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APRIL 2021 A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CHILDCARE PROVIDER

NEW COLUMN! SECONDHAND STYLE

A PARENT-MADE FANTASY PODCAST

GOOD CITIZEN CHALLENGE RESULTS

The

Rite Stuff

In a pandemic year, parents and kids share how they marked milestones P. 22

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COURTESTY OF SANDY HAWKES

EDITOR’S NOTE STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS COPUBLISHER/ EXECUTIVE EDITOR

STAFF QUESTION

How did you celebrate your — or a family member’s — pandemic birthday? We had TAKEOUT FRIED CHICKEN from Misery Loves Co., banana splits prepared by my husband and daughter, and a two-night camping trip to the state park where we slept in the tent, listened to the loons and saw the peaking fall colors.

Cathy Resmer

cathy@kidsvt.com COPUBLISHER

Colby Roberts

colby@kidsvt.com MANAGING EDITOR

Alison Novak

alison@kidsvt.com

ELISA JÄRNEFELT, “MOM TAKES NOTES” CONTRIBUTOR

ART DIRECTOR

Kirsten Thompson MARKETING & EVENTS DIRECTOR

Corey Grenier

corey@kidsvt.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

Kaitlin Montgomery kaitlin@kidsvt.com PROOFREADER

Eizabeth M. Seyler PRODUCTION MANAGER

John James CREATIVE DIRECTOR

AAsucculent art display in theatlobby of Hunt Middle School in Burlington collaborative art display Lyman C. Hunt Middle School

Don Eggert DESIGNERS

John James, Rev. Diane Sullivan CIRCULATION MANAGER

Matt Weiner BUSINESS MANAGER

Marcy Carton CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Keegan Albaugh, Meredith Bay-Tyack, Astrid Hedbor Lague, Heather Fitzgerald, Emly Jacobs, Elisa Järnefelt, Maria Munroe, Ken Picard, Benjamin Roesch, Brett Ann Stanciu PHOTOGRAPHER

Andy Brumbaugh ILLUSTRATORS

Sarah Cronin, Marc Nadel

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A Year of Adaptations

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ecently, I was thinking about my kids’ first day of school in September. Like in previous years, I felt a nervous flutter in my stomach as I watched my son and daughter enter their school buildings, weighed down by backpacks and lunch bags. But this year, the nervousness was compounded with fear and a little sadness as I said goodbye to my kids, freshly washed masks obscuring their nervous smiles. They joined the line of other masked students, waiting their turn for a temperature check. Customary worries like Will they have a good day? were accompanied by much more complicated questions: Will they be emotionally scarred from having to socially distance from friends and teachers all day? Will they experience mask fatigue? Will they bring COVID-19 home? Seven months later — summer break almost in sight — I’m struck by the resilience, not just of my own kids, but of all the students, teachers, school staff and parents this school year. Seeing my kids donning their masks along with their backpacks no longer makes me feel sad; it’s just what we do now. We’ve adapted. In “The Rite Stuff” on page 22, we look at how families have experienced different rites of passage during the past year — from celebrating first birthdays to getting a driver’s license. Kids and parents experienced these milestones differently than they would have in a normal year. But despite the pandemic’s huge presence in our lives, it didn’t stop families from celebrating the things that matter to them. We’ve all adapted. In this issue, you’ll also find ways to celebrate Earth Day every day (page 19), a profile of a South Burlington school nurse (page 26) and an essay about a (very busy) day in the life of a childcare provider (page 35). We’ve also compiled some of the best submissions to our recently concluded Good Citizen At-Home Challenge; that cheerful collection of photos and anecdotes begins on page 28. I’m also happy to introduce our newest contributor, Maria Munroe — who recently moved to Vermont from Hawaii with her husband and baby daughter. She’ll be writing a regular column about thrifting, fashion and décor called “Secondhand Style.” Find it this month on page 21. In late March, Burlington art teacher Sandy Hawkes emailed me photos of a collaborative art project made by her students at Lyman C. Hunt Middle School. Guided by the theme “We are all resilient,” each student created a personalized leaf; combined, they form a lobby display of brightly colored succulent plants (pictured above). Spring is just about here. The snow is melting. Flowers are coming up. Vaccines are here. I’m hopeful that the resilience we’ve learned this year will get us through this hopefully final stretch of the pandemic.

My eldest turned both 17 and 18 during the pandemic, with a March 16 birthday. Last year was pretty much a wash. We literally were in shock and did almost nothing. We made up for it this year: I made a megachocolate cake, we were able to have brunch at my mom’s and still follow guidelines, and I made a bunch of HOMEMADE SUSHI. My husband also decided that 18 gifts are in order. We are about halfway through.

ASTRID HEBOR LAGUE, “MEALTIME” CONTRIBUTOR

For my daughter’s 15th birthday, two friends celebrated with her around a campfire. Since so many places were closed, her friends brought her tiny little things — a string of lights and a picture a friend had painted. In the dusk, we SPIED ON A FOX FAMILY who lived in a den just behind our house.

BRETT ANN STANCIU, “BOOKWORMS” CONTRIBUTOR

I was pregnant and had given up spicy food because it gave me insane heartburn. On my birthday I said “screw it,” ATE A TON OF SPICY FOOD, drank a bunch of mocktails, and watched Hamilton on Disney+.

MARIA MUNROE, “SECONDHAND STYLE” CONTRIBUTOR

To celebrate my son Felix’s birthday last June, we set up a screen and projector in the backyard and invited a few of his friends over for a socially distanced OUTDOOR MOVIE PARTY. The kids had a blast watching Star Wars under the stars!

BENJAMIN ROESCH, “MUSICAL NOTES” CONTRIBUTOR

CONTRIBUTOR’S NOTE (“Use Your Words,” page 35) lives in Montpelier with her husband, two children and three guinea pigs. She enjoys running, reading and gardening.

AUBREY BOYLES

ALISON NOVAK, MANAGING EDITOR KIDSVT.COM APRIL 2021

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APRIL 2021

22

summer art camps The Rite Stuff In a pandemic year, parents and kids share how they marked milestones.

• ages 3-17 • sliding scale fee model

Columns 10 Mealtime 11 Good Nature 12 Bookworms 13 Musical Notes 14 Pop Culture 15 Checkup 16 Art Class 17 Mom Takes Notes 18 Family Entertainment 19 Growing Up Green 21 Secondhand Style 35 Use Your Words

Vermont Visionaries South Burlington school nurse Kerry Farrell

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26

Celebrating 12 years of teaching Irish Dance in Vermont!!

3/31/21 1:26 PM

28 A reflection on the 2020-2021 Good Citizen At-Home Challenge

Just for Kids 32 Coloring Contest 33 Puddle Stumper Maze 34 Coloring Contest Winners 14 Puzzle Answer On the Cover

NEW LOCATION! 179 Commerce Street Williston, VT 05495 Please contact us for information about classes, summer camps and much more!!

Welcome Editor’s Note 5 Contributors’ Question Contributor’s Note

Short Stuff Trending 9 Community Project #InstaKidsVT

Illustrator Sarah Cronin depicts a variety of childhood rites of passage in her cover image.

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COURTESY OF CAITLIN BURLETT

COURTESY OF CAITLIN BURLETT

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COURTESY OF JESSICA DOLAN

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participate in the climate-justice movement and to respond with a poem, story, interview, picture or photograph. The zine entries range from an essay about a family of four’s journey as they prepare to hike the entire Long Trail this summer to a photocollage of parents and kids on cargo Allison Korn of Brattleboro with her children bikes. There’s a piece on handcrafting games and toys and a “Little Miss Flint” paper doll that honors 13-year-old Mari Copeny, who became an activist when her town suffered a water crisis. Social justice educator and Find The Future is Now online at https://issuu. activist Angela Berkfield shares an excerpt from com/350vermont/docs/thefutureisnow and at Parenting 4 Social Justice, a guide released in local bookstores. March by Green Writers Press. Though the pandemic has prevented in-person Mother Up! meetings #INSTAKIDSVT this winter and spring, 350Vermont plans to host tree plantings across Thanks for sharing your photos with us using the hashtag #instakidsvt. We loved this picture showing 8-year-old the state in May as part of its ReWild Calvin and 6-year-old Violet of Jericho collecting sap in Vermont campaign, which aims to different ways. plant 100 thousand trees across the state by the end of 2022. Share photos of your family exploring Mother Up! members celebrated new places this month. Tag us on The Future is Now with a launch In stagram! HERE’S HOW: event on Zoom on March 23, featur Follow @kids_vt y ing music, readings and a visioning on Instagram. activity. Post your photos x “We all did this alone at home,” on Instagram with the hashtag #instakidsvt. said Mnookin, “and yet it’s part of this We’ll select a photo to feature in the next issue. shared creation that will go out into the world.” K

inding ways to collaborate isn’t easy during a pandemic. But families across Vermont recently came together to create a 48-page zine — a small-batch, selfpublished collection of original writing and images— centered around creating a more equitable, sustainable world. The approximately 18 contributors to the publication, The Future Is Now, are members of Mother Up!: Families Rise Up for Climate Action, a project of nonprofit 350Vermont (350vermont.org). The network of Vermont parents, who met regularly in Brattleboro, Montpelier, Burlington and Middlebury before the pandemic, are advocates for climate justice — for the health of families, communities and the planet. Last year, 350Vermont released two zines related to the climate crisis and COVID-19. Those projects were a great way for supporters to stay connected and write about how those issues were impacting them, said Mother Up! coordinator Abby Mnookin. They also inspired the creation of a more family-focused publication. The Future Is Now organizers provided families with a menu of prompts, asking them to think about how they live sustainably or

The Milton Recreation Department is launching an esports (electronic sports) league, thought to be the first of its kind in Vermont. Definitely a COVID-safe way to compete. (But don’t forget to get some fresh air.)

ON KORN

Embracing the Earth

TRENDING

COURTESY OF ALLIS

COMMUNITY PROJECT

Caitlin Burlett, Selah and Anaïs biking to school

Jessica Dolan and her daughter Naia KIDSVT.COM APRIL 2021

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MEALTIME BY A S T RI D H E D B OR L A GUE

Roasted Vegetable Farro Salad A versatile and nutritious dish for spring

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arro is nothing new. In fact, it’s one of the so-called “ancient grains” and has been around for about 10,000 years. Some other grains that fit into this category are amaranth, millet and sorghum. All are full of fiber, protein and minerals. According to an NPR article I found, farro originated in the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent and has been found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. It is similar in size to barley but is a bit nuttier and chewier. It is great in soups, as a breakfast grain or — as in this recipe — as the backbone of a hearty salad. Typically, farro you find in the grocery store will take up to 45 minutes to cook, though you can get quicker-cooking varieties that take as little as 10 minutes. What I like most about this salad is its versatility. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand that your family enjoys. I suggest corn, eggplant, green peas or red peppers. I roasted my veggies, but when the weather allows, grilled vegetables would be a delight. My sister is not usually a fan of fennel but enjoyed it once it was roasted, as that really tones down the licorice flavor. Want to make it a more substantial meal? Stir in crumbled sweet Italian sausage, capicola ham or salami. This old-school dish might just make a great new addition to your weekday dinner rotation this spring. So go ahead, give it a try! K

until the tomatoes begin to burst open and the other vegetables are soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

INGREDIENTS: • 1 bulb fennel • 1 small zucchini • 1 small yellow squash • 2 pints cherry tomatoes

5. While the vegetables are roasting, cook the farro by boiling it in vegetable broth according to package directions. It should be slightly al dente.

