Friday, May 29, 2009

History will come back to haunt you

... but what fun!

I know some of you are out there just shaking your heads thinking I'm sabotaging any and all future hope of an amicable relationship with my son by even TAKING pictures of him playing with Barbie, but really? I think my job as a parent is to teach him to be secure in himself DESPITE the embarassment he will have to endure from his stoopid parents.

I'm also advancing the fact that it happens to be a significant year for Barbie (having turned 50 and all) -- she finally has a reason for a midlife crisis: Her AARP card arrived at the Malibu Beach House.

Celebrate good times, Come. On.

OK? Moving on.

History is some funny stuff. Find out how funny by getting into your car on Saturday and heading on down to the little village of Kinderhook, birthplace of such oddities as this great nation's 8th President, Martin Van Hairdo Buren, as well as the location where Washington Irving gathered some inspiration for his classic short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. You won't be disappointed even if you miss the comical (but welcoming) bronze statue of VanBuren or you miss out on seeing the old school house where the fabled Icabod Crane's real-life counterpart taught. Not only will the Kindercrafter Festival (also dubbed the Olde Kinderhook Fair) be in full swing with crafters, art exhibits, food, music, games for the kids and a host of unique vendors, but if you get there before 1 p.m. you will see a real live, re-enacted, civil war muster. Free. For information, visit The Kinderhook Connection.

You may have gotten a taste for all things Greek from watching My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, but you probably won't find any Windex at St. Basil's as it hosts its 15th annual Greek Festival this weekend, Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. This is a seriouse celebration of Greek food and culture features music by the Aegeans, a Greek bazaar, kids' rides, the St. Basil Youth Dance Group, "Never on Sunday" ice cream, church tours, a $10,000 raffle and Sytaki Dance. And if you come for the food, you can find loukoumathes, lamb with potatoes, baklava, spanakopita, souvlaki, moussaka, breads and cookies and more. For more information, visit St. Basil's Web site.


Looking for a dash or murder and mayhem? The Rensselaer County Historical Society may have the walking tour for you. Join them at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday at 57 Second Street in Troy, and listen as you walk to its presentation: "To Protect and Serve" - Firehouses, church bells, and night constables. The walking tour focuses on the colorful history of Troy's municipal police and fire departments, from their volunteer origins to today's public servants. Cost is $5, members free. Call 272-7232 for more information.

... the boat. What? It does. Paddle on down to Rensselaer's Fort Crailo Historic Site on Sunday and check out the first in a series of programs featuring Native America History. Barry Keegan, who has been making dugout canoes since 1993, will demonstrate making the type of vessel and display portable scale models at the riverside park.He will also explain and display the stone tool artifacts used to design these canoes. Admission is free. The program runs from noon to 4 p.m. Visit Fort Crailo for more information.

Question: School is coming to a close ... what are you going to do with the kids?
Olana has a GREAT answer: The Journey, Olana's Summer Arts Program for children ages 6 to 12. Registration is going on now for the two, week-long sessions. Session One runs July 13-17; Session Two runs August 3-7, both sessions are from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on all days. The cost, at $165 per week ($125 for Olana members) is less than daycare and will expose your kids to one America's great transendental painters, Frederic Edwin Church. Kids will journey to one of the locales visited by the renowned Hudson River School painter and, through art, music, poetry, nature walks and other hands-on activies, experience the home, life and travels of the landmark landscape painter. For more information, visit Olana's Web site. Registration forms for the July program available here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Random Question Thursday

What's your favorite recipe and why?
*Bonus points if you share how to make it.

It's no secret that my cooking skills leave a lot to be desired. While the foods of sustenance (breakfast-lunch-and-dinner) give me little or no pleasure at all, the treats of decadence (desserts) make me happy to toil away in kitchenland.

So. With Ittybit's upcoming gradution from the Marilla Cuthbert Academy for Unspeakably Charming Children, I've been rhumanatin' on what to give her teachers. In the past I've given them etsy-made single pack tissue covers, hand-made (not by me) bath bombs and, as it was so elegantly renamed by my husband, chocolate covered compost.

