Notes From Nan (by Mary the Cook)
For HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati

Nan is out of town this week, so I, Mary the Cook, am writing to tell you that I’ll be making some scrumptious Lasagna this Friday night, followed by ICE CREAM! If you haven’t had the uniquely Ashfieldian pleasure of dinner at Elmer’s followed by locally made ice cream eaten on our porch, you really owe it to yourself to try it before the summer is over!

This week, I spotted a V of geese flying over, followed shortly by a school bus driving past. For whom the bell tolls, Summer? It tolls for thee…..
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First Day of School PictureSchool’s back in session, and for some families this will be the first time their kids are away from home. I have friends whose kids have been by their side since the day they were born, and I have friends whose children have been in either daycare or pre-school for a couple of days a week … and then there are kids who have been in full time daycare or pre-school since they were one. My daughter is in the latter group and she started kindergarten this week.

Before my daughter was born I considered homeschooling. Now that she’s five and has the energy of ten kangaroos, there is no way I could keep up with her. She doesn’t stop moving from the moment she wakes up until the moment she falls asleep. “She’s very kinetic,” one of her pre-school teachers remarked.

CCL (c) CaroWallis1 - Dropped Ice Cream ConeHaving a kinetic child presents certain challenges … spilled milks, dropped ice cream cones, tumbles from high places, etc. Our most recent challenge is figuring out what to do with her after school. I’m foregoing the homeschooler route yet I am very interested in “after-schooling,” as are many parents. But now that summer is winding down, and the weather is cooling, there comes the difficulty of finding and coordinating (without “overscheduling”) appropriate activities in the late afternoon that can supplement and/or support her educational experience, including physical education.

One of the great aspects of the member and readership of Hilltown Families is that we are a mixed bag of educational modalities, with many great ideas and resources to contribute. HF is committed to supporting educational and enrichment programing through our rich communications network of supportive families.


  • If you would like to share activities with HF that would benefit after-schoolers and/or homeschoolers, post your suggested event in our comment box.
  • If you would like to see an event/activity happen in our area that would benefit our community of families, and would like to collaborate with HF, email
  • If you would like to be a guest writer for HF we welcome all queries and submissions.
  • If you are a local family and would like to be a part of the HF listserv, click here to subscribe.


If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, or would like to submit your event to the Hilltown Families calendar of Suggested Events, email Sienna at Comments are warmly welcomed!

Check your local forecast | Get directions | Add an event | Free Museum Passes
Farmer’s Market |
MA Agriculture Fairs | Printable Format

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Saturday – 09/01

Illustration (c) 2007 Hilltown FamiliesAll Weekend – COUNTY FAIR – Blandford Fair on North Street in Blandford, MA, from 08/31 – 09/03. Horse-Oxen-Pony Draws, entertainment, agricultural exhibits, and more. 848-2888 [Families] ($$)

8am – FAMILY RADIO – While traveling around town, tune-in to WXOJ 103.3 FM in Northampton, MA, from 8-10am to hear fabulous family-friendly music on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child [All ages] (Free)

9am-Noon – KIDS HOW-TO CLINIC – All Home Depot stores offer free “How-To Clinics” on the first Saturday of each month.Children accompanied by an adult construct projects from pre-fabricated kits. The kits are designed to be both educational and practical. Click here to find out where the nearest Home Depot store is to your home. [Ages 5-12] (Free)

10am-Noon – KIDS CRAFT CLASS – Michael’s in Hadley, MA, hosts kids craft classes every Saturday. 582.0784 [All Ages] ($2)

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Hartsbrook School Art Exhibit – Opening Receiption

Hartsbrook Waldorf School will have an art exhibit in Northampton, MA, at the New Gallery at Cooley Dickinson Hosptial, exploring the connection between art and academics.

An exhibit of fine arts from students in the elementary grades through high school will feature oil and watercolor paintings, stipple and fine line drawings, pastels, wood and linoleum cut prints. The show will be up from September 1st through the 30th.

A discussion on the importance of art in academics led by a faculty member of the Hartsbrook School will be conducted during the opening reception from 4:30pm-6:30pm on September 6th, followed by a Q & A.
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WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA
August 28th, 2007 @ 7pm

Schoolhouse Rock Episode

listen now | subscribe to podcast | archived shows


Remember Schoolhouse Rock shorts from when we were kids? They aired in between Saturday morning cartoons, which I loved watching and remember them fondly. Persephone loves them too. We have the entire collection on video. If you’re not opposed to using cartoons to help educate you kids, you might find them to be a great tool to use for adding another dimension to your child’s education on language, math, government, economics and science.

One of my favorite Schoolhouse Rock videos is “Three is a Magic Number.” On this week’s show Persephone shares that she thinks 7 and 10 are magic numbers… and you know what … I think she’s right! Click here to listen.

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Wings of a Feather with Constant Wonder at the Eric Carle Museum

(c) Hilltown Families

Connie and Alice of Constant Wonder. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

If you’re a parent or a teacher looking for music to supplement a nature based curriculum at school, or would like to get your kids more engaged in learning about the world around them, Grammy selected Constant Wonder has your name written all over it. Connie Gilles, a songwriter/teacher, and Alice Weiser, a dancer/singer/actress, are both from New York and love to teach facts and reverence for animals, insects and nature through both their music and interactive, on-stage performances.

My daughter and I met up with Connie and Alice on their most recent visit to our area. They stopped into the studio on Saturday (08/25/07) to do a guest DJ set with us, preceding their performance Wings of a Feather at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts. (Click here to listen.)

