Saratoga Family Spring 2021

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Saratoga Family Spring 2021 • Complimentary

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Welcome to

Saratoga Family Magazine Chris Vallone Bushee Creative Director/Managing Editor (518) 581-2480 ext. 201

Creative Director / Managing Editor Chris Vallone Bushee

We bring you our SUMMER CAMP GUIDE! I loved reading what these camps are doing this year to ensure that our children are having a new, (safe, socially distant) yet NORMAL summer – check them out, I’m sure you will agree! (pages 15-22) As you may know, I love hearing from people that read our magazines, and when I found a letter on my desk, I couldn’t wait to open it up. (I’ve always been a fan of the handwritten letter; it builds much more anticipation than an email ever could!) It was from Doug Greth, the very proud 85-year-old Great Grandfather of Mia. He went on to tell me what she’s been up to, some awards she has received and all about her very interactive Facebook following! He got my attention : ) Meet our Cover Family on page 24. Rachael Lujbli and her homemade breads is another inspiring story to come out of the Pandemic. (I’m so glad that we have Saratoga TODAY to bring you the NEWS of the area and I get to bring you these feel-good stories!) Perfect timing - I hear carbs are making a comeback. Check out page 45. In my attempt to make this the area’s best multi-generational magazine, we have a new column in this issue about Life After 70, (page 66) which we all know is the new 50! Feel free to suggest, ask or comment – you know I love to hear from you! Thank you to our readers -and our advertisers- who allow us to provide this informative magazine free of charge, to the thousands of people that read each issue! Please mention us by name when visiting their businesses. Happy Spring!

Chris See pg. 24 Photo by Super Source Media


Owner/Publisher Chad Beatty General Manager Robin Mitchell

A sure sign that Spring is here, and Summer is on the way…

Meet Our Cover FamiLy!

Saratoga Family

Magazine Designer Kacie Cotter-Sacala Ad Designer Kelsey Sherman Advertising Sales Jim Daley Cindy Durfey Contributing Writers Sean Baumeister Karra Brown Rick Cobello Deb Czech Richard Frank Joel Goodman Wendy Mongillo Cindi Lisuzzo BS, RN, CCM Michelle Little BS, RN, CMSRN Mallory Otto, MD Megin Potter Susie Ryan Ginny Smith Robin M. Solomon, Au.D Theresa St. John Jordana Turcotte Diane Whitten, MS, CCE Photographers Lauren Hull Photography Super Source Media Theresa St. John

Published by

Saratoga TODAY Newspaper Five Case Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 tel: (518) 581-2480 Saratoga Family is brought to you by Saratoga TODAY Newspaper, Saratoga Publishing, LLC. Saratoga Publishing shall make every effort to avoid errors and omissions but disclaims any responsibility should they occur. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent of the publisher. Copyright © 2021, Saratoga TODAY Newspaper

Saratoga Family SPRING 2021








24 Mia’s Cookie Jar

36 Revisiting Cybersecurity

37 Life Lessons About Food


52 Tips to College Planning

44 Build a Healthy Pantry

62 The Charlton School

45 Rachael's Bread

64 Growing Up



30 Saratoga's World of Rowing

11 Sasha’s of Saratoga

40 Let Arson Skate Shop Teach You Things

8 Books, Awards, Veggies & Lemons?! ...Too Good Not to Share!

K IDS 15 Summer Camps!

53 DNA Investigations

23 Saratoga With Kids

54 Hearing Loss Affecting You?

28 Helping Your Kids Maintain a Healthy Weight

58 Age-Friendly Healthcare at Saratoga Hospital

34 Giving Your Children Calm

60 A Parent's Guide to Tik Tok 66 Life After 70


65 Oh No, She Got Out!



Laughing Matters BY JOEL GOODMAN

for Jest ealth the H it... of

In the days before “Google” and “Zoom” became verbs, we at The HUMOR Project were delighted to receive 50,000 calls and letters a year from folks around the world interested in the positive, healthy power of humor. Since then, we have received thousands of emails containing humorous goodies that we include in our free Laughing Matters email newsletter (you can subscribe at

the omnipresent coronavirus pandemonium pandemic. As you know from my previous columns, I have been developing my comic vision by sharing (and receiving) many humorous perspectives on the very unfunny COVID-19 and its unamusing mutations. My Rx in this issue is to give you a humor shot-in-the-arm… a HUMORx vaccine that is safe AND effective AND available to all of us right now. I hope this will help you move from the aggravation of COVID to an aggregation of humor.

As we all know, stress comes with the territory of being a human being these days. I would encourage us all to move from grim-and-bear-it to grin-and-share-it in the face of

Here are 19 more invitations to laugh in the face of COVID-19. Thanks to Jenny Mirling, Taffy Colker, Nancy Fairbanks, and Linda Nyquist for their humor vaccines:

Why do they call it the novel coronavirus? It's a long story...

2019: Stay away from negative people. 2020: Stay away from positive people.

The World Health Organization has announced that dogs cannot contract Covid-19. Dogs previously held in quarantine can now be released. To be clear, WHO let the dogs out.

I don't think anyone expected that when we last changed the clocks that we'd go from Standard Time to the Twilight Zone.

I can't believe I forgot to go to the gym today.

Do you ever go out and while you're out, you think, "This is exactly why I don't go out!" 6  | SARATOGA FAMILY | SPRING 2021

Due to the quarantine, I'll only be telling inside jokes.

I'm not buying a 2021 calendar until I see a trailer.

OK, if we're going to have one-way grocery aisles, then I'm going to need a passing lane.

That's seven years in a row now

Question: If 2020 was a drink, what would it be?

Answer: colonoscopy prep.

During the coronavirus daze, I'd like to thank whoever told my mother that WTF means, "Wow, That's Fantastic!"

Being stuck at home, as I watch the dog chasing his tail, I thought dogs are easily amused. Then I realized I was watching the dog chase his tail.

Her texts are so much more fun now. Every few days, try your jeans on just to make sure they fit. Pajamas will have you believe all is well in the kingdom.

The world has turned upside down. Old folks are sneaking out of the house and their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors.

I need to practice social distancing from the refrigerator. On average a panda feeds for approximately 12 hours per day.

This is the same as an adult at home under quarantine, which is why we call it a "Pandemic."

Never in a million years could I have imagined I would go up to a bank teller wearing a mask and ask for money.

Snow White is down to 6 Dwarfs. Sneezy has been placed in quarantine.

The amount of jokes about coronavirus has reached worrying numbers. Scientists claim we are in the middle of a pundemic.

Readers, feel free to email your comic visions to so that we can share them in the future.

Laughter is a healthy way to add years to your life… and life to your years!



Stride along with Longshot the Moose, a loveable character who finds himself in yet another new, unexpected place in Twas the Night Before Christmoose, the latest in a series of picture books by Saratoga Springs author Vicki Addesso Dodd. There’s Still a Moose on the Loose This is the third book in the collection of fictional, rhythmically-told tales based on a real-life moose who happened to meander from the Lake Desolation area into Saratoga Springs, on one otherwise ordinary day in June.

“It was such an amazing thing to see this moose wander out onto the racetrack from the woods. People came from towns around to see this moose. It made people so happy, it occurred to me that it would make a great story,” said Dodd. The Series that IS Saratoga Vicki Addesso Dodd, the owner of Saratoga Springs Publishing, has

written six books and has won a number of awards.

The Longshot series, recommended for children up to age 10, began with “A Moose in My Stable,” a Mom’s Choice award-winner, followed by “A Moose in My Starting Gate,” a story about friendship and acceptance. “The Moose series is Saratoga in my mind,” said Dodd.

Twas the Night Before Christmoose was recently announced the recipient of TWO independent publisher's awards. It was chosen for the bronze in the 2020 National IPPY Awards, from a pool of 5,000 submissions, and it won the 2020 Moonbeam Children’s Award. “The Moonbeam was always my dream -and that it’s with this book, I’m just thrilled!” said Dodd. In 2021, look for Dodd’s newest work, “Derby School,” an early-reader chapter book. SF

Saratoga Family Readers... It’s Time to Celebrate!

Get a 20 % discount, or 3 books for the price of 2, by visiting www. There’s a Moose on the Loose! Stumble into new adventures in downtown Saratoga on a Longshotinspired Scavenger Hunt. Get the FREE printout from A Horse in My Stable and visit places including G. Willikers, Ben & Jerry’s, Northshire Bookstore, and Impressions of Saratoga. Get your sheet stamped and submit a completed copy to be awarded your own blue ribbon! Find a free, Colorful Way to Learn and Play at activity-sheets.


Saratoga County Farm to School Coordinator Nicolina Foti (from the Cornell Cooperative Extension office of Saratoga County) had the opportunity to visit the Schuylerville Elementary students during their lunchtime. Sarah Keen, Food Service Manager at Schuylerville Central School District, partnered with the local Kings Brother Dairy to provide a fun opportunity and incentive for students to eat their vegetables.

A "caught eating veggies" contest was held the week of December 7th during the students' lunch period. If students were "caught" eating their vegetables, they would receive a ticket. At the end of their lunch period, the tickets were collected for each class and counted. At the end of the week, the class with the most students "caught" eating their veggies got an ICE CREAM PARTY. The Farm to School Coordinator for Saratoga County surveyed the students who tried their vegetables,


and asked what vegetables they tried and if they liked them. They kept a tally for each lunch period of how many students enjoyed their vegetables. The students were very excited to get "caught" eating their vegetables! The overall winner for the "caught eating veggies" contest was Mrs. Rathbun's class, with 91% of students eating vegetables!!

The top class in each grade won an ice cream party donated by Kings Brothers Dairy:

• Kindergarten - Mrs. Curtis (79%) • 1st grade - Mrs. Weed (89%) • 2nd grade - Mrs. Becht (73%) • 3rd grade - Mrs. Rathbun (91%) • 4th grade - Mr. Carner (80%) • 5th grade - Mrs. Penniman (74%) • McMurray & Jordan (honorable mention)

Keen went on to say "This was so well received! Multiple parents emailed to tell me how excited their kids were

about the contest, and even kids who pack lunch were begging their parents to put veggies in it. The kitchen went through nearly double our usual quantities of veggies during the contest. It was so nice to do something fun and ‘normal.’" The Farm to School program has been working away to keep things going during these unfortunate and unusual times of COVID19. “It was overwhelmingly rewarding to get back into the school and get to hear firsthand how this program impacts students all over our county,” said Foti, Farm to School Coordinator.




Books that teach your children what even the wisest among us need to be reminded of…

Two of life’s most precious gifts are kindness and friendship. Author Zane Carson Carruth invites us to join a curious fairy named Abella, and her best friend, Darcie, as they face all sorts of unexpected challenges on their adventures through the delightful world of Tulip Hollow. The story begins with Abella accidently creating the popular children’s tradition in an imaginative reinvention of a classic tale; The World’s First Tooth Fairy…Ever.

She finds how to use her magic in The Adventures of Abella and Her Magic Wand. In Abella Starts a Tooth Fairy School, released last fall, follow along as she learns how teaching others can teach you a lot about yourself, as well. THE ICING ON THE CAKE The character of Abella is based on the author’s own daughter, who was eight years old at the time.