The idea of food gifts has made me practically giddy with delight lately, especially in light of our upcoming (though still unscheduled) move.

But what about the final hurrah? The last impression?

I decided the prettiest, easiest thing I could make was Chocolate Covered Toffee.

So ... using a pilfered recipe from the Interwebs, I added (and subtracted) a few ingredients and voila! Candy.

Here's the gist:

4 sticks of salted butter
2 cups of granulated sugar
6 tablespoons of water
1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
A half a cup of blanched almonds, lightly ground into a chunky dust
A candy thermometer
A large pot
Baking sheets (use one for thick candy, two for thinner candy.
Parchment paper (to line baking sheets).

Prepare baking sheet and almonds in advance, set aside.
Throw butter, sugar, water and vanilla in the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Put candy thermometer in so that it's NOT touching the bottom of the pot and keep stirring. I had to hold the thermometer in one hand and stir with the other, (stupid thick-sided pan!) so I really thought seriously about fudging and not bringing the mixture all the way to hard-crack (300 degrees). But I resisted laziness persevered ... it's only about 25 minutes. ... right?

Once the velvety goo reaches the magic 300 degree mark, remove from heat and pour onto the parchment-lined baking sheets. Dump the chocolate chips over the hot toffee a wait until they melt. Spread the chocolate over the top, then sprinkle with the almond dust. Let it cool for a few hours. ... in the fridge if you have room ... and then break it into little bits.

I'm slightly proud of myself that I was able to salvage two glass jars (doing nothing but collecting dust and holding dry beans from 1999) so that I could nix a trip to Target and the very real potential that a quest for two glass jars (perhaps $8) would end up costing $80 in additional purchases.

UPSIDE: EASY homemade gift, two fewer things to move from one house to another, and zero dollars spent on impulse purchases.

DOWNSIDE: There's a week left until the graduation and I don't think the natives will ignore such yumminess staring them straight in the face every time one of them opens the fridge. Might be forced to repete recipe next week (in middle of the night and in total secrecy).

It will be worth it: success never tasted sweeter, sweartogod.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oh, the joys ...

waiting for the parade, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Of being on the tail end of the viral plague.

Of being in the wrong place at the right time.

Of skipped naps and forced smiles.

Of long weekends with lots to do but little patience.

Of returning to routine, even if you're flying by the seat of your pants to get back there.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Keep 'em hoppin'

kinko for president


LONG POND BEACH at Grafton Lakes State Parks open for the season this Saturday. If you're planning to get a jump-start on your tan, you might also practice your skills at sand castle building so you'll be able to recreate your masterpiece on Monday when park officials host a Sand Sculpture Contest beginning at noon. Sand sculptors will have about 2 1/2 hours before the judges make their decisions and present their awards at 3 p.m. All ages welcome. Call 279-1155 for more information, or visit

GARAGE SAILING: The Town of Hillsdale, NY will hold a town wide community flea market on Saturday, May 23. The main event will be held in the hamlet’s town park located at the junction of Rtes. 22 and 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hillsdale residents will be holding tag sales on their property as well as the town’s businesses offering special events and sales. Proceeds will benefit the Hillsdale Hamlet Committee for beautification projects and future town events.

JUST CHUGGING ALONG: Have a Day Out With Thomas the Tank Engine at Upper Hudson River Railroad, 3 Railroad Place, North Creek today from noon to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. twenty-five- minute train rides depart on the hour. For $18 ($16 on Friday), kids ages 2 and up can ride the rail, meet Sir Topham Hatt and hear storytelling, live music, play with Legos and make arts and crafts. Call (866) 468-7630 for more information.

LIFE IS A JUGGLING ACT: So why not join the club? The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus is hosting a series of open Juggling Club sessions in the basement gym of John L. Edwards Elementary School, 360 State Street, in Hudson. The club will meet Monday nights starting May 25, from 6 tp 9 p.m. through June 22. These are informal practice sessions not formal lessons. A small fee will cover space rental. For more information, contact Visit for more information. ... And once you get good at juggling ... you might want juggle on down Route 66 to Chatham and join the Chatham Unicycle Club. They meet on Sunday nights at 6 p.m. at Mary E. Dardess Elementary School, 50 Woodbridge Ave or at Crellin Park during nice weather. Check out hueydog for more information.


