Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lady Gaga & Suffrage

Sunday is the anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendement - women's suffrage - in the United States.  SOOMO publishing offers a parody video of "Bad Romance" to introduce the idea to kids... their web page offers teaching tools once they get curious:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Join Rob, Sarah & Cedar on their home stretch Tues, 8/21!

Three People, Five Wheels, One Blankie
2012 Family Bicycle Journey through Maine, Atlantic Canada, and Quebec

 Hi Everyone!

We're having a wonderful re-entry into Maine this week after a sweet border crossing from Quebec.  Details and pictures, as always, are at www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/biketrip2012

We've made it as far as Readfield, Maine, with stops planned in Litchfield Sunday, Pownal on Monday, and home on Tuesday afternoon, 8/21/12!   Cedar will be rejoining us for the end of the trip, after a fun stay with Sarah's parents and step-mom this past week.

It has felt as though you have been along with us in spirit for the entire ride, and we would love to honor your presence by inviting you to ride with us for all or part of the last day of the trip on Tuesday.  (We made the same offer for our ride out of Portland on May 1, but strangely, no one took us up on this idea.  Maybe the rain and mid-40's temps had something to do with that! :) Or, you could just meet up with us near the end, for an Ice Cream Social at Beal's Ice Cream at Veranda Street in Portland, where we'll be from about 4:30 to 6 p.m.  (If it's raining - bring an umbrella!  We can always retire to the nearby Thai noodle place if the rain is really bad.) 

Here's our itinerary for the afternoon:  Leaving Bradbury Mountain main parking lot at 1, after lunch.  Slowly working our way south on Rte 9 and then local roads, with various stops (playground, bathrooms, etc).  We'll definitely stop at the new playground behind the Falmouth Elementary School off Woodville Road, probably some time around 3:00 to 3:30.  Aiming to arrive at Beals around 4:15 or 4:30.  

And here's a map of the route, if you'd like to try to meet up with us on the way:


We have some family committments through the last days of the month and then will be headed back to work as planned on September 4th after the Labor Day weekend.  Much love and look forward to seeing you sometime soon either way! 

Rob, Sarah, and Cedar

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Books, Books, Books

Last fall's Parenting for Peace program, Books As Bridges, yielded great ideas about using picture books to help kids (and adults) with perspective taking, deepen empathy, explore emotions, etc.  The range of possible books is endless... and sometimes overwhelming.  Here are a few book list sites I've come across, recently, that help me focus:

Rainbow Books : the American Library Association's selections of best LGBTQ books for kids and adults.

Amelia Bloomer : ALA's list of feminist books for kids

I'm Your Neighbor : a new list from Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, to encourage more integration and conversation among "New Mainers" and longer residing ones.  I think this has been listed before, but Cynthia Leitich  Smith's book lists are also fabulous resources for exploring new cultures through books...

Books That Heal Kids :  I've mentioned this blog before, but I'm always happy to get her recommendations about books that promote social and emotional learning.

And, an old favorite -- Katie's alma mater  Bank Street publishes monthly lists that always have great suggestions..
The Maine Book Award 2012-2013 nominees are available... older kids might choose to read a bunch and participate in the voting... past lists are also great guides to older-kid book choices.

Also for older kids, the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors... has book lists, teacher guides, etc.  and The Pirate Tree reviews books through a social justice lens.

For those of you who tweet, the #kidlit thread has tons of links and suggestions, too...

Any favorite books discovered in your houses this summer?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kids & Gender

Lindsay Morris (NYT)
On Sunday,  NYT magazine published a longish article : "What's So Bad About A Boy Who Wants to Wear a Dress? on kids who defy traditional "gender boxes" and claim a middle space -- boy and girl, neither boy nor girl -- and the social challenges that come with new identities.  I thought the article was a compassionate picture of families who are trying to understand how to support kids "true selves" in a society that is largely organized as if sex/gender binaries are real, natural, important and self-evident.  The author (Ruth Padawer) did not, however, really push on those structural pieces -- how does our society create and reproduce gender categories and for what purpose? 

Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create DifferenceI am currently reading Cordelia Fine's examination of neuroscience's claims of innate and natural differences between male and female brains.  Called "Delusions of Gender" she pretty quickly tears apart the idea that there is a strong biological link between sex and gender, and she debunks ideas that gender differences are inherent and all-inclusive.  That is, there are huge differences within categories (women can be as different from each other as from men) and we are never creating entirely non-sexist spaces for kids to grow up in, so we will never be able to fully entangle  nurture-from-nature.   It is a readable book and a fun one to just balance the enormous amount of "Men are from Mars" we consume in regular media.