• 4 tablespoons olive oil • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning • 1 package (8.8 oz.) quickcooking farro (or regular farro, cooked according to package directions)

6. Once it is cooked, drain remaining liquid and set the farro aside to cool to room temperature.

• 4 cups vegetable broth • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (more to taste)

PHOTOS: ANDY BRUMBAUGH

• 1 tub marinated mozzarella balls (I used ciliegine, but if you can find the mini pearls, they would also work well.) • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, coarsely chopped • Juice of 1 lemon • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste • Mixed salad greens for plating

DIRECTIONS: 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 2. Chop all the vegetables 10

KIDSVT.COM APRIL 2021

(except the tomatoes) into bite-size pieces. 3. In a small roasting pan, coat the fennel with olive oil, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and a little salt and pepper. (Fennel

roasts more quickly than the other vegetables, which is why it is roasted separately). 4. Combine the other chopped vegetables and tomatoes in a larger

roasting pan. Coat with remaining olive oil, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast the fennel for about 30 minutes, and the other vegetables for about 40 minutes or

7. Once the vegetables and the farro have cooled, toss with Parmesan cheese, drained marinated mozzarella, fresh basil and lemon juice. Finish with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. 8. Serve either chilled or at room temperature on a bed of greens, as a side dish or a main course. Leftovers will keep in the fridge, without the greens, for about three days.


© BRAD CALKINS | DREAMSTIME

GOOD NATURE B Y HE AT HE R FIT Z GE RA L D to communicate aggression, alarm and more: birdlanguage.com/resources/ bird-voices-audio-library.

Spring Awakening Experiencing the season through the five senses

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pollinators to emerge in spring. It also likely deters deer and rabbits from feasting on these early-rising plants of spring.

© JUSTNATURECHANNEL | DREAMSTIME

or a while, I had a theme on my Gmail account that displayed the current weather. More often than I care to admit, I learned that it was snowing or raining when I logged into my email; I would see it on my screen, then look out the window and notice that it was, in fact, happening in the real world. I’ve also been known to ignore fatigue, hunger and other things going on in my body that I should probably notice. As I’ve been learning to pay more attention to what’s going on, both internally and in my immediate world, I’ve been hoping those tendencies will rub off on my 13-year-old son. I want him to be able to stay connected to his body and the physical world, and not have to relearn how to do it as an adult. April is a great month to practice experiencing the outdoors through your senses. When things that have been frozen start to thaw, the smells, sounds and sights are intense! Here are a few ideas to get you started. Smell: Look for skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) in marshy areas. Its musky odor attracts carrioneating flies and beetles, the first

Hear: Listen for the first frogs! This website has a simple set of recordings of frogs that can be heard in Vermont, in roughly the order they start calling: musicofnature.com/calls-of-frogsand-toads-of-the-northeast. It’s also entirely possible to enjoy the sounds without identifying them. You can also listen for bird language. Birds do a lot more than sing, and this website has recordings of the “five voices” they use

Touch: Do you notice that the sun’s rays feel stronger than they did a month ago? Have you ever stopped to think about how that works? After spending time on physics forums in the bowels of Google and checking with the good folks at the Vermont Astronomical Society, I have concluded that this is not actually a simple question. Does it have to do with the sun going through less atmosphere when it is more directly overhead or, rather, with spring’s warmer air temperature? The answer isn’t straightforward. Either way, pay attention to how the sun feels on your body at different times of day, and pause to notice when you’re in the shade versus full sun. Taste: I asked Katherine Elmer, a community herbalist at Railyard Apothecary and Spoonful Herbals, for some early plants you can taste. She recommends the “fun and Velcro-like” cleavers (Galium aparine) and stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) as some of the tastiest early risers. You can look up these plants using the free app iNaturalist. Nettles have stinging hairs on them, so wear leather or rubber gloves to pick them. Then you’ll need to cook or crush them to neutralize the hairs. One tasty way to eat them is in Spoonful Herbals’ nettle pesto. Find the recipe at shelburnefarms.org/blog/ making-nettle-pestowith-spoonful-herbals. See: Have you ever paused to look closely at a tree’s flowers or unfurling buds? The book Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo and Robert Llewellyn offers amazing close-up photographs of common trees doing this small, amazing act. Since I saw the book’s Skunk cabbage photographs, I have been unable to walk by ordinary trees lining the sidewalk without stopping to look closer when they are flowering or budding. Some of the first trees to keep an eye out for as you walk down the sidewalk are the maples. K Heather Fitzgerald teaches field ecology and environmental science at Community College of Vermont, the University of Vermont and Saint Michael’s College.

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atercress tells the story of a girl whose parents gather wild watercress along a roadside in the rural Midwest. At first embarrassed by their unusual behavior, the child discovers as the story unfolds that her mother, a Chinese immigrant, picked this plant to survive a famine when she was a young girl. Featured on the Spring 2021 Kids’ Indie Next List Pick, Watercress is Denver writer Andrea Wang’s seventh book and features picturesque watercolors by Vermont illustrator/author Jason Chin. Chin’s previous books include Grand Canyon — a Caldecott Honor Book — and Redwoods. Watercress is a story about how American children of immigrants inhabit both the United States and their parents’ memories of another country. As our society reckons with questions of who is American, this picture book illustrates that families are at the heart of our complex human story. Chin, a South Burlington resident, answered a few questions about his new book. Kids VT: Could you share how your family’s story affected the illustrations in Watercres s ? Jason Chin: My father’s parents immigrated to America in the first half of the 20th century. When I was about 12, my parents took us to China. We visited Hong Kong, where my grandmother was from, and the mainland, where my grandfather was from. It was transformative, although I was young and didn’t realize it at the time. In college, I spent time studying in China. I studied Chinese history and traditional Chinese art. My memories of China, my interest in Chinese art and my experience as a person with Chinese heritage growing up in a rural town in New Hampshire influenced the creation of this book.

KVT: Why did you feature corn and bamboo in your illustrations? JC: When I started working on the book, I knew that I would have to paint a lot of corn in the illustrations. So I went out to a field near my house to paint and study corn plants. While I was painting, it occurred to me that corn is an iconic American plant and bamboo an iconic Chinese plant. They are also both grasses and share physical traits. I thought it would make a nice motif for the book if I could, in a subtle way, use the plants to represent these two cultures. K Jason Chin

Learn more about Jason Chin at jasonchin.net and about author Andrea Wang at andreaywang.com.


MUSICAL NOTES BY BE N J A M I N ROE S CH

Listen Well Planting musical seeds for someday

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COURTESY OF BENJAMIN ROESCH

haring the music that matters to us the most is a powerful way to connect with the people we love the most. I learned this on one of many long childhood road trips. Each summer, my brother, Jacob, and I would hop into the back of the family minivan, and my dad would drive us from Indianapolis to western Ohio, where my stepfather was waiting. We’d scarf down McDonald’s burgers and fries at outdoor picnic tables, then finish the journey to Oneonta, N.Y., where we spent each summer with my mom, stepdad and three younger brothers. A life divided, though happily. On one such road trip, my dad did something strange. He told Jacob and me there Ben (right) with his was a song he wanted to play for us. A song that he’d always loved, that held a message he thought mightdad and brother resonate in our young minds. He said he wanted us to set aside our Nintendo Game Boys and paperbacks and really listen. Uh oh. Now, I was already very familiar with my dad’s Baby Boomer musical taste. Sunday morning cleaning sessions were always accompanied by Pink Floyd or the Rolling Stones. Pool parties featured James Taylor and Van Morrison. We had a dog named Joni, after the great Joni Mitchell. My dad loved music, but until that moment, he’d never made a big deal about it. I can’t remember whether he mentioned, before he hit play on Harry Chapin’s epic 1977 song “There Was Only One Choice,” that it was more than 14 minutes long. That particular realization hit me about halfway through, when my stamina wavered and my mind began to wander as the stanzas blew past me. The song begins as a simple folk ballad about a young street musician who’s found his calling on a six-string. As it goes on, it segues into Chapin’s own midlife musings, including his honest reflections on America’s promise as it reached the Bicentennial. I know I felt something when it was over, but I don’t remember what it was. My dad didn’t demand a response. He just let the silence linger as the miles passed us by. He’d done his part. Years later, without seeing the obvious parallel — after

As I replay the memory, it’s my father’s love for the song that has lingered far more than the song itself.

all, I was a myopic 21-year-old at the time — I repaid the favor when I asked my dad to sit quietly in a room with me and listen to Keith Jarrett’s 1973 solo concert from Bremen, Germany. I’d found music that deeply stirred my soul, that seemed to have unlocked some secret truth in the universe. And sharing it with the man whose opinion mattered most to me felt deeply important. These days, as a father of two sons — Felix, 12, and Leo, 10 — I’ve grown more nostalgic and think often about my childhood. I keep coming back to that day on the highway. As I replay the memory, it’s my father’s love for the song that has lingered far more than the song itself. I grew to love Harry Chapin on my own, and his timeless story songs are old favorites at this point. I even cue up and listen to “There Was Only One Choice” now and again. I never mean to get through all 14 minutes, but I always do. It’s a beautiful song. But I’ve come to realize that my dad was doing something far more powerful than sharing a song he loved. Maybe without even meaning to, he was sharing something deep within himself that his own words couldn’t express. A vision for life. For America. For the way he hoped his own sons might dream big as they navigated the world. In the end, the song wasn’t really the point. Asking us to listen was. Like in my own childhood home, my sons couldn’t escape music if they tried. Whether I’m cooking dinner or quietly reading, there’s almost always a record playing. But there’s a difference between hearing and listening. And from time to time, I sit them down, cue up something I love, such as Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” or the Beatles’ “If I Fell,” and ask them to really listen. I invite you to do the same with your children, with the understanding that the song or album you choose isn’t really that important. What matters is carving out the time to connect. What matters is laying your heart bare through the music you love, so that as your children grow up and find their way through this world, they’ll know something about your passion. They’ll know something about what kind of person you really are. Benjamin (left) with his dad and brother And they’ll carry that with them always. K KIDSVT.COM APRIL 2021

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POP CULTURE B Y KE E GA N A L BA UGH

