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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where has Nicole Harter been?

Hello Everyone,
So, disregard those rumors that I threw away my healthy lifestyle and decided to live on the couch with bon bons...this will be a "what has Nicole been doing for the last 4 months", and "why she has been ignoring her blog" post.

I am so excited about this project, I cannot even tell you...but I will...are you dying in anticipation yet???

Announcing the Franklin Community Gardens--found at King Street Memorial Field in Franklin, MA. There are 46 raised beds: 4 beds will belong to the Franklin Food Pantry, 8 will be leased by community organizations, 4 are wheelchair accessible, and 30 will be leased by Franklin residents. The first ever community garden in Franklin, Massachusetts. Awesomeness.

Here is a little bit of history. Once upon a time in 2010, a bunch of community members: Jodi Koeman, Amy Cornwell from New England Chapel, Lauren Marciszyn from the Hockomock YMCA, Anne Marie from the Franklin Food Pantry, Deb Schwab from the Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School, and Franklin residents Sandy Bryant and I joined forces and started building raised beds across the community. We organized 12 beds to be built in total at the Charter school, NEC, the senior center, the food pantry, early childhood development center, and other sites. The beds were a small start with the hopes that someday there would be a larger community garden in Franklin, where people could create vegetable gardens and build a community that spanned generations and taught the community about the importance of fresh, local, organic food ! The funding for the beds came from part of a state grant called Mass in Motion, given to the Hockomock YMCA for use in creating a healthier community in Franklin.

One day that fateful spring, someone (Amy Acevedo) walked by the bed at the food pantry and inquired "what is this doing here?" and happened to be an avid gardener with experience in community gardening. Luckily that same someone was also a "doer" and joined our small team and began pulling in other garden do-gooders. The Franklin Community Gardens was born. Fast forward to October 2010 and we establish a steering committee (Amy Acevedo, Chris Clay, Lauren Marciszyn and I). From there we took it and ran, developing plans, working with the town, and establishing a town committee as well as a non-profit. And as of last weekend and we have accomplished the following:
  • Established the Franklin Community Gardens Town Committee (Amy Acevedo, Chris Clay, Deb Schwab, Teresa Triana and myself)
  • Established and incorporated the Friends of Franklin Community Gardens non-profit (Amy, Chris, Deb Schwab, Teresa Triana, Lauren Marciszyn and myself)
  • Built the first site for Franklin Community Gardens at King St Memorial Field with 46 raised beds thanks to the funding from the next installment of the Mass in Motion grant via YMCA
  • Began registration process for the distribution of the raised beds I have been a little busy helping with those things. If you are interested in learning more about Franklin Community Gardens visit The blog, which is written by Amy and sometimes Chris, is a better description of all we have been doing, all the amazing sponsors and folks that have been involved, and it is all soooo (dare I say it) WICKED EXCITING!

If you are interested in becoming a "Friend" or "Sponsor" of the Franklin Community Gardens-we will have more info coming soon.

If you are a member of the Franklin community and would like to be more involved with the Franklin Community Gardens, we meet Monday evenings at 6:30 PM at the Municipal building.

The other little things I have been doing are:
  • Chasing little Levi around because he started walking at 10.5 months! He is now 13 months old and having a blast playing and exploring!
  • Watching Samuel do his activities--swimming, basketball, baseball, and cub scouts! Helping him with his homework and getting him outside and into the garden!
  • Teaching kids cooking workshops once a month at the Franklin YMCA. They are called "Chop Chop" and we have a lot of fun cooking healthy recipes!
  • Working out at the Franklin YMCA--where I can drop Levi off at Child Watch
  • Heading to Tangerini's Spring Street farm, where my Spring CSA as started up again. Loving those fresh local greens!
  • Making friends with other moms in my town through the MOMs club. If you are a stay at home mom, you should look into a local mom's group to help find support and make friends. Really helps with the long days at home when you have other adults to talk to!
  • Reading
  • Yardwork--our grass is finally coming in!
I hope I can start blogging more often now that the garden has been physically built. Hopefully with some new recipes!

In health and seedlings!

Nicole Harter


Thursday, March 3, 2011

For all you pregnant ladies or those with pregnant friends...

My beautiful and talented friend Bekah Dobry is having a giveaway on her site...her latest blog reads:

"Leidi Bird is doing another giveaway, Yeah! I’ve decided to put up for grabs a Custom New Baby 4 Piece Set, which includes a quilted changing pad and 3 coordinating burp cloths. This means you can pick any of the available fabrics shown on! If you are expecting, already have a little bundle of joy, or would like a set to give as a gift, then enter to win by Wednesday March 9th for your chance!"

So head to the Leidi Bird blog and enter for your chance to win!

In health and wellness,

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Johnny Won't Eat That"...Well NOW he won't!!!

