Mamatoga Q&A: Anne Maguire from Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs

10891448_766789110069485_4027304200529346160_nAs part of my Saratoga Area Preschool Series for 2015, today we are focusing on The Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs, one of the sponsors of the Saratoga Springs Area Preschool Fair, taking place today (Saturday, January 24th) from 10am to noon at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. I spoke with Anne Maguire from Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs about what makes Waldorf special.

Mamatoga: What are some of the key ideas about the Waldorf approach to teaching children?

Anne Maguire: Waldorf education is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, educator, and scientist.  The curriculum was designed to foster engaged learning and healthy development of the whole child. For young children, a learning environment is created that supports a child’s natural curiosity, imagination, and desire to imitate.  When children relate what they learn to their own experience, the learning becomes their own. Beginning with the preschool classes and following on through the high school years, the Waldorf curriculum is based on the idea that meeting children and young adults where they are developmentally supports academics and artistic accomplishment and inspires in students a life-long love of learning.

M: What can people expect to find in your classrooms?

AM: Our classrooms for young children are designed to be simple and welcoming. Colors are soft and nurturing and areas for play have been created with simple, natural toys, crowns and capes for dress up, and a “child-sized” table for sharing the daily nutritious snack that is provided. Homemade soup, freshly baked bread, grains, and organic fruit are regular staples during snack time. The intention behind this simple classroom design is to foster an environment in which the child’s own imagination and natural curiosity will guide their play. An abundance of research today supports the idea that healthy brain development in children is fostered through imaginative play.

In addition to our Early Childhood Center location which offers programs for children from age 1 to 6, we are also proud to offer our Forest Kindergarten location which offers the unique opportunity for redefining what a classroom can be!  While students are able to enjoy the comfort and shelter of a lovely farmhouse, the majority of the learning experience for students is created outdoors where nature has provided a rich classroom. This year, we expanded our programs at the Forest Kindergarten to include a Preschool class for 2 and 3 year olds.  The class is fully enrolled as we bring the wonder of outdoor learning to our youngest students. We are often asked how we manage the cold weather or for that matter, warm weather, bugs, etc. and the answer is that as long as children are clothed properly, they love to go outside!  Our teachers in all programs take great care to make sure all students can safely enjoy outside time.

10413337_766786316736431_1722004982178858109_nM: What is a typical day like at Waldorf School of Saratoga preschool? (you can choose just one program here if that makes it easier)?

AM: Waldorf education incorporates the belief that all children benefit from a predictable daily rhythm both in their home life and their school life.  In our preschool and kindergarten programs, each day has a consistent schedule that includes practical and artistic activities that nourish a child’s developing senses.  Daily activities may include: story and circle time, creative play in the classroom to foster the imagination, outside play to strengthen gross motor capacities, and preparing and eating a healthy snack together. Artistic activities may include drawing, watercolor painting, sewing, stories, and songs and verses.

M: If you could tell readers one thing about the Waldorf approach and Waldorf School of Saratoga what would you want them to know?

AM: The WSSS offers an alternative to test driven, result oriented education and focuses instead on the development of the whole child.

Find Waldorf School of Saratoga and many more local schools at the Fair today, thank you to Anne for giving us a peak inside your school!

2015 Preschool Fair Poster [FINAL]

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I’m a Battle Picker

battlesPeople often ask me what it’s like having four kids. After I finish my third cup of very strong coffee I put the cup down gravely, usually stare off into space from fatigue for a few moments and then answer thusly, “I pick my own battles”. I’m just kidding of course (about the staring into space, not the coffee or fatigue, for the most part), but it is so true about picking my own battles. I can’t remember who first told me that sacred advice about parenting, but it has served me well and I want to share it with those of you who are in the trenches. Because let’s face it, parenting can be a (glorious) uphill battle, usually fought over the course of thousands upon thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of little skirmishes. And only one winner will emerge victorious. Will it be you?

