Kids’ Almanac (Nov. 1-8)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Kingston Model Railroad Club Open House, Hudson Valley Railroad Society Expo

Toy trains still exert a fascination over the young and the young-at-heart. Want to meet up with other model railroad enthusiasts, or take your kids to see a really amazing layout and stoke the furnace of a potential lifelong hobby? Here are a few options to pursue over the next few weeks:

 On weekend afternoons through November and into early December, the 81-year-old Kingston Model Railroad Club will be hosting an Open House featuring a complete O-scale railroad system in action; scale models of steam and diesel locomotives; old-fashioned and modern trains; complete villages and scenery; a railroad museum; trolleys; a circus train; and for the littles, Thomas the Tank Engine, of course. Admission costs $6 for adults, $2 for children under 12.


Kingston Model Railroad Club Open House, Saturdays/Sundays through Dec. 2, noon-5 p.m., $6/$2, Kingston Model Railroad Club, Susan St., Kingston, (845) 334-8233,

Then, on Sunday, November 11 from 10 to 3 p.m., the Hudson Valley Railroad Society (HVRRS) hosts its 47th annual Railroad Exposition at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center. On display at the expo, you’ll see 20,000 square feet of operating scale-model train layouts, ranging from the tiny Z to the big 1½ inch-scale that kids love to sit in to have their picture taken. Also on view are N, HO, O and G scales, Lionel, trolleys, slot-car tracks, railroad clinics, film screenings, a flea market…and, of course, Thomas.

Tickets cost $6 for adults, $3 for ages 11 and under at the door. All proceeds benefit the ongoing restoration and operation of the 1914 Hyde Park Railroad Station Museum, which has National Historical designation and turns 104 years old this year. For more info, visit the HVRRS website at or call (845) 518-0635.

Hudson Valley Railroad Society Railroad Exposition, Sunday, Nov. 11, 10-3 p.m., $6/$3, Mid-Hudson Civic Center, 14 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie, (845) 518-0635,

Take the kids

Family events hand-picked by Erica Chase-Salerno,

Día de los Muertos celebrations in Goshen, Kingston, New Paltz, Poughkeepsie

Did 2017’s delightful Pixar animated film Coco pique your interest in el Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), Latin America’s upbeat folkloric celebration of deceased loved ones that combines elements of Halloween and All Souls’ Day? Maybe you’re not quite ready to build an ofrenda in your own living room, look up recipes for pan de muerto or play mariachi music at your grandparents’ gravesite, but you have a variety of opportunities in the region this week to participate in organized Día de los Muertos activities that’ll give you tastes of the holiday’s authentic flavor. Here, in chronological order, are some places to start learning about how to do it right:

Día de los Muertos Goshen (bring family photos)
Thursday, Nov. 1
6-8 p.m.
890 Pulaski Hwy.
Día de los Muertos Kingston
(ofrenda-building, craft activities)
Friday, Nov. 2
4-7 p.m.
Catholic Charities Gymnasium
6 Adams St, 3rd floor

Day of the Dead Celebration at Unison
Saturday, Nov. 3
Sugar Skull Workshop 4:30 p.m.
$10 (preregister)
Party with live mariachi music
by Viva la México 6 p.m.
Unison Arts Center
68 Mountain Rest Road
New Paltz
(845) 255-1559

Día de los Muertos Poughkeepsie
Saturday, Nov. 3
6-9 p.m.
Historic Glebe House
635 Main Street
Take a family fall walk

In honor of waning light and chilled air, I invite you and your family to enjoy a fall walk together. You could plan a daytime stroll, an evening saunter or a nighttime ramble, whether along a trail, neighborhood or your own backyard. Flashlights and magnifying glasses can make nature experiences even more fun. Here’s a Halloween-inspired acrostic to get started on your own path of nature. Happy adventuring!

HEARING nature can lead to even more discoveries. Remaining still, do you hear soft sounds? Loud? One sound? Many?

ANIMAL sightings can be fleeting or slow. How many can you count as you walk around?

LEAF textures and colors have a wide range. What do you notice about a leaf that you can see or touch now? What’s under it?

LITTLE treasures are everywhere. What’s a tiny discovery you found during your walk?

ORANGE illuminates the seasonal skies. What’s something orange that you can touch?

WEEDS sway in the breeze, rustling, sometimes even tickling. What are the weeds like in your wanderings?

EVERGREEN trees stay the same color year-round. What does a pine needle feel like to your cheek?

EEK is a sound that I make when I am surprised. What makes you shriek “Eek!” on your walk? 

NESTS are easier to see as the leaves fall. Can you spy a bird or squirrel nest that was hidden during spring or summer?

Why you want an exchange student in your life

“Wait – cookie dough comes in a tub?”

– Excited exchange students everywhere

[Munch munch] Eating is a common sound at our house, but things ramped up because we had an exchange student with us this weekend.

Me: Want to check out an American grocery store? 

Student: Sure.

[three bags later] Student: Wow! [unpacks delicious, sugary carbs]

My embittered family suddenly offline: How come we never get tubs of cookie dough? [scarfs down large bites before the supply line gets cut off by the purveyor]

For one year, we get to experience life with a teen from Europe. Over the past eight years since we hosted our last student, a lot has changed – like tightened travel requirements, the election of Barack Obama and the releases of Deadpools 1 and 2.

Our student has a dedicated space, she’s motivated to learn her studies and about the world and she feels like a part of our family already. Her language skills happen to be terrific, and better than any of ours. Today we stumbled upon krankenwagen, which means “ambulance.” It’s such a fun word to say; try it and go full-throttle guttural: “Kronk-en-vogg-en.”

Food is an easy topic to explore, because we all need to eat. For example, as many of you already know, Smarties in Canada are terrible counterfeit M&Ms, as opposed to the delicious sweet-and-sour delights of US Smarties. Everyone in our household seems to agree on the perfection of Nutella and cookie dough. But even more than food, the cultural sharings continue to enrich our family. Exchange students and host families are gifted with an intimate opportunity to see life through someone else’s viewpoint, such as why some of us don’t just pick up and drive to Barcelona, or why our drinking age minimums are so different.

I dream of my kids being immersed in another country like my parents provided for me, and hosting can be one step toward giving it a go. Studying abroad can demonstrate independence for college and job applications, reinforce language studies or introduce a new one, and provide lifelong memories not achievable any other way.

Challenges to hosting an exchange student include accepting an additional person into our living space. We don’t have a large home, and we cannot access certain areas while our student is here, so we work around it. Rhythms take time to establish, such as our family’s mealtimes, which are all over the place and can be hard for a guest to adjust to. Some friendships just take a while. My dog barks – a lot, especially for our student who lives with six cats.

I think the most difficult aspect of hosting an exchange student involves any homesickness they have, despite the creature comforts and ample chocolate supplies. Actually, for me, the truly hardest part is saying goodbye at the end.

Exchange programs can be done independently, through American Field Service (contact me to refer you to a local person for AFS) and many other opportunities, as well as for various of lengths of time. I think a year can be intimidating for some, in which case a shorter time frame might work great for some families. Participants need not be wealthy to host, and most students have budgets built into their programs that include extra costs for field trips and more.

“Cynics always say ‘No.’ But saying ‘Yes’ begins things. Saying ‘Yes’ is how things grow. Saying ‘Yes’ leads to knowledge. ‘Yes’ is for young people. So, for as long as you have the strength, say ‘Yes.’” – Stephen Colbert

Still on the fence? Say it with me: “Krankenwagen.”