Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Gimme a Break

Wow! I can't believe it has been almost a month since I have posted anything. I am just writing to say that I will be taking break from the blog for a while (obviously). Summer is getting busy and my pregnancy is starting to take over.  I hope to continue at some point soon. In the meantime, I encourage you to follow some of these really great sites that do a fantastic job of finding things to do with the kids.

Have a great summer!

Albany Kid

Capital District Fun



Friday, May 14, 2010

Pond Appreciation Day

Buckingham Pond is by far one of our favorite parks/playgrounds in Albany.  If you haven't visited yet, try to stop by on Sunday for Pond Appreciation Day.  A great project for the family and you'd be helping preserve the park for all future visitors and wildlife. For more info:  http://www.buckinghampondconservancy.org/

PS. I just heard from their Facebook Page that all the little pond animals are having their babies... yet another chance to see baby animals... in their natural habitat, no less.

Here's a playground review I did last fall for Buckingham Pond.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Albany Academy Book Festival

The Albany Academies is hosting the Second Annual Children's Book Festival.
Saturday, May 15 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the AAG campus.

- 37 children's and young adult authors and illustrators 

-Book sales and signings, workshops and activities for children, and refreshments!

Children can come dressed as their favorite storybook character for the Storybook Parade at 10:15 a.m. in the AAG circle.

The event is free and open to the public.

Check out their website HERE

Greek Festival

Festival season is gearing up, so here is one you might want to check out this weekend.

Admission $3
Children under 12 Free

Friday 6-11pm
Saturday Noon - 11pm
Sunday Noon - 7 pm

Teddy Bear Hospital Day

It's time for your Teddy Bear's annual check-up.

Teddy Bear Hospital Day
Sunday, May 16
Albany Medical Center
Choices Cafe  
Free admission and parking

Some highlights:  tour of LifeNet helicopter, ambulance and fire truck, face painting, games and other hands on activities, snacks and a teddy bear check up by a bonafide medical student.

We went last year and it was a fun little outing. If you are going for the tour of the helicopter, go earlier. We went towards the end of the afternoon, and while the lines for all the other activities were short, the helicopter had already taken off.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weekend in Vermont

This past weekend was my daughter's 5th birthday, and of course, Mother's Day.  In honor of those momentous occasions, we took a  2-for-1 celebration weekend trip to Vermont. So, on Saturday morning we packed up the minivan (yes, the deed is done) and headed up to Burlington, Vermont for some ice cream, teddy bears, and snow...yes, I said snow.

I've always heard great things about Burlington and after looking at all the sunny pictures of Lake Champlain online, I was convinced this was going to be that sunny, springtime getaway that we needed.  Well, as you Tulip-festers know, the weather was less than cooperative.  But that, and a few other minor setbacks, did not stop us from having a entertaining and educational couple of days.

Here's some ideas if you are looking for a fun weekend-cation and Burlington is calling your name.

1. The Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. 
This was the first stop on our trip. Minor setback number one was that the actual production line does not run on weekends, so although you can get a tour of the factory floor, you won't see the people actually sewing and stuffing and all that good stuff.  That being said, the tour guide was great (we actually got there at a really quiet time, around 3pm, and got a personal tour).  She made tons of un-BEAR-able puns that we were encouraged to laugh at and was very knowledgeable and pretty passionate about her work at the factory.

The factory has a gift shop (with overpriced bear apparel) and teddy bears of all flavors, a personalization station where you have messages embroidered on your bear, and a Friend-for-Life teddy bear making station(kind of like 'Build-a-Bear', but trust me, they want you to know that it was their idea first.)

You can find Tour Information here.

2. Lake Champlain/Downtown Burlington
The lake is beautiful, and even in the wind and cold we managed to have some fun.  We found a nice little playground on the water and enjoyed the sunset.  We even learned a little bit about Champ, Champlain's version of Nessie.We didn't visit the Echo Aquarium, which is right on the waterfront,but if you have more time, it's supposed to be a great place to take the kids.

After searching for parking, we made our way to the Church Street Marketplace, Burlington's 'award winning outdoor mall' to check out the local color.  And it was colorful.  Lots of granola and funkiness. Kind of funny to see that juxtaposed against The Body Shop and Borders, but somehow it all worked.  In the summer there are plenty of options for outdoor dining and entertainment.

3. Hotel courtesy of Priceline.com
50 bucks for a one night stay, with free breakfast and a pool.  If you ask the kids, the pool was the highlight of the trip. Of course.  We could have gotten a hotel in Albany and they would have been just as pleased.

4. Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory Tour
Ok, so we didn't actually go on the tour, but we saw the factory. The tours didn't start until 12 pm on Sunday and we had to be on our way, but if you are there during the week, stop by for a chocolately delicious peek.

5. The Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour
Located in Waterbury, about 25 minutes away from Burlington, this was the real reason I wanted to go to Vermont.  Of course, in my haste, I did not check that, yet again, the actual factory floor is not open on the weekends, but again, it really didn't matter.  The tour guide was funny (again, lots of cow jokes), we saw the factory floor, learned the history of Ben and Jerry, and got some delicious free samples. (The flavor of the day was 'Cookies and Milk', a new flavor, and it was superb.  Bonus:  Because it was Mother's Day, mommy's got a free cone.

*Interesting side note:  The tour guide implored us to try new flavors when we go to Ben and Jerry's. She said a lot of people stick to the 'favorites' (see list), so many of the new flavors don't stick around too long.  So the next time you are at B&J's, why not bypass the Chunky Monkey and try something new.