Case in point, my soon to be three year old has been potty trained for over a year. Great, right? The downside is that although he is potty trained, for whatever reason he feels the need to get completely nude every single time he goes to the potty. EVERY TIME. Even when we have gone skiing this year with him for the first time. Jacket, sweater, ski pants, ski socks, ski boots AND ALL. Nude. Now, my first instinct is to try to break him of this habit, of course. But that only leads to an even longer trip to the bathroom, first with me begging him to not take his clothes off, then trying to gently physically restrain him from taking his clothes off, then it usually wraps up with me attempting to demonstrate while fully clothed how one uses the potty without getting nude. This always ends with him still getting nude, still taking his sweet little two year old time on the potty, still with me getting him fully dressed again. Only now I have added on ten minutes of pleading and pointless (although rather hilarious and increasingly well acted) demonstrating onto this routine. So I gave in. I seceded and let the two year old win.

Will he open up “Jack’s Nudist Colony” when he reaches his 20s because I let him get naked every time he went potty? Probably not. Will my toddler eventually catch on to the normal practice of remaining clothed while using the bathroom? Probably. Will it make our days exponentially easier and more pleasant to just let him do his thing for right now while including gentle reminders when I see fit? Absolutely. So please if you hear me pleading “Please, honey, you don’t have to get totally naked”  from the next stall in the Target bathroom do not call security.

There is also the type of Battle Picking when you KNOW you are going to be the winner, even if not right away. Like the Great Mitten Battle with Finn. Before I get into it, let’s all just discuss the oddness of boys not wanting to wear coats and hats, etc. when it is freezing out. Is a hat really so restrictive that you want to go out into frigid temps uncovered? Is the ski jacket that he picked out that bulky and obtrusive that he’d rather freeze? Did windbreakers become seriously uncool amongst 7 year olds since I was a kid? If Finn had his choice it would be shorts, flip flops and Lego t-shirts every day, he’s like a mini Lego obsessed Jimmy Buffet, what can I say. Enter Mean Mom who makes him wear actual pants when the thermometer dips below freezing and the battle lines are drawn. But mittens, he would not budge on. He claimed the other kids on the bus didn’t wear gloves or mittens at all. I was the ONLY mom that made him wear a jacket, hat and gloves. Okay. He would insist that it wasn’t that cold out, on 16 degree days. He would hop outside the front door for approximately 4 seconds, “See, I’m not cold!” he’d say as he’d hop right back into the house. If I did insist on sending him in to school with mittens or gloves they would mysteriously disappear and I got tired of buying replacements once a week.

So, I gave in. I let him go to school without mittens or a hat. All through one of the coldest weeks of the year. For the first few days he stayed strong, insisting that his hands were fine, but one day that dipped close to zero he gave in, accepted the mittens, and never looked back. I didn’t gloat, but I mentally crossed off a win for myself. These rarities must be celebrated in some way. And keep in mind when you see a child without a hat, without mittens, even if it is freezing out, maybe, just MAYBE their parents were picking their battle that morning, or maybe they didn’t buy the latest round of replacement mittens just quite yet. Please avoid jumping to the conclusion that their parents are neglectful monsters who don’t care if their children freeze.

I look at these minor battles as a training ground for the bigger ones that will come when they get older. When I have a house full of teenagers I almost surely will look back on the days when our biggest battle was putting undies on after using the tiny potty seat. I will long fondly for the days of our big beef being about mittens. Mittens! And maybe (hopefully?) it will be helpful that I let them win once in a while.

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Mamatoga Q&A: Fran Rauchwerger, Director of The Beagle School

The Saratoga Springs Area Preschool Fair is taking place from 10am to noon on Jan. 24th at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, sponsored by The Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs, Katrina Trask Nursery School, The Beagle School and Saratoga Springs Public Library. Today I’d like to shine a little spotlight on one of these schools, The Beagle School, with a Q&A with Fran Rauchwerger, the school Director. Find their table at the fair to find out even more about this great local school.

10453347_675713982482238_4183129901078723360_nMamatoga: What are some of the key ideas about the Beagle School approach to teaching children?