Reentry Plan How COVID-19 has affected my ability to physically reconnect with others KEEGAN ALBAUGH

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n a recent morning in early March, I took a bite of cereal and scrolled through the news on my phone. I typically spend more time skimming the headlines than I do actually reading articles. But on this day, one particular headline caught my eye, and I had to do a double-take. “Fully vaccinated people can gather without masks, CDC says.” I stopped chewing and clicked the link to read the most recent updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sure enough, I found the statement that fully vaccinated people could now “visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.” After a year of physically distancing myself from others as much as possible, this news didn’t seem real. Because part of my work involves home visiting with families, I was fortunate to have already received both doses of the Moderna vaccine, and more than two weeks had passed. These new guidelines applied to me. Wait, I thought. Does this mean I can drive to the home of my friend Marlon, who is also fully vaccinated, and give him a huge hug? Is the CDC literally saying that I can hop in my car and do that right now? Amazingly, the answer was yes. But as much as I wanted to, I didn’t grab my car keys and pay Marlon a visit. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. For the past year, my family and I had been following pretty much every bit of guidance the CDC had offered, but for the first time since the start of the pandemic, I was hesitant to follow the agency’s advice. Questions

Keegan’s daughter Coraline watches from afar as neighbors play

swirled in my head: How were they so sure it was safe? What about the new variants showing up in Burlington’s wastewater testing? Could I still pass the virus on to others, even though I was vaccinated? Throughout the pandemic, my family has been playing by the rules. Masks in public. No hugs from grandparents. No large gatherings. We continued disinfecting our groceries even after news came out that the practice wasn’t necessary. We have definitely erred on the side of caution. Our children haven’t had a playdate or visited a public playground for over a year, even though research has shown that contracting COVID-19 by going down a slide or using a swing is rare. Both kids have been in different schools since June of last year, but we have felt fairly

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safe with the contained environments and health practices at each location. We’ve been waiting for so long for permission to gather once again with friends and family. With the recent news that all Vermonters 16 and up will be eligible for vaccines by April 19, the days of large gatherings and family barbecues don’t seem that far off. But even though there’s a timeline for vaccinations, thoughts about babysitters, dinner dates with my partner, and kids’ birthday parties still seem like fantasies that are light years away. After a year living mostly in isolation, how can our family move toward a place of comfort when thinking of reconnecting with others? When will we finally feel that the risks are small enough to gather with friends?

To be honest, I have no idea. Even when we get the green light from the state that it’s OK to attend a large event down by Burlington’s waterfront, I’m not sure whether I’ll be down there pulling my kids in a wagon or sitting at home, still too nervous to invite my neighbors over for dinner. As excited as I am to watch my children play with other kids at the park, I can’t even imagine it. But I miss it. I miss bringing the kids over to a friends’ house, enjoying brunch while watching everyone’s children play. I miss having a babysitter come over so I can make it out to the Vermont Comedy Club to watch my partner perform while I laugh and munch on French fries. I miss it all and desire it so badly. On the eve of the first day of spring, I went to Winooski to pick up some takeout for dinner. I arrived early, so I strolled around town for 20 minutes to soak up some vitamin D. I walked by my old workplace, the Centerpoint School, and thought about the dozens of former coworkers I hadn’t seen in person for over a year. I walked past the new location of Four Quarters Brewing at the top of the traffic circle and longed for a postwork gathering with friends on a Friday afternoon. I inhaled the smells pouring out of local restaurants and fantasized about dining at one of them with my two daughters, whom I once loved to show off publicly any chance I had. The date for all of those things is getting nearer, I’m just not sure when my family and I will actually feel ready. But when that day comes, you’d better believe there will be a lot of hugs involved. K

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CHECKUP WIT H D R. L E WI S F I RS T • I N T E RV I E W C O M PIL ED & C O N DEN S ED B Y K EN PIC AR D

Should Parents Be Concerned About Their Kids’ Pandemic Weight Gain? OLEG CHIZHOV | DREAMSTIME

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n the midst of a pandemic — when so many people are out of work, feeling stressed about their finances and concerned about keeping their families healthy — it can seem trivial to worry that our kids have put on a few extra pounds. But childhood weight gain remains a serious health concern, especially now. Experts predict that the prevalence of kids who are considered overweight or obese will increase by about 5 percent during this global health crisis. Dr. Lewis First, chief of pediatrics at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital, calls that increase “significant.” But he has some advice for parents to help their kids keep the weight off, without becoming “the food police.” KIDS VT: What are the health concerns associated with weight gain in children, especially during the pandemic? LEWIS FIRST: Obesity is a chronic disease that increases children’s short-term and long-term health risks. In the short term, we know that adults who are overweight or obese who get COVID-19 are more likely to have more serious complications from the illness, and we suspect that the same is true for children. Some studies suggest that being overweight or obese makes a child’s body more susceptible to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which potentially can result in more significant complications, such as worsening respiratory symptoms, or a rare but serious complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. This is a condition in which different parts of the body can become inflamed — including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs — as a reaction to being exposed to this virus. We also know that about one in three children and teenagers nationally is overweight and about 15 to 20 percent are considered obese. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define children as “overweight” if their body mass index (BMI) is in the 85th to 94th percentile for children of the same age and gender, and “obese” if their BMI is in the 95th percentile or higher. Before the pandemic, rates of childhood obesity had stabilized and even

started to decline. Long-term, we also know from pre-pandemic studies that two-thirds of children who are obese by age 5 will be obese by age 50. And 90 percent of teenagers who are obese will remain so as adults, which puts them at heightened risk for hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. KVT: Why has the pandemic reversed the progress made in reducing childhood obesity? LF: Several factors are at work. First, access to in-person school means access to healthier foods for breakfast and lunch. With many schools operating remotely, children have less regimented schedules, are getting less physical exercise and are spending more time on screens, allowing them to snack more. Many families also face heightened food insecurity, resulting in children consuming less-expensive, high-calorie snack foods and sugary beverages. We also know that when people are depressed, they tend to worry less about what they’re eating or how much. Anxiety and lack of sleep can also contribute to weight gain. The hormones that rev up when you’re stressed are also the ones that pack on the pounds.

KVT: Has the shift to more telehealth — medical visits done remotely via the internet — made it more difficult for health professionals to gather weight information? LF: Unfortunately, when kids aren’t in the office where we can gather their height and weight, we miss opportunities to make a difference. But the American Academy of Pediatrics is trying to find ways to gather this information. If a family has a scale at home when we do a telehealth visit, we try to record where kids are now weight-wise compared to when we last saw them. Keep in mind that, at ages 8, 9 and 10, kids start to put on some weight before their height shoots up as puberty begins. That may be absolutely normal and follow a healthy growth curve. That’s where your child’s health professional can be helpful. If, all of a sudden, your child looks a little fuller in the face at that age, and you’ve already been focused on them eating right, it may be time for a discussion about puberty rather than increasing body weight. KVT: What steps can parents take to keep their kids at a healthy weight? LF: We want to help parents create schedules, lifestyles and behavioral

patterns that reinforce the good, so that their children learn what they need to do to keep themselves healthy. Parents can start by putting healthy fruits and cut vegetables in the refrigerator that their children can “grab and go” if they want to snack healthy, and by getting rid of those high-calorie snack foods and sugary beverages. One good method to think about on a daily basis is the 5-2-1-0 plan: Eat five fruits and veggies; allow no more than two hours of nonacademic screen time; get at least one hour of physical activity, which can be spread throughout the day; and drink zero sugary beverages. Parents should become role models for their kids by following this model themselves. KVT: How can parents avoid stigmatizing their child’s weight? LF: We really don’t want parents fixating on their children’s weight or banning certain foods altogether. When parents do that, it just makes kids feel more anxious. And it will reverse their good behaviors, make them crave those restricted foods even more, and can even contribute to future eating disorders. Parents can be in control of younger children’s portion size, and offer them healthy choices as to what to eat and when meals and snacks will occur throughout the day for the entire family. When families have meals together, children are more likely to eat a healthier and more varied diet, making them less likely to become picky eaters. Family meals have also been shown to reduce childhood obesity because people tend to talk more and eat slower. Finally, we want parents to celebrate their kids’ good behaviors, particularly in the midst of a pandemic. While there can be a genetic component to weight gain, most of the added pounds we’re seeing right now are due to the environment we’re all living in. This is a difficult time for everyone, so it’s important to be kind to ourselves. The occasional indulgence is okay, as long as it doesn’t become a source of anxiety or guilt, leading to more criticism for what children should not be eating. Instead, the emphasis should be on making kids feel good by pointing out all the healthy foods they are eating. K KIDSVT.COM APRIL 2021

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ART LESSONS B Y E M I LY J A COBS

Creativity Blooms Exploring abstract art inspired by nature

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IMAGES COURTESY OF EMILY JACOBS

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ith the return of sunlit evenings, warmer days and sprouting gardens, now is the perfect time for budding artists to celebrate the signs of spring through art. The new season brings about transformation and growth in our natural world — leaves budding, flowers blooming, roots reaching through thawing soil after a cold winter. With those changes comes plenty of visual inspiration. While still-life drawings of flowers in vases or watercolors of floral tree branches are perfectly lovely ways to capture the beauty of spring, a more abstract style of art known as biomorphism can broaden our minds and our artistic possibilities. Biomorphism — a word composed of Greek roots “bio,” meaning “life,” and “morph,” meaning “form” or “shape” — is characterized by abstract designs that draw inspiration from the lines, shapes, textures and patterns of the natural world. Biomorphic art might integrate organic shapes, such as leaves or petals, or reaching, branching lines that mimic roots. One of the first and most famous artists to garner international attention for her biomorphic abstract paintings was Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe walked the line between figurative or representational art and abstraction by creating vivid works depicting close-up images of flowers. The close-cropped, magnified quality of O’Keeffe’s paintings abstracts their blossoming subjects. A viewer looking at one of O’Keeffe’s biomorphic paintings might not know whether they are looking at a detail from the center of a flower or an abstract composition of sweeping lines and swathes of color. As a result, O’Keeffe’s flower paintings are at once familiar and ethereal. We see a detail we seem to recognize — petals, a pistol, a stamen — but we also experience these paintings as abstract dreamscapes of color and emotion. Current artist Yellena James creates similarly biomorphic artwork, painting abstract forms and designs inspired by plant life. Like O’Keeffe’s paintings, James’ works feel both recognizable and unknown, balancing nature-based imagery with abstract invention. As you observe the subtle transformations around you this spring — blossoms opening, buds reaching from branches — look closely, and consider channeling that inspiration into biomorphic artworks of your own! K

Clockwise from top left: artwork by Keyly, grade 8; “Deep Sea Lilac” by Michelle, grade 6; “Life” by Natalia, grade 6; artwork by Ofira, grade 6; artwork by Jada, grade 8

GETTING STARTED

Possible materials: paper, pencil, colored pencil, markers, oil pastel, gouache or watercolor paint

Step 1: Observe shapes, lines, textures and patterns in nature! You might find inspiration in: • the veins on a leaf • the parts that make up the center of a flower • tree roots or branches • vines growing along a tree trunk, fence, or building PRO TIP: Go on a nature walk to look

for inspiration! Consider taking photos of interesting details, or gathering your observations in a sketchbook. While it might be tempting to pick up leaves or flowers to take home, respect our environment by leaving no trace. If getting outside into nature isn’t

going to work for you, check out the student art examples in this article, or the artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe and Yellena James (online) for inspiration!

