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Spring 2018


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Spring Has Sprung

And it’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it? The weather starts to warm up, the parks come alive, and my personal favorite–the spring skiing.

As I look forward to the transition from winter to spring, I am so excited to introduce the very first edition of Saratoga Family magazine! This helpful guide to raising a family in Saratoga County has something for everyone. We’ve got advice, activities and personal stories for all ages, from newborns to seniors; and we couldn’t forget about the family pets! Our contributors each bring something unique and different to the table. I personally have learned so much from them and think you will too. In this edition, as with all future editions, you will find a little something for everyone… Are you a new parent who feels in over their head? Turn to page 22. Want to learn how to grow a garden with your family? Check out page 36. Looking for parenting advice? Flip to page 42. Looking to stay healthy? Check out these amazing seniors on page 12. The weather’s nice and you want to go for a day trip? We’ve got suggestions for that, too! (Page 58). I had so much fun putting together this first edition of Saratoga Family, I really think you are going to love it! There’s so much more in this issue, so without further ado… settle down in your favorite reading nook, and begin your spring daydreams. Here’s to lilacs, open windows, outdoor activities and all things spring!

Happy Reading & Happy Spring! Samantha

Samantha Nock

Managing Editor & Graphic Designer

» DID YOU KNOW WE HAVE A COMPLETE DIGITAL EDITION? Want to show a friend the article you saw - or an event you’d like to go to together? Easy, sign up for our digital edition at using the link in the top left hand corner of our homepage for free online delivery to your inbox!

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Owner/Publisher Chad Beatty General Manager Robin Mitchell Managing Editor/ Graphic Designer Samantha Nock Advertising Designer Morgan Rook Advertising Sales Jim Daley Cindy Durfey Contributing Writers Chad Beatty Dr. Randy Cale Martel Catalano Lorna Dupouy Jodie Fitz Richard Frank Megan Harrington Megin Potter Nell Pritchard Dr. Ashley Serfis Jason Spector Theresa St. John Katherine Morna Towne Maureen Werther Rebecca Whalen Photographers Stacey Hetherington 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 © 2018, Saratoga TODAY Newspaper

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travel 58 DAY TRIPS to the east of Saratoga Springs

furry friends 61 PETS ARE FAMILY MEMBERS, T00 as told by Veterinarian Dr. Ashley Serfis 64 READER SUBMITTED PET PHOTOS


Local Spotlight

Tips and tricks

10 LEGENDS OF THE SUN Local teen, in Civil Air Patrol

30 DAD HACKS with Chad Beatty

Health and wellness

33 GOOD MANNERS and Summer Camp Etiquette Tips

12 60 IS THE NEW 40 Three inspiring seniors


16 EXCITEMENT RIGHT OFF THE BAT Saratoga-Wilton Youth Baseball

36 GROWING TOGETHER Grown your own garden as a family

19 LIVING BEYOND OUR BATTLES Two young women form non-profit Beyond My Battle

37 RECIPES WITH JODIE FITZ Quick and Easy for those busy spring nights


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38 FOOD FOR CHILDREN Healthy options for picky eaters

parenting 42 SUCCESSFUL CHILDREN Tips from Dr. Randy Cale 44 STOPPING BULLYING Sweethearts & Heroes 49



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Dr. Randy Cale

Megin Potter

Dr. Cale is a Clifton Park-based parenting expert, author, speaker, and licensed psychologist who offers practical, no-nonsense parenting advice for all ages. His website,, features hundreds of articles and dozens of parenting products that will help you achieve your goal of happier children and a peaceful home. Additionally, Dr. Cale works with couples and provides individual counseling. Submit questions to and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Megin is an expressive writer and artist with work published in books, newspapers, corporate communications, and online. A resident of the region for over 20 years, she continues to discover anew the interesting people, places, and products it has to offer. As a mother to her active young son, she is inspired to explore even more.

Jodie Fitz

Jason Spector

Jodie Fitz is the creator and personality of the Price Chopper Kids Cooking Club and currently travels in a six-state region cooking with children to encourage taste-testing fun through a hands-on cooking experience. She is a wife, mother of three, and currently authors several monthly columns. You can always find what she’s up to in her kitchen at

Jason Spector is a 20-year veteran physical education teacher, strength and conditioning coach, wrestling coach, speaker, husband and father. He's also a “Sweetheart” and a real life “Hero.” He works hard to save and change lives daily everywhere he goes through H.O.P.E. and Action. He's a co-creator of Sweethearts and Heroes, which is both a message and a movement that fights bullying through bystander empowerment, and empathy activation. It also educates parents, teachers and children on hope and hopelessness.

Megan Harrington

Theresa St. John

Megan is a toddler mom and freelancer writer living in Cambridge, NY. Megan writes for a variety of local, regional, and national magazines and websites. She also writes about running and mom-life on her blog

Theresa is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Saratoga Springs. Even though history was not on her radar while in high school, she has a deep interest in all things historical now. She has been on assignment for several magazines and is published in both print and online venues. Last year she traveled to Ireland on assignment, which, she states "was a trip of a lifetime." She is the proud mom to two young men and Nonnie to six rescued dogs, two chinchillas, and a bird. Life is good, she says.

