You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2011.

I don’t watch much TV, mostly because as a freelance writer all these years, most of my free time was either spent researching a story, or writing one.  Plus, my kids ruled the TV channels, and as long as they obeyed my TV watching-time-limits, I was fine with my two shows a week: The West Wing and ER.  But with one kid in college, my other watching her computer, and my husband  already asleep by 8 pm for his 4:30 am wake-up call, I find myself with free time in the evenings, in front of the TV, and looking for something entertaining to watch for maybe an hour before bed. 

I remember cable TV being the “end all” of TV…everyone wanted it, and it would surpass network TV.  Last night, I grabbed the only remote control I know how to work (OH, and our remote control collection — fodder for another blog, for sure) and clicked on channel 23, the first cable station we have.  I went from there to 68 without stopping.  (We don’t have the plan with unlimited stations….ye gads!) 

What amazed me was the number of just plain “what were they thinking” kind of cable shows, like the pawn show, or the exterminator show, or the teen mom show, or the mom with 8 kids who I just don’t get show, or the storage wars, and the ones where they find alligators in the swamps show (WHAT ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO FIND IN THE SWAMPS)  And after weeks upon weeks of bad news, I just didn’t want one of those cable let’s talk about gloom and doom shows.

But I wasn’t giving up.  Let me see what’s on network TV.  And, on Channel 7, Diane Sawyer was hosting a two-hour feature show on the Jackie Kennedy tapes.  These were eight hours of recordings made by Mrs. Kennedy four months after her husband’s assassination.  They are unedited, and provide a personal glimpse into the early 1960’s politics, what it was like being a Kennedy, and how she protected her kids.  Caroline Kennedy joined Diane for a tour of the Kennedy Library in Boston, then played excerpts of the tapes.  They give fascinating insights into a first lady who, despite how you felt about her husband, was smart and courageous.  For the next two hours, I watched quality TV, and you know, I didn’t even mind the commercials.  Despite having TIVO (which can pause live TV, a feature that just baffles me), I was happy to do what I used to do when a commercial came on — go to the kitchen and make a cup of tea.  

Cable TV..what’s happening to you?

I’ve been a fan of this guy since the early 1970’s. His melodies are like magic, and it amazes me that ever after all these years, he can still play a mean piano and compose toe-tapping tunes for movies, broadway shows, and his own albums.  He has a gift, and at age 64, he’s still sharing it with the world.

I got the opportunity to see him at Bethel Woods this past weekend.  Now, Bethel already has a terrific reputation in the area for its summer line-up, its seasonal events, and musical classes and concerts for young people.  But, by arranging to have Elton stop by on his world tour was just a feather in its cap that will long endure.  And why not?  Bethel enjoys being on the grounds of the one and only Woodstock concert from 1969, the place the pretty much changed the face of music, and how it was presented to a live audience forever.  So, it only makes sense that the site become a place of honor, and a destination of every top performer in the world. 

The show began right at 8, beginning with two remarkable celloists who played their instruments like wild fiddler players.  I thought the strings would break.  When I heard them play a song by Nirvana, I thought, “these aren’t your grandfather’s cello players.”  They were remarkable and stayed on to play with Elton for the remainder of the show.  Then, the stage went quiet, and his band came out and began to play Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, and he emerged, walked the stage, bowed, raised his hands in salute, and went right to the piano where it began.  The crowd was wild, and the night just got better and better.

I can’t say enough about Bethel, its beautiful spot in Sullivan County, its polite and helpful staff, and the set up of seats.  The only drawback is their lack of adequate exiting at the end of the show, which at times forces fans to leave during the final numbers.  Howevever, the site has partnered with nearby Monticello Raceway to provide a “park and ride” service which was wonderful.  I parked my car at Monticello, jumped on the bus, which went the backroads to Bethel, and allowed me to relax while waiting to get into the parking lot.  The busses start departing 20 minutes after the last song, so there was no early departure for me, and as one bus fills up, another one is ready to take on passengers.  It was a very smooth operation.  Best of all, I could close my eyes for a little while during the trip back to Monticello, where I got into my car, and cruised to Route 17. 