Step 2: Draw or paint biomorphic abstract art of your own. Some ideas: • Choose a natural element you find inspiring (like tree roots, of the shape of a leaf) and draw that element over and over, filling up your page or canvas.

with color. Then, paint lines inspired by tree roots branching across the page. Next, paint repeated shapes like petals or leaves that begin at one corner of your paper and meander diagonally across the page to the opposite corner. Layering visual elements will add depth to your artwork.

• Look very closely at a flower or leaf (taking close-up or zoomed-in photos might help with this) and fill your page with the shapes, textures and colors you see.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

• Layer different visual elements and textures. For example, use watercolor paint to cover a page

• yellena.com/gallery

• theartstory.org/movement/ biomorphism • ideelart.com/magazine/ georgia-o-keeffe-art • kidsvt.com/vermont/three-abstract-artprojects-to-try-with-your-kids


MOM TAKES NOTES BY E L I S A J Ä RN E F E LT

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s a child in Finland, I made the trip to school every day by myself. The journey varied depending on the season. In the fall and spring, I could bicycle the onemile ride in what felt like an instant. In the winter, the walk was slow and long, just like the season. When spring finally arrived, it always felt so new, unprecedented somehow. At some point, I started to sense time in loops: Every season reminded me of that season the year before. This spring reminds me of last spring. And last spring at this time, we had spent our first weeks in isolation, and the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order had just been put in place in Vermont. I was so worried about so many things but, in particular, I agonized over how the isolation would affect our two-and-a-halfyear-old daughter. “What if this determines the core memories of her childhood?” I wondered aloud to my husband. I was thinking about the concept of time through my adult lens. A few days ago, our daughter called for me. As I walked into her room, I found her standing by the window, speaking animatedly. “‘I could hear the wild geese!’” she told me. “‘I looked out and three geese were flying in the sky! I just yelled to them,Welcome back wild geese!’” I looked at the wide smile on her face and remembered how, last year at this time, we made a trip to the forest every day. As the human world seemed so chaotic, we both learned to look up at the trees and sky, to pay attention to the birds’ song. “This is at the core of her memories,” I realized. “She remembers the birds’ song.” I smiled back at her. K

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FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT B Y A L I S ON N OVAK

An Auditory Adventure Northfield parents launch interactive fantasy podcast

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Artwork by Cathy Stevens Pratt Maren during a Zoom performance

Dominic with kids Gracelyn and Oliver

Maren recording the podcast

PHOTOS COURTESY OF DOMINIC SPILLANE

hom would you consult if you were trying to figure out how to make a compelling podcast for kids? Northfield couple Maren Langdon Spillane and Dominic Spillane went to the most knowledgeable source they could find — their own young children. Last year, the couple, parents of 4-year-old Oliver and 7-year-old Gracelyn, founded Dirt Road Theater — a production company and theater education program. One of their creative endeavors is a podcast geared to kids 12 and under — Fairies and Dragons, Ponies and Knights, or FADPAK for short. It’s an episodic adventure featuring Beatrice, a mother dragon of five, who enlists the help of knightin-training Talora Shamsa to recover one of her eggs, which she believes was stolen by mean fairies and ponies. Dominic wrote and revised the tale last summer based on ideas and feedback from Oliver and Gracelyn. “It’s so tempting to make things cute and light” when creating entertainment geared to kids, said Maren. But FADPAK, the couple hope, is both a fun fantasy story and enjoyable entertainment for adult listeners. Since late February, the Spillanes have released a new installment of the podcast via Zoom every Sunday afternoon. Families join the virtual gatherings for a recommended minimum donation of $2 per person. At the start, Maren encourages listeners to grab art supplies and draw whatever comes to mind. Then she narrates the story, with Oliver and Gracelyn providing prerecorded sound effects, including dragon roars. The Spillanes also turn original illustrations by local artists into time-lapse videos that accompany each episode. After each roughly 24-minute tale, the Spillanes invite participants to turn on their cameras and share the art they made while listening. During the interactive Zoom session following the debut of episode two, one young listener displayed her drawing of Beatrice. Maren replied thoughtfully. “Dragons are so interesting, aren’t they, because there’s no one right way to draw a dragon,” she mused. “They can look however we want them to look.” The audio version of each episode is released the following Saturday through streaming sites including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The Spillanes are no strangers to drama. They were actors in New York City before moving back to Vermont — where Maren grew up — in 2014 to raise a family. After several years of teaching theater camps and classes around the state, they launched Dirt Road Theater with in-person theater classes in January 2020, just months before the pandemic hit. They quickly adapted, shifting to virtual classes and performances in the spring. Surprisingly, Dominic said, they found that taking their offerings online “turned out not to be just a second-rate replacement” for live performances. Instead, it made their work more accessible to a broader audience.

Avid fans of audiobooks and children’s podcasts, such as sci-fi series The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian and Little Stories for Tiny People, Dominic and Maren decided to dip their toes into that world this summer. By launching each episode via Zoom, they said, they’re experimenting with the idea of monetizing their work via the internet, which is something that has historically been difficult for performers. “Having the live shows kind of puts gas in our tank creatively,” said Dominic, and ticket sales have the potential of generating revenue. “The idea that you could sell tickets to digital performances was unthinkable before the pandemic,” he continued. But “now that the global community of live performers have … moved to the internet, it’s changing peoples’ opinion about what is free and when you might buy a ticket.” Cathy Stevens Pratt, an artist from North Fayston, created watercolor illustrations to accompany FADPAK episodes two and three. She met the Spillanes through a homeschooling group several years ago. Pratt’s son, now 15, took part in a play that Dominic and Maren put on with a mixed-age cast of homeschoolers. Though her son had been involved in other plays in the past, she called his experience with the Spillanes “unique.” “Maren and Dominic are extraordinary,” she said. “They really are open to the kids helping to write, the kids doing artwork, lighting … If one of the kids wanted to do something, even though it would take longer or was harder, they nurtured that.” With 16 episodes of FADPAK already written, the Spillanes are hoping to expand on their fan base and the fantasy world they’ve created. “Our family is invested in the story” and already thinking of ideas for season two of the podcast, said Dominic. “The shape might shift, but the story will continue.” K Find the Spillanes’ podcast and information about their theater company at dirtroadtheater.com.


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e celebrate Earth we can wash and reuse them Meredith’s daughter reading Day on April instead of throwing them O ne Plas tic Bag 22, but we can away.” celebrate the Earth everyday. At this point, these choices Small daily actions and are barely visible to my kids. choices add up. Though this Since we haven’t visited other might seem weird coming homes over the past year, they from someone who writes likely assume everyone does about being eco-friendly, I bethe same things we do. lieve that individual actions RESPECT AND REPAIR matter but also acknowledge GO HAND IN HAND that most pollution is a direct result of decisions made by Putting toys away when large corporations. For kids, we’re done playing with them writing letters with specific makes rooms neater and RESOURCES questions and suggestions to reduces accidental trips and brands, both big and small, is the possibility of breaking BOOKS a good way to teach them that beloved toys. In the same way • One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women their concerns matter and that we regularly maintain of the Gambia by Miranda Paul that their voice can make a our spaces by cleaning them • Let’s Save Our Planet: Forests by Jess French difference. up, we maintain our belongKeep in mind that small ings by repairing them. • Not for Me, Please! I Choose to Act Green by Maria local stores may not be in a Alongside the concept that Godsey financial position to make things can be repaired and TV SHOWS changes, but it doesn’t hurt to made like new is the idea of ask if you or your child sees normalizing secondhand. From • “Octonauts” (Netflix) something that might be unfurniture and home wares • “Our Planet” (Netflix) necessarily wasteful. When to clothes and toys, we try to • “Bino and Fino” (Amazon Prime) reaching out to brands or choose “new to us” over “new.” stores of any size, we focus on Kids tend to be drawn to being kind, firm and focused. concrete, feel-good examples In the past, we’ve sent in questions like: of helping others, so when we donate I also want to make sure they “Why does your pasta come in plastic don’t judge themselves or our family something no longer useful, we say instead of a compostable material?” that we are passing it along to another harshly for sometimes being wasteful. An important way to stand up for the We’re human, after all, so we make family, just like we got an item of Earth is to do whatever we can to hold mistakes and are sometimes inconsis- clothing or toy from the thrift store. Our these businesses accountable for their tent. Plus, there seems to be so much possessions do have value, though, so impact on the planet. One way to do this single-use plastic that is unavoidable sharing that you plan to sell or consign is to get involved with an environmental to a kid. their outgrown clothing or other items advocacy organization. In Vermont, When my 6-year-old came home is also important. check out 350Vermont and the Vermont from school with a plastic grocery BE MINDFUL ABOUT MEDIA Natural Resources Council . bag, she first said it reminded her of one of her favorite books One Plastic You’ve probably heard of the 3 Rs of THROW OUT JUDGMENT Bag. Then she said, “What do I do with reduce, reuse, recycle. My mom even When we see trash on the ground in this?” I was proud to see that she felt had this mantra on a bumper sticker ownership over this item and didn’t our neighborhood or elsewhere, we use when I was growing up. You may have immediately see it as disposable, but neutral language, such as: “Someone even explored the 5 Rs of refuse, reduce, left this trash here instead of putting it also that she wasn’t upset that she now reuse, recycle and rot, popularized in a bin.” If you have gloves or feel safe had to deal with this “trash.” We decided by Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home. picking it up, show that we can all help to store it in the kitchen and reuse it. Books are such a great place to start each other without labeling people who with learning about the planet — for MINDFUL CHOICES IN THE HOME kids and adults. If you ask my kids litter as “bad.” I do not want my kids to litter and will From DIY all-purpose spray cleaner to where they have learned about ways to diluting castile hand soap, my kids are share that trash left outside can harm be kind to the earth and why it’s imporoften involved in the maintenance of our wildlife and the environment. Equally tant to take care of the planet, they’ll day-to-day, eco-friendly practices. Again, likely refer to a book or an episode of important is making sure they aren’t I aim for neutral or positive language “Octonauts” or “Our Planet.” While I do poised to make snap judgments about instead of demonizing more wasteful a community or an individual based talk with my kids about the decisions choices. For example, I’ll say, “We use simply on the fact that there’s trash on we make in our home to reduce our cloth napkins instead of paper ones the ground near their house. So many impact, external sources sometimes because we like how well they work, and layered and complex factors are at play. stand out more for kids. K

