MOM."

Emily Roach

Emily lives in Needham with her husband Jim and two children. After working in retail for 10 years, she decided to stay home with the kids and bake. Emily is also engaged in the world of social media, helping both Parent Talk Marketing, Needham Farmers Market and writes the blog Random Recycling.

Audrey and Emily, thank you for letting us share your top Holiday picks with the Parent Talk blog readers! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

6 Ways You Can Avoid Gender Stereotypes of Your Kids

Don't miss the next Parent Talk lecture, Tuesday, December 11:
The Truth About Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children
Newman Elementary School 
7:00 pm reception
7:30 pm lecture
Speakers: Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett


Written by Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett
Kids, new research is telling us, pick up very early on what sort of behavior is appropriate for girls and boys. Even before they learn to talk, they’ve absorbed multiple messages about the role of the sexes.
Young kids start out with a wide-ranging curiosity, and learn all sorts of things from the world around them. But as this period closes, kids enter the culture created by adults, a culture that guides them into areas the adults think appropriate.
Parents are being told that their young boys are “hardwired” for assertiveness, aggression, and acting out—that’s just what boys do. In the same breath, parents are told that their girls are wired for nurturance, co-operation and passivity. Girls should focus on areas they’re good at--relationships and communication--and avoid the stuff that’s hard for them, like math, science and understanding systems. Bestsellers and educational “gurus” tell us that boys and girls brains are so different that they need to be parented and educated in very different ways
True? No. Lise Eliot, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Chicago and the author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain, conducted an exhaustive review of the scientific literature on human brains from childhood to adolescence. She concluded there is "surprisingly little evidence of sex differences in children's brains."
Parents can fight back against toxic stereotypes and help girls and boys discover all their talents so that they can follow their dreams wherever they may lead. Here are six suggestions for mothers and fathers based on the newest research.
 1. Don’t assume your boys don’t have the right (verbal) stuff.  It’s a myth that boys have inherently weaker verbal skills than girls. Many voices say boys should be given “informational texts” to read instead of the classics or any material containing emotion, which they aren’t good at either. But in fact, overall, there are virtually no differences in verbal abilities between girls and boys.
In 2005, University of Wisconsin psychologist Janet Hyde synthesized data from 165 studies on verbal ability and gender. They revealed a female superiority so slight as to be meaningless. You can see how alike boys and girls are in the illustration below.
Boys have the ability to master verbal skills. But sometimes, in actual performance, they score more poorly than girls. Why? They may shun reading because it’s not a “boy thing” to do, and, with less practice, they may actually do less well. Parents can offset this downward spiral by encouraging boys to read challenging material and by expecting them to perform well. The earlier this happens, the better.
2. Vaccinate your daughters against teachers' math anxiety. One example of parent power comes from a new study of first-and second-graders that found that female elementary school teachers who lack confidence in their own math skills could be passing their anxiety along to the girls they teach.
The more anxious teachers were about their own math skills, the lower were the girls’ (but not the boys’) math achievement scores at the end of the school year. The female students were also more likely than the male students to agree that "boys are good at math and girls are good at reading." But there may be a silver lining in this story for parents. Even if your daughter has a teacher with high math anxiety, it’s not inevitable that she’s going to have problems with math. It turns out that parents (or others) can “vaccinate” girls against stereotypes.

