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I took my kid to school today (duh duh duh duh dah)

She was excited to go (duh duh duh duh dah)

But on the first day of school (duh duh duh duh dah)

Will she scream NO!

She’s got the back-to-school bluuuuueeeessssss

Today was orientation day for my youngest. She is starting junior high school. Last night she told me she was excited about getting her schedule and seeing her friends again after a long summer. This morning, she bounced out of bed pretty quickly on a summer morning for an early orientation. She crossed her arms walking in, which is a sign I know — she’s nervous. Of course she is. It’s a new transition from elementary school to junior high and she’s worried about finding classes, opening lockers and making new friends.

It took me back to when my kids were younger. My oldest daughter, now 16, took to preschool very easily. There were no tears (unless you count mine when I sat in the car screaming at the air that these teachers better take care of my baby!) and she wasn’t hiding behind me reluctant to go in.

My son, on the other hand, was wrapped around my leg screaming no mommy, don’t leave me (oh, even remembering that hurts the heart! LOL). We worked through that and he eventually adjusted. My youngest was a mix…there were some days she didn’t want to go and others she bounced into the classroom eager to have fun and learn.

Today, they are pretty much the same personality. The oldest loves school, my son adjusted, but if you told him tomorrow that he never had to go again, I think he’d be okay with that even though he was excited to get his schedule (he loves music and he has two music courses this year, so it’s a step forward!). Samantha likes school, but there are some days she wishes she didn’t have to go, which sounds like most of us when it comes to anything.

What about your kids? Do they love school or hate it? For us, it depends on the year, the courses and the teachers, of course. There have been days I’ve heard “I hate school!” being screamed in my house by someone.

What do you do when they scream that? How do you react? What if you have a child that wakes up and says “I’m NOT going???” My neighbor’s son struggled with this over the last year and would NOT get on the bus no matter what anyone did. How do you get past this? Give him a day off? Put him on the bus kicking and screaming? Let me know how you would handle this and if your child likes school.

Can you tell what my favorite subjects were? It was English and Creative Writing, of course.

I’m always looking for ways to get my kids involved in reading and writing more and expressing their creativity. As a professional writer, it’s really important to me that my kids enjoy the arts.

All three of my kids are pretty creative. My 16-year-old daughter Nicole runs her own book blog where she reviews books for teens.  My 15-year-old son, Travis, is a musician, playing tuba, trumpet, clarinet and now electric guitar. Samantha, 12, is a very good artist and freehand sketches are better than anything I’ve done at her age (I loved to draw too). Yesterday she attended a cartooning workshop at the Grinnell Library in Wappingers Falls. She really enjoyed that.

So when I have an opportunity to have them do something ‘fun’ that also requires them to read and write, I’m on it. With my new position as editor of Hudson Valley Parent, I receive products — LOTS of products — that need review or are for giveaways. Some we’ll give away, some we’ll decide to review. And who best to review a CD of the kids’ show Wizards of Waverly Place than a kid? So here she is, with no further ado, my daughter Sami’s review of the Disney CD featuring Selena Gomez. From a parent’s perspective, it’s a cute show considering I’ve only seen a few episodes.

Wizards Of Waverly Place: The Soundtrack REVIEW:
I listened to this soundtrack with my friend Jayme. We both love the show and have similar taste in music. So, I shall write what we thought of each song.

1: Disappear (Selena Gomez) – We both loved this song. And not just because Selena Gomez was singing it, but because it was an upbeat, fun, sing-along song.