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SECONDHAND STYLE B Y M A RI A M UN ROE

Baby on a Budget A new mom touts the benefits of thrifting

RIA MUNROE

pair of tiny pink Carhartt overalls or a cape. (No baby needs a cape!) My first realization should have been an obvious one: Kids are messy. Our daughter recently left behind her projectile milk-vomit phase and is now in her (equally adorable) chunky spit-ups and diaper blowouts phase. Babies can turn brand new clothes into “gently used” in just a couple of minutes, so I’m happy to just skip right to it. I find I’m less worried about my daughter soiling secondhand finds, because they

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y little family of three recently moved from Hawai’i, where I was born and raised, to my husband’s hometown in Vermont. It was an easy decision to relocate closer to grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins once we had our baby in late October. It’s also made for a lot of change in a short period of time. I’m suddenly a new mom in a new state and have lived through a real winter for the first time! But amidst all of the change, one thing has remained constant for me: thrift shopping. I grew up thrifting with my mom; she started bringing me along on shopping trips when I was just a toddler. After years of watching her turn secondhand finds into beautiful home décor and outfits, I started to love walking through the racks, imagining the new life I might bring to someone’s old things. You never knew what a thrift trip might lead to at our house. I remember when my mom brought home a tile cutter she’d bought secondhand. A week and a few Google searches later, our bathroom was retiled and redecorated. It was magical! By the time I was a teenager, I would happily spend entire Saturdays with my mom, visiting every thrift store on our side of the island and bringing home assorted treasures, from beaded boots to a floral trench coat. Thrifting has proven useful at every stage in my adult life, too. It allowed me to experiment with ever-changing fashion trends in college without sacrificing my budget and to furnish an apartment with unique, quality pieces after my husband and I got married. But no stage in my life has paired quite as well with secondhand shopping as motherhood. I’ve realized some hard truths about babies and their stuff during my first five months as a mom. Thankfully, thrifting has been a handy solution to help mitigate each of them. It allows me to make practical, cost-effective, eco-conscious purchases while still providing my daughter with what she needs. It also makes me feel a little less guilty for buying her things she doesn’t need, but I think are cute, like a

Pink Carhartt overalls, one of Maria’s thrifting scores

Maria and her daughter shopping at Boho Baby in Williston

aren’t pristine to begin with and didn’t cost much. My second realization is one everyone warned me about, but it didn’t click until I was living it: Babies grow so quickly. I think my girl made it just two weeks in pants for kids 3 to 6 months before they became too tight. It would have broken my fragile, frugal heart to have paid retail price for them, but I was put at ease knowing some of those pants were only a dollar. I also feel good knowing that, just like those pants, any secondhand purchase I make for her probably wasn’t worn for too long before I bought it. My third realization quickly followed

the second: Kid stuff can easily become wasteful. There are things parents may prefer to buy new for safety reasons, such as car seats or cribs, but there are also a lot of things, such as simple toys and clothing, that if always purchased new would be incredibly wasteful. It would mean using something for just a few months before getting rid of it. Buying secondhand means diverting from landfills those gently used things that have so much more to give. In the end, thrifting for my daughter is a win for everyone. She’s clothed and content. I’m happy with the prices I’m paying. The planet is happy with less unnecessary waste being produced, and, along the way, my money supports nonprofit thrift shops and local consignment stores. I don’t see myself changing my thrifting ways any time soon. And I’m planning to introduce my daughter to the thrifting world early, as my mother did for me. Thankfully, Vermont has a lot to offer in the world of secondhand.

Here are a few places I’ve embraced since moving here: Goodwill Store, 1080 Shelburne Rd., South Burlington, goodwillnne.org Big chain stores see fresh inventory often and have great prices. While I haven’t had much luck with infant clothing at Goodwill locations, they’re a good source for older kids’ toys and clothes — and parents’ stuff, too! This is a great spot if you have time for a treasure hunt. Boho Baby, 34 Blair Park Rd., Williston, bohobabyvt.com An adorable bohemian consignment shop! You’ll pay a bit more here because they’ve done the work for you to curate great quality merchandise that is in good condition and fits their style. Perfect if you’re looking for a boutique experience. Once Upon a Child, 38 Taft Corners Shopping Center, Williston, onceuponachildwilliston.com Chain consignment is a happy middle ground between the previous two. It isn’t as curated style-wise as other consignment stores can be, but they clearly check for condition and quality. This is a good spot if you’re looking for a variety of styles and are fine with spending a bit of time sifting through the racks. K KIDSVT.COM APRIL 2021

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SARAH CRONIN

phone, offering guidance on how he could support his wife through this scenario. “There were a couple of births where I was not able to join [the families] at the at the hospital, so I had to say goodbye at their doorstep,” Young recalled. “That is really hard when you’re transitioning from home to the hospital and your nervous system is kind of going through this shift and you want to have continuity of care,” she said. In some cases, families found silver linings to having a new addition amid a pandemic. Devin Wood, owner of Burlington’s Seven Symbols Tattoo, got unexpected extra paternity leave, said his wife, Heather. The Woods, who live in St. Albans, welcomed son Emmet on February 20, 2020. “Having Devin home was awesome because he got to spend more time with [Emmet], and I actually got to take a

COURTESY OF OD

HEATHER WO

The

Rite Stuff In a pandemic year, parents and kids share how they marked milestones BY MARGARET GRAYSON, ALISON NOVAK, KEN PICARD, SALLY POLLAK & KRISTEN RAVIN

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his past year has been a singularly unusual one, so much so that we, and our kids, will likely be talking about it for the rest of our lives. But despite the awfulness it’s wrought — the sickness and fear, the lives lost, the separation from loved ones — we’ve kept on trucking. Families celebrated first birthdays and first communions. Kids started and finished school. Teens learned to drive and applied to college. Not even a worldwide pandemic could stop these important rites of passage. For many families this year, blowing out candles and finding ways to celebrate however we could has been a way to hold on to a much-needed sense of normalcy. As vaccination rates rise, and families start thinking about the future, we set out

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to document how local parents and kids experienced the momentous milestones in their lives during the COVID-19 era. Read on for a few of their stories. K

‘I MADE HIM A CAKE’

Celebrating baby’s first birthday Molly Conant and Eric Seitz welcomed their son, Julian, on March 28, 2020, just a few weeks after the pandemic became serious in Vermont. “We feel really lucky that we’ve had this fun, cute little distraction while also having our hearts break for the world and what everybody’s going through” said Conant, a Burlington resident and owner of Queen City jewelry studio Rackk & Ruin. For Conant and Seitz, one downside

Emmet’s first birthday

Molly Conant with husband Eric and son Jules

of giving birth to Julian, also known as Jules, during the pandemic was that they were unable to have their doula present at the birth. They had worked with Amanda Young of Burlington’s Shanti Mama Wellness during Molly’s pregnancy to develop a birth wish, which Molly described as similar to a birth plan but with lots of flexibility. Conant ended up being induced a month early due to preeclampsia. Because of COVID-19 guidelines prohibiting multiple people in the delivery room, Young couldn’t be there. Instead, she spoke with Seitz on the

shower,” said Heather, who has been caring for Emmet full time since he was born. Seitz, Jules’ dad and co-owner of Burlington’s Pitchfork Farm, identified another perk of parenting a newborn under quarantine: “There’s been little to no FOMO.” After 12 months of pits and peaks,


she didn’t have any friends there. She just didn’t want to go,” Planck said. “Now she’s happy, but it took until February.” Millie has adjusted and now says she likes the other kids, playing with blocks and singing the Hello Song with her teacher. For Planck, it’s just about keeping her kids’ lives as normal as possible. “She doesn’t understand about the virus. She doesn’t understand there’s a pandemic going on,” Planck said of Millie. “We just talk about how people are getting sick, and when everyone’s all better, we’ll be able to see friends again.”

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‘A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE’

Religious coming-of-age ceremonies

COURTESY OF KATIE NUNN

For months, Sarah Kleinman of Burlington had been planning her daughter Maggie’s bat mitzvah for June 20, 2020. Kleinman had booked an event space at Smugglers’ Notch and ordered invitations for around 100 people. Then the pandemic hit. Kleinman set up a website for guests to keep them updated on changing plans. The family pondered postponing the event — which marks a child’s passage into adulthood in the Jewish faith. Ultimately,

A flower delivery person rang the doorbell in the middle of the Zoom service. they decided to have Maggie’s bat mitzvah at their own home, via Zoom so that loved ones could attend. It was Ohavi Zedek Synagogue’s first Zoom bat or bar mitzvah. Since then, the synagogue has done three others, with more planned for later in the spring and summer, said Hebrew School principal Naomi Barell. In the week leading up to Maggie’s big day, the synagogue brought the Torah scroll — a handwritten version of the five books of Moses — to the family’s home. It felt “terrifying” to be responsible for the fragile religious relic, Kleinman said. On June 20, as planned, Maggie became a bat mitzvah virtually, while her older brother and parents, all barefoot, looked

AH KLEINMAN

doesn’t know what she’s missing,” Planck said. Planck had intended for Beatrice to start school in the Barre Unified Union School District. But when Barre announced a hybrid model, Planck knew that would be impossible — she’s a single parent and works full time at Waits River Valley as a speech pathologist. Plus, she has two other daughters, 4-year-old Millie and toddler Clarice. She chose instead to bring Beatrice with her, an option for employees, so her eldest daughter could be in school five days a week. Beatrice loves school. She and her classmates dance to songs like NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” and Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” They have Forest Fridays, when they play in the woods and have even made s’mores over a campfire. At recess, the kids are allowed to take off their masks, and Beatrice and her friends play coyotes; “You howl like one,” she explained in a recent Zoom interview. She’s super into unicorns and has started reading the Unicorn Academy Series with her parents. The books were introduced to her by Miss Amy, keeper of the library cart. “Miss Amy says, if you don’t bring your books back, she’ll turn you into a newt,” Beatrice said. But things haven’t been smooth sailing for many kids, especially those with part-time schedules. Planck’s middle daughter, Millie, had it rough adjusting to preschool for the first time. Millie attends just two days a week, spending the rest of her days with her dad or grandma. “She’s shy to begin with,” Planck said. “It was very, very hard on her to get in the habit of going to school for two days and then five days off.” Millie would burst into tears at the mention of school. Her father had to carry her into the building a few times. It didn’t help that her program, at Barre City Elementary, kept closing and reopening due to COVID-19 concerns. “She was saying she didn’t like school,

on and the family dog padded around in the background. The rabbi and cantor Zoomed in from their own homes. A flower delivery person rang the doorbell in the middle of the service. While Maggie was a little disappointed that she didn’t get to have a big party with friends and family from out of town, Kleinman said, it was “a memorable experience in and of itself because of its unique nature.” Students at Christ the King School prepare for their First Communion in second grade. The ceremony — which marks the first time a Catholic receives the sacrament of the Eucharist — typically happens in early May. Because churches were still shut down at that time, director of admissions and school advancement Jon Hughes said, the Catholic school postponed the event until summer. Instead of doing the ceremony in a large group of more than 20 students, they spread the ceremonies over four weekends, with just a handful of families Cameron (left) during his first per weekend. communion Normally, Katie Nunn’s extended family and in-laws would have come from as far away as Ohio to see her son, Cameron, receive his first communion. That’s what happened when her older daughter went through the experience five years ago. Instead, just a small group of family members who lived close by attended in July. Cameron, in a dark Maggie during her Zoom bat suit, yellow tie and mitzvah grey mask, took part in the ceremony with five girls, all wearing white dresses, masks and flower garlands in their hair. “We tried to make it as normal for him as possible,” Nunn said. After the ceremony, Nunn’s family hosted a small outdoor gathering under a tent with a fitting party favor: small bottles of hand sanitizer with Cameron’s name and the date that Nunn had ordered from Etsy. Abby Luck’s son, Griffin, also received his first communion last summer. Griffin was nervous, Luck said, but an email from the priest, Monsignor John McDermott, laying out how everything COURTESY OF SAR

