November 2012

You’ll never see a leafless tree the same again on this journey! Hike TAXTER RIDGE with our naturalist, and learn how to i.d. various trees and the life of our local winter woodlands.   Saturday, December 8th, 1 – 3 PM.  Taxter Ridge Preserve is near Mt. Pleasant Lane (off Pine Lane) in Greenburgh. Park in the cul-de-sac near 31Mt. Pleasant Road, off Pine Lane.  Hike Level: Easy.  Free!  Register: or  914-241-6346 x-23.  Taxter Ridge Preserve covers 200 acres of woods and wetlands and has a lovely trail system. The preserve was acquired by the Town of Greenburgh in 2005.  Find out more about the Westchester Land Trust at

The Katonah Elementary School Annual Holiday Boutique sponsored by the PTO will be held on Friday, December 7th from 5:30 – 8:30 pm at the KES gymnasium. Come join us for a fun filled shopping extravaganza featuring signed sports memorabilia, beautiful jewelry, unique clothing for kids and tweens, great children’s gifts, homemade chocolate and jams, personalized gift items and lots more! Also featuring The Kid’s Shoppe, homemade gifts by KES kids!

Holiday Festivities & Tree Lighting at The Horace Greeley House, 100 King Street, Chappaqua.  Saturday, December 1, 2012.  HOLIDAY CRAFTS & OPEN HOUSE 1:00 – 4:00pm.  Children of all ages are invited to make Old Fashioned Holiday Crafts.  Museum Tours of the Horace Greeley House.  NEW CASTLE COMMUNITY SING AT 3:30pm with the CHAPPAQUA ORCHESTRA at the Robert E. Bell Middle School.  THE GREELEY HOUSE TREE LIGHTING AT 4:30pm with the HORACE GREELEY HIGH SCHOOL MADRIGAL CHOIR and SANTA.  THE NEW CASTLE TEEN ALLIANCE will provide treats at the Community Center following the festivities.   These events are free and open to the public.

The Annual Sloan Wainwright & Friends Holiday Concert with Special Guests: The Grand Slambovians, Pete Malvineri, Afua Monk Addo, Sam McTavey and many holiday surprises.  Saturday, December 15th, 2012, 8pm.  Bedford Presbyterian Church, Village Green, Bedford NY.  Tickets $40.   Information + tickets:  About Sloan Wainwright:  A forerunner in the independent music scene long before it became hip to walk the road less traveled; Sloan Wainwright is an artist whose passionate work and extraordinary life have fused to burn a new definition for women in music: “Grown-up girl style”.  She is a compelling performer best known for her rich contralto voice, intensely personal lyrics, and an innovative approach to song. Hard to categorize, Sloan’s musical style melds the best of pop, folk, jazz, and blues to create a soulful hybrid. Her personal appearances are forceful and uplifting, her stage persona self-described as “we take our audience on a journey; we come in full tilt and do our show.”  A member of the highly acclaimed musical Wainwright family she is Loudon Wainwright’s sister and aunt to Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche.  And true to the family business, she maintains the legendary gift of music and songwriting which she delivers in her own, powerfully unique style.

Kids Helping Kids — 4th Annual Shoe Store at Inspirica.  KHK youth create a one day  “Share your Shoes” retail store at Inspirica. We have collected over 1200 pairs of shoes and sneakers for all ages. Our KHK middle and high school members will help fit and assist the customers to pick out gently used free footwear for the whole family from the thousands of shoes that will be on display.  We need your help ~ come for entire shift or part of them!   Sunday, Dec. 2, 1-3:30,  Thursday, Dec 6, 5-8pm, Friday, Dec 7, 3-7 pm.  Kids Helping Kids (KHK) is a local Fairfield County not-for-profit organization that provides programs for students who have a desire to help others while learning about leadership. Our mission is to develop leadership skills across all socio-economic backgrounds through youth-led service projects that provide platforms for turning passion into action.  All of our KHK projects are inspired, developed and led by youths, allowing members to discover their individual interests while working in groups to fulfill many local and global community needs.  This approach fosters a unique awareness among kids who commit to reach beyond themselves and make a difference. At Kids Helping Kids, we strive to expose multitudes of opportunities to give back to society while allowing young people to develop their interests and change the world for others. We would love to have you join us! It is easy…just contact us, join our mailing list, Like us on FB,  attend an event or all of the above!  Visit

Free Arts Day is a Westchester holiday season tradition. Each year in early December, arts lovers of all ages are welcomed at cultural sites throughout the county as arts organizations offer free admissions to their museums, arts centers and historical sites while hosting music and dance performances, storytelling performances, and workshops for every taste.   21 Locations – 50 Events – One Day – All Free.  Find out more here.