(c) Hilltown Families

Live on the Hilltown Family Variety Show at WXOJ 103.3FM, Northampton, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The three of them hit it off famously. They loved listening to all of my daugher’s stories about insects and pets. They had her singing along and interacting with songs they perform live in the studio. And sharing their new treasures with her, she got a kick out of peacock feathers, an ostrich egg, and an emerald green emu egg they brought with them, presented by the folks at the Starlight Llama Solar B&B and Llama Farm in Florence, MA.

Following their guest DJ set, my daughter and I headed over to the Eric Carle Museum to see their live interactive performance. Their name, Constant Wonder, celebrates the wonder children have about the lives of animals and insects. The duo was a delight and very engaging with the audience. They performed several songs that drew on the theme of their show Wings of a Feather, including “Make A Wish,” “Ladybug,” “From Fluff to Feathers,” ”
Sometimes It’s Tough To Be a Bee,” “Magnificent,” and “Save Me, I’m Your Earth.”

(c) Hilltown Families

Performance at the Eric Carle Museum (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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There are a couple of things happening this weekend that we’re pretty excited about. The first is the Cummington Fair, which I mentioned in a previous post. Thursday night was the “Night For Trucks.” We always skip Thursday night. Too loud and too much exhaust! But Friday night is kids night when they sell tickets half price and you can use these tickets all weekend. So Friday we get our tickets, and then Saturday and Sunday we become fair-goers. Click here for a full schedule of events happening at the Cummington Fair. I’m sure we’ll have lots of photos to post, so check back.


The other event we’re pretty excited about is a performance by the award-winning singer/ songwriting duo, Constant Wonder at the Eric Carle Museum on Saturday at 1pm. Constant Wonder performances are both educational and environmental and have been promoting respect for all creatures with their GREEN message for 5 years. Audience members will enjoy an interactive performance, which makes learning more memorable for all participants. Below is a video from a live performance at the Long Island Children’s Museum in NY:

Before their performance I will be interviewing them for Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. I’ll be sure to post the interview in days to come.


If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, or would like to submit your event to the Hilltown Families calendar of Suggested Events, email Sienna at Comments are warmly welcomed!

Check your local forecast | Get directions | Add an event | Free Museum Passes
Farmer’s Market |
MA Agriculture Fairs | Printable Format

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Friday – 8/24

Illustration (c) 2007 Hilltown FamiliesWEEKEND FAIR – The Annual Cummington Fair begins in Cummington, MA, Aug. 23-26. For more information click here or call 413.634.5091. [Families] ($)

Illustration (c) 2007 Hilltown Families3pm – SWIMMING PLAYDATE – Join other Hilltown Families at Ashfield Pond in for a swimming playdate. [Families] (Free)

Illustration (c) 2007 Hilltown Families5pm – COMMUNITY DINNER – Elmer’s in Ashfield, MA, invites community members to come together to share dinner and conversation every Friday evening. Click here for menu 413.628.4003 [Families] ($)

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Notes from Nan
by HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati

Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From (c) Hilltown FamiliesHoy,

We’re gonna have a local dinner this week; all foods grown from around here! (I’m doing a local Willie Gray accent here—can you see it?) We’re not gonna do it like we usually do; we’re setup a buffet with different entrees and salads so that you can come and eat what you want, all you want for twenty bucks, ten for kids. (An’ no standin’ on yer knees pretendin’ yer a kid when ya ain’t!)

Local Farms

Now we ain’t got none a Willie Gray’s eggs for this dinner because Willie’s chickens are too cold again. Hot, cold, those chickens are never happy. However we do have food from:

An’ there’s some others I don’t even know about. That’s a lotta farmers for one dinner!

Friday’s Menu (08/24/07)

Here’s what we’re havin:Local Food (c) Hilltown Families

  • Bruschetta with eggplant caponata
  • Spinach Mint Soup
  • Corn and tomato salad with cilantro dressing
  • Escarole Salad with Fried Shallots
  • Miniature goat Cheese tarts
  • Grilled eggplant with fresh herbs
  • Norwegian Meatballs in a spicy cream sauce
  • Grilled lamb Kebabs with Yogurt Reita

I don’t know how Mary’s gonna make all those different foods all at one time, but she says she knows how, so, I don’t know. I’m just gonna trust her.

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Hilltown Family Variety Show

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA
August 21st, 2007 @ 7pm

Hippie Harvest Episode

listen now | subscribe to podcast | archived shows

Hippy Harvest Oat Bars

If Uncle Rock’s new song, “Hippy Harvest Kitchen,” has inspired your kids to get busy in the kitchen, you’ll enjoy this easy to make recipe Hippy shares with us from his kitchen on Uncle Rock’s new CD. You could let the kids eat each ingredient by itself as Kevin Kammeraad suggests in his song “Cookie Batch,” but it’ll probably be a bigger hit if you cook it up as Hippy suggests.

CCL - HeartborneOat Bar Recipe

  • 4 cups Oats
  • Dash of Vanilla
  • 3/4 cup Oil
  • 1 cup Honey
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 4 Free Range Eggs

Mix it all in a ceramic bowl. Spread on a greased, floured cookie sheet. Cook at 350-degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool and cut into squares.

Variations: Add chopped nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon or use quinoa flakes for a higher protein grain. Sprinkle almond meal on top.

01/30/08 UPDATE:  

Check out Ellen & Matt’s new video: Bounce.

Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

August is full of agricultural and grange fairs. My daughter anxiously waits every year for the Cummington Fair. Anytime we pass the fairgrounds during the year she longingly recalls past years and requests a report on how many days until it returns. The fair gives us an opportunity to see what folks are growing in their gardens in our area and allows kids to participate in their harvest competitions. My favorite local food fare at the fair is at Red Bucket Sugar Shack’s table where they make fresh maple popcorn made with their own maple syrup. I look forward every year to piggin’ out on that stuff! A yearly indulgence.

Local Harvest Supper (c) Hilltown FamiliesWe’ve been talking a lot about locally grown and produced foods in our home and among friends. On Sunday we went to a Community Local Harvest Supper in Greenfield. (For photos click here.) The food was fantastic and included a menu of delicious vegetable salads, including a Turkey & Peach Salad, fresh bread and corn on the cob. On each table was a bowl of salt from Cape Cod, MA, and they served Snow’s ice cream, a locally made ice cream from Deerfield. For the kids they had a clown making balloon hats and a lady dressed as an ear of corn painting kids faces. Along with live music, adults had access to information from local agency displays and tables.

This coming Friday in Ashfield, MA, Elmer’s will be featuring a Local Food Menu. Check back later this week to read Notes From Nan and discover what they will be serving up for dinner. It’s sure to be delicious!

To find more resources on eating locally visit or click here to post a suggested resource or local vendor below for our readers to discover.

Teaching Movement to Music

Keith Munslow at Cup & Top (c) Hilltown FamiliesA couple of times this past week I was able to bring my daugher to interactive music performances with Penny Schultz from Florence, MA and Keith Munslow from Rhode Island. We’ve been listening to Keith’s CDs in the car since Saturday and my daughter’s favorites so far is “The Bellywog” (which coincidentally Keith performed along side “I Love the Beach”).

New Music and Special Guests

In addition to Uncle Rock’s new CD, Uncle Rock U, we also played new music from Mr. David’s new album, Jump in the Jumpy House. Mr. David’s new album lends itself to a Dylanesque sound, with my top two favorite tunes from this album featured on this week’s show. (links above)

We also featured “Bounce” by Ellen and Matt. They did a pre-recorded show for Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, where they did a live, in-studio performance of “Bounce.” (Hey Bill … when’s that show going to air?)

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Rainbow Report Card

Does your child’s school make the grade?

Family Pride offers a Rainbow Report Card, an interactive tool that generates custom recommendations for a family’s situation in schools.

Encouraging our schools to be more inclusive each day makes a world of difference in the education of all children. The Rainbow Report Card is only the beginning of a series of projects Family Pride will launch aimed at empowering parents to make change in schools.

Get started by clicking here.

Sammy’s Big Night
By Bill Childs, HF Contributing Writer

Local listeners of Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child should try to attend this benefit concert on Sept. 20th. Chris Haynes and his family are friends from our church, and his wife Heather’s death was a tragedy in so many ways. Plus, it’s a crazy good line-up of musicians for just fifteen bucks. I’m teaching Thursday nights this year, so I can’t make it, but hopefully many others will.


Sammy’s Big Night Benefit Concert
Thursday, September 20th ~ 7:00 pm
Chapin Auditorium, Mt. Holyoke College, S. Hadley, MA

An intimate night of exceptional music featuring performances by:

  • John Gorka
  • Cliff Eberhardt
  • The Nields
  • The Young At Heart Chorus
  • The Drunk Stuntmen
  • The O-Tones
  • The Kitchen Table
  • Leah Kunkel
  • Andy Jaffe
  • and Special Guests
  • Emceed by John Allen and Johnny Memphis
The Nields following a performance in Amherst, MA.

The Nields in Amherst, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

On Thursday, September 20, a special benefit concert, SAMMY’S BIG NIGHT, will take place at Chapin Auditorium, on the campus of Mount Holyoke College, Route 116, South Hadley, Massachusetts. 100 percent of the concert proceeds will benefit Samuel Owen Haynes, born May 23rd, 2007. His mother Heather Egan Haynes passed away four days later from complications relating to childbirth. The 7:00 pm concert is open to the public and all are welcome. Tickets go on sale Monday, August 20th at the Northampton Box Office, online at or by calling 413-586-8686 or 800-THE-TICK.

Sammy’s father Chris Haynes, a music professor at Springfield College, a talented musician, and an anchor for the Pioneer Valley music scene, is raising Owen. Each of the celebrated performers at the benefit have donated their services and encourage their fans to come to this special event. Proceeds will go to the Samuel Owen Haynes Fund c/o First Churches, 129 Main St, Northampton, MA in support of Sammy’s care and education.

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Storyteller Keith Munslow Visits Florence

SANDY SANDWICHES AT CUP & TOPKeith Munslow at Cup and Top (c) Hilltown Families [Things to do in Florence, Massachusetts]

Acclaimed storyteller, musician and visual artist, Keith Munslow was at Cup & Top this past Saturday following a live on-air performance and interview on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. Keith’s performance was interactive and funny, filled with original songs and stories. His performance included a storyboard of cartoons that he would draw on-the-spot. Several families got to take home his poster sized drawings following his show.

Keith’s style reminded me a lot of another storyteller I admire, Bill Harley. I later learned that Bill helped produce Keith’s newest album, Dressed Up For The Party. That explains everything! Two very talented storytellers. Boogedy Boogedy is the running catch phrase for anything scary in our house – that comes from Bill Harley’s story, “The Swamp Monster,” from his award winning album Blah, Blah, Blah.

