Kids’ Almanac (Mar. 20-27)

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
– Charles Dickens


Buy One Get One Flea

Buy One Get One Flea is local band Dog on Fleas’ newly released eighth album, and I sure wish you could hear the music as you’re reading this piece about it, it’s that good – I don’t want you to miss a minute of it! Grammy Award-winning producer Dean Jones’s whimsical lyrics are paired with melodies that feel like cherished friends.

The opening track, “Hinterlands,” is the perfect portal into the weird and wonderful world of the Fleas, whose humor is woven throughout the album. A must for your family’s road-trip playlist, “Hinterlands” cheerily ambles along with lines like, “There’s you and there’s me, and the parrot makes three.” “Palindrome” is a rollicking tune that celebrates these special words with lines like: “Spell Mom backwards and what do you get? You get Mom! It’s a palindrome…” There’s so much energy behind songs like “Dry Beans” and “Herring’s Head” that I can’t resist singing along. I crack up every time I hear “Pardon My Pajamas,” whose sweet trombone slides and noodling piano sounds evoke American jazz standards while Jones croons, “Pardon my pajamas. I didn’t bother to get myself dressed today.”

Instrumental interludes “Grand March from Aïda” and “Over the Waves” feature the ragtag backyard “Dorkestra,” which contributes to the excellent pacing of the album. The song “Thinking Good Thoughts” is based on a single premise: “My job is thinking good thoughts/What’s your job gonna be?” and it has actually helped me to turn some feelings around in the heat of the moment during some emotionally frustrating work, stepping back and remembering who I am: someone who wants to think “good thoughts.”

I highly recommend Dog on Fleas’ Buy One Get One Flea album, available throughout the Hudson Valley and online at and


SUNY-New Paltz hosts forum on Common Core mandatory testing issues

The topic of Common Core is even hotter than the scramble for wood pellets or the debate on whether Juan Pablo and Nikki Ferrell are still officially together post-Bachelor. I think it’s a positive move to model for our kids the independent research and reflection necessary to develop an informed opinion, and to educate others. And if there’s one thing that the people of the Hudson Valley are good at, it’s delving into a heated issue head-on, digging deeper, learning more and sharing it with others.

On Tuesday, March 25 at 7 p.m., head over to the Coykendall Science Building Auditorium at SUNY-New Paltz for “Reclaiming Quality Education: Test Refusal as a Human Right.” Panelists include an educator, an administrator, a student and a parent: Brian Jones, teacher in New York City, speaking on “Lessons from the civil rights movement for the test resistance movement”; Tim Farley, principal of Ichabod Crane School, on “Parental authority within the context of test refusal”; Maya Gold, student at New Paltz Middle School, on “Student actions to resist high-stakes testing”; and Bianca Tanis, parent in New Paltz and co-founder of New York State Allies for Public Education, on “Safeguarding our children’s education now.”

With testing for grades 3 through 8 beginning on April 1, this event will help educate families on a bigger picture beyond the nightly homework routine of explaining number sentences and number bonds. SUNY-New Paltz is located at 1 Hawk Drive in New Paltz. For more information, visit For additional information about issues related to Common Core, visit


Vine Van Gogh presents “Sip & Paint”

Have you seen references to Vine Van Gogh events taking place around the area? These “Sip & Paint” gatherings are a creative opportunity for a date or Mom’s night out or a birthday with friends or any occasion that you could think of – or just because. I attended one for the first time last week at Moxie Cupcake. With my Vine Van Gogh apron on, and my gluten-free vanilla coconut Moxie cupcake on standby to help nourish my Muse, I created my own version of our assigned heart-and-grid guided painting project, in the style of modern artist Jim Dine.

As someone with plenty of extrovert tendencies and zero painting tendencies, I was more interested in talking to my tablemates than painting. Everyone else seemed pretty focused on the task at hand, which was probably helpful so I could hustle to finish before it ended.

The owners of Vine Van Gogh, husband-and-wife entrepreneur duo Tim Palladino and Melissa Ledbetter Palladino, were gracious and enthusiastic hosts. They fostered a relaxed setting, and they seem to love what they do. Tim explained their interest in the value of a hands-on direct art experience to people who love art.

It helped tremendously to have rinsewater and paper towels delivered right to me all evening, and my many questions were patiently answered by the art instructor: Did you know that when blending colors, you start with the lighter color and add a small amount of the darker color to it until you achieve the desired shade? Otherwise it would take forever to lighten the shade. I enjoyed taking a look at people’s easels afterwards and seeing the variety of styles.

These events are for all abilities. One of my friends is a painter, and she thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I felt self-conscious about my own work, but my family raved about it, and I’m proud that I finished it. I recommend giving Vine Van Gogh a try.

Pricing is approximately $45, bring your own bottle for the “sip” component, and all painting supplies are included. To learn more about Vine Van Gogh or to reserve for an upcoming event, visit or check the Facebook page for special discounts and more at


Living Well program seeks volunteers to help domestic abuse victims

Living Well is a new program taking root in Dutchess County in partnership with the First Congregational United Church of Christ, the Grace Smith House and the Beck Institute. Volunteers are needed to support survivors of domestic abuse by cultivating positive relationships and building community. Opportunities to help include financial donations, becoming a mentor, providing a meal, hosting a fundraiser, attending events such as the graduation ceremony and Speaker’s Night, working with children and more.

To learn more about the program, as well as volunteer opportunities, contact Living Well program coordinator Sue Groman at (610) 613-7260 or e-mail [email protected].


More hours for Bounce Poughkeepsie

For those of you who have been asking for an earlier time slot than 3 p.m. for trampoline fun, Bounce Poughkeepsie is introducing Toddler Time at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays. Pricing is $10 for one child and one parent; additional children get in for $8. Toddler Time reservations must be made in advance by calling (845) 206-4555.

Bounce has extended hours during spring break, too! From March 17 through 23, Bounce is open Monday through Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m.; Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Jump & Glow from 9 to 11 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. As always, I suggest completing the required waiver ahead of time online to save time at check-in.

Regular admission costs $12 for the first hour, $10 for each additional hour. For a complete list of rates and other information, call (845) 206-4555 or visit


YMCA’s Bike It! program seeks participants & bike donations

Bike It! is the YMCA’s youth cycling program for kids ages 10 to 15 – part of the Y’s initiative to teach every child in Ulster County how to ride a bike safely on roads and bike routes. Sessions run on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon from April 5 to June 7, and registration is open now. Pricing is $30 for YMCA members, $40 for non-members. Scholarships are available, and bikes and helmets are provided. Space is limited.

The program needs bikes, and your donation is tax-deductible. If you have a mountain bike, hybrid or road bike with 24-, 26- or 27-inch wheels to donate, e-mail [email protected] or call (845) 338-3810, extension 102. To learn more about the program, visit





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  1. Smitten with this column you have crafted!

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