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Wilton

Little League Challenger

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Darien, http://www.dybs.org
Norwalk, http://www.leaguelineup.com
Stamford, http://www.leaguelineup.com
Wilton, http://www.wiltonlittleleague.org
Fairfield, http://www.eteamz.com
Greenwich, http://www.littleleague.org

I was never very good at sports. I loved them, though, and signed up for every thing: basketball, softball, field hockey, lacrosse… back when we signed up for sports and were spared the disgrace of try outs. It was common knowledge I’d be useless with a ball but, shoot, I could yell and cheer louder than anyone else on the team. So I did, and instead of runs, baskets, goals, and things that actually won games, I made them very noisy. And I did get a few Spirit Awards…

When I read about the Challenger Division, a team of mentally and physically challenged children playing baseball with the help of volunteers, I was touched. Here is an opportunity, I thought, to reward spirit and teamwork as the end result of a game: a laudable, often overlooked goal, and I bet I’m not the first cheerleader to agree.

What they are: “…a program that enables mentally and physically-challenged youth to enjoy the full benefits of Little League participation in an athletic environment structured to their abilities.
“The philosophy is to give all children the chance to play baseball in a setting that is fun and supportive. A big part of this, for the players, is to experience the sense of belonging that comes with being a part of a team, as well as the spirit of friendly competition through games with other Challenger teams from neighboring towns. In Challenger baseball, scores don’t count - everybody is a winner. It’s all about acceptance, self-esteem, positive learning experiences and team spirit.”

Click to read the rest ... "Little League Challenger"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     Norwalk     Stamford     Wilton    
Wednesday, May 07, 2014 • Permalink

Little Black Dog Rescue

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http://www.littleblackdogrescue.org

We adopted a dog last summer - Addison, rescued from Puerto Rico. He’s a hybrid of, oh, 5 or 6 indeterminate breeds and it’s no exaggeration to say he’s the most amazing dog in the entire history of the world. So I was researching Playa Lucia, aka Dead Dog Beach, from where he hails. And I feel like someone just punched me in the stomach. Warning - the next paragraph is graphic.

Dead Dog Beach is a dumping ground for satos, or stray dogs. Up to 300 dogs at a time “live” there, abused and neglected, foraging for food, starving to death, and much worse. Not infrequently, men with guns or cross-bows use these dogs for target practice or hack them up with machetes. Others are poisoned or run over for by ATVs “for fun.” Those that don’t die from torture, starvation, or sickness are euthanized and tossed into the trash with hundreds of other dead dogs and puppies.

While this depravity is most pronounced in Puerto Rico, dogs are horribly mistreated and abused all over the United States.

To think this easily could have been our Addison’s fate is hideous.

Anecdotally, black dogs have the most difficulty finding adoptive homes. Reasons for this are conjecture, but theorires for “Black Dog Syndrome” include the Hollywood typecasting of black dogs in “evil” dog roles and that they don’t photograph well for promotional materials.

Amy Scarella, founder of Little Black Dog Rescue, has devoted herself to finding homes for these dark and deserving pups. She works with shelters in Puerto Rico, Georgia, and South Carolina to bring dogs to her home and foster families in Connecticut before matching them with the right families. All dogs are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and deemed healthy before they’re placed.

Robin’s Note: Adopt a dog this Sunday! On March 23, Doggone Smart, 15 Cross St, Norwalk, is hosting Little Black Dog Rescue and a posse of their cutest pooches, all eager for adoption. Please swing by between 12-3. http://www.doggonesmart.com


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Click to read the rest ... "Little Black Dog Rescue"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Friday, March 21, 2014 • Permalink

Fresh Air Fund

Fresh Air Fund

http://www.freshairfund.org

Last year my husband and I decided to host a 6 year old boy, Eddie*, from the Fresh Air Fund. For two weeks that summer I became the mother of 4 instead of 3. It was a living hell. Imagine a playdate that lasts 334 1/2 hours too long, riddled with late-night bouts of homesickness.

However, I liked Eddie. So, despite all reasons to the contrary, we invited him back this year. When my husband picked him up in New York, he exclaimed, “I can’t wait to see Miss Robin!” (Yes, I’m still waiting for my own kids to share such delight in seeing me.) He ran into my arms as though his whole year culminated in being with us once again. This time, we loved being together: the arguing mitigated dramatically, as did his homesickness. Eddie swam every day with us, went to the playground, went to parties, played baseball, and was genuinely and visibly thrilled with every thing we accepted as part of our normal summer routine. As difficult as the past visit had been, through it we had learned how to interact and succeed as a “family.”

Toward the end of his visit he popped his head out of the swimming pool and I saw he was drooling. He laughed and wiped his face and exclaimed, “I slobbered on the tire swing yesterday, too! I slobber when I’m having fun.” With that, he popped back into the water. I never thought I’d be so happy to see someone slobbering in my pool. That must be why God created chlorine.

The day before we drove him back to the city, he said, “Miss Robin, wouldn’t it be fun if I could stay here all summer?” Well, maybe. But I can’t wait to see him again next summer.