“The story literally just wrote itself. All my best stories have been like that,” said Zane, who has loved to write since she was a child. Nine years ago, Zane and her husband, Brady Carruth, travelled to our region from their home in Houston, Texas. The following year, they bought a summer condo in Saratoga Springs. After three years, they purchased a spot in Broadway’s Park Place Condos. It only took one look at the Wedding Cake House on Union Avenue however, before Zane made an offer on the fairytale property. “I just love that house!” she said.

GIVING AWAY KINDNESS Although they are only in Saratoga for part of the year, the Carruths have embraced two of the city’s cornerstones – horses (they own three) and philanthropy.

“Generosity is a learned behavior. It’s something that my mother taught me at a very early age,” said Zane, who supports a number of charitable causes, including the SPCA.

Zane donates hundreds of free books to schools and non-profit groups. This summer, she plans on donating The World’s First Tooth Fairy, reprinted in Spanish, to the children of the track’s backstretch workers. “I enjoy giving them away. For some kids, that’s their first book and reading to children is very important. It makes such a huge difference in their life and how they go about solving problems. It’s also a bonding time. Children are more secure when they have that one-to-one attention. It builds their confidence and makes more memories. The good things about reading to children are endless.”

Author Zane Carson Carruth

The World’s First Tooth Fairy stories are now being made into nine videos that will be available on channels including Roku, Binge and Amazon Fire. Zane is also working on the next book in the series, Abello Goes to the Rodeo.

Find all of Zane’s books on Amazon or by visiting




When life hands you lemons... create The Sweet Lemon Life. THAT’S WHAT BRANDI GILBERT DECIDED TO DO when COVID, and the unexpected changes it would bring to us all, came knocking last year. Brandi didn’t know she was doing it at the time - she just knew she wanted to help her friend. GETTING JUICE FROM THE SQUEEZE In Fall 2019, Gilbert decided to make and sell t-shirts as a fundraiser for a friend that has pancreatic cancer.

She pulled out the Cricut machine her husband gave her four years earlier and printed 25 shirts. Noticing how long it takes to iron them once they are printed, he then bought her a heat press.

“That’s really what has allowed this business to take off,” said Brandi, a mom of three; ages 10, 16, and 19 who licensed her home business, The Sweet Lemon Life, in May 2020. Brandi also made personalized face masks for her friends and their seniors’ graduation (Queensbury High School’s Class of 2020).

Once my youngest’s teacher saw them, she decided to “advertise” me to the whole district through an email. That’s when the orders poured in for masks all in the hopes of being able to go back to school in the Fall. “I couldn’t believe how fast the orders were coming in – it was insanity,” she said. WITH A TWIST After printing hundreds of masks for the students and teachers in the Queensbury Union Free School District, Brandi was asked to do printing jobs for Senator Dan Stec, Assemblyman Matt Simpson, Queen of Harts Pizza, a division of Stewart’s Shops, and others. 10  | SARATOGA FAMILY | SPRING 2021

She’s not limiting herself to just apparel, either.

Brandi, who spent several years staging homes in Queensbury, has a unique eye for creating home décor, signage, etching glassware, and holiday items.

For her, inspiration comes from everywhere. What makes The Sweet Lemon Life items special is that Brandi adds in a touch of her optimistic flare. “I try to put my little twist on it,” she said.

In addition to vinyl, she etches, and paints, based on her client’s request.

“Whatever I’m doing at the time is my favorite. I’m not very loyal to one thing or the other,” said Brandi. DRINK FROM EVERY CUP In addition to offering variety, The Sweet Lemon Life custom projects are ready quickly.

Because she works efficiently while maintaining a high level of quality, Brandi is able to create one-of-a-kind, custom and wholesale items while also homeschooling her two youngest children this year. Most orders can be completed in less than a week. “I love to make people happy with these things and I pride myself in doing things faster and cheaper than people can find elsewhere,” said Brandi. Find The Sweet Lemon Life products at My Lake Boutique in Lake George, on Facebook, Instagram or by visiting SF


PROBLEMS ARE OPPORTUNITIES TO EVOLVE. Tragedy touched Sachmarie “Sasha” Crowley’s life when she was just a few months old.

Shortly after she was born, Sasha’s mother left Jamaica -and her six children, to create the best life possible for her family in the United States. Then there was a terrible house fire. It was 10 years before the family was reunited again.

Her mother’s example of strength and determination inspired Sasha’s own grit and resilience today.

“I feel pretty lucky. We all have ups and downs, but I try to see something positive in it and can always find that light,” she said.


A PROBLEM IS THE CRACK THAT LETS THE LIGHT FLOW IN Sasha, who was in the Navy for 15 years, saw how tragedy transforms lives – including her own.

When she was just 23, a close friend who had served in Iraq -and was struggling with PTSD, committed suicide.

“There was a stigma back then for people to come forth and talk about that stuff – especially if you were a man in the military,” said Sasha. She decided to use her grief as motivation and has been on the path to providing healing, disease prevention, and wellness ever since.

“If there is a tragedy, I always try to see the gift in it,” she said. FROM A STATE OF GRACE In 2018, Sasha’s of Saratoga opened in Franklin Square offering traditional and holistic health therapies focused on creating wellness (and not just a lack of illness).

“Health is more than absence of disease. All your tests might come back perfect and your numbers be right where they should be, but wellness is in your mind, body, and soul. If there’s any disconnect in those, you feel off,” explained Sasha. Then the question becomes, how do you measure what someone’s feeling in their soul? And, what do you do about it once you find out? PEELING BACK THE LAYERS The first step to healing is seeing and hearing each individual and what they are going through.


There is no TV and Sasha won’t open up her computer or take your vitals when you come into her crisp, clean, newlyexpanded space for a consultation until after you’ve had a chance to talk and connect.

It’s a place of stillness and relaxation where honesty is easy. “I just talk with them and I’m there a hundred percent. It’s not in a medical way, I’m there with them as a person. I encourage them to be open. I’m not there to judge them and they know everything we talk about is kept completely confidential. I peel those layers off with a patient so they feel comfortable,” said Sasha. EXPOSING THE ROOT When she sees a child on anxiety medication or a patient with a preventable, but chronic, disease, Sasha aims to get at the root of the problem.

“If we’re happy with ourselves internally, then everything else falls into place – there’s less chaos, less depression, less overeating. People say I’m crazy because there’s no money in prevention, but in medicine, it’s important to start being more self-less. The reward comes when people leave with a smile and are happy,” she said. Sasha’s of Saratoga is a certified medical marijuana clinic. They now offer vitamin injections and IV hydration. Botox, spider vein removal and shockwave erectile disfunction treatments are also available.

“It’s like a bodega, or that mom-and-pop store on the corner – it’s where you can get everything you need in one place.”

WITH NO ADDED SUGAR Anyone could benefit from getting a targeted dose of vitamins. “Let’s be honest, no one is getting all the vitamins they need,” said Sasha.

Chances are, your diet is lacking. Certain micronutrients are only found in animal sourced foods. Maybe you overdo it on the wine. Even if you take multi-vitamins, they still have to go through your digestive system, while vitamin injections bypass that to get the good stuff straight to your body’s cells. “When people hear IV vitamin injections, they think hangover cure, but IV injections aren’t just a summer hangover treatment, they’re about prevention.”

Even those with compromised immune systems who have contracted COVID-19 have recovered faster because of treatments like these.

As a mother of two children, ages 16 and 12, who works two jobs and is in the process of getting her post-master’s certificate in mental health from Russell Sage, Sasha knows that kindness can be the best medicine.

“I don’t sugarcoat anything for them and don’t rush anyone, as long as you leave feeling better. That’s what I’m focused on,” said Sasha. Sasha’s of Saratoga is open by appointment only for athome, in-office, and telemedicine consultations. For more information go to SF



Fun Facts...

• Spring begins on the Vernal Equinox. The word Vernal means Spring in Latin while Equinox is the Latin word for equal days. On the first day of Spring the hours of daylight and night are almost equal with daylight being slightly longer. In 2015, the Vernal Equinox happens on the 20th of March. • The first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere is the first day of fall in the Southern hemisphere. • The Latin word for “season” is sationem, meaning “seed time.”

• In Spring baby birds learn to sing Songbirds learn to sing by hearing


their species’ song when they are young and during the first stage of learning they babble more or less like human infants do.

• Holidays that occur in spring include Easter, Passover, April Fool’s Day, Earth Day, Arbor Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Cinco De Mayo, and more. • If you were to stand on the equator during either the spring or fall equinox, you would see the sun pass directly over the top of your head.

• “Spring fever” may actually be a real (and good) thing! Scientists believe that the longer days cause people to be more active, creative, and happy.

r e m Sum S P M A C


Summer is Coming... It’s time to start thinking about summer camps!

Our Saratoga Summer Camp Guide highlights some excellent area options! PGS. 16-22




IS A SUMMER HOME WHERE CAMPERS CAN EXPERIENCE FUN, FRIENDSHIPS, CHALLENGES, AND ADVENTURES. Camp Little Notch (CLN), provides the chance to practice living in harmony with nature, each other, and themselves in an authentic wilderness experience. Within five minutes of arriving, campers have half a dozen new friends who often become friends for life. There are so many things to do at Camp Little Notch—swimming, canoeing, cookouts, stargazing, singing, wilderness skills, creekwalking…the list goes on. Campers sleep in a platform tent, watch the sun come up over the mountains, and listen to the sounds of the forest at night all combined to make an unforgettable summer experience.

Camp Little Notch brings people of various backgrounds together through activities that break down barriers and create a community where campers value themselves and each other. We consciously and deliberately use a variety of tools to create a camp community in which we celebrate diversity, encourage community building, teach conflict resolution and communication skills, facilitate sharing of traditions between people, and confront all forms of discrimination, prejudice, and exclusion in our interactions, operations, and activities.

From 1939 to 2008, the Girl Scouts owned and operated Camp Little Notch as a summer camp for girls. In 2015, Friends of Camp Little Notch reopened CLN to the public, and then invited boys to camp for the first time in 2018. We felt that camping is such an important part of growing up that everyone, girls and boys, should be able to experience the magic of CLN.

This year to safeguard against COVID-19, Camp Little Notch will be offering 1-week, 2-week, and 4-week camp sessions all in a safe environment. CLN will become its own bubble, and therefore campers will be able to experience a typical camp experience without worry. Camper parents will be able to contact their campers via snail mail or email. Our first session begins July 3, 2021, with the last session ending August 7, 2021. For the first time, Camp Little Notch will also be offering family camping this summer to those looking for a fresh-air escape from home. Families will be able to come to CLN in a COVID-19 safe environment.

For those looking for financial aid, Friends of Camp Little Notch (FoCLN) offers camp scholarship aka campership. FoCLN can cover partial or full campership for campers - and it is simple to apply! For more information and to fill out the campership application, visit

Summer camp provides an opportunity for children to learn and practice important skills which they can use throughout their lives as they grow into happy, confident, creative, and inspired adults. Summer camp is great fun, but we feel the most important gains are made in these areas all while making lifelong friends. Visit or email for more information. Use promo code ST2021 to save 25% on summer camp registration. Coupon expires July 3, 2021. Reserve your spot today!

CAMP LITTE NOTC H Camp Address: 744 Sly Pond Road, Fort Ann, NY 12827 | 518-793-9700 | 16  | SARATOGA FAMILY | SPRING 2021

CAMP SARADAC is a NYSDOH licensed summer day camp for children ages 5-12. For over 75 years, Camp Saradac has offered campers creative recreational &

educational programs, intriguing arts & crafts, and memories that last a lifetime! For summer 2021, Camp Saradac will be now be offering two half-day camps in addition to the traditional full-day camp held at the Recreation Center.