6. The Vermont Country Store - Weston, VT location
You can read more about it here.

Overall, this was a really great and affordable little getaway.  Despite the fact that it did snow on Sunday morning and all the factories were 'off' on the weekend, we managed to squeeze a lot out of those two days.  We will probably head back at some point, in the warmer weather (I'm sure there is a week like that sometime in August) and check out some of the other things we missed like the Lake Champlain Ferry and the Shelburne Museum.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hand Washing

Yesterday, whilst shopping at Target (my home away from home), my daughter uttered the seven most dreaded words to hear at any large shopping center... or any place other than home for that matter...'I have to go to the bathroom.'. (yep, seven.)  Of course we were at the far end of the store so we had to haul it all the way back to the front while she did the potty dance and let everyone we passed know the purpose of our mission.

Anyway, while my son and I waited for her to be done, we saw another mother with two young kids come out of a stall and walk directly to the door.  Wait, what?  No soap..no water... no hyper-speed hand dryer, nothing.

Please tell me this is not normal. If so, it makes me never want to touch another public surface for as long as I live.

When I was growing up in the 80's, there was a huge anti-littering campaign going on. You know, the whole 'Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute" thing, and I don't know about the rest of you, but that stuff worked on me. I am still absolutely floored when I see people throwing fast food bags out the window or leaving diapers in parking lots (ahem, Wal-Mart). I can just imagine Woodsy the Owl silently weeping on a branch somewhere.

Subsequently, I think that there has been enough hand-washing propaganda out there for at least the last five years for people to know that's just what you do.  I mean, it's in all the potty training books for kids. Elmo even says it, for God's sake.

Now, I'm not tellling you that every time I need to wash my hands I stand there singing "Happy Birthday to You" twice while scrubbing as per the CDC's instructions, but I do use soap and warm water, and frankly I feel pretty good about that decision. I also make sure my kids do the same.  But after seeing this little display of hand-washing negligence, it has made me question things.  Am I just setting us all up for a lifetime of being compulsive hand washers or is it just ok to know that the pee-pee is off my son's hands after we leave the bathroom?

I know that when I am crammed in a stall with two kids, there is nothing that will prevent my 3 year old son from touching every surface in there.. and there is not enough hand sanitizer in the world to combat that little germ fest. Surely it's better to actually wash the yuck off of your hands first, if the option is there.  Is that so wrong?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Kids Bowl Free

It's time again to sign up for the Kids Bowl  Free program.

Here is a description from their FB page
The "Kids Bowl Free" is a summer bowling program that is sponsored by select bowling centers across the country.

Kids receive 2 free games of bowling everyday during the summer. There is no cost to participate. Parents may purchase a Family Pass from $24.95 (one-time payment) that covers up to 4 adult family members and provides 2 games of bowling everyday throughout the summer.
 Find a participating lane near you right here  
Thanks, Karin!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mother's Day Bouquet

Here's a cute little gift idea I found on Albany Kid and Capital District Fun (two great blogs for families and kids in the area).

Kids can build their own Mother's Day Bouquet for $5 at participating Price Choppers.

From the site:
Show Mom she's special and Build a Bouquet for Mother's Day at participating Price Chopper locations May 8. Children 12 and under can make a 3-bunch bouquet for $5 plus tax. Kids pick out flowers, colored tissue and a ribbon. Then they can sign and attach a personalized card!
 You can find participating locations right here.

Indian Ladder Farms

Has it already been a week since I last wrote?  I'm blaming my allergies. 

Anyway, for all you die hard Indian Ladder Farms fans out there (and I know you are there), please make note that they open tomorrow!

Here are some other highlights.

-Baby Animal Days go from May 8-23rd. Closer and cheaper than Hancock Shaker Village, if you didn't get to see them there.

-Enroll your child in Barn School.

-Mother's Day Brunch on May 9th at The Yellow Rock Cafe. (Reservations strongly recommended).

- Pick your own begins in June with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries (oh my!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


In honor of half of my cultural heritage:

India Day
When: Sun, May 2, 2010 | 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Where: National Museum of Dance, 99 S Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY
Cost: $5 (General), FREE (Children and Museum Members) 
From the website:
There will be an introduction to India, Indian music performances on sitar & tabla, an introduction to Indian Classical Dance styles with performances by both professional & student dancers, a Sari wrapping demonstration for women & girls, a BOLLYWOOD Dance demonstration for everyone, and a delicious Indian food court with authentic Indian food available for guests.

Thanks, Leanne!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I have a confession to make.  I'm a mom and I hate playgrounds.  There, I said it.  I don't hate them enough for me to deprive my children of their God-given right to swing and slide, I mean look... here's proof.

But if you gave me the choice between going to the Crossings one more time or listening to my enginerd husband explain the intricacies of his latest research, I'd be hard pressed to choose.

I'm not sure why they irk me so much, but for some reason I just prefer finding places to have fun that have nothing to do with that bouncy purple dinosaur.(My kids don't always let me get away with that, but I sure do try).

Enter Yaddo.

If you have never been there, you should go, and if you have, you know that there is something magical about the place.

The rose gardens, the statuary, the pergola (I had no idea that's what it was called), the fountains... it's all the little details that give this place a special  feeling that's hard to find in a schoolyard, and even sans twisty slide, my kids love it. It's just a great place to wander around and feel like you've walked into a scene from The Secret Garden.

We just went last Wednesday, and while the flowers have yet to bloom, the fountains are still dry, and the statues are still boarded up, we still managed to have the best time.  The gravel paths alone entertained the kids for at least a half an hour with all their digging, and burying, and carrying on.  

Here are some of our favorite parts:

The entrance gate.  We must spend at least 20 minutes hanging out here while the kids get me to guess the 'secret password' so I can get in.  Usually, I give up and just go around the side.

The pergola...or the place they like to pretend is from The Sound of Music. (In the song Do-Re-Mi, Fraulein Maria and the kids run through something kind of like this, and my kids have since made that connection) Note all that glorious gravel.

The steps (there are several sets of these that you can't see in this picture). 30 minutes of up and down, up and down and they still aren't tired.  The nice thing, too, is that you can stand in one part of the garden and see your kids all the way on the other side.