2: Magical (Selena Gomez) – The 2nd song by Selena Gomez on here, me and Jayme liked it. It’s a slower, more romantic song, about a relationship that didn’t work out. Selena wishes she could put a spell on him too “make you feel the same way that I do”.
3: Magic (Selena Gomez) – This song is based off the one originally recorded by Pilot. Ever since we saw that she was singing this on Disney Channel, we wanted to hear it. Even though we knew the old version, we still loved her version.
4: Strange Magic (Steve Rushton) – First off, Jayme and I were wondering who this guy was. Apparently he is just a really crappy songwriter. They repeated the same line, and it was slow and boring. We give it thumbs down.
5: Magic (Honor Society) – Well, we were talking while listening to this, but what we heard was pretty good. We didn’t know who this band was either, but they had a good voice. This was based off the one recorded by The Cars.
6: Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (Mitchell Musso) – We don’t like Mitchell Musso. We think he can’t sing FOR HIS LIFE. But the song lyrics were good (originally by The Police), and any Mitchell fan would like this song.
7: Magic Carpet Ride (KSM) – We really liked this song. It was a fast, fun, rocking song. We actually started singing along to the refrain once we knew it. We give it thumbs up.
8: Magic (Meaghan Martin) –  You could just chill and do homework or something while listening to this song. This was based off the one recorded by Olivia Newton-John.
9: You Can Do Magic (Drew Seeley) – Not a fan of Drew Seeley, but I wouldn’t say we HATED the song. We just wouldn’t listen to it for fun again.
10: Some Call It Magic (Raven Symone) – We actually heard this song before, so we just skipped it. It’s a nice song. Not great. On a scale, we give it a 7/10.
11: Do You Believe In Magic (Aly & AJ) – We liked this song. We had heard it before, like Some Call It Magic, but we listened to it anyway. It’s a nice song, one to soon be on my iPod.
12: Everything Is Not As It Seems (Series Theme Song) (Selena Gomez) – We have heard this song MANY times before, and we love it. We had a little argument over the lyrics though. 😉

So on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the greatest, we give it an 8-1/2.


Newburgh pastel artist, Clayton Buchanan, recently had the opportunity to give hands-on art advice to children when he visited the River Valley Artist Guild in Port Jervis.  Buchanan had visited the Guild last year where he taught the youngsters about Impressionism. This year, the children, ages 8 to 12, concentrated on lining up features when drawing  a portrait.

Clayton Buchanan visits River Valley Artist Guide

Clayton Buchanan visits River Valley Artist Guide









Buchanan’s works are in private and corporate collections in Canada, England, and, locally, at the Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck.  He was thrilled to be at the event, working with fellow contributor Joan Kehlenbeck, president of the River Valley Artist Guild, especially at a time when arts programs in schools are lacking funding and attention.  “Artists should get interested in helping schools,” he urges. “and show the children how art is incorporated in life.”

Clayton Buchanan gives drawing advice to students

Clayton Buchanan gives drawing advice to students









“For example, in science class kids are taught about atmosphere and filtration,” he says. “What my expertise could teach them is how filtering light affects color. You can see that if you hang a sheet on a clothesline. The white sheet looks like a light orange by the end of the day because the molecular structure in the atmosphere changes the colors.”

Kids learn about drawing and color

Kids learn about drawing and color

Buchanan says the most important part about teaching kids is that they have a good time. “If they aren’t interested, it doesn’t go anywhere,” he says.

He recommends that all artists — visual, performing and creative look into sharing their expertise with students.

In an August Hudson Valley Life column, Carole Wolf, the executive director of the Mill Street Loft writes, “the arts uplift the human spirit and nourish the soul. Especially during these challenging and difficult times, the arts bring us joy and help us better communicate and express ourselves.”

For more information on Clayton Buchanan, visit

I didn’t inherit much from my mom — we don’t really look alike. I’m brunette, she’s blonde. She’s a petite build and I’m…not. And I definitely can’t cook like she can, although I’d love to say “I whipped up a beef bourguignon!” or a…..well, I can’t think of any other recipe off the top of my head that sounds yummy, so that should tell you about my culinary skills, although I can make a few edible dishes. But in the kitchen, mom winds hands down. And don’t get me started on her baking skills. People add themselves to our “cookie” list each year just to get samples of how good my mom’s cookies are.