ACT OUT YOUR SUPERHERO: New York State Theater actor-director John McGuire will host "Books on Stage V" at the Troy Public Library, 100 Second St., Troy, starting this Wednesday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. - and continuing every Wednesday until June 24. Children in grades 4-8 will develop and perform their favorite comic book character in front of a live audience. Participation also includes free tickets to see "You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown" at NYSTI. The Books on Stage workshop is free but registration is required. Call 274-7071 to reserve a space. Visit the library's Web site for more information and other events for youth.

THE KING HAS LEFT THE WAX MUSEUM: The sixth annual Elvis Festival in Lake George will be held Thursday, May 28th through Sunday, May 31. The event's Italian dinner buffet, Friday night, and barbecue buffet, Saturday night, will provide Elvis fans an opportunity to meet the Elvis tribute artists up close. Starting at 6 p.m. nightly, the meals take place at the Painted Pony Saloon. Tickets for each dinner cost $22 each. The Great Pretenders: Elvis and Friends take place at 8:30 p.m. Friday evening in the main pavilion. "On Stage: 1969 Opening Night at the International" will be part of Saturday's grand finale featuring Dwight Icenhower, along with Ronny Craig and The Change of Habit Tribute Band at 8:30 p.m.

... Thankyouverymuch.

Random Question Thursday

Magnify or Reduce? More or Less?

Ah ... small is the new huge, right?

I'm thinking we're probably all in need of a little downsizing. Fairly certain I'll be starting with the closets. Hoping to just toss things I haven't worn, thought about or laid eyes upon during the last two years.

What are you looking to gain (or lose)?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Worth a thousand words


Maybe someday I'll try and use a few hundred to describe all that this image means to me; all that was going through my head as I squatted at the foot of the bed in the early morning light of an unfamiliar place and willed her to sleep through the clatter of the shutter as I snapped away.

Today, however, isn't that day.

Today is for peace.

And quiet.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Every now and again I look down as I'm typing and I don't recognize my own hands.

I'm familiar with the tiny scar on the knuckle of my right ring finger, an accident from a summer job in my teenage years that could have been so much worse. You can barely see it now it's blended in with the folds of the skin.

I recognize the shapes of the fingertips; as I obsessively check them for curves and bulges that come with age. Was that always like that, I wonder? And then admit that it must have been.

There are now veins where I wanted them to be ... way back when I thought pronounced lines would make my hands look strong; less like they belonged on a portrait from the Middle Ages.

Now they are middled aged.

The skin of my hands is dryer; little lines more pronounced even as the overall appearance seems shiny under the right light. An odd combination.

They are showing their age; possibly moreso than even my face.

Sometimes I forget I'm not 20 ... until I look in the mirror.

And I remember.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What I might have said ...

Great Grandmother's bed

I didn't really get to attend the memorial service for Peggy, Jed's grandmother. I could hear bits and pieces as I tried to keep the boy quiet and otherwise occupied. And I know some wonderful memories were shared by her children and grandchildren.

Had time or toddler permitted, I would have added this tiny memory to the mix:

It became my first "special delivery" letter to Annabel.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Somber and Celebratory

gama miller's bed

Well ... our weekend is spoken for. We'll be traveling to the Bay State to gather with friends and family to celebrate some significant and bittersweet events; the most somber of which is a memorial service for Jed's grandmother, "Peggy," who passed away on May 12.

She was a wonderful woman; the matriarch of the family even into her 90th decade.

She will be greatly missed.


But I haven't forgotten about you ... There's some really hairy stuff for you all to do this weekend if you're so inclined to get out of the house. This week's theme seems to be ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL ... (feel free to groan if you like.)