Anyway, thinking about gender and kids takes us to so many places, from the unique individual experiences that kids have -- an interesting comment from the NYT piece suggested that as we become increasingly individualistic and inhabit more fragmented identities we experience more freedom but less security... curious how that resonates?  -- to questions about what kind of society we want for our children.  Maine is unique in having a law guaranteeing freedom from discrimination based on gender, not just sex, and as schools begin to comply with the law, the ways that we assume a gender binary as real will become more and more visible to us. 

If all this raises your interest -- in how to support your own child, in how to support creating a just and caring community for all kids -- come hear Jennifer Bryan on October 24th!  As part of our Parenting for Peace series, Bryan will address this topic, as it intersects with child development and with other issues relating to gender justice.   More info soon!

And, some resources:

Jennifer Bryan:  From the Dress Up Corner to the Prom: Navigating Gender and Sexual Identity Development (in NAIS magazine) 

John Peterman : When Chris Becomes Courtney : Preparing a Pre-K–8 School Community for a Transgendering Student (NAIS magazine) 

Welcoming Schools :  A resource from the Human Rights Campaign 

Trans Youth Equality Foundation (Maine)

Gender Spectrum (National) - vocabulary, definitions, advocacy

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back to School Festivities, Continued

A lovely FSP tradition is for each class to host some kind of gathering to connect families together toward the start of school... some plans are underway, and while point parents are taking the responsibility of coordinating, ALL PARENTS are hugely encouraged to put forward invitations and ideas... the more fun, the better!

  • Preschool has a pool party planned, August 19th 
  • Kindergarten has planned a picnic at Underwood Park on August 14th 
  • 1/2 is planning an Eastern Prom picnic, Aug 21st
  • 3/4 : Park Picnic, tentatively September 15 or 16
  • 5/6 :  Picnic @ Elise's House, August 29th
  • 7/8 :  A marshmallow roast and potluck supper party@Helen's, August 31st
And remember that the whole school picnic is on AUGUST 30th (3:30 - 6:30) 
Also.... Hildy has agreed to lead a yoga session, to help us ease into the transition from summer to fall... Our first Monday after drop-off, more details to come! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A cool idea for a class party...

No Impact Upcycling Week!

So much better than back-to-school shopping...
 The No Impact Project Upcycling Competition!
August 12th - August 19th
How often is your favorite piece of clothing also a great conversation starter?  If you have seen how many amazing things can be done with an old t-shirt you’ll understand why we think that upcycling is so much more fun than spending your hard earned money on new clothes.
Let’s give the earth a break this year and recycle your old clothes and products into awesome new, useful creations!   Starting Monday, August 12th and ending on Sunday, August 19th the No Impact Project will be holding a Back to School Upcycling Competition on our facebook page.
Post your favorite upcycling how-to links and pictures of your own ideas! We will select a few of the best ideas to share in our newsletter which goes out to over 30,000 fellow No Impact lovers. 

See the website for project ideas...

From Sunrise Guide

Calling All Budding Locavores!

This Saturday, August 11th, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will be hosting its 4th Annual Backyard Locavore Day from 10am-4pm to raise money for their future home at Tidewater Farm. Visit thirteen sites in Southern Maine. Enjoy demonstrations, food sampling, and backyard garden tours throughout the day. Topics include vegetable gardening, root cellaring, drying and canning foods, composting, raising chicken for eggs and meat, and more! Tickets $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, children under 12 are free. Learn more.

Parent Forums

On the first Tuesday of the month, starting in November, parents are invited to gather to discuss issues related to FSP, to child development, to our families, etc.  Forums can include invited guests/experts or can be more informal conversations among adults.

Past topics include:

-- Real Life / Real Talk : Sex Ed for Parents (from Planned Parenthood)
-- Inclusion & Exclusion at FSP
-- Music & Art at FSP
-- Simplicity and Commercialism (how to handle birthday parties & winter holidays)
-- Kids & Digital Media / Screens

And many more...

What would you like to chat about? What would get you back to school on a Tuesday night?

Use the comments to share ideas, or email your point parent (see names at right) to share suggestions!

Back to School Festivities

A lovely FSP tradition is for each class to host some kind of gathering to connect families together toward the start of school... some plans are underway, and while point parents are taking the responsibility of coordinating, ALL PARENTS are hugely encouraged to put forward invitations and ideas... the more fun, the better!

