Category Archives local event

Reclaiming Public Education in New York

Public School Parent Advocacy

Testing season has already arrived in many parts of the United States. Whether you are talking about the PARCC exams in a variety of locations or FSA in Florida, parents, teachers, and students are getting upset and are more vocal about what is happening in their schools. The reality of high-stakes testing in public schools is frightening, especially when you connect the dots and follow the money. The testing is not about helping students, it is about privatizing our public schools, getting rid of teachers, and making companies rich. This video about PARCC has been an eye-opener for many.

The Other PARCC – Parents Advocating Refusal on High-Stakes Testing from nLightn Media on Vimeo.

In New York State the grade 3-8 exams do not begin until April. Thanks to this there are a lot of events throughout the state letting parents know about choices that exist and how they can help us to reclaim our schools. The first Capital Region event will take place on Thursday, March 12 in Delmar, NY. The speakers will be from New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE). Bianca Tannis and Jessica McNair will share a wealth of information with those that join them at 6:30.

Reclaiming Public Education event in Delmar

On Monday, March 16 there will be another event at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library. Speakers for this event include Gail Richmond, Michael Lambert, and Assemblyman Jim Tedisco.

Reclaiming Public Education event in Clifton Park

Additional events in other regions are listed on the NYSAPE website. I urge you to take time and join others at one of these events to learn more about what has been happening to schools in recent years. Now is the time to stand up and save our public schools. Our children are more than a score. No politicians will be using my child as a guinea pig and pawn in a game against the teachers. I am done with people that are not educators coming into our schools to make changes that make no sense and only hurt the kids. Charter schools are not the answer and they are only making more of a mess in New York State. Connect the dots and understand that schools are not failing our kids. The reality is that poverty and other factors that are out of the control of schools are being ignored by individuals like Governor Cuomo.

I support teachers and public schools

I am a teacher, I am a parent, and I am a public school advocate that will continue to fight for my children and others to have the education that I was blessed to have while attending public schools.

It's Me

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Tuesday Tales: The Albany Children’s Book Festival

Over the weekend, TechyDad and I took the boys to The Albany Children’s Book Festival. The sixth annual event was hosted by The Albany Academies and included over fifty authors and illustrators. Last time we went to the event, we had an amazing experience. We met new talented people and were able to say hello to familiar faces from books that we love.

When we told the boys about the event taking place in November, they were beyond excited. Then I had told them that Artie Bennett would be there and they kept talking about meeting him thanks to our review of his book Belches, Burps, & Farts – Oh My! The kids wanted to find him as soon as we walked in the door. So, we followed the trail and located Artie. He immediately knew my name and blog. Such a kind, funny, and creative man.

Artie Bennett

As I finished chatting with Artie, the boys moved along and happened to stop to chat with Jennifer Berne. She is the author of the Calvin books that we have also reviewed over the years. The silly boys had forgotten that we own her newest book about Calvin and his new glasses. I know we are looking forward to more tales with Calvin.

Jennifer Berne

As we wandered around, we said hello to illustrator Diane deGroat. She has a great sense of humor and joked with us for awhile. As we moved down the row of tables with more and more author and illustrators, I was pretty sure I recognized someone.

Diane deGroat

Sure enough, I noticed author and illustrator Nick Bruel walk by. That is when JSL was on a mission. He brought two of his Bad Kitty books to be signed. My shy little guy was so thrilled to be seeing the man that truly inspired my kiddo to read this summer. As I have mentioned, JSL was afraid to read chapter books on own until he tried Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel. He devoured that first book in just under 24 hours and finished the series early in the summer. We shared this with Mr. Bruel who was beyond kind and showed JSL the next book in the series that will be coming out in January 2015.

Nick Bruel

Oh and check out the fun sign he put out when he left for five minutes.