This rock garden is in the wooded section in the back of the gardens. Granted, it's not much to look at now, but there is a mermaid statue, ferns, and tall pines that make it very fairy-tale-esque.

The Yaddo Gardens are open to the public seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to dusk and is very easy to find.  Here are some directions.

*They also have a very clean port-a-potty which has come in handy on several occasions.

Purple dinosaur rating:  None. Just the way I like it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Riverway Storytelling Festival

A week's worth of storytelling fun.

Check out their family events and other schedule here.

Yankee Candle Flagship Store

Candles...yet so much more.

While visiting some friends in Holyoke, MA, they decided to take us to the Yankee Candle Store in Deerfield. I wasn't quite sure what the big deal was, afterall, we have a Yankee Candle at Crossgates (you can smell it from the parking lot). But, boy oh boy my friends, this was not your average candle shop.  It is one of the flagship stores and it's Fuccillo HUGE!  As soon as you walk in they give you a map to the place, and you can still get lost.

I'm not really a fan of the candles.  I find them to be overpowering and overpriced, but I guess I get their appeal and am sometimes pretty impressed that they can emulate some of the smells that they do.  I mean if you have a candle called Storm Watch and it actually smells like what I'm assuming thunder smells like, that's pretty impressive.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that you don't have to like the candles to like the place,  and the kids will LOVE it.  Here are some of the highlights:

Elevated model train track that winds its way around the store.

Year round Christmas Village, for those of you who feel the need to buy ornaments in the middle of July. (Plus they have a snow machine, so every 4 minutes there is a snowstorm inside) A real live Santa IS included (of course since Christmas is not for another bajillion days, Santa was chilling in some jeans and suspenders and making paper crafts with the kids)

Make your own candles.  Kids can make candles in the shape of their hands or mix and match wax beads to make a custom jar. If  I made a candle it would be called ''Meltdown". Get it?  Candles melt... my kids have meltdowns. That's perfect. It would smell like a cross between crayon wax and frustration.

Candy store(s) and Toy Stores.  Kids love that kind of stuff.

-Big food court and live entertainment.  The live music was a little annoying, but the kids were invited to perform on stage with the singers, so at least someone got a kick out of it.

Candles - Yes, they have every kind of Yankee Candle flavor you could ever want... even 'New Releases'. (I'm sure there are people that get into that...just like the latest Beanie Baby.) Their website reports over 400,000 candles in over 200 scents.  That's anything but SCENTS-less (badum-cha!)

And guess what? If you aren't sold on the place by now,  Trader Joe's is only minutes away.

Open every day 10 am- 6pm
Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve 10 am-5 pm
Closed Thanksgiving & Christmas

Check out their schedule of events here.

Get directions from Albany here. Sure, it's a little bit of a drive, but you can make a fun daytrip out of it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

O! Baby Consignment Sale

 From their website: 
 A twice-yearly children's consignment sale in Chatham, New York - just 40 minutes from Albany - offering NEW, GENTLY USED and EXCELLENT QUALITY baby and children's items at a fraction of the price
Thurs. April 22, 9am – 7pm 
Fri. April 23, 9am – 5pm
Sat. April 24, 9am – 3pm  

Columbia County Fairgrounds
Chatham, New York

 Thanks, Abby T.!

Family Fun at the Clark Museum

People and Spaces Family Day at The Clark

April 25, 2010
Ongoing activies from 12:00 pm -4:00 pm
~40 miles from Albany.  Get directions here.

 From their website:

This family day will feature a campus-wide adventure to explore how people fit into different spaces, places, and settings. Try to keep your bearings in the cardboard maze, and build a miniature museum that you can populate with detailed clothespin people you create.  Explore the  Clark's grounds as you discover fairy houses and gnome homes created as part of a community-wide art project.

Check out the schedule here.

There is also a Fairy Houses and Gnome Project where you can build tiny homes using found objects and then display them on the grounds.  Each participant gets their own site assignment.  On April 25th (Family Fun Day), maps of the sites will be distributed so you can visit each of these homes.

If you haven't been to the Clark, it's well worth the visit. We had a lot of fun.  Make sure to take a stroll through Williamstown and Where'd You Get That (cool toystore).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Riverfront Park, Rensselaer

I haven't done a playground review in a while,but now that it nice and warm, I'm on the hunt for new places to hang out with the kids.

This week took me to Riverfront Park in Rensselaer.  If you take the Dunn Memorial Bridge over to the East Greenbush Target (which I do often) you will see this park as you are spit out onto Broadway in Rensselaer. 

There are a couple sections of this playground, and some are better than others, so let me explain.

Our first stop was the 'playground' playground.  This section had a large selection of slides, ladders, climbing things and it kept my kids busy for an hour.  We hit this place after school, so it was quite busy with kids and their parents.  I personally was not feeling it because every time the wind blew it would kick up a huge cloud of dust from the neighboring construction yard, but I was apparently the only one who seemed to notice.  However, this was my kids favorite place in the park. If it were up to me, we'd avoid it altogether.

Next, we moved on to the swings.  You have to walk under the bride to get there, which is kind of cool by itself because it looks so massive. Underneath the bridge are a couple of tennis and basketball courts as well as a little playground set up for younger kids, old fashioned see-saws, teeter-totters (whatever you call them), and those springy animal things you can ride on. (Now if they only had the 15 ft metal slide that burned you on the way down, just like in the olden days, we'd really be in business.)

This part of the park was really beautiful and unexpected. The sun was setting on the Hudson, and it was novel to see Albany from the other side of the river.  We took a walk down on the pier (we didn't stay long because my son, who has no fear, was getting way too close to the edge), and enjoyed the views.

