Monday, October 24, 2011

Kid Visit to EMPAC

Just the other day I was thinking about EMPAC and how I have yet to visit. Somehow experimental media has fallen at the bottom of my list of things to do with the kids while library story times are consistently in the top five.

Oddly enough I was contacted by someone at EMPAC trying to get the word out about a kid friendly event happening this Saturday, and I'm happy to share this opportunity to check out the building (amazing architecture) and also to expose your unsophisticated progeny to the high end world of cutting edge media research...or something like that.

Here is a description of the event from their website:

A dynamic program just for kids! This specially curated selection of short videos can be enjoyed by youngsters and parents alike. onedotzero programs explore new forms and hybrids of moving image across motion graphics, short film, animation, music videos, and more.

Suggested ages - 3-11.

onedotzero: sprites

Saturday October 29, 11:00 AM
Studio 2
» Saturday, October 29 kids free with purchase of adult ticket ($6)
Kid-friendly snacks and juices will be available at Evelyn's Café from 10:30 AM–3 PM.
We encourage you to purchase tickets directly from the box office. Stop by Monday–Friday 9 AM–6 PM, two hours prior to any performance.

However, in the case that you can't make it, may I suggest a viewing of The Jetsons. Also very futuristic.

Friday, September 30, 2011

We got MOONED!

 Ok...just Half-Mooned, as in Henry Hudson's ship, but it got you looking, didn't it?  (I'm not above it, people.)

Last weekend we headed down to our old stomping grounds, the Corning Preserve, and stumbled upon ye Olde Half Moon, or for my Dutch readers, d'Halve Maen, docked in the Hudson.

For those of you who never took a school field trip here, the Half Moon is a full scale replica of the ship Henry Hudson sailed to survey these here parts to find a good place to put  The Egg. He was also hoping to find a Trader Joe's but was, as we all are, sorely disappointed.

The tour is not very long, because, well, the boat is not that big. However,  it did offer a glimpse into what a landlubber I am.

Cramped quarters, smelly food, limited toilet options...the Love Boat, it ain't.

I tried listening very diligently to the history lessons given by an adorable, creaky voiced student, but my mind kept wandering to pirates.  It's very pirate-y.*

The tour is seven dubloons for adults and sprogs are free.

The ship sets sail on October 14th so you still have some time to walk the plank. You can find out more information, and real history here and here.

Also, check out Albany Kid's visit.  I'm glad someone was paying attention.

*This tour had nothing to do with pirates.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tiny Bubbles

Fan Yang and his daughter, Melody
What's better than a million bubbles?  A gazillion, of course.
Yesterday the kids and I stumbled on the free preview of the Gazillion Bubble show at Proctor's.  Fan Yang,"world-renowned bubble scientist, artist, and performer" gave the audience a little taste of what his shows on October 8th will be all about.
And if what we saw is any indication, this is one show that is not going to blow. (blow...bubbles?  get it?) 

According to Proctor's CEO Phillip Morris (I kid you not), it was a 'fun lesson in the science of thin-film technology'.

Ummm... not exactly what the kids got out of it, but what they did get was the sheer awesomess of a smoke spewing volcano bubble and a couple of kids getting encased in a huge bubble.  It was a lot of fun to watch. (His style kind of reminded me of Gob's magic shows, for all you Arrested Development fans out there).

Among his many other accomplishments in the field of 'thin-film technology", he is a sixteen time Guinness Book of World Record holder (he put an elephant in a bubble for goodness sake) and the creator of a line of bubbles and bubble toys.

You can catch one of his two shows on October 8th at Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady.

 Just a little aside, as we were leaving the theater they had several bubble machines going adding to the whimsy of the event.  Sure, that makes sense. But what didn't quite make sense was the mob of young, stylish women, clad in black offering free hugs to everyone passing by.  It turns out they were from the Paul Mitchell school across the street.  I ran into my blogging brethren from All Over Albany who did a great job covering the surreality of State St. yesterday afternoon.  Read about it here.

For the record, AOA's Greg did not accept any hugs so as not to influence his reportage.  Now that's what I call journalistic integrity, folks.  

My son, however, was all over it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Look what I spied for sale on Central Avenue today.

It'll only set you back 4000 scooby snacks AND it has power windows. I know... deal o' the century. 

