A New Car!

Hey! So, the directory that took over my life for a while has been submitted to the print shop. There’s a bit more work to be done, still, but comparatively speaking, it should be a piece of cake (knock on wood).

Oh, and here’s a quick programming note: if you haven’t been reading “More” of various posts, you’ve got some catching up to do. I’m not sure what happened, but at some point, my little “More” link stopped appearing on the site. Probably, something changed when I did a WordPress update. Anyway, if you click over via Facebook or Google Reader or some other source, you probably didn’t miss anything, but if you usually read by looking at the site, then you may have only seen the beginning of the post. For a bunch of them, I added a little note, but if you want to double check, you can always click the title of a post to view the complete post. I’m probably going to skip the “More” section until I figure it out. As long as we’re talking boring stuff, I generally do keep up with the Events page, but even when it’s outdated, the link to the KidsOutAndAbout newsletter link at the top of the Events page will always be up to date.

Here’s the link to my spot on WNYT yesterday. I think these always play extra-slow on Mozilla and quicker on other browsers, but it could be my imagination.

Okay! What else?  . . . Oh, yes, I’ve been meaning to tell you, we got our new car! I mentioned that I did some test driving   about six weeks ago, and we ended up buying a Nissan Rogue on the very last day of August (because Cute W and I had both listened to that car dealership This American Life episode). So we went in to order the exact Rogue we wanted (red, no bells and whistles) and allowed ourselves to be convinced to take the one already on the lot (blue, a few minor-league bells & whistles). Buying a new car causes financial pain, but this was better than our other options, and we got a better deal than we’d expected.  So. . .



TA DA!!!!!

We’re happy. I’ve said frequently that what I’d really like to own is a clown car, because I like small cars, but I wanted to be able to fit at least six people (so that each daughter could invite a friend somewhere and/or I wouldn’t be the lame car pool mom who couldn’t pick up everyone). This is the closest that we could get.

It’s a change. I went from stick shift to automatic, and even though I miss the control, it’s nice to be a little lazy. It’s also much higher, which feels weird, but I liked that I could raise the whole driver’s seat up and pretend like I’m taller than I am. And it hooks up to my phone, which is delightfully convenient, even if I accidentally send a text to people that says “CAN’T TEXT: I’M DRIVING” every once in a while.

M had been lobbying hard for a minivan. “Minivans are SO COOL!” she said.

“Honest to God, M,” I’d said, “Minivans are not cool. They’re like, considered to be the exact opposite of cool.”

So I was concerned that she’d be  bummed, but nope: everyone’s happy, happy, happy.

And if we haven’t actually had enough passengers to need that optional 3rd row that I needed, so far Cute W’s been too polite to mention it.

Schenectady Working Group on Girls

Fall is volunteer recruiting season for the Schenectady Working Group on Girls, so I wanted to take the opportunity to invite local women to join us!

Fall is volunteer recruiting season for the Schenectady Working Group on Girls, so I wanted to take the opportunity to invite local women to join us!
The Schenectady Working Group on Girls was initiated by the League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women 11 years ago. Representatives from local  girl-supporting organizations (a list of affiliated groups is on the left panel of the SWGG home page) began to work together ‘to put the spotlight on girls, facilitate programs on their behalf, and educate the community about their needs, challenges, opportunities and successes.”  For several years SWGG hosted community forums to address the challenges and opportunities that girls faced locally. In the past five years, SWGG has hosted Girls’ Day Out to help support and celebrate Schenectady city girls.

Site photo

Now, each fall, seventh graders, many of whom have been specially invited by a school clinician, go on a field trip for a Girls’ Day Out at The Glen Sanders Mansion. It’s basically a girl-power conference, where girls attend workshops on topics like talking to parents, dealing with bullies, or maintaining healthy relationships, listen to a panel discussion by 8th graders on surviving 7th grade, or participate in (and perform) activities like drumming, yoga, or dancing. The girls also enjoy a lovely breakfast and lunch, which is a special treat for everyone.

