Sunday, April 29, 2012

Reading Spotlight: First Edition!

Written by Katie Edwards

by Abraham Vergese

This is probably the best book I have read in the last several years.  It is beautifully written and completely engrossing, plus you even get to accidentally learn about another part of the world while reading!  I highly recommend it. 
Here is the blurb from Amazon: “Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.  Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles--and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.”

by Phyllis Root 

This is a great book to read out loud to your little kids...the rhythms and silliness of the words are a lot of fun.  Nice illustrations as well.  The story follows the travails of Poppa and the kids as they try to get to the lake on a hot day, only to be continually challenged by the rattletrap car falling apart.

Katie Edwards lives in Needham with her wife and two children, ages 13 and 3.   She has a Master’s Degree in Library Science, but has been a stay at home mom for many years, so she is happy to have an outlet to share good books with others -- and will do so monthly on the Parent Talk blog.  She loves to read [obviously], travel, try new restaurants, and gab with her friends.  Luckily she is in a book group where she can simultaneously eat and talk to friends about books!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

March of Dimes Team Update

Just a quick thanks to all the many Parent Talk members that went to Not Your Average Joe's this month to help support the Parent Talk March of Dimes team.  Here is a quick video to share with our team leader, Jodi Rooney.

Click Here to Support the Team!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SALE UPDATE: Inside the Pod and Volunteers Needed

Written by the Sale Committee

Is your baby girl a fashionista-in-training?  If so, she may need these adorable Kenneth Cole onesies.  We have four onesies packaged together; one pink, one white and pink, one gray, and one striped.  They will compliment any outfit (cute pants, ruffled skirt, frilly shorts). 

“Kenneth Cole” you say?  He makes shoes or something like that?  You’re right, he does. 

Curiosity builds. 

Why is he famous?  Glad you asked. 

“After establishing the Kenneth Cole name as a prime designer of women's shoes, Cole branched out into women's wear, menswear, accessories, and even jewelry. With his clothing described as ‘Prada for the people,’ he brought simple yet chic styles like black wool three-button suits, slick loafers and subtle ties to the workingman. Cole is also known for his socially conscious brand of marketing, as he often pairs clothing ads with charitable messages dealing with causes like AIDS and homelessness” [excerpt taken from and, links to article above].

Another great donation is a boxed set of 6 brand-new, with-the-tags-on, fashion socks for a 3-6 month old girl.  These are great socks because they resemble little Mary Jane shoes.  So cute, functional, and a great deal. 

Both items will sell quickly. 

Remember, the Sale is Saturday, May 5, 2012.  Mark your calendars.  Secure babysitting if needed. Volunteer (yes, we STILL need volunteers).  Tell all your friends.  Encourage others to come.  

HELP: when help is needed

Are you ready to help?  Think about your response.  Get ready.  Yes, you are, now take action.  The Parent Talk Used Clothing, Toy and Equipment Sale, which is rapidly approaching, needs an additional 15-20 volunteers for the 1-3 pm and 1:30-3:30 pm shifts.  It’s understandable that these specific volunteer shifts are not the most popular because the Sale is basically over.  Most of the bargains have been found and purchased.  All the set-up is done.  All the coffee and chocolate has worn off, and the excitement is now shadowed by exhaustion. 

It’s time to clean up.  To bring accumulated trash to the dumpster.  To help the charities gather all wanted items (and there are a lot of them).  The floors need to be swept.  The tables put away.  Trucks need to be loaded and driven to Dover.  Volunteers often just do whatever needs to be done so everyone can go home.  There is an incredible amount of work to be done during these shifts.  To state the obvious, these tasks can take a long time with few hands; however, the work could be done exponentially faster if we had an abundance of help. 

If you enjoy the Sale and love all the bargains you find for your children, then please consider volunteering for an extra shift during either the 1-3 pm or the 1:30-3:30 pm shifts.  You, your partner, and your friends are all welcome: come together.  Help IS needed; therefore, please help.  Your kindness will be noticed and recognized. 

To volunteer for one of these shifts (even if you are already scheduled for another shift), please click here.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Casino Night 2012: Evening of Fun and Games for a Good Cause

Saturday night, April 21st, Parent Talk members and their friends came together for a night of fun, games, and to contribute to Needham Greene’s Field renovation. This year, the event was held at the brand new and beautiful Needham Golf Clubhouse. The room was larger than usual, with a balcony off the side, and we were lucky enough to have balmy weather despite the forecast. Several guests were seen enjoying the evening breeze between games at the Roulette table or Black Jack.

