Mommy & Me

“Be Patient Little Raindrop” A Much-Needed Children’s Book that Teaches Patience and Purpose

Article by Joanna Buoniconti, Staff writer

It is a well known fact that we live in a society that caters to instantaneous

pleasure, and most of us are guilty of becoming aggravated when something

doesn’t pan out exactly as we had hoped. Children are particularly notorious for

being impatient. Patience does not come naturally, similar to most traits it is

something that needs to be instilled within those who hold the future of the world

in their grasp. Local author Kara L. Benson’s book, “Be Patient Little Raindrop,” is

not only wonderfully written and illustrated but also chock full of valuable

lessons that will become an adored addition for all the young readers in your life.

The book begins with a depiction of a white cloud and a raindrop, that rests

inside of the cloud. Impatient, the raindrop demands to leave the safety of the

cloud at several points; meanwhile the cloud assures the raindrop that its time

will come. The cold came and one day when the skies grew very dark, the cloud

announced to the raindrop that it was time for it to go. The moral of the story

becomes clear when the cloud explains that everyone has a bigger purpose in life,

and that the raindrop is not meant to be a raindrop but rather a snowflake!

A heartwarming entrance to the writing field, this is Benson’s first book which

she wrote about ten years ago, but recently created new illustrations for. As a

working mother of three, she understands how hard it can be for mothers to

balance home life with a career. She has encountered this struggle with her own

writing and has taken a break in order to start a family, yet it remains something

that she has never given up on and encourages other mothers to chase their


“It is never too late to pursue something you love. I think that we get caught up in

work, family, and laundry; and we kind of forget there’s a lot of other passions

that we have on life. This [writing] is a passion of mine and just because I took a

break from it doesn’t mean that I, or anyone else, can’t get back into doing what

you love.”

In fact, the idea for this book stemmed off Benson’s own lack of patience towards

certain experiences in her life. Children have a hard time learning patience; and

she wanted to make the book accessible to teaching children the concept by

centering it around a storyline that is all about fulfilment and having patience

until we can find our place in this world. Life is all about perspective, and the

belief that we all will have our snowflake moment at one point or another.

Kara Benson’s book can only be purchased online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Makes a great Holiday gift!

Mommy & Me



Submitted by: Johnathan Perkins, Injury Attorneys

Like most children, the little girl played a lot on her living room couch from the time she was one until she was 4 years old. Her parents knew she would sometimes chew on the couch’s fabric. What they didn’t know was that lead was used during the curing and coloring of the material used on the couch imported from China, causing the girl to suffer from lead poisoning. Connecticut Attorney Jonathan Perkins successfully concluded a case for the family and is warning people of other little-known sources of the toxic metal during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Month in October.

“Many people may think if they don’t have peeling lead paint in their homes they have nothing to worry about, but the reality is lead exposure can come from unexpected sources, ” explained Attorney Perkins, founder of Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers, a top accident and injury law firm. “Because lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized for years.”

Therefore, when seeking damages for exposure to toxic substances caused by a manufacturer or landlord, Perkins said it’s important to have a full record of the condition as it progressed and an expert opinion on what caused the ailments. In lead poisoning cases, there are other factors to consider. The claim will be pursued differently for instance, if the lead poisoning happened as a result of a landlord not properly warning a tenant of old lead paint or where there were improper warnings on a product.

Children at higher risk for lead exposure are those who are poor, members of racial-ethnic minority groups, recent immigrants, those who live in older, improperly-maintained rental properties, or have parents who are exposed to lead at work.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately half a million U.S. children have blood lead levels high enough to harm their health. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Lead exposure damages the brain and nervous system, slows development and causes hearing, speech, learning and behavioral problems. In adults, it can damage the blood-forming, nervous, urinary, and reproductive. A simple blood test is the best way to test for lead poisoning.

In addition to consuming lead paint or breathing dust particles from the paint, parents should be aware of other sources:

  • Toys that are made in other countries or are antique can contain lead in the paint or plastic components.
  • Costume or toy jewelry made with lead and sold by retailers or in vending machines will not hurt your child to wear, but they can be exposed if they put them in their mouths or if they swallow small charms.
  • Water contamination from lead pipes within the home. Water testing is recommended.