On our way back, we walked on a pathway along the river which circles back under the bridge, and found ourselves in another big field where we stopped to watch some baseball practice, kite flying, and did some lady bug observing.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised.  It never looked like much when I was driving above it, but after wandering around, I'd like to go back.  There are plenty of picnic tables and they have free music performances in the summer. You can also check out the murals on the concrete columnswhich were part of a park beautification project in 1995 by the Rensselaer Artists' Movement Society. (The sentiment is there, but let's just say you can tell they are from 1995.)

Purple Dinosaur Rating:  None. But the river is a nice touch.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Time for a Change

Last year, to my chagrin, the Times Union Best of the Capital District Poll came out with these choices for the best restaurants in the Capital Region for kids.

Well, it's high time someone does something about this...but wait...someone has.  The Profussor has implored us all to think long and hard about this ballot, and make some choices that actually represent our region, and not the chain restaurants/shops found all across this great country of ours..

He has created a sample ballot that I encourage you to peruse.  You might not agree with his all of his choices, but the sentiment is there.  It's time to rock this vote and get some more local color and flavor in these results.

If you haven't voted already, take the time to do so right here:  Times Union Best of 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mom Exchange

Here is a great new website I found though FUSSYlittleBLOG:

It seems like a great resource for parents. Once you register you can add events, write reviews, and suggest other cool places to go in the area.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Tomie DePaola Mural

If you love children's books, you have most likely come across some of Tomie DePaola's books in your reading. The prolific writer/illustrator (having published over 200 books) may be best known for his Strega Nona series and his moon faced, folk-art characters.  My family saw a documentary on him last year when we visited the Eric Carle Museum.

In addition to illustrating children's books,  he has also done a series of murals for New England monasteries and churches. As it turns out, one of those murals can be found right here in the Capital District.

Don't ask me how I came upon this website, but they mentioned that one of DePaola's murals was in their chapel. According to their website the mural was commissioned by the Domincan Sisters Congregation and was first his first major work.

Being a fan of his, I headed over to check it out. It wasn't easy. The chapel itself was closed, but after walking around the grounds, trying different doors, a member of the cleaning crew let us in.

Here is a picture of the chapel and his mural. You can see this mural was signed in 1958, before any of his books were published.

The retreat center also had a small gift shop, which, along with other religious themed gifts and books had a collection of DePaola's story books, all signed by the author. The bookstore is run by the honor system, so you just pick the book you want and put your money in the cash box. (I love the honor system).  The woman who let us in let us know that DePaolo comes back every couple of years to visit.

I would say go check it out, but its not the easiest thing to accomplish with kids. 

I guess its just nice to know that there is another unexpected gem here in the area.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Summer is here?

I just heard the ice cream truck pull around the corner. One of the first true harbingers of warmer weather.

Along with the annoying music, this one actually asks "Hello?" in a somewhat impatient voice.

At least it's only 4:15pm as opposed to last year.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Small-bany!

It's hard to believe, but a year has already passed since my first post here on Small-bany.

What did we do to celebrate?

Why, visited some of our favorite places here in Small-bany, of course.

1.  We spent the first part of the morning at the Albany Art Room.  If you have not had the chance to visit here, it's definitely worth stopping in.  For $7/hr, your child can have fun painting, stamping, beading, collage, etc. and basically making a mess (I mean, unleashing their creative energy)  in a place made just for that.  They also offer classes for children and adults, summer camps, a pottery studio and space for birthday parties, baby showers,  and any other kind of celebration.  

(*Note:  I just learned that if you visit the Art Room during the week of April 20-26, all profits will be donated to 'Make Art 4 Art' to benefit Albany City School's Art Programs.)

2. Stop #2 took us to the Corning Preserve.  We had a picnic by the river, enjoyed a bike ride along the path, and took a little pit stop at the playground.

3. After all that exercise, we headed on over to Emack and Bolio's. I wouldn't normally indulge in ice cream twice in two days, but I was feeling festive... and hot.  The ice cream here is definitely more pricey, but you get what you pay for...good quality ice cream made with good quality ingredients.  May I humbly suggest the 'Deep Purple Cow' (black raspberry ice cream with white and dark chocolate chips and blueberries).  While you are here, check out the Mosaic studio, outdoor garden, as well as their schedule for live music on Friday and Saturday nights. It's also a great place to have a birthday party.

This past year has been a lot of fun, and I hope I can continue for another one.  I have met some great people, got a chance to write for All Over Albany (thanks, Mary and Greg!), and best of all, I was able to discover some really great places and things to do in the area (the whole point of this little experiment!).

Thank you  to everyone who reads this blog and has contributed their ideas and comments.  It's been a lot of fun and I really appreciate your support.

Here's to another year of getting out of the house!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I Scream, You Scream

With temperatures in the mid 80's, it took all in our power not to hook up the sprinkler and run around in the backyard.  Part of me knows it's still April and this is a fluke, but baby it feels like summertime to me. So instead... we had ice cream for lunch.

Wa....wa...what?!  C'mon...everyone knows that ice cream is the number one source of calcium for pregnant women, and that's the kind of science I can get behind.  Because of that, Small-bany will spend the better part of this summer backing this up by engaging in our own little ice cream tour. Or we'll just let you know if we find anyplace good.

Stop #1 Jim's Tastee Freeze - Ignore the first reviewer, aka Mr. Grumpy Pants. I experienced neither grime nor snot.  Sounds like someone needs another ice cream cone... and make that a double. In terms of price....whatever, it's ice cream, it's cold, and it's good. I didn't notice it being more expensive that anywhere else.

My kids also loved it because their grandfather is named Jim... and he bears a striking resemblance to that guy on the sign.  (Just kidding, Dad. Your teeth aren't that big)

Albany Family Dance

This looks like a great event for the family and perfect for little ones.  The word is that this might be the last time they'll do it in Albany if the turnout isn't so great, so mark your calendar and put on your dancing shoes.