The half day camps will be held at East Side Rec Park and Veterans Memorial Park.

Families may choose the most convenient location for them. Each site offers outdoors space, an interactive splash fountain, and playgrounds. Summer Camp runs weekly Monday-Friday starting Monday, June 28 through Friday, August 20.

The before and after care program will only be offered at the Recreation Center. Children who are registered may be dropped off at 7:30 a.m. and picked up as late as 6 p.m. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Visit our website at



Three Locations! • Saratoga Springs Recreation Center 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. | Ages 5-12 • East Side Recreation Park 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. | Ages 7-12 • Veterans Memorial Park 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. | Ages 7-12

REGISTRATION Begins March 1: City Residents Begins March 22: Non-City Residents Registration Ends 5/10

518-587-3550, ext. 2300 Register Online:

SARATOGA SPRINGS RECREATION CENTER 15 Vanderbilt Ave. Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 518-587-3550, ext. 2300 |



Kids&Clay Summer Fun Week 1 – July 12-16 AM – All things Dragons PM – Wheel Boot Camp Week 2 - July 19-23 AM – Table for Two PM – Wheel Boot Camp Week 3 - July 26-30 AM – Clay Castles PM – Wheel Boot Camp Week 4 - August 2-6 AM – Ice Cream You Scream PM – Wheel Boot Camp


Summer 2021 brings an exciting series of clay programs for ages 6-16, taught by professional local artists/teachers and ranging in themes and techniques. Camps are open to all skill levels, beginning and up. Pinch pots, slab projects, wheel throwing, glazing, and firing techniques come together to provide each student with exciting new experiences, new skills and their clay creations to take home to use and share with friends and family. What could be better than playing with clay all summer?! Come unplug, make art, and make friends. Choose from 14 themed half-day week-long summer camps, with the option to put morning and afternoon camps together for a full day experience! Classes run July 12 – August 27. Come for one week or all seven.

Week 5 - August 9-13 AM – For the Birds PM – Wheel Boot Camp Week 6 - August 16-20 AM - Under the Sea PM – Wheel and Raku Week 7 - August 23-27 AM - Woodland Sprites & Fairies PM – Wheel Boot Camp

Visit Saratoga Clay Arts Center’s website at for more details on programs, registration dates, fee details, and while you are there, take some time to check out the rest of their site see all that is happening at the center.

Register TODAY For Some Messy, Exhilarating, Creative Fun This Summer! SARATOGA CL AY ARTS CENTER 167 Hayes Road, Schuylerville, NY 12871 • 518-581-CLAY (2529) • 18  | SARATOGA FAMILY | SPRING 2021




S W I N G ,CLIMB, C L I M B , LEAP L E A P &&S SOAR OAR SWING, your way into summer while building self-confidence and learning skills that will last a lifetime. As one of our Ninjas, your child can expect our skilled coaches to guide them through increasingly challenging obstacles, resulting in increased strength and stamina.

Ninja Lab Summer Camps run Monday through Friday in one-week, half day or full day sessions. Ninja Campers can choose between the morning session: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. or afternoon session: 1- 4 p.m, or full day session: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Campers will be put into groups of similar ability.

Age-appropriate drills will always be used, with a heightened emphasis on skill and long-term athlete development. Every child will be engaged and having fun, while building strength and self-confidence and finding their inner-ninja! Class ratio is 8-1 (8 campers to 1 coach), and all our coaches at The Ninja Lab are CPR certified and background screened. Make sure your ninja gets a good night’s sleep, because every child will be engaged, moving, smiling and coming home tired! Register online at or call the Lab with questions: 518-289-5942.

Sample Camp Day Schedule: 8:45-9 a.m. • Arrival and Registration 9-9:10 a.m. • Welcome and Warm-up 9:10-10:20 a.m. • Station-based Ninja Training 10:20-10:40 a.m. • Break 10:40-12 p.m. • Course Runs and Challenges 12 p.m. • Pick up

Summer Camp Pricing $50 for single half day and $220 for half day full week $80 for single full day and $340 for full day full week

9 Stonebreak Road, Malta • 518-289-5942




Summer Camp is a Go!

Town of Greenfield Officials Redesign Summer Camp for 2021 After 2020’s quiet and mostly cancelled summer, Greenfield children are sure to welcome a reimagined summer day camp centering on old-fashioned country fun. The Town of Greenfield redesigned its popular summer camp with a new location and curriculum to meet the challenges of 2021. Camp will take place daily, weather permitting, at the Middle Grove Town Park for five weeks beginning June 28 from 8:30-12:30 p.m. Signups begin March 1 for Greenfield residents only at Changes began with moving the 30-yearold camp from Greenfield Elementary School to the Middle Grove Town Park, at 428 Middle Gove Road in Middle Grove, N.Y., which just underwent a major overhaul in November including state-ofthe-art playground upgrades, a renovated large pavilion, as well as basketball and tennis courts. The park also features 8 acres of open space with tree-lined fields and a 1.5-mile wooded walking trail. The camp will adhere to all state safety regulations this summer including masks and social distancing, where necessary. Students ages 5 to 14 are welcome. Campers will be supervised with a 2:10 counselor/camper ratio featuring more than 30-trained camp counselors. Children will be grouped in pods of ten and each group will have a private tent for their convenience.

The camp will be led by Eric Hayden, a popular Saratoga Springs School District Physical Education coach. There will be an easy, contactless drop off and pick up loop for parents. Camp activities include rotating stations of fun, featuring such things as: obstacle courses; wiffleball, soccer, flag football, kickball, basketball and other sports; hiking; gardening; Taekwondo; and other organized games. Three times a week an art director will lead a myriad of projects involving painting, spin art, tye-die, chalk art and more. The camp will have themed days like “Super Hero” or “Hat Day.” Each Friday will bring free ice cream from an ice cream truck or Stewart’s Shops. Uncharted Wild LLC will visit weekly with live wild animal demonstrations.

JUNE 28-JULY 30 WEATHER PENDING Monday-Friday | 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. LOCATION: Middle Grove Town Park 428 Middle Grove Rd., Middle Grove, NY DROP OFF AND PICK UP AT CONTACTLESS LOOP REGISTRATION: Begins March 1 for Greenfield residents at or by calling 518-893-7432, ext. 307.

“Our schedule will be ever-changing and kids are sure to come home exhausted and dirty from an action-packed morning at the park with friends,” said Rebecca Sewell, Town of Greenfield Recreation Director. “We have adapted to meet the community’s need for simple outdoor summer fun.” The Town of Greenfield is home to 7,500 residents and spans more than 41,000 acres of land, including Brookhaven Park and Golf Course in Porter Corners, NY. Other summer activities sponsored by the Town of Greenfield include golf camp, tennis camp and a PGA Junior Golf League. 22  | SARATOGA FAMILY | SPRING 2021

SARATOGA with Kids



hen we enter a trail and we’re enveloped by the forest, the sounds of nature, and the sun peeking through the trees, there is a shift. Trails offer a breath of fresh air, the calm of the outdoors, and the joy of exploration. There are many physical and mental health benefits to trail walking and the quality family time it provides. Everyone in the family can get exercise when walking trails. Although it can be difficult for parents of young children to prioritize exercise, when the whole family participates, it’s easier to make time for. Cardio exercise has physical and mental health benefits and reduces stress.

Being in nature is an antidote to busy life. It is calming, helps us to be present, and allows us to observe the world around us. Hiking as a family also can set kids up for a lifetime love of exercising and the outdoors. Spending time hiking as a family is a great way to connect and creates memories of a fun experience together. Being in nature without devices and other distractions creates time for family conversations that you might not otherwise be able to have.

If you want to start hiking, there are many local trails to choose from. We’re lucky to have an abundance of beautiful multi-use trail options throughout the county. Many trails allow running, bicycling, snowshoeing, crosscountry skiing, and horseback riding in addition to hiking. There are five major trail systems in Saratoga County with a variety of distances, surfaces, and scenery.

Saratoga Spa State Park

The Saratoga Spa State Park is stunningly beautiful. There are six main trails throughout the park that run past historical buildings, museums, SPAC, springs, a geyser, and a creek.

Saratoga Greenbelt Trail

The vision of the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail is to form a continuous twenty-four-mile loop around the city of Saratoga Springs and connect to downtown Saratoga. The trail connects several existing trails within the city, including the Bog Meadow Trail, Railroad Run Trail, and the Spring Run Trail.

Saratoga PLAN

Saratoga PLAN is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to protecting open space and nature in Saratoga County. Saratoga PLAN manages eleven public preserves and assists with maintaining several other trails throughout the county.

Saratoga National Historical Park

The Saratoga National Historical Park has trails at the site of the 1777 Battles of Saratoga. The National Park Service manages several trails throughout the park.

Wilton Wildlife Preserve

The Wilton Wildlife Preserve is a nonprofit organization that maintains over twenty-five miles of hiking trails in the Saratoga Sand Plains area of Saratoga County. There are seven main trails at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve. After being cooped up this winter, we’re looking forward to heading out this spring to explore all of the trails that Saratoga has to offer – see you there! SF




for MILes

Meet Our Cover FamiLy!



4,000+ COOKIES + 4,000+ MILES

Cookie jars are one of life's little joys.


Sweet, not Sour

Kids learn that fact at a very early age.

Put something sweet into a cookie jar and, chances are, the next time you reach in, you’ll pull something sweet out. Plus, cookie jars are infinitely refillable.

While the pandemic seemed to be busy souring 2020; fouryear-old Mia Villa and her mother, Devin, were busy baking up batches of sweetness.

“At the end of April, we were home like everyone else, so that’s when we started baking cookies and bringing them to our superheroes,” said Devin Villa. Devin named the endeavor Mia’s Cookie Jar, and posted what they were doing on social media. She soon began getting recommendations from her “cookie followers” of some extra-special first responders, doctors, nurses and others, who could use a smile.

“This is something Mia truly loves to do and it’s an easy way for us to bring smiles to the people who need it most right now,” said Devin.

Since then, they’ve made more than 4,000 cookies and have logged more than 4,000 miles to deliver them. The amount of joy that it spreads, however, is endless. “It makes me so happy,” said Mia.


Photos Provided.

Miles, and miles, and miles of smiles

At least once, and up to three times a week, Mia and Devin visit another place where amazing people are doing essential jobs every day. “There are so many people out there who are doing things I’d never be brave enough to do,” said Devin, a mother of two who works remotely as a bookkeeper for The Saratoga Winery.

“She does retain a lot of it. I just hope she grows up to appreciate people. Sometimes people are so quick to look at the negatives in life, it’s important to learn there are people doing positive things out there every day,” said Devin.

(While doing this interview, Mia was patiently tracing around her hand and ended up creating a whole page of handprints.)

They’ve gone to schools, visited with the horses in the Saratoga Springs Police force’s mounted patrol unit, and strapped on heart monitors with first responders.

“There’s a never-ending amount of superheroes and they come in all forms. There are places out there that I never knew existed but what they do there is incredible,” said Devin.

Lessons Worth Learning

Devin taught Mia to wear her mask, and take other safety precautions, while they’re mixing up the batter for their superheroes’ chocolate chip cookies, using a recipe they’ve had in their family since 1997.

