April 2012

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Come shop at the Byram Hills PTSA…Spring Boutique!
Saturday, April 21, 2012 from 10-4, H.C. Crittenden Middle School, 10 MacDonald Avenue, Armonk.  Free Admission Raffle Prizes.  We have 40 amazing vendors offering you various styles of handmade and fashion jewelry, trendy clothing for women and kids, accessories, handbags, homemade foods, home décor, floral design, fitness wear, camp items, writing instruments, skincare, gifts, personalized items, and more. Come shop at this great community event!  Participating Vendors: 2 Friends, Arbonne, B Squared, bedfoRDesigns, Bella Jayne, BH Educational Foundation, The Chintz Giraffe, Diana Heimann, East End Foodies, East Meets West Flowers, Excessorize, Exquisite Designs by Victoria, felisa, Fine Orthodontics, Groove, High Society Accessories, Hipchik, Hivernage, Ilyse’s Pieces, Indie Lee & Co., Jazzy Jewelz, Jnana Organics, Karen Klafter Jewels, Kings of Cole, La Dolce Dana, Mark of Sky Jewelry, Monkey Business NY, MRE Partners, Nails, Etc., Nourish Our Body, Oh So Adorable!, Orange Design, Quest Yoga Arts, Romi Belle, S & J Writing Instruments, Stella and Dot, Table D’Hote, The Traveling Boutique, Zookie Meatballs. We are excited to bring this fabulous Spring Boutique to our community. With Mother’s Day, the end of the school year, and the summer camp season right around the corner, the timing couldn’t be better!

PRLC is a private, non-profit corporation with the mission of preserving the character of Pound Ridge through the acquisition, conservation and stewardship of land. The Conservancy’s preserves are kept in their natural state for aesthetic, ecological and education purposes. The PRLC is involved in the following activities in support of its mission:  preserving undeveloped land, stewardship of 14 preserves, community education, identifying strategic parcels of land in town, working cooperatively with other local land protection organizations and town agencies and boards on land conservation through advocacy, education, outreach and demonstration projects.  Find out more at www.prlc.net.

Up early at the Menzies house this morning to get to the run for the hills race. A great morning, luckily followed by a treat at Table Local Market in Bedford Hills – fresh baked donuts! What’s your flavor – lemon cream or jelly filled? Cider? Even if you didn’t run the hills, stop by after whatever sports your kids played this morning and treat yourself. It made the run worth it!



As the spring sports ramp up this weekend, I am having some thoughts back to a lecture I attended as part of the Rippowam Cisqua School Foundations of Education series a few months ago.  I am sure this won’t make me popular with some, but these are just some items to think about as you make your own family decisions over the next few weeks.

The presenter was Richard Ginsburg, Co-Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital PACES Institute of Sports Psychology, and faculty member of the Harvard Medical School, who shared his insights on how to get the most out of athletics.  Ginsburg is the co-author of Who’s Game is it Anyway?  if you are looking for a full read, or for a shorter intro piece check out this article on teaching kids to enjoy sports.

Some interesting take-aways I took note of follow below…

On college financial aide and athletics:

— Of those kids who play varsity athletics in high school, only approximately 5% go on to play in college.
— Less than 1% of those kids get a sports scholarship — with the average scholarship being $10,000.  Consider how much you spend on sports lessons, equipment and team fees each year.
— Academic performance is a better predictor of college acceptance than any after-school activities or sport.

On sport specialization and injuries at young ages:

— The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) claims that specialization in one sport can jeopardize the physical and emotional health of young athletes by exposing them to over-use injury, burnout, and stress, while undermining the benefits of varied physical activity.  Up to 50% of the injuries seen in pediatric sports medical clinics is due to overuse.
— Concussions: brains of younger athletes are more vulnerable to the effects of injury.  There is an increased likelihood of secondary concussions after getting one concussion.  Researchers have found links to depression, sleep privation, and a decrease in cognitive functioning that can cause short and long-term consequences. Read more about concussions from the American Academy of Pediatrics

A three step approach to judging your child’s athletic engagement:

1. Know your child.  Who are they, what is their age and what is appropriate for that age, what is their motivation and temperament.

