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I must admit… I’m a BIG fan of Dance Moms on Lifetime.  Honestly, I get sick of hearing people bash the overbearing dance teacher, Abby. Sure, she’s tough on her dancers… but hey, that’s life!

I took jazz, tap and ballet when I was younger. I was never on a competition squad, so at the end of each year the entire dance studio got a trophy for participating. I LOVED my trophies! I even had my dad build a display case for all my awards.

Then reality hit. I started playing basketball and softball and little did I know only one team, roughly 14 elementary schoolers out of hundreds would get a trophy at the end of the year.  My team went to the championship game that first year. Unfortunately, we lost 21 to 18 (yes, I still remember the score).

At the end of season banquet that featured every team in the league, the commissioner handed out trophies to the MVP, Rookie of the Year and to the champions.  Everyone else was called up on stage to be recognized and left the stage sans trophy. I was devastated. I didn’t understand why I didn’t get a trophy.

My parents had to explain to me the entire concept of winning and losing. I’m pretty sure this was the day my obsession with winning started.

My point here is, every child does not need a trophy. Sports teach so many great lessons to kids. From teaching team work to sportsmanship, athletics are great for children! So, why are we going back on all the lessons we’ve taught throughout the season by giving everyone a trophy at the end?

As mean as Abby Lee Miller is on Dance Moms, she does make sure all her dancers are prepared for the harsh reality of the real world. She lets each child know where they stand and always offers ways to improve. I sort of admire her in that respect. Could she calm down a bit on the yelling, sure… but her lesson in dealing with the real world is one to admire.

Do you think every child should get a trophy? Comment below!

Mayan exhibition in Philadelphia

You know what I’m talking about.  The Mayan calendar and their prediction that the cycle we’re in ends 12/21/12; that this is it, kaput, put out the light, throw away the key. 

But I know better.

You see, I was in Philadelphia at a book writers’ conference this past weekend.  I was in the fancy lobby perusing the pamphlets of places to visit.  My eyes go right to the ghosty places, of course, but then something caught my attention: “Ancient Prophecy or Modern Myth?”  Hmmm…I read more.  Maya 2012, Lords of Time.  It’s the world premiere of a Mayan exhibit now showing at the Penn Museum.  OK.  So what do I look for next?  The date the exhibit ends.  I was expecting to read December 20, 2012.

Lo and behold!  It ends January 13, 2013.  Now, if that isn’t a kick in the head!

I figure that the Mayans were pretty good marketers back in the day when you had to use use the fluid found in plants as ink, and leaves as paper.  They must’ve just finished drinking their evening’s ration of blood when their head Mayan guy or gal thought, “I’ve got it!  If we start promoting something that captures the attention of the world, we might eventually start making some serious cacao seeds.”  Cacao seeds being their currency.  So, of course the word spread that the end of the world is coming, and anything that says “Mayan” is gold, and if they were still around, he or she would probably be on TIME magazine.  Hence the Mayan exhibit, which will undoubtedly sell Mayan tee shirts, mugs, and key chains.

Mayan calendar

But we know what’s really going on.  Come December 22, there will still be folks standing on line to see the Mayan exhibition in Philly trying to learn about the people who gave us the idea that we might never see this day.  

I’m still going to make plans for New Year’s Eve, and a spring vacation, and a week at the shore in summer.

I tell you, though, I’m headed to Philly next week again for a college tour with my youngest, and we are going to make a trip here.  I will let you know what I find out. 


When I first moved to Orange County many years ago, (45 to be exact) one day a week I would put Paul in his car seat and travel new roads just to see where they led. (That was before Google Maps and GPS systems.)  From Monroe I went to Lloyds Supermarket in Newburgh (Which is where Home Deport is located) and then we went to Downing Park to play and feed the ducks. Or we’d go to Pine Island to see the onion fields. (That was great fun for a girl who was born and brought up in Brooklyn.)

But now with gas prices rising, I think twice about traveling just to wonder.

This past Saturday the roads led to Columbia Costumes on North Front Street. (I later learned they call this section the Uptown Stockade. The first treat was my visit to Columbia Costumes. Not sure I’d suggest bringing the kids because the two floors of this store are jam packed with “stuff.” Every costume you can imagine, in all sizes. The wigs, and make-up. Hats and boas. You dream up a new image for yourself and they can help you create it. I am not a dress-up person, but the staff made decision making easy. I walked out with a bat girl costume as well as wonder woman for one of my staff.

As I walked back to my car to leave I realized that before me was North Front Street, with interesting stores on both sides of the street. And North Front Street leads to Wall Street with even more opportunities to shop and enjoy some great coffee.