Sunday April, 11th
4:00pm - 5:25 pm
405 Quail Street, Albany

Here's a description and directions:

The afternoon will consist of singing games, contra, square and international folk dancing led by Paul Rosenberg and live music by Tame Rutabaga. All abilities and ages of dancers -- as well as musicians to join the band -- are always welcome. Great for the younger set.

DIRECTIONS: From New Scotland Avenue, go one block north on Quail Street. Church is at the corner of Quail St. and Maple Ave. Turn left onto Maple, and park in lot. Enter building down the stairs on Maple Ave entrance. http://www.firstcongregationalalbany.org/

DONATION: We ask for a $5 (adults) or $1(children) donation at the door to defray the expenses at each dance.
This dance series is sponsored by DanceFlurry Organization. More info: http://www.danceflurry.org/new/familydance.html

Thanks, Miriam!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What do you get when you cross my favorite author (Roald Dahl) and my favorite director (Wes Anderson)?

A rollicking good time, that's what. (I've always wanted to use rollicking in a sentence)

Recently released on DVD, Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of the best animated movies I have ever seen.  Not only is it only artistically beautiful and intricate (all characters, costumes, sets were made by hand) but it was witty and entertaining without being obnoxious (cue Alvin and the Chipmunks)

Admittedly, when I saw this in the theater a few months back, I had no idea that Wes Anderson directed it and prepared myself to endure, rather than enjoy, as I do with most kids movies (Kung Fu Panda being an exception). However, from the first frame it was obvious that he directed it.  If you have seen any of his other films (Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited, and The Royal Tenenbaums etc.) all the tell tale signs are there...reoccurring collaborators, rocking soundtrack, witty dialogue, and dry humor that pairs well with Roald Dahl's darkly comedic writing style.

It took me a while to realize that George Clooney did the voice for Mr. Fox... the voice was so familiar but it drove me crazy until I could place it.  Other characters were played by Bill Murray, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe, Jarvis Cocker (who I spent most of the 90s having a crush on... loved me some Britpop) and even a rabbit chef voiced by Mario Batali... complete with orange Crocs.

Since we bough the DVD two days ago we have already watched it twice. There is some shooting involved and some creepy farmers, but if you don't mind that it's a great family film. There will be a free viewing of the movie on Thursday at the Delaware Branch of the Albany Public Library

Location: Delaware Branch
Begins: 2:00 pm (Thursday, April 8, 2010)
Description: Popcorn donated by Spectrum 8 Theatres. (hooray!)

You can watch a "making of" video, among others, right here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Yet another consignment sale

Katrina Trask Nursery School Consignment Sale
Friday, April 16th (3-8pm)
Half-price sale on Saturday, April 17th (9am-1pm)
The American Legion (34 West Ave., Saratoga Springs).

For more information click HERE

From their site:
Everything you need for children: furniture, toys, books, videos, baby gear, maternity and nursing clothes, and children's clothes for infants to children's size 10/12. The sale offers a tremendous selection of excellent-quality items. In addition to raising money to help run our cooperative nursery school, we reach out to families and charities in need within the community and supply them with free clothing and gear by donating unsold items following the sale.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake

Just took a detour through Delmar and saw that Make Me a Cake Next Door is now open.  The owners of Perfect Blend have expanded next door and according to their website will be offering 'a wide variety of cupcakes as well as cakes for all occassions, specialty/custom cakes, wedding cakes and much more.'

Here is some more info from the Times Union.

Mmm, art you can eat.

Make Me A Cake Next Door
378 Delaware Avenue
Delmar, NY 12054

Monday, March 29, 2010

Too Big for My Britches

I am nearing the five month mark in my pregnancy, and it's official... I need to switch over to maternity clothes. Blurgh.  The Belly Band (a pregnant woman's miracle) I bought at Target has been working until now, allowing me to wear my normal jeans, however, this baby is growing... so it's time to pull out the heavy artillery.

It's been about three years since my last baby, and while many of the maternity clothes styles have improved, the locations where you can buy them have dwindled.  Wal-Mart and Old Navy have pulled maternity wear out of their stores and moved everything online, and even Bon-Ton (usualy a last resort) has decided to leave pregnant ladies in the lurch.

While online shopping is convenient, maternity clothes, I find, are often ill-fitting and need a good trying-on before buying. I hate paying for shipping (I usually look for free coupon codes) and REALLY hate paying for shipping returns.  Some stores offer in-store returns, however, a salesperson at Old Navy said they don't accept maternity clothes any longer.

In my desperation, I have traveled the Capital Region looking for places for a 'woman with child' to get some duds.

Target:  Liz Lange has had a line there for a while, but this time around the selection is pretty sparse.  I remember the selection being more varied, but there are some basic t-shirts, leggings, etc. you can start with.

H&M (Crossgates Mall):  Nice selection, very trendy, and reasonably priced. Keep checking back and you can find some good sales.

JC Penney:  They had a pretty decent selection, more for the working mom than the sweatpants/jeans mom I am.  There were some good sales, but overall, not really my style.  I have a weird thing with jeans.. if they are not the EXACT wash I like, I won't wear them.  Even if they are mega discounted for 14.99. I tried explaining that to my husband, but it's lost on him.

Destination Maternity (Colonie Center):  Finally, a whole store dedicated the process of populating. The front of the store boasts their boutique line (Pea in a Pod) where everything is pretty, but EXTREMELY overpriced (the sale prices made we weep).  The back of the store has the Motherhood Maternity section, which was more in my price range.  The salesperson was very helpful and friendly and the big bonus here is that there is a big gated off area in the middle of the store complete with a TV, lego table, and other diversions for the kids.  I actually got to try some stuff on knowing my kids were comatose in front of Nick Jr.