Bad Kitty sign drawn by Nick Bruel

The boys also kept busy meeting new authors and illustrators thanks to a scavenger hunt of sorts for the event. They had specific authors to locate, answer a trivia question, and get an autograph. This helped us to meet Gail Carson Levine – Ella Enchanted, Coleen Paratore –The Wedding Planner’s Daughter, Steve Sheinkin – Lincoln’s Grave Robbers, Mark Teague – illustrator of the Where Do Dinosaurs books, and many others. We also learned that my oldest had met Elizabeth Zunon last year when she visited his school. I vaguely recall him mentioning something, but was amazed with this talented local woman.

Elizabeth Zunon - Steve Sheinkin - Mark Teague - Coleen Paratore

Before heading home, the boys were allowed to select a book to purchase and get signed by an author or illustrator. It took them a bit, but eventually they selected new series to try reading. NHL selected Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to NOT Reading by Tommy Greenwald. JSL picked out Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look.

Tommy Greenwald - Lenore Look

More about these books coming soon because both boys are already reading them and having a hard time putting them down.

Have you or your children met any of their favorite authors or illustrators? I would love to hear about their experience. As always, Tuesday Tales is all about sharing our love of books. Please let me know what you have read recently. Link up to your book posts in the comments below. Include something you read on your own, with a child, or someone else.

It's Me

Previous posts about The Albany Children’s Book Festival in April 2013 are The Albany Children’s Book Festival – Part 1 and The Albany Children’s Book Festival – Part 2.

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Capital Region CANstruction 2014

Last year, we took the boys to the Capital Region Canstruction display at the New York State Museum and they loved it. The event raises awareness of hunger in cities across the United States. The event in Albany is sponsored by companies in the area that “compete” with their structures around a theme. This year, the theme is Story Land and once the display period is over (April 24) all of the food items that made the works of art will be donated to feed people via the Food Pantries for the Capital District.

Capital Region Canstruction 2014

Like last year, we brought cans of food with us to vote. People that visit the 4th Floor Terrace Gallery will see all of the entries for this year and be able to vote with a can donation for their favorites. The boys take this very seriously and went around several times before they selected the one that was their favorite.

Once we entered the gallery, we were greeted with two familiar Disney friends.

Capital Region Canstruction - Toy Story

Yes, Buzz Lightyear and Woody were ready to go on an adventure in dining to help those in need. I have to say, I was in love with this one and just wanted to stay and explore more of this design. Of course, the boys caught some other canstructures and we were off to catch a train.

Capital Region Canstruction - I Think I Can

I Think I Can really captured the spirit of this Story Land favorite. The colors in the food items really made the Little Engine that Could come alive. From here we were off for some Pure Imagination.

Capital Region Canstruction - Pure Imagination

You could almost feel Willy Wonka’s presence and imagine Augustus Gloop reaching into the chocolate river of cans. Of course, we did not stay here long because Sam-I-Am was right across the way.

This display of Green Eggs and Spam made the first grader in the group fall in love. He adored seeing something familiar.

Capital Region Canstruction - Green Eggs and Spam

From here, we walked back to the other side of the Toy Story canstructure. This is where NHL and TechyDad fell head over heels (pun kind of intended) for the following creation.

Capital Region Canstruction - Alice in Wonderland

This beautiful piece of art really used a lot of items to make the three dimensions pop. I mean check out the bags of marshmallows for the petticoat on Alice’s dress. Yes, I am giving you permission to look up her skirt.

Next up was another familiar Dr. Seuss character. I do believe he shall not only be hearing the Who’s, but helping the hungry.

Capital Region Canstruction - Horton Helps the Hungry

The poem of sorts on this one really stole the show for creativity and using social media in the mix.

While continuing through Story Land, we bumped into more literary classics. Check out how James is climbing the Giant Peach with the caterpillar.

Capital Region Canstruction - James and the Giant Peach

Even a picture book favorite came swimming into town to say hello.

Capital Region Canstruction - The Rainbow Fish

The Rainbow Fish helped us along to the last stop. I do believe you may recognize this funny little fellow with his feet stuck in a jar of honey.