2. Know yourself.  What is your motivation to have them play sports?  What were your childhood issues or fears?

3. Know your child’s environment.  Who is the coach, and what is their temperament and philosophy — do you agree with it?  When, how, and where does the sport fit into your lifestyle?  How does it affect you and your child and their schedule/homework/school days?  Does it fit?

And some hints on how to parent in sports effectively and with optimal health:

1. Use a 5:1 ratio of accurate praise — praise 5 times first to the 1 criticism

2. Avoid post-game criticism for 24 hours

3. Instead of “Did you win or score?” as your first question post game, ask “How was it?”

4. Kids are not mini-adults.  They should not be coached or judged as such.

5. Talent develops well into late teens — Michael Jordan was cut from basketball in tenth grade.  Consider your child and whether they are just not ready.

6. Make sure your child is the one who wants to play.  Is he/she happy going to practice? Happy after? Watch and listen.

7. Recognize when it’s time to step back from the game. Listen to what the coach is saying.

8. Be aware of the pressures that the coach is under too – respect their job and their opinions.  Especially those who are VOLUNTEERING!

9. FUN and JOY are the best predictors for success and long-term benefits.


So — that all said, enjoy your tennis star, your laxer, or your little pitcher — but try to keep it light, fun, and to the point.  Sports should be about exercise, getting outside, socializing on a team or any myriad of other healthy choices — if little Joey isn’t a star yet, give him some time and space to develop his interests, abilities, and grow.  If you burn them out at 5 you may have lost your chance for good. Have fun and enjoy those green fields!

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Make a difference in the life of a Fresh Air Child this summer!  Volunteer to Host a New York City Child.  Sign up NOW to make a difference in a Fresh Air child’s life! Volunteer with The Fresh Air Fund to make the summer of 2012 memorable for an inner-city child and host family. Each summer, over 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban, and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. Fresh Air Fund volunteers simply want to share their homes with city children and introduce them to the joys of suburban or country life. Families find hosting so rewarding that more than 65 percent of all Fresh Air children are reinvited to visit the same host families year after year. First-time Fresh Air visitors are six to 12 years old and Fresh Air hosts range from young families to grandparents. All it takes is the willingness to welcome a New York City child to your community.  Local Fresh Air Fund committee members recruit host families, reach out to the community and coordinate fun activities for families and children.  Fresh Air volunteers need your help to create another fun-filled summer for children from New York City’s low-income communities, such as eight-year-old Justin of Brooklyn. “We made hot dogs and s’mores over the fire. I’ve never cooked outside before!”   For more information on how you can join your local Fresh Air volunteer team or become a volunteer host this summer, call The Fresh Air Fund at (800) 367-0003 or LaShika Walker at ext. 8962. You can also learn more about the Volunteer Host Family Program by visiting The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org.

I was asked to review a product recently — Crispy Green and Fruitzio snacks — and I’ll admit that I almost said, no thanks, because I don’t usually like dried fruit snacks — but I was pleasantly surprised when I got these and popped them in my mouth (while dreading a lack of flavor and that styrofoam feeling).  These snacks were the exact opposite — they had a GREAT taste, a good crunch, and tons of flavor.  They are also nut free, Kosher, dairy free, gluten free, preservative free, and have no added sugar, sweeteners or additives!  100% freeze-dried fruit slices that are made of real fruit and nothing else.  Shocking right?  You can actually feed them to any kid that comes over, throw them in your purse for emergency snacking and be good to go.  Kind of gross to think of it in these terms, but the bags are small, super light, and reseal — so even less mess than a box of crackers and oh, so much better for you.  And when you steal them from your kids for your own snacking emergency — they come in bags of 100 calories and they’re the good calories, not the ones that sit on your thighs — the kind that have actual vitamins and healthy bits!  Check it out, www.crispygreen.com, definitely worth an order.


