Going to Visit Our Friends the Goats

One of my favorite places to take my little animal-lover is to Hindinger Farm in Hamden. It’s an easy trip from New Haven, and I can load up on gorgeous, delicious super-fresh local produce while supporting a family farm. His favorite part, though, is grabbing a bag of goat crackers and marching out to the big enclosure to see who’s hungry today. Four female goats keep one another company there, and usually they fall all over themselves – or shove one another out of the way – to avail themselves of the cracker bounty. Every once in a while they’re not hungry, for reasons that even the farmers don’t seem to understand. This either pushes my little one to greater heights of encouragement (there’s nothing like watching your kid croon, “Would you like another one, sweetie?” to a bearded creature with big teeth), or induces him to toss me the bag and go hang out for a while in the toy cars waiting nearby. I lounge on the picnic bench while he drives us to New York, unless it’s been raining, in which case I’ve learned to swoop down and say, “Oops, cars are wet, let’s go inside now.” There’s even a handy Purell dispenser for use after goat feeding.

When we finally manage to drag ourselves away from goats and/or automotive splendor, we head back inside to load up on the latest of what they’re picking. As we head into October, you might still find peaches just this weekend, and corn for probably another week, as well as prune plums, apples, pears, and tomatoes; later in the month the broccoli, cauliflower, and collards will come in. They also head to regional farmers’ markets regularly to fill out their stock with other produce they don’t grow or don’t have in yet. You can get milk and cheese, maple syrup and jams and jellies, and pies and ice cream as well. Last time we went my little guy was thrilled to see baby pumpkins – he remembered getting our Halloween pumpkins there last year, and he’s been asking about them ever since strawberry time. The stand stays open well into the chilly months, with seasonal wreaths available later on. Get on the email list (write to lizzyjerry@aol.com) and they’ll send occasional messages about seasonal changes in hours and about whatever good stuff’s coming up next.

The little guy likes to pick out the ears of corn for me, and he’s learning not to grab more green beans at a time than he can get into the bag without spilling. We tend to pile up our purchases little by little near the cash registers while we explore things together, and the folks who work there are very cheerful and flexible about this. They chat with my kid and ask about him if I don’t bring him along. Before we go we make sure to visit the bees working in a glass-fronted hive next to the jars of local honey. Last time we noticed pollen on some of the bees’ legs. He was surprised, and wondered how the bees could get outside to where the flowers were. (Look just under and behind the hive for the vent pipe we found.)

How to get there from New Haven: Take a left from Dixwell Avenue onto Benham Street (across from a huge construction project involving many satisfying earth-moving vehicles, a little before you get to Hamden High School). Stay on Benham – very hilly -- until you reach Dunbar Hill Road; there'll be a church on your right. Turn right. You’ll pass a small fire station on your left immediately after making the turn. When you reach a stop at a Y-shaped intersection, bear left. Just a bit farther on, the farm, 835 Dunbar Hill Road, (203) 288-0700, will be on your right. Open Tuesday to Friday 9 to 6, Saturday and Sunday 9-5, closed Mondays. Note: closed Tues. Oct. 4 -- they're going to Pennsylvania that day "to get unusual decorations".

Doesn't fit...toddlers and symbols

I have been doing some layperson research on toddler understanding of symbols lately. I keep reading that toddlers don't understand symbolic representation---but newhavenbaby seems to and I'm sure he can't be only one. One example, he knows the capital and lower-case letters and the sounds they make, and he understands that the letters make words that he can't read but that I can. And he knows that the words stand for things. Chances are I'm just probably not understanding symbols the way they are being studied by child development experts, but I'm working on it.
Anyway, here's daddytypes.com's recent entry about a study that appeared in scientific american. I have a couple of baby-related blogs that I read daily, and daddytypes is quickly becoming a favorite. This article has me planning some symbolic experiments of my own for a certain unsuspecting newhavenbaby.

But my favorite part of the research: " [W]e recently used different types of books to teach letters to 30-month-old children. One was a simple, old-fashioned alphabet book, with each letter clearly printed in simple black type accompanied by an appropriate picture--the traditional "A is for apple, B is for boy" type of book. Another book had a variety of manipulative features. The children who had been taught with the plain book subsequently recognized more letters than did those taught with the more complicated book. Presumably, the children could more readily focus their attention with the plain 2-D book, whereas with the other one their attention was drawn to the 3-D activities. Less may be more when it comes to educational books for young children. " Surprise?