Many groups got together for dinner or even a playgroup parent party before heading over to the clubhouse. Tables were busy and the crowd was clearly having fun. From the number of chips cashed in for raffle tickets, there were some pretty big winners, as well. But none more than the Greene’s Field renovation project to which the proceeds from the evening are to be contributed. Watch this space in the coming months to learn more about the progress of that project and further Parent Talk efforts to raise funds for this popular park.

At the end of the evening of fun and games, lucky winners came away with tickets to the Red Sox, a week at a LINX summer camp, and a spring family photo shoot in the Boston Public Gardens. But those were just a few of over 20 prizes people walked away with at the end of the evening.

Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who made the night such a success; Katie Alwart, Ginger Bunn, Tricia Burch, Sarah Dussault, Ann Lyons, Ryan McDonnell, Sue Pouliot, Mary Richman, and no one more than Kate and Wilson Owens!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Is your child’s class peanut-free? How to Host Playdates and Parties with Food-Allergic Friends

You may have noticed signs posted at eateries, “Inform the server if you have food allergies,” the bold fonts listing common allergens below the ingredients’ labels, and cautionary statements on packaging such as, “This product may contain traces of peanut, tree nuts and soy.”  Perhaps you have had to read these labels because of school and/or camp restrictions on foods from home.  For families with food allergies, these are daily, required reading assignments to keep their child(ren) safe.  Families with newly discovered food allergies have many questions.  They can feel overwhelmed and terrified, wondering what to feed their child, how to be an advocate, and how to deal with social situations involving food, and so forth.  So what can you do?  You can become well-educated about food allergies to keep all kids healthy, happy and safe.

The Parents of Children with Food Allergies, a support group affiliated with Parent Talk, was created about 5 years ago with the goal of helping families deal with food allergies in everyday life.  Currently, there are more than thirty (30) families in the group, with a range of children’s ages from newborn to preteen, and more join their membership every month.  This group meets regularly and shares life experiences -- doctor recommendations, recipes, school and camp options, travel/resort tips, party and play date advice, dining experiences, and so forth.  If requested, parents new to food allergies can be paired up with a family experienced in dealing with similar allergies.

                We asked the group, “What do you, as parents of food allergic kids, wish that other parents knew?”  There were many responses, with the most common being the feeling of huge appreciation for the friends and family in their lives who make it a priority to be supportive and educated.  In addition, there were a few repeating responses concerning common social situations that we have paraphrased below: 

1.  Willingness to use an Epi-Pen Injector:  “As my child gets older, there will be play dates at other kid’s houses without me.  There will even be sleepovers.  I am going to do my utmost to make it easy and safe.  But in the end, you are taking responsibility for my child.”  For our kids, there must be an adult at that social situation willing to learn how to administer an Epi-Pen Injector, and call 911 if an emergency arises.  If the adult isn’t comfortable with needles or using the Epi-Pen Injector, it’s really important to admit it.  Honestly, we appreciate your honesty!  We’ll work with you to find other ways to have safe play dates. 

2.  At Social Gatherings like Birthday Parties:   Parents of children with food allergies will call or email prior to the social gatherings, letting you know that their child(ren) have food allergies.  They let you know, “I will bring their Epi-Pen Injector and a special ‘treat’ and/or safe snack to eat in place of whatever is being provided.  I’ll teach you how to use the Epi-Pen Injector or stay for the celebration.”  When you get these calls, please don’t take offense or feel that you should offer to find/bake an allergen-free treat.  We, and our children, are calling ahead and bringing safe snacks because we want the focus of the party to be on your birthday boy/girl.  It is your child’s moment “to shine.”  By providing a treat that we absolutely know is safe assures that everyone’s memories of the party will be about the party and your child, not about our children going by ambulance to the Emergency Room.

3.   It’s Emotional as well as Physical:  Food allergies aren’t just a physical issue, but they can cause emotional issues for children.  Please be sensitive.  This is most likely a lifelong condition.   As one family put it, people shouldn't ask, “Oh dear, but he/she will grow out of it, right?” in front of the child.  It’s rare for food allergies to be outgrown, and children need to accept their limitations, while not feeling diminished because of them.  But please, don’t hesitate to ask parents privately about their child’s food allergies.  Parents of children with food allergies willingly answer questions, because the more people learn about food allergies, then the safer the world becomes for their children.  As the saying goes, knowledge is power.
4.  Be like everyone else – be described as something else firstChildren with food allergies do not want is to be defined or labeled by their food allergies.  You know Little Johnny, he’s the food allergy kid.  Their parents want their children to have as typical a childhood as possible, for their children to be safe, yet enjoyed and befriended for their personalities.  
                The number of children being born with food allergies, or who develop food allergies later in childhood, grows every day.  For great more great information about food allergies and how you can help, please visit  and
 Contributed by: Cindy Aswad, Christine Burns, and The Parents of Children with Food Allergies Group.

