Kids’ Almanac (Mar. 5-12)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

“Spring forward, fall back.”
– Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 8


Stop by Sissy’s Café in Kingston

Uptown Kingston hosts a variety of delicious eateries, and my family’s latest lunch outing was at Sissy’s Café, located at 324 Wall Street. This informal eatery features creative combinations for breakfast choices, paninis, sandwiches and salads, as well as raw juices and yummy smoothies. My daughter loved her banana breakfast smoothie special and declared her ham sandwich the best she’d ever had. My son raved about the peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I appreciated the option of gluten-free bread to accompany my scrumptious lentil-and-spinach soup, and all salad dressings, soups and spreads are gluten-free as well.

Ordering at the counter meant that we could take our time to navigate the menu – which includes vegetarian, vegan and locally sourced fare – and then relax at our table until the food arrived. Sissy’s informal atmosphere coupled with fresh, quality cuisine promises a comfortable setting for families who like to eat well.

Sissy’s Café is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends 9 from a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call (845) 514-2336 or visit


Check out Tonner Dolls

After lunch at Sissy’s Café, cross the street and walk down to the Tonner Doll Company’s new storefront at the corner of Wall and John Streets. This lovely space showcases incredible Tonner Dolls, along with other famous brands of collectibles, and they even have a couple of American Girl Dolls and outfits. These exquisite displays are for eyes only, and if your crew can navigate a special no-touch space like that, I highly recommend stopping in for a look.

I’ve heard about Tonner Dolls for years, but had not seen them in person before; let me know what you think about the incredible Jupiter Ascending doll! Tonner Doll is located at 301 Wall Street in Kingston. Store hours are Monday from 1 to 6 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and be sure to check for great deals on Tonner Tuesdays and Thrifty Thursdays. For more information, call (845) 339-2960 or visit


Fun for rockhounds at NYS Museum in Albany

It had been years since our family last visited the New York State Museum, and the recent free Junior Geologist rock and mineral program was just the impetus that we needed to go back. Museum educator (and Hudson Valley local) Hatti Langsford began by inviting the children to hold and examine with a magnifying glass the rock and mineral samples that she had on display on the classroom tables. She reviewed the three types of rock: sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic, and answered questions about what the children noticed about the samples. From there, she moved the group to the rock and mineral exhibit area for a scavenger hunt of various specimens to find, which they excitedly reported back to her.

The final challenge was to synthesize what the group had learned by identifying veins of minerals found in the largest rocks on display, using the signs that list the mineral names. Langsford concluded the program with an overview of where these rocks and minerals can be found in New York State, using a large geographic map.

After the session, we headed over to Discovery Place, a hands-on children’s area for kids up to eighth grade, although the activities are primarily geared for elementary-aged students. I was thrilled to find this space to be so much more colorful, interesting and engaging than the previous version that we’d experienced during our last visit years ago. From there, we went to the Native American section to see the large longhouse exhibit, which includes a recorded loop of Native American stories.

We took the elevator up to the 1890s carousel, only to find that it was on break for 15 minutes, so we went back downstairs to the gift shop while we waited. One shop note is the special deal that it has on salt lamps, which are only $15 with any purchase. We went back upstairs and found out that the carousel was on break again! The waiting was worth it – finally being able to ride this restored treasure – and it’s completely free.

The New York State Museum has so much to see, but too much in one day for my kids. It’s worth several trips, because as they get older, they can engage in the visit differently each time, evolving from pre-readers to researching New York State topics in which they’re interested. It’s open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with special day and evening programs offered year-round. Admission to the museum and carousel are free, but donations are accepted.

The New York State Museum is located at 260 Madison Avenue in Albany. For more information, call (518) 474-5877 or visit



Chicken-raising tips at Red Hook Library

When our family delved into raising chickens, we found that the best information came from other experienced chicken-owners. We read books and online articles, but it was nice to have people to ask in real life, especially for the kids.

If you’d like to learn more about this fun, interesting, rewarding and relatively easy venture, head over to “The Chicken and the Egg: Raising a Backyard Flock” this Friday, March 6 at 6 p.m. at the Red Hook Public Library. Right now it’s chick-ordering time, and the discussion will cover breeds, feed, care and protection from predators, so it’s a great way to help decide whether to move forward with chick plans for this spring.

Then mark your calendars for a dog-grooming program on Wednesday, March 25 at 6 p.m., including tips on dematting, undercoat removal, nails, fleas and ticks. Admission to both programs is free, but requires registration.

The Red Hook Public Library is located at 7444 South Broadway in Red Hook. For more information or to register, call (845) 758-3241 or visit


Friday Nights of Fun for special needs kids in New Paltz

This week kicks off Friday Nights of Fun, a new social program for youth with disabilities, ages 8 to 15. The first session takes place on Friday, March 6 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the New Paltz Community Center. This free and fun evening is run by trained SUNY-New Paltz student volunteers from a variety of disciplines who are committed to the special needs community, encouraging social skills and building friendships. Parents will stay for the first session to meet and connect with the staff, but youth may be dropped off for subsequent sessions.                 The New Paltz Community Center is located at 3 Veterans’ Drive in New Paltz. For more information or to register, call Danielle Roma at (914) 960-2112 or visit


Preschooler music time at Beacon’s Howland Center

Miss Vickie invites children to the Howland Cultural Center for two special Friday performances, March 6 and 20 from 11 to 11:45 a.m. This interactive event is geared for preschool-aged children and up and features a singalong, as well as a chance to compare and contrast sounds of different instruments. Admission costs $5 for adults and is free for children.          The Howland Cultural Center is located at 477 Main Street in Beacon. For more information, call (845) 831-4988 or e-mail [email protected].



Book Carnival at Hudson Valley Sudbury School in Zena

Gather your toddlers, preschoolers and elementary-aged children and head over to the Hudson Valley Sudbury School’s Book Carnival this Saturday, March 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free, and families can try their luck at carnival games to win books. Dollar game tickets will be sold throughout the event. Charge up your camera for photos with Clifford the Big Red Dog, and additional activities include face-painting, a bake sale, a raffle and a recycled children’s book sale.

The Hudson Valley Sudbury School is located at 84 Zena Road in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 679-1002 or visit




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