The last time I came to the Woodstock, Vermont area was to run the 2010 Covered Bridges Half Marathon. My husband Ethan has also run this race several times (before it started to sell out within minutes), making it a racecation with a big group from Cambridge Running Club (CRC). Seven years later, we both came back with a big CRC group. But instead of chasing half marathon PR’s, we all chased our kids around Fat Sheep Farm & Cabins in nearby Hartland, Vermont.
The CRC connection continues: Fat Sheep Farm was founded by Todd, one of our oldest CRC friends, and his fiancee Suzy. Both of them live there with their 3-month old daughter. Todd and Suzy both changed careers to follow their passions for food, farming, and travel. Over the past few years, they found the site, set up the pastures and fields, added infrastructure such as solar panels, began growing crops, added animals, and built five rental cabins. They currently have three Nigerian dwarf goats (Billy, Brady, and Gronk), three ewes (Brie, Blue, and Feta), two rams (Mr. Socks and Manchego), one rooster, and sixteen chickens. They sell fruits, vegetables, and eggs at local farmer’s markets. Suzy makes cheese at nearby Cobb Hill Farm.
The cabins that are perfect for a weekend getaway (whether you are going as a couple, friend group, or family). All of the spacious, fully-stocked cabins overlook fields and mountains. The smallest cabin size (Sunrise or Sunset) worked well for one CRC couple and their 3-month-old. When our son Parker is older, we’d appreciate the biggest cabins (Lull Brook or Four Corners), which have one bedroom and a loft. Our other friends’ 8-year-old twins loved going up the spiral staircase and sleeping in the loft.
We stayed in Ascutney, which was perfect for two parents + one 2-year-old. Parker had ample space to play with toys in the living room, and there was just enough space for us to place his pack and play at the foot of our bed in the bedroom. Since our home baby monitor is not wifi-enabled, we bought an Amcrest wifi camera to use as a travel baby monitor. We connected it to the cabin wifi and placed it on one of the small kitchen stools so that we could view him on our phones.
We enjoyed cooking in the kitchen, and especially appreciated the eggs and homemade bread that Suzy and Todd left for us (to make a triple-local breakfast sandwich, add Cobb Hill cheese).
We had planned to stop at Hannaford on the way up to stock up on groceries, but ended up skipping that because a traffic jam added about an hour to our trip. This actually turned out fine because we went out for two meals. We made coffee, eggs, toast with peanut butter or butter, and a green chili stew with beans and rice for the other meals. We packed a bunch of HappyTot pouches, Kirkland applesauce pouches, Harvest Crisp snap peas, Ella’s Kitchen nibblers, and Kirkland cheddar ducks as backup toddler food. Parker sat at the small kitchen table to eat his meals and we ate at the kitchen island (which was also perfect for doing a jigsaw puzzle–tall enough to keep little prying hands away).
Each morning, Suzy and Todd invite guests to take part in feeding and herding the animals. The older kids loved walking the sheep down to the pasture, putting hay in the goats’ cage, giving the goats and chickens grain, and collecting eggs from the chicken coops. Parker liked saying hello to the sheep in the barn and saying “bye bye goats!” as they ran to their pen, but he was bit skittish about feeding them or walking into the pasture. Later in the day, he warmed up to feeding the chickens some overgrown lettuce from the fields after watching the other kids do it.
Suzy and Todd also give tours of the fields and explain what crops they are planting. This week, we saw zinnias, potatoes, decorative corn, lettuce, and much more on Parker’s second “CRC visit to Farmer Todd’s fields.” Back in April 2015, Ethan and I (and Parker, in utero) went with two other CRC friends to Todd’s urban farm in Lowell to help him sift compost and take it out to the fields with wheelbarrows. It was a fun contrast to see fully grown crops (with a fully grown baby running around them). One of our friends got truly into the farm-to-table experience by helping Todd weed the potato fields and making dinner using farm vegetables.
During the day, cornhole, ladder toss, and horseshoes are all available for lawn festivities. Parker learned how to play cornhole from Todd and liked “helping” us play against each other. He loved kicking his soccer ball around the lawn, examining every single rock he could find, and inspecting Todd’s truck.