Christine Burns lives in the Boston area with her husband and their three children.  A former teacher, she earned a B.A. in English eons ago from Colby College, as well as a M.A. from Simmons College and a M.Ed. from Lesley University.  She is an active member of Parents of Children with Food Allergies.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Volunteer Spotlight - The Women Behind the Parent Talk Sale

The Used Clothing, Toy & Equipment Sale has been one of Parent Talk's biggest fundraisers since it started in 1993. The sale takes place on a Saturday, with over 200 volunteers donating their time and close to 10,000 items purchased. In honor of National Volunteer Week and in anticipation of the upcoming May 5 sale, our inaugural Volunteer Spotlight shines on the two women whose organization and commitment make the sale happen.

Beth McCarthy has lived in Needham since 2004 and has been a Parent Talk member for four years, ever since her daughter Hannah was young. The upcoming sale will be the fourth one that she has co-chaired, however she volunteered for previous sales by working on lawn signs, working in the clothes area, helping with flyers and working in the back office. When asked about her favorite memories of the sale, Beth said "I just love working with so many people who care about the same things that I do, and really enjoy connecting with people while you work whether about the great deal you just found, what your child loves and is searching for, how your child is doing overall, or some issue you are trying to solve and getting different perspectives and advice. It is so fun finding great deals - like a frog sandbox for $5, a beautiful dress for $5, an Ariel vanity table for $20 or a Barbie ride-on car for $20. I love seeing the mass of clothes and toys come in and get all organized into a beautiful sale that so many enjoy." When Beth isn't busy co-chairing the sale, her hobbies include volunteering, crafts, exercise, Israeli dancing, travel and theatre.

Seema Meloni has three boys (ages 7, 5 and 3) and has been a Parent Talk member since spring 2007. She is completing her tenth sale as a committee member and her fourth as a co-chair with Beth. Seema got involved in the sale through attending a committee meeting in August 2007 and was immediately hooked by the event and the fellow volunteers. She says, "I love the hours I've spent down in the trenches with so many amazing volunteers. There have been some nutty times, for example the completely unexpected snowstorm in the fall 2011 sale - I could not get over the commitment of all the volunteers that kept dragging in all those donations in that horrible weather. Seeing so much generosity (not only in the donation of items, but also in the volunteers's time and hard work) over the years has been absolutely touching and is the best overall memory that I take away from this sale." Seema's hobbies include spending time with her kids, volunteering, reading, knitting, and baking.

For pulling off an event twice annually that requires a level of organization akin to planning a class reunion, a flea market and the running of the bulls all wrapped together;

For making the volunteer (and shopping) experience so meaningful that people return year after year;

And for their healthy sense of humor during the inevitable hiccups that happen when you are moving hundreds of people and merchandise in a 4 1/2 hour window,

We gratefully shine the spotlight on Beth & Seema!

If you are interested in volunteering at the sale, or if you have any questions, please email. Please note that the May 5 sale will be bittersweet, as it is the last that Beth & Seema will be running. If you have an interest in co-chairing, or just want to find out more about what is involved, please email

The Volunteer Spotlight is new addition to the Parent Talk blog. If you know of someone who has gone above and beyond for Parent Talk - either consistently or helping out in a pinch - please email his or her name to as we'd love to share his or her stories.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sale Update~ Inside the Pod

Written by the Sale Committee

A small, Mountain Lion TREK bike arrived at the Parent Talk Pod this week.  Sign up to volunteer for a shift at the Sale so you can shop early and maybe you will be the proud parent of a very, very excited child.  This is a good one not to be missed.  It will sell quickly!

Quality Children's Items (0-8) at Bargain Prices

NEXT SALE DATE: Saturday, May 5, 2012
All members of the community (Parent Talk members and non-members) may participate.
General Sale: 8:30am - 11:45am
Clearance Bag Sale12:00pm - 1:00pm
Location: Christ Episcopal Church
1132 Highland Ave. (Across from the Needham Public Library)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Feeling Lucky?

Join Parent Talk on April 21st for a fun-filled evening out packed with Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Texas Hold'em, a chance to win fabulous raffle prizes and much more! Over 150 couples are heading to the Needham Golf Club to test their luck at Casino Night and also just enjoy some laughter, music and drinks with friends. And there's a bonus for all local families - proceeds from this year's event will support the renovation of Greene's Field and it's playground.

Date: Saturday, April 21st
Time: 8 pm
Location: Needham Golf Club
Cost: $50 Members/$60 Non-members
RSVPClick here to RSVP.