With Halloween around the corner, Perkins notes that lead has even been found in some candies imported from Mexico. Certain candy ingredients such as chili powder and tamarind may be a source of lead, and it sometimes gets into the candy when processes such as drying, storing, and grinding the ingredients are done improperly. Also, lead has been found in the ink used on wrappers of some imported candies that may leach into the candy.


Toxic Metal Poisoning Prevention Tips:

While treatment is available for those diagnosed with lead poisoning, some simple precautions can help avoid it:

For Children:

  • Wash dust from hands, feet, toys and bottles after playtime, eating and before bedtime
  • Remove recalled toys and toy jewelry immediately from children. A list of recalled products can be found at
  • Fix peeling paint so that infants cannot put paint chips in their mouths.
  • Serve foods that have calcium, iron and vitamin C
  • Keep children out of renovation and building areas

For Adults:

  • Keep lead out of water by letting the tap run for one minute before drinking it
  • Use lead-free dishes
  • Renovate safely, especially in a home constructed before 1978.
  • Wash hands of dust before eating and sleeping
  • Keep dust to a minimum by mopping floors regularly and wiping window sills with a damp cloth

“While parents may follow all of these prevention steps, their homes or possessions may still be unknowingly tainted by lead,” said Perkins. “Although we cannot undo the damage of lead poisoning, we will use every resource available to ensure families receive appropriate compensation for medical expenses, loss of earnings or loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering.”

Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers

. Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers represents clients in practice areas including auto accidents, product liability, dog bites, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, premises liability, slip and fall accidents, wrongful death, workers’ compensation injuries and Social Security claims. Se habla Español.

For more information visit  or call 1-800-PERKINS.


Mommy & Me


A BIG RED OPENING TAKES PLACE THIS SATURDAY! Board the Birdwell Island Ferry and journey to the world of Clifford™ for the reddest exhibit to hit the Springfield Museums! Adventures with Clifford The Big Red Dog offers immersive “paws-on,” bilingual (Spanish and English), multi-sensory adventures.

Adventures with Clifford The Big Red Dog transports children and adults to the world of Clifford, Emily Elizabeth, and all the residents of Birdwell Island. As visitors explore Adventures with Clifford The Big Red Dog, they will encounter the people and places that make-up Clifford’s world. From boarding the Birdwell Island ferry to greeting the nine-foot tall Clifford The Big Red Dog in his own backyard, visitors can playfully explore the exhibit’s themed areas and discover Clifford’s Big Ideas. These ten simple, tangible, life lessons are designed to help young children navigate their world: Share, Play Fair, Have Respect, Work Together, Be Responsible, Be Truthful, Be Kind, Believe in Yourself, Be a Good Friend, and Help Others.

Visitors can also visit the Norman Bridwell Art Retrospective and view clips from an interview with Norman Bridwell. Children and adults can get an inside look at Clifford’s character and story development during the past 50 years.


Exhibit Entrance
Welcome to Birdwell Island, the home of Clifford and his owner, Emily Elizabeth Howard. Clifford was the runt of the litter when Emily Elizabeth adopted him. Much to everyone’s surprise, Clifford outgrew all the other dogs because of Emily Elizabeth’s limitless love. So, the Howards left the city and moved to Birdwell Island, where they made new friends, including Cleo, T-Bone, and Mac.

Visitors enter Adventures with Clifford The Big Red Dog by passing Birdwell Island’s lighthouse and board the ferry. Children and adults can join “Victor” and “Pedro” in the pilot house and try their hand at “steering” the ferry. Visitors hear the sounds of seagulls and ocean waves roaring as they navigate their way to Birdwell Island with the help of a three-dimensional map of the island. Children can move “tourists” around the map and visit Samuel’s Restaurant, the Post Office, Cleo’s Backyard, and all of Clifford’s favorite places on the Island.

Samuel’s Fish and Chips Shack

Say “hello!” to “Samuel” and his son “Charley,” pull up a stool at Samuel’s Fish and Chips Shack on the pier, and place your order (maybe Samuel’s delicious fish and chips!). Children and adults can enter Samuel’s Shack and role-play restaurant employees working together to restock the shelves, cook, clean, and serve. Kids can grab an order pad, take their family and friends’ orders and total their bill at the cash register.