But this article is about Keith, who had the kids enthralled with his story, “The Bellywog;” a story about the critter that visits our tummys at night leaving us with a belly ache in the morning before moving on to the next persons house, and the round of remedies that are offered by well meaning folks. Persephone’s dad came with us and I caught him laughing once or twice. A sure sign that Keith can entertain even the most cynical of audience members. (That’s high accolades, Keith!)

Click here if you’d like to find out where and when Keith Munslow will be performing in the area, or here if you’d like to discover Bill Harley’s performance schedule too. They are both from Rhode Island so they are sure to be in our area again soon.


Following the performance, our family had lunch at Cup & Top. The owner, Helen, does a great job at using local food in her menu items, including fresh herbs from her own personal cafe garden in Florence. They also make their own pastries (including a gluten free selection) and yogurt with fresh local milk from Mapleline Farm in Hadley, MA. To follow is a list of many of the items they serve up from local farms and local providers:

  • Appalachian Naturals Dressings (Goshen, MA)
  • Bread Euphoria Organic Bread (Haydenville, MA)
  • Dean’s Beans Coffee (Orange, MA)
  • Diemand Farm Eggs (Wendell, MA)
  • Enterprise Farm Organic Produce (Whately, MA)
  • Gus & Paul’s NY Bagels (Springfield, MA)
  • TeaGuys Loose Leaf Tea (Florence, MA)

Penny Schultz: Music Diva

Penny Schultz at the Worthington Library (c) Hilltown FamiliesIf you’ve never had the pleasure of attending one of Penny Schultz’s community sings, tomorrow (08/21/07) is your chance. She will be leading a community sing at Earthdance in Plainfield, MA, at 6:30pm.

Penny is a dynamic and energetic teacher whose love of music is infectious. I first took my daughter to one of Penny’s community sings when she was a baby back in ’04. On a couple of occassions we’ve seen her lead songs at the Hilltown Charter Cooperative School during their winter fair and recently stopped in to see her at the Worthington Library. Penny views herself as a teacher, not a performer, and this came through clearly as she led the kids through rounds and choruses of traditional songs, including “The Bear Missed The Train,” a song inspired by the Yiddish song, “Bei Mir Bist Du Shain.”

The Bear Missed The Train

The bear missed the train,
The bear missed the train,
The bear missed the train, and now he’s walking. (repeat)

He’s walking here and there,
He’s walking everywhere.
He;s walking up and down,
He’s walking through the town!

The bear missed the train,
The bear missed the train,
The bear missed the train, and now he’s walking.

For different verses, choose a different animal and a different mode of transportation, then complete the phrase: for example, the mouse missed the boat, and now she’s swimming. Check out the video for middle stanza movements.

Notes from Nan
by HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati

Hey guess what y’all!

Mary’s back from her vacation (yea!) and she has inexplicably brought with her a notion to make a bonified SOUTHERN dinner this week! (continuing our dinners from around the world, I reckon.) So what we’re going to have is this:

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Where do we go now?
By Steve Weeks, HF Guest Writer


My wife's family in Little Compton in the early 70's.For decades, my wife’s family has been vacationing in Rhode Island during the summer. Her parents would rent a house in Little Compton just across the Sakonnet river from Newport on Warren’s Point, a beautiful section of rugged coastline that has been preserved much the way it was in the 18th and 19th centuries.

When my wife and her three sisters were kids, these vacations lasted several weeks so that Little Compton became more of a summer home than a vacation destination for them. Although all the girls are grown now and have children of their own, they have returned every year without fail to Warren’s Point with husbands and kids in tow, but now carefully lining up their week-long stays to overlap so everyone can see one another.

(c) CCL - elisfanclubOur family summer tradition has included this Little Compton stop for several years now. It’s the chance for our two children to spend time with their cousins and for everyone to catch up with one another for the year. The kids spend their days hunting for crabs on the rocky shoreline, building drip castles in the sand, diving into the cold New England water from the high pink granite bluffs, or playing spontaneous games in the wide grassy lawns. The adults use the time socializing reading, enjoying seafood, and just soaking in the quiet beauty of the point.

In recent years we’ve used Little Compton as a base camp, venturing out to take in a Pawtucket Red Sox game, visit nearby fishing villages, dine in Newport or spend a few days in Martha’s Vineyard or Boston. — The reason I mention the details of our Rhode Island summers, is because I’m about to ask for your advice and you’ll need to have a good idea of how we like to spend our time.

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(c) Hilltown Families

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA
August 14th, 2007 @ 7pm

Summer Vacation Episode

  • Dave Rudolf – “This Old Vacation” [Stupendously, Silly Skits, Sounds, and Stories]
  • The Chenille Sisters – “On A Vacation” [A Child’s Celebration of the World]
  • Johnny Bregar – “Summertime” [Hootenanny]
  • Jawbone – “Popsicle Soup” [The Family Hootenanny]
  • Steve Weeks – “Zed and Zoey” [Rabbit Run]
  • Ben Rudnick & Friends – “Sun Showers” [Fun and Games]
  • Taj Mahal – “Light Rain” [Shake Sugaree]
  • Gunnar Madsen -“Selling Lemonade” [Old Mr. Mackle Hackle]
  • Dan Zanes – “In the Evening” [Family Dance]
  • They Might Be Giants -“Goodnight My Friends” [Here Come The ABCs]


listen now | subscribe to podcast | archived shows


(c) Hilltown FamiliesThis summer we had a few different adventures with which to fill our scrapbook, including a week’s vacation at the New Jersey Shore and another week on the Blue Hill Peninsula in Maine. Out of all our adventures, I’d have to say that Maine was the most memorable. I played the role of a tourist to a T, going so far as to hang out the car window snapping photos of the landscape as we traveled around Eggemoggin Reach and Caterpillar Mountain. I have about fifty blurry road side images to share with my family down south. They’ll be soooo excited!!!