While the cookies are baking, they talk about who they are going to and the job they do, while Mia draws them a picture. 26  | SARATOGA FAMILY | SPRING 2021

Little Hands, Big Heart

During deliveries, the Villas are often interacting with people in masks, so sometimes Mia is shyer than at others.

Cookie recipients and followers are pleased, too, and have given Mia thank you gifts including an engraved spatula, coins, patches, and water bottles.

“Seeing her as a big sister to him, you can see she has a big heart – she’s just a kind kid,” said Devin.

To help support Mia’s Cookie Jar to continue spreading kindness, monetary and equipment donations have come in, including from businesses such as Hershey’s and Sticker Mule.

Her silly side really shines through in the live baking videos posted on the Mia’s Cookie Jar Facebook page. She bats her eyelids, does little dances, and cracks eggs expertly (almost no shell!!).

Feed Mia’s Cookie Jar

As a big sister to 1-year-old Gino, however, her kindness is clear.

Mia likes being able to see people’s faces, and their smiles.

“She can see herself, which she likes. She’s sad when we don’t do a live video. That’s when her real personality comes out,” said Devin.

Reflecting Back Kindness

In addition to having new experiences, Mia also gets to see the kindness she shows to others reflected back to her. "Mia's Great Grandparents Douglas and Dolores Greth are two of her biggest fans. Seeing her doing this has been a shining light for them during the whole pandemic,” said Devin.

“The community is amazing! We’ve gotten so many generous donations and all the proceeds go back into Mia’s Cookie Jar,” said Devin.

Mia’s Cookie Jar will remain a non-profit endeavor, but to reach even more people, the Villas have been certified as an at-home food processor and are currently converting their garage into a commercially licensed bakery. In February, they dropped off their first bulk delivery of 24 orders to two area locations for centralized pick-up: The Saratoga Winery, and Big G’s Sweet Spot and Chocolate Bar in Clifton Park. The batches of hand-baked chocolate chip cookies are $12/two dozen. For more information, and to order, follow Mia’s Cookie Jar on Facebook. SF


Healthy Weight




If you have a child who is, or is heading towards being overweight, you must be wondering – how do I handle this? According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at, if your child is elementary age or younger, don’t talk about weight directly, just make lifestyle changes as a family. If you can deal with the situation as a family you won’t be singling out the child, putting him or her on the spot.

American portion sizes have increased significantly over the last few decades, both at home and at restaurants. Consider that a child-size burger at a fast food restaurant today is the size of an adult fast food burger served 40 years ago.

Girls as young as six start talking about their weight, so if your young child or older child says something about being fat, use it as an opportunity to talk about being healthy, rather than being thin or fat. It’s best not to talk about weight loss, but on weight maintenance over time. Girls reach mature height in early teen years, boys may not reach mature height until late teens or early 20s, so for children who haven’t reached their mature height it’s possible that they will grow into their weight as they grow in height. HEALTHY PORTIONS Healthy eating includes not just what is eaten, but how much is eaten. Consider the portion size you serve your child.


Food Group

Servings Per Day

Portion Size Ages 1-3

Portion Size Ages 4-6

Portion Size Ages 7-8


2-3 servings

1/4 cup cooked, frozen or canned, 1/2 piece fresh, 1/4 cup 100% juice

1/4 cup cooked, frozen or canned, 1/2 piece fresh, 1/3 cup 100% juice

1/4 cup cooked, frozen or canned, 1 piece fresh, 1/2 cup 100% juice


2-3 servings

1/4 cup cooked

1/4 cup cooked, 1/2 cup salad

1/2 cup cooked, 1 cup salad


6-11 servings

1/2 slice bread, 1/4 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta, 1/3 cup dry cereal, 2-3 crackers

1/2 slice bread, 1/4 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta, 1/2 cup dry cereal, 3-4 crackers

1 slice bread, 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta, 3/4 cup dry cereal, 4-5 crackers

2 servings

1 ounce meat, fish, chicken, or tofu, 1/4 cup cooked beans, 1/2 egg

1 ounce meat, fish, chicken, or tofu, 1/3 cup cooked beans, 1 egg

2-3 ounce meat, fish, chicken, or tofu, 1/2 cup cooked beans, 1-2 eggs

2-3 servings

1/2 cup milk, 1/2 ounce cheese, 1/3 cup yogurt

1/2 cup milk, 1 ounce cheese, 1/2 cup yogurt

1 cup milk, 1 ounce cheese, 3/4 cup yogurt

Meats & Other Proteins Dairy

Adapted from Dietz WH, Stern L. eds. Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know. 2nd ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2012:194.

Are you serving child sized portions? Portion sizes for children can be 50% smaller than for adults, while the portion sizes may not look drastically different at each age group, just 500 extra calories above what’s needed can result in a one-pound weight gain. Over the course of a week it’s easy to add an extra 500 calories, just by eating larger portions. has a guide to portion sizes for different age groups. Here’s the link to children’s Portions and Serving Sizes. HEALTHY FOOD Healthy eating includes consuming a recommended number of servings of foods from different food groups, to get adequate vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates. However, most Americans need to focus on eating less foods that are high in fat, sugar and sodium, such as chips, soda, baked goods, and fried foods. Make the healthy choice the easy choice by putting a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter for easy snacking.

BE A HEALTHY ROLE MODEL Children learn more from what they see you do than from what you say. Be a role model for your child. Avoid making negative comments about your own or your child’s body. How you talk about yourself will impact how your child perceives him or herself. Model healthy food habits and exercise routines. When families exercise together you can establish activities that children can continue to enjoy into adulthood. GATE KEEPER The parent who does the meal planning and grocery shopping controls what food is available to children. Be sure to have healthy snack foods and make them handy to grab from the refrigerator, such as yogurt, or cut up vegetables with hummus. Plan healthy low-fat meals that will benefit the whole family. EVALUATE YOUR CHILD’S WEIGHT To evaluate your child’s weight, you can determine their Body Mass Index (BMI), a tool pediatricians use. You want to use a BMI chart or calculator developed for children. The website, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, has a children’s BMI calculator to assess your child’s weight. SF


It’s All About the Team in



“Eight hearts must beat as one in an eight-oared shell, or you don’t have a crew!”- George Pocock


meet the varsity girls’ assistant coach, Ashley Johnson, at Saratoga Rowing Association’s parking lot, located on Union Ave. The team is already working well together, bringing several rowing shells down the embankment, over the line of piers to the calm waters of Fish Creek and Saratoga Lake. “One of my good friends from high school started rowing and begged me to join the team with her,” Ashley tells me a few weeks before when we’re chatting over coffee. “I was playing soccer, basketball, and swimming at the time.” Once trying out this sport, Ashley explains, she was hooked and never looked back. That was 11 years ago. She rowed throughout high school, then four years at Syracuse University, and the past two years for SRA’s ARION Elite team. “What made you decide to become a coach?” I wonder out loud. She smiles with her answer. “Honestly? I’ve been interested in coaching from the get-go. In college, I spent my summers coaching and rowing for various programs. In March of 2020, I chose to step away from my rowing career so I could focus more on coaching these young athletes.” She stretches out her arms and points to the young people gathered near the water’s edge. The two of us climb into the coaching boat, along with her adorable puppy, Scout, a golden doodle, dubbed ‘assistant coach’ by the team. The little guy cracks me up – sitting at attention – as if ready to call out training drills to the varsity team over the bullhorn himself.


I take a series of photos and several video clips, listening to Ashley engage with the rowers as we make our way through Fish Creek. I watch closely as they all listen intently to her direction. Eventually, we circle back and head out into the open water of Saratoga Lake. The sun is setting; that golden orb mixed in with purples and pinks of the overhead sky. It’s a stunning end to their last evening row before winter. I enjoy the smooth sound of oars cutting across the water’s surface – every rower working in unison to make the most of each powerful stroke. Coaches from other boats wave to each other along the way. Each has the same idea; make these athletes the best they can be. Ashley says she hopes her team loves the sport and camaraderie of the boathouse as much as she does. “I believe there are so many life lessons we can learn from being part of a unit – I want to help create an atmosphere around rowing, one which works to promote that. This sport is hard work, don’t get me wrong,” She laughs. “But the skills learned during months of intense training are worth so much more than any moments of agony we complain about.” 32  | SARATOGA FAMILY | SPRING 2021

When I talk with Isabelle Johnson, she echoes the same thoughts. “It’s funny,” she tells me. “I joined a book club in seventh grade, and we read ‘Boys in the Boat.’ When we finished, SRA members came to class so we could talk about the sport. I was so interested in trying it out for myself. When I first began rowing, I wasn’t very focused. Over time that changed, and now every time I’m out on the water, I feel both challenged and empowered.” Isabelle explains that it takes a great deal of mental strength to be a rower. “No matter what we’re practicing – whether it’s easy or hard, you have to be 100% in it – for yourself and your teammates. Rowing has helped me grow in many aspects of my life – I can see myself finishing my academic and athletic career in a D1 program.” When I catch up with Carly Fay, she’s more than happy to talk about her love of rowing. It’s hard for me, at 62, to think about a young person falling in love with anything at the tender age of 12. But, it seems like most of the athletes I meet say the same thing; “I wanted to meet new people.” “I wanted to try a new sport.” “I thrive on competition.”

Carly also tells me she’d recommend the sport to anyone who asked. “Rowing has not only made me physically stronger,” she looks out over the lake as she continues. “But by working at this sport - and I’ve worked hard - I believe I can accomplish anything. Even my grades have improved since starting.” Clare Hegener shares how her sister was into rowing for several years before being sidelined due to an injury. Clare had watched how intense the sport was and how happy her sister felt when rowing. Clare began rowing herself at the start of 7th grade, 2017. “When I joined the rowing team, I wanted to become more physically active and was hoping to make connections with people who’d feel more like family - I can honestly tell you I got all that and then some!”

When asked, all the rowers tell me they wish they could be on the water year-round. Because I adore the water as well, I understand and sympathize. They also express their joy in ‘being part of something bigger than themselves.’ And, of course, there’s nothing like the thrill of winning a race using the skills they learn from Ashley and Coach Scout. “Look, it’s simple; Everyone’s here because they want to be here. We share similar interests and many of the same goals,” Ashley says in parting. “I always tell my team – when you get to the start line of a race, trust your training. That’s how much I believe training is tantamount to their success.” For more information about the Saratoga Rowing Association and all they offer, please visit SF


give your children


It seems that kids have been expected to rise to all sorts of challenges over these last 12 months. We always state that children are resilient, but even they have their limits. How much is just too much? Creating a sense of calm in the home will help.



hat can we do as parents to help?

Clutter and disorganization is very distracting. I always say if you want to do something that will instantly affect your mood and give you a boost, tackle your bedroom. Laying down to bed with a mess staring at you does indeed stress you. And then waking up to it starts your day in the worst way. Clearing clutter from your bedroom and making it a serene, calming space can be life changing. Today, most kids are spending an enormous amount of time in their rooms. It may literally be sleep, play and school all in one. That is a big demand on one room. Creating a sense of calm in that space can give the child a boost that may be very much needed right now.