After the conference, attendees are invited to join a Girls’ Circle at their schools, where small groups meet regularly with a pair of volunteer co-facilitators called Muses. The Muses bring pizza for an informal (often very energetic) gathering in which the girls do most of the talking. Muses facilitate discussions, offer up fun crafts, and advise about things like making goals and working toward them, standing up for yourself without resorting to violence, and making choices for a happy, healthy life. The sessions are kept confidential and a school clinician sits in on the discussion, so Muses can rely on a professional to tackle any situations that require serious intervention. The girls are terrific: they’re fun and smart and they really love being together and bonding with each other.

In April, everyone gets together for a celebration at Schenectady High School,  where the girls can invite a woman whom they consider to be a role model. The girls, their specially-chosen women, and the Muses get an opportunity to celebrate their appreciation for each other’s awesomeness. It’s also a chance for the girls to talk about what the program has meant to them. I was surprised and moved to hear girls, including some from our own circle. talk about how the group had changed for the better how they view themselves, the people around them, and the future and their place in it.  It was beautiful. Muses who are willing and able can continue with the same group as the years progress.

popsicle stick art


New Muses attend training in October (3 or 4 evening sessions), they’re invited to attend Girls’ Day Out on November 19th, and they determine a schedule with their Co-Muse and school clinician for the Girls Circles. Most Girls Circles meet during lunch periods or right after school every other week, although some groups choose to meet more frequently. Because so many of the girls we serve are African American, Hispanic, or Indo-Guyanese, prospective Muses who share one or more of these ethnic identities are particularly encouraged to become involved, but any woman who has successfully navigated the sometimes-perilous waters of adolescence is welcome. If being a Muse isn’t for you, there are opportunities to volunteer in other capacities such as helping with special events, offering up your talents as a resource, or providing other support.

If you’d like more information about volunteering, contact Gail Gordon at  518-439-3973 or gailhillgordon@gmail.com or Miranda Rand at mirandarand411@gmail.com. You can also “like” the Schenectady Working Group on Girls’ Facebook page.

girls with backpacks photo



Running on Empty

Cute W traveled for business last Monday to Friday, and I’ve been a bit swamped. The homework drama, thankfully, has simmered down, but I’ve had my own homework to make life difficult.

I’m doing the printed directory for M’s middle school, and the straightforward, not-too-bad volunteer job took a turn for the worse this year. My job switched from collecting some information and basically reformatting a spreadsheet to attempting to convince each and every family in the community to create an online account and enter a bunch of family information that, sadly, doesn’t quit synch up with the information we like to have in the directory.

I sent out a barrage of emails first, acknowledging the people who had actually already done what they were supposed to do as awesome, and then nagging everybody else. Then I spent hours calling all the people who hadn’t responded to my email nagging. And then more hours upon hours trying to whip the data into shape. I now have a full-on rant about how this online directory business should have been organized, but I won’t bore you with it. I’m hoping to get the damn thing out to print by Monday, so one way or the other, the worst will be over soon.

In between slogging away at the computer, my only significant break was the town fun run. The kids were excited with the new, non-running activity (that’s J pushing M upside-down):


Fun Run

J ran the mile fun run, and she was excited because a couple of good friends ran, too. Part of the attraction is that the school gym teacher always comes to this event, and if he sees that you’ve participated, he lets you slack off a bit during gym class. J was particularly pleased because she’d shaved nearly a minute off of her previous record for running a mile.

(For some reason my “More” link isn’t working properly at the moment–there is more, and you can click the title of the blog post to read it.)

School and Home

Hey! I know, I know. It’s been a while. We’ve got some catching up to do. So, first? School. It’s mostly good. M started 7th grade, and she’s liking it. Over the weekend she caught slugs for extra credit in science, and the fact that one can earn extra credit for catching slugs seems, to me, to be a good sign.



Mostly, though, I hear about soccer. This is the first time that M’s playing soccer for her school, so it is very exciting for her. They practice right after school every day, so she’s gone from about 8:30 am to 6 pm most days. It feels like she’s hardly ever home.

(For some reason my “More” link isn’t working properly at the moment–there is more, and you can click the title of the blog post to read it.)