When I was little my family would travel from East Texas to Louisiana to visit relatives during the summer. My older cousins taught me how to snatch sugar cane off the trucks as they came rambling by on the back roads of Maringouin; while my other cousins in Terrebonne Parish would take me down to Black Bayou to go fishing for catfish in the morning or frog hunting in the evening. I remember my uncle bringing home a bushel of crawfish to boil (after the kids played with them on the carport) and my aunt serving homemade root beer on ice to go along with them.

(c) Hilltown FamiliesThe memories of our childhood summer vacations stay with us forever. LobSTAH and blueberry picking in Maine, along with the bike riding on the boardwalk and saltwater taffy on the NJ Shore, are sure to leave my daughter with many delightful memories from this past summer. Even the disaster vacation experiences we’ve all had leave us with good stories to tell at dinner parties and to strangers on long plane rides. Vacations are funny that way.

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(c) Hilltown Families - Kids selling Lemonade in GoshenI’m a SUCKER for a lemonade stand! Not because I have an enduring thirst that can only be quenched by something sweet & tart. It’s those little entrepreneurs selling tiny pixie cups full of (often times overly sweet) tart lemonade for a quarter that get me. I stop out of encouragement. I stop for the cultural experience of an all-American sidewalk tradition of kids selling lemonade in the heat of the summer. Sometimes my daughter and I find lemonade made from a mix, and sometimes we find the real deal. If your kids are thinking about having a lemonade stand, my vote is real old fashion lemonade. I’d pay a whole buck for a cup of real lemonade!

Over at they’re serious about their lemonade. They offer a slide show and free business plan on running a lemonade stand, along with a profit calculator. For the older kids this could be a great supplement to their education in economics.

(c) Hilltown FamiliesKIDS MARKET IN ASHFIELD

In the summer, on Wednesdays in Ashfield there is the Kids Market. From 4-6pm kids sell their wares, ranging from lemonade and homemade pretzels, to fairy balm and handmade potholders. For several years the folks at the Ashfield Hardware Store have been sponsoring this event in their parking area on Main Street, giving hilltown kids an opportunity to participate and learn about commerce. All children are welcome to participate. Buying is encouraged. Hope to see you there.


If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, or would like to submit your event to the Hilltown Families calendar of Suggested Events, email Sienna at Comments are warmly welcomed!

Check your local forecast | Get directions | Add an event | Free Museum Passes
Farmer’s Market |
MA Agriculture Fairs | Printable Format

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Friday – 08/10

(C) Hilltown Families

12:30pm – PERFORMANCE ART – At the Springfield Museums, the Tanglewood Marionettes perform The Fairy Circus. The art activity for the day at the museum is “Balancing Clowns.” For more info call 413.263.6800 [Families] (Free with museum pass.

Illustration (c) 2007 Hilltown Families5pm – COMMUNITY DINNER – Elmer’s in Ashfield, MA, invites community members to come together to share dinner and conversation every Friday evening. Menu: Thai Corn Fritters, Pad Thai & Two Thai Teas. 413.628.4003 [Families] ($)

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From the Apothacary: Families Can Find Some Itch Relief!
By Tony(a) Lemos, HF Contributing Writer

To follow are a couple herbal recipes to relieve the summer itch of bug bites or poison ivy. Take the kids and wildcraft what’s abundantly local in a clean area in your area. Take what you’ve gathered and head into the kitchen to make a few batches. Give extras to your child’s mom or dad, along with the recipes below. Both recipes are for external use only.


Equal parts:

  • Comfrey Leaf
  • Plantain Leaf
  • Violet Leaf
  • Mugwort Leaf
  • Jewelweed Leaf (whole plant)
  • (If Sweet Fern Leaf is local to you this can also be added)

Make a decoction of Comfrey, Plantain. Violet, Mugwort and Jewelweed Leaf, add Witchhazel 30% of the total liquid, add 1 teaspoon per ounce of Grindelia extract, add alcohol to equal 15% of total liquid (this is the preservative). Decant into a glass jar and store ina cool area. Keep out of reach from your children.


Blenderize the following fresh plants, adding rubbing alcohol and distilled water as needed. Do not strain.

Succous (plant juice preserved in alcohol) of the following wildcrafted plants:

  • Comfrey Leaf
  • Plantain Leaf
  • Violet Leaf
  • Mugwort Leaf
  • Grindelia Leaf
  • Jewelweed Leaf

Decant into a glass jar and store in a cool area. Keep out of reach from your children.

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Notes from Nan: Guess Who’s Cooking Dinner This Week!
by HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati

(c) Hilltown FamiliesYes indeed, y’all! Willie Gray was out building coops for the 60 new chickens he’s getting to help Elmer’s stay ahead of the hungry crowds (having fired the previous 108 for failing to perform in hot weather. He said he read them my letter and shamed them.)

So Willie was out erecting chicken condos when he got the urgent afternoon call from Elmer’s that we were yet again slap out of eggs. He stopped what he was doing, gathered up the 20 dozen they had ready for him, jumped into the Williemobile and headed over to Elmer’s THUS bringing to an abrupt end the long-standing debate over which, in fact came first, the chicken or the egg. As it turns out, when it comes to what we need and when we need it, the eggs come first and the chickens will just have to wait for their little houses when Willie gets back. So there it is. For all time. Done. Now we can wonder about trees falling in forests and whether or not bears use toilet paper in the woods.

