Getaway to Portland, Maine

New England has so much to offer, especially in the summer.  We love to hop in our car and take day trips as much as our schedule allows.  We've been to Portland a few times and still haven't done everything on our list.  It's a friendly city with great food and lots to do.

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Portland has a minor league baseball team, the Sea Dogs, and the games are so low-key and family friendly.  The Sea Dogs schedule is out for the summer of 2018.  Tickets to a game might make a great Father's Day gift or birthday present for someone who likes baseball.  The gift of an experience together is fun and easy and takes the guesswork out of trying to find a material gift.

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After the game, why not head into downtown Portland?  There are so many cute shops and little streets to promote wandering.  We love to eat outside at the Flatbread on the water.  Watching the boats come in while you wait for a table is so relaxing.

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Across the street from Flatbread is The Standard Baking Co.  We always pick a up a loaf or two of bread to bring home as a souvenir from our getaway.  If you happen to be in Portland in the morning, they have amazing pastries and homemade granola bars.

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Pick a summer weekend, buy some baseball tickets and enjoy some family time in Portland.

More Marble Runs!

We love the science and engineering opportunities that come from playing with marble runs. We explored a few versions in local museums and how we created our own at home in our last post on marble runs, and our kids keep looking for ways to do more with marbles! This remains one of our favorite indoor activities:

 

Recently, we bought a new kit from a company called Tinkineer - a Mini Marble Coaster you build yourself. My son had so much fun putting this together, and it has provided hours of play sense then.

Ready for Takeoff!

After a vacation one summer, my son and daughter were eager to learn more about airplanes. We found a removable sticker set for my son to keep busy on the plane as he explored what he was seeing outside. For my daughter, I introduced Amelia Earhart and she loved reading the biographies. We are looking for a museum or exhibit on the history of aviation and we will keep you posted on what we find!

Back home, we went to the Boston Children's Museum, where you can pretend to a pilot: 

The (Very) Old State House

In Boston, we are surrounded by history.  Every once in awhile we take advantage of this and visit a landmark or historical site.  My daughter is in fourth grade this year which seems to be the year in New England when you study the Revolutionary War.  Her class went to the Tea Party Museum so we decided to visit the State House on our own.

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The State House is so easy to get to because it has it's own Orange Line T stop and is directly above the station.

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It's a beautiful building with a lovely little entrance that feels like you are stepping back in time out of the hustle and bustle of Downtown Crossing.

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Your ticket includes a lanyard that describes a historical person.  We went with five other people so were able to learn about a few different people.  They make great bookmarks after you leave the museum. 

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There were so many hands-on exhibits for the kids to learn about important locations, the type of clothing they used to wear, what they may have eaten for dinner on a typical night and so many more things to give us an idea of what life was like around the time of the revolution.

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Upstairs were multiple rooms just for kids that invoked the five senses.  There were places to build, have a show, check out a menu and make your own and even smell some of the items and places back then.

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My daughter loved this menu board.  We decided to take home a copy of Jane's menu and make it at home.  It wasn't all that different from what we make today.  Wheat bread, rice pudding, roast beef with gravy, roasted veggies, pound cake and apple cider.  Yum!

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There were tour groups wandering around that were easy to join.  We listened to one that had a lot of other children in the group.  Our kids got really into it paying close attention and were answering questions.

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The State House was a great take and we all learned a lot and had fun at the same time.  Go ahead and be a tourist in your own town!

When we Follow the Research

We've heard from readers that our site has inspired them to make the most of their time with children and all of the resources for activities in Boston. We are so delighted! We started this blog to inspire and share how we follow our children's leads when it comes to pursing their interests and passions. But, when it comes to their health, safety, and wellness, we let the research lead us. If you have an elementary or school aged child, you may have already heard of Wait Until 8th, a thoughtful grassroots organization encouraging families to delay giving their child a smart phone until 8th grade or later. We are thrilled that this movement is really gaining traction, allowing children to be children for a little longer, and allowing parents to continue to make the most of their time together. 

We were honored when Wait Until 8th asked us to write a blog post on how we explain our choices to children, when they see peers with smart phones. Let us know your thoughts!


Communicating with Your Child: Why We Wait Until 8th for a Smartphone

By: Cady Audette, A Wait Until 8th Parent 

After our family signed the Wait Until 8th pledge and it became active in our community, an interesting question came up: how can we explain this pledge to our child when she sees other children with smartphones?

Many families use the phrase “different families make different choices” with children as young as toddlers. This is true, and effective to a point, if they accept it and move on. As they've gotten older though, my children have needed a deeper explanation to put an issue to rest.

I work at a progressive independent preschool where my children attended that is committed to following the research. I took this phrase and reasoning, and applied it to choices we make at home. Why do we eat vegetables, wear bike helmets and seatbelts, brush our teeth, go to bed “early,” practice gratitude, and avoid second-hand smoke? Our family follows the research. This line of rational has tremendously helped in my children's acceptance of our family’s decisions. “Scientists/researchers/doctors have found that this is the best choice to make, with the data we have.”

This is helpful for a few reasons. First, it’s not just my husband and me making a call and asking for their buy-in; we are putting that on professionals. Second, the research will evolve and change, and we will honor that. When my first daughter was a baby, we were told we could face her car seat forward at age 1. Now my third child is still backward facing at 18 months; the research and recommendation changed. So if in three years, new data supports that smart phones are most appropriate for 10th grade and up, we will adhere to that guidance. This reasoning allows us flexibility in decision-making and to feel confident we are falling back on the most recent recommendations. 

When I talked to my 4th grader about the pledge, I explained how researchers had found harmful effects on brain development if children spend a lot of time with screens when they're young. We talked about how they've learned that smart phones can be distracting and dangerous for children younger than 8th grade, and how they're continuing to learn more about smartphones because they are a new technology. We discussed the research on addiction, sleep impairment, and depression linked to smartphones. Finally, we talked about the recommendation to wait until 8th, and how we'd do that too. 

We continue to use both “different families make different choices” and “we follow the research” when it comes to explanations, but the latter is particularly helpful when it comes to health, wellness, and safety based decisions. As parents, we are constantly forming decisions, and it can be a relief to have fewer determinations to make by relying on research – and naming that.  

If you would like to to join Cady and more than 8,000 families in delaying the smartphone for children until at least 8th grade, sign the Wait Until 8th pledge today.