It’s about a 25-minute drive from Barre City to Waits River Valley School in East Corinth. Shannon Planck and her 6-year-old daughter, Beatrice, pass the time by singing along to the Frozen 2 soundtrack. Beatrice’s favorite songs are “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself.” Planck misses her usual NPR broadcasts, but she’s grateful to be driving Beatrice to full-time, in-person school — an experience many kids have missed out on this year. “I think she’s had a great year, honestly. We’re very lucky,” Planck said. Kindergarten certainly looks different in a pandemic: Kids spend more time at their desks than circled up on the rug, can’t share art supplies or Legos, and learn all of their subjects in the same classroom instead of traveling to the art room or the library. It’s made Planck a little sad, but it doesn’t seem to bother Beatrice. “She

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Attending school for the first time

Millie's first day of preschool

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‘SHE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT SHE’S MISSING’

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both families have celebrated their youngsters’ first laps around the sun. At the time of their interview, Conant and Seitz were gearing up for Jules’ big day. Conant anticipated the celebration would involve a meal with her folks (“My parents are both vaccinated and they live locally, which is really wonderful,” she explained) and, in keeping with a tradition from her childhood, streamers. Like most of Emmet’s first holidays, said Heather, his birthBeatrice day was spent with heads to school just his parents. “Devin went and got balloons and decorated our living room … and I made him a cake,” she said. “We still threw a party regardless [of the fact] that we were the only ones there to appreciate it.” “He got some presents and he opened some stuff,” she added, “but he, as all children, would rather play with the paper and the box.” Both sets of parents have kept extended family members connected to babies Emmet and Jules through texted photos, videos and virtual chats. Still, when it comes to birthday number two, “I’m hoping we can at least have some family around,” said Heather. “That would definitely be nice.”

THE RITE STUFF P. 24 » KIDSVT.COM APRIL 2021

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would be done, helped to calm his nerves. Luck’s daughter, Audrey, will receive her first communion this May, the same time of year it was done pre-pandemic. Luck’s parents live nearby, she said, and they missed out on a number of Christ the King traditions this school year, such as the annual Christmas concert, volunteering to serve hot lunch in the cafeteria and Grandparents Day. Now fully vaccinated, they’ll be able to attend Audrey’s first communion without any worries. Her in-laws likely won’t make it; they live on the other side of a stillclosed border in New Brunswick, Canada, and haven’t seen their grandkids since the summer of 2019.

AN

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For Robbie Morse of Westford, getting a driver’s license felt like a big deal. The now-17-year-old high school junior was counting the days last year before he could take his road test, which was originally scheduled for March 28, 2020. Morse had already completed his driver’s education class through Associates in Driving, a private driving school in Williston. His Robbie Morse final step was to demonstrate to behind the wheel an official examiner that he knew how to drive from point A to point B safely. Netsch, owner of Yankee Driving For Morse, earning his license School in southern Vermont. In order was about more than just gaining to protect minors from potential abuse independence. It also meant that he or exploitation, driver’s ed instructors would be able to drive himself to Essex try never to be in a vehicle with just High School and to Essex Equipment, one student. where he works, without relying on Ironically, Morse couldn’t rememhis parents to leave their own jobs to ber exactly where he went the first time chauffeur him around. he was allowed to drive alone. “It was But 10 days before his appointment, basically to take the car out without Morse’s plan hit a major speed bump. my parents screaming and yelling at On March 18, Gov. Phil Scott ordered me every step of the way,” he said with the Vermont Department of Motor a laugh. Vehicles to suspend all in-person Morse has since bought himself “an transactions. That meant that all old beater” — a BMW 3 Series with a driver’s license examinations, includmanual transmission, which he uses to ing in-car road tests, were postponed make videos that he posts on YouTube. indefinitely. After attending the Team O’Neil Rally Expecting that he would eventually School in Dalton, N.H., he got into the hear back from the DMV to reschedniche motorsport of drifting, in which ule, Morse waited. And waited. drivers intentionally over-steer in Three months later, when the call order to put the rear tires into connever came, Morse began feeling trolled skids on turns. frustrated. “I was like, I’ll probably be “I have a few friends who got their able to vote and drink alcohol before I licenses because their parents made get my license,” he said. them, and they never drive, just back COURTESY OF ROBBIE

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MORSE

‘I FINALLY GOT IN’

Where learning is rooted in relationships.

Unbeknownst to Morse, on June 3 the governor directed the DMV to resume driver’s license exams starting on June 8. It wasn’t until a coworker told Morse that he had just passed his own road test that Morse called and rescheduled. “After three months of waiting,” he said, “I finally got in.” On June 12, Morse showed up for his test. In addition to wearing the obligatory mask, he also had to roll down all the windows in the car and turn on the air conditioning to keep fresh air circulating. Despite the distractions, Morse passed on his first attempt. The pandemic didn’t just create headaches for new drivers seeking their licenses. Driving instructors had to tailor their in-vehicle lessons to abide by the state’s mandate to keep students six feet apart, an impossibility in a driver’s ed car. “By our own standards, we’re not supposed to be out in a vehicle alone with a kid,” explained Gabriella


SUMMER DAY PROGRAMS and forth to school. They never go on car rides by themselves,” Morse said. “I just find that crazy.”

KP

‘A NEW WAY TO LOOK AT IT’ Finishing high school

Last spring, when Alex Smart was a junior at Montpelier High School, she expected to spend her April vacation on a college road-trip tour with her family. They planned to “hit” nine schools on the East Coast, Smart said. But the pandemic, which struck the East Coast about a month earlier, forced a change of plans. “Obviously, we had to cancel that trip,” said Smart, now an 18-year-old senior at the high school. “So YouTube was our best choice.” Winooski senior Evelyn Monje learning at home

to realize it’s OK to be sad for the things she and her friends have missed out on. Much of that is simply being together. “It’s very lonely compared to last year,” Smart said. Smart was accepted to Barnard College early decision and will attend, in person, in the fall. As it turns out, the liberal arts school in Manhattan — like many colleges around the country — didn’t require SAT scores as part of its application, after all. “It’s my dream school,” she said. For Evelyn Monje, a senior at Winooski High School, her last year of school has doubled as her first year in college. She’s completed her high school requirements and is enrolled in the Early College program at the

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Her family gathered around the computer and watched videos about college life that were made and posted by students. “It was a new way to look at it,” Smart said. It was also an early manifestation of the altered — and often virtual — experience Smart confronted as she applied to college and made plans for the future. There would be half a dozen canceled SAT dates and, ultimately, test-taking in a mask at her high school. (Smart said she’s happy to wear a mask, of course, but the facial covering heightened the worry of an already nervous test-taker.) It wasn’t only navigating what comes next that’s been different for Smart but also the tenor of her final school year in Montpelier. She and her classmates missed junior prom and anticipate that there will be no senior prom. The promise of a graduation ceremony is uncertain. Smart expressed empathy for the profound losses suffered by so many and noted the importance of adhering to public health measures “for the greater good.” Yet she said she’s come

Community College of Vermont, where she takes four remote courses. She plans to major in sociology at the University of Vermont this fall, which she’ll enter with credits from the CCV program. Monje, 18, described a few challenges of taking virtual classes. On the social front, she said she misses seeing her friends on a day-to-day basis. In terms of schoolwork, Monje said it’s more difficult to organize and manage her time without in-person instruction. She noted, too, that her virtual college classes make it harder to talk with teachers, fully understand their expectations and “to really advocate for your education.” Last year, when she took in-person CCV courses, Monje appreciated the chance to stay after class to talk with fellow students and form a study group. But it’s also the little things, the rhythms and rituals that make up school life, that Monje misses: PE class, when her group of pals always seemed to win when they were on the same team. “We were so excited to all be seniors, with privileges to leave at lunch and go off campus,” Monje said. “I miss hugging my friends and messing around.”

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VERMONT VISIONARIES W O RDS & P HOTOS B Y C AT C U T I L L O

School Nurse Kerry Farrell

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erry Farrell has been a school nurse at Gertrude Chamberlin School, one of South Burlington’s three elementary schools, for 12 years. “This is my dream job. I love it,” said Farrell who also lives and has raised her own children — ages 15, 20 and 22 — in South Burlington. “I love the kids. I love being part of a community.” As the only medical worker for the school’s 280 students and 60 staff members, Farrell serves preschool through fifth grade, an age range that spans toilet training to puberty. “I know every single kid’s name, and I pride myself on knowing most of the parents’ names,” said Farrell, who previously worked as an emergency room nurse manager in Arizona. She was inspired to enter the field by her mother, who worked as a middle school nurse in Madison, N.J. Farrell said the position suits her high-energy personality because it’s a job that’s constantly changing. Over the years, she has treated everything from broken bones, seizures, diabetes and asthma that have required calls to 911 to anxiety and other mental health issues. “I love that the job is so dynamic. There’s something new every minute. You have to be on your feet,” said Farrell. And in the past 12 months, she has never been more on her feet. Although she couldn’t have predicted the indispensable role she would play during this moment in history, she was uniquely prepared. Less than a year before the pandemic, she’d earned a master’s of public health from the University of Vermont, where she studied pandemic crises and everything from contact tracing to mitigation strategies to contain infectious disease. It’s training she now uses every day, including on the day of this mid-February interview, when she’d been alerted early that morning that someone in the learning community had tested positive for COVID-19. Without hesitation, she knew exactly what to do. The superintendent was notified and Farrell, the principal and administrative assistant dove into contact tracing logs, which each teacher keeps in a binder. They spoke with all close contacts before school opened that morning, instructing them to quarantine, and followed up with an email with 26

KIDSVT.COM APRIL 2021

Watch a vide o featuring Kerry Farrel l at kidsvt.com an d on WCAX-T V.