A fundraising event for A-Home.  Saturday, December 1, 2012, 12noon – 4pm.  Kick off the Holiday Season with an afternoon of good old Family Fun!  Ping-pong, Bingo, Raffles, Crafts, Refreshments, Prizes, and more.  Admission $35/pp, 3 or more, $25/pp.  Westchester Table Tennis Center, 175 Tompkins Ave, Pleasantville, NY.  For reservations contact: Marvis Berry, 914.741.0740, ext 311, email  Find out more about A-Home at

So, you think you have Facebook covered, you’ve got an account, have figured out posting, and privacy, and talked to the kids about what is appropriate or not appropriate…kept them from getting an account…blah, blah…sooooo LAST year’s news.  Sorry to say, but there are SO many ways for these kids to get online, post things about themselves that you would NEVER believe they are saying and with NO filter at all.  It’s a constant battle people…requiring vigilance, attention, and yes, technical know-how.

I was at a school event recently and the principal said something that struck me — he said (and I paraphrase obviously), ‘people: technology and the internet is no longer a futuristic idea’.

It’s no longer something we can shake our heads and look at in wonderment, no longer can we say maybe technology will be a part of our kids lives, maybe we will have to adjust to it…it is HERE and it is here to stay.  Our children will always have access to the internet, whether we like it or not, they will always have computers to explore the world  —  they will write their papers on them, do their research on them, and will have access to information that we can only hope to protect them from, teach them to understand, and we MUST be aware of what is happening.

Whether your child has access to a computer, a laptop, an iPhone, iTouch, iPad, cell phone, tablet….it doesn’t matter any more — if they have technology in the home or access to yours, whether they are at school or the library or a friends’ house — they have access to a terrifying world of information, public access and more — and we can no longer pretend we can protect them from it.  We have to TEACH them how to use it.  They are on it whether you believe it or not, whether you give them permission or not, and whether you are looking or not.  I know I sound crazy, but the new reality is that as important it is to talk about sex or drugs, it’s equally important to talk about internet use and privacy issues.  So, the best you can do is to understand it yourself and stay TUNED in.  It is no longer an option for us as parents to sit by and say we don’t use ‘that stuff’ — don’t be afraid to be on line, to sign up, and to CHECK your kids’ phones, games, tablet, etc etc.  Look over their shoulders and ask questions.  What’s the coolest technology honey, what games are you playing, what are you taking pictures of these days, what are your friends playing?  It MATTERS and it matters a lot.  Colleges are looking at your kids’ e-footprints, interviews are being conducted on-line, and you better bet that bosses are checking out perspective hires internet use.  No matter how private you think you can make your kids’ profiles or phones, or whatever else, people know how to look and they are looking.

So today’s tutorial is on the newest tween fun — Instagram.  ANY iproduct allows you to download the app for free and post pictures to your account — both pictures you take, pictures from the internet and pictures from other people’s accounts.  You can like photos, share them, and comment on them.  You have friends lists, like lists, and followers.  It’s actually a very fun and cute app that on the outset looks totally innocent — a sort of facebook lite.  I joined (please follow me at essentialmom for some great new christmas ideas, etc).  BUT here’s what you need to realize…first of all, if your tween has an i-anything (including itouches), they are likely on this and you don’t know.  If you say no way, and you know my seventh grade kid, you are wrong.  Go check.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that it is a BAD thing, I am just saying again, PAY ATTENTION.  There are photos, comments, and ways that they can be mean, cruel, and not THINK.

1.  Get an account and “follow” your child on Instagram.  If they don’t like that, tough luck.  Take the phone away.

2.  Check that their account photos are “private”.  All this means is that people have to ask them first to “follow” them (ie to access their pictures), so weird stalkers/strangers can’t see their info (as easily).

3.  Go through their current “followers” and make sure that they know all of the people on their followers list.  There will likely be total strangers on their list.  Within moments of setting up an account my son was being “followed” by some folks that looked “unsavory”.

4.  Make sure to explain how the account works to your kids.  Show them on your account how, even IF they are marked as private, or if they are not friends with the other people, their comments are seen by EVERYONE.  So if my son’s friends comment on his photos I can see them even though I am not following them specifically.  I like to tell him “assume Mrs. Soandso is seeing every comment you write, because, like me, she is following Fred Soandso”.  It makes them think.

5.  You should absolutely have a phone “contract” with your child.  Outline what appropriate use is and what is not.  Have specific consequences for their actions.  Our son has lost phone privileges for infractions such as using the phone at unapproved hours, buying (even free) apps without getting permission, etc etc.  You make the rules and stick to them.  Having a phone or game or device is a PRIVILEGE, not a right.