It was a night to remember.  Thanks for coming, Elton.  Don’t be a stranger.  TTYL

My loot from Wal Mart

I have recently entered the rather intimidating world of couponing. I have tried for years with no success. I would clip and then forget. Now, thanks to the internet and an awesome group of mommy coupon bloggers, I am learning how to take some pretty decent money off of my grocery bill.

I used Freebies2Deals, a blogger located in Utah. She did the legwork for this shopping trip and I did not do too bad. She went to her local Wal Mart, checked out what was there and then posted the deals she found. She matches up the coupon you will need to score your deal. If it came out of a circular, she tells you the company that puts it out and the week it ran. If it is an internet coupon, she gives you the link. She generously posts this information on her blog and then lets everyone know via Facebook. I “like” a number of these mommies on my FB page and I have saved quite a bit by following them.

I had to include this pic of Sparky my coupon companion. He decided to get into the loot shot since he helps clip them!

These women post deals for most of the major drugstores and food store chains that are in their regions. They also offer lots of advice on their sites, hold classes, have videos you can download, contests to give away all their swag and discussion boards too.

So, in conclusion, here is a pic of my Wal Mart score. I paid $18.31 for $36.43 worth of groceries. The couple of freebies I got were travel or trial sizes, but they were still free and for products I had not yet tried. We will use them for sure. I also went through her list of 88 items and pared it down to what I would use and needed. I am not into taking stuff just because it is free or close to it.

Check these chicks out and you can save some money too.

Couponing to Disney
Saving Cents with Sense
Free at Last (Or at Least Cheap)
Mojo Savings
SwagBucks Facebook and website
(a note about SwagBucks: this site offers lots of great stuff. You can actually earn money called SwagBucks on this site and redeem them for all kinds of things. The money is easy to earn too.)

One of my duties here at the magazine is to keep the website fresh, and we decided to update our online video collection and thought, “ok, we’ve had wonderful experts discuss important topics and give some terrific advice,” but let’s get to some babies.  I spent yesterday afternoon watching videos of babies turning over, babies learning to walk, babies conversing, babies meeting doggies, babies trying a lemon for the first time, babies being asked to say “mama,” but only able to say “dada.”  But the absolute best was watching babies laughing.  What is it about laughing babies!  It allowed me to forget my broken up driveway (courtesy of Hurricane Irene), to forget about missing my oldest daughter now back at college, my overflowing pile of work to catch up on, my messy house, and the list goes on.  Even the economy didn’t feel so bad as I viewed one pair of joyful eyes after another, and it reminded me of why parenting is one of the best jobs in the world (forget about it being one of the hardest). 

As I watched the videos, I noticed these babies’ eyes were glued to the people they trusted the most.  The hands behind the camera were the moms and dads, grandmas, or grandpas, or maybe an aunt or uncle who are the most important people to these new little lives.   These babies, from all around the world, were showing their  love to the ones who care for them every day.  The people who greet them in the crib at 8 in the morning, or in the middle of the night, the ones who make sure they’re bathed, freshly diapered, and fed.  And that kind of love you can’t fake; it’s pure.

When you need a “pick-me-up,” visit the HVParent website and you’ll find a natural remedy for whatever ails you.  And, it’s free. No insurance necessary.  Here’s one to get you started.

We’d love to get videos of our Hudson Valley babies and kids doing fun stuff*, i.e., laughing, giggling, chewing, babbling, dancing.  So, next time you get your little one on camera, share it with the world – it will brighten someone’s day.

(* Send your one-minute video to MJ at – and we’ll let you know when it’s up on our site. Plus, we’ll send you something fun, and name you an official Hudson Valley “video star.”)


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