Ticket price includes hors d’oeuvres, a complimentary drink ticket, and a generous allotment of “chips” for your gambling pleasure.  Winning “chips” are redeemable for raffle tickets.  There will also be a silent auction with prizes including a week of summer camp from LINX, a month of classes at Creative Movement, and a free night and breakfast for two at the Needham Sheraton.

Not a gambler? Still join in on the fun and meet new people and catch up with old friends!

Looking for a sitter?  Seeking Sitters is one of our Parent Talk partners for this event.  If you mention Casino Night, Seeking Sitters will waive the one-time event fee (for Seeking Sitters non-members) OR will offer current Seeking Sitter members one free hour of care for that night.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Recipe Spotlight: Patti’s Sunday Gravy and Meatballs

Written by Joy Errico Seusing
If there was ever a meal that defined my childhood, this is the one. We had this for Sunday “dinner” (2pm) every single week and sometimes on Wednesday nights, too. This is my mom’s version---in my opinion, the very best! You can serve this with any type of pasta that you like. Just boil the pasta per usual and toss with the gravy. There will be enough for 1.5-2lbs pasta! The gravy and meatballs on their own freezes fantastically, too, so you can use it for one dinner and freeze the other half for a second dinner.
By the way, for those that aren’t Italian, gravy is marinara that is cooked with meat. If there is no meat in the sauce, then it is called marinara or “red sauce.”

Patti's Sunday Gravy and Meatballs
3 tablespoons olive oil or enough to coat the bottom of a large pan (5-8 quarts)
2 tablespoons minced or crushed garlic
1-2 sticks pepperoni (depending on how much you like and how big your pan is!)
2 large cans tomato puree (28 oz)
1 can tomato paste (14-15 oz)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup of good red wine (if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t use it!)
Salt, pepper, oregano, basil to taste

1 lb ground beef (93% lean)
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs
1 ½ cups of warm water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

Coat the bottom of a very big pan with the olive oil. Heat on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Cut pepperoni into 1 inch chunks and add the oil with minced garlic. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the cans of tomato puree. Add the can of tomato paste. After emptying the tomato paste out of its can, fill it with water and add to the gravy. Add the wine and seasonings. Taste the gravy--- If it tastes too salty, add a pinch of sugar. If it tastes too sweet, add a little more salt until you get the flavor you want. Continue the gravy on medium-high heat---it should eventually be very hot and bubbling/starting to boil.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl using a spatula or large spoon, mix the ground hamburger, egg, breadcrumbs, water and seasonings until combined. Form into 2 inch balls. The balls should have a loose, moist texture from the water.

When the gravy starts bubbling and is really hot, add the meatballs. Place them carefully throughout the pan leaving about an inch between them (yes, raw!). Cover and lower the heat to medium for 30 minutes, stirring frequently and paying special attention to the bottom of the pan so it doesn’t burn. Be very careful when you stir so you don’t break up the meatballs. Turn the heat to low and simmer for at least another 30 minutes. The longer you simmer the gravy, the better it will taste. Serve with pasta and enjoy!!!!!!!

Joy Errico Seusing lives in Needham with her husband and two young children. She is the Vice President for External Relations at Jumpstart, a national early education organization headquartered in Boston. In addition to being a happily busy working mom, Joy loves traveling to new places, reading on her Kindle, interior design, power yoga, and of course, cooking!  Joy is a monthly contributor for the Parent Talk blog so be sure to check back for new recipe ideas each month.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Are we there yet? Traveling tips for flying with small children

Written by Emily Roach

Traveling with small children is no vacation.  Getting organized to get through the airport and a flight takes time and some strategic planning.  Here are some tips to help make your trips go a little smoother.  We last travelled on a flight during the Thanksgiving holidays and here is what we did to prepare.
  • Pack plenty of snacks for all age groups.  Even better if they can share the same thing.  We packed lots of the new Plum Organic products, such as the Super Puffs and the Mish Mash squeezies.   The squeeze packets are awesome to spoon out just what you need for a feeding instead of packing heavier glass jars.
  • Buy kid size headphones. They will not deal with the ear buds (been there, done that) and the in flight head phones are too big.  We generally fly Jet Blue to Florida and love having the TVs.  We bought the adorable Panda Bear Headphones which were a huge success this trip.     (You can purchase them via 
  • Amazon)

  • Pack entertainment into your Ipad/Iphone that is age appropriate.  My daughter is fluent in navigating the Iphone, so we used it to our advantage for the trip.  Her favorite new apps are the Monkey Preschool, Dr. Panda,  and the Dinosaur Train.  We also downloaded the Bubbles app, which was great for adults too! There is also a new World Atlas app from Barefoot Books that is great for both preschool and school age kids. 
  • Bring a stroller.  Either for tired children or for carting your bags.
  • Pack empty water bottles for everyone.  Buy the biggest water you can find in the airport to fill them up.  I find that is better than taking the mini plastic bottles during the flight, which are gone in a minute. 
  • Pack some burp clothes or flannel wipes.  They clean up messes in flight when you may not have a napkin handy. We had laundry available to us on the other end so this was an easy option for us.