My Book About Me

At the end of the summer, my sister dropped off an old book at our house: My Book About Me, by Me, Myself with some help from my friends Dr. Seuss and Roy McKie.


How, oh how, had I managed to forget about this book? It’s the perfect gift for your preschool-to-early-elementary-school-aged kid. I think that I just assumed that they don’t print it anymore, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

(For some reason my “More” link isn’t working properly at the moment–there is more, and you can click the title of the blog post to read it.)

First Day of School Eve

I’m filled with the sort of loving tenderness for my children that comes from knowing that they’ll be leaving me tomorrow.

It was a long day. The morning started with technical difficulties, M still simmering with resentment over a disagreement yesterday, and J fretting anxiously over her need to complete a homework assignment in lieu of actually sucking it up and doing the assignment. Before Cute W had even left for work, the girls had managed to set off our car alarm. There’s more to that story, but I’ll come back to it.

So at 9:40 am, I decided that I was going to my exercise class. The schedule’s been nutty lately, and I’ve been missing many of them. My first instinct was to bike to the JCC, but I had some fears that, left unattended, the girls could potentially set off the car alarm again, so I ignored the gorgeousness of the day and drove to take the car out of the equation. And then, on the way, a road was closed. And once I arrived, there was no parking. Like, anywhere. Okay, there was parking, but it was far away, and it was a particular bummer, because if my kids had been in school, I would have biked. But, alright. Then, walking in, I ran into a friend, who broke it to me that the 10 am class I’d planned to attend had moved to 9 am for the school year. Ohhhhhh, I was sad. Really, the timing’s better in general, but now I had no class. In fact, I saw a favorite instructor heading in and hoped that she’d have a class, but she let me know in a nice way that this was more of a “sittin’ senior” kind of exercise class.

So I went back to my car and sulked. The hour of exercise was supposed to be my little sanity break. Then I decided that, since the kids weren’t expecting me, anyway, I wouldn’t go straight home. I remembered that I currently possess a Starbucks gift card. Drinking coffee at an outdoor table, now that sounded good! By the time I was parking by Starbucks, I’d decided that I also fully deserved a trashy magazine to peruse while drinking my coffee.

And then I remembered that I’d left my wallet at home–I’d just put my driver’s license in the pocket of my gym bag.


Much of the day was spent on homework, with occasion breaks spent on the Ripstik or in the hammock.


By evening, things had improved. J was finished with her assignment and peaceful with relief. I stayed at M’s soccer practice long enough to watch her run ridiculously fast and meet the goal that she’d set. Then I went home and made a special chicken dinner because it would provide awesome leftovers for everyone’s first-day lunches. I’m convinced that my entire family loves me more when I am frying them meat. You might think that I’m imagining it, but I have a compelling stack of evidence, like how both daughters gushed that they love me, or Cute W declaring me The Best Mom Ever and particularly adorable sporting flour on my cheekbone. It almost makes me want to fry meat more often, except that then we’d all be much less healthy, and, more important, they’d start taking my meat-frying for granted (because I’ve noticed that I rarely get fervent declarations of love for providing clean underwear and icy-cold water bottles).

As I was cleaning up after dinner, the girls sprung into First Day Eve action. J, who had been told it was time to head upstairs, asked if she could please get organized first? Of course you can, my little lamb chop. An excellent idea, and it’s more likely to make you mellow for sleep. I walked into M’s room to see her first day of school outfit all laid out: jeans shorts and a t-shirt. She checked my reaction: was I disappointed? Of course not! I’m sure that if I had a daughter who was carefully coordinating the various elements of her outfit and pondering her hairstyle choices, the whole process would make my heart swell. Many of her friends are doing just that, posting photos of their outfits, and debating the merits of sandals versus sneakers, and that just makes her complete lack of concern seem extra-awesome. And, as I was thinking this, J walked into M’s room. She was fretting because she couldn’t fit all of her supplies into her backpack. M volunteered her services, and soon the two of them were helping each other and preparing themselves with the kind of camaraderie that appears on special occasions like Christmas Eve and First Day of School Eve.