Two musts for every bedroom are a hamper and a garbage can. Most of the floor clutter fits into these two categories – trash or laundry. If time and money permits, a little scenery change can work wonders too – a new bed in a bag, a new paint color, a comfy rug and/or bean chair to read on the floor. Set a budget and let the child weigh in. A pretty space with a new touch lends itself to being maintained more as you don’t want to mess it up. Check in often on the space. See if they are enjoying it or if they need anything else to make it the best space for them. A new sense of calm can give them the strength to push forward during these difficult times. SF

Ideally, your child should be involved in the decluttering/set-up of the space. Everything that should not be in the room should be taken out; for example, anything that isn’t theirs or isn’t being used by them. This may crowd another area or create an issue that needs to be solved but it is important for the space to be solely for the purposes they need. Kids must be taught that you can’t own EVERYTHING. If everything is important, nothing is important. They go through fazes, outgrow items and just plain break things. Those items should be tackled first before you start on usable/fitting items. Then do one type of item at a time: books, clothes, art supplies, toys, etc. It is much easier to stay in the same grouping of items and make progress. This may take days, as you don’t want to overwhelm them. Decision fatigue is a thing. As a parent, when a child decides to let go of something they loved or that cost a lot or that we as a parent love, be careful to not impart your feelings on their stuff. Celebrate their good decision and let it go. If you want to put in a keepsake box for you, that is fine but if they don’t want it now, they won’t want it later. For all spaces in the home, to create calm you typically need open surfaces and floors. Having bins for each type of item means less on top of the bedside table, their dresser, their desk. If something can only go on the floor, try to think about placing it in the least seen corner.



fter almost a year of remote learning, most parents are tired of tinkering with computers and wondering if they are doing the right thing. In fact, most parents didn’t enjoy this before the pandemic! Cybersecurity is the responsibility of both the parents and teachers. This was not in your book of parenting over 12 months ago!


Chromebooks, iPad, tablets, laptops have been the rule, not the exception for the past year. It is extremely crucial that parents refresh themselves to protect their children’s privacy, security, and emotional health. Even if your children are currently in school, an outbreak could mean remote classes in the future. Although school days may differ between districts and states, platforms like Zoom and Google Classroom have been common educational delivery methods. As a refresher, what should a parent do to continue to protect their child from an unfortunate cybersecurity incident? USE DISTINCT SCHOOL AND RECREATION ACCOUNTS

It is easy to get lenient about your child’s school and play accounts 36  | SARATOGA FAMILY | SPRING 2021

when you are juggling your own work life with your child’s virtual school life. Try creating a division between online activities for school and leisure by making sure kids have separate email addresses. If they have an email address automatically created by the school district, a Gmail address through Google Classroom, for example, use that for all education apps and sites. Parents should make a clear difference between homework time and free time. In talking to parents, playing games with friends has significantly increased. Watch that closely!

and personal information online or share passwords, even with close friends. Cybersecurity should be a part of every school curriculum.


Does your child work in a quiet, interruption-free place with sufficient Wi-Fi? It is important that your child’s workspace is not only quiet with limited interruptions, but also well-lit so students and teachers have good quality online learning experience. It is also a place where you can evaluate interactions with your child and teachers.

Parents were probably good at this at the beginning, but permission creep is likely to have happened. Periodically revisit the simple parental controls with site accessibility or limits on YouTube or gaming. If you are really adventurous, new wireless devices have parental controls. EDUCATING YOUR KIDS ABOUT PERSONAL CYBERSECURITY

Kids are not immune from hackers that are eager to take advantage of current home situations. It is encouraged to talk to your children about passwords


Parents should help manage their child’s personal data. Many parents do not have the time or just simply are not great with this activity. If you fall in this category, try reaching out to your child’s teacher or school IT department. CONTINUE TO EVALUATE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

Protecting personal and private data is not a luxury, but a right of every parent and child. Rick Cobello is co-owner of Global Cybersecurity Solutions;




ell, here we are still in COVID times, working towards the next chapter.... hopefully a better one. We’ve all had time to think about various aspects of life that are important to us--for me, I’ve thought some more about healthy eating and distilled much of these thoughts into some simple guidelines below for your reflection. (I did say I’ve “thought about” not necessarily done, so there’s a difference. There is no preaching here. You are on your own--as it should be!) We all know where our life story ends, and we will have periods of sickness and of health no matter what along the way. However, it seems, everybody’s got something. Our best goal is to help our odds to buy healthier times which is important because reasonably good health is at the basis of everything else we may want to do. And mistakes, many repeated over and over, eventually help us learn and improve. The “wisdom” below comes and will continue from this process. This is a synthesis of what I’ve heard, learned and experienced, not original thought. Please alter anything you may find at all useful to your own common sense and health conditions.


Finally, although you may likely be expecting to next read a list of organic, hand-crafted, local, unprocessed, nonGMO foods you should eat and a list of high fructose, sugared, processed, trans fat foods you shouldn’t, I skipped all that. Yes, those lists have wisdom, but are only part of the equation. I think the simple (not to be confused with easy) suggestions below are essential, no matter which other lists you follow.


3 MEALS, 2 SNACKS a day

That’s it--eat discrete meals and snacks. Make a plate, sit down, eat, get a little more if you need it. Then stop. The concept of grazing, though has appeal, means your organs aren’t getting to rest. There’s something about letting your body have fuel and then letting it pause and rebuild to feeling hungry that helps the system work better. It’s kind of like those old rechargeable batteries: it was better to let them drain all the way down and then recharge them. A snack is fine between meals, but even here, it’s a finite process and not a constant stream. If you are always eating, you are never hungry and never full, so your body can’t help you regulate your food intake. But, if you are like me, this is a huge challenge--constant snacking feels so right--until your body starts speaking up with inflammation, digestion irritation and weight gain.



When you do eat, don’t eat until you are full... it’s too late, way too late, by then. Eat what is reasonable and then stop. Let your body catch up to your brain and start giving you the signals to stop consuming. Leave the kitchen for a bit, go for a walk, get busy on the computer, and then come back to clean up. Find a strategy that works for you to allow you to be finished with the meal. The Japanese call this food restraint Hara Hachi Bu. Look it up. Feasting has a place in life, it just should not be every day! Of course, eating until you feel full, so incredibly full, feels so good--until the bloating, weight gain, bellyaches, chronic disease and digestion issues start up.




If you are really smart, primarily drink just plain water as your beverage and a good bit of it, but don’t go insane. Your body needs hydration to function and more than you might think even in winter...sitting your desk... barely moving. But you also don’t want to constantly be drinking either. You aren’t flushing a pipe and your kidneys have to process all the liquid you bring in, so it’s a balance. Water fills you up too, which makes you less hungry, which helps with the first two principles. Not drinking enough water through the day because you are too stressed and too busy is so easy to do--except for the chronic dehydration, headaches, fatigue, and lower immune functioning.



If you sleep at night (vs work etc.), don’t eat after 7 PM or about 4 hours before you go to bed and drink water only minimally during that time period too. Going to bed on an empty stomach makes a big difference, at least to me. But it takes a lot of willpower to not eat at 9:30 pm. As pathetic as it seems, sometimes it feels almost Herculean to not eat then. One useful technique: brushing teeth early helps because then the laziness of not wanting to brush again before bed fights with the gluttony. Try it. Of course, a late-night gorge, (I mean snack!) feels so right to that impulsive, nihilistic, person lurking inside. But if you can manage to subdue that person, then the blameful, austere puritan who rises each morning also gets a break too. Allowing your body to rest from digestion at night, makes you sleep better, wake more easily, maintain body weight, and start your day (which actually begins at midnight) on better footing.



Be sure to consume a variety of (fresh when possible) vegetables throughout your meals and snacks. I don’t know all the reasons why, but it’s a huge aspect of maintaining better health. It almost doesn’t matter which ones you consume; they all have benefit. Fortunately, for me I like vegetables. A while back, a guy for whom I was cooking told me that he felt about vegetables the way I felt about meat, he despises them. (I’m actually not anti-meat, only pro-vegetable.) If that’s you, well, bummer, cause you need them. We had a customer who alternated a bite of vegetables with a bite of cookie.... good technique. The well-known food thinker, Michael Pollan, has wisely summed up this concept: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. So that’s five simple things you can do to help your health. I find if I commit to following these principles for one week at a time, it helps to achieve them more consistently. Find the person in you that can appreciate this balance--not the mindless gorger and not the draconian dieter. There is a normal person in the middle, who cares about their health enough to know that some restrictions are healthy and okay, but also the enjoyments of food are too. On some level, all these suggestions are about maintaining common-sense in eating and a belief that it’s quantity, not always quality that matters. Even if you make good food choices, too much of a good thing is still too much. And, if you don’t always consume super premium fuel (though for the record, what you do eat has to be a valid fuel type at a minimum in that it’s recognizable as food), not overfilling your tank can help your body to function better too. As with much else...from the wise Greek philosophers--Everything in moderation! SF



Get some air



o be a skateboarder, you must be aware of your surroundings and use what’s behind you to propel you forward.

Pop an Ollie or flip a kickflip and you’ve only got a second to decide: bail, or stick the landing to pull off a sick trick. Skating in a Walking Town Manchester, a charming, historic, shopping town in the Green Mountains of Vermont, is known for its natural beauty as much as it is for being a place where you can embrace your quirks – including a variety of healthy recreational activities. People visit the area to trek around the outlet shops, to ski and snowboard on the mountains, hike the nearby trails, and now, they are coming to skate.


Kyle Burroughs at the Manchester Skatepark

It’s not just a bunch of kids and graffiti. Skateboarding has a stigma..."


tr Bill S

It was years in the making, but the Manchester Skate Park renovation has earned the Tony Hawk Foundation’s seal of approval. Integral to its fruition was long-time skater Bill Strecker, who also opened Arson Skate Shop in the fall of 2019. “Opening a retail shop in this day and age seems like not the best thing or a little bit risky, and Manchester is a walking and shopping town, but there was a need here that wasn’t being filled,” he said. Riding the Gap His dedication has allowed Arson to ride the waves of two winters, the pandemic, and skateboarding’s rise in popularity. “It’s not just a bunch of kids and graffiti. Skateboarding has a stigma. It took years of tireless effort and meetings to make these things happen. It took that devotion to make it so we’re not the black sheep of the shops in town,” said Strecker. No easy feat, given skateboarding’s rebellious reputation. “Skateboarding is counter-culture by nature and that’s part of its appeal, but that’s a part of experiencing skateboarding history. That’s why the shop is important – it’s a hub of skateboarding culture. You’re fending for yourself online. Here, you’re not just learning skateboarding, you’re learning the social side of it, too.”