Lots of activities are just a short drive away, such as picking blueberries at Clay Hill Corners. We had a great time going as a group, and came back with 5.8 pounds of blueberries!
Cobb Hill Farm is also close by. We did a short hike and bought some delicious cheese.At night, we loved sitting around the fire pit in Adirondack chairs. We recommend bringing s’mores fixings and bug spray. We can’t wait to go back for another Vermont farm getaway!
Connect with Fat Sheep Farm:
Website | Instagram | Facebook | TripAdvisor
Book on AirBnB:
Got inspired by the MTBoS when I saw a tweet from Tina:
It made me think of an activity that I did for data analysis this year, focusing on the statement of inquiry: “How quantities are represented can establish underlying trends or relationships in a population.” We had learned measures of central tendency, stem-and-leaf plots, box plots, bar graphs, and histograms, so I was curious how they would apply these types of data analysis when given this statement of inquiry.
I asked the students what they thought the three most popular apps were for teens and the amount of time they estimated teens spent on those apps. They gave estimates like “Snapchat – 60 hours, Instagram – 70 hours, Facebook – 80 hours.” I then taught them how to find the time spent on iPhone apps, like this:
We collected data for all the iPhone users in 9th grade and then from staff members who were willing to share their usage data. I turned them loose with just these directions: “1) Analyze the data set for trends, using the math we have learned so far for data analysis. 2) Analyze the predictions people made. How close were the predictions?” For them, the hardest part was learning how to focus their analysis around subgroups of people (e.g., teens vs adults, females vs males) or around apps of their choices (e.g., one girl grouped all music apps as one category).
Via a fellow Mom of Camberville 2.0. #solidarity
A- Age: 35
B- Biggest fear: Heights/falling or ghosts
C- Current time: 2:46 p.m.
D- Drink you last had: decaf soy latte from Nine Bar Espresso
E- Every day starts with: the song “What Is Love” blaring from my iPhone alarm
F- Favorite song: whatever parody we are making up for snoop’s lullabies
G- Ghosts, are they real? yes
H- Hometown: Arlington, Virginia
I- In love with: husband and baby (aka snoop)
J- Jealous of: teachers who have figured out how to leave the job at work and keep the worry out of home
K- killed someone?: no, but why would I admit that in one of these surveys?
L- Last time you cried?: a few weeks ago
M- Middle name: Quimson
N- Number of siblings: 2
O- One wish: win ridiculous PowerBall jackpot for the purposes for paying off (and procuring new) family real estate as well as buying whatever I wanted for my school
P- Person you last called: mom and dad (on FaceTime with snoop)
Q- Question you’re always asked: why are we doing this?
R- Reason to smile: husband and snoop
S- Song last sang: the “good morning song”
T- Time you woke up: 7:02
U- Underwear color: striped
V- Vacation destination: next one is cabin with husband and snoop
W- Worst habit: procrastinating and impulse shopping
Y- Your favorite food: today, chicken pho
X- X-Rays you’ve had: teeth
Z- Zodiac sign: Scorpio
When getting ready to start maternity leave, I created a Google Calendar called “Parker” and promptly filled it with every single potential support group or maternity leave activity that I heard about from friends, my pediatrician, and Mt. Auburn Hospital. For example, I had bookmarked this post (from exactly three years ago!) and thought that I needed to attend multiple activities every single day of the week. Though Parker behaved better and I felt a lot happier on outings, I soon realized that having a few consistent activities and room for flexibility worked the best for us.