*Motherhood Matenity apparently also rents out spaces in Sears, Boscov's, Macy's (all in Colonie Center) as well as Babies R Us, so you can find similar items in all of these places, however they do not offer the in-store discounts that Destination Maternity has.

The Gap (Crossgates only):  So, of course you can look super cute and put together with anything the Gap sells in their maternity section, but if I'm going to pay full price for a pair of jeans... you are darn tootin' that I'm going to be able to wear them for more than three months. That being said, I always check out their sale section.  I am so over being that shopper that pretends to browse the front of the store mulling over a $68 t-shirt, only to casually make my way to the sale rack. I only ever buy 'on sale' at the Gap and always make a bee-line to the back of the store.

I have yet to check out any consignment shops and would take any suggestions. I'm pretty sure PolkaDots on Western Ave. has some stuff, so I'm going to check that out tomorrow, but I usually save consignment shopping for when I don't have the kids... there's something about that combination that kinda leaves me frazzled. And to find other used clothing, there is always eBay, Craigslist, and eMommie.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Farm and Fiber Tour

Looks like an interesting day for the family:

Washington County Farm and Fiber Tour
April 24th and 25th

From their website:
-Drive from farm to farm through scenic Washington County in eastern NYS. Shop for handspun and dyed yarns, unique woven and knitted items, high quality fleeces, cuts of lamb, and more. 

-Watch spinning, knitting, weaving, and felting demonstrations. Try your hand at many fiber arts. Learn about raising the livestock and pets that we cherish.
-Visit alpacas, bunnies, sheep and lambs, llamas, and more - on the farm; and meet the farmers and their families. 

And for your viewing pleasure:   The Llama Song

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thomas on the Big Screen

If you haven't caught this already, you still have one more chance!
THOMAS & FRIENDS: Hero of the Rails Movie

10 AM at Movieland in Schenectady
$5 for all seats. (What a steal!)
Saturday, March 27th

If your kids are into the crazy hijinks of this train and his friend-gines, then check out this description:

The British children's series Thomas & Friends follows the animated adventures of a helpful locomotive named Thomas the Tank Engine as he and his train buddies work the rail lines and teach kids about the spirit of teamwork. This cartoon movie breaks new ground in the series by providing voices for each individual character (previously, the tales were narrated by a single storyteller) and introducing three new friends: a train named Hiro, a steam engine named Victor, and a crane named Kevin.

The trains talk?!!  New characters?!!  This is groundbreaking stuff, guys.

Hudson Children's Book Festival

Still more than a month away, but definitely worth marking down on the calendar.

Here's a link to the extensive list of authors who are slated to be there as well as the schedule.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Old People's Mall

Four score and seven years ago, when I was a high school student, I balanced a couple of jobs at what in my hometown of Whitehall, PA (holla!) was known as the 'old people's mall'. (To prove how long ago this was, one of my jobs was at Waldenbooks (remember those?), and the other was at the Dollar Movie Theatre, and at the time that I quit they were playing Jurassic Park).

This was not the cool mall that all the high school kids hung out at on a Friday night, but the quiet mall that smelled like stale pretzels and dirty fountain water. And of course, it was filled with old people.  Well... never really filled... I guess that's why they liked it.

Anyway, today I found the equivalent of that at the Rotterdam Square Mall.  I think that any mall with K-Mart as an anchor store automatically qualifies.  This mall was one of the more depressing places I have been in a while.  Empty storefronts, empty food court, and more "Cash for Gold" kiosks per square footage than I've seen anywhere else.

It does have all your key mall stores... FYE, Hot Topic, Victoria's Secret, and a bunch of those places that sell wolf t-shirts and woven hats from Guatemala.  It also has a Gap Outlet, which is a bonus (for me anyway), but it's certainly not enough to take away from the dreariness of the whole place. Even the Easter Bunny looked like he was crying beneath his costume. (Sidenote:  the guy taking the pictures of the bunny looked EXACTLY like the comic book guy in the Simpsons).

My kids,on the other hand, noticed none of this bleakness. Why, you ask?  Because it has one of the most impressive collection of pay kiddie rides in all the land.  I was just at Crossgates last week and noticed they took theirs away, and the one at Colonie Center pales in comparison.  This place has everything a little kid could want.  The ice cream truck, the fire engine, a race car, and little merry go round, I could go on.  Of course, being the stingy mom that I am, I conveniently have 'run out of quarters' at this point of the trip, so the kids have to busy themselves with the rides without all the jerking back and forth, but they are happy enough to play.
The highlight for me was the magic tree named "Molly" (complete with British accent), who rhymes in couplets and has a change machine in her trunk.  That particular attraction is free and the kids must have pressed the button fifteen times to hear her sing 'Zipadee-doo-da'.

So, if you happen to find yourself in that neck of the woods, check it out.  By no means am I implying that you should make a special trip... if you did you would just be disappointed.  However, if you need to sell some gold and are over there anyway, make a little pit stop. Your kids will thank you for it, and it just might be the highlight of your visit. No, it definitely will be.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring has Sprung

For Bahai's, the first days of spring is also the beginning of our New Year, or Naw Ruz.

For the last few weeks, to help usher springtime into our home, we cut some long branches from our forsythia bush and put them in water.  The kids have enjoyed the day by day unfolding of the buds, until the blooms finally made their appearance...just in time for all the sunshiney warmth we have been enjoying!

Happy Spring, Albany!  It's like a whole new city out there.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Maple Sugar Tour - Five Rivers

The sun is shining... birds are singing.... perfect day for a field trip!

My friend got bunch of pre-K friends and parents together for the Maple Syrup Tour at Fiver Rivers Environmental Educational Center. The tour was about a half an hour long and winds through one of their short trails through the woods.  Led by a cheerful guide, the children were encouraged to take in the natural wonders around them, (namely trees), and experience first hand where maple syrup comes from and how it is made.