Fran: The Beagle School really harkens back to what preschool was like years ago: a fun, warm, no pressure, and inviting place to be. We really believe that we can best prepare our students for the skills needed not only for kindergarten readiness, but to be confident, happy, and exceptional young people in an environment like ours. The Beagle School is not a corporation. We are a small private, non-profit preschool with an over 40-year history in Saratoga Springs. We honor the philosophies of our school’s founders years ago: learning through play and exploration.

M: What can people expect to find in your classrooms?

F: Our classrooms are set up into various learning areas: art, science, writing centers, library, sensory tables, blocks, music, and creative play. You will find our students’ beautiful artwork displayed on the wall and objects and décor that help inspire the current month’s themes. Our Regent Street location boasts an amazing backyard with the famous HMS Beagle ship and our new Discovery Center, an outdoor classroom where students can paint, learn, and explore while enjoying the outdoors, even in the rain due to our retractable awning. Our Circular Street location has an outdoor area designed with our two year olds in mind. Most importantly, the crowning jewels of our classrooms are our wonderful staff, who are trained and highly experienced in teaching early learners. Their warmth, and love for children this age truly make The Beagle School experience what it is.

IMG_3202 copy 10489793_675714165815553_5057582243490271137_nM: What makes the Beagle School approach different?

F: The Beagle School’s mission is to provide a quality preschool educational program that fosters the sense of wonder and discovery that naturally exists in all children. We believe that children learn best through self-discovery and exploration, guided by our warm and enthusiastic teaching staff. Our children are certainly learning the skills needed to be successful future learners, such as name writing, colors, shapes, math concepts, reading readiness, etc. through our Beagle School curriculum, but they learn in a way that still allows them to be creative and free individuals. Our children also learn what it is like to be to be in a group, follow school routines, become more independent, and most importantly be a good friend. Learning is fun at The Beagle School. Our students learn through hands on creative activities; there’s plenty of time for homework and worksheets when they get older!

M: What is a typical day like at the Beagle School?

F: Our two year old day focuses a lot on socialization and beginning school skills: learning to be away from their families, learning to sit in a group, lots and lots of music teaching foundational skills and most importantly: PLAY! Our three and four year old classrooms have a more traditionally scheduled day, with scheduled times for free play, circle times, centers, music and movement, etc. We close out all of our program days with a yummy and healthy snack provided by our snack friend of the day and head outside to play as long as weather permits. (The Beagle School is a peanut and tree nut free facility). Throughout the year we have monthly special days with regular outside guests teaching yoga, singing songs on a guitar or teaching a movement class. Every day brings new learning experiences.

10152661_632098726843764_1935416790_nM: If you could tell readers one thing about the Beagle School, what would you want them to know?

F: The Beagle School community is really a family. Many of our teachers were Beagle parents themselves and many of our current students are the children of Beagle students of long ago. We feel this coming year is going to be the best yet! The past few years we have been revamping our facilities, adapting new and exciting curriculum, and creating new programs. I encourage families to check out our website to learn more about our programs, particularly the launch of Beyond Beagle: A Cultural Arts Enrichment Program for four and five year olds. I’d love to tell your readers more about our school and they can always contact me at 518-587-7507.
2015 Preschool Fair Poster [FINAL]



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Mamatoga Family Choice Awards 2015: BEST PRESCHOOL

This is always one of the categories that is the MOST voted on, the Best Preschool! People REALLY love their preschools around here! I am always telling people how lucky we are to have so many fabulous choices. Last year the Greenberg Child Care Center at Skidmore took the top spot, and Saratoga Independent School took the award home for the first two years, will one of these take it again?

Click here to vote now for YOUR choice for Best Preschool! Remember, if your choice isn’t listed you can add it in the “other” category and your vote will be counted! Thanks for voting!

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Mom Style Files 2015: The Prep Mom


It’s time to revisit those old Mamatoga Mom Style Files with some sweet little updates. First up, the Prep Mom. Read on to find out all about the Prep Mom and what to find in her perfectly monogrammed diaper bag…


Reform Pilates, having lunch at Sweet Mimi’s, at the pool at McGregor ordering lunch for the kids after tennis with Miss Gwen, picking out jewelry at Silverwood, at the Ice Bar at the Sagamore, on the sidelines of the lacrosse game sipping out of a monogrammed Tervis tumbler.