Click to read the rest ... "Fresh Air Fund"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Monday, March 10, 2014 • Permalink

Have Kids, Will Discipline

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I prefer the term “discipline” to “punish.” It seems more humane, as though my goal is to tease good behavior from my bunch of miscreants rather than to exact vengeance upon them. Semantics aside, once they hit the four-year mark the gloves come off.

Once (maybe twice) I swore at my collective of tiny people. I know parents shouldn’t swear at their kids but, in my defense, they totally deserved it. Unintended consequence: instead of improving their behavior they learned several new phrases to share with friends. So I kind of get how cursing is frowned upon.

Incentives like star charts don’t work for us. Last time I did it, two of my kids were too young to read well so they had no clue what I wrote. I drew pictures of “Make Your Bed” and “Brush Your Teeth,” etc. But that led to a lengthy and joyless critique of my skill as an artist.

Then they meandered upstairs and played with toys while I screamed at them to brush their teeth. Thirty minutes later they wandered downstairs and demanded a star. Instead of acting on my borderline-illegal impulse, I gritted my teeth and applied a star each to their empty boxes. I mean, why not? I knew, correctly, it’d be the last star they ever earned.

Why this fruitless exercise? I read that parents – especially mothers - should revel in their child’s achievements and tactfully admonish them for their misbehavior, i.e. “Sally, what a great job cutting with Mommy’s new kitchen scissors! Not sure how you got them, but next time let’s make sure Billy’s hand isn’t in the way. It’s not fun for Billy and blood is messy… it’s making mommy nauseous… a little faint. But YAY for such a clean incision!”

Obviously, the man who wrote this pearl of wisdom is too busy writing books and star charts to spend time at home raising kids. If he were, he’d know that any practice discouraged by Children’s Services is far more effective than the nebulous prospect of 15 shiny stars and a sugar-free lollipop.

And where, exactly, did moms get overlooked in all of this? We’re supposed to bury any negative feeling, any semblance of emotion other than delight, and keep looking to the rainbow while the hurricane annihilates our sanity? Nah. I try, but I lack the self-restraint. If a kid draws on my sofa with a Sharpie, my instinct isn’t to praise them for their creative use of mediums and replenish their stash of drawing paper. My gut tells me to yell and impose a lifetime ban on video games and dessert. Or worse. (Note to Children’s Services: I’m kidding. It never gets worse than that.)

Click to read the rest ... "Have Kids, Will Discipline"

Kids in Tow     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Monday, March 03, 2014 • Permalink

Margarita Man

Margarita Man, Fairfield

Margarita Man
Mike Beetem, 860-790-1234

Every year my husband and I celebrate Mexican Independence Day with a large party. Being American, we change their day of freedom to whatever happens to work best for us, typically a Saturday night. So “Cinquo de Mayo” cheekily becomes “Secondo de Mayo” or “Octavo de Mayo” or whenever (and however we feel like translating it.) We think this is cool but it will probably be one of those dorky things that haunt our children far into their adult lives.

So when the stress of planning a party and knowing you’ll someday destroy your children’s social development starts becoming less fun than what you envisioned, it’s time to call… Margarita Man!

Margarita Man, aka Mike Beetem, saved my party and made me so happy I forgot about the other stuff that was bothering me. I simply told him when and where and he delivered a beautiful machine – all gussied up in a grass skirt and silk flowers – the afternoon of my party. He supplied the delicious mix, I supplied the tequila and the triple sec. After giving us a quick tutorial (1. Pour it in, 2. Flip the switch) he told us he’d pick up the machine the next day (which he did, precisely when he said he would).

And the party? WOW. Nothing says “Viva la Independence!” like one too many Margarita Man margaritas!

Click to read the rest ... "Margarita Man"

Bars + Baristas     Entertainment     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Monday, February 10, 2014 • Permalink

SCORE

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Counselors to American’s Small Businesses, Fairfield Chapter
http://www.scorenorwalk.org

It was the late ‘90s. Like most young women in the free world, I decided to start a handbag business. Because I had no clue what I was doing, the handbag venture sort of fizzled. (I did get to tour creepy manufacturing facilities in New York and Fall River, though, so that was a plus.)

In retrospect, I did two things correctly with my business: 1. Consulted a retired businessman through SCORE, who gave me very helpful advice, 2. Folded.

Given today’s economy, thousands of people are starting their own small businesses. I advise them to consult SCORE for help. (Not to be confused with Scores. Biiiig difference.)

What they do: “SCORE… was established by Congress in 1964 as a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and formation, growth and success of small business. … SCORE volunteers use their expertise and energies to implement proven business practices in accomplishing your business objectives.” (website) Counselors offer expertise in almost every skill (IT, General Management, Marketing, PR, Strategic & Growth Planning, etc) and in almost every interest area (Photography, Retailing, Traveling, Gardening, etc.).

