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:

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
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 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!)
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