T’Bone’s Beach

No island is complete without a beach! “T-Bone” welcomes children and adults to a bone- shaped “beach” where kids can follow Clifford’s Big Ideas and “Play Fair” by taking turns hunting for seashells.

Clifford The Big Red Dog’s Doghouse

A nine-foot Clifford greets visitors in his backyard outside his doghouse. Children can take a seat next to Emily Elizabeth on the giant paws of her big red best friend and slide down Clifford’s tail.

Kids can “Be Responsible” by helping fill Clifford’s giant dog bowl using a bone-shaped conveyor belt to keep the crimson canine’s giant dog bowl full of bones.

Inside Clifford’s Doghouse, fans can create pictures, invitations, letters and more using paper, crayons, pencils and other supplies. They can display their masterpieces in the doghouse, mail them to an Island resident or take them home and bring a smile to a family member or friend.

Emily Elizabeth’s Backyard Theater and The Howard’s House

“Mac” invites visitors to take the stage with Clifford and his pals in Emily Elizabeth’s Backyard Theater.

Dressed in Cleo, T-Bone or Clifford costumes, they can get “red”dy to be the best in show. Kids can perform for family and friends sitting in the audience on bone-shaped benches. Young children use their imagination to create their own performance using maracas and drums.

Children and adults can visit The Howard’s house, complete with garage. In the front of the house, kids can pick, sort and replant flowers in a flower box. Fans can “Be a Good Friend” to Emily Elizabeth and Clifford by using lawn tools, watering cans and lawn mower to spiff-up the backyard.

Cleo’s Backyard

Adventures with Clifford The Big Red Dog’s youngest visitors will dig Cleo’s Backyard, designed especially for tots with a soft floor and “stone” wall enclosure. “Cleo” encourages toddlers to crawl through a tunnel, or play a shape-sorting activity at Cleo’s doghouse. At the “stone” wall, kids can enjoy activities as they open the doors to T-Bone’s doghouse, and are greeted by their reflection in a mirror; turn a crank to make Clifford go in and out of his doghouse; and spin two tumblers to match Birdwell Island characters to their home.

Birdwell Island Post Office

Children can join “Mr. Carson” at the Birdwell Island Post Office, and help sort and mail. letters. Then they can deliver mail and pictures to the Birdwell Island residents’ mailboxes.

Birdwell Island Library and Norman Bridwell Art Retrospective

Take a break from all the action and cozy-up for a reading adventure. “Ms. Lee” welcomes visitors to the library to see a collection of Clifford books. Children can practice believing in themselves and building confidence (just like Clifford!) as they share Clifford stories and play games.


Adventures with Clifford The Big Red Dog was created by Minnesota Children’s Museum in partnership with Scholastic Entertainment Inc

The exhibit is sponsored by The Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation, American International College, and Dave’s Soda and Pet City.
Special thanks to our Season Supporter MassMutual Foundation.


Illustration in Massachusetts
Norman Bridwell, creator of Clifford The Big Red Dog, made his home in Martha’s Vineyard, MA. He is one of many iconic children’s book illustrators at home in Massachusetts, including: Ted Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, who was born and raised in Springfield, MA.

A Fetching Success Story
Norman Bridwell, creator of Clifford The Big Red Dog, turned his love of drawing into a career. In 1962, Bridwell put together a portfolio of colorful drawings and visited fifteen children’s book publishers, all of whom turned him down. One editor told Bridwell his art alone was not good enough and no one would ask him to illustrate a book; however, the editor suggested he write a story about his sketch of a little girl and a horse-sized bloodhound.

A Star is Born
Bridwell made the bloodhound even bigger and more of an “all-around” dog, like the dog he dreamed of riding and sharing adventures with as a little boy. He wanted to call the dog “Tiny,” but his wife Norma thought “Tiny” was boring. Norma suggested “Clifford,” the name of her childhood imaginary friend. He named the little girl after his daughter, Emily Elizabeth. Three weeks after delivering his drawings and story to Scholastic, the phone rang—Scholastic wanted to publish Clifford The Big Red Dog!