And looka heah! Mary’s done gone outta town and so you know who is gonna cook this week for y’all? Me! That’s who!

You didn’t think I could cook, did you? I can cook! I just don’t have time to cook with all the important ordering around I have to do around here! But I can cook and I am going to fix y’all up some red beans and rice, pure New Orleans style! Traditionally red beans are to be fixed on Mondays, because that’s wash day. So y’all bring your dirty laundry with you and we’ll throw it in the washing machine while we eat. ‘Cause I can sure enough make some red beans and rice!

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Be a Local Hero

(c) Hilltown Families - Chard growning at the Community Garden

The 3rd Annual Free Harvest Supper of Local Food will be happening on the Greenfield Town Common/Court Square on Sunday, August 19th from 5-7pm.

This open community event will feature:

  • Free bountiful meal of locally grown food prepared by local chefs
  • Live music
  • Children’s activities
  • Educational displays
  • A Really, Really Free Market
  • Conservation of resources by encouraging guests to bring your own place settings
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    Listen to the Podcast: (c) Hilltown Families - Uncle Rock Guest DJ on HFVS at WXOJ.

    WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
    Northampton, MA
    July 31th, 2007 @ 7pm

    Uncle Rock Guest DJ Episode

    • John Williams – “Star Wars Theme” [Star Wars Soundtrack]
    • Randy Newman – “The Time Of Your Life” [A Bug’s Life Soundtrack]
    • Henry Mancini – “Pink Panther Theme” [Pink Panther Soundtrack]
    • Peter, Paul and Mary – “Leatherwing Bat” [Peter, Paul & Mommy]
    • Loudon Wainwright – “Dead Skunk”
    • White Stripes – “Little Ghost”
    • Harry Nilsson – “Think About Your Troubles” [The Point Soundtrack]

    listen now | subscribe to podcast | archived shows


    Uncle Rock put together a great playlist of tunes from a variety of soundtracks for this week’s show as our Guest DJ. I don’t know who was more excited about doing the show together, my daughter or Uncle Rock, but I do know they had a fun time! They talked about their love of the movie Star Wars, discovering that Uncle Rock rivals in his admiration of Star Wars as a youth with my daughter’s dad. She shared her discovery of the theme to the Pink Panther at a Gustafer Yellowgold performance this past spring and was delighted that Uncle Rock had it on his playlist. All the while they discussed bats, skunks and ghosts, in-between great songs on the same topics.


    Following this past weekend’s Uncle Rock concert and guest DJ stint, my daughter and I headed up to Maine. Being a southern girl, the furthest north I’ve ever been on the East coast has been Massachusetts, so a big adventure lay ahead for us. Fortunately the ride up was uneventful; however, I was looking forward to listening to many CD we’ve recently received from different bands, including Sugar Free Allstars, Matt & Ellen, Candy Band, and Uncle Rock’s newest CD, Uncle Rock U. But I’ll tell you, the only thing my daughter wanted to listen to was this week’s show we had burned to CD.

    The trip was seven hours long … you do the math. That’s fourteen times! Actually, it was only twelve times. Fortunately, she fell asleep for about 45 minutes, and I snuck in a new CD with an audio montage of music by The Beatles. I’ve since found myself humming “Little ghost, little ghost,” and exclaiming that my daughter’s sneakers are “Stinking to high heaven,” all lyrics found in this week’s playlist that are now engraved in my brain after twelve hours of “Tuneful Travel Torture” by my five year old.

    We’ve since made it up to Maine safe and sound. I’ve stopped in to one of the local libraries to post this week’s playlist because my friend’s house is straight out of the 18th century, void of all modern day computer technologies. I’m sure we’ll have many stories to share when we return.

    Next week’s on-air show coincides with Valley Free Radio’s fundraising drive. If you enjoy listening on-air to either our show (HFVS), or Bill’s show on Saturday mornings (Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child), then PLEASE consider making a donation to the station to keep quality family programming available in Western Massachusetts. Click here to read more about Valley Free Radio’s fundraising drive.

    Off to check out the lobstah…

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    Even on a Wet Day Uncle Rock ROCKS!

    Uncle Rock at the Children's Art Museum (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    At 8:30 a.m. on a dreary Saturday morning I was road-side in Shelburne Falls tacking up posters to the town center light posts … in the pouring rain! Posters that read, “Uncle Rock: This A Way,” and “Uncle Rock: That A Way.” You see this past Saturday was our long awaited Uncle Rock concert at the Children’s Art Museum (CAM), presented by Hilltown Families and Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child.

    I posted large signs with big arrows and orange helium balloons along the streets, getting soaking wet in a mini down-pour while tromping in the waist high stalks of Tansy and Goldenrod surrounding each utility pole. I talked myself through panic at the thought that no one would journey out from the comfort of their homes – out from under their dry sheets and away from their warm cups of coffee – on such a wet Saturday.

    Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

    I managed to get CAM’s space set up for the performance with my daughter on my heels, begging for yet another juice box from the bake sale table, before my volunteer army of two showed up along with our first family. (Thanks Seth & Angie!) And with their arrival came a silent sigh of relief. I thought if no one else cared to venture out on a dark and rainy Saturday morning, there would at least be two families in the audience. In my book, that’s a potential party!


