This week, one year ago I started MaltaMama.  I had just found out my dream communications job was being relocated to Philadelphia, and I was pregnant with our second child.  I was a little apprehensive about being a stay-at-home mom, but I was optimistic.  We are a family of doers and most of my apprehension about staying home with the kids was that I would have very little to do.  How wrong I was!  This area has so much to offer and once I started finding fun things to do, I decided to write about them in a public way and MaltaMama was born. Being from this area certainly helped, but since I spent the majority of my time here without kids, I had to learn what kid-friendly really meant. 
The more places we went, the more fun we had, and the more I had to write about!  Along the way, we've made some amazing connections and met some wonderful new friends.  As I reflect on this past year, I'm proud of what has been accomplished and I'm again feeling optimistic about what could be.  The Malta area is on the verge of some pretty major changes and I'm glad to be one of many resources for newcomers.  Thank you for your continued support!  And now...
My question to you:  What would you like to see on MaltaMama in 2011?  Meet-up events?  More discounts and giveaways?  Help guide MaltaMama to be an even better resource for you.   

If you haven't ever been to the NYS Museum in Albany, it is definitely an adventure to consider.  First of all, it's free (donations appreciated), they have a carousel (also free), they are open Monday-Saturday, and they have lots of family-friendly exhibits and programs including this Saturday's Family Fun Day from 1pm-4pm. 
Here is a list of my museum tips to make the trip more successful! 
Go early in the day when the museum is most quiet and the kids have a better chance of behaving. 
Think ahead about stroller vs. walking for toddlers (stroller probably best), baby carrier vs. stroller for an infant (my preference is baby carrier). 
Comfy shoes for all, mama's included, and a backpack over a cute handbag or diaper bag is probably easiest. 
-  Be prepared.  If you're driving to Albany from Malta or points North of, expect a thirty minute plus car ride, so pack accordingly.  Snacks for the car, a non-messy snack for inside the museum, and definitely a cooler bag with drinks and maybe even a lunch for the car ride home. 
-  Keeping their interest while at the museum?  Know where to go!  Print out this map and have an idea of the spots you'd like to hit.  Keep the carousel on reserve if and when things get boring, but try not to mention it ahead of time!  Also, keep it real.  Don't expect to do everything.  Go back without kids for that! 
-  Set realistic expectations and don't worry if this trip is a bust.  You can always go back! 

New York State Museum

Hours:  Monday - Saturday,  9:30 AM - 5:00 PM  Closed Sundays
Location:  Cultural Education Center of the Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY  On Madison Avenue, across the Plaza from the State Capitol Building.   (518) 474-5877
Parking:  Parking is available in the two lots adjacent to the Museum, both off of Madison Ave.
Parking in these lots is free after 3:00 p.m. and on weekends.

My husband & son enjoying the snow!
Friday's snow storm sure did make for an exciting weekend around town! Personally, I loved the snow and was so excited to wake up on Saturday morning and see so much white stuff.  An added bonus was that the plows did such a good job that the roads were clear and it was game-on for sledding!  There are amazing spots for winter activities around here.  From skiing, ice skating, sledding, and snowshoeing, we are lucky to have so much variety within an hour or so drive.  Katie from Capital District Fun posted this informative snowshoeing article on AllOverAlbany.com.  In addition to her top spots, I love going to Saratoga Spa State Park for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and ice skating .  As for sledding, on the weekends a sweet spot is behind Wood Road Elementary School in Ballston Spa.  When you turn onto Wood Road from Route 67, you'll head straight and drive past all the schools (on your right) and drive around to the back.  There's a steep hill leading down to the sports fields. The Saratoga Battlefield also has some serious hills.  I'm still seeking more sledding spots so if you have ideas, let me know!  I hope everyone had a nice weekend!  Check the calendar for this week's scoop. 

Homemade Baby Food . . . is that new?   Well, it depends on who you are talking to. A woman around the age of 60 will say, ‘Oh is that back in fashion?’ and a new 20-something mom will say ‘Really, you can make your own baby food?’ I have personally heard both of these reactions. Well, I guess it is back in fashion, though I have never known food to really go out of fashion, and yes, you really can make your own baby food. It is the healthiest option when introducing a baby to solid foods:

·         It is more nutritious because you control the content; use organic fruits and vegetables and add nothing beyond a minimum amount of water or breast milk.
·         It is more economical; a 16 oz bag of organic frozen peas sells for $1.99 in my local grocery store. It will make about 20 ounces of baby food which is about 10 or more meals. 10 jars of organic baby food peas in the same grocery store would cost $5.90.
·         The food varieties are endless; as an infant my son ate lentils, tofu, a wide range of squash, avocado, and roasted sweet potatoes.
·         You don’t worry about jars washed with chemicals or product recalls
·         In a couple of months your baby will easily transition to ‘adult food’ or simply chunkier versions of the wonderful tasting natural food you have already been serving.