Today I am going to talk about something that has been increasingly on my mind lately:  parental comments about their children's eating habits, especially around their children, and how it affects them.  It has been on my mind lately for 2 reasons:
  1. I will be teaching a parent/child cooking class this Saturday called "Chop Chop" at the Franklin YMCA.  And some of the success of the class is dependent on whether the kids try the foods we cook.  And that depends a lot on the parents (and whether or not they make comments).
  2. We are going to be doing some taste-testing at my son's school next week.  So whether the kids try the foods will depend on the child's sense of adventure and the environment of food they have grown up in.
So what's the big deal, if we call our children "picky"?  Or "good-eaters" or make a comment that "Oh, Johnny won't eat that" or "Susie won't try that, she is picky"?

The problem is that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you say "Johnny wont eat that" in front of Johnny, then you are correct, he won't eat it. If Susy grows up thinking she is "picky" then she will describe herself that way to other people.  She will think "I am just a picky eater, it is the way I am" and then she doesn't ever have to learn otherwise.  So what if you didn't label your children in terms of how they eat? What if you didn't compare your kids and just allowed them to look at and explore the foods and try them whenever they were ready?  You may find that they may surprise you and break out of the role you have given them on their own.

So how can we foster an environment that encourages our children to try different foods?
  • Don't force your kids to try anything or eat anything. Not even a one bite rule. This takes control and power out of the equation. Let them have the power to decide what goes in their mouth.
  • Make it a rule that everything for dinner goes on everyone's plate (except for allergies of course).  The more they see, touch, and move the food around on their plate--the more comfortable they will get with the food.  The more comfortable they get, the more likely they are to try foods.  Maybe not the first or second time, but eventually.
  • Zip your lips about whether you think your kids will try things--you may be pleasantly surprised.
  • Let the kids see/touch/help prepare the food before it is cooked.
  • Bring the kids to see it grow in a garden or at a farm if you can.
  • Let the kids see, touch, and smell it at the grocery store.
  • Try foods in different ways--cooked, raw, pureed, mashed, oven roasted, etc.
  • Avoid labeling foods as ones your child doesn't like as an absolute.  Try to say things like: "oh, so you didn't like it this time? Maybe you'll like it cooked another way, or when you get a bit older".  Once my son understood that tastes change, he understood that he may like something later on and he is more willing to re-try foods.
  • Recognize your child won't like everything and respect those things. Forcing a kid to eat something they truly don't like won't help them develop a love and respect for vegetables. (Remember those lima beans your mom forced you to eat?)
  • Sign them up for cooking/gardening classes or send them to someone else's house for dinner.  Sometimes kids will try foods they see their peers eating or that another adult offers.
Good luck!  I know I catch myself sometimes labeling my child's behavior as part of who he is--and then I have to stop myself.  If I call him the class clown, he will make himself fit the role.  A "picky eater" is the same way...

Shoot me an email if you want to know more about the Chop Chop class! I will try to post some pictures if I can get some and let you know how the class goes in a future post!

In health and wellness,
Nicole Harter

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Duh moment of the day...

Umm.....duh!  That is what I have been telling myself all day since the dumb thing I did this morning.  Let me give you some context:

Last week I went to Whole Foods and there was a pleasant lady walking around with a basket of samples of cleanser and moisturizer.  Well, we started chatting and she told me that I looked like I needed a moment to myself (I don't know if her first clue was the baby in the carriage, the bags under my eyes from lack of sleep, or the disheveled look of my clothes/hair). She told me that the cleanser can also be used as a relaxing masque.  My brain immediately thought of a facial and how amazingly relaxing and refreshing that, I figured "what the heck" and I took the sample from her.  I then proceeded to ask her if there was any almond in it, and I mentioned I was allergic to almonds.  To this she replied "I don't think there is. But the ingredients are listed, so you can read them over."  I glanced at them, particularly the moisturizer, and I didn't see any almonds either.  When I got home, I stuck the samples somewhere on a counter (added to the rest of the clutter) and proceeded to forget about them.

Fast forward a week to this morning.  I was cleaning up some of the aforementioned clutter and came across the little skin samples.  My mind immediately jumped back to the vision of me laying in a white cotton robe on a bench and receiving an amazing rejuvenating facial.  I looked back at the package and thought "well, it isn't the spa, but it is close enough".  So once the baby was down for his nap and I changed over the laundry, grabbed my sample, and headed to the bathroom. 

Once I got the "masque" on, I headed to the couch and put my feet up.  It wasn't on for more then 5-6 minutes, when I started to feel really hot in the face.  "Hm...I pondered, maybe my face doesn't like this".  I walked into the bathroom and saw my very red, very hot face and proceeded to immediately wash it off.  After I was all rinsed, I pulled the cleanser ingredients from the wastebasket and listed as the fourth or fifth ingredient, is... GASP "sweet almond"...uh oh...

So immediately I went upstairs to grab the children's benadryl (the liquid form hits the blood stream faster then the pill-form).  I called my husband to put him on alert that I could die at any moment (he started heading home). Then I washed my face, took a shower, and tried not to panic.  After the initial panic subsided and I could feel the benadryl doing it's thing. I spent the remainder of the day looking at my red and sun-burned looking face and thinking about how STUPID I was for not carefully reading the label when I have a known allergy of an item found commonly in natural beauty supplies.