Little miss did great on the plane ride.  I think having her own seat made a big difference.  

For more ideas, check out these sites. 

Good luck if you are traveling this week.  What are some of your best travel tips?

About the Author
Parent~Foodie~Type A Organizer~Social Media Maven.  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 working with Parent Talk Marketing, the Needham Farmers Market and writes a blog at Random Recycling: Modern Green Living for Busy Families.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The NOT-SO-LIVE Pod Cast: A View From Inside the Parent Talk Donations Pod

Written by Nikki Amara Myers

The pod is filling.
Elmo and Bumbo inside. 
For sale on May 5th. 

The pod is filling quickly with treasures of all kinds .  It would be hard to describe each and every donated item but let me tease you with a few items recently delivered to the pod.
We have a yellow Rody:  this is a great item.  I’ve had one for my children since before they could sit up.  ISIS  introduced the Rody to me.  It has been a favorite item in our home for a while now.  My children gently bounced on Rody as infants with parental  assistance, and as they’ve grown they play with it differently.  They bounce and jump on it.  They ride on it.  They pretend to feed and care for it.  They bring it to the veterinarian for boo-boos, they put removable stickers on it for being a good-Rody. They hug it and have fun.  It makes them giggle and happy.  I’m glad we have a Rody and you will be too if you purchase it  at the Sale.
Other great finds include a small children’s outdoor or indoor slide, a Big Bird stuffed animal, a purple Bumbo seat, and an adorable Elmo stuffed animal. 
As always recommended and encouraged: come, shop, volunteer, donate, consign. 

Learn how by visiting our Parent Talk Sale page!

About the Author
Nikki lives in Needham with her husband, Rick, and their two young children.  Now a SAHM, she was a high school guidance counselor and cast member of Joey & Maria's Comedy Wedding.  Nikki occasionally works as a private, independent college consultant as she loves working with adolescents and their families as they navigate a sometimes challenging developmental stage.  Self-proclaimed foodie, photographer, and now new blogger and tweeter, Nikki enjoys capturing her world one-click, one-post, and one-tweet at a time.  Follow her @Visual_Guidance

Monday, April 9, 2012

One Mom’s Journey: A Lesson in Love, Life, and Loss

Written by Jodi Rooney

The fairytale starts here…

When I signed up to be a mom, I signed up for the fairytale version. I wanted an uneventful pregnancy, a quick natural childbirth, a typical stay in the hospital, baby next to me the entire time. What I got was quite different. If you ask me now, if I knew then what I know now, would I still have become a mom, the answer is an unequivocal YES. But honestly, I would have done certain things a bit differently.

The fairytale started in 2005, when we were actively trying to conceive. It only took two months and we had ourselves a “bun in the oven.” The typical symptoms of pregnancy took hold and the first three months were filled with varying emotions and nausea. The next six months were wonderful. My once girly figure gave way to a beautiful bump that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Ending my 37th week, I awoke in full labor. The baby was coming and there was nothing I could do. Six hours later my little girl was under the bright lights of the delivery room, being checked to ensure she was unaffected by a meconium-filled sac. Deep breath, she was ok.

A day and a half later, the “not what I had expected” started. My daughter was admitted to the NICU for observation for fear of dehydration and some possible obscure genetic defect. All ended well, and my daughter came home after a 2-day NICU stay – happy and healthy. We were a little worse for wear, but we had our beautiful daughter.

Fast forward to 18 months later (2007). Pregnant again. Bring on the extreme morning sickness, twice as bad as my first. I told myself I can get through it all, I really can. We were going to have 2 kids, just like we planned. I was happy. January 2008’s ultrasound confirmed differently. We were going to add not one, but two kids to our current family dynamic.

Secretly, I always wanted to have twins. There was something so unique about it. Though it had a rocky start, my fairytale was going to continue. Shocked when we heard the news from the ultrasound technician, I was also very excited. What follows is NOT what was supposed to happen. It changed my life forever and the reason why I became involved in Parent Talk’s Caring Committee, the March of Dimes, and partnering with another Parent Talk mom to start a Pre-, Peri-, and Neo-natal Loss Yahoo! Group.

The fairytale ends here…

Two months after finding out the big news, I was placed on bed rest for premature thinning of my cervix. Two weeks later – five days after my daughter turned two – I was rushed to Brigham and Women’s for what was to be an emergency c-section to deliver my sons at 25 weeks and two days gestation. For me, I was delivered into my own personal hell. I couldn’t even image what my husband was going through at the time, watching as all this played out in front of him.