Oh, the drama

Why not treat the princess of the house to a real-life performance of Disney's Beauty and the Beast? The RPI Young Actors Guild presents the classic Disney tale Saturday, May 16 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 17 at 2 p.m. at RPI Playhouse, 1851 15th Street, Troy. General Admission tickets $8 children 2-12; $10 adult. Call 276-6505 for information.

Leepers, Peepers and Creepers
Join state wildlife biologist Alvin Breisch Saturday on a 2-mile trek through the Albany Pine Bush Preserve over easy to moderate terrain to listen to, observe and identify amphibian residents of this rare ecosystem. Meet at the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center. $2 per person; $5 per family; free, children under 5. Registration is required, to register, click here or call 785-1800 for more information.

Coelophysis: A New York Dinosaur
I wonder if he ever said, "YO! I got yer velocirapter right here!" But you won't have to wonder if you head to the State Museum in Albany this weekend between 1 and 4 p.m. The museum offers educational fun for the whole family with games, crafts and other theme-based activities. Free. Call 474-5877 for more information.

AWWWW. so cuuuuuute.
Indian Ladder Farm, 342 Altamont Road, Altamont, is hosting "Baby Animal Days" from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through May 25th. For $5 per kid (human kind), tykes can oogle the chicks, ducklings, turkey poults, bunnies, piglets, lambs, goat kids and calves. ... I wonder if they have cygnets? Call 765-2956 for more information.



Who let the dogs out?
Second annual WalkingthedogWALK down Warren St in Hudson will shake a leg (hopefully over the hydrant) at 2 p.m. on Saturday on Warren Street in Hudson. The event is followed by the Bestminster Dog Show at Basilica Industria, 110 South Front Street. Dogs of all shapes, sizes and canine ethnicity join together to parade down Warren Street. The dog show will feature food, music, doggie goodies and lots of fun for the whole family. $20 for first dog and $10 each addition dog. For more information, call 755-1716 or visit

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Random Question Thursday

summerish, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

What is one of your favorite* summer-time memories?

*It doesn't have to be your favorite, just say the first thing that comes to mind.

I think for me "Summer" and "Memory" will always harken staying with friends (for weeks at a time) at their camp in Washington County. If I had to pull out a single memory from those days as being among my favorites, it would be playing hide-n-seek after dark: Danger, excitement and childhood all wrapped up into one activity.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some days are just bad

happy mother's day

There's just no getting around it: Some days are bad.

Feet-stomping, frazzled, frustrating, fearful days. (Do all bad things begin with F?)

They can be the kind of bad that psyches you out: Days that seem like a good days, but, oh, look over there, on the horizon ... storm clouds are brewing.

They can be the kind of bad that gets better ...

or the kind of bad that gets worse.

They can be the kind of bad in which worse or better depends on one's level of optimism or one's ability to cope.

They can be the kind of bad that, when compared to other people's bad days, make you look like the winner of the lottery. Which, let's face it, can also be bad.

These bad days might even be good days when compared to other days still to come ... hopefully far, far away days.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Big Sis shows him the sights

Hoffman's Playland.

He's been here before - a few times during the past two seasons to be exact - but he was of an age in which he was neither interested nor conscious enough to notice the candy-color amusements and the tiny tots lining up to ride.

Blessing? Curse?

It's possible we could have eked through our afternoon outing without the boy's involvement. He fell fast asleep on the 30-minute commute and his temperament beforehand indicated he needed the shut-eye.

There was also a satisfying breeze that, with all four windows open half way, cooled the car nicely. The Dad was more than happy to wait with the boy and practice his ability to sleep in a reclined bucket seat whilst I braved the tortures of the big-kid rides.

I agreed to make our first ride the Tilt-a-Whirl, vividly remembering the gastric upset from last year's excursion, but theorizing my full stomach may have been a contributing factor. It had been hours since I'd eaten, perhaps I'd be safe.

I was wrong.

Oy. Motion sickness. How cruely you've crept up on me in my old age.