The kids got to drill into a tree, taste the freshly tapped sap, and then got to taste the real deal after it had been boiled down in the 'sugar shack'. (Move over Mrs. Butterworth).

The rest of the morning was spent running around, playing with sticks and rocks, and lunching in the sun.  A perfect start to the spring.

To experience your own Maple Syrup adventure you can head over to Five Rivers.  Here is a description from their website.  You can also check out their calendar for other upcoming family friendly events.

Maple Sugar Open Houses Saturdays and Sundays, March 20, 21, 27, 28, April 3
1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
At our Maple Sugar Open Houses, watch sap drip from the tapped trees, and smell the syrup boiling in the evaporator. You'll learn to twirl a drill and pound a spile, and you'll use your taste buds to sample maple syrup. The Maple Sugar Open Houses are open to the public. Scout and other youth groups are welcome; call the Center to register a group.

Next generation of tree huggers.

Thanks, Laura!! We had fun!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Balloon on a Spoon

For my son's 3rd birthday (last January) we bought him a bunch of mylar balloons from the Dollar Store.  The store had run out of all the birthday ones we were choosing, so we ended up getting him a motley collection of Valentine's balloons. Since V-day was still a month away at that point, they had those in spades.

Anyway, fast forward two months and some of these balloons are still hanging around. (Talk about stretching your dollar). I tied a spoon to one of my son's favorites so it would prevent me from having to jump up and get it everytime it hit the ceiling.  Ingenious, some might say, however, this thing is starting to freak me out.  With the spoon attached it is about the exact height of a small person. It floats around the house doing its own thing and it has those weird eyes and goofy grin...and I I'm never expecting it to be there, so I keep scaring the bejeezus out of myself whenever I bump into it.

I'll get up to go to the bathroom at night and jump because I think there is someone in the hall. I'll start talking to it because out of the corner of my eye I'll think its one of my kids. This morning I actually shut my bedroom door because I felt like someone was watching me, and when I looked up, there he was staring me down.

Tomorrow, I think I am going to introduce our little friend to a pair of safety scissors . This has gone on for far too long and this little love monkey has overstayed his welcome.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Home Gym for Kids

Is it just me or does this toy strike anyone as odd?

How about if you add this?

Guesses on how long it takes before it becomes a clothes rack..... just like mommy and daddy's.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Here's a chance to introduce your little ones to the refined world of opera. No, not the Three Tenors...the Three Little Pigs.

Lake George Opera To Go presents :
"The Three Little Pigs"  
Sunday, March 14, 2010 :  
2:00 P.M. - 3:00 P.M.   
at the NYS Museum

(from their website)
Description:   Lake George Opera at Saratoga brings a fully staged opera, complete with sets, costumes, and a cast of professional singers tot he State Museum.  In this retelling of "The Three Little Pigs," the beloved fairy tale by John Davies is set to music from the operas of Amadeus Mozart.  Join us on a musical adventure and find out how the three little pigs outsmart the big bad wolf by taking their questions 'to the Library!"  Please arrive early. Visitors will not be admitted once the performance begins!  Performance will be held in the Huxley Theater.  This is a FREE program and pre-registration is not required

 And remember, it aint' over till the fat piggie sings.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Today the kids and I were listening to one of our favorite kid-friendly, parentally tolerable kids albums, They Might Be Giants - Here Come the 123's and something piqued my interest enough for me to engage in some Google-based research.

The fifth track of the album, entitled 'Triops Has Three Eyes', regales us with a diddy of what I  previously had thought was a mythical creature (or at least long expired). Hereunto, the only three-eyed creatures I have been aware of are are that alien from Toy Story and Blinky, the toxic fish from The Simpsons.  However, my extensive research (typing 'triops' into the search box) has shown that not only are these babies real, but you can also breed them at home.

Check this out:  Triops Deluxe Kit.


And if you have not yet familiarized yourself with all the useless junk in the Think Geek catalog, may I suggest that you do so.

Move over Sea Monkeys, there's a new (well, technically not new) creepy aquarium creature in town.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Free Cone Day

It's that time of year again Ben and Jerry's fans  
Click here for the double scoop.

March 23rd with a cherry on top.

Family Jam with Heldeberg Music Together

Families, come make music with your kids! Musicians, come jam with friends, and help pass on the music you love to the next generation!
This event will combine group jamming and singing with some short performances by local musicians. (If you're a musician interested in participating, let Deb know!)
We'll be celebrating SING WITH YOUR CHILD Month, and raising funds for Heldeberg Music Together’s Scholarship Fund. Suggested donation is $10-25 per family, or pay-as-you-can. Everyone is welcome! Bring an instrument, if you have one.

HELDEBERG MUSIC TOGETHER is a research-based, early childhood music program for babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, kindergarteners and the adults who love them, taught in Albany by Deb Cavanaugh.

Sunday, March 21, 2010
11:30am - 2:30pm
Crowne Plaza Hotel
State and Lodge Streets
  Albany, NY

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Consignment Cheat Sheet

My (way more organized than me) friend Joyce put together this list of upcoming consignment sales.  Currently, the last three on the list are still open for consignors. Happy bargain hunting!

1) The Pass It On Sale (www.passitonsale,com) at the Albany Academies Fieldhouse
public dates:
Wed Mar 17th, 9am-8pm
Th     Mar 18th, 9am-5pm
Fri     Mar 18th, 9am-5pm  HALF PRICE SALE
Sat    Mar 19th 8am-12pm HALF PRICE SALE
2) Baby Revolution Sale (www.babyrevolutionsale.com) at the Beltrone Living Center off of Wolf Rd
public dates:
Sat Mar 27th 12noon-4pm
Sun Mar 28th 9am-11am HALF PRICE SALE
3) O! Baby Consignment Sale (www.obabysale.com) at the Chatham Fairgrounds
public dates:
Th   Apr 22nd 9am-7pm
Fri   Apr 23rd  9am-5pm
Sat Apri 24th 9am-5pm HALF PRICE SALE
4) Encore Kids Consignment Sale (www.encorekidssale.com) at the 4H Bldg of the Ballston Spa Fairgrounds
public dates:
Th  May 13th 9am-7pm
Fri   May 14th 9am-3pm
Sat May 15th 9am-2pm HALF PRICE SALE
Thanks, Joyce!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Indoor Yard Sale

Ok, with weather like this, yard sale season seems ice ages away.  But never fear, you can get still get your rummaging fix this coming weekend.