My sons, later learned to be identical, laid still in the NICU weighing in at 1 pound, 15 ounces each. Hooked up to an unimaginable number of tubes and wires, they were no longer in the safe haven of my belly. I was no longer in control.

Doctors, nurses, tests, and more tests – the first two days after the birth were a war zone. We were dodging the bullets of extreme prematurity. But it wouldn’t last long. The mother of all bombs exploded right in front of our faces. We were told that Baby B (second of the boys to be born, and whom we named Brendan) had a Grade 4 brain bleed, perforated lungs, and a failing heart. Chances of survival were slim. Quality of life if he did survive? Very poor. Two parents faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make. I won’t go into any of the extreme details of how we knew what decision to make, but we trusted our hearts. On Brendan’s fourth day of life we held our baby boy until he took his last breath. At that moment, the normal in my life was no longer. I was faced with grieving for my lost son and the trials of helping my other son survive the next few months all the while ensuring my 2-year-old was getting what she needed.

“It takes a village…” comes to mind at this moment. If not for the support system we had created since moving to the area, we would not have weathered this storm as well as we did. Enter in family, friends, and Parent Talk. Food was delivered to our door, gift cards for local restaurants around the hospital were sent to us in the mail, and an outpouring of love and prayer from all we knew (and didn’t know). It was about two months into this new journey that I realized I needed to do something positive with this horrifying experience.

The fairytale is rewritten…

After 100 days in two NICUs and almost a year of isolation (for fear of RSV or other illnesses that could be transmitted to my son, Leo), I was able to really start processing all that had happened. I was able to ask myself: “How could I best give back to the community that has helped my family,” “What can I do to help others in similar situations,” and “What can I do with the resources I currently have to make a small difference in the lives of others.” The answers came to me very easily. The answers even helped me to see that I need not do this alone. My resilient family can be a part of this too. What better way to teach my children the gift of giving then by getting them involved in the cause.

Parent Talk Caring Committee

It was a friend who got the ball rolling and involved Parent Talk’s Caring Committee in supporting our family. At first it was only to help while I was on bed rest and maybe after the boys were born. I figured I would be out of commission for a few weeks and then everything would go back to “normal.” Little did I know a few weeks turned into a few months and nothing was normal about it. Through the use of a website, dinners were delivered to our door two to three times a week for more than two months. It was a blessing not to have to think about dinner when I was spending most of my day in the NICU with my son. Once back on my feet, I joined the committee and volunteer to provide meals to others who could use a little love during a stressful time. To join the committee, visit Lotsahelpinghands.

March of Dimes, March for Babies

I used to think “folic acid” when I thought of the March of Dimes (MOD). In college I participated in “Walk America” as a community project for my sorority. Little did I know that MOD would one day save my son’s life.

In Leo’s case, the MOD gave him the drug surfactant to strengthen his undeveloped lungs. In other cases, the MOD gives babies: the PKU test (an inherited condition that can cause mental retardation if left untreated); testing for over 40 inborn metabolic disorders; a newborn hearing screening; access to a NICU; and access to sonograms and ultrasounds, an innovation pioneered by March of Dimes.

On May 12, 2012 my family will participate in our fourth walk together and I am thrilled to help lead a group of families to walk in the name of Parent Talk. Click here to join the team.

Pre-, Peri-, Neo-natal Loss Group

We are out there, but we blend in with our surroundings. Our pain is hidden deep in our hearts. Our losses are unique, yet we all have lost a future we held near and dear to our hearts. We talk about our loss only when we feel it is safe to do so and with those who are truly willing to hear our pain. We look for the comfort of knowing we are not alone. The first few days in the NICU after Brendan’s death, I truly thought I was alone. It took weeks to learn that I was not. There are many in Parent Talk who have faced miscarriage, stillbirth, and newborn death, whether it be a singleton or multiples. Parent Talk has established an online Yahoo group for those who have experienced a pre-, peri- or neo-natal loss or for those who know someone who has experienced a loss and want to learn more about how they can support the family. To learn more or join the group, visit us here.

The somewhat “Happily ever after”…

It will be four years this April since the start of this unexpected journey my family has taken. For most of my life I was a believer that things do happen for a reason, we just need to wait it out, whether it takes days, months, or years, until the reason presents itself. I lost that belief when the boys were born and Brendan was taken from me. How could his death and such an early birth have any purpose in my life? It was just cruel and unjust. Four years later, I can say that the early birth and death has given my life new meaning and direction. It has opened doors I never saw myself walking through. And I am grateful. Grateful for the new friends I have met, the grieving parents I have supported, and the idea that I can make a difference, even a small one, in the life of another person.