Feeling super-squishy emotionally this morning.  The spring sun is shining on the daffodils outside of my window, the pictures on the web site are reminding me of sunny days and cute kiddy-smiles and I am basking in the glow of some very kind comments about the site over the last few days, so I wanted to just send a little shout out to all of you who have taken the time this week to encourage me, who have listened to my complaints over the last few years or who have taken the time to preview the site changes for me and to help with my decisions.  I am a lucky, lucky gal and am blessed with so many friends, family members, and colleagues who look out for me and help me in this work I do — which I can only hope in turn helps my readers to make their lives easier, more enjoyable, and happier as we all face the special joys and challenges that are parenting.  Thanks to all for the wonderful responses and for helping to make Essentialmom.com the best it can be.  And yes, I promise to get over myself and how fantastic I think this new site is…shortly…just let me bask a few minutes longer.


Camp Critter begins it’s seventh year and now offers six individual weeks for various ages. Campers learn about animals, animal sheltering, animal cruelty prevention, and training. They do many projects to help shelter animals find their forever homes, including “Adopt Me” flyers, clicker training, and kitten and puppy socializing. They also learn about other kinds of “critters” with visits from Teatown, The Greenburgh Nature Center, and Wolf Conservation. Lots of outdoor time, arts and crafts, and hands-on animal time. Camp hours are from 1 – 4 PM, Monday through Friday.  Contact Alice Shanahan, Director of Humane Education, at alice@spca914.org. Go to our website at www.spca914.org for dates and times.

The West Patent Elementary School Learning Garden, to foster its belief that the sheer simplicity of nurturing a seed is a powerful tool for future leaders, is hosting an event for the Bedford school community at the Westmoreland Sanctuary on Thursday, April 19th, 2012 at 7pm. The event will begin with a food and wine reception provided by Table Local Market of Bedford Hills, and will feature a screening of “Nourish,” the award-winning PBS documentary. The event will conclude with a community discussion.  All voluntary donations for this event will go towards the expansion of the West Patent Elementary School Learning Garden.  The WPES Learning Garden provides all students an opportunity to learn about food and sustainability by weaving aspects of the classroom curricula with hands-on experience in an outdoor garden. Expansion of the current garden and the addition of an outdoor classroom are among their goals.  Narrated by Cameron Diaz, “Nourish” explores the story of our food—where it comes from, how it affects our health and environment, and how the food choices we make create a ripple effect that is felt around the world.  With a distinctly positive vision, “Nourish” celebrates both food and community.  The goal of the WPES Learning Garden is to use the act of growing food as a lens for students to develop a healthy curiosity of the interaction between humankind and the natural world. This community event is intended to be a venue for parents, local businesses and community members to invest in our next generation: a generation of responsible and sustainable citizens.  Space is limited, to reserve your seat now RSVP to marplegirl@optonline.net.  For more information go to: thelearninggardenwpes.wordpress.com.

Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) is issuing a “Clothes Call” for Pass It On Kid’s Kloset, a WJCS program that provides new and gently-used children’s clothes and essentials to local families in need. An all-volunteer effort, Kid’s Kloset relies on donations of children’s clothes, diapers and strollers to pass on to families who cannot afford them.  Kid’s Kloset is located at 170 East Post Road (White Plains) in a space donated by WJCS Board member Roy Stillman of Stillman Management. Clothing donations can be dropped off by appointment by contacting 914-831-7616 or kidskloset@wjcs.com.  For more information about Pass It On Kid’s Kloset, go to www.wjcs.com/KidsKloset.