Meddling kids not included... but I can lend you mine if you want.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sock Sorting Sympatico

I usually finish up my laundry folding with sock sorting. I never look forward to it because I guess I am subconsciously preparing myself for the inevitable disappointment that comes with mismatched socks. I know it's cliche, but I have an entire drawer FULL of mismatched socks hoping for reunion.

Today, however, was different. Today will live on in my mind as


When has this ever happened?  NEVER. That's when. Not to me, anyway.

I can only explain it by saying that the feeling of pairing that last sock with its mate was akin to placing the last piece of a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. You know, like the one you bought five years ago when you thought it would be great to start doing jigsaw puzzles, but actually the idea was better the reality and so it just sat on the shelf until you took it out again to sell in a garage sale, but then had second thoughts and just decided it might be kind of relaxing so you ended up finishing it one night when your other plans fell through...

Yes, it was that kind of accomplishment.

And this my friends is as close as one can get to domestic nirvana. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where's Walbany?

So I got my Waldo doll in the mail and we have been getting in to some crazy hijinks together... so much so that I'd thought I add a couple of photos now and again and let you guess where we have been around the area.

So....Where's Waldo in (and around) Albany?

Wish you were here.  It kept reminding us of the chocolate waterfall in Willy Wonka.
Want to take in this gorgeous view?  Go here.


At first I thought it might be a little disrespectful to Uncle Sam to have Waldo pose by his grave, but then I saw the bejeweled nutcracker someone left there and thought Waldo was just as patriotic and rocking his red, white, and blue with a tad more taste. To find out where Waldo is I WANT YOU to click here. (It is truly one of the coolest/spookiest cemeteries I have visited.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

One Room School House

Look what I found while just driving around town.  

"Little Red" as it is affectionately called, may be the only one room school house operating in the state (maybe)...but definitely in the county (Rensselaer).  The dueling signage seems a little non committal.

Anyway, it's currently being used for Grades K-2 in the North Greenbush School District.

If you are so inclined, you can read more of a history here (look under 2008).

It's as if it was ripped out of a page of Little House on the Prairie, minus Nellie Oleson, who had a prominent and reoccurring role in my nightmares.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Muffin tin crayons

Today we made muffin tin crayons.  It's something most of us have done at some point as kids, and something I've been wanting to do with my kids for a while.  It's a lot of fun, easy, and keeps them engaged from start to finish.
1. Pick out all the misfit crayons and peel off the paper. (The kids quietly worked on this for at least 20 minutes).

2. Lightly spray muffin tin with cooking spray and fill each circle with a variety of colors. We filled them about 1/3 full.

3. Place in a preheated oven (at 275F) for 7-8 min.

4. Allow them to cool before you take them out of the tin.

 Voila! They look good enough to eat. No really, my baby ate some.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pass It On SCORE!

I can't begin to imagine what a difficult decision it was to give this away, but I want to assure the  person who was risking something by selling this at a children's consignment sale to know that Elvis has found a very happy home...second only to Graceland.

Thank you. Thank you very much.
The Pass It On Sale continues until this Saturday, with half price sales starting tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Product Diversification

Today I was on the search for a toy and switch blade. (Ok, neither of those, but bear with me). Where could I go? I know, I know, Wal-Mart...easy peasy,,, but I was already at the mall and didn't want to deal with another big parking lot.  So, imagine my delight upon wandering in here:
Not only do they have a wide selection of pretty cool toys, but also two shiny glass cases (at a kid's eye level, no less) filled with the most colorful, attractive hunting knives this side wherever hunters go to buy that kind of stuff. (Sue me, I'm a vegetarian).
I guess the name of the store hints at the fact that this  could be Albany's foremost pirate outfitters. I mean, where else can you buy your kid a pirate costume AND a real knife? (Ok, Wal-Mart again, I know, but that just seems greedy).
"No, son, you can't have a Melissa and Doug floor puzzle AND a machete. Pick one or the other."

Treasure Ayeland can be found on the 2nd floor of Colonie Center for all of your fingerpainting and deer-gutting needs.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paint Mine Trail - Thacher Park

Thacher Park, how do I love thee?

The list keeps growing, especially after today's adventure on the Paint Mine trail (Only a few sites past the lookout spot on the left).