CBA is hosting an Indoor Yard Sale this Saturday.  From their description:

 Come join the fun and get great deals on thousands of items, all donated by CBA families. Everything for your home, appliances, furniture, clothing for your entire family, office products, books, toys, and more! Food & drinks on site. Proceeds to benefit CBA Lacrosse. Snow date on Feb. 28th.

When: Sat, Feb 27, 2010 | 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Where: 12 Airline Drive, Colonie New York
Cost: Free Admission 
For More Information Call: 452-9809 

Thanks, Leanne!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wasting Away

As you get older, you can choose to live life to its fullest, squeezing every last drop out of your existence on this earthy plane...


if that sounds like too much work, you can move to Albany and buy some property here:

Someone wasn't feeling too optimistic when they came up with that one.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Henry Hudson Planetarium

This weekend the Henry Hudson Planetarium is offering their children's program. Here's what they say on their website:

11 AM. Interactive program exploring the stars, planets, comets and constellations in the night sky. Children will meet Henry Hudson (puppet) and discover how he used the stars to sail his boat, The Half Moon, here in 1609. Geared to children ages 3-7 and their families. $3 all seatsThere is another show at 1pm geared toward children ages 8 and up.
These shows are few and far between, so check it out if you have the chance. The planetarium is housed in the Albany Heritage Area Visitor Center, which has a small museum and gift shop attached.

And if you are looking for a unique place to have a birthday party, look no further. $150 for a maximum of 25 children. Included a staff led planetarium show and party space.

The Visitor Center can be found at 25 Quackenbush Pl., Albany, 12207, (518) 434-0405

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pine Bush Preserve and Discovery Center

I have driven past the Pine Bush Preserve Discovery Center numerous times, but finally made it over there last Monday to check it out. (They are not usually open on Mondays, but this was an exception due the school break).

What a great place! The exhibits are new and and engaging with a variety of hands on activities for kids and adults to try. It kind of reminded me of smaller, free-er CMOST.

Some of the highlights for my kids were the binoculars they could use to explore all of the 'indoor wildlife', the wind/sand demonstration, and a very special cookie jar.

There is another room with a story nook, puppets, crafts and other activities to keep little hands and minds busy.

After the indoor discovery, we took to the outdoors to explore the sandy terrain of the Pine Bush trails.

Some Words of Caution (i.e. learn from my mistakes)

1. Study the trail map beforehand. What I thought was going to be a 30 minute stroll, turned into a 2 hour hike because mama took a wrong turn.
2. Eat lunch beforehand. (2 hours with hungry kids makes for a VERY LONG 2 hours).
3. Brush up on some games that help keep little minds off of their little legs hurting.
4. Learn to ignore repeated pleas, like "Carry Me" and "Where's the car?"
5. Rinse and repeat.

Honestly, we did have a really fun time. They played in the snow, made tracks in the mud, listened for birds and other wildlife, and learned to distinguish the different colored trails (something mommy didn't learn fast enough). I once read in a Montessori book that a child is capable of walking a mile for every year of their age. Initially I had my doubts, but after that day, I realize it's not entirely unrealistic.

The Pine Bush has a pretty steady calendar of things to do including guided nature hikes, movies, and educational programs. You can check it out here or for some more descriptions of their educational programs, including a pre-shool program, check here.

Pine Bush Discovery Center

Tuesday-Friday: 9AM-4PM
Saturday and Sunday: 10AM-4PM
Open most holiday Mondays. Please call ahead.
Free and open year round.

Outdoor Skating

Here is a great link from All Over Albany listing all the places in the area where you can ice skate outdoors.

Monday, February 15, 2010

MASS MoCA and Kidspace

BlockquoteFor Valentine's Day I drove my three favorite lovebugs to MASS MoCA (no...not a giant cup of hot chocolate) for a fun outing in the name of culture. I have always wanted to visit the museum, but usually get sidetracked for one reason or another (read: outlet shopping) and was especially interested in checking out the Kidspace gallery for the little ones.

I am now in love with the place.

The Kidspace gallery was a little smaller than I thought it would be, but it kept us occupied for well over an hour. The current exhibit, You Are What you Eat, features five artists whose primary art material is food. Included were a Big Bang installation made out of gummy candy and some of Joan Steiner's Look-Alikes, which you might recognize from the recent exhibit at the NYS Museum.
Sign on the door read: Please don't eat the exhibits.

Gummy Bear Big Bang

Yes, that coral is made out of Cheetos.

As for the rest of the museum... it was amazing. It kept us all engaged for the rest of the afternoon (and to do that for a 3 and 4 year old, I say kudos) It's a great place to just wander around and discover the various warehouse spaces and the diverse collection of contemporary works.

On the way home from the museum we took a little detour though the quaint little town of Williamstown and stopped at Where Did You Get That? (cool toy store) and Tunnel City Coffee.

Overall, it was a great way to spend a Valentine's Day, or any day for that matter.

MASS MoCA Information:
11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. closed Tuesday
Summer Hours - 10:00 a.m - 6:00 p.m

Kidspace open from 11-4. Art making activities are only available on the weekend.

$15 adults
$10 students
$5 children 6–16
Free for children 5 and under
Free to members

Combo Ticket
With Norman Rockwell Museum $25
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