Class & Free Drop-In Groups
Having spent most of my teaching life in very structured time blocks, I longed for the familiar comfort of school when faced with the prospect of unstructured maternity leave. I signed up for the JCC New Arrivals (0-3 Months) and Getting to Know You (3-6 Months) classes at Ready, Set, Kids! in Arlington thinking that parenting classes would help me figure out how to be a mom. Early on, we did check-ins and had a group discussion/lesson about pertinent developmental topics such as sleep, breastfeeding, or preparing for the return to work. As the babies got older, we got to do more activities with them (such as parachute play or the ball pit). I appreciated getting to learn in a small group setting from an experienced teacher and in the company of mothers who were facing similar challenges. Each week, our teacher Liz did an amazing job of focusing each week’s discussions so that we could make progress without getting overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of parenting information that’s out there. I’m sure a lot of the information could have been found via Google, but the filtering definitely helped me focus on Parker’s development. Similarly, the strong personal connections in our small group were worth so much more than the class tuition. Even though I’d come into the class not even thinking about creating a support network, I left with a lot of wonderful mom friends. We spent many a fall afternoon relaxing at Kickstand Cafe or Common Ground, and now we’ll meet up for small “reunions” when there’s a holiday such as Presidents Day.
I don’t have pictures of the Medford group because phones aren’t allowed…this is Parker at a pre-group lunch at Colleen’s.
Two of the women in my JCC classes recommended the Medford New Parents Group as well. This free group meets at Medford High School on Tuesdays, and it’s for parents of children up to 1 year old. Each week, members will check in with their highs and lows for the week and then have an open discussion (one conversation for the entire group). A few folks often meet up at Colleen’s for lunch and some social time before group. Though this group’s facilitator is just as excellent as the JCC one, it has a completely different feel than the JCC classes. It’s drop-in, so it’s a lot bigger with less consistent attendance. There are dads as well as moms (no dads allowed at the JCC classes), second-time parents, and working parents. The discussion topics don’t follow a developmental timeline–for instance, they often arise out of circumstances such as wanting advice for holiday travel. I really enjoyed learning from parents with older babies in this group. Even though they weren’t struggling with the same challenges I was, they often had great advice from having gone through those experiences already. Another bonus: seeing their babies sitting up, crawling, and walking gave me stuff to look forward to for Parker. I also really appreciated that Aine, the facilitator, has a way of making everyone feel welcome and like they can move forward from even the most frustrating of circumstances.
The Library: Cambridge Public Library Lapsit
The library was always one of my favorite spots as a child, so I’d always planned to take Parker there for storytime and crafts. A few friends recommended the baby lapsit (with the caveat that the competition for tickets got so fierce that you’d have to arrive an hour beforehand). At first I thought that was crazy, and didn’t even attempt to go until Parker was 9 weeks old. I took a friend’s advice to go at 9:00 a.m. to pick up a ticket for the 10:00 a.m. lapsit and then go across the street to Darwin’s for a coffee. Parking in the library garage is cheap and easy to find on Monday mornings, which helps with early arrival. When the weather was nice, I’d stroll Parker around the neighborhood and check out the corgis playing in the nearby dog park. Sometimes I’d pick up books for myself in the new fiction section, read board books to Parker in the children’s room. I liked that the children’s room was so welcoming–it’s super clean, has ample bathrooms and changing tables, and lots of couches to sit on and nurse. It’s always hopping with parents, caregivers, and kids.
The lapsit itself lasts about 20 minutes. Julie the librarian (and her model baby Jake, a Curious George doll) leads the group in singalongs and finishes with reading a board book. The “good morning” song always starts, followed by introductions of the babies. The songs are consistent from week to week (to help the babies with language development). The lineup usually includes Pattycake, The Wheels on the Bus, Tony Chestnut, Kissing Frogs, Open Shut Them, Dump Truck, The Noble Duke of York, Trot Trot to Boston, Let’s Go Riding on the Elevator, Jumping Frogs, and Twinkle Twinkle. Even when Parker was going through fussy stages, he was always enraptured by all of the singing and the other babies. I grew to love it as a way to kick off the week.
Other Fun Stuff
We also liked:
– hanging out in coffee shops or restaurants (especially Diesel, Dwelltime–now Barismo, and Bagelsaurus)
– walking on the Minuteman Trail, Somerville Community Path, Alewife Greenway, Fresh Pond, and the Fells
– Capitol Theatre Baby Matinee: only went twice, and realized that this is best for really young babies…at six months, Parker would want to be entertained constantly rather than just sleeping through the movie.
