Kids’ Almanac (Nov. 20-29)

(Photo by Will Dendis)

“Parenting a teenager is a whole different ballgame than parenting a younger child, to be sure. But the answer to the struggles is not more control, but more understanding.”
– Jennifer McGrail


Be a birdbrain!

“It is a great time of year to start birding for a several reasons,” begins Mark DeDea (Dee-day), president of the John Burroughs Natural History Society but probably best-known as the friendly, familiar presence as caretaker at the Forsyth Nature Center, often referring to himself as Mark at the Park. “You can ease into birding, thumbing through a field guide, and not be overwhelmed like you might be during a particularly birdy spring morning during migration.”

According to Mark, you don’t even have to leave home for good bird watching! “Well-stocked and varied feeders become magnets for a few dozen species locally from now till early spring. This is a manageable number to identify, and includes some species everyone should know already – like cardinal and blue jay, for example.”

I asked Mark what types of birds we can expect to see during mid-November. “It is a great time of year to look for a variety of waterfowl and divers like loons and grebes. The Ashokan Reservoir, the Vly and spots along the Hudson River like Esopus Meadows, Kingston Point and the Saugerties Lighthouse are all rewarding. This is also a good time to examine large flocks of Canada geese foraging on places like the Wallkill and Hurley Flats, in hopes of finding a rare cousin mixed in. While exploring open agricultural land, you may also find flocks of snow buntings, horned larks and American pipits foraging in the plowed fields, and should also expect a variety of birds of prey.”

Whether you’re very new to birding like I am, or you’re an experienced birder like Mark, or somewhere in between, I highly recommend taking advantage of the Burroughs Society’s many free nature field trips, open to all levels of experience, and even joining the organization. Mark makes birding fascinating, so make sure that you include one of his trips in your outing list, such as his free trip on Saturday, November 22 at 8 a.m. at Kingston Point and River Road in Port Ewen. Folks can also visit him at the Forsyth Nature Center to pick up copies of Where to Bird in Ulster County and the recently updated companion checklist of species’ seasonal abundance and occurrence – or just ask questions and talk birds.

For field trip information and more, “like” the John Burroughs Natural History Society Facebook page, and visit the website at Upcoming dates to remember: Christmas Bird Counts centered in Ulster County on December 20 and 27. Feeder watchers are needed, if you live within the count circle, and experienced birders for field parties. For more information about the Christmas Bird Count, visit



Day of Remembrance in Kingston

George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” On Thursday, November 20 at 6:30 p.m., ages 13 and up are invited to be a part of the International Transgender Day of Remembrance with a Candlelight Vigil at Apuzzo Hall at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center. This event memorializes those who have died due to anti-transgender discrimination and includes a Reading of the Names; it raises awareness about these hate crimes; and it gives transgender people and their allies an opportunity to stand together.

The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center is located at 300 Wall Street in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 331-5300 or visit



Hudson River Playback Theater takes on Roth’s Nemesis

Community book events like One Book/One New Paltz are such a terrific launching point for discussions around town and beyond. This year’s New Paltz pick is Nemesis by Philip Roth, and one schedule highlight for me is Reflections of Nemesis, a public performance by the Hudson River Playback Theater.

Reflections of Nemesis takes place on Friday, November 21 at 7 p.m. at Parker Theatre at SUNY-New Paltz. The Playback troupe will offer immediate reflections of audience members’ experiences related to Nemesis. The style of Playback Theater feels a little like a guided improvisation: Your sharing is the inspiration and scaffolding for the performance, in which the troupe immediately retells your story by acting it out in a brief, powerful way.

SUNY-New Paltz is located at 1 Hawk Drive in New Paltz. For more information, call (845) 596-2763 or visit


Free Kids’ Sports Night at SUNY-New Paltz

Speaking of SUNY-New Paltz, and also taking place on Friday, November 21, youth ages 5 to 10 years are invited to attend Kids’ Sports Night in the Athletic & Wellness Center and Elting Gym on campus. Kids Sports Night is a dropoff event that runs from 6 to 8 p.m. and includes group activities led by college athletes, such as soccer, volleyball, kickball, Capture the Flag and more.

Kids’ Sports Night is free and open to the public, and registration begins at 5:30 p.m. No preregistration is required. For more information, call (845) 257-6956 or e-mail [email protected].


All aboard Catskill Mountain Railroad’s Polar Express!

I just need the tiniest glimpse of The Polar Express sleighbell for my eyes to well up. Bring the Chris Van Allsburgh book to life for your family! Feel like you’re in your own movie scene! Wear your pajamas out in public where it’s socially acceptable! It’s opening weekend for the Polar Express at the Catskill Mountain Railroad, which runs from Friday, November 21 to January 4, 2015. The experience includes a singalong, a reading of the story, hot chocolate served by chefs and a visit with Santa, complete with a sleighbell gift to all who believe.