Rebuilding Skateboarding’s Reputation This year, skateboarding will make its debut appearance at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, moving it from its home in street culture into the realm of being a recognized athletic endeavor. “It keeps kids out of trouble and keeps kids creative outside of the traditional sports channels,” said Strecker. Skateboarding is also proving that it can straddle age and gender lines. “I’m excited to say we get all kinds of people in here. We have 30 to 45-year-olds who did it in the ‘90s and are doing it again. We also have a lot of girls these days, which is great to see,” he said. Redesigning the Skate Experience Arson is located within a structure that was built in 1921 and once served as a firehouse. By giving it the name Arson, Strecker was honoring the building’s history while torching the misconceptions that skateboarding often faces. As an illustrator, product, and graphic designer, Strecker knows that appearance and branding is an essential part of skateboarding’s identity. The t-shirts, hoodies, hats, shoes and utilitarian clothing at Arson tell a story that’s inextricable from the collaboration that defines what skateboarding is all about. 42  | SARATOGA FAMILY | SPRING 2021

Start Now with Online Lessons Strecker is revolutionizing the way we train with online skateboarding lessons for everyone from the total amateur to the raddest ripper. While skateboarding video games abound, online lessons aren’t something we’ve seen a lot of outside the realm of the Wii Fit universe. “I love empowering youth and making sure they have stuff to do. Skating inside is so helpful to get your bearings and to get you started on a board. The intermediate skater definitely has a bag of tricks and we just push that so they get better as we go. Even the expert has some fine-tuning that can be done,” said Strecker. All you need is a board and an (indoor or outdoor) area the size of a doormat to practice in. The 90-minute online sessions, open to ages 5+, teach skate terms, equipment IQ, stretching, skating tips, tricks, and games. When you sign-up, you’ll receive rubber stoppers so your wheels don’t slip while you practice in place. Arson Skate Shop will also be hosting summer skate camps and clinics again this year. To find out more, stop in at 345 Center Hill Road, Manchester, VT and follow them on Instagram at arson_shop. SF


Stocking Up for Your


People often choose a plant-based meal program for health benefits including weight loss, a reduction in heart disease, management of diabetes, lowering inflammation, and many more positive outcomes. Building on the four major plant-based food groups—grains, legumes/beans, vegetables, and fruits—and supplementing them with a well-stocked pantry, you can easily make many well-balanced, healthy meals. Here are five pantry staples to prioritize, with many more options in the grocery list in the adjacent column. Buying them all at once can be expensive, but if you add one or two to your shopping list each week, you’ll soon have a wide and flexible collection. TAMARI If you are a fan of soy sauce, step up to tamari, a more flavorful condiment from Japan that is less salty and somewhat thicker. Buy low-sodium tamari if you can. Another popular soy-based seasoning is Bragg Liquid Aminos. If you are allergic to soy, try a bottle of coconut aminos instead. VINEGAR A range of vinegars, from mild rice vinegar to stronger varieties, will help to season cooked leafy greens and other vegetables, salads, and add balance to a variety of dishes. NUTRITIONAL YEAST Nutritional yeast (sometimes called nooch) adds a somewhat cheesy, savory flavor to foods. TAHINI Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds. With a consistency somewhat like peanut butter, it is used in hummus and lends a robust flavor to a variety of plant-based dressings and sauces. PLANT MILK There are so many plant-based substitutes for dairy milk on the market now. Look for varieties labeled unsweetened as many seemingly plain versions have actually snuck in a sweetener.

Grocery List for Plant-Based Cooking

This list includes many key flavorbuilders for a plant-based kitchen. With them, you can take simple, whole foods such as a grain + a bean + a green and elevate them to a delicious meal.

Pantry Checklist

• Cashews (not roasted) • Chipotle peppers in adobo • Garlic • Ginger root • Herbs & spices (salt-free) • Hot sauce • Liquid smoke • Mustard (prepared) • Nuts & seeds (wide variety) • Nutritional yeast • Onions • Plant-based milk • Salsa • Smoked paprika • Tahini • Tamari • Tomatoes (canned, jarred) • Vegetable broth • Vinegar (several varieties)

For an expanded version of this article, including profiles of more ingredients and food storage suggestions, see SF




Neighborhood Bakery with Memories of Mom’s Kitchen



”Baking is life.

So, when you describe what you’re making, you must describe life. Do you see? It’s not just about recipes.” - Jenny Colgan


t’s funny, the way I hear about people sometimes. One day, sitting in the bank, making a deposit, my favorite teller asks me how things are going during the pandemic – namely, am I still able to travel and write about it? I share that I’m busy working on stories and travels from the year before COVID hit, drastically changing everything for everyone overnight. After explaining how I’m writing numerous profile pieces now, introducing neighbors to neighbors, she asks if I’ve ever heard of Lujbli Homestead. I shake my head ‘no,’ and we’re off to the races. Guys and gals, you need to meet Rachael.



Before the pandemic, Rachael was extremely successful, working in the home party business. “My husband and I worked our way out of massive debt, earning eight free vacations and money for our first home,” she tells me as we chat over the phone. “I ran my lucrative, direct sales business for 8 ½ years, loving every minute of it, and I’m happy to tell you I did it well.” It’s easy to hear the smile in her voice. Covid changed all of that for Rachael – going into people’s homes to host parties became a thing of the past – seemingly overnight. I can certainly relate to her story, as travel opportunities for me dried up for a time as well. Lockdown Sucked. “I experienced a real sense of grief those first few weeks of the virus,” the young woman says. “I’d worked and worked and worked some more to get my dream job up and running. It felt like I’d lost a friend or family member.” There’s a pause in our conversation. “Then something kinda magical happened.” I wait for her following words. “I did have another passion; one I’d put aside for a long time – baking. I’d even saved some of my mother’s recipes but had tucked them away after she passed.” Now, out came those recipe cards (can you say cinnamon buns?!) as well as some of Rachael’s favorites.



Rachael found herself baking again – partly to fill the bellies of herself, her husband, and their children. Any sort of bread was tough to buy from grocery stores at that time. Another main reason was to work through lingering emotions over losing a parent, someone so important in her life – feelings about her mom she hadn’t entirely dealt with yet. The young mom made and perfected various loaves of bread, cookies, cinnamon buns, and other wholesome foods. To Rachael’s delight, family and friends offered to buy her baked goods and told her she should be selling them to local shops and farmers’ markets in the area. Growing up around food, much of it made from scratch, Rachael felt comforted while baking in her kitchen. She homeschools her son Mason, 12, and daughter Madeleine, 10, so the family spends a good deal of time in the kitchen during the day. The kids even came up with the business name – Lujbli Homestead when Rachael was teaching them a math lesson covering how to price cookies and market them so they could make a profit. I smile at my end of the phone when she says, “I stole the name from them,” laughing. Several phone conversations with the agriculture department proved positive, too; Rachael could bake from home and sell her goods. Learning this helped stoke the fire. In May 2020, the business took off like a rocket. Now, shops like Cleverdale Country Store, Beans Country Store, Walkers Farm, Home, and Tack, all sell her delicious goods. Her good friends at Rachel’s Café & Spice Company, located in Glens Falls, serves toasted cheese sandwiches (on Rachael’s white bread) with homemade tomato basil soup. Even her husband Dan will open a new farm shack business this Spring, carrying Rachael’s sweet or savory loaves of bread alongside his farm made wares. How exciting! One of the things I found most interesting was Rachael’s food pantry donations. Folks who love her selections of bread can donate $7 for one loaf, $20 for three, $35 for six, or think up a custom amount of their choosing. The donations help Rachael fill local food pantries with healthy organic bread for those in need. How generous! “There were times we had to avail ourselves of what food pantries had to offer,” she states. Her voice is quiet now. “When times are tough, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re less than someone else. I hope my fresh breads can help make folks feel a little better.” When I ask Rachael where she sees her business in 3-5 years, she stops for a minute. My question has caught her by surprise, but her answer is the one I expected. “Family is #1 to all of us,” she begins. “So, I would have to say I hope to grow slowly. I want to stay humble. Finding balance in our lives will remain most important of all.” For more information, you can reach Rachael here: SF


Tips to College Planning During Spring Break Spring break is a great time for high school students to not only relax and have fun but also to think ahead and plan for their college futures. Halley Shefler, Founder & President of ArtsBridge, shares some tips and activities students should keep in mind to make the most out of their high school spring break:

• Check out colleges virtually. Hundreds of colleges now offer virtual campus tours, information sessions, and opportunities to meet online with admissions counselors and even current students. You can also learn more about a school through YouTube videos that may walk you through parts of campus, offer a glimpse into a student’s daily life. • Consider doing “drive by” college visits at campuses that are reasonably close to home. Even if it’s a college you aren’t seriously considering applying to, the drive-by visit is a great way to supplement all the online research by giving you a physical sense of the college and its surrounding neighborhood. • Do an actual, real life, in-person college visit! Some colleges are offering on-campus sessions and tours. These require advance planning and registration, and due to social distancing limitations, numbers are likely to be limited, so book well ahead of time and

don’t forget to bring your mask. This is also a chance to ask current students about their experiences and what they love or would change. • Carve out some time to research specific programs at the colleges you’re interested in. And keep notes in a spreadsheet so that you can keep track of what you find. • Juniors - get started with the college essay topic and brainstorming work. The Common App essay prompts have been the same for several years, and this essay is one of the few important pieces of the college application that can be done well in advance - even before senior year begins. • Artists - focus on your training. Familiarize yourself with the artistic admission requirements (prescreens, auditions, portfolios, interviews, headshots, résumés, artist statements, etc.) so that you aren’t caught off guard in the fall when materials are often due. Now is the time to begin

thinking about how you will present yourself artistically to colleges. • Plan for your summer! Even if a summer program isn’t in the cards, colleges will be interested in how you spend your time in the summer. Consider an online course, a volunteer or community service activity, a paid job, or plan your own deep dive into an extracurricular or artistic passion that will expand your knowledge or skills. There are plenty of ways to have fun while planning your college future! • Plan your senior year courses. As you consider what classes to take, keep in mind that selective colleges are interested in students who challenge themselves academically. For the colleges you are most interested in, check online to see how many years of each core academic subject they recommend to be a competitive applicant. Sites like Big Future are a great and efficient way to get this information on multiple colleges in one place. SF

ArtsBridge is a consulting firm that works with high school students who aspire to study the arts. Their counseling and artistic training programs prepare students for the rigorous college application and audition processes. Students receive personalized guidance from renowned college faculty at leading arts institutions and admissions professionals with decades of experience in higher education, performing arts and visual arts. Their services help students understand what colleges and conservatories look for in prospective students, perfect their craft and audition approach, and stand out in the competitive landscape. For more information, visit www. and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. 52  | SARATOGA FAMILY | SPRING 2021


Combining heart and science in the business of DNA


doesn’t lie, “ DNA but you have to figure out what it is telling you.” - CeCe Moore

I meet with Tobi Kirschmann, forensic scientist, and owner of DNA Investigations, right here in Saratoga, over coffee and pastry at Mrs. London’s. It’s an early Sunday morning, and I find myself excited to speak with her, learn more about what she does. I mean, who isn’t interested in solving mysteries through the use of DNA? First off, the woman sitting in front of me is charming and warm. I instantly feel at ease speaking with her. She tells me a little bit of her background; she received her first degree at Berkelyin Woman Studies. She worked in the California Department of Justice DNA Databank, located in Richmond, CA, from 2007-2017, and helped in the 40-year investigation of The Golden State Killer. Police arrested Joseph James DeAngelo, the serial rapist, burglar, former police officer, and serial killer, in 2018, through the help of DNA. Tobi helped establish the Deceased Inmate DNA Database (D3) Program and was the lead Criminalist once it was up and running. She also worked for a year and a half at the NYSP Forensic Investigation Center, located in Albany. While there, Tobi was employed as a Forensic Scientist III in their Databank before opening her own business in October 2020. “I will continue to work the law enforcement side of my business,” she states, “but I’m excited to use all of those talents – digging into DNA aspects to track and nail down answers people might have on the family history side of things as well.” That’s what we’re here to talk about today.