October Events at East Rock Park

Some of the walks are really nice while your newhavenbaby is still sling-able and you need some fresh air to recoup.
Here's the schedule, but you should probably call ahead to make sure:
Trowbridge Environmental Center at East Rock Park
Dan Barvir, East Rock Park Ranger
Tom Parlapiano, Trowbridge Naturalist

Public Programs – October 2005

6th (thurs) 5-6PM Introduction to Hawks & Hawk Watching

7th (fri) 9-11AM Fall Birdwalk
10th (mon) 10AM-4PM Holiday Open House

14th (fri) 9AM-Noon Trail Work Day
15 th (sat) 11AM-3PM East Rock Fall Festival
10AM-2PM Canoe New Haven – Mill River
19th (wed) 8-10AM Hawkwatch at Lighthouse Point Park
20th (thurs) 4-5:30PM Mill River Nature Walk
27th (thurs) 8-10AM Fall Birdwalk
28th(fri) 10-11:30AM Giant Steps Hike

Registration for programs is requested by the Park Ranger Staff for planning purposes. Contact us at 946-6086 for directions, more information, and to register for these programs.

All programs meet at the Trowbridge Environmental Center and are free to the public except as noted. The Trowbridge Environmental Center is located on the corner of Cold Spring & Orange Streets, opposite Wilbur Cross High School.

The Trowbridge Environmental Center is open to the public Thursdays & Fridays from 10AM to 5PM, and at least one Saturday each month for programs. The main entrance is adjacent to the picnic pavilion in College Woods.


Yale Moms-to-be in the NYT

I was intrigued by the headline from this article in the NYT when I saw it from the busy (me, C, little C, and newhavenbaby vying for space) window seat at Lulu's. A gentleman sitting outside was reading it, but the fog from our baited breath on the windowpane blocked us from reading the small print. And, of course, newhavenbaby was getting restless.

The great thing about being a girl these days is that you can make your choices the way you want to make them. Our mamas and their mamas have worked hard and opened the doors to let us to decide what our priorities will be, instead of letting those awful, terrible societal pressures decide for us. Thanks ladies!

Next thing you know, Future Homemakers of America will see a revival of college chapters and more ivy league colleges will start issuing Masters degrees in Home Ec (they existed, really! My mom has one.).

Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood [daddytypes.com]


The weekend of all weekends!

This weekend, in addition to the standards---noon storytime at Barnes and Noble, Saturdays at 2 at the children's museum, the farmer's market at Wooster Square---there is so much going on we may not even have time to get it all on the calendar.

Budding art lovers...the Yale Center for British Art is celebrating the reinstallation of the permanent galleries with activities on Saturday and Sunday

Mini-sports fans...Yale kicks off the football season on Saturday

Film buffs and tiny hipsters...the Film Festival New Haven is sponsoring a toddler to age 7 screening of shorts at Bar (of all places?)

Baby Sinatras...the place to croon this Saturday is West Haven's Italian Fest

Shoppette-aholics...you must already know about the Chapel St Sidewalk Fair downtown New Haven this weekend

Preschool Philanthopists...The Tommy Fund Annual Family Day and Run (or Stroll)
for the Kids is this Saturday

As newhavenbaby is, of course, a well-rounded mini-renaissance man of sorts, we have no idea where to start this weekend! Hope everyone has a great one!


Raspberry Jazzberry Razzamatazzberry

Raspberries are definitely in season at Bishops. We tried to go last week, but the heat of the afternoon was too overwhelming. This weekend we heard a rumor that the picking was just right, so off we went.

The field that was open for picking yesterday afternoon was half sunny and half shaded by some trees, and we picked and picked until newhavenbaby's belly was full. Luckily, there was a donation jar at the cash register (the "sin bin") for newhavenbaby's berries, and we took the other 2 lbs home. A woman at the berry patch suggested freezing them on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. This morning, J. suggested making raspberry coulis. Yummm.

There is just something so luxurious about raspberries, especially hundreds and hundreds of them. I don't know how Bishop's is possibly going to find enough berry-pickers to pick all those berries that newhavenbaby didn't have a chance to put in his little belly.


The Fan

I learned about a new restaurant in Woodbridge the other day called The Fan. Alison sent me an email about it (Thanks A.! It's nice to meet you!), and we are excited to try it.

Alison's review: "The Fan is great for kids: they have some kind of game always playing on their flat screen TVs and highchairs, booth and table seating, crayons with coloring books, a toy with all the kids meals and a decent kids menu, that you don't have to ask for! My 2 year old son loves going there! They also bring nacho chips to the table for everyone with house-made salsa that's the best I've ever had (we get sour cream for my son though!) And a somewhat secluded area for parties, etc. They also pop fresh popcorn for the "bar," but because you can smell it in the dining room, I've asked for some and they're always very generous with giving us a basket! The food is good, I don't see a lot of little kids there, but a lot of people I know seem to leave the kids home when they go to a typical "sports bar." Unless you're sitting in the bar, it is very kid friendly!!!! And so is the help!
Their desserts are house made as well and some are pretty darn good and HUGE~such as the ice cream sandwich with homemade chocolate chip cookies! It's big enough that 4 people can eat it!"