Capital Region Canstruction - Winnie the Pooh

Poor Winnie the Pooh got a bit caught up here, but it was for a very good cause. When we finished our first tour around, the boys went back to look at everything before they placed their cans into their vote for favorite canstruction design.

Which is your favorite from glancing at the photos? I would love to know if you have been to the Capital Region Canstruction event or one in another city. If you live in the Albany area, Capital Region Canstruction will be at the New York State Museum until April 24.

It's Me

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Purim Carnival with the Nokia Lumia Icon #VZWBuzz

Sunday was a big day in the Jewish community as we celebrated Purim. I have so many memories of this holiday as a child and now as a parent. This is the holiday when people dress up and celebrate, make noise with groggers at the mention of Haman, and eat delicious hamantaschen. It truly is a great time when you see kids of all ages parading around in their creative costumes (see the photo below). I thought that Purim would be the perfect time to test out the new camera on my Nokia Lumia Icon smartphone because while working at the carnival I would not have time to use a regular camera. I received this phone last week as part of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers program.

Which is the Lumia Icon Photo

When we dropped the boys off at Hebrew School Sunday morning, TechyDad and I went to help with the setup of the Purim Carnival. Of course, the moment TechyDad walked in, fellow Whovians knew exactly who he was and started geeking out with him. By the time we arrived, most of the games were already set up.

Purim Carnival Games

The Prize Table where I was going to be working during the carnival had not been started, so we went over to sort things out and get it ready for all of the kids.

Purim Prize Table

I took the photo of TechyDad just before the Purim Carnival started. I took one with the Icon and then decided to snap another one with a recent Android smartphone I have received from Verizon. The lighting in the room was tricky and in hindsight I should have asked TechyDad to move. This would have helped with the light that was odd over his head in the background and the entire wall of windows scattering light. Again these were quick on the fly photos like I would take with the kids while out and about. I do believe that one of the photos was more true to the colors in the room, much more crisp, and handled the lighting better. The answer will be below, so make sure to look at the original from above again.

I kept busy with another member of our synagogue at the prize table the entire time. I really never saw the boys unless I happened to catch Harry Potter, Hiccup, or Doctor Who in the distance. Thank goodness the boys came to get some prizes from time to time.

The boys at the Purim Carnival

I had hoped to test out the video of the band playing during the festivities, but I never had a chance to get over. I think it really would have been a great test with all of the background noise from kids playing games. No doubt there will be another opportunity. Over all, I am beyond impressed with the camera on the Lumia Icon. Next, I hope to learn how to use the manual settings because I have never seen a smartphone with so many advanced options and I truly want to explore it more when I have time.

So did you take a guess at which photo from the original at the top of this post came from the icon? Well, here’s the answer now:

Droid Mini vs Lumia Icon

Did you guess the right one? More photos coming again soon along with others ways I am exploring with the new smartphone in my life.

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I received the Nokia Lumia Icon to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. There was no other compensation. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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Market Bistro by Price Chopper

Living in the Capital District, I have shopped at Price Chopper for most of my life. During my blogging tenure, I have written about shopping at Price Chopper for Passover and gone to several of their social media events. On Tuesday afternoon, I was invited to a meet up to tour their nearly completed Market Bistro in the Latham, NY store. I was not required to blog, but I really am excited to share about this unique venue in the Capital Region.

When I arrived at the store, I walked into the Market Bistro area. I had to stop and look around for a minute because it truly was like nothing else in the area. It was not like a food court at the mall. The atmosphere was calm, the lighting perfect, and it called people to come and explore.