This is a great hike for kids, especially those who love walking in water since the highlight of this hike is the stream. Because we haven't had much rain lately, the stream is shallow and you can easily climb up the waterfalls.

I'm not good at estimating distances, but I'd say we did anywhere between twenty paces to half a mile.  The kids were all in their element (including the baby) and that meant very little whining.  There were frogs all over the place and plenty of opportunities to splash around.

The trail has been quiet everytime I have visited during the week.  Sometime there is no one up there at all, which could freak you out while knowing that cell phone access is a little spotty up there.

Bathrooms are close...but, behind a tree is closer.

There is no charge for the trail during the week, but it is $6 on the weekends. Bring a picnic lunch, bathing suit, water shoes, and bug spray.

Also, check out these events happening this weekend.

Campfire Storytelling, Saturday, July 30th at 6:30. Registration required.

Stargazing, Saturday, July 30th at 9:00 PM.

Check out their calendar for more events.

PS.  On the way back, why not stop for lunch at Toll Gate Ice Cream?  I do declare I found the best and greasiest veggie burger in all the land.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where's Waldo?

Waldo: The Original Hipster (and I am apparently not the first to think so).
I just ordered one of these guys to help spice up our family photos.

I originally got the idea here when I found him hanging out on the roof across the street from San Francisco's MOMA.

Wahoo! I can't wait. Our vacation photos will never be the same.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Butterfly Station

"In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf..."

You know the've probably got it memorized.

Take a break from just reading about caterpillars, butterflies, and their penchant for overindulging in picnic foods, and watch them come alive before you very eyes at the Farnsworth Middle School Butterfly Station in Guilderland.

It took about an hour for us to get a guided tour from an adorable elementary school student, explore the Metamorphosis room, look around the museum and gift shop (they sell butterfly themed gifts..tattoos, pens, etc.)  and do some arts and crafts. However, the pièce de résistance for the kids was the face painting, and why wouldn't it be?
It's open from 10am-1pm daily until August 12th.


If you want to make a day of it, why not head over to the Pine Bush Preserve (right down the road) afterwards and check out the Discovery Center and kid friendly hikes

Our cute little tour guide.
Coming in for a landing
Face painting!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mystery Solved

I recently discovered what the "More' part refers to in the Huck Finn's Warehouse and More tagline.

No, it does not mean 'more stuff to fill your closets with and land yourself on an episode of Hoarders', nor does it mean 'more time getting lost in a frankly pretty creepy part of Albany'. The MORE lies in the little known fact that it is the perfect place to take your kids for a unexpectedly fun outing.  Bear with me.

Here are the Top 5 Reasons you could spend the afternoon at Huck Finn's.*

1. The rides. Huck Finn's has the best penny-arcade type rides you will find this side of the Chuck E. Cheese in Latham...and they are cheap, just like when we were kids. Twently-five cents each gets you a ride on a carousel, a Yabba-Dabba-Doo car, a choo-choo, and an obscenely long ride on a Conestoga wagon. Inside they have a bucking bronco, the kind you used to see outside of supermarkets.  I'm telling you, with all of these rides it's like the poor man's Hoffman's.

Bucking Bronco, only 25 cents.

 2. The bunk beds.  I don't think you are supposed to climb on them, but if you smile real purty at the salespeople, they don't say anything.

3. The old school bus (Or old-school bus.This is one of the rare cases that it actually works both ways). One of the benefits of having your store in a warehouse is that you can fit a bus inside of it. I'm not sure why it's there, but my kids have spent at least a half an hour on it pretending that they are taking each other to school while Mommy stands idly by fiddling on her iPhone.

4. Hide and seek in the carpets. Huck Finn's has a delightful selection of carpets.  Some are in stacks and some...the really huge ones... are on racks perfect for hiding in. The first time my son 'hid' in them I was 'seeking' a little more frantically, but as long as the kids tell you that they are going to disappear, it's fun and security needs not get involved.

5. Food. There's a Subway on the premises...lunch is sorted.

The free AC this time of year is also a nice touch.

Seriously, my kids beg me to take them here. Why shoot, I reckon it's more fun than a rafting trip down the mighty Mississip. (I had to work it in somehow). 

Just remember to bring quarters.

*Disclaimer. Huck Finn's did not compensate author for writing this glowing review, but she would not say no to a new dining room set.

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