Rides take place Fridays through Sundays, and tickets cost $43 for adults, $33 for children ages 2 to 11 years, and are free for toddlers in your lap. The Catskill Mountain Railroad’s Kingston station is located at 149 Aaron Court in Kingston. For tickets or more information, call (845) 688-7400 or visit


Ellenville’s Shadowland Theatre screens kid-scripted Iron Man 6

Robert Downey, Jr.’s contract with Marvel ends with Iron Man 3, and there is tremendous speculation about future Iron Man projects. Here’s one that you may not have heard about in the tabloids: Iron Man 6, which was conceived and scripted by Jonah Althouse at age 4 and shot locally with a cast from the Ellenville Cooperative Nursery School and film professionals, will perform at the Shadowland Theatre on Friday, November 21 at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $5 for adults, $3 for children over 5, and are free for children under 5.

The Shadowland Theatre is located at 157 Canal Street in Ellenville. For more information, call (845) 647-5511 or visit



Weekend Whirlwind Filmmaking Intensive in Beacon

Got any middle school youth in your family, ages 10 to 13? Here’s a terrific opportunity to check out hands-on filmmaking. On Saturday, November 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Howland Public Library, students will learn animation as well as radio and film production in Spark Media’s Weekend Whirlwind Filmmaking Intensive. The cost for this intensive is $50 per student.

The Howland Public Library is located at 313 Main Street in Beacon. For more information or to register, call (845) 485-4480 or visit


Hudson Valley Hullabaloo in Kingston

I’ve got two words for you: Mighty Brittle. I’ve been craving some ever since seeing it listed with the other vendors at this weekend’s Hudson Valley Hullabaloo. On Saturday, November 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday, November 23 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Andy Murphy Midtown Neighborhood Center, the Hudson Valley Hullabaloo is a craft sale party for the whole family. What if you could finish all of your holiday shopping this weekend? Hudson Valley Hullabaloo makes it possible!

The Andy Murphy Midtown Neighborhood Center is located at 467 Broadway in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 633-4772 or visit


Magic Hatter’s Magic Show at Kingston Library

Saturdays are lots of fun at the Kingston Library, and this weekend things turn magical! On Saturday, November 22 at 10:30 a.m., join the Magic Hatter’s Magic Show. Enjoy tricks, action and surprises during this free performance with Scott Payne.

The Kingston Library is located at 55 Franklin Street in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 331-0507 or visit

Monster Intelligence Puppet Show at Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck

What a treat to watch this adorable assortment of monster characters come together as Melvin makes a game-changing birthday wish! The Monster Intelligence Puppet Show begins on Saturday, November 22 at 11 a.m. at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck. Tickets cost $7 for children, $9 for adults.

The Center for Performing Arts is located at 661 Route 308 in Rhinebeck. For tickets or more information, call (845) 876-3080 or visit To learn more about the performers, visit


Zylophone students perform at Montgomery Elementary School

A drama production for the special needs community: Have I told you lately how much I love living here in the mid-Hudson Valley? On Saturday, November 22 at 11 a.m., you can see Zylophone’s production of ARF! at the Montgomery Elementary School. Tickets cost $10, with the priceless bonus of seeing performers express themselves in ways that, for some of them, only came through this drama program.

The Montgomery Elementary School is located at 141 Union Street in Montgomery. While you’re in town, want to spiff up your outfit? Stop by my beloved Recycled Style shop after the performance, located at 109 Ward Street. For more information about the play or the Zylophone school itself, call (845) 476-8257 or visit



Food for the Birds workshop at Minnewaska

Jump-start your new birding hobby with a special bird-food craft this weekend. On Sunday, November 23 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Minnewaska State Park, participants of all ages will create a pinecone bird feeder, followed by a hike and a bird scavenger hunt.

Food for the Birds requires preregistration. For more information or to register, call (845) 255-0752 or visit


Holiday centerpiece workshop at Olana

What a combination: a visit to Olana and a special holiday craft! On Saturday, November 23 from 1 to 3 p.m., participants will learn how to make a rustic centerpiece, just in time for Thanksgiving. The cost is $15 per person for non-members, $10 for members, and preregistration is required. The description categorizes this workshop for adults, so keep the younger youth at home and pull your older teens in.

Olana is located at 5720 Route 9G in Hudson. For more information or to register, call (518) 828-0135 or visit



Autism spectrum Sibling Group in Highland

Lynda Rosner’s excellent support for families with children of all ages on the autism spectrum has expanded with her new Sibling Group: a resource for children who have a sibling on the autism spectrum. On Monday, November 24 from 5 to 6 p.m., Lynda facilitates a group discussion to help kids share their experiences, learn how to express their emotions and learn strategies to deal with challenging behaviors, all while having fun. This group will meet monthly and the cost is $25.

Hudson Valley Behavioral Solutions – Highland is located at 550 Route 299, Suite 100B-2 in Highland. For more information or to register, e-mail [email protected].


Erica Chase-Salerno watches birds in New Paltz with her husband Mike and their two children: the inspirations behind She can be reached at [email protected]

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