Me? I can create a great birthday cake though. No, I don’t just go buy it at the supermarket and squirt “happy birthday” in red gel across the top. I know you were thinking that! I recently molded a guitar for my son’s 15th birthday. For my daughter’s sweet 16, I created a Wicked cake based on the Broadway show. In the past, I’ve made a cake that looks like a wrestling ring (equipped with wrestlers) and I made awesome Elmo, Pooh, Barney cakes when my kids were little. I’m not as good as the Ace of Cakes on The Food Channel — I can’t take my eyes away from his creations — but when one of my kids’ friends says, “that’s a cool cake!” I’m happy. I’d much rather make a cake creation than a fancy dinner (on Top Chef, they boggle my mind how they can come up with so many incredible concoctions!).

On Saturday, I went to the movies and saw Julie & Julia, a movie that intertwines two true-life stories — one of Julie, an office worker who is looking for something meaningful in her life and she decides to make every recipe in Julia child’s cookbook. At the same time, we flashback to the life of chef extraordinaire Julia Child, who changed the face of cooking. Amy Adams and Meryl Streep play the parts respectively and they both do a wonderful job — Streep nails down Julia’s mannerisms so perfectly and is absolutely hiliarious. The movie is filled with many funny moments and I don’t want to take anything away from Stanley Tucci, who is delicious (see how I use food terms???) in his role as Julia’s husband!

I remember when Julie wrote her blog — fellow writers couldn’t believe that someone finally got a book contract off a blog. Okay, maybe we were a bit jealous, but happy that it was opening doors!

You MUST go see this movie. It’s absolutely delightful.

What can YOU cook?

Right now I am sitting in a small bagel shop and eating trout, goat cheese and basil on bagel. That sets the stage for the day I am having. It is definitely not like eating lunch at McDonalds or Subway. 

I am in New York City shopping for puppets and I decided to visit the biggest kids’ toy store…FAO Schwartz on Fifth Avenue and 58th Street right off Central Park. With three levels of absolute joy it was hard to determine where to start. Everywhere there were stuffed animals…from the big elephants and giraffes to small dogs and cats. And in the middle of the first floor is this huge candy store which kids (and adults) can’t resist.

Throughout the store kids are encouraged to touch and hug everything they can get their hands on. There are books for the preschoolers with a comfortable area to sit and read. In their Muppet corner you can make your own characters by choosing your favorite Muppet-type body, and then add eyes, hair, hats, clothes and more. When I went, there was a 60 minute wait…so I guess it is popular.

There girl’s dress-up corner offers about 50 different outfits and they had a corridor with wild animals on both sides. Then there is the doll section with baby dolls being attended to by employees dressed up as nurses…I thought that was a bit much.

Everywhere the staff seemed very engaged in working and playing with the children. And the store was packed.

So if you want a day of fun (Just don’t bring any credit cards) be sure to visit FAO Schwartz in New York City.

When is the last time you visited NYC? And what’s your favorite place to visit with the kids?

I’m a movie buff. If it’s a Friday night and I’m done with work for the week I get an urge to see a movie. I rent them, watch them on, as well as spend the money, depending on the movie, at the full-priced cinemas. It’s one of my favorite places to spend my time.

I love romance movies, comedies and dramas. I won’t watch horror — okay, the closest I got to horror recently was Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp. LOVED it and OWN it. But I won’t watch the other horror movies. One of my favorite movies to watch is musicals. My favorites are Singin’ in the Rain, Grease, Hairspray, Mamma Mia, Chicago, Rent, A Chorus Line and most of the old-time musicals from the Gene Kelly days. I had the biggest crush on Gene Kelly when I was a kid. He was suave and debonair and I couldn’t get enough of watching him dance on television when they showed his musicals. Today, I can ‘you tube’ him and watch him as much as I want. yay! That’s a great thing about today’s Internet. It’s a great way to combine today and yesterday.

On this year’s reality show So You Think You Can Dance, dancer Evan Kasprzak and his brother Ryan auditioned and danced tap and old Gene Kelly style. They were magnificent and I’ve been rooting for Evan to win ever since. It made me want to watch another musical. If you want to enjoy some great musicals and dancing, look for movies with Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and Donald O’Connor, some of my favorites. While we’re enjoying today’s fun movies, we should never forget the great musicals that once were. Rent one, pop popcorn and show your kids what dancing is really all about!

What’s YOUR favorite movie musical and why??????? Maybe I’ll find a new one to watch!

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