The Katonah-Lewisboro School District will hold its fifth annual Wellness and Sustainability Fair on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at John Jay High School. The fair will follow a 9:30 a.m. walk/run for fitness and fun, sponsored by the Booster Club, and will feature a variety of exhibits, activities and informational resources for all ages based on healthy living.  Attendees will have the opportunities to tour the newly renovated JJHS Fitness Center, the new AP Farms athletic fields, and the solar panels that the district installed. Northern Westchester Hospital representatives will offer health screenings and information, the JJHS AP Environmental Class will discuss water usage in the district, Energize Bedford and Energize Lewisboro will review ways your home may be losing energy, and the JJHS Noteables and the Rolling Tones will provide entertainment.  Other participants include the KLSD nurses, Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES Environmental Center, Westmoreland Sanctuary, the Katonah Museum of Art, the JJHS SADD organization, Lewisboro Recreation Department, Safe Routes to School, the Department of Public Works, the Town of Lewisboro Sustainability Committee, TOL Garden Committee, TOL Stormwater Committee, Slow Food of Westchester, the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy, the Westchester Land Trust, the Wolf Conservation Center, the KL Foundation, and the Katonah Chamber of Commerce.  Guests will also be able to purchase plants from the elementary schools’ edible gardens, explore local sustainability initiatives, sign up for summer camps, enjoy student performances, and more. Aramark will provide healthy food for purchase. Children will be provided with fun, hands-on educational experiences related to health and wellness. If you are interested in displaying work or would like more information on how to be part of this event, please contact Terry Costin at tcostin@klsd.lhric.org.

The Jacob Burns Film Center is thrilled to announce the opening of BULLY (www.thebullyproject.com) on Friday, April 13. Since our sold-out preview screening in April, 2011 with the film’s director, Lee Hirsch, and a panel of advocates for safe schools, we have been anticipating the opportunity to bring this film to a larger audience.  BULLY is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America’s bullying crisis. Filmed over the course of the 2009-2010 school year, BULLY opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders. It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy the “kids will be kids” cliché, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, communities and in society as a whole.

In addition to the regularly scheduled public screenings, there are four events reserved especially for student groups: Tuesday, April 17, Friday, April 20, Monday, April 23, Wednesday, April 25.  All screenings will begin at 10:30 am and be followed by a facilitated discussion. The program will conclude at approximately 12:45 pm. Seats are limited and reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets are $6 and payment must be made on or before the day of the screening. Schools in under resourced districts may attend for free and the JBFC will reimburse the cost of bus transportation. To reserve seats, please contact education@burnsfilmcenter.org with “Bully” in the subject line. Group sales for regularly scheduled public screenings can be made by contacting JBFC Office Manager, Julia Rosen, jrosen@burnsfilmcenter.org.  In addition, educators are invited to attend a 90-minute workshop with Peter Nelson, Director of the New York Office of Facing History and Ourselves. The workshop will be April 23, 4-5:30 pm at the JBFC’s Media Arts Lab. Facing History will also be offering a free online workshop prior to the screenings. To sign up, visit: www.facinghistory.org/bully-workshop-registration.  Visit www.burnsfilmcenter.org for more information.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA and to support area troops, former scout Carla Gambescia is launching the first annual Girl Scout Gelato Cookie-Thon Benefit from Via Vanti! restaurant, located in the Mount Kisco train station building.  Ms Gambescia’s initiative introduces brand-new flavors of gelato and sorbetto specially created for the occasion; and it includes a unique program of “Sweet Rewards” incentives for individual Girl Scouts to encourage their own entrepreneurial spirit.  For a six week period, Via Vanti! will feature gelato flavors of its own creation, inspired by the classic Girl Scout cookies Thin Mint, Samoa, and Trefoil Shortbread, plus a special non-dairy sorbetto (sorbet) based on the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary Savannah Smiles cookie.  Between Saturday, April 21 and the end of May, the restaurant will donate to Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson one dollar for every hand-packed pint it sells of any of these four flavors.  A simultaneous “Sweet Rewards” program entitles any Girl Scout selling eighty or more boxes of cookies to a complimentary pint of gelato.  The Girl Scout, in five communities surrounding the Mt. Kisco area, who sells the highest number of boxes overall will earn both “a year of gelato” for herself (a pint a month for twelve months) and a celebratory pizza and gelato party at Via Vanti! for her entire troop.  Says Octavia Ford, Director of Program for Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson which serves girls, adults and troops in seven counties, “The Girl Scouts have endured for a century because their core values of courage, confidence and character continue to be relevant, indeed essential. What Via Vanti! has initiated here is just wonderful, and Carla herself could serve as a role model for any of our girls.”  Visit Via Vanti! at www.viavanti.com.