    But people DID arrive, driving as far away as West Chesterfield and Florence, and my angst started to subside! The space filled up with young children and parents, dancing around to music we play on HFVS, while we waited for Uncle Rock to arrive. And after an unexpected tour through Shelburne’s rainy roads, Uncle Rock showed up too … and the real party began! … And everyone loved him! … And they all looked happy … dancing around with music makers … eating treats from the bake sale table (thanks Julie & Angie!) … getting Uncle Rock CD’s signed and Uncle Rock T-shirts to wear to school this fall.

    Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

    Along side many of our favorite songs from Plays Well With Others and Here We Go, the audience got a preview of songs from his upcoming CD, Uncle Rock U (due to hit the streets on October 9th, 2007). It was a really fun time!

    Hilltown Ridephone


    Hilltown RidephoneThis flyer was posted on the bulletin board at the Old Creamery in Cummington, MA. The backside of the flyer lists the directions. It reads:

    Hilltown Ridephone 413.268.5880

    Serving Route 9 from Pittsfield to Northampton and anywhere in between and off to the side!

  • (1) to repeat the message
  • (3) to delete the message (must confirm this)
  • (4) to go back 1 message
  • (5) for help/instructions
  • (7) to rewind message by five seconds
  • (8) to pause the message [(8) again to continue]
  • (9) to fast forward message by five seconds
  • (#) to skip to the next message
  • (*) to go to previous MENU

    Join Hilltown Families for an intimate performance with Uncle Rock in the beautiful Hilltown of Shelburne Falls, MA, on Saturday, July 28th at 10am at the Children’s Art Museum (same building at the Trolley Museum). Click here to get directions.

    My daughre & I met Uncle Rock last year while sailing aboard the Sloop Clearwater on the Hudson River. We’ve been smitten ever since! Our well loved copy of Plays Well with Others has been played at pancake breakfasts, community dances and on the HFVS. It’s always a big hit! Your kids will love him too. See you on Saturday in Shelburne Falls!


    If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, or would like to submit your event to the Hilltown Families calendar of Suggested Events

    Check your local forecast | Get directions | Add an event
    Free Museum Passes | Farmer’s Market |
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    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    Friday – 07/27

    Illustration (c) 2007 Hilltown FamiliesAn organized local weekend camping trip for families is being offered by the CFC. Click here for details.

    10am – PLAYDATE – Bridge Street School playground in Northampton, MA. 10am-Noon. [Families] (Free)

    10:30am – CHILDREN’S THEATRE – New Century Theatre presents The Frog Princess from 07/25-07/28. General seating. Show begins promptly at Theatre 14 in Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts of Smith College in Northampton, MA. Click here for more info. 413.587.3933 [Families] ($)

    Illustration (c) 2007 Hilltown Families5pm – COMMUNITY DINNER – Elmer’s in Ashfield, MA, invites community members to come together to share dinner and conversation every Friday evening. Click here for menu. 413.628.4003 [Families] ($)


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    Notes from Nan
    by HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati

    Lego StoreHey! Want to hear our best customer review yet?

    This place is as good as a Lego store.
    Grayson, age 7

    Grayson had just finished breakfast and he was apparently quite, quite happy. So remember that if you’re trying to decide whether to go to breakfast at Elmer’s or to go get Legos – you’ll find equal satisfaction at either venue.

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    Lughnasadh was one of the four main festivals of the medieval Irish calendar: Imbolc at the beginning of February, Beltane on the first of May, Lughnasadh in August and Samhain in November, and is related to Lammas.

    Lughnasadh, A Celtic Harvest Festival (Web Review)

    Lughnasadh Celtic Harvest Festival BreadsThis website offers a background about “the Celtic harvest festival on August 1st [that] takes its name from the Irish god Lugh.” Includes a description of the history of the festival and its celebrations, and recipes for dishes inspired by the events, such as bilberry jam [blaeberry] and potato griddle cakes [boxty]. [LII]

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    Listen to the Podcast:


    Hilltown Family Variety Show
    WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM
    Northampton, MA
    July 27th, 2007 @ 7pm

    New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
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    This weeks episode was inspired by the simplicity of Eric Herman’s song, “I Like Elephants.” Let the kids check out the video above. Herman travels through a list of animals familiar to any five year old and sings about their basic character traits and habits. Only he puts the character traits with the wrong animal and his kids correct him with the right one. So simple it’s sweet.


    (c) Hilltown Families - The Princess and Farmer BenLast week my daughter went to camp at Red Gate Farm Education Center in Buckland, MA. On her last day of camp she wore her tiara all day. ALL DAY! It was the beginning of what has now become a “must have” for any activity she participates in, even bath-time. To the right is a photo of her holding court with “Farmer Ben” and to the left (your other left) she’s with one of her camp counselors. She always has a great time visiting the farm. In addition to youth camps, they have an exciting Seed Saving Program, along with workshops and opportunities to volunteer. Ben Murray, the director of Red Gate (“Farmer Ben” as she calls him), has expressed his interest in being a guest blogger on Hilltown Families. I’m sure he’ll have a lot of insight to share regarding his adventures with kids. We’re looking forward to his submission. In the meantime, visit them on-line at and go by for a visit.

    Next week we are heading to Maine to stay with a dear friend of mine. We’re sending our kids to day camp for the week and having five days of Mommy Time! MOMMY TIME!!!!