And finally, bedtime.  M and I had a semi-philosophical bedtime chat and J chose a selection of picture books (all total girl power stories, my favorite!). Those girls are awesome. I’m going to miss them tomorrow. Well, maybe.

Last Friday

I hope everyone’s enjoying the gorgeous blue skies. And the blazing hot sun. And the humidity. Which have all settled in just as the pools have closed, school’s about to start, and my children have brand-new pants and sweaters that they’d like to wear. Not like I’m bitter or anything.

After a string of rainy, chilly days (including our camping trip), I knew that the weather would improve last week, because J was committed to her (indoor) Circus Theatricks summer camp at the Ciccotti Center from 9 am to 3 pm each day. Even though the weather made me wish we were at the pool more often, J had a wonderful time. The camp ends with a Friday afternoon performance, and I was pretty sure that there was going to be a bit of a let-down from last year, because last year, J seemed to be a star of the show. She had her own act which involved her hanging and twisting around on an aerial hoop.

(For some reason my “More” link isn’t working properly at the moment–there is more, and you can click the title of the blog post to read it.)

Camping at Northampton Beach

I’d retrieved M from Cape Cod on Thursday because we had a weekend family camping trip already planned before she was invited on the vacation.  I’d checked out my list of recommended places to camp, and we decided on Northampton Beach on Lake Sacandaga largely because it was one of the few campgrounds that still had lakeside spaces for last Friday and Saturday night. Cute W and I really enjoyed Little Sand Point on Lake Piseco last year, but the girls wanted to try someplace new.

It was not an auspicious beginning. You may recall that it was rainy and cold on Friday. Cute W even floated the idea of cutting the camping trip to only one night, but I was like, heck no. Of course, I was as unprepared to go as I was adamant about going. I spent Friday feverishly shopping, cooking, and prepping. J had gymnastics on Friday afternoon, and Cute W didn’t want to miss too much work, so we planned to in the early evening. This turned out to be an ambitious plan. By early evening Cute W and I were throwing things into the car in a desperate race with the sun.

As we drove north, it continued to drizzle, and we noted that the cloud cover would make for an extra-dark night. Luckily, the campground was only an hour away. We’d planned to buy our wood when we arrived, but when we caught our breath and conferred en route, we realized that we had about $6 cash between us. Excellent.

But, phew! It was still daylight when we arrived, and the camp office took credit cards for their bundles of wood–kiln dried, making it pretty much the only thing dry in the place. Our campsite (#208) was lovely:


Unfortunately, the grate over the fireplace was gone. It made us wonder if all the cooler campers had known about the deficiency, and that’s why it was the only campsite that still had an open lakeside spot. Oh, well.

(For some reason my “More” link isn’t working properly at the moment–there is more, and you can click the title of the blog post to read it.)

Best. Mom. Ever.

Guess who drove to Cape Cod in one day yesterday?

Yep, me. M was invited for the week, but we had family stuff this weekend, so I went to fetch her.

I decided to make it a mini-vacation, complete with lobster roll and onion rings. . .


(For some reason my “More” link isn’t working properly at the moment–there is more, and you can click the title of the blog post to read it.)


The girls and I went to see The Giver.

We all loved the book.  I was especially excited to finally have a new release to see asap with J, because M and I had gone to see The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Catching Fire for their opening nights, but J hadn’t read the books in time (she’s since caught up with two out of three). I was a bit shocked by how empty the theater was.  Bottom line: the book’s better than the movie, but the movie didn’t ruin the book. We enjoyed it, mostly, although we all thought it would be confusing if we didn’t know the story ahead of time. And the ending was much less. . . ambivalent in the movie. Also, the lead boy was a cutie-patootie. M said, “In the book he wasn’t supposed to be attractive, but I’m totally okay with him being hot.”

But before the movie, we watched a huge pile of previews. And since my lovely daughters were fighting over custody of the popcorn and slushy, I did my best to ignore them. Instead, I focused all of my attention on the previews and took mental notes to share with you.

(For some reason my “More” link isn’t working properly at the moment–there is more, and you can click the title of the blog post to read it.)