I fought my way past her other favorites -- the parachute ride, the cautions for which we read AFTER asking papa, the heart patient, to accompany her the first year we visited; The tiny roller coaster, which jerks so violently in its turns that I always feel in jeopardy of falling out; and the Scrambler, the name alone is enough to explain why I walked past saying NO! NO! NO! -- to the car.

"Your father will have to go on those rides with you, Ittybit. I just can't do it."

In the parking lot, we stood for a second watching the boys snooze. And then I pounded on the window.

"Can you go with her? She wants to ride the Scrambler. I. Just. Can't."

"Gee. Thanks a lot," he said peeling himself out from behind the steering wheel.

As I sat in the car with the snoozing toddler, I could see her Dad's head and shoulders snapping backwards as the cars whipped around. She's too small to be visible from my vantage.

I will the boy to wake up. "You don't want to miss this," I whisper over and over. "Playland ... Playland ..."

I didn't want to miss it either.


One eye opens. Then the other.

And off we go to find his sister, so she can take him on his first ride.

We find them near the boats, which is perfect as there is no finer first ride you can take than those boats floating around in a mechanical river.

I'm a giddy. Poised with a camera ... ready to take a picture from the same vantage my father took one of my sister and me.

Together they sit. He scowls. She rings the bell. He scowls some more. She rings the bell louder. He starts to cry. She stops ringing the bell to comfort him.

When the ride stops, I lift him out as Ittybit scrambles out after, translating his sobs.

"He's not a fan of the boats, Mom. Not enough aventure. ... He's a high flyer, I think."

The plane ride a few minutes later proved she was right.

My kids are thrill-seekers, unlike their old mom.

Mama's little devil

winged space creature

The boy child of an atheist father ... cared for weekdays by a good, Evangelical Christian woman ... says his very first sentence one morning at breakfast as he's dribbling milk and cereal Os from his spoon onto the table:

"Oh God!"

He spends the next few days repeating the sentence after every minor mishap while both father and caretaker cringe ... one in disbelief, the other in fervent belief.

His lapsed Catholic, agnostic mother just laughs and laughs and laughs.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Oh my ... look at the time ... it's quarter to Mother's Day weekend

mother's day poolside

You know what that means?

Come Sunday mothers everywhere are going to be expecting a little appreciation for the things they've given up for you. ... such as their professions. Promotions. Their youth. Their looks. A fine head of hair without a single strand of silver ... sanity.

A card would be nice, but there's no pressure.

Go ahead, tell her you don't observe holidays concocted by greeting card makers ... see what Santa brings you next Christmas. Or try telling her that she made her choice and that you didn't asked to be born. I'd steer clear of the green bean casserole next Thanksgiving if you do that, though.

Now I know there are some of you planning to spend some quality time with Mom ... maybe even make her a card with your own two hands and a box of crayon ... you know, since the economy is in the dumper and, really, what plain-jane greeting card was ever worth $6?

Moms always appreciate the thought ... (Even if everyone else is thinking the same thing.)

So with that in mind, why not follow thousands of other upstaters and drag Mom to Washington Park for the Annual Tulip Festival? No matter when you have free time, they'll be something happening in the park between Washington and Madion Avenues May 8 through 10.

Festivities include: The Street Scrubbing and Luncheon at noon on Friday; and music in the Park from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. •
The Royal Tulip Ball at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. •
and Venders hawking food, music and tons of stuff to keep the kids from driving you crazy from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. •

Note to moms: make the kids celebrate your stellar contributions to their lives a day early and hit Third Eye Blind at the Main Stage on Saturday at 4 p.m. You'll be there with thousands of other moms who are also hollering, but it's probably still -- even with the "multi-genre" acts slated for Sunday -- your best bet.

Check out the full schedule HERE



... not literally ... although you might let her watch someone knock someone else's mom out if you take her to the the roller derby on Saturday. The Hellions of Troy take on The Utica Rollergirls at 6 p.m. at the Frear Park Ice Rink, Frear Ave., Troy.