Okay, okay, it is good for a baby. But it’s hard to do, right? Oh goodness, how about this simple 2-step process: 1. peel a ripe banana 2. mash it. You have baby food. It is the same 2-step process with an avocado. That is not only easy, but is easy to do anywhere – in the car, at the mall, in a restaurant, at someone else’s home and of course in your own home. Even for food you have to cook the process is 2 steps: steam fresh or frozen broccoli 2. mash it. So if you are having broccoli for dinner then use a potato masher, blender, or food processor to puree some for your baby. 

Want to learn more?  Register for Homemade Baby Food class presented by Babysmartees!  The first class of the year is January 19, 9:30am at Virgil’s in Saratoga Springs. For more information or to register log onto www.babysmartees.com or call (518) 581-8187. 
Consider it a privilege to introduce your child to the many varieties of nutritious, healthy, all-natural foods and feel great about putting your child on the path to a healthy relationship with food.  

 Paula A. Tancredi Penman
Owner, Babysmartees

Thanks Paula for the guest post today!  I'm super excited about the Homemade Baby Food Class and will definitely be there.  This will be a great class for an expecting mama too! 
This Friday is First Friday in Ballston Spa.  In addition to the regularly scheduled events, there will be a special book signing and appearance by author Bairbre McCarthy at Corina Contemporary Jewelry & Fine Crafts on 89 Milton Avenue.  McCarthy is an Irish storyteller, author and teacher and wrote a book called "The Keeper of the Crock of Gold" which was presented to President Obama's daughters in 2009.  Bairbre will be doing some storytelling on Friday night which sounds like great fun for the kids. 

Question: What's easy to make, but hard to maintain?  Kids of course!  Oh, and New Year's resolutions.  We all have great intentions, but setting goals for 2011 and keeping them are difficult.  Below I've listed some of the top New Year's resolutions and ideas on what you can do locally to help achieve them.  Good luck to all of us! 

1.  Lose weight/get fit
Global Fitness in Malta is a state-of-the-art workout facility in a super convenient location near Price Chopper in Malta.  They offer group classes and childcare.  Check the website for all the details. 
2.  Fit in more "me" time
Consider taking a craft class at Happy Hands Beads & Crafts in Ballston Spa.  Corina Oberai the owner is amazing and will have you inspired to create in no time.  They host Friday Night Hangouts where you can sneak out without kids and join other crafters and relax and unwind.  Stop in to their Ballston Spa location for more information about upcoming classes. 
3.  Give back
Donating time, money or resources to charity is usually one of the top ten resolutions.  This year, consider a local charity like To Love A Child who is always in need of resources to help underprivileged children around the world. 
4.  Eat healthier; more organic, more local
A trip to Wild Thyme in Ballston Spa will help get you on the right track.  A great selection of local foods and produce, teas, natural body care, vitamins and lots more
5.  Ease stress!
Welcome Relief Massage is located in Parade Ground Village in Malta and offers nice packages for massage therapy. 
6.  Get connected to community
See yesterday's post on all the happenings at the Malta Community Center.  Why not try something new for yourself or with the kids? Always good to meet new people and get out of the house. 

In addition to some of these more general resolutions, one of mine is to engage in more learning activities with my son (who is 2.5) and strive for some battery-free days.  (Gasp, that means no TV, computer, electronic toys, etc.!)  What are some of your resolutions this year?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year!  We had a blast celebrating with family and friends, but it's good to be back on a 'normal' routine.  There's lots of classes at the Malta Community Center starting up in the next couple weeks.  Here are a few standouts:
Makin Music - A fun, structured music class for kids age 18mo-4yrs.  Meets for 6 Wednesdays from 9:30-10:30.  Starts Jan. 12th.  Cost is $42/resident, $46 non-resident. (we'll be taking this one, BTW)

Toddler Time - A non-structured play time with a short story time, craft and snack. 
Meets for 6 Tuesdays from 9:30-11am.  Starts Jan. 11th.  Cost is $42/resident, $46 non-resident.

Tap/Ballet Combo - A beginners dance class for ages 3-5.  Proper dance attire including ballet/tap shoes required.  Meets for 6 weeks.  Offered on Tuesdays (4:15-5:15) and Thursdays (4:30-5:30 starting January 4th and 6th.   Cost is $53/resident and $58/non-resident. 

Feeling like you'll be in a winter rut?  Sign up for a class or two so at least you have something structured and regular in your week.  Check out the Winter Activities Brochure for all the classes.