“Of course two isn’t too young to start skiing lessons.”

“How many colors does it come in?”

“I have like four alerts set to remind me about the Lilly Pulitzer sale.”


Mint lip balm, a monogrammed Jelly Cat bunny, organic baby food, personalized binky clip, Menges and Curtis hand cream, tortoiseshell Knockarounds, grosgrain ribbon hair bow.


KateMiddleton-WineTastingSolo_041314Kate Middleton (naturally)

PREP MOM VACATION: Palm Springs (breakfast at Cheeky’s daily)


Want to see the original Prep Mom Style Files? Click right here.

Knockaround sunglasses Tennis Racket holder Pleated tennis skirt Monogrammed bunny

Austen Heller loafers Cinco Powell tote Anchor bib Cable Crewneck Sweater

Pearl Necklace Love knot earrings Monogrammed Tumbler Needlepoint keychain




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Introducing the MINI CITY {Saratoga} Guide!


When I first moved to Saratoga almost 7 years ago now I knew absolutely nothing (and no one). I didn’t know which restaurants were kid friendly, where the parks were, which shops were stroller friendly, nada. Now that I’ve been around for a while I’ve gotten to know the tips and tricks, and I want to share them with everyone, whether you are new to the city, new to parenting, or just want to know which restaurants have high chairs or a changing table in the bathroom, even which spots might be breastfeeding friendly.

Think of the Mamatoga Mini City Guide as a Yelp for toddlers, a Zagats for the school aged set. The guide itself will be part of the Spring Issue of Mamatoga Magazine and will be updated yearly, but there will also be a corresponding online feature where YOU can leave reviews that will be part of a helpful (and positive) guide for parents and grandparents in our beautiful city that will also help grow and strengthen the parenting community we have created here together. It will cover restaurants, shops, events, parks, playgrounds, and more. Even better? There will be a mobile friendly app version as well!

Want to be sure your business is part of it? Email me at Jenny (at) for info on how to be included. I can’t wait to share this with everyone! xoxo

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Mamatoga Family Choice Awards 2015: BEST DATE NIGHT RESTAURANT

datenightThis is the last call for those Mamatoga Family Choice Awards votes! The original awards for kids and families in the Saratoga area are BACK for the FOURTH YEAR running! Today I want you to cast your vote for the Best Date Night Restaurant. We all have a favorite, the go to place when you have a sitter that you just know will make it worth the night out.

Past winners have included Sperry’s and Maestro’s, who will win this year? Remember, if you don’t see your favorite you can write it in and your vote WILL be counted! Click here to cast your vote, polls close on January 31st!


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{even more} Perfect Pinterest Printables


One of my most popular posts is a simple round up of great (free) Pinterest Printables, chore charts, decor and more. I STILL get emails about that Princess chore chart (sorry folks, that one is gone) so I thought I would revisit this very popular parenting topic and round up some more of my favorite free printables for kids and parents that I found while wasting time using my time valuably on Pinterest.

First up, the cutest chore chart ever. Get toddlers on the helping out bandwagon with this chart that doesn’t even require reading. Plus, it doubles as an activity! Once they are done with a particular chore they can color it in, or they can just cross it off their list if they’re not in a coloring mood.

This play clock is also great for the preschool set. Pick out a few times for them to learn, like breakfast, nap time (fingers crossed!) and bedtime and help them set the clock each day when that time rolls around. If you are super crafty and have magnetic sheets you can even slap it on your fridge.

For the bigger kids (can also be used with little kids as well) this polka dotted chore chart is cheery and fun, can be laminated, and is just plain cute. Easily customizable, you can change it up weekly or monthly with this one. And I’m a sucker for a preppy pink and green, this chore chart is just downright pretty.


Routine! With four kids routine is my best friend, and I like to run a fairly tight ship, especially on school days. Besides, routines help give kids a sense of security and helps them develop self-discipline. It’s good for them! This simple routine chart helps them know what they need to get done for the day so you don’t need to be barking orders at them while throwing together lunchbox items and finding missing socks.