Who they are: “The Fairfield County Chapter has 50 volunteer professionals with a very broad mix of senior executive and small business experience. These dedicated men and women include both working and retired executives and business owners.” (website)

Click to read the rest ... "SCORE"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 • Permalink

Fairfield Community Foundation

FCF Logo

http://www.fccfoundation.org

As many of you know, at least those who scroll beyond “Bars” and “Look Good,” this site includes write-ups of local charities and foundations. Why? Three reasons: 1) it’s amazing how many wonderful opportunities exist for giving, 2) it’s alarming how few of the 2,243+ organizations we’re actually aware, and 3) researching them independently is as tedious as cleaning Vaseline off your carpet with toilet paper and baby shampoo.

The FCF understands this and was created to make giving a lot of easier.

What they do: The FCF helps you “select those [organizations] that match your charitable passions and provide well-run programs that achieve results…. [and] help local nonprofits operate at peak efficiency so they get the most good out of every dollar. You can also join other like-minded donors to engage in collective giving.”

Who they are: FCF’s leadership is composed of local community and business leaders.

Where your money goes: To ensure money is used most effectively, grants focus on 6 areas –
  - Education and Youth Development
  - Economic Opportunity (including affordable housing, workforce development, and immigrant success)
  - Health and Human Services
  - Arts and Culture/Arts Education
  - The Environment/Environmental Education
  - Nonprofit Capacity Building

Click to read the rest ... "Fairfield Community Foundation"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Thursday, February 17, 2011 • Permalink

Orem’s Diner

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167 Danbury Road, Wilton

For some reason, this diner attracts successful, sometimes well-known businessmen who sit in small clutches eating breakfast on weekends wearing wrinkled khakis and button-down oxford shirts. It’s kind of odd seeing a crowd of middle-aged men having Saturday brunch together instead of throngs of families with screaming charges. Although, it did create a much calmer atmosphere than most diners and any noise my crowd made was amplified and more embarrassing than usual.

Robin’s note: We all love the jar of free butter mints near the register (the “help yourself” policy makes it even better.)

Who you’ll see eating here: Mostly men in the morning, ages 40-85

Their specialty: Pancakes, bacon and eggs.

What you should order: Pancakes and omelets.

What you may not know but should: If you photograph yourself in or around Orem’s, they’ll scan it into their website and send the original back to you.
http://www.oremsdiner.com

Dining     Wilton    
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 • Permalink

Fund for Women and Girls

http://www.fccfoundation.org

Last August, Jennifer Aniston assured women everywhere that we don’t need men to have babies. Okay, aside from piffling matters like the biology of human reproduction and male role models, she kind of has a point. I mean, a women pulling in her kind of coin can replace a father with a fleet of nannies, a night nurse, a maid, a vegan chef, and todder wardrobe full of designer clothing.

But, sadly, the lights on Hollywood Boulevard seem to have blinded her from reality. First, she has no children and, therefore, no clue what she’s talking about. Second, most single moms do need help: that’s where a baby daddy comes in pretty handy. And if he isn’t around, and money is tight, then they need someone – and I’m not referring to a casting director or personal assistant.

That’s where the Fund for Women and Girls comes in handy.

Who they are: “Established in 1998 by women for women, the Fund for Women and Girls is a permanent Field of Interest fund of the Fairfield County Community Foundation… (and) has become the largest women’s fund in New England.”

What they do: “In 2007, the Fund published the first research study on the status of women and girls in Fairfield County… Our research confirmed what was expected… too many women are living at the poverty level because of limited education, low-paying jobs and the high cost of child care.

Since the Fund’s establishment, it has awarded $1.4 million in grants to Fairfield County nonprofits that address the unique needs of women and girls. Our investments and collaborations aim to

Click to read the rest ... "Fund for Women and Girls"

Give     Darien     Fairfield     Greenwich     New Canaan     Norwalk     Stamford     Weston     Westport     Wilton    
Wednesday, February 09, 2011 • Permalink

Sidekicksecrets.com

Sidekicksecrets.com

Sidekick Secrets
http://www.sidekicksecrets.com

Our 6 year-old son decided to augment his cash stash by selling rocks he found in our yard. He put them in a bucket, rinsed them in the kitchen sink, let them drip dry in my colander, and hit up our guests for $5-10 a pop. It was kind of cute. Now it’s uncomfortable. I carefully explained to him our friends will stop visiting us if they’re bulldozed into dropping coin for a rock. So he plans to sell chunks of asphalt instead.

Sure, he makes a little cash because our friends are gracious and understanding, but is selling something of marginal use the most effective way to raise money? Like, for instance, how charities in Fairfield County sell eco-friendly reusable shopping bags for a small fraction of the proceeds. I have so many reusable shopping bags I’m starting to throw them away.

Jenna Roche, a former internet professional, had the same issue in her home: so much junk, so little money going to the charity she was trying to support. So three years ago she devised a strategy to raise lots of money without selling tissue-thin wrapping paper and that ilk: sell good stuff at a great price. She began by asking friends and family about their favorite online retailers, then she asked these retailers to offer exclusive discounts on select items when purchased through her website, Sidekicksecrets.com.

Click to read the rest ... "Sidekicksecrets.com"

Give     Wilton    
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 • Permalink

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