    Road Trip by Rebecca FrezzaThis week we offer up a contest to all our listeners. Name which song in this weeks playlist has the following quote: “We can not use little monkeys who don’t do as they are told.” The first correct answer posted below in our comment section will win a copy of Rebecca Frezza’s CD Road Trip. Road Trip is a winner of the Children’s Music Web Award and a recommended Parents’ Choice. This album includes one of our featured songs this week, “Space Dog.” If you did not get to hear the show on WXOJ 103.3FM Tuesday night, then listen to our podcast or download an archived show.

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    In the Tree House

    I empty the rusty teapot
    of blue water, mud and leaves,
    retrieve pink tea cups
    from the sand box, play food
    strewn through the woods.
    I put cups back on their hooks,
    arrange ham beside pepper,
    cabbage and egg.
    I would live here forever

    but as I sweep
    sand from the burners
    on the painted toy stove,
    sand my six year-old calls fire—
    why can’t you just leave it?
    I remember this house is hers,
    and I have to give it back, leave
    a little fire on the stove,
    the sink, fire even on the floor.

    By HF Contributing Writer, Amy Dryansky

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    Music DVDs That Won’t Rot Your Children’s Brains (Much)
    By Bill Childs, HF Contributing Writer

    I know, I know: You don’t watch television, and your kids are utterly puzzled when they even catch a glimpse of a television screen, so unfamiliar are they with the evils of the Box O’ Idiots. If they’ve ever seen any TV, it’s been ludicrously educational – sedate documentaries about free-range chickens with Mozart gently playing in the background, perhaps. You would never, ever dream of using the TV to keep the kids under control while you cook (or, ahem, write a column about kids’ music.)

    But just in case you, er, know someone who might not be quite so good at avoiding screen time with the kids, you’ll be glad to learn that a lot of the talented musicians making great music for kids are also making great DVDs for kids. Below, some of the best:

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    We’re RICH in theater this week. With an abundance of theater-going opportunities, I could potentially take my daugher to see seven classic stories performed on stage, including The Princess and the Pea, Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella, Three Little Pigs, Hansel & Gretel and the Frog Princess. All in the span of seven days! If I were really ambitious, we could go on a theater marathon, doing a home study on the various methods the different shows will be empolying, including puppetry, musicals, avantgarde or classic theater … or… we could hang out poolside in Worthington, or at the lake in Ashfield, soaking up the sun and splashing the day away.

    My daughter will start her third week of swim lessons next week. She’s this close (pinching fingers half an inch apart) to swimming on her own. She’s doing cannon balls off the dock, dropping in over her head in the murky waters, and then emerging with fear and exhilaration on her face. Then she gets out, runs up on the dock and does it again. And again. And again. Until she’s so tired that just the thought of a popped balloon will send her into a complete meltdown.


    A NEW FEATURE feature has been added for our list of weekly suggested events on Hilltown Families: A Printable Format Link. (hear loud applause, cheering and whistles!) That’s right folks … you are now able to print out our list of suggested and coordinated events every week and tack it to your bulletin board, tape it to your fridge, or shove it in your junk drawer. I decided to make this available after a number of families have expressed how much they missed the monthly calendar I put together for several years for young families with kids 5 and under. Now that our kids are getting older and getting out and about, here’s a printable version to go along with you.


    If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, or would like to submit your event to the Hilltown Families calendar of Suggested Events, email Sienna at Comments are warmly welcomed!

    Check your local forecast | Get directions | Add an event
    Free Museum Passes | Farmer’s Market |
    Printable Format

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    Friday – 07/20

    10am – PLAYDATE – Bridge Street School playground in Northampton, MA. 10am-Noon. [Families] (Free)

    10am, 1pm & 7pm – FAMILY MUSICAL – The Academy at Charlemont will offer a free musical: “The Princess and the Pea.” Call 413.339.4912 for more info and directions. [Families] (Free)

    Noon – PUPPET SHOW – At the Springfield Museum Romper Rhythm and Puppets will present “Pirates Ahoy.” 413.263.6800 [Families] ($)

    Illustration (c) 2007 Hilltown Families5pm – COMMUNITY DINNER – Elmer’s in Ashfield, MA, invites community members to come together to share dinner and conversation every Friday evening. Click here for menu. 413.628.4003 [Families] ($)

    5pm – MUSIC FESTIVAL – Green River Festival pre-festival music event at Energy Park in Greenfield, MA, with Crooked Still and Ellen Jewell. [Families] (Free)

    6pm – HOT AIR BALLOONS & MUSIC – The Green River Festival begins with a Louisiana Music Night & hot air balloon rides. At 9:30pm is a balloon illumination program set to music. It’s better than fireworks! Greenfield, MA. [Families] ($)

    Dusk – MOVIE ON THE COMMON – Free outdoor movie on the Pittsfield Common, beginning shortly after dust. This week it’s Charlotte’s Web, based on the classic children’s book by E.B. White. Rain cancels. 413.499.9344 [Families] (Free)

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    Born from the American Weiner …

    I’m not a fan of hot dogs. Just the thought of eating one makes my throat close-up in preparation to gag. I don’t even like the vegetarian knock-offs, Soy Pups. Didn’t like them as a kid either. I used to remove the Oscar Meyer Weiner and eat the rest. Thus, was born the Ketchup Sandwich. I became so fond of Ketchup Sandwiches as a kid my mother would actually pack them in my lunch for school. I’ve since outgrown Ketchup Sandwiches but have tried to introduce them to my daughter. She obviously has more culinary class than I did as a kid and refuses both dog and ketchup. But as a group, American’s and their kids love hot dogs. This weeks web reviews is just for you folks…

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