The Hellions bill themselves as "a rolling juggernaut of tough-as-nails athleticism, brutal competition and white-knuckled excitement." Women’s roller derby, for those who have never seen it is a full contact, aggressive, competitive sport played on traditional quad skates. Basically a catfight on wheels.

Of course that doesn't mean these ladies are heartless: for each bout, the Hellions will give a portion of ticket sales to a local charity. A portion of Saturday's take will go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Tickets for each bout will be $10 in advance, $12 at the door, $3 for kids under 12.


OH LOOK! Camping is now available on weekends at Cherry Plain State Park. For reservations, visit and for more information call 279-1155. But if you plan to take MOM camping this weekend, I give her permission to serve you pasty oatmeal for breakfast every day next week. Just saying.

NOT I'M ANTI-OUTDOORS OR ANYTHING ... The Rensselaer Plateau Alliance will present an educational and information walk in the woods along the Plateus Hudson River Watersheds from 9:30 .am. to noon on Saturday at Pineridge Cross Country Ski Area, 1462 Plank Road in Petersburgh. Call 283-3652 or visit for more information.



I'll have a little more wine to go with that cheese ... at the Rip Van Winkle Wine and Cheese Festival that is. The event takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Beattie-Powers Mansion in Catskill. Lex Grey's Cabaret will provide the music, and a host of local wineries and cheese mongers with provide the unlimited tastings to gnosh. $20 will get you in, and will benefit village parks.



Better Bennington Corporation's MAYFEST 2009 will be the largest ever. More than 140 arts and crafts vendors, a huge variety of foods including international delicacies and traditional favorites will be available in the food court; live music; family entertainment; children’s activities including face painting and petting zoo; and community information booths will fill Main Street from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 23 in downtown Bennington, Vt. Mayfest is also the kick off for Moose Fest 2009. The herd will be on Main Street just in time to greet all the visitors to Mayfest! Come rain or shine, but leave Fido at home.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Random Question Thursday

cinnamon sugar

What little something-something is sitting on a shelf in your kitchen that represents (or may actually be) a relic of your childhood?

Oh ... my kitchen has a bunch of things, oddly enough. But it's the cinnamon sugar that really seems to be a relic of childhood.

A few sprinkles on buttered toast ... a taste one seems to outgrow.

My mother keeps her blend of sugared spice a glass jar with shaker top in a cupboard above the stove.

Mine is tin with a handle and cute little toaster graphics, purchased a few years ago for too many dollars at a chi-chi coffee shop as I was waiting in line to order my large decaf, black, thankyouverymuch.

When I saw the yellow tin a clap of nostalgia thundered around me, forcing a stunning realization: We had a child but we didn't have any cinnamon sugar in our house.

Must. Be. Rectified.

So I handed over a ten-spot for my coffee and this tin (which was filled with the labeled spice blend) and it's been in our kitchen ever since, though not in heavy demand. Ittybit calls it shake sugar, and puts a sprinkle here and there on oatmeal or French toast.

Though, when I was cleaning up the other day I realized our tin could use a refill.

I hope The Champ hasn't found it usefull for filling the cracks in the floor.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Time, she flies

Dear Annabel,

Today was your last "Special Day" at the Marilla Cuthbert Academy for Unspeakably Charming Children.

It's not your last day of school there, but the last day in which one of your parents **points to self** will show up bearing healthy snacks that none of your friends will touch with a ten-foot pole.

It was the last day I'd have a chance to slip the photos I had taken of your classmates (all year long) into their bookbags. Photographs I'd tucked in envelopes and that you had dutifully sealed with "Love" in a color representing their name ... Blue for Billy ... Magenta for Madeline ... Silver for Sierra.

It's the last day in which one of your charming teachers will tilt their head and cluck in my direction ... when I so obviously hang up the paintings in the wrong place or as I'm reading books when I should be helping kids put on their smocks so they can paint. There will be chittering among them as I break some other rule ... such as talking to you when you are in line instead of making sure you are all as quiet as church mice.

It's been more than three years since you first walked through the doors of this cooperative preschool ... the very one I went to when I was your age ... the very one I lived above when I was a young adult.