A Well Read Dog…Who’s Also Red!
Norman Bridwell created the first Clifford The Big Red Dog book in 1962. Today, the best-selling book series consists of more than 160 Clifford titles and 100 million books in print.

Someday You Will Succeed
Norman Bridwell tried to stress to young writers is that rejection is not a reason to give up. “Sometimes you’ll do something that you really like and no one else does. You’ll feel terrible, but you’ve just got to press on and keep trying. If you like doing it and keep working at it, then someday you will succeed.”
here are more than 150 Clifford titles, 129 million copies of Norman Bridwell’s books are in print and many of his stories are translated into 13 languages.
Norman Bridwell and his wife, Norma, moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 1969. Bridwell died on December 12, 2014. He was 86.

Mommy & Me




Dr. Phadnis, contributing writer



New parents quickly learn the in’s and out’s of caring for an infant, but they may be overlooking a critical health threat: tooth decay. Dentist Dr. Ukti Phadnis educates parents about the ABC’s of oral hygiene before the first baby tooth even appears.


Parents don’t often realize that they need to immediately get into the habit of cleaning a baby’s mouth to remove harmful bacteria,” said Dr. Phadnis, owner of Wethersfield Dental Group. “I use ABC to keep it top of mind – Avoid Baby Bottle Cavities. Simply wipe the baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding. This also gets children into the routine of taking care of their teeth.”


Dr. Phadnis warns against the particularly harmful practice of putting a baby to bed with a bottle. Baby bottle tooth decay happens when even liquids with natural sugars like milk, formula or fruit juice remain in the baby’s mouth for a long period of time. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and make acids that attack newly erupting teeth. Also avoid dipping a pacifier in a sweetened liquid or “cleaning” it by putting it your own mouth.

During National Children’s Dental Health month in February, Dr. Phadnis is urging parents to schedule their child’s first visit to the dentist as soon as the first tooth is visible or before a child’s first birthday.


Although baby teeth are temporary, they are necessary for chewing, speaking, and smiling,” said Dr. Phadnis. “They also serve as placeholders for the adult teeth. If teeth are infected or lost too early due to baby bottle tooth decay, a child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked and even damaged adult teeth.”

The facts are that 42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had cavities in their primary teeth and 23% of them do not receive treatment.  These kids have an average of 1.6 decayed primary teeth and 3.6 decayed primary surfaces. 

Dr. Phadnis also uses the ABC abbreviation to educate preschool children on the basics of proper dental care. “Across, Backs and Cracks makes it simple for kids to remember to brush across their mouths completely from one side to the other, don’t forget the back’s of the teeth, and floss the cracks in between teeth to clean all surfaces.” She often visits children at daycare centers and camps to demonstrate proper brushing and flossing with the help of her stuffed mascot Mr. Dino, and explain how the food we eat can cause damage.

It’s imperative that we teach children as soon as possible about the importance of taking care of their teeth,” said Dr. Phadnis. “Habits they develop now will carry through the rest of their lives and we want to set them up for healthy dental futures.”


Dr. Phadnis shares her top oral care tips and information for kids and parents:


    • Limit exposure to sugar in junk foods & drinks. It’s not only about how much sugar you eat, but how long it’s drowning your teeth. 
    • Look for many different types of sugar including sucrose, glucose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup and others. 
    • Only drink fruit juice at breakfast time.
    • Parents need to brush and floss their children’s teeth up until the age of 12.
    • Power toothbrushes for kids scrub bacteria off the teeth, while massaging the teeth and gums together.
    • Brush and floss thoroughly twice a day, preferably after breakfast and dinner.
    • Teach children that visiting the dentist is a necessity, not a choice, and that the dentist is their friend who only wants to help them take care of their teeth.
    • Gingivitis and periodontitis can also affect children.


Wethersfield Dental Group is a full service dental, cosmetic and restorative practice. Dr. Ukti G. Phadnis, DMD strives to deliver quality dental care through patient education and preventative care for the whole family.The office is located at 55 Town Line Rd Suite 100 in Wethersfield.  Visit us online at or call (860) 400-3007.