– O2 Mommy Baby Yoga: only went once, and now I wish I’d been able to go once he hit six months because he doesn’t need to be held as much and would probably be happy exploring toys on the mat.
Stuff I Wish I’d Tried
I know it’s impossible to do everything, but I do wish I’d tried the following:
– Little Fox Library Singalong
– Jeff Jam Singalong
– Museum of Science (esp. because I could go for free as a K-12 teacher)
– Trustees of Reservations hikes
– Hike It Baby
My husband and I don’t typically get into lavish Valentine’s Day gifts (for example, watching an iTunes-rented movie over takeout sushi from our favorite places is probably going to be the extent of it this year), but I like to make crafty Valentine’s Day projects for girlfriends and for school fundraisers. For example, I made hot cocoa mixes for a prom fundraiser sale a few years ago. I like to celebrate these occasions without breaking the bank, and was inspired to share my ideas after learning about Personal Capital. If you haven’t heard of them, you should look into their free tools to help with your finances.
This year, my craft of choice was homemade mug candles, which I originally did for a blogger GALentine exchange by Fitness and Feta, then extended for my teacher girl friends as a half Galentine’s Day / half “it’s February break!” gift.
Photo via Simply Gourmet in Southie
Mugs for my teacher friends. Parker’s on the gift tags as Cupid Me 🙂
Materials (mostly from Michael’s, where teachers get a discount. I linked to similar items below–none are affiliate links)
Mugs – we got some cute ones in the dollar section
Soy wax flakes (similar)
Vanilla candle oil (similar)
Small pot from Goodwill for melting wax, though now I realize there are pouring pots for this
Old dish towels to do pouring on
My sister came over to hang out with me and Parker while we got to crafting. She’s made these candles before, so she had some tips and tricks. We set up the wicks in the mugs and used two clothespins to hold each wick in place. We melted soy wax flakes in the pot over low heat, then mixed in a few drops of the vanilla oil per pot. The pot held enough for 2-3 candles based on the mugs that I’d bought. We poured the wax into the mugs and repeated the process until all eight mugs were filled. After letting the wax cool overnight (recommended time is 12 hours), I cut the extra wicks off and they were ready for gifting.
This morning I started pondering the ever-growing “to post” list of ideas I’ve captured via Evernote notes and iPhone pictures. I’ve gotten inspired by school happenings that I want to post to one good thing, by lessons that I want to review and refine, and by “math in real life” that I find intriguing…only to lose momentum when I get distracted by another lesson to plan, another set of papers to grade, or something else that I think needs more attention than the reflection and writing processes of blogging. In spite of realizing that maternity leave is definitely *not* a vacation, I’ve wanted to blog if only for the connection to teaching life. One can only sing The Wheels on the Bus so many times before starting to crave something more complex.
So I posted a question about blogging habit formation to the MTBoS…and am going to try Tina Cardone‘s November blogging challenge!
I have tried NaBloPoMo before and found some of the prompts thought-provoking, but need a lower bar for success right now. The constraints of a prompt or the requirement to write long posts every day would probably make me give up like a New Year’s Resolution-er at the gym. On days when the baby needs to be bounced or walked more, the comment option will be just as successful for participating in the MTBoS.
EDIT: This post by Andy Rundquist is making me feel all sorts of parallels between MTBoS and my mommy-baby group…joined to learn more and reflect, but found that the community is the best part.
Today’s post is inspired by the Turo (formerly Relay Rides) Road Trip Essentials Campaign. My road trips are usually short and sweet (just like me)–for navigation, hydration, feeding sugar cravings, entertainment, and comfort!
1. Rand McNally road atlas (for when you don’t get cell service)
2. bkr water bottle
3. Trader Joe’s Gummy Penguins with Soft Tummies
4. Haribo Gummi Bears
5. Spotify playlists
6. Scunci hair ties
7. Sunski sunglasses
Our Personal Project Showcase today went great. I love that we celebrate the pursuit of learning in this way, and am so proud of our students. One of our alumni was there and commented that she wished they’d gotten a chance to do Personal Projects as 10th graders.