The three shops I found most fascinating don’t have web sites so you’ll have to take a drive and enjoy the day. Full Circle at 42 North Street, was the smallest of the shops I visited but offered everything from handmade jewelry to gorgeous umbrellas.  Bop to Tottom (Say that fast three times. ) at 299 Wall Street caught my eye because I am a pocketbook collector. The colors were great, prices reasonable and every size you can possibly want. You can’t imagine what this double store front packs on its shelves.  Then I stopped in at Theresa & Co. They are known for their wonderful collection of women’s and children’s clothing.  Small with a smart looking outfits

Dominick’s Café at the corner of North Front and Wall Streets offered a friendly time-out for a delicious iced coffee and comfortable seating.  I resisted the cakes and cookies.

So if you are looking for a fun afternoon where you can get away from it all I suggest a drive to North Front and Wall Streets in Kingston. Plenty of free parking to make shopping real easy.

As every mother out there will tell you, it’s always best to introduce yourself when meeting new people.  So, hello Hudson Valley Parent fans.  My name is Erin Johnson.  I’m a wife and a mom to a five-year old Diva (oops I mean daughter) and a rambunctious two-and-a-half year old son.  I’m a former Marketing Coordinator, turned small business owner, turned stay-at-home mom. 

As a mom, I’m (of course) a care-taker, chauffeur, chef (wait, cook would be more accurate), sanitation worker, cheerleader, nurse, and the list goes on and on.  Why did I want to be an HV Parent blogger you may wonder.  Well, I believe that every person has defining moments that change their lives forever.  Tomorrow celebrates one of those for me.  Five years ago tomorrow I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Hannah.  Becoming a parent changed the way I viewed my life forever.  Every decision I’ve ever made since then has been about my kids.  No that doesn’t make me selfless it just means, as most of you already know, that just as there is no “I” in “team” there is no “me” in “mommy.”  You become a new version of yourself, like being born again right along with your children.  And we, as parents, need support too.  That’s why I’m glad HV Parent is here to support parents, as well as their kids and being a writer at heart, I’m feeling “write” at home.  You may find that I’m more punny than funny, but hey that’s me.

I have always been a very frugal person so I hope to impart some wisdom in future posts about how to save money.  I believe in making “old-school” the “new school.”  My grandmother is my greatest inspiration.  Looking at my life through her eyes, allowed me to see opportunities where I only saw obligations.  She gave me the courage to ask my employers to turn my full-time position into a job-share, allowing me to work part-time and spend more time with my daughter after she was born.  What did she say to me exactly, “Why don’t you stay at home?  You wanted that baby so much.”  Okay so three days postpartum was probably the worst time to inadvertently inflict the all too familiar work guilt on a new mom, but after I was done crying, I began to look for alternatives to full-time work and that’s when I hatched my job share plan.  My grandmother was a woman who worked her fingers to the bone her whole life, so for her to tell me to stay at home and raise my child, I knew she must see some opportunity in my life that I didn’t.  There’s wisdom in the older generations that way too many of us overlook.

So that’s what you can expect on the “mom horizon” – tips on how to want what you already have, finding  joy in life’s simple pleasures, working  just as hard to save money as you do to make it, and of course conserving our natural resources at the same time.

To me, family is everything and that’s why I think it needs to be nurtured to the best of our abilities.  Parenting can be the hardest job in the world.  There will always be days when you feel like it’s all you can do just to tread water.  Those are the days we need to train our eyes on the horizon – to see what comes next, to pull ourselves out of the details long enough to see the bigger picture.

So thanks HV Parent, for giving me the opportunity to lend my perspective to the world!

My daughter throws all the emphasis on the word “food,” so it sounds like it’s made up of two syllables and not one.  “Fooo-ooodd.”

She’s home from college, bored, and with nothing to do except do her laundry and constantly check the items in the refrigerator, staring at them as if waiting for the show to begin.  Or better yet, checking every half hour in case something may have changed in there, in the dark.

How this brings me back to my childhood.  My father, like every father since him, wanted to create a see-through door.  “Close the door!” he would holler.  “You’re letting all the cold air out.”  How he must be loving this conversation!

But the thing is, there IS food in the house.  I look at her, my college student, with the A average, on the honor roll, and wonder why she doesn’t see the box of waffle mix as food, or the jar of peanut butter and loaf of bread as food.  What happened to logical thinking where food was concerned?  We have all the  makings for some very nice food, but that all seems lost on her.  I don’t get it.

I say, “Emily, what if you could create a wish list of the food you’d like to have me buy for your visits,” I ask very sweetly, blinking a lot to remind her how sweet I’m being.

“I don’t KNOW,” she responds, as if I asked the most goofiest question ever.

“Oh,” I reply.  “You complain there is no food in the house, yet there is,” I say, pointing like a game show hostess at the pantry, and the refrigerator door.  “And when I ask what you’d like me to have in the house, you don’t know.”

“You got it,” she replies, half-heartedly, already losing interest and returning her gaze to a cable TV show called Gossip Girl where everyone seems to eat out in restaurants.

Just then, Dad comes in from his food shopping expedition.  He unpacks some frozen foods, and one of them is a box of ice cream sandwiches.

My daughter jumps up from the couch and grabs the box.  “Finally, some FOOO-OODD.”

I don’t get it.


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