Category Archives: Parents and Kids

Creative, Crafty and Cool

capability mom finds the creative maven

Just stumbled upon The Creative Maven – wow! What a great resource! She is creative and a maven, as advertised, and she writes well and she is funny, too. I am fascinated with How to Re-Upholster a Wingback Chair.  I may not (okay – full disclosure – will never) attempt this particular project but there are some smaller (hopefully easier) chairs that I would like to try.

Great DIY tips – The Maven patches jeans, makes a painted umbrella stand  and she gives tutorials on the stuff she does so you can actually attempt them with a hope of success.capability mom coveting these jeans

I found this site through Today’s Creative Blog which is moving to from Blogger to WordPress so may be down but back up soon.

Then, ‘cuz I am such a computer whiz, I also found ModPodgeRocks which it does. Rock, I mean.Great decoupage projects and I just bought a giant container of the stuff. Love it. I have only decoupaged a table and the inside of a cabinet –

capability mom decoupage table

but would willingly decoupage almost anything. Maybe I should go look at this site for ideas first before I completely cover our house in decoupaged items.

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Filed under arts and crafts, Creative outlets, family Activities, Feed your head, soul, self, Finds, home, the mompreneurs

Need Something to do? Look no further…Great Stuff from WGBH

capability mom finds artcapability mom goes looking for artI have great friends and family who are always looking out for me and looking to find interesting stuff for me to do and to share here.

South Coast Artists looks like a fun family day – they have a great activity guide for kids – perfect for today.

From the website:

Welcome to the seventh annual South Coast Artists Studio Tours. This is your chance to visit the studios of some of the best artists living, working and exhibiting in the four beautiful coastal towns of Tiverton, Little Compton, Westport and Dartmouth. Whether this is your first visit, or you’re a seasoned traveler to the South Coast, you’re sure to be impressed by the amazing quality and incredible range of creative work being produced in these scenic communities.  This year the tour features two separate weekends, July 17–18 and August 21–22, and includes over 50 exhibiting artists.

capability mom loves wgbhIf you want to stay closer to home or plan further out – here is a list of cool things to do from WGBH.

Tanglewood Weekend: Mendelssohn and Beethoven; Higdon, Bach, Suppé, Sarasate, and Bizet

Saturday, Aug. 21 and Sunday, Aug. 22, Lenox, MA

Guided Garden Tour

Sundays through Dec. 26, Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA

Landmarks Festival, Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, Boston

Wednesdays through Sept. 1

The Cat in the Hat and the Buzz About Bees Family Funfest

Friday, Aug. 27, Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA

(A special offer extended to WGBH members from our sister station, WGBY)

WGBH Family Fun Day

Sunday, Sept. 5, Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA

An Evening with David Sedaris

Thursday, Sept. 30, The Hanover Theater, Worcester, MA

The Music & Dance of Poland: Mazowsze

Wednesday, Dec. 8, The Hanover Theatre, Worcester, MA

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Filed under arts and crafts, family Activities, Feed your head, soul, self, Finds, for kids, mom blogs

smart phones and apps

My day begins with a cup of tea, a glance at the Boston Globe (the Sox won) then an email check (maybe some on-line dawdling, I mean social media) and then getting kids off to camp, lunches, carpool and all. It does not (yet) involve a smart phone but I think that is about to change. Hiawatha Bray, the great tech columnist for the Globe (he was introduced to our school group during a tour of the Globe last year and is very funny, too), has a column in today’s Globe about smart phones and Google’s Android operating system. Basically you can either get an iPhone (but with service only through A T & T) or any other smart phone (Samsung and Dell are featured) through any other carrier. Read more here.

capability mom looks at appsThen, in my inbox was an email from a friend (okay, I was messing around with her iPhone yesterday) about a site called MomswithApps.com. Great site for developers of apps and families who want good family friendly apps.

From the site :  In November of 2009, four moms (who connected over Twitter) got on the phone to talk about their apps, how they were marketing them, and how they could work together to help spread the word. They decided to form a Google Group, and invited other mom developers to join. It quickly became a discussion, brainstorming and marketing forum about family-friendly apps. How do you successfully launch an app? What should you price it? How are you making your app compatible with iPad? You get the drill.

Besides the moms, there were also dads, aunts, grandmas and reviewers who came on board. With critical mass they launched the Moms With Apps blog, which focuses on articles about kids, technology, developers, and weekly featured apps. Over the last 9 months (no pun intended) the group has attracted over 100 parent and family-friendly developers, in addition to app reviewers and industry specialists.