You already know those stories, you say when I mention them in passing.

You also know numbers and the difference between upper and lower case. You can spell you name and recite your phone number. And every day you come home with a new letter and all the words you learned that begin with that letter.

Both of us have learned a great deal these last three years.

In addition to writing your name and remembering your numbers, you've learned to cut with scissors, recognize letters and understand about cause and effect, as it applies to so many things.

On the last Special Day I was finally proficient in hanging the paintings to dry, and collecting all the crafts so that parents wouldn't have to search. I easily did the chores that needed doing ... cleaning paintbrushes, wiping tables, vacuuming floors and taking out the trash.

I didn't even mess up snack time.

"O" was the letter of your last special day.

We brought Oranges and Oyster crackers and Olives (though you were quite sure no one would eat them). We also brought orange smoothies, blended at home the night before.

You helped. We blended oranges, pineapples, papayas, mangos and bananas with ice and orange juice, squeezing in the juice of a lime for good measure.

When we tested it you gave it your highest praise: "The most delicious of deliciousities I ever had in my whole entire world of worlds."

I beamed. And then I set the blender up for a second time ... this time adding kale to the mix and a plan to call the new creation "Oscar Isn't Such a Grouch After All Smoothie."

But as the kids' luck would have it, the blender broke.

And then your father gave me his patented eyebrow arch: "Kale? Really?"

"Yes, Kale. ... I just wanted to see Ms. Cuthbert's eyes roll back in her head one last time."

Of course tonight you'll have to report that I didn't need a green smoothie to do that; all I had to do was put out the green tractor trikes in the play yard.

"In the wrong place again, mom. In the wrong place again."


Look out Kindergarten, ready or not, here I come.



Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Older, wiser ... but still wearing size 4T

Ittybit: Mama? When I am an old woman will I look like you? I mean ... I don't have black hair, so I think I won't look like you. But ...

Mama (Trying not to hyperventilate): You think I am an old woman?

Ittybit (Realizing her mother's frailty): Well, I'm an an old woman, too.

Mama (Trying to regain composure): You are not an old woman. You are a young girl ...

Ittybit: I know I'm a kid, but sometimes change can be hard. In that way I'm an old woman, too.

Monday, May 04, 2009

He's so happy on this Noble steed

Hello Noble, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I wasn't going to mention his HEELS should be pointing down. ... not his toes. That would just be needlessly nitpicky.

His sister ... well ... she's been on a horse a few times already.

on noble

She's a pro.

*Thanks to Morgan's mom for making this playdate the most awesomest ... ever.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Great Aunt Mary, 1913-2009

our mary

Mary died.

She was the last of the "Great Aunts" on my mother’s side. My grandmother's baby sister.

She would have been 96 this month, a long life by most standards. Nonetheless, when my mother said she'd gone, the words tumbled over each other, preventing me from sleep.

Mary. Died.

Loveable Mary.

Stylish Mary.

Mary, who, despite a gentle demeanor and slender calves, was herself a brick house beneath tendrils of ivy.

Mary who’d lived through wonderful luck and terrible loss with the same cheerful grace, and who was always "as truthful as kindness allowed," was gone.

If anyone could, we all thought, Mary would live forever.

I have many memories of Mary; many more than I have of my own grandmother, who died when I was a child: Her voice, her smile, her devil-may-care but the angels-will-call demeanor. A glint in her eye that was proof she enjoyed the world and the people in it.

I also remember the things that surrounded her: photographs of family on the mantle; magnets on the fridge holding up milestones from loveone's far-flung; the candy kisses on the table; the sodas in the pink ice box, sadly replaced when it couldn’t be fixed; the tea kettle on her pink, push-button stove. ...

Pink was her color. I wanted it to be my color, even as I robotically wore black.

Most memorable for me, however, was one night nearly 20 years ago when my mother phoned to ask if I would get Aunt Mary from the hospital and stay with her the night.

She'd had an "episode" and was alright, but shouldn't be left alone.