Kerry Farrell in the lobby of the Gertrude Chamberlin School in South Burlington

additional details. Another email was sent out to the whole school community. “I’ve been a big proponent of the schools opening from the beginning, and we’re doing great. We have been keeping everyone safe and it’s because of all the protocols, the contract tracing and being quick reacting,” said Farrell. Principal Holly Rouelle said school nurses are one of the main reasons schools have been able to stay open. Farrell, Rouelle said, works long hours, including weekends, and is in regular communication with pediatricians and school nurses across the state. “Nurse Farrell is like Wonder Woman. Before the pandemic she was definitely a vital part of our team, and now she’s really like my coprincipal,” said Rouelle. “It’s a huge job, and she does it with a smile on her face.” The Vermont State School Nurses Association started planning for school reopening just two weeks after the pandemic hit. Each school had their own reopening committee that met weekly throughout the summer. Chamberlin redesigned the flow of traffic in the parking lot and created staggered

Elementary students exiting the school bus

drop-off and pickup times. The school also instituted temperature checks, screening questions and other safety measures. Students currently attend school in person four days per week. Farrell is hopeful that after April break students will get to spend the rest of the school year fully in person. “Everything has changed. There’s really not any aspect of school that is the same,” she said. This year, there are no assemblies, students eat in their

classrooms instead of the cafeteria, and they must remain spaced out and in their homeroom pods during recess. Despite the new restrictions and the mask requirement, Farrell said students have shown resilience. “They have risen to the challenge and are just glad to be in school,” said Farrell. “It would bring tears to your eyes how well the kids are doing [with the changes].” Farrell said the beginning of the


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Chamberlin students on their way to school

Farrell in her office

school year is always a challenging time as she checks immunization records, goes over individual health care plans for kids and trains teachers on how to address their students’ medical needs. Managing COVID-19 added to her already full plate. “I would say September was the most stressed-out month I’ve probably ever had in my entire life,” said Farrell. In the past, she would assess whether dehydration, hunger or stress might be causing a student’s headache or stomachache and treat that first, but now she must immediately send them home. “I would normally try to get to the bottom of a stomachache because I want to keep kids in school. But it’s very different this year,” she said. Farrell said she is looking forward to the day when the school can gather in the gym again, especially

for the Buzz, a talk show she cocreated and performs in with kindergarten teacher Christina Brown. Before the pandemic, the duo dressed up in bumblebee costumes, tap danced and led community-building activities such as game shows to introduce kids to new teachers. Their bee costumes were inspired by the Hive, the school’s reward system that is displayed prominently in the lobby. By demonstrating respect, responsibility and safety, students earn pom-poms that represent honey cells, which translate to special celebrations such as Pajama Day. “I miss the connections with the kids. I’m not allowed to hug them, so that’s hard,” she said. But Farrell said the pandemic has had an upside. The school hasn’t had a single reported case of strep throat or lice this year. It’s also brought recognition to the school nursing profession. “The job has never been [ just] ice packs and Band-Aids, ever. It’s always been this very dynamic job of doing a thousand different things,” she said. “[The pandemic has] brought school nursing into the light [so] that the world can see what an important part of education we are. That’s a really prideful thing for me.” K

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Good Citizens Rocked the At-Home Challenge! T his winter was tough — coronavirus cases hit new highs, and national politics hit new lows. Many of us were isolated from friends and family and unable to participate in sports and extracurricular activities. To help Vermont students, teachers and families endure this trying time, Kids VT and Seven Days organized an “At-Home” version of our Good Citizen Challenge. It included 40-plus activities that could be done from home, or in groups while masking and distancing, all organized into four subject areas: History, Government, Community Service and News Literacy. We encouraged parents, grandparents, teachers and mentors to work at it alongside the kids in their lives.

Reading about their efforts is just as exciting as spotting the green shoots rising from the ground! Want to try some of these activities yourself? Find a list of them at goodcitizenvt.com, and sign up for email alerts to receive information about the next Good Citizen Challenge.

CONGRATULATIONS, PRIZE WINNERS! We gave away three prizes at the conclusion of the At-Home Challenge. Every team that completed one activity in all four subject areas was entered into a drawing for a $500 gift card to a locally owned business of their choice.

Team Prizes: The team that completed the most activities received a $500 donation to the local charity of their choice. We had two extraordinary teams that went above and beyond, completing more than 560 activities each!

Grand Prize: Winner: Sinclair Family, Johnson Team members: Rowan, 11; Ezra, 9; mom Theresa Favorite activities: “We really liked the VPR’s ‘But Why’ and local history programs. This Is What Democracy Looks Like: A Graphic Guide to Governance comic book was a great way to learn about how our government works. Our favorite activity, though, was painting messages on rocks to leave around town.” Prize: $500 gift card to Johnson Hardware & Rental. “We’re looking forward to family fun outdoors and starting our garden this spring.”

What’s next?

en lendar for Gre Mark your ca 1! URDAY, MAY T A S n o ay D Up ur s a photo of yo If you send u ’ll pating, we group partici ood Citizen send you a G ker. Challenge stic 28

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Pierce’s Peeps of Montpelier

RUNNERS UP: Pierce’s Peeps of Montpelier (561 activities). They chose to contribute their $100 prize to the Central Vermont Humane Society. Team members: Mattia Ancel, Skyler Barnard, Petra BayHansen, Jamis Evans, Toby Fernandez, Bran Ferrell, Ashlyn Forsyth, Teddy Fournier, Alex Mallery, Levi Nuss, Jack Obuchowski, Nora Obuchowski, Chelsea Supan, Charles Talbert, Isaac Tucker, Oliver Widener Team captain/teacher Melissa Pierce helped her students complete nearly every activity in the Challenge, from visiting a memorial in town to playing the GerryMander video game to creating their own newsletter. In a January email indicative of their energy and drive, she wrote, “Kids made cheer-up signs for our classroom windows AND listened to Brave Little State at the same time!” The Malikians of Burlington

WINNERS:

The Malikians of Burlington (586 activities). When they grow up, these industrious fourth graders will be great citizens. Led by team captain/teacher Aziza Malik, they brought energy, enthusiasm and creativity to every task — including gathering donations for a nearby Little Free Pantry and writing and performing a rap promoting Green Up Day on May 1. They chose to split their $500 prize between two organizations, giving $250 each to Spectrum Youth & Family Services and the AALV. Team members: Julia Blackman, Devon Bolton, Mollie Bullis, Will Buntain, Lulu Colman, Savannah Davis, Margaret Deforge, Clara Flender, Owen Guyette, Amara Huh-Bon, Asa Jorgensen, Angie Lash, Arthur Lea, Aria Leff, Luna Lilly, Lienna Monte In December, January and February, we raffled off $50 gift cards to local bookstores, as well as yearlong print subscriptions to the current-affairs digest The Week Junior. Congratulations to those winners: Colodny Crew, The Artists, Franklin Fact Finders, 5th Grade Mary Hogan, SATEC RISE, Team Mattina, BFA Fairfax, SACS team.


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The Reading Homeschoolers — Taylor Smith, 12, and mom Sheri — participated in all five Virtual Vermont Trivia Reading Homeschoolers’ Virtual Vermont Trivia crew nights organized by the Vermont Historical Society on Wednesday nights in January and February. In fact, they set up a laptop at the dinner table and followed along while eating, joined by Taylor’s dad, younger sister, Rose, and the kids’ grandparents who live next door. Taylor is a veteran of past Good Citizen Challenges. History activities are his favorite. “I really had a lot of fun, and I liked the different types of questions,” he said of the trivia competitions.

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Coronavirus Chronicle To teach future generations about this time, the Vermont Historical Society created its COVID-19 Archive. We invited Challenge participants to upload photos, videos and memories to the archive for activity credit, and many of them did. Museum and education manager Victoria Hughes said that participants’ submissions “will be helpful in telling the story of 2020 and 2021 from the perspective of children. We didn’t have many that reflected their experiences before.” Some of the standout archive entries came from St. Albans’ Oszurek Team. Mom Mary Jane submitted a video of Ethan playing piano and Sophia singing a pandemic-themed parody of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Ethan wrote the lyrics including: “Well, it goes like this, COVID-19, are you sneezing, are you coughing?” Ethan’s main takeaway from the Challenge: “You can make people feel happy and good by doing small things.”

People to Remember Many participants learned about and drew notable Vermonters from history, including Natalie Lyon of South Burlington. She submitted this portrait of Lucy Terry Prince, a former slave who moved to Vermont in the 1770s. A storyteller and poet, Prince was likely the first African American woman to argue a case in front of the Vermont Supreme Court. Natalie said that she chose to draw Prince because “she was a really powerful woman back when people didn’t think that way about women.”

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Natalie Lyon of South Burlington’s portrait of Lucy Terry Prince

Leading the Way In 2018, Ethan Sonneborn became the youngest Vermonter to run for governor — he was just 13 at the time. He didn’t win, but a short documentary about his campaign, Ethan 2018, got rave reviews from Challenge participants. “It just inspired me so much — seeing a young person blow all expectations out of the water, and pursue something they think is important,” said one Bumblebees team member. “It reminded me that it takes work to make adults listen, but when they do, people will listen. I don’t really like politics, but this made me see hope for the future.” GOOD CITIZENS, P. 30 » K4t-hannaford0401.indd 1

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Good Citizen

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Being Neighborly Older Vermonters, who needed to isolate to protect themselves from the virus, had a particularly difficult time this winter. This was especially true of those Leo and Amelia who live in rural areas. To Circosta help their senior citizen neighbors in Greensboro, siblings Leo and Amelia Circosta shoveled snow for them and checked in on them regularly. They also delivered baskets of goodies like this one, pictured, which included homemade jams and relish, eggs from their chickens, dehydrated kale flakes — “which are better than they sound,” notes 15-year-old Leo — and some frozen peanut butter cookies that could be baked later.

Giving Back Many teams organized donation drives for local charities. Burlington’s Team Mattina collected food for Feeding Chittenden. “Although everyone in the class participated,” wrote team captain/teacher Kate Mattina, “the real rock star of this activity was Phoebe! She organized the entire drive, spread flyers throughout the school and her neighborhood, and made the delivery to the food shelf. She was a real community leader and we are so proud of her.”

Phoebe Barron

Team Tiki in Wolcott organized donations to the Hardwick Area Food Pantry. Blaine Randall, 6, chose the charity. “It was all him,” said mom Laura Kaiser.