Teachers’ anxiety alone didn’t do the damage. If girls already had a belief that “girls aren’t good at math,” then their achievement suffered.
However, girls who didn’t buy into the stereotype, who thought that of course girls could be good at math, didn’t tumble into an achievement gulf.
3. Use expressive speech rather than brief, curt commands when you talk to boys. The truth is that verbal ability isn’t hardwired by gender, but parents, teachers and other adults do have a very strong impact on children’s early language skills, for good or ill.
A 2006 study looked at mothers of preverbal infants (6, 9, and 14 months) in a free-play situation. With their little girls, mothers engaged in more conversation and expected them to be more responsive than their sons. A mother might ask her daughter, “You’re playing with the octopus. You like that, right?” Mothers were much less likely to engage in such verbal exchanges with their sons. More often, they gave sons simple directions, such as “Come here.” (The same thing happens with older preschoolers)
Might these mothers be acting on expectations that their sons are not as verbal as their daughters? And, since the human brain develops in response to external stimuli, were the boys getting shortchanged? Probably so. If mothers talk more to their daughters, girls have a greater chance of hearing and imitating words, an advantage that could easily account for their higher early vocabulary scores.
Any parent concerned about his or her son’s language abilities could make sure that the language used with boys is rich and peppered with emotion. This will help them to speak, read and write well.
4. Arm your daughter against stereotype threat. We applaud the messages we now send to girls in middle school that "of course girls can do math and science." But these messages are often way too late. New research finds that even when girls say they believe this message, they don’t really believe it. Too often, they just know what parents and teachers want to hear. Data show that “stereotype threat” has a dampening effect on their actual performance. (What is this threat? Women and girls can suffer an extra burden of anxiety because they are aware of the negative stereotype of the group to which they belong. When they are told that women and girls aren’t good at math, females do much worse on a math test than when they are told nothing at all before the test.)
So, as early as possible, talk to little girls about science and math, actively encourage their interest and buy toys that promote spatial skills—like Leggo blocks, Lincoln Logs, erector sets and blocks. Don’t think girls don’t like them. They may just have decided such toys are not OK for girls. With your encouragement, they may discover that that is not so.
5. Don’t overprotect your girls. From early on, parents may discourage girls from taking risks by underestimating their daughters’ abilities. In one study, 11-month-old babies crawled down a carpeted slope that had adjustable angles. First, the mothers were asked to adjust the ramp to the angle they thought their babies would be capable of crawling down. Then the kids were turned loose. It turned out that boys and girls didn’t differ when it came to the steepness of the slopes they crawled down. In fact, the girl babies tended to be more daring. But the mothers’ expectations were all wrong. They thought their daughters would avoid the steep slopes, while they expected their boys would be fearless.
This intriguing study reveals how mothers (and maybe fathers ) start to underestimate their girls’ physical abilities at an early age. It also explains why adults are quicker to intervene when they perceive that little girls are doing something “risky.” But encouraging girls to take reasonable risks gives them confidence and helps them grow and thrive.
6. Help your son develop his natural caring abilities. Boys are naturally just as caring as girls, notes Harvard psychologist William Pollack, author of Real Boys. “They may have different patterns of behavior and learn and communicate through action, but they are as capable of being sensitive and empathic as girls are.” Male infants, he says, are more emotionally expressive than baby girls, but boys, as they grow, too often learn to display a “mask of masculinity” that hides their inner feelings. That doesn't mean they don’t have them. In fact, boys from a very early age are as nurturing as girls towards younger siblings, according to an international study of 12 cultures. However, after age five, thanks to gender stereotypes, boys start to think of caring for young children as a “mommy thing.” They often transfer their nurturing abilities to their pets. There is no gender difference in the degree to which children love and care for their pets. As it turns out, parents play a major role in boys’ nurturing behavior. Psychologist Judith Blakemore, from Indiana University–Purdue University, Fort Wayne, found that when young boys get praise for being loving and caring towards baby siblings, they become virtually indistinguishable from girls of the same age in the amount of interest they demonstrated in babies and young brothers and sisters. Parents’ actions speak louder than their words in shaping children’s caring behavior.

We think parents need to know that many of the ‘trendy’ ideas they are hearing about their kids is junk science based on no real data. Even when parents view these ideas with suspicion, it’s hard to resist the sales pitches, and the media hype.
So forget the pink and blue boxes where your kids are concerned. Education pioneer Howard Gardner of Harvard thinks that children, when they are very young, have wide-ranging curiosity and learn all sorts of things from the world around them. But then the adult world intrudes; parents, teachers, institutions, markets and society take over and guide children in certain directions
And kids, eager to please, want to go where these powerful figures guide them.
We believe that the paths laid out for our kids need to be broad rather than narrow, encouraging children to develop the entire range of abilities that are within their grasp. Parents can be the guides along this road, rather than the sentries who block their way.
Boston University journalism professor Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett, senior scientist at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center are the co-authors of “The Truth About Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About our Children.” (Columbia University Press.)

photo credit: sethph88 via photopin cc

Monday, November 26, 2012

Needham is Getting a New Playground! Greene's Field Fundraising Currently Underway

Written by Caera Horwitz

I am excited to report that the Town of Needham recently approved funds for a complete renovation of Greene's Field. Improvements to the field will include new play structures to appeal to both younger children, as well as older kids that need a bit more of a challenge, a renewed basketball court, a new soccer field, a new baseball diamond, beautiful landscaping, a walking path around the perimeter of the field, and a gazebo. Construction is slated to begin summer of 2013.

While town funding will cover much of the renovation, the Fundraising Committee has set a goal of raising $100,000 in order to build a spectacular playground at Greene’s Field.

Buy a Board 

One unique opportunity to contribute to the playground is to buy a board which will be incorporated into a walkway around the field. The board can be engraved with up to 19 letters and is a special way to both honor friends and family AND make a positive contribution to the town. What about the person on your gift list that has everything? These boards can make excellent, one-of-a-kind holiday gifts!
Another great idea is to pool resources with friends. One Parenttalk playgroup is joining forces to contribute a board or two in honor of their group.

I have young children and therefore have a special interest in building a new and amazing local playground. But what inspires me most about this project is that it truly is a community effort, and I feel so privileged to be a part of it. Whatever you are able to give, no matter what the size, will be transformed into something tangible; a slide, swings, a climbing wall, a walkway....your donation directly translates into happy memories for kids for generations. What could be better than that?