There are apps for reading, apps for learning, apps for travel ( I am playing with MomMaps this morning), apps for parents, apps for fun & creativity, and apps for special needs. On Friday, they feature an app that anyone – you don’t have to be a developer – can submit – so send them your favorite app. Here is the email address: momswithapps@gmail.com. capability mom looks at appsA great site – well organized and thoughtful with cool age appropriate apps.

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Filed under Creative outlets, family Activities, Feed your head, soul, self, Finds, math games, Parents and Kids, some social media, the mompreneurs

The Berkshires for the weekend

capability mom goes to the 7th annual zucchini festivalWow. What a great weekend – good food, (Alta and Frankie’s in Lenox – The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge), good company (the in-laws), a nice inn (The Apple Tree Inn) and lots to do (so much we didn’t get to it all) …Tanglewood, The Berkshire Museum – a Mummy exhibit was the draw – Rockwell Museum, the Zucchini Festival in West Stockbridge, Hancock Shaker Village…what was that…a zucchini festival?

Perhaps you don’t have my childhood memories of too many zucchini (the only thing that our garden ever produced) and word-nerd alert – zucchini is the plural and the singular in English, I checked). My mom made lots of ratatouille (it is a testament to my faith in smitten kitchen that I would even attempt her recipe – I am so scarred by this dish…sorry, Mom), zucchini bread and countless other dishes that we just knew she sneaked zucchini into…and to add insult to injury we also were sent to give them to our neighbors.  I’m pretty sure that they hid when they saw any of us coming their way with those overgrown squashes.

So how does a slightly recovering zucchini-phobic person agree to an entire festival dedicated to the giant green squash?  A trust-worthy friend who has a place in the Berkshires told us about the zucchini festival and as a family we thought it sounded fun/random/funny/cool.

It was all of those things and more. Nice people (including some cool-looking twenty-somethings and their children), a sunny day, good music, funny roadside signs with fun facts about zucchini, a really lively street fair. There were zuch (instead of duck races – I thought they would throw zucchini off the bridge into the river for the race –  more wishful thinking) but they had numbered ducks and races on the hour through an obstacle course – best viewing in the open air art gallery to the side of the river). There was a zucchini bean bag toss, a dunk tank, rock climbing wall, games, artist and crafts people (like meatbagz – so cool)with booths lining the main street and a petting zoo that held our interest for quite a while.

capability mom wants this bagMore – there was more – a bake-off (yes, we bought a zucchini bread and yes, I had a taste – I am fine) – Here is a short list of zucchini related activities: zucchini decorating, zucchini car racing, zucchini catapult (sad to say I missed this), 70 ft blow up Obstacle course (no zucchini were harmed in the making of this course), a Zhoto booth and much more.

Not that Tanglewood wasn’t lovely (you can walk there from the Inn) because it was and our seats were lovely and we made new friends when we shifted seats for better viewing (ours and theirs).  Lenox, Stockbridge,  Pittsfield and West Stockbridge are charming towns that we had fun exploring. There are so many fun and cultural things to do and the setting is spectacularly beautiful. Maybe I shouldn’t tell so many people – it will get ruined like the Vineyard or Nantucket.

On the way home we stopped at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield which was great fun – you tour the museum, get to play ball and grab an ice cream at Stone Cold Creamery on the way out. Nice day trip even if you don’t make it to the Berkshires.

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Filed under family Activities, Feed your head, soul, self, Finds, for kids, local events, Parents and Kids

Great Summer Activities for the Whole Family

There are so many good resources for things to do with your kids – Here are a few I like and really use.

Parents Connect – A well-organized easy to navigate site (from nickelodeon) that shows activities and events (on-going and special) by area – even by neighborhoods. Great listings and ideas.

Daily Candy Kids – I like the regular newsletter (for me!) and the Kids newsletter has cute stuff (usually for kids 8 and under), things to make, eat, wear and do.

KIDOINFO – Parents Guide – Providence and beyond – This is a terrific resource for all things Rhode Island and truly beyond. There is a great camp guide, summer guide and 100 things to do with your kids in Rhode Island (and Connecticut and Massachusetts, too).