6.  Most of all — check, check, and check their phones, devices, etc.  I am sure there are parents who would argue that my son’s privacy is being compromised.  It is.  He’s 12.  Maybe I will change my rules later, but at the moment, why in the world would I allow him to do anything, post anything, say anything to the world of the internet that he couldn’t honestly show me.  If he has a secret he wants to share with a friend, whisper it in her/his ear.  Don’t post it for the world to see.  There is no such thing as privacy on the internet.  Period.

See you on Instagram…and when we chase them off of there…I’ll let you know the next meeting spot. But please…don’t tell your kids that I was the snitch if I KNOW THEM, or they won’t let me figure out what the next spot is!



The Fox Lane Middle School Book Fair is COMING SOON!  In the Little Theater, Central Building.  Thursday, December 6th through Wednesday, December 12th.  Thursday Hours:  11:00am – 5:00pm
Friday Hours:  10:00am – 3:00pm, Monday Hours:  7:15am – 3:15pm, Tuesday Hours:  7:15am – 3:15pm, Wednesday Hours: 7:15am – 2:20pm.  Fox Lane Middle School, Fox Lane Campus, Route 172, Bedford, NY 10506, 914.241.6126.

We have a day for giving thanks.
We have two for getting deals.
This year help create #GivingTuesday™, the giving season’s opening day.

On Tuesday November 27, 2012 charities, families, businesses and individuals are coming together to transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.  It’s a simple idea. Find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to join in acts of giving. Tell everyone you can about what you are doing and why it matters. Join a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity.

And together we’ll create ways to give more, give better and give smarter.  Visit  And for great ideas on how to involved your family, or get started yourself, click here!

Thursday, December 20, 2012.  Tiger Schulmann’s Mixed Martial Arts Center of Mount Kisco is teaming-up with Hope’s Door to host a free Women’s Self-Defense Seminar on Thursday, December 20th, 2012 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Local women are encouraged to join instructor Joshu Larry Byrnes along with Joshu Gillian Grandy and members of Hope’s Door to learn life-saving martial arts techniques and safety information to promote confidence and help deter domestic abuse. Hope’s Door is a private, non-profit organization that focuses on aiding victims of domestic abuse in Westchester. This free seminar is open to the public but space is limited. To reserve your space please call 914-244-0963 or email us at . The seminar will be held at Tiger Schulmann’s Mixed Martial Arts Center of Mount Kisco located at 222 E Main St, Mount Kisco, N.Y. For more information about Tiger Schulmann’s of Mount Kisco and Hope’s Door please visit and

Westchester County employees are sponsoring a blood drive on December 5th at the County Center in White Plains.  Looking to do something really important this holiday season? How about donating blood?  The next Marylou Seaman County Employees Blood Drive will take place Dec. 5 at the Westchester County Center, White Plains from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Anyone between the ages of 16 and 76 and weighing at least 110 pounds is eligible.  While the event is organized by Westchester County employees, in cooperation with New York Blood Center’s Hudson Valley Blood Services, it is open to the public.  People are encouraged to donate blood to ease the persistently low supply of whole blood and platelets. Double red blood cells will be collected as well as regular units of blood.  People can register by calling Janet Lokay at 995-2127 or by emailing her at

Westchester Land Trust will be collecting coats through December 7th for NY Cares.  If you have some outerwear that you or your family don’t need and were thinking of donating, please bring it to the Land Trust office weekdays between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm, and we will pass it along to many of those who are in need.   Westchester Land Trust, 403 Harris Road, Bedford Hills NY 10507, Phone 914.241.6346 x22, visit

Challenge Camp is excited to announce its new location at School of the Holy Child in Rye, NY. Holy Child’s picturesque 18-acre campus features a 1930s Tudor mansion, new academic buildings, art rooms, science labs, music rooms, a modern library and dining hall. Academic campers will also enjoy the use of several athletic fields for afternoon sports instruction, outdoor classroom areas and a beautiful alumnae garden.  Challenge Camp 2013, accredited by the American Camping Association, provides a selection of more than 45 educational morning workshops and sports instruction for gifted and talented children from pre-kindergarten through junior high school.  Summer sessions will be held from June 24 – July 19 and from July 22 – August 9, 2013.  Students will have the opportunity to choose from a variety of classes including: Astronomy, Computers, Lego, Theater, Architecture, Magic, Law, Chess, Math, Remote Control Cars, Music, Chinese, Art, Cooking, Sciences, Photojournalism, Rocketry, Yoga, Dance, Sports and more.  For more information or for a 2013 summer brochure, please contact 914-779-6024 or Those interested in learning more about the Camp are encouraged to attend Open House on Sunday, January 13 from 2-4 p.m. at School of the Holy Child, 2225 Westchester Avenue, Rye NY 10580.