Mommy & Me

Square One Celebrates Healthy Families Graduates and Participants

Square One Celebrates Healthy Families Graduates and Participants

 by Kristine Allard – Contributing Writer


In keeping with its mission to ensure that all parents have access to the tools and resources they need to be successful, Square One recently celebrated the completion of another session of its Healthy Families program initiative.

The ceremony was held on August 2, 2017, 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist, 797 State Street, Springfield. In total, 26 young families graduated from the program.

Created to support first-time parents, Square One’s Healthy Families program is a home-based family support and coaching program that supports young, first-time parents and helps them create stable, nurturing environments for their children.

In addition to honoring the graduates, the program recognized the individual achievements of 45 participants who completed the academic, economic, physical, and employment goals they set for themselves.

Funded by the Children’s Trust, Healthy Families matches parents with trained professionals who visit families’ homes to provide support during pregnancy and the child’s first three years of life. Home visitors teach parents about proper baby care; promote nurturing and attachment; practice effective parenting skills; and ensure parents have a solid understanding of healthy child development. The teams also counsel parents on achieving personal goals such as going back to school or securing a job.


Since 1883, Square One has been committed to ensuring that all children and families have the opportunity to succeed at school, at work, and in life by providing educational programs, family support services, health and fitness resources, and a voice in the community. Square One knows that children grow up to become better educated and more successful academically, emotionally and socially when they have high-quality early education, nurturing adults to care for them, and a safe and healthy community in which to live. At the core of everything they do is the belief, confirmed by research, that children who begin learning early become better learners for life.


For more information on Square One, visit or call (413) 732-5183.


Mommy & Me

Pumpkin Apple Stamps

Pumpkin Apple Stamps



I’m always on the lookout for quick, easy autumn crafts for kids. These pumpkin apple stamps are a fun, easy preschool activity for fall or Halloween, although it would also be fun for kids of any age, Rainy day activity is also a great time to do this one.

For this craft activity you will need:

  • Large apple
  • Orange craft paint
  • Green craft paint
  • Paint brush
  • Cup of water
  • White paper
  • Black construction paper or Sharpie
  • Glue stick
  • Paper plate

Help your child cut the apple in half vertically. This will give you two halves that cam be used for stamps.

This is a fun craft to stamp paper plates and outside of paper cups, paper bags for trick or treat, holiday pics to hand on the fridge, even for the edges of small picture frames to put pics of first day of school or their costume fright night!

Mommy & Me

Changing Lives One Mom, One Child at a Time

Changing Lives

One Mom, One Child at a Time


Kristine Allard – Contributing Writer


Poverty. Homelessness. Food insecurity. Domestic violence. Lack of education. Unemployment. These are just a few of the many challenges faced by parents of young children throughout the greater Springfield region. And it seems that these issues become even more daunting when a mother who is living with these challenges tries to find a safe, nurturing place for their child to learn and grow, while they interview for jobs, search for a home, or seek out the resources they need to face their difficulties head on. Without a home, a job or a job-training opportunity, it’s nearly impossible to qualify for government assistance for child care.


So, what’s a mom to do?

Square One has the answer.

With funding from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Regional Employment Board, the Square One Mom Squad has a proven track record of helping mothers to access workforce readiness programs and career pathway preparation, while providing them with access to high-quality infant/toddler, pre-school and school-age programs for their children.  Additionally, participants may opt for work experience in the Square One commercial kitchen developing skills in food preparation, menu planning, health and wellness and food service.  Square One Transportation and Maintenance Departments offers opportunities for on-the-job training in local transportation of children to care, bus monitoring, and facility maintenance.  


Square One currently partners with New England Farmworkers to offer summer work experience to youth interested in early education and care.  In addition, participants are exposed to the health care training, customer service and hospitality training at Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College.  Upon completion of the training, certifications are received and job opportunities are presented.  Many Square One Mom’s Squad graduates have secured internships and employment opportunities with Baystate and Mercy Medical Centers.

For more information on how to support the Mom Squad or any of Square One’s programs and services, please contact Kristine Allard, Vice President of Development at