What I think newhavenbaby will be most excited about is the "build it yourself sundaes."

And while I was searching for the restaurant online, I found this: a $25 gift certificate for $10. Anyone tried these from Amazon?

The Fan is located at 12 Selden Street in Woodbridge.


Discovering Machu Picchu -- no strollers allowed

Newhavenbaby and I headed to the Peabody yesterday to see the sights of the Incan Empire...and well, lets just say the Incas are a lot more interesting to this newhavenmama than they were to this particular newhavenbaby.

There are no strollers allowed in the exhibit area. A kind guard showed me where I could park the behemoth we drive. The first part of the tour of Machu Picchu is a 7-minute movie in a little 2 row theater. Luckily, we were the only ones there (4pm is usually pretty sparse). Newhavenbaby did sit quietly on the bench playing with trucks while I watched. Needless to say, it would be pretty darn easy to make a bother out of yourself if there was anyone else there.

The exhibit is nice: makeshift stone walls, manequins acting out daily life of the ancient Peruvians, and everything breakable was behind glass. Nevertheless, newhavenbaby was pretty much bored out of his little mind and ran around in circles pushing the button on one of the interactive displays over and over again. I'm planning on going back, but this time dragging his daddy along to entertain him in the Great Hall of dinosaurs while I spend a little more time in Machu Picchu.

So if you go...
try a weekday afternoon if you can,
be prepared to abandon the stroller ,
and bring some toys if your newhavenbaby isn't a movie-watcher
...or just skip the new exhibit all together and have a blast identifying birds on the third floor.


To Edgerton Park

One of our favorite parks in New Haven is the quiet and peaceful Edgerton Park, off of Whitney St. near Hamden. There are two events in the upcoming weeks at the park.

This weekend, Sept. 10-11, is the New Haven Folk Festival. Many events are free, including an afternoon of family entertainment on Saturday.
Children's Concert with Sally Rogers (special guest Ellen Greist)
followed by The Roger's Barn Circus and a free crafts area for kids
Amy Gallatin (cowboy songs and bluegrass)
Causeway (up-and-coming singer/songwriter duo)
The Elm City Girls Choir
John Whelan (legendary Irish button accordionist)
and there will also be food, crafts, exhibitors, and other vendors nearby.
For more complete info, visit the Web site or call 877-9-CTFOLK.

Next weekend, Sept. 18, is Sunday in the Park, an English Country Fair. There will be "Pony rides, Children's Games, Silent Auction, Book Sale, Boutique, Fresh Produce Sale, Live Band Music by Tuxedo Junction, Morris Dancers, Ash Creek String Band, Scottish Highland Bagpiper, Climbing Wall, lots to eat at picnic style tables AND MUCH" according the to Web site.
We enjoyed the white elephant and book sales last year.


no pizza for you!

So we had a terrible experience at our favorite casual greek salad and pizza stop on York St. We got there around 5:30 to a 1/3 full restaurant. The waitress/hostess seated us in the WAY back (she had to move a trash can so we could reach the table) underneath a speaker in this little bitty back room with 3 booths and no other customers. We requested a table closer to the front, which she seemed fine with, sat down and waited and waited and waited and waited... and watched the new people arriving and being seated around us and getting their drinks and placing their orders and then we waited and waited...

Newhavenbaby ate a plum we had brought with us, and then half of a blueberry bar I dug out of the bottom of the diaper bag, and we waited. A waitess passing by told us a couple times that our server would be "right with you." Finally we decided that newhavenbaby would probably not be content sitting in his little booster seat long enough to give us time to eat since he was already full, so we left. They were very kind to us and flirted with newhavenbaby on the way out. I'm not really sure what was going on, but I think it will be a while before we go back. It was very odd.

We ended up having a delicious crisp greek salad at Clark's on Whitney and splitting a gyro and fries three ways. Followed up by a slice of cheesecake. Yum.


Donate for Hurricane Relief

I am sure that you all have been following the terrible events in New Orleans and the rest of the coast. As you know, many Moms and babies were affected. Here is a list of organizations that are participating in relief efforts:

American Red Cross

Catholic Charities USA
(800) 919-9338

United Jewish Communities/Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Fund

United Methodist Committee on Relief