So, let this be a lesson to you.  If you or your children have an allergy--please please please, read the labels very carefully on both food and beauty items.  Don't just skim them and listen to a random hand-out-samples lady.  Read them (no matter how small the print) and be careful.  I really should know better...

In health and wellness,
Nicole Harter

Balancing Nursing and Solids

Striking a balance between food and nursing has been something I have been focusing on since the little one started solids at six months.  I basically called all my friends with kids that I knew had nursed and asked them what their system was for giving both food and nursing. (Sidenote: Don't you just love your mommy support system!)..  I just could just not remember specifically what I did with my first, and my friends were a lot more organized than I was, because some of them had written it all down!  I also looked online at various sites to see other schedules for babies.

What I came up with is that all babies are different.  "Great", you say, "that is SO not helpful."   "Well", I reply, it is helpful gave me more than one option to try when the first option didn't work out.  So I am going to list out the general guidelines of what worked for me, but not get into specifics of schedule because schedules are typically different for different babies.
  1. Nurse before feeding him food.  This is really important because most of your baby's nutrients should still come from your milk.
  2. Give it an hour after you nurse before you give your baby some food. That way, your baby isn't super starving while you try out foods, but also hasn't just been stuffed with milk.
  3. Try foods multiple times, even if your baby doesn't like it the first time around.
  4. Don't get stuck on certain amounts of food that you think your baby should be eating.  Some days your baby will want more than others.  Just feed your baby until they lose interest. Don't try to force them to eat whatever is in the bowl.  Let them tell you (nonverbally unless your baby is really advanced) that they are full.  It is important that you respect this so that they retain their own ability to feel full.  If they lose this ability, it can lead to overeating when they are older. It may also affect how much they want to eat at the next nursing session. 
  5. Ask for advice from other moms but don't get set on a direct comparison between your baby and someone else's baby.  Your baby may eat more/less than the baby down the street, which is totally fine.  Just because the kid next door is eating 3 jars of baby food each day and a whole banana, doesn't mean your baby needs as much.
  6. Go by your baby's cues. Don't feed your baby because the clock says 10 AM.  Feed your baby when he is acting hungry.  Levi got into a snacking mode when I did this because I was feeding him too often.  He would just eat a little because I thought it was "time to eat" but then he would be hungry 2 hours later because he didn't eat much at the last feeding.  After a while you will fall into a routine that he/she sets.  It usually works out much better than the schedule you set, because they don't fight you on it! 
I hope these tidbits help you find your way through those first couple of months while nursing and giving your baby solids.  And just remember, as soon as you get a system down pat--things will probably change to suit your baby's new growing needs!

In health and wellness,
Nicole Harter

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  Wow, I knew I hadn't written in a while, but September? Really??? Well, I am very sorry. I guess the holidays and my sweet baby's face got the best of me. Maybe also the sleep deprivation (yes still) and the teething and the baby proofing. So I guess I have a lot to catch up on...

So many people make New Year's Resolutions and so many times we let them go.  Why??  Well, there are a number of reasons...
  1. We try to change alone, in a vacuum where everything else pretty much stays the same.  No support. No changes to the routine to support the change.  If we truly wanted it and it was possible in the current situation, wouldn't we have done it before the New Year's resolution?
  2. Our goals aren't aligned with what we truly desire.  So where's the motivation in that?
  3. Our goals are unattainable.  We want to lose 30 lbs by Valentine's day...uh...that isn't healthy!
  4. We don't know where to start. It feels so overwhelming, we give up and beat ourselves up over it.
  5. The goal is superficial. Maybe your goal is only skin deep and doesn't address other major issues.  Losing weight when you have emotional eating issues, drinking less when maybe you have a drinking problem, quitting smoking when maybe you don't have other tools for stress management.
So maybe when you are in the midst of beating yourself up over "losing" your New Year's Resolution, take a moment and pause. 
  1. Think about what you really want.  To lose weight? Mend relationships?  Stop a bad habit like getting too drunk at parties or smoking cigarettes? 
  2. Write down an honest list of what it would REALLY take to make those resolutions happen.  What are the things you need?
  3. Write down a list of what is standing in your way.  What are the road blocks, what would it take to take them down?
  4. Formulate your plan and take a single step on the list.  Seek help to hold you accountable, like a workout partner or a health coach.  Seek out help in your partner to make time for you to go to the gym or workout.  Find a referral to a doctor or couples counselor. Look up listings of AA meetings. 
  5. Then start executing your plan one step at a time.  Rework your plan as necessary. 
So what if it isn't 1/1/11 today.  It is January 19th...the first day you have towards meeting your goal.  If it is something you truly desire, then you will be glad you did.  You are the only one who can decide to change your life, but you can't do it alone without changing the things around you to support your goal.

Have fun storming the castle!

In health and wellness,
Nicole Harter