Everyone around the globe seems to be interested in their family roots. DNA databases like Ancestry, My Heritage, Living DNA, FindMyPast, and 23andMe are only a handful of tests people can avail themselves of these days. “And sometimes, those results can unearth surprises,” Tobi tells me. You can say that again. When my mom died, we learned that – not only was she German; she was Jewish as well. My sisters and I never knew this – and our dad wasn’t willing to help us fill in the blanks. Left with a gazillion questions, we’re hoping DNA testing will help us get answers. “So, it all starts with a question, and everyone’s journey is personal,” the woman across from me says. “Sometimes, those questions are painful. Imagine learning you have a half-sister or brother. That means you have a parent out there – someone you know nothing about. Or maybe you discover you’re adopted. There are so many things that can happen after receiving DNA results you weren’t expecting.”

When Tobi reviews the investigative packages she offers to clients (should they choose to move ahead with their questions), I’m impressed.

EXPLORE: Comes with five hours of research and is a good starting point for larger projects.

EXAMINE: Tobi provides 20 hours of research and suggests this package for someone with an unknown parent.

DISCOVER: This is the most extensive offering, including 30 hours of research and both hard copy and electronic results. “I feel very strongly about calls from the past. Whether it’s a series of questions concerning victims of crime or someone searching for answers to their family history,” Tobi tells me with a contemplative gleam in her eye. “We all need to have those questions answered – and they can be, through DNA.”


That’s where Tobi comes in, offering a free consultation, helping to formulate a structured plan for her clients to solve a family mystery. “Some cases are resolved quickly, while others are ongoing and might take months. It’s my job to listen. What is it they need? As a team, my client and I figure out what will bring closure. I am there for them every step of the way.” At the moment, Tobi is working on two separate DNA cases, both with adoptees. One will be solved quickly, while the other is “One of the most difficult to date.” Besides that, she teaches ALL (Academy Lifelong Learning) at Suny Empire. Tobi states she’s beginning to master Zoom classes with her students – a necessity we’re all dealing with due to the pandemic. “They’re all so smart and inquisitive,” she laughs a little. “If I’m trying to figure out how to sharescreen more than one thing, there’s always someone attending who can help me figure the technical stuff out.” I ask about her family. Tobi is married to a New York native, Michael, and the couple has a six-year-old daughter, Katie, and a 16-year-old son, named Shane. They all believe in her and what she’s trying to do with DNA Investigations. “When I left to come to meet you today, Shane called out – ‘good luck with your interview today!’ We chuckle over that – kids can be such champions.


your ears & your brain:



hen you think of great partnerships, what comes to mind? Abbott and Costello? Sonny and Cher? Batman and Robin?

How about your brain and your ears? Surprising, perhaps, but true. Our ears simply pick-up sounds and pass them to their partner -- the brain. The brain then makes sense of sounds and turns them into meaning. When the brain receives less information than it needs to process the sound scene you are in, it must work harder to turn that sound into meaning. The brain must fill in the gaps and try to guess what is being said. The harder the brain works to hear, the more tired we become and the more tempting it may be to withdraw from social activities. This, in turn, can lead to isolation, depression and a feeling of exclusion from the world around us. While their functions are distinctly different, your hearing health depends on how well your brain and your ears work together as partners. Your brain relies on both of your ears to collect sound, interpreting the incoming data to decide what to focus on. That information helps the brain decide what is important for understanding speech. The brain then focuses on that specific source -- perhaps the person speaking to you -- while ignoring background noise. Your brain and ears also work together to fight debilitating medical issues. Because we hear with our brains, untreated hearing loss can lead to cognitive difficulties, increasing the


risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. When the brain “forgets” what it’s like to hear, it is difficult to regain those pathways. Not hearing well can lead to social isolation, loss of income or earning potential, depression, anxiety, and anger. Untreated hearing loss may also be an underlying symptom for larger health problems, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes. FOR HEALTHY HEARING EARS, IT IS IMPORTANT TO MANAGE YOUR ABCS • A1c: A simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels. Diabetes may contribute to hearing loss by damaging nerves and blood vessels. • Blood pressure: High blood pressure seems to accelerate age-related hearing loss by restricting blood flow to the inner ear and to the regions of the brain involved with hearing. • Cholesterol: Maintain healthy LDL/HDL levels to keep your blood vessels clear. Heart disease has been tied by studies to hearing loss. THERE ARE OTHER STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO KEEP YOU HEARING HEALTHY: • Turn down the volume: Protect your ears from excessive noise with headphones or disposable earplugs if you engage in a noisy occupation, hobbies or know you’ll be attending an event where noise levels will be excessive. • Don’t smoke.

Mask-wearing can exacerbate hearing difficulties. Pandemic safety measures can make it harder to communicate. Indeed, many of the CDC recommendations for preventing the spread of the Coronavirus are creating communication problems for the 48 million Americans -approximately 20 percent of the population-- who are living with hearing loss. Here are three obvious examples:

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• Muffled Speech: Face masks help to slow the spread of the virus from person to person. Yes, masks also create muffled speech, making words more difficult to understand. • Hearing at a distance: Responsible social distancing suggests that you should maintain six feet or more between yourself and others to minimize transmission of the virus. Unfortunately, the further you are from someone, the more difficult it is to hear them. Research by the Acoustical Society of America also suggests that moving farther away decreases a person’s attention span for focusing on understanding speech. | 518-581-2480

• Visual Cues: Another unintended consequence of face masks and social distancing is the elimination of visual cues like facial expressions, body language, and lip reading, which are vital for the human brain to process and understand speech. Whether you are participating in a virtual meeting (i.e. Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc.) or are in-person but behind a face covering, it is more difficult to connect with and understand others. If you have a hearing loss (whether diagnosed or not), you are probably both exhausted and increasingly frustrated when trying to communicate while abiding by the recommended guidelines to keep yourself and others safe and healthy. The good news is that we understand your challenges and have solutions to help you, during this time of wearing masks and beyond. In addition, to keep your brain healthy, medical professionals recommend getting good sleep, regular physical exercise, and engaging in mind-challenging activities, such as crossword puzzles. To keep your hearing healthy, hearing healthcare professionals recommend having a baseline hearing test at age 50 — or sooner if you suspect you have hearing loss — and to address any hearing loss diagnosis immediately. Scientists have been studying the relationship between hearing and the brain for decades. Their findings are used by hearing instrument manufacturers to improve hearing solutions and by audiologists to evaluate and treat patients. Thankfully, the majority of age-related hearing loss can be treated with hearing instruments. While hearing aids do not restore normal hearing, hearing aid users report greater satisfaction with their daily lives. Your brain and hearing are a dynamic duo that work together not only to help you hear, but to maintain your overall health. Anyone with concerns about their hearing should discuss it with their audiologist who can help you keep your ears and brain working in tandem. Contact audiologist Dr. Robin Solomon, Doctor of Audiology at Hearing Care Resources, to learn more about our assistive technology options and effective strategies for boosting communication. With so many things out of your control at this time, you can still choose communication strategies that will improve your quality of life to keep your ears and brain working together in partnership. Call 518-580-0080 or visit us at www.Hearing.Pro! SF


A New Era of Age-Friendly Healthcare What It Means for Older Adults



Photo: Fellowship-trained geriatrician Mallory Otto, MD, is a member of Saratoga Hospital Medical Group – Geriatric Care. Cindi Lisuzzo, BS, RN, Certified Case Manager, is Director of Care Management at Saratoga Hospital. Michelle Little, BS, RN, Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse, is Director of the Cardiac-Renal Medical-Surgical Unit at Saratoga Hospital. Learn more at



aratoga County’s population of residents over age 65 has grown more than 50% in the last decade. Our community needs are changing, both in healthcare settings and at home. As people are living longer, they are needing care for multiple chronic conditions and, often, some form of disability. In addition, older adults have lost much during the pandemic. Long-term social isolation is a serious concern, and while it has been hard on everyone, it’s been especially distressing for older adults. Even before COVID-19, nearly one-fourth of Americans 65 and older were considered socially isolated. This is why age-friendly care is important now, and well beyond the pandemic. Age-friendly care is an approach to healthcare, both inpatient and outpatient, that focuses on meeting the unique needs of older patients. It takes into account their priorities and personal definitions of quality of life. The good news is that there is a growing movement to provide such care across the nation—and Saratoga Hospital is part of that movement. Nonclinical senior facilities and families have roles to play, too. Working with The Healthcare Association of New York State Upstate New York Cohort Action Community, Saratoga Hospital is participating in AgeFriendly Health Systems, an initiative of The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the Catholic Health Association of the United States. As a participant, Saratoga Hospital is recognized as being on the journey to becoming named an Age-Friendly Health System Committed to Care Excellence.

As part of the initiative, Saratoga Hospital is implementing a set of evidence-based interventions specifically designed to improve care for older patients. Known as the “4Ms,” these interventions include: • What Matters: Know and align care with each older adult’s specific health outcome goals and care preferences across settings of care, including, but not limited to, end-of-life care. • Medication: If medication is necessary, use age-friendly medication that does not interfere with What Matters to the older adult, Mobility, or Mentation across settings of care. • Mentation: Prevent, identify, treat, and manage dementia, depression, and delirium across settings of care. • Mobility: Ensure that older adults move safely every day in order to maintain function and do What Matters. Age-Friendly Care begins with what matters most to older adults. When we learn what matters to them, we document it, discuss it with the patient’s care team, and incorporate it into their care plans.

connections with our older adult patients, calming their fears, sharing in their memories, and making them feel comfortable. More than half of our patients are geriatric, and we have long embraced the values behind these interventions. We’ve seen, firsthand, the difference this Age-Friendly initiative can make for our patients and their loved ones. We’re excited to be part of this movement and help ensure that patients receive Age-Friendly Care during their time in the hospital in preparation for return to the community. Working together with families and our civic partners, we can promote the physical, emotional, and cognitive wellbeing of older adults. That, in turn, will have a lasting impact on our communities. Learn more about Age-Friendly Health Systems and the “4Ms” at SF

These priorities are considered in every decision regarding the patient’s medication, mental activity, and mobility. We share the information across the emergency department, intensive care units, medical-surgical units, general units, and primary and specialty care settings. Understanding what matters to older adults enables us not only to tailor their care plans but also to build trust, especially now, when families can’t be here. Our staff are forging




As the Coronavirus continues to ravage the world and quarantine continues to be our reality many people have turned to social media applications to socially connect with others. One such app is Tik Tok which has taken the nation by storm in recent months, and if you are a parent of a teenager you have likely known about it for quite some time, yet can’t figure out the attraction. 60  | SARATOGA FAMILY | SPRING 2021

Founded by Zhang Yiming, the founder and CEO of chinabased company Bytedance, Tik Tok was created by Zhang in 2014 and released to the international market in 2017. Since then, Tik Tok has been exploding in popularity with over 800 million active users and 2 billion downloads on the app store and the google play store.