Please see for more information and to donate directly online. 
And last but not least, a special thank you to The Needham Women's Club and Needham Little League for giving us a great headstart with raising money for this project!

We will post another update soon as the project takes off!

Caera Horwitz, Greene's Field Fundraising Committee member

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Craft Projects

Written by Amanda Liljedahl
Now that the kids are out of school for Thanksgiving, here's a little craft to keep them busy just in time for Turkey Day. 
Have children gather pine cones from the yard, then gather an assortment of colored paper.  
 Fold the paper in half and cut out feather shapes. Open the feathers and inside, write what each child is thankful for this holiday.  Fold the paper in half and cut out feather shapes. Open the feathers and inside, write what each child is thankful for this holiday.  Arrange feathers in the wide end of the pine-cone  for the turkey's colorful tail, then add googly plastic eyes and an orange beak.  At Thanksgiving dinner, enjoy plucking the feathers to read the thoughtful sentiments or have fun guessing who came up with each quote!

For another easy turkey craft, trace your child's hand on a brown paper bag then cut out. Glue feathers to each of the fingers. The thumb becomes the turkey's face when you add an eye and a beak. Glue the turkey onto a Popsicle stick for an instant gobbling puppet!

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Amanda Liljedahl lives in Needham with her husband and five children (two boys, a set of identical twin girls and their newest addition, another girl). She chronicles her days which include arts & crafts projects, great recipes for the family and driving her kids from hockey practice and ballet to what's happening in her life as a mom, wife and friend on her blog The Little Lily Pad

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Recipe Spotlight: Turkey Chili

There is nothing like a warm bowl of chili in the fall and winter months, especially one that is full of vegetables and protein. This recipe makes enough for an entire family for dinner and a few lunches. Enjoy!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced or crushed garlic
1 cup diced onion 
2 cups chopped peppers (use any color)
1 cup diced carrot
3 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 lb. ground turkey
1 container salsa (any kind you like)
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste

Coat the bottom of a big soup pan with the olive oil and heat on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic, onion, pepper, and carrots. Saute for seven minutes or so, until the onions and carrots are tender. Add the cumin and chili powder and stir. Push the vegetable and spice mixture to the edges of the pan and put the ground turkey in the middle, breaking the meat up frequently and cooking through, about 7 minutes. Add salsa, broth, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and tomato paste. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 45minutes. Add salt and pepper until you get your desired flavor.  

Top photo credit: Dalboz17 via photopin cc

Friday, November 16, 2012

Parent Talk Sale Success Thanks to Volunteers and Local Businesses

We are writing to convey our deep gratitude for the time, donations, and efforts that numerous volunteers and multiple local businesses provided in order to make the semi-annual Parent Talk Used Clothing, Toy and Equipment Sale happen on October 20th! As the co-chairs for this amazing event, we had the pleasure of witnessing first-hand the incredible contributions of our community. We were constantly awed by how everyone came together and worked so hard to make it a truly successful sale.

First and foremost, we want to thank all of our Parent Talk
members and volunteers (plus their families) who donated countless hours setting up, coordinating efforts, and then breaking down this event. We also want to highlight some of the great contributions of our local businesses. Gentle Giant provided not only multiple trucks but also some extremely helpful people so we could get donated items and clothing racks in and out of the church quickly, safely--and much more efficiently than we have ever done in the past! JC Timmerman donated two large and incredibly useful dumpsters that simplified our set-up and clean-up activities and were much appreciated. PODS let us use a storage unit that was invaluable to us while we collected generous local donations of used clothing, toys, and equipment. And Copley Motors provided significant funds to help us not only pay for the POD but also for the supplies we needed to keep the sale organized and running smoothly.

In addition, each of the following businesses graciously supported and supplied our sale committee with delicious sustenance to keep them well fed and energized for the three long days it took to execute the sale: Starbucks, CafĂ© Fresh Bagels, Bertucci’s, Stone Hearth Pizza, RiceBarn, Dragon Chef, New Garden, Pronti Bistro, Hazel’s Bakery, Whole FoodsWellesley, UnReal | Candy UnJunked, Hint Waterand Roche Brothers. We also want to thank the Needham Life Skills team at Needham High School for all their help. Finally, a very special thank you goes out to everyone at Christ Episcopal Church. Your support is crucial to our ability to execute the sale well, and we greatly appreciated the input of Julia Baker, Michael Beagan and Bob Begin.

In all, we want to say a big THANK YOU to Needham volunteers and businesses for proving there are truly amazing people out there and that our great community is one of a kind!
Parent Talk relies exclusively on volunteers, and this fall about 200+ of them helped out with the sale. All proceeds benefit Parent Talk's community work and events, and all unsold items were donated directly to local charities that depend on these goods to fulfill their missions.
With gratitude and infinite appreciation,

Susan Orr, Joanna Noon and Nikki Amara Myers
Parent Talk Sale Co-Chairs

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