Kindergarten has planned a picnic at Underwood Park on August 14th...

1/2 is planning an Eastern Prom picnic

More details, from more classes, to come...

And remember that the whole school picnic is on AUGUST 30th (3:30 - 6:30)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

NYT on Good Parenting & Kim's Commentary

I'm so bored with the meme of the "helicopter parent" -- we really all do our best and I think more support for parents in general would help create a more caring society.  But, perfectionist that I am, I can't resist checking myself against the cultural ideals of "good" parenting and pretty much find that I come up short in one way or another.  Sigh.

I'm curious if this short NYT piece by Madeline Levine (author of the Price of Privilege and a new book that's coming out now) resonates with others.  The best line, for me, is : "  ... the child’s job is to grow, yours is to control your anxiety so it doesn’t get in the way of his reasonable moves toward autonomy" I do think FSP should offer Mackworth Yoga for Stressed Our Parents! It does seem that managing our worry is one of the biggest developmental tasks of mid-life... preparation for "growing old ain't for sissies", I think.

Ultimately, I am still a believer in the argument put forward by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels in The Mommy Myth  -- The more the standard of good mothering is both vague/changeable and unattainable, the more we'll sink into our own nutty spin-out of strive/fail/worry/achieve/collapse and the less we'll focus on collective action for political change and social justice for all families.

Yet, according to the Casey Foundation,  a quarter of Maine kids live in houses that experience food insecurity, and almost 1/2 of all school-aged kids qualify for subsidized lunch (wonder what that means for food in summer?).  Maine's KidCount book is really worth looking through, motivation to helicopter a little more for kids everywhere - and their mothers, too.

This blog post, titled: the shame of being newly poor (or, why I canceled our plans today)
shared by "BlackGirlInMaine" provides a powerful narrative about what it feels like to be constantly short of money, while raising kids.  It is a story that I know will resonate within our FSP community, yet a story that rarely is put into public words.

And that circles back to the Levine essay.  While the reality for many Maine families is that idyllic childhoods are interrupted by the displacement of adult responsibilities onto kids themselves,  the fantasy of parenting-perfection remains and the quest to help kids make it to safety in what feels like an increasingly unsafe world is powerful - and remains highly individualistic in many ways. 

How can we break our isolation, develop communities that create safety among shared resources, build kids resilience and our own, with less judgement and less fear? 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Parenting for Peace & Jennifer Bryan

The Parenting for Peace committee is in need of new members!  If you have an interest in social issues relating to kids, education, and community and/or have detail-oriented skills, please let us know!

We are thrilled to be bringing Jennifer Bryan to FSP on October 24th to present findings and resources from her book From the Dress Up Corner to the Senior Prom : Navigating Gender and Sexuality Diversity Pre-K to 12 Schools.

I have ordered a copy of the book for the parent library, or check out this essay for the National Association of Independent Schools which summarizes her perspective.  Also, check out this piece, which connects so well with our 2011 'Books as Bridges' program  (and consider buying a title for your home or for FSP - we will have books for sale at the 10/24 program).

I will soon post a series of links and info by way of introduction to this program... please do let us know if you want to help!

Postcard - Things You Can Do To Eradicate Gender or Multiply It Exponentially - Single

SCW©2001. Mollie Biewald, mixed media©1999.

from Syracuse Cultural Workers : http://syracuseculturalworkers.com/

Single Postcard
Price: $1.00 .50

Package of 12
Price: $9.95 $5.98

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Art of Living

This looks like something that might be of interest to some FSP folks... 


The Art of Living Course Export to Your Calendar

When: 8/10/2012
Where: The Yoga Center
449 Forest Ave
Portland, Maine  04103
United States
Contact: Stephanie Rand (stephrand@yahoo.com)

The Art of Living Course teaches powerful stress management techniques the relieve stress and still the mind. We are teaching The Art of Living Course at The Yoga Center in Portland, Maine on Friday, August 10th from 6:30-9:30pm, Saturday and Sunday, August 11th and 12th from 10am-5pm, and Monday, August 13th from 6:30-9:30pm. We hope you will be able to join us for this event. Please register at www.secure.artofliving.org to reserve your space. Please select the course listed for Gloucester, MA and you will see on the registration page that that is actually the Portland, Maine event. We hope to see you there!

Bates Dance Festival

This weekend is the 30th Anniversary Celebration for the Bates Dance Festival - sure to be a delight! 

And on Aug 11th you can see Kate and Naomi in the Festival Finale -  Bates is an awesome place for a picnic first, and the finale is only $6