Laura put out a call for donations on their Front Porch Forum, and neighbors they’d never met responded, dropping food off at their house. They’d beep when they arrived, said Laura, and “We’d Blaine Randall wave from the window” or help unload the items. She said delivering the donations was a big moment for Blaine. “I think it was the first time he really had an experience where he could actually feel that he had an impact on the world,” she said. “Things like that really sink in for children. I think he won’t ever forget that.”

Cover Up Face masks were the must-have fashion accessory this season. Maeve Bald of the “We Are All in This Together” team from Brattleboro made dozens of them like these, pictured, which she gave away to various groups and family members. The Davis School team in South Burlington also sewed a bunch, which they donated to the Ronald McDonald House in Burlington. The nonprofit provides a welcoming place for families to stay while children are receiving treatment at the University of Vermont Medical Center. “We didn’t want to forget about them,” said teacher Lisa Goetz. Her multiage group of seven students worked on a wide variety of activities each Wednesday afternoon all winter. “Everything was so fun!” said Goetz. “This is the perfect giveback-to-the-world assignment.”

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Participating teams

70

Number of towns represented

43

Team captains who said they and their teams learned something new about Vermont history and culture

100%

Team captains who said that the Challenge made them and their teammates more likely to run for office

26%

Team captains who said the Challenge made their team more aware of local news

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Team captains who said they would participate in another Challenge

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And on the seventh day, we do not rest. Instead we bring you... Screen Test It’s basically impossible to ban screen time for teenagers these days — especially when remote learning depends on it. But digital-device makers and social media companies manipulate users’ emotions in subtle ways, making their products addictive and difficult to put down. The 2020 Netflix film The Social Dilemma explains this in a way that adults and teens can relate to; watching it was a News Literacy activity in the Challenge. St. Albans social studies teacher Kregg Kittell screened it over three days for the 60 seventh and eighth graders in his SACS Team USA. “This activity was meant to be a jumping-off point for the students to really take a look at the effect technology is having on their everyday lives,” he said. “The aha and ‘yup, I’ve been there’ moments during the movie were plentiful and poignant.” Kittell also had the students track their own screen time using an app on their smartphones. It forced them to see how much time they were actually online. Kittell marveled at “the looks on some of their faces when they started to realize, ‘I spent four and a half hours on TikTok? No way!’”

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Thanks for your support! The Good Citizen Challenge would not exist without support from its primary underwriter, the Vermont Community Foundation. Since 2018, VCF’s contributions have paid for marketing, promotion and administration of the Challenge, as well as most of the gift cards and donations we’ve distributed. Good Citizen At-Home Challenge partner organizations suggested activities and promoted the Challenge to their networks. All of these entities are valuable resources, and we’re incredibly fortunate to have them here in Vermont.

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Empowering Vermont’s youth to close the opportunity gap.

Future Webinars Social Security: With You Through Life’s Journey April 21 Debt Reduction Strategies April 27

Partners in the Good Citizen At-Home Challenge include:

Maximize Income Through Retirement Planning April 28

Find more information, including 40+ activities, and sign up for our Good Citizen newsletter at

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3/26/21 10:06 AM


JUST FOR KIDS Coloring Contest! Three winners will each receive an annual family membership to the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium. Send Kids VT your work of art by April 20. Be sure to include the info at right with your submission. Winners will be chosen in the following categories: (1) ages 5 and younger, (2) ages 6-8 and (3) ages 9-12. Winners will be named in the May issue of Kids VT. Send your high-resolution scans to art@kidsvt.com or mail a copy to Kids VT, P.O. Box 1184, Burlington, VT 05402.

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Puddle Stumper Maze..................33 Coloring Contest Winners..........34 Puzzle Answer...................................14

Title _______________________________________ Contest sponsored by

Artist ______________________________________ Age _______________ Town ___________________ Email ______________________________________ Phone ______________________________________


JUST FOR KIDS PUDDLE STUMPER BY MARC NADEL Everybody knows that April Showers bring May Flowers. Well, kids, they also bring Muddy Puddles that make most mice scuttle. But Maisie Mouse is brave and bold. In a nutshell, she sets off to guide Montgomery Mole to safety. Can you help Maisie find the path to her frightened friend before he gets his favorite sweater wet?

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JUST FOR KIDS COLORING CONTEST WINNERS Our judges were delighted by the fabulous submissions mailed in as part of this month’s coloring contest. August, 5, filled the canvas with the colors of The winners of spring in energetic annual family patterns. Six-yearmemberships to the old Lucille sent Fairbanks Museum us art drenched & Planetarium are… in the shades of water with added sparkles. Isla, 11, decorated her hedgehog with a spring landscape full of the colors to come. Thanks so much to all who entered! Enjoy the start of spring and we can’t wait to see what you have in store again this month.

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Shayna Walker, 11 Burlington

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USE YOUR WORDS B Y A UBRE Y B OY L E S

Duplos & Diapers A (very busy) day in the life of a childcare provider

7:30 a.m. Get fresh sheets and blankets out of the dryer and make up six toddler cots before stacking them in the closet for later. Check the toy rotation to find out which ones we’re scheduled to play with today and exchange jokes with my husband who currently works at home about how excited he is for a “zoo animal day.” According to the state’s COVID-19 protocols, toys have to spend a minimum of three days in quarantine before we can get them out again. Sanitize all surfaces in the kitchen and clean the bathroom. Rearrange the fridge to make room for six snack boxes and six lunch boxes. 9 a.m. Kids start arriving. We have drop-off and pickup down to a science, 35

KIDSVT.COM APRIL 2021

COURTESY OF AUBREY BOYLES

I

’ve run a childcare program out of my home for the last 13 years. It all started when friends were in a desperate situation, having lost their childcare overnight due to unforeseen circumstances, and needed care for their 18-month-old. We agreed that their daughter would spend two days a week with me and my then-2-year-old son. She became one of his first friends, and they got into all kinds of delightful mischief. Several months later, when she moved on to a childcare center across town, I felt a void. My son and I missed her. Also, it was time for me to get back into the workforce. My family needed the second income. Although I’d been working full time before the birth of our son, I didn’t have a career to get back to. After weighing my options, I decided to try my hand as a small-business owner and launched my then-unnamed childcare program. Since then, that program, Aubrey’s House, has undergone many changes. Over the years, I’ve adjusted my hours and rates, and introduced familycaregiver conferences and developmental screening. The pandemic brought even more changes. Some of them, such as shorter hours and restrictions on families coming inside my home, were so drastic that I asked all six of my families to sign an entirely new handbook/contract in the middle of the year. Since then, enrollment has grown to eight families: four full time and four part time. I absolutely love being with the kids every day. They are such a light during these dark times. A normal day for us looks something like this.

Children playing at Aubrey’s House

and it takes just a couple minutes before we meet at the waving window (parent outside, me and the kids inside) to say goodbye and blow kisses. We settle in to read, play and have morning snacks.

Everybody runs around shouting and bumping into each other while I get out the cots. 10:30 a.m. Three kids build a Duplo village together. I overhear them say, “I have idea!” “Good worker!” and “Where should this go?” These kids get along better than most adult coworkers. Meanwhile, another toddler has fit Duplo roof pieces snugly over her bare toes and is hobbling around the playroom in homemade “shoes.” It’s 9 degrees, so we are not going outside. I move the toddler couch closer to the climbing triangle so the kids can slide and jump from one to the other. They are so excited, you’d think I just built them a water park. We use cushions and floor tiles to create a circular path connecting the climbing triangle and toddler couch. It’s like a tiny “American Ninja Warrior” course, but better because nobody’s going to get disqualified by falling into the water.

We pull out the hand pump to put more air in the one ball that always leaks. The kids beg me to blow air onto their faces with the pump. They close their eyes and giggle, their cheeks feeling the “breeze.” My nose tells me someone needs a fresh diaper. It’s a doozy, and I help that kiddo change clothes, being sure to wipe their upper back really well. This is the same kiddo who needed more than one nose wipe earlier. Diarrhea plus runny nose means they definitely have to go home. COVID-19 has come to mean zero tolerance for anything but a pristinely dry nose and bottom. 11:30 a.m. Each kiddo gets a glue bottle and a paper plate. We make collages with beads, sequins, seashells and scraps from cut-up holiday cards that look like confetti. 12 p.m. During lunch, one of the kids says my spaghetti looks like worms (gag) which I’ll never be able to unsee. Two others are having a lively conversation (or maybe it’s a debate) about what food belongs to whom. They are smiling and laughing and shouting back and forth even though, in reality, they have clearly labeled lunch boxes. Another kiddo is still hungry after finishing his packed lunch from home, so I grab a little bag of pretzels kept on hand for just this purpose. I

compost the spaghetti and start slurping down smoothie leftovers from my own kid’s breakfast. One of the tiny kids grins and starts pointing back and forth between my smoothie and herself. She knows we can’t share food, but it’s clear she’s saying she loves smoothies, too. This small genius is fluent in baby sign language, facial expressions and body language. Without saying a word, she’s more articulate than many adults. 12:30 p.m. We’re playing “Bang the Toys Away,” a game one of the kids invented to make putting away the morning toys more fun. Everybody runs around shouting and bumping into each other while I get out cots. The youngest kids fall asleep almost immediately. The older kids nod off with books covering their faces (sometimes the books end up under their faces and then I’ve got to move fast to keep the pages dry). Except sometimes the big kids don’t fall asleep — sometimes no one falls asleep —and that can be really hard. Recently one of the kids started pooping every day during nap time. It took him a year and a half before he felt comfortable doing No. 2 in my potty. Now I’m so relieved every time he lets it out. 2:25 p.m. Rest time is over. Time to get the kids snacks and fresh diapers before parents arrive. 3:15 p.m. Everyone is gone and it’s very quiet. I stack six cots in the closet for tomorrow and start a load of toddler laundry. I put toys back in the basement, sanitize the kitchen, sanitize the bathroom and sit down at my computer to answer emails. Despite the sometimes exhausting nature of my work, I have one of the best jobs in the whole entire world. I get to witness and help facilitate the growth of and friendships between these smart and kind, totally unique, and very complicated toddlers. They are funny and sensitive, inquisitive and resilient. Every day I’m challenged to figure out how to best support them as they grow. The kids and I are getting each other through this pandemic. They need me and, it turns out, I need them. They allow me to set aside worries and uncertainties and are the reason my brain hasn’t gone completely mushy after a year of isolation. We make a great team. K KIDSVT.COM APRIL 2021

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Profile for Kids VT

Kids VT — April 2021  

In a Pandemic Year, Parents and Kids Share How They Marked Milestones; A Day in the Life of a Childcare Provider; New Column: Secondhand Sty...

Kids VT — April 2021  

In a Pandemic Year, Parents and Kids Share How They Marked Milestones; A Day in the Life of a Childcare Provider; New Column: Secondhand Sty...

Profile for kidsvt
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