To help reach our fundraising goal of $3,000, Parent Talk, a Needham-based non-profit organization, is combining forces every Tuesday in April with Not Your Average Joes Needham to fundraise for Parent Talk’s March for Babies team. Patrons who eat at or take out from Not Your Average Joes in Needham, and show Parent Talk’s March for Babies flyer, will have 15% of their bill donated to the team. The printable flyer is located at

Join forces with Parent Talk and help support the March of Dimes by eating at or taking out from Not Your Average Joes Needham on any Tuesday in April. And don’t forget to print and bring the team flyer with you in order for Parent Talk’s team to earn 15% of your bill. To make a direct donation to Parent Talk’s March for Babies team, visit:

Help me raise research funds to prevent prematurity.
 Join the Parent Talk Team Today:

Jodi Rooney lives in Needham with her husband, 2 living children, and guardian angel. Jodi is an active member in Parent Talk and a member of the NICU Parent Advisory Group at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is also a member of Newton Wellesley’s Planning Committee for their yearly HEAL service – a remembrance service for families who have lost a baby.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Disney on Ice Giveaway & First Week Recap

Thank you to everyone for visiting this week!  It has been exciting to see us transition to a more interactive format and please keep your blog post ideas coming.

To celebrate our first week, we have another giveaway!  This time to opening night of the Disney on Ice show, Mickie and Minny's Magical Journey. The show will be Thursday evening, 4/19, during April vacation week at the DCU Center in Worcester. Showtime is 7pm but the winner is also invited to a character meet and greet at 5:30pm.

You can also get kids' tickets for $10 for the Friday night or the Saturday night shows.  Won't it be nice to plan ahead for vacation week?!  Get the kids excited with a Magical Journey Coloring Sheet.

To enter the contest, please follow the directions in Rafflecopter below.  This keeps your email address private and makes it easy for us to pick a winner.  Contest will be open until midnight April 9th.

Craft Spotlight: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Written by Amanda Liljedahl

Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar has always been a favorite story in our house.  Now that spring has arrived and we are able to get out and explore nature, it seemed a perfect time to reread this story and create a project to help bring it to life.  

We started by making our own hungry caterpillars to resemble the one in the story using supplies we already had around the house. Using scissors, I divided the bottom portion of a cardboard egg carton; once inverted these become the basis for the caterpillar's body. My daughters (both age 3) then got to work painting the bodies green and the head with red paint.  We then waited for the paint to dry before they attached googly eyes with Elmer's glue.  Using a toothpick, I poked two holes in the top of the caterpillar's head and the girls inserted pipe cleaners (cut in fourths) for the antennaes. I also poked holes along the base of the body for the girls to stick pipe cleaners through for the legs.  

Next, we made the green leaf from the story which provided the caterpillar with a healthy meal.  This project will also provide a great opportunity for youngsters to work on hand/eye coordination.  Depending on age and skill level the kids or adult can cut out a leaf shape from green colored paper and glue it onto a thicker piece of card stock or thin cardboard. Using a hole punch, make holes around the perimeter of the leaf , closer together for older children and further apart for younger toddlers.  Using a piece of string, the children can then lace in and out of the holes just the way the hungry caterpillar ate his way through the green leaf in the story. If the string edges begin to fray, wrap a piece of scotch tape around the tip to make lacing easier. 
Lastly, my girls and I made butterflies to complete the metamorphoses. I folded a large sheet of white paper in half and cut out the butterfly shape. The girls then put globs of multicolored paints on just one half of the butterfly wings (keep the other side folded under). I then helped them fold the wings together and when they open flat it reveals a beautiful symmetric design on the butterfly wings. They glued on eyes and again attached antennas before we hung the butterflies up with string to fly from the ceiling.  Enjoy spreading your wings and trying this fun and educational project we created with your child this spring!  

About Amanda:
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: Amanda will be sharing monthly arts & crafts ideas on Parent Talk Matters Blog so check back each month for new creative projects. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Needham Elections on April 10

Posted by the Parent Talk Blog Committee

Don’t forget to vote on April 10! As a community organization, we do not support and endorse (or oppose) any political party or candidate, but we do hope that you make it to the polls to cast your vote. Lots of decisions are up for debate between the candidates such as school renovations and the hot topic of liquor licenses in the town. The League of Women Voters of Needham has compiled an informative Voter’s Guide that includes what’s on the ballot as well as candidate responses to questions about their relevant qualifications and goals. Check out their Guide and get out and vote!