Part of Tik Tok’s rise in popularity is its dependence on trends. No kid wants to miss what’s trending. Trends on Tik Tok typically consist of people doing dances for fun such as the Renegade which went viral, causing Tik Tok’s rise to popularity in 2018. The Renegade trend consisted of people dancing to Atlanta rapper K-Camp's hit song “Lottery.” More recent trends include people riding skateboards and drinking bottles of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice causing Ocean Spray’s sales to rise drastically. This trend started after an Idaho man, formerly known as 420doggface208, (now known worldwide!) realized his car battery died, leaving him stranded on his way to work. But, not to be deterred, the man got out his skateboard, pulled out a bottle of juice, and flipped on Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and posted a pic – he is now a viral sensation, known the world over because of Tik Tok. So why is it that teens keep coming back to Tik Tok? A part of it could be a fear of missing out. Fear of missing out has always been a part of people's lives, however the issue has been amplified with social media, especially in teens. It is not uncommon for teens to be constantly checking their phones to see what their friends are up to, so they don’t miss out on something important. So how does this relate to Tik Tok? Teenagers may be scared that they will miss a trend or important piece of information if they aren’t frequently checking Tik Tok - as the last thing they would want - is to be out of the loop in a conversation about

a Tik Tok trend they don’t know about. Some teens even get stressed out and anxious when they realize their friends made a Tik Tok without them. If you combine this fear of missing out with Tik Tok’s incredibly addictive algorithm and trends that explode in popularity constantly, you have an app that can keep teens hooked for hours. But what is Tik Tok’s algorithm? It is built in such a way that it will constantly recommend users content similar to what the user has liked in the past. Along with this a user can swipe endlessly, giving your kid a never-ending stream of content to view. This constant flow of content helps to make the app highly addictive for teenagers and even some adults. In these times, apps like Tik Tok are more important than ever, especially for teens to fight the loneliness of quarantine. The best thing to do if your teenager seems like they are spending hours on end using social media is to sit down and talk with them. Instead of taking their phone away (because this will only serve to make them more anxious) spend quality family time with them, having them suggest Tik Toks that you might like – there is a Tik Tok for everybody and every interest, it is not just dancing - politics, comedy, health, pets – ask them to show you around. Checking in with your children can help promote a closer bond between you guys and can make it easier for them to open up to you in the future. SF





nce a parent comes to accept that their child has an emotional disability, and they recognize that it's time to take action, where do they turn next? What factors should parents consider when searching for a therapeutic community for their child?

“Some of the effects of Therapeutic Communities are predicted directly by belongingness research and provide direct evidence of belongingness being a central aspect of successful TC treatment. An increase in a sense of belongingness is associated with reductions in suicidality and aggression, and an increase in feelings of well-being. These are areas in which Therapeutic Communities appear to have an effect.” Research tells us that a group community setting can be

instrumental in helping a child gain a sense of identity. It's known that when children with mental and emotional disabilities form social bonds with others who are similar to themselves, they feel less stress and are more able to cope with their individual issues. Likewise, families take refuge in connections with other families who are traveling a similar course. Our third family in this editorial series has a daughter who attends The Charlton School. The mother was a parent who really knew her child and it was clear there were signs that her child was in crisis. “It’s not like it happened overnight. The issues evolve over time. You use interventions that are at your disposal. It cycles…it gets better… and then worse again,” said the mother.

Her child went to public school before The Charlton School. The mother kept escalating the level of support until the last evaluation said, “You have to send her away!” The mother described something significant safety-wise that occurred the last 6 to 8 months before she sent her daughter to Charlton. Both parents didn’t want to send their child to a residential facility, but also wanted to keep her alive, out of jail, and off the streets.


“In the mental health care system, there is little continuity of care,” the mom commented. “The therapist leaves, the kids age out of the program, etc. Most therapeutic navigation systems are built to fit grown-ups and not kids. The standard response is group, family or individual therapy and then the kid has to go into the world and function.”

The mom cautioned that “there are so many predatory organizations out there waiting for families to feel desperate.” You don’t want to make a decision about residential treatment during a crisis when vulnerability is high and rational decision making is less likely. Along her personal journey, the Mom found tremendous resource in a consultant who goes to programs and visits kids who she places in the programs.

Consequently, she’s familiar with what’s good and bad about each program. The mom asked the consultant, “If you had to pick an approved place in NYS where would you choose?” and the consultant answered, “The Charlton School!” The parent said, “We couldn’t imagine a more perfect place for her!”

Of the Charlton School the mom commented, “Charlton is a special place! Upon first touring the school, I was impacted by the therapeutic team and how they talked about their approach. Charlton is guided by therapeutic principles, flexible, they talk to you, no judgment, and there’s a constant feeling that they’re there for you and your kid and they truly care for your kid. They work with the kids where they’re at.” As a result of Charlton, her daughter is doing great in school and achieving straight As for the first time since 5th grade!

As far as advice for other parents travelling a similar road, “Seek out a high-quality professional evaluation even if you have to cut corners to pay for it. You need to find an informed voice and strive to understand what’s going on. Find people you trust in the system.

Invest time and energy into finding who’s good. This resource could be your pediatrician or someone in the school system. Reach out to others who have gone through something similar. Sometimes just talking to them helps you know what not to do. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. It may be hard to admit you need help, but you need to do it in the interest of the child.” The mom added, “When choosing a residential facility, it’s important to recognize that the balance of therapeutic care and academics is critical. Understand that you know your child better than anyone. Be discerning in whose opinion you go with. And don’t let anyone along the way shame you!”

The mother went on to express, “Family is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain. When the family structure stops working, it impacts everyone. That’s why it’s especially important not to let things deteriorate into a toxic situation.” The power of family and community work hand-in-hand in accelerating the healing and growth pattern of

the child. The Charlton School offers a safe place where students can discover a comfortable ‘alikeness’ with other students and form social bonds that provide the necessary connections to foster their mental well-being and self-growth.

When asked if her child is ready to go back into the world yet, the parent responded, “Not yet, but Charlton is the place that will get her there!” The Charlton School is a therapeutic learning community offering the right treatment in the right environment for students who struggle with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or complex traumas. The Charlton School also sees students who exhibit school refusal, fragility, or withdrawal; students lacking in self-esteem, motivation, or social skills; or students who are struggling with relationship or identity issues. The Charlton School strives to create a safe and nurturing environment that fosters growth in their students and empowers them to succeed educationally and emotionally throughout their lives. For more information on The Charlton School, visit SF





O P PO RT U N I T Y I S A DOO R . “As we grow up, we are given new opportunities. These opportunities, to me, are like endless doorways. We can open a new door that pops up or we can walk past. We can look at the door and observe its craftsmanship and maybe even take our time to peek inside to see what lies beyond the door.

I am grateful for the several doors that had opened for me during my childhood. I had the chance to try out all sorts of hobbies, from stage crew and art club to being a wrestling manager and playing for a local club rugby team.

All these experiences gave me a taste for what my future could look like. I could continue to be a player on the rugby team or maybe I could become a coach. I could continue finding plays who needed volunteers or I could paint scenes I thought up in my head in the safety of my home. All of us grow up at one point or another in some manner of the word, but with growing up we can see that new 64  | SARATOGA FAMILY | SPRING 2021

horizons are opened to us. We are able to seek new goals, and craft new ideas in our minds.

Growing up shouldn’t always be focusing on your career or even college, but rather on chasing the dreams that make you; you. I always dreamed of sailing to new horizons, at first, I didn’t know how this might fit into my adult working life, but I soon found out that I could be a sailor while still living near my family. At age 25 I found what my heart was searching for, the opportunity to become a United States Sailor. It gave me the ability to go to college for much cheaper than my counterparts. It also allowed me to become a photographer. It gives me the chance to volunteer to do humanitarian work overseas, and it gave me the chance to be a part of something bigger than myself. In this world, you can be anything you want, but it’s up to you to go out there and make it happen.” SF



t was election night, November 2, and in an instant, Pumpkin dashed out the door after seven happy years of living inside. Her devoted pet mom could not believe what she had just seen! Pumpkin had never tried to get out before. Because Pumpkin had been adopted from H.O.P.E., her pet mom called to ask for help. They suggested she make flyers, and distribute them throughout the area, and offered to loan her a trap to put outside her house. H.O.P.E. cat adoption associate Katelyn went over and searched the woods, looking for Pumpkin. Another Adoption Associate Len decided to make it his mission to help find this missing cat. He suggested a trail cam would be helpful and sure enough, it showed hungry dogs, other cats, a racoon, a fox, and many squirrels looking for a free meal, but no Pumpkin.

On January 18th, two and a half months after Pumpkin went missing, she was spotted in the neighborhood! Len set up the trail cam with the permission of the neighbors and saw all kinds of critters including a cat who sure looked like Pumpkin in the middle of a flock of turkeys who were sharing their birdseed with her! The trail cam enabled Len to see what time of night Pumpkin was active.

Len immediately went to work designing a heated container to house the humane trap. This is a critical step for catching cats in the middle of winter. Cats can easily freeze in an unheated trap. He baited the trap and left it by the neighbor’s shed where the cat had last been seen. In the morning, Pumpkin was in the trap, but when he picked it up, the door loosened, and she got away! (Len had received several bites from Pumpkin, but nothing deterred him.) He decided to put out some other heated “cat houses” with unset traps and food so Pumpkin would get used to entering and eating inside them. There had been snow for Len to track Pumpkin’s movement, so he knew the best places to set the trap after she got used to going in to eat. It worked and Pumpkin was finally trapped!!!

She had gone from weighing almost 13 lbs. to 6.5 lbs and was dehydrated, but she was OK!! The vet said she had done remarkably well. The cardiologist said her heart condition had actually improved with the weight loss. Pumpkin and her mama (and H.O.P.E.!) would like to thank all the fine folks who helped get Pumpkin back home, especially Len who was “all in” from the beginning. SF




The COVID-19 Pandemic has elicited a bit of soul searching in everyone and I’m no exception! Throughout the past year a number of thought-provoking questions have surfaced in my mind. If you’re feeling a little restless and stir crazy too, hopefully this will give us all something to look forward to.

ALLOW ME TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU, TO HELP PLAN YOUR “WHAT’S NEXT?” 1. What gives you solace and a sense of wellbeing as you navigate the day-to-day challenges?

2. What are you feeling? Are you optimistic and thriving? Or merely surviving? Maybe a little of both? 3. Are you pro-active? Choosing to help anyone or somehow make a difference? On reflection, is there anything you wish to share with others?

4. What have you missed the most? How will you re-introduce it to your life? Will you do so post pandemic? Or have you already begun the process?

5. What has the pandemic taught you? Moving forward, what lessons will you take with you? What will you choose to leave behind?

6. What do you hope your life will look like post-pandemic? How will you manifest it? Have you identified personal goals you will pursue? Interesting questions, don’t you think? I’m sure you have a few of your own, answered or unanswered. No matter what vision you’re holding for your unique life going forward, I wish you joy, peace, and blessings.

I’m hopeful that your “what’s next” is going to be AMAZING and if you’re pondering any other aspects of LIFE AFTER 70 please send them along to with LIFE AFTER 70 in the subject line – looking forward to hearing from you! SF

Ms. Ryan is a vibrant, single, senior who recently relocated to this area, and is enjoying reconnecting with family & friends. She is a proud mother, grandmother, and most recently great grandmother to twins! A retired Registered Nurse, her professional accomplishments include 38 years of service in a variety of medical settings in the public & private sector, including the NYS Department of Corrections. Ms. Ryan self-published the magazine, New Vision, and was a vocal advocate for the physically & mentally challenged; assisting with the development & implementation of the Surrogate DecisionMaking Committee, for the NYS Commission on Quality of Care, and presented at numerous conferences throughout the State. She founded the New York State Association of Nurses for the Physically & Mentally Challenged, serving as President for two years & initiated the association’s first newsletter. SUSIE RYAN

Susie’s outfit is from Lifestyles of Saratoga | Hair and Makeup by Diane Palma | Photo by Super Source Media