Market Bistro by Price Chopper

Of course, it was not time to check everything out. We were brought back into the cooking school that will eventually be opened and host classes. The room was inviting and beautiful. I can see locals groups getting together there to explore cooking, baking, decorating, and other culinary options. While we waited for everyone to arrive, we were handed the Shopping Directory for Market Bistro. As you will see, there is a large variety of dining choices for all different tastes.Cooking School at Market Bistro by Price Chopper

Market Bistro by Price Chopper Directory

Once everyone had arrived we heard from Mona Golub, Neil Golub, Jerry Golub, and Lew Shaye. They explained the history of how Market Bistro came to Latham, NY. Price Chopper knew that they wanted to add their own twist to the restaurant experience. They wanted to continue with the success of the Ben & Bill’s New York Deli in their Slingerlands store. This time, their focus was twists on American favorites. They looked at all of the different foods that we enjoy and added their own twists in the venues that will be a part of Market Bistro. We are all looking at ways to simplify life and now we can dine at Market Bistro and then shop for groceries in the store that we need.

Learning about Market Bistro by Price Chopper

Market Bistro will make all items fresh for customers when ordered. Breads within the Bistro Blvd are made special by Price Chopper. The smoke house is something new to Price Chopper. My favorite fun fact that really hit home was how Market Bistro will aim for a theme park atmosphere.

Epcot Tweet

I do believe they have hit this out of the park. While walking around Bistro Blvd., I felt like I had been transported to Seasons in The Land at Epcot where you have an amazing variety of different foods at your fingertips. Why yes, it’s like Orlando, Florida has come to Latham, NY!

Then it was time to go on a tasting tour of Bistro Blvd. We learned that there will be limited time only items on menus to keep things fresh. This will be wonderful for those that are close enough to pop in for meals on a more regular basis. While walking around, we were treated to a beverage from Starbucks, sub samples from Subtown, salad taste from Veggies & Greens and Lots of Things, and some tastes of globally inspired burritos and quesadillas from Out of this World Burritos.

Inside Market Bistro by Price Chopper

We continued along to The Plump Hen to try their wood smoked ribs, brisket, and pulled pork.  Then there were burgers, specialty hot dogs, onion rings, and french fries from Custom Burgers. Back Bay Fish Fry allowed us to try out their signature lobster roll (delish). After this, a colorful display of sushi was waiting for those who were adventurous to taste.

More food from Market Bistro at Price Chopper

Looking for cheese? Look no further than the Artisian & Gourmet Cheese Shop where they have 300 varieties that are unique to this Price Chopper store. Oh and right next to this, check out the The Growler Station where you can fill up favorite brews that are on tap.

Cheese Shop and Growler Station at Market Bistro

The Italian Market has a a wide variety of sausages, fresh made pasta, premade specialties, and more.

Italian Market at Market Bistro by Price Chopper

We continued along to see options that are available to take home from Chef Meals. Items available here will rotate and be limited time only and for $6 you select one entrée and two sides. Next up we tried NYC deli sandwiches, pickles, and potato pancakes from Ben & Bill’s New York Deli. Like the one in Slingerlands, this one has a wide variety of items like you would be able to get in NYC. One of our last stops was at Stone Fired Pizza where we also had some slices.

More food choices at Market Bistro by Price Chopper

Next, we learned about the Chef’s Grill that will be opening shortly. Then it was time to end with a sweet treat. We went over to Scoops & Smiles where we were treated to a hot fudge sundae and smoothie sample. Price Chopper makes their own hot fudge and whipped cream. I personally would have loved a big bowl of just the whipped cream as a treat, but that may just be me. The smoothie is definitely something I can see getting again on a warm summer day. Of course, I know my boys will love walking into Market Bistro and seeing the ice cream shop.

More options at Market Bistro by Price Chopper

So what are my thoughts? I can not wait to bring my entire family back to Market Bistro. I think it will be a fun family dining destination where we will all find options that fit our individual tastes. I know that we will be back soon to work our way back around Bistro Blvd. trying new specials and familiar favorites.

It's Me

Disclosure: I was invited to the Price Chopper Market Bistro tasting tour to learn more about their latest addition to the Latham, NY store. I was not compensated or expected to write any reviews. All opinions are my own. I did receive a bag of goodies, to thank me for coming at the end of the tour.

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