Now that the chores are done let’s find some cute stuff to put on your walls. Have a Star Wars fan in your house? This super cute printable is FREE. Yes. In three different colors. And how sweet are these rules for kids? A nice reminder for those days when your children are more enemies than friends. And that map? FREE!


Now for a few educational printables. First up, this counting mat can be used in a ton of ways. First, your child could color the number and the animals, practicing number identification and number writing or get out play dough and make the number and then roll dots for each animal for a hands on way to practice counting. Scale the pdf file down and use them as smaller flashcards, or print it out full size and use as posters when your child is learning each number! All free.

These handwriting pages are great for little hands just starting to learn, print out as many as your little writer needs. Finally, it’s a fact that now everyone knows at least one Frozen obsessed child. Click here for this Frozen preschool printable activities pack, totally free.


Finally, my NUMBER ONE free printable guy, the BEST, is Made By Joel. My kids love his paper cities (I have to admit I like playing with them too, I mean, a paper Paris?? Come on. The cutest). They are a great rainy day play activity, in fact his whole entire site is just amazing. Besides the paper cities he has free coloring sheets, crafts, just a ton of really creative, unique stuff you won’t find anywhere else. Love that guy!

Made-by-Joel-Paper-City-Paris-4Made-by-Joel-Winter-House-Paper-City-Scene-3 Made-by-Joel-Paper-City-Vehicles-2

Now go crank up that printer and get started! Remember, for the original Perfect Pinterest Printables, click right here, enjoy! xoxo

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#BUSTling Q&A: Mastitis


As part of the brand new #BUSTling series with The Bundle Store here is our first Q&A. Have a topic you’d like to see discussed here on Mamatoga? Shoot me an email at Jenny (at) Mamatoga dot com! Now check out the advice and tips Amber from The Bundle Store has for dealing with mastitis while breastfeeding.

Mamatoga: What are some signs and symptoms of mastitis? What should I do first if I think I have mastitis?

Amber: Mastitis can present itself in various different symptoms. Personally, when I had mastitis I had a fever over 101 with chills, aches, and lethargy. Somewhat like what the flu feels like. Other symptoms include a red, swollen area on your breast that may feel painful or hot, abnormal discharge from your nipple, a burning pain in your breast either when you’re breastfeeding or even when you’re not, or a hard, lumpy area on your breast. If you think you have mastitis you should contact your health practitioner as soon as possible, either your OB/GYN, midwife, or general practitioner. You should also remove any bra or tight clothing that you are wearing, drink lots of fluids, and continue to breastfeed your baby as usual. It may also help to pump or express any remaining milk after breastfeeding and also breastfeed more often.

M: What could be some of the causes of mastitis? Anything specifically to avoid? Anything I can do to try to prevent it?

A: Mastitis is often caused by milk build-up within the breast. This can either be from skipping feedings, infrequent feedings, an improper latch, or baby having issues with sucking during breastfeeding.

To prevent milk build up and reduce the potential for mastitis you want to first make sure that you have a well fitting bra and preferably one that does not have underwire. I always recommend to my mothers that they get fitted with us for a bra, even before delivering baby, and use a bra with a sufficient size band support under the breasts such as in the Melinda G maternity/nursing bra line that we carry in store. If you have a bra that is cutting into you and is painful, either underwire or not, this is something that you need to address.

You also want to make sure that you have a nursing bra for nighttime that can support your breasts while giving them a little more room to fill while you are asleep (Dreamy Sleep Bra by Melinda G). Nursing clothes have come a long way so also invite some nursing pieces into your wardrobe or a nursing scarf (NuRoo nursing scarf) that is right there around your neck ready to go as a cover-up if you so choose. In addition, make sure you make time to stop to breastfeed when your baby is hungry or your breasts feel full, whether you are at home or you are out and about. You are more likely to run into a problem when you put off a feeding until you finish folding the laundry or until after you leave the store and get home. Breastfeeding in a carrier is a great skill to learn and can allow you to still accomplish the tasks you need to get done both at home and when you’re out. For tips on breastfeeding in your carrier, please feel free to stop in and chat with us at the store. You’ll also want to make sure that your baby is well latched onto your breast during feedings and that you let baby finish feeding naturally, pulling off from your breast on his or her own.