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Sale: De-cluttering Your Home, Filling Your Heart

Written by Nikki Amara Myers
Twice a year, Parent Talk hosts one of its biggest fundraisers, the Used Clothing,Toy and Equipment Sale.  I’ve been going since my daughter was 7 months old.  Now my daughter is 3.5 and I also have a 14 month old son.  I didn’t know what to expect when I attended my first Sale.  I heard about the Sale through many enthusiastic voices and participants from several of my ISIS Maternity classes.  Therefore, I gave it a try.  I loved it.  I immediately decided to volunteer.  I haven’t been disappointed, not once.  In fact, being part of the volunteer team has only reinforced my love for the group, for the camaraderie, for the amazing bargains, for the Sale in general.  Three years later, and 5 sales under my belt, I can say with certainty, this Sale is not to be missed.

So, it’s April, a month before the Sale.  What does this mean for me, what does it mean for you?  For me, it means working with Seller Kits, going to tagging parties, cleaning out and organizing my children’s closets, connecting with old and new friends, and welcoming new volunteers.  I love the energy and excitement that surrounds the Sale and this includes the pre-Sale, the actual Sale, and the post-Sale debrief.  I enjoy finding and connecting with other like-minded, bargain hunters, and amazing volunteers.  The whole thing, from start to finish, is incredibly fun. 

The storage Pod for donations~ check out the double strollers!
The Sale also signifies a time to clean-out, to purge, to organize, to empty boxes, to pass along what is no longer needed.  I like reminiscing, and the Sale provides ample opportunity to do so.  I distinctly remember tagging some of my daughter’s and son’s first outfits (size NB to 3 months).  Every little bloomer, little bathing suit, little dress or pajamas, tiny shoe or sock had a story; it meant something to me, to our family.  I could almost see my beautiful babies in the item being tagged.  If you can imagine, it took me hours and hours and hours to tag my items because I wanted to joyfully think about those moments, and process that I could let go of these little memories.  I know, this sounds insane but that’s how I felt in those moments.  I needed to remind myself that I had a choice.  I could keep the items in a sealed box in the attic or I could pass them along to some other child and family to enjoy.  During my tagging, I often wondered, did I have a photograph of my baby in that specific outfit?  Who gave it to her or him?  Fond and vivid memories flooded my mind as I eagerly tagged each precious outfit, item, book, and toy.  I knew these beautiful little treasures may come in handy for some other family welcoming their baby into their life.  I hoped whoever purchased that dainty little dress, shoes, sweater or outfit, or whatever it was, would love it as much as I did.  I guess I’ll never know for sure but I’ll keep the fantasy in my head and in my heart that the item, that meant so much to me in the past, was put to good use and hopefully passed along again, somehow, somewhere. 

For you, it’s simple.  It is time to think about your own readiness to part with items around your home.  Are you ready to donate, or to consign, or just to shop the Sale?  If so, don’t hesitate; get in touch with someone on the Sale Committee.  Inquire.  If you’ve consigned, donated, or attended the Sale previously, then you know what to do.  As always, the Sale beckons you.  Come. 

Tell all your friends and family.  Come as a group.  Come alone.  Shop with a list or just browse.  Whatever you do, remember to tell all your friends and mark your calendars for Saturday, May 5th, 2012.  Come early.  Stay late.  Have fun.  Pay it forward.  All items not purchased by the end of the Sale go to amazing charitable organizations.  Everyone gets something (by shopping, by consigning, by donating, by volunteering). 

Use this time to get prepared (renew your seller number, secure a volunteer shift, start tagging your items, drop off your donations).  Your time, your effort, your help will be recognized.  You won’t regret coming or participating.  See you on Saturday, May 5th

And don't forget to read our Welcome post and enter our GIVEAWAY for a $100 Parent Talk membership OR a $75 Whole Foods Gift Card! 

Quality Children's Items (0-8) at Bargain Prices
In 1993, Parent Talk held its first Used Clothing, Toy & Equipment Sale. This now twice-yearly event is attended by hundreds of shoppers, and all un-sold items are donated to local charitable organizations that rely on these goods to serve families in need. For inspiration, read one charity's response to the sale.

NEXT SALE DATE: Saturday, May 5, 2012
All members of the community (Parent Talk members and non-members) may participate.
General Sale: 8:30am - 11:45am
Clearance Bag Sale: 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Location: Christ Episcopal Church
1132 Highland Ave. (Across from the Needham Public Library)

About the Author
Nikki lives locally with her husband and two children. She is a self-proclaimed foodie, photographer, and new blogger.  Now a SAHM, she was a school counselor and cast member of Joey & Maria’s Comedy Wedding for many years.  Nikki currently consults as a private, independent college counselor. Follow her @DaysWithUs.

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