Such a request no one had ever made of me, nor would they have had they any other choice. No one else was available.

Great Aunt Mary had been having these episodes of stroke-like effects; and they scared her. She didn’t want to be alone.

I was scared, too. What if something happened to her in the night? What would I do?

When I arrived at the hospital she was waiting, dressed in a robe and slippers. I wasn't scared after I saw her. Though noticeably tired, she was the same charming person I’d always known her to be, ready with a laugh and a smile and an "I’m so glad you’re here ... I really hope it wasn’t an inconvenience."

It was the first time in my life when I felt not only needed, but trusted, too.

How could such need ever be an inconvenience?

It was just a single moment in time. A minute. A second. Insignificant.

Many years later she attended my wedding; she held my first child in her arms on the golden swivel chair; she met my second child in photographs after she’d moved away to live with her daughters.

After that I saw her only in photographs.

Her smile hadn't changed.

As news of her final days traveled back home, however, I remembered that night so long ago that I slept in her spare bedroom.

"There will never be another like Mary," I thought then. "I am lucky to have known you," I think now.

Goodnight, Mary.

Sleep well.

Friday, May 01, 2009

A Stitch in Time Saves Swine, or ...

aporkalypse now

What with all the pandemic pandemonium ping-ponging about, some of you might be thinking this weekend would be a swine fine time to stay indoors and away from crowds. ... Maybe even help the pork industry reclaim its former glory by vegging PORKING out in front of the TV and watching the lovely and talented Charlotte save the bacon of her sweet little friend, Wilber?

That sounds nice, doesn't it?

On the otherhand, if you're feeling a touch more adventurous, you might find getting outside this weekend will give your spring a healthy kick-start.



Olana will host First Niagara’s Art in The Barn workshops every Saturday in May. Geared toward preschoolers and their caregivers, the classes are held in the Wagon House Education Center and use the grounds of the historic home overlooking the Hudson River as inspiration. Music, Story-telling and Movement class from 12 to 1; open art studio time from 1 to 4. Free. Visit for more information.


On Sunday, May 3, let your kids lace up their running shoes and join in the Healthy Kids, Healthy Rensselaer 5k Run/Walk at Riverfront Park in Rensselaer. The day-long event (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) will feature food, activities and entertainment as well as two foot races. Registration is from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. in the park, located off Broadway between Third and Fifth. The race starts at 10 a.m. (walkers follow runners) and an award ceremony will follow at 11 a.m. Children from the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Rensselaer will participate in a one mile run after the award ceremony. This event is free and open to anyone under the age of 13.

Sponsored by the University at Albany School of Public Health Leaders of Tomorrow. All proceeds will benefit Boys and Girls Club of Southern Rensselaer to promote nutrition, physical activity and healthy lifestyles.


Also on Sunday, The Brunswick Grange will host a Tailgate Sale at the Schaghticoke Fairgrounds, Route 67 and 40, from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. There will be 50 vendors selling several varieties of chickens, ducks, geese, plants and other related agricultural items. Come rain or shine. For additional information, call 279-9113.


The Village Stage’s Little Stage presents “Little Red Ridinghood” at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. May 9 at The Arts Center of the Capital Region, 265 River St., Troy. Tickets are $5. Reservations are not necessary. Call 273-0552 for more information or visit ACCR online at

The Valley Falls Library will present a colonial re-enactment at 10 a.m. May 16 on the library grounds. Displays include weapons of the 1600-1700s, blacksmith with tools, a surgeon and his instruments and more.

Celebrate Mother’s Day with a picnic and plant sale at Olana on Sunday, May 10 from noon to 2 p.m. Bring your favorite lunch and picnic blanket and spend the afternoon at the former home of Hudson River School painter Frederick Edwin Church. The best part is the site will kick in free art supplies so the kidlets can make their own landscape painting for mom.
Bob Hyland, co-owner of Loomis Creek Nursery, will also be on hand to chat about horticulture and the art of designing garden borders for sun and shade. Call 828-1872 for information.


Now. ...

Please go wash your hands.

... and use SOAP.