Boston.com has a great Things to do section as well and organizes it by neighborhood, too. Here is a sample of this weekend’s line-up:

Cirque Du Soleil – Ovo

The thought of paying to see insects eat, crawl, work, flutter, play, fight, and …
8/13/2010 Friday 4:00p
(repeats 5 times)
Featuring: Cirque du Soleil

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WBZ Free Friday Flicks

Wouldn’t it be cute to pack a picnic dinner of meatballs to eat before or during …
8/13/2010 Friday 6:30p

Add to Calendar

Grimm
Grimm

Seven Boston-area playwrights, including Lydia R. Diamond and Gregory Maguire, adapt …
8/13/2010 Friday 8:00p
(repeats 2 times)

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Movies By Moonlight

Fridays at dusk. Time is only approximate according to dusk time. June 18: “Driving …
8/13/2010 Friday 8:00p

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Filed under family Activities, Feed your head, soul, self, Finds, local events, Parents and Kids

Summer Brain Drain…Summer Slide… (whatever you call it)…how to stop it

capability mom ten marksWe are just into the last month of summer – long, hot days at the beach or pool, still some summer camp and here in the NorthEast, we don’t start school until after Labor Day and, even if your children don’t agree, they are losing some math skills. How do I know this? Because I read about an on-line math tutoring program called Ten Marks the other day and it got me thinking…hush, it happens.

From an article in Boston.com: In a study released in June, the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that students typically lose one to two months of reading and math skills during summer break, and that teachers often spend up to six weeks reviewing topics already covered. Yikes.

Here is a link to a nicely formatted page that highlights the research from the National Association for Summer Learning (yes, there is such a thing).

So I have a math packet for one child (courtesy of her teacher) and she has been faithfully working at it but I do need to give a boost to my younger child in fractions. I contacted TenMarks and the company, a local (Newton) based organization let me try it (so I could write about it here) but even the demo (take a test drive) on the site is nice and a good representation of the program.

So here is what happened –

I got an email with sign-in information and telling me (the parent) about the weekly lessons. My children (who are both solid math students but not making up math problem sets for each other on long car rides – okay, or anywhere else) found the site easy to navigate and easy to work on the topics they wanted (er, I wanted them) to highlight.

Both logged on with a code scribbled on piece of paper (I, lazy summer mom, gave them the codes to get into the site and did not help, I mean, hover) and both were able to finish the worksheets with relative ease (meaning the problems were not out of their knowledge base but challenging).

Here is why I like it – If a problem is confusing, there are helpful hints and if the student is still stuck, there is a video that walks through the problem.  An interesting part of the program allows the student to go back over their work and get all the problems right – good reinforcement of the math concepts and nice (for the confidence) to get all 10 out of 10 problems correct.

As far as confidence and competency and math – it is obviously important for everyone but it has been shown that girls self-select out of math (even if they are good at it) in the upper elementary grades (source – here) and that 50% of all jobs are math-based – I don’t know where I got that statistic but here are some cool jobs that need math). Now I do not care if they don’t want to be math majors in college, but I do care if they limit their options in general.

TenMarks is running a special summer package now and click here to find out more about it and stop the brain drain, well, at least for the children. No promises for parents.

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Filed under Books and More, family Activities, Feed your head, soul, self, good to know, math games, Parents and Kids

Newton

Newton, MANewton ranked number 3 in top ten places to live in U.S. by CNN/Money.com – very exciting and accurate. The home prices are high but the schools and library are wonderful and the sense of community is very strong.

Here is the link and an excerpt from the article –

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2010/snapshots/PL2545560.html

3. Newton, MA

Population: 82,000

Unemployment: 6.0%

Pluses: Great schools, low crime, strong economy

Minuses: Pricey homes, bad traffic

Less than 45 minutes from downtown Boston via train, subway, or express bus, Newton is divided into 13 “villages” loaded with classic New England charm. Most have pedestrian-friendly shopping districts, parks, and playgrounds.

The town weathered the economic downturn fairly well, thanks to such stable local employers as Boston College and Newton-Wellesley Hospital. And Greater Boston, of course, offers a wealth of health care, education, and government jobs.

Residents rave about the top-ranked schools, and parents are excited for the new high school opening this fall. “It’s absolutely beautiful,” says Claudia Wu, 51, an attorney with three school-age kids who has lived in Newton for 20 years. It should be: The school cost $197 million, an amount that sparked plenty of local outrage.

After all, living in this community is expensive enough: a three-bedroom house runs nearly $600,000. If it weren’t for those hefty price tags, this town would be pretty close to perfect.

Ever wonder how they pick the places? Here is a link: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2010/faq/

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