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Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Recommended: Pacem in Terris


Pretty unique and rewarding Father’s Day for me this year, and something I’d recommend.

We shelved the idea of a cookout or a ballgame this time out, and instead headed upstate to Warwick to visit Pacem in Terris — six acres of sculpture and meditation gardens along the Wawayanda River.

The gardens are the life work of Frederick Franck, a Dutch-born sculptor and author who spent nearly half a century adorning the land around his home with sculptures, artwork and meditation spaces. The NY Times did a nice piece on it three years ago.

Pacem in Terris essentially translates from Latin to mean Peace on Earth, and it’s in keeping with Franck’s spiritual outlook on life. Franck, who wrote more than 30 books on Buddhism and other subjects, died in 2006 at the age of 97, and the property is now maintained by his son, Lukas, as a nonprofit corporation.

Pacem is laced with Franck’s message, and immediately alerts visitors that it is “neither church, nor chapel, nor temple.” He cites his associations with Albert Schweitzer, Pope John XXIII and Buddhist scholar Daisetz Suzuki with helping shape his world view — and homages to them abound throughout.

Franck, a dental surgeon-turned artist, also has his work on display at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tokyo National Museum and St. John the Divine Church.

My girlfriend turned us on to the place, which she frequented in past during times when she sought solace and tranquility. It was also a hit for my son, who is 11.

I would note that younger children may not be as enthralled — the place is not a playground. But for older kids, it’s a worthwhile experience. My son was very taken by it and was very vocal about appreciating that he and I shared it on Father’s Day.

Anyway, Pacem in Terris is at 96 Covered Bridge Road in Warwick, and, while it’s a tad out of the way, it’s worth a trip. Most of it is literally in Franck’s back yard, so visitors are asked to be respectful.

However, it is also free, and opens to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jfitzgibbon

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, June 22nd, 2009 at 10:30 am |

Lost memories


There are only so many memorable moments in a child’s life, and only so many “firsts:” The first time mastering a two-wheeler, the first fireworks display, the first time on a plane, and so on. The hardest part of being a dual-custody parent is losing some of these moments. The child’s time — and thereby, his firsts — are routinely divided between the two parents.

My ex and I generally break even in that regard, since our custody situation is a 50-50 split. But how many moments have I lost out on? I got the first trip to Disney World and his first pro baseball game; She got his first trip overseas and, last month, his first visit to Niagara Falls, which, while it’s no Disney World, was a huge success with our son. And there are other, smaller moments that I’ve been able to share with him: I took him to his first rock concert and made it to his school talent show, where he played Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” on guitar. My ex has her share of those moments she was able to share with him.

This whole concept came up on our recent vacation, when my girlfriend stood back and observed as her little boy, clutched to her own mother, watched the July 4th fireworks display overhead down in the Carolinas. At 4, it wasn’t his first view of fireworks, but it was certainly a memorable moment. He covered his ears and looked up with a mixture of wonderment and fear. She later told me that she was hit with the notion in that instance that she was missing that moment, so she walked over to her mom and asked to hold her boy. She both soothed him and shared the display with him for the remainder of the show. It was a shared moment she’ll certainly remember, as will he. And it made us think of the firsts and the moments we’ll inevitably miss with both our boys.

Ultimately, the boys benefit from having the experience at all, whether it’s with their mom or their dad. That’s comforting. But it carries a tinge of sadness, that there are times when we won’t be the ones to share the memory. It makes me hope that those parents out there who share all those moment appreciate the value of it.

For me, there’s no doubt how much it’s worth.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 at 3:04 pm |

It’s vacation negotiation time….again


Is it that time of year already?

Seems to me that every year my ex and I do this vacation juggling act with our son: Who gets him which week, who has to compromise their plans, who put in for a particular week first, and so on and so on. Frankly, it’s when our amicable custodial agreement is most tested.

This year, my girlfriend and I have plans to head south to spend a week at a beach resort with our two boys, although our departure is delayed one day because of a scheduling conflict with my ex. My ex, meanwhile, has to interrupt her week away to drive back and drop my son off for my scheduled weekend with him. Well, it happens. We’ll work around it. The real tricky part comes with the bartering for weekends. It’s inevitable that we have to swap our weekends for this or that three-day getaway: I want to fly out and see my brother and my nephews on her weekend; she wants to extend her vacation by keeping our son over my weekend.

Let the negotiations begin!

We always end up working it out, and have somehow managed to keep our post-divorce friendship intact. But it leaves me wondering if there isn’t a system we could put into play, or some process that would make this whole juggling act function more smoothly in years to come, particularly as it’s not just the two of us that are affected by our scheduling: There’s her husband and his son, and my girlfriend and her little boy — our blended family. Everyone is potentially inconvenienced if it tips the wrong way.

So, does anyone have a fool-proof formula for this stuff?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, May 14th, 2008 at 1:18 pm |




No, not the kind we need as parents. We’ve all had a crash course in that if we have kids. I mean getting your children to be patient in impatient situations. Like, the long lines at Disneyworld.