M: Does mastitis reduce milk supply?

A: For this answer I turned to my good friend Melia from The Milk Canteen. She said “Mastitis itself should not cause a long term reduction in milk supply. However, many of the things that cause mastitis, like not emptying the breast, can cause reductions in supply as well. Mothers should check their breasts for blockages and sensitive spots at every feeding to make sure that baby is effectively removing milk. This will help guard against supply reductions and prevent an infection from settling in.”

M: What kinds of things can I try to increase my milk supply?

Supply and demand usually go hand in hand. But when they don’t you can seek out help from a lactation consultant to guide you through increasing your supply. You may also try completing emptying your breasts through pumping or hand expression after feedings, massaging the breasts during feedings to ensure you are accessing your full supply, making sure that you are consuming enough liquids for yourself, hold baby skin to skin or wear baby in a carrier to increase the hormone prolactin that is involved in milk production, try herbal supplements or consumable products formulated to help increase milk supply. It’s helpful to keep in mind that breastfeeding, like parenting, does not come with a manual for each mother/baby duo. But with the right information, tools, and support it can be a very positive and successful experience.

What are some supplements I can try to increase milk supply?

You can try making your own lactation cookies or try various herbal boosters. We like Milkmakers packaged lactation cookie mix because they have a gluten free/dairy free option which allows you to avoid those ingredients if you feel your baby may be having some food sensitivities (read my review here). Motherlove liquid extracts and capsules are also a popular product among mothers that come into the store and they have a few non-fenugreek options if you need to avoid that herb due to allergy or hypothyroidism.

Many thanks to Amber for taking part in this Q&A, I highly recommend stopping by her shop in Ballston Spa if you have any questions or want to chat about any of these products mentioned. Even though I am nursing baby number four, the FIRST time I found a nursing bra that fit and was actually comfortable was after going to The Bundle Store and actually getting fitted for one. Stay tuned for even more from our #BUSTling series next week! Want more today? Click the pic below to see my nursing mama uniform! xoxo


Mamatoga & The Bundle Store does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. Mamatoga & The Bundle Store provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.
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Mamatoga {kids} Book Review: Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

coverIf kids had coffee table books, this is the one they would choose to display and have their friends flip through when they came over and sipped juice and chatted about play dates and who was going to what preschool the next year. Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters is by Oliver Jeffers, the illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Day the Crayons Quit! and is as much fun for parents to read as it for the kiddos.


Now, this book is less warm and fuzzy than it is slightly dark and sharp, think more along the lines of Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends and Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen. If you (and your kids) are a fan of these, then you will love this book. Each letter of the alphabet is associated with a word and a beautiful full color illustration. Then the following pages feature a fun, alliterative short story about that object; an Astronaut who’s afraid of heights, a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom…


I’m always looking for books that I can read to all of my kids, from little to big. Even though Finn is in 3rd grade and Levy is in 1st and they both love to read on their own, I still read to all four of the kids every night, at least one book. This one is a favorite for the two older kids to take turns reading out loud, and they each have their own favorite letter stories they want to read and giggle over.


Going on year 8 of being a parent and having read countless ABC books, I truly love this silly and sometimes a little weird departure from the typical A is for Apple, B is for Ball kind of stuff you usually get with an “alphabet book”. For sure, Jack (nearly 3) has no idea what some of the little stories are about, but he loves this book nonetheless, and he has his favorite letters and pictures. Just exactly what an enigma might be is still discussed every time we read it, but the elephants and envelopes are favorites, as well as the puzzled parsnips and of course the lumberjack.


I know it’s an interesting children’s book when I call Sean in from the other room to show him one of the pictures, or laugh about one of the little stories, and that is certainly the case with this one. If you’d like a beautifully illustrated departure from the same old, same old, pick this one up, it just so happens to be a bestseller this week at Northshire Bookstore on Broadway in Saratoga. xoxo

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