In this case it was the long lines at the “Holiday Train Show”:http://www.nybg.org/hts at the New York Botanical Garden. We took the boys there last weekend for the show, which ends this weekend if you want to check it out. It was an awesome display which the kids loved — after a 90-minute wait on line because of obviously poor planning and management by the folks in charge.

Needless to say, we had a 3-year-old and a 10-year-old in tow, so it required some creative time management. Since there were two adults, we were able to split time between standing on line and taking the kids to run around somewhere or other. But this would’ve been a remarkably more trying situation for a single parent with no partner. I went through this a few years ago when I took by son to Disneyworld and the waits became difficult for him, and understandably so.

These days, I’m fortunate to have my girlfriend in the picture (add “line marker” to her lists of attributes). But it still leaves the question of managing patience in children in an impatient situation. The “University of Pittsburgh Medical Center”:http://www.upmc.com/AboutUPMC has one of many sites out there that discusses “how to teach children patience.”:http://www.upmc.com/HealthManagement/ManagingYourHealth/PersonalHealth/Children/?chunkiid=14355

Obviously, the article focuses on more significant benefits to teaching patience than just managing a child while you’re on a dreadfully long line. Those are, of course, valuable to successful parenting, and having patience during a long wait is much more mundane. But I was most struck by the suggestion that kept coming up as I was doing some research for this posting: Start by being patient yourself. To be honest, patience isn’t exactly my strength. And maybe I should teach myself first.

Besides, watching the kids roll down the hill during my time as “line marker” looked kinda fun.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Friday, January 11th, 2008 at 12:07 pm |

The iguana video


There’s not much parenting advice coming out of this entry, nor am I going to share any single-parenting experiences or share the lessons I’ve learned as a divorced dad with a 10-year-old. But hopefully this will make you laugh, as it did my son.

The two of us spend time on the Internet, and part of that has involved tons of time on “youtube.com,”:http://www.youtube.com particularly as I share music videos from my youth with my son, and as we both whittle away time playing online games. It is part of our bonding experience.

Recently, a colleague of mine at The Journal News returned from a vacation trip to Costa Rica, where he shared with us a video he shot. It’s probably one of the funniest things I’ve come across in a while, and my son and I had a great laugh over it when I showed it to him. My colleague has now been so good as to put it up on youtube.com, so I’ll share “the iguana video”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhxrrieAfNg with you all and hope it gets a chuckle out of your kids as well. Enjoy.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, December 3rd, 2007 at 1:39 pm |

Passports for your progeny


Last year, when my family took a trip to Costa Rica, my sons applied for passports for the first time. While the wait to receive it was slightly long — about six weeks — the process was pretty painless, although the cost created a pinch to our pockets.

But as rules around applying for and requiring a passport become more stringent, people who travel with children may want to take note of some of the basic protocols according to a pamphlet issued by Westchester County Clerk Tim Idoni:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to apply. Beginning in early 2008, passports will be needed to travel by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda. So if you need one, apply now.
  • Be aware of special requirements for children under 14: All children, even newborns, must have their own passport. And children’s passports need to be renewed every five years. When applying for a chid’s passport, children must be there in person. If possible, both parents should appear together and sign the application for a child who is under 14. If only one parent appears, the parent must provide a notarized form proving consent from the other parent.
  • When you apply for a passport, please be sure to bring the right documents: Proof of US Citizenship (previous passport, naturalization certificate, original or certified copy of your birth certificate, or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad), Proof of Identity (a valid driver’s license or government/military ID card) and the fees (typically $97 for an adult passport and $82 for children under 16). If you need a passport in a hurry, the application can be expedited for an additional $60. Cash, checks and credit cards can be used to pay the fees.

Need more information or have additional questions? Call the Westchester County Clerk’s office at 914-995-3086 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. or visit www.westchesterclerk.com.

Posted by Gayle T. Williams on Friday, October 19th, 2007 at 3:07 pm |


About this blog
Parents’ Place is a hangout for openly discussing the A’s to Z’s of raising a child in the Lower Hudson Valley. From deciding when to stop using a binky to when to let your teenager take driving lessons, Parents’ Place is here to let us all vent, share, and most of all, learn from each other.
Leading the conversation are Julie Moran Alterio, a business reporter and mom of a toddler, Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, a reporter and single father with joint custody of a 9-year-old son, and Len Maniace, a reporter and father of two sons.


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About the authors
Julie Moran AlterioJulie Moran AlterioJulie Moran Alterio, her husband and baby girl — “Pumpkin” — share their Northern Westchester home with three iPods and more colorful plastic toys than seems necessary to entertain one tiny human. READ MORE
Jorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-Gibbon has been a journalist for more than 20 years and a father for nine. READ MORE
Jane LernerJane LernerJane Lerner covers health and hospitals for The Journal News in Rockland, where she lives with her husband and two children. READ MORE
Len Maniace.jpgLen ManiaceLen Maniace is a reporter and father of two sons. READ MORE