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Kate Morna Towne Katherine Morna Towne is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Saratoga TODAY. She loved growing up in Saratoga Springs, and feels so blessed to be bringing up her children here as well. Kate and her husband have six sons, ages 3 to 13.

Maureen Werther Maureen Werther is the owner of WriteForYou, a professional freelance writing service specializing in business writing, web and blog content, and creative non-fiction. Her articles, essays and white papers appear on the pages of businesses on the web and around the globe. She is also a regular contributor to numerous newspapers, magazines and journals throughout the Capital Region. She is the author of a soon to be published book, “Them That Has, Gets,” the story of historical 1790’s estate in Schroon Lake and the colorful history of its owners. Currently, she is working on a memoir detailing her roller-coaster adventures as owner of Pie ala Moe, a gourmet pie and tart company she started in 2008, in the midst of the recession.

Rebecca Whalen A Capital Region native, Rebecca Whalen is a wife, mom of one, and the Communications and Development Manager for local food-access nonprofit, Capital Roots. By night she is a yogi-in-training and a freelance writer for publications in and around Albany and the Knoxville region of Tennessee, her former home. Her work spotlights innovative nonprofit and philanthropic work as well as local people, businesses and places.

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Legends of the Sun

Ballston lake teen flying high


Reaching for the sky is possible.


“Ever since I was six, I wanted to be in the Air Force. By the time I was seven or eight I’d heard about the Civil Air Patrol and wanted to get in,” said Alec Darling.

Civil Air Patrol cadets are encouraged to push themselves to new limits through a regimen of discipline, physical fitness, and service. They also have the chance to co-pilot a plane.

After joining last year, at the age of 13, Darling was flying.

“It’s pretty fun. I was really excited. When I first got in the cockpit, it

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Ever since I was six, I wanted to be in the Air Force. By the time I was seven or eight I’d heard about the Civil Air Patrol and wanted to get in. - Alec Darling.

was really, really confusing, but once they explained what everything was, it was really simple. It is hard to see over the dashboard, but we did simple maneuvers – like a 360 in the air,” said Darling.

and Christian values into their weekly meetings. Led by CAP Commander Major Steven Schiher, CAP Cadet Commander Lt. Colonel Ronald Ankabrandt, CAP Cadet Captain Robert Salica, and CAP Major MaryLou Falco, the group is dedicated to service. Activities have included placing 11,100 wreaths on fallen soldier gravestones at the Saratoga National Cemetery, welcoming soldiers and veterans at the Albany International Airport as they arrive home, and Color Guard parade marches.

Part of the procedure of experiences afforded to Civil Air Patrol cadets is flying with licensed pilots. Darling has grown up hearing his grandfather’s stories of being a marine in Korea, studying science, and pursuing outdoor activities. Praised for his disciplined and energetic nature, he excels at school and sports. He strives to be an Air Force pilot or Pararescue jumper. “There’s just something about it, it fascinates me,” he said.


In addition to preparing them for high expectations, military-style discipline instills a confidence that helps them with other life skills. They are taught speaking and interview techniques, to respect authority, and have accountability for their actions. They also learn by example. As a US Veteran, and an active dad, when his son showed interest in attending West Point, Schiher joined the Civil Air Patrol in 2012. Schiher views it as an opportunity to give cadets the leadership experience that would help them reach their highest aspirations. “It’s a great opportunity for these cadets to get in and get in touch with practical leadership,” said Schiher. For more information, go to f Alec Darling & Cadet French at their Orientation Flight


The US Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol (CAP) has more than 50,000 members nationwide, including many students between the ages of 12 and 18-years-old. “Its purpose is essentially to provide character, much like the Boy Scouts, in specific missions such as search and rescue, and aerospace. It provides a great deal of experience in terms of discipline and service to the community,” said CAP Captain Greg Schuyler, who co-founded the Captain Luke C. Wullenwaber Squadron at the Ballston Lake Baptist Church with his wife CAP Captain Connie Schuyler in 2008. Named after a giving and Godly infantry soldier, the squadron is celebrating their 10th year of consciously incorporating prayer

Cadet Darling & Shillito with new cadets, Congressman Tonko & Major Schiher

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60 new 40 is the



hat happens when you take three people, whose lives and careers followed different trajectories, and you try to find the common denominator?

For Ray O’Conor, Don Proulx and Christine McKnight, the answer is easy: it’s all about re-defining the meaning of fitness and competition after age 50.

All three of these remarkable and inspiring people are proof positive of the achievements people can make at any age in their pursuit of health, excellence and fulfilling the drive to compete. If you want to be amazed, inspired and motivated, read on….

Running for His Life… For Don Proulx, who is retired and living in Saratoga Springs with his wife Anne, health and fitness were things he took for granted as a young man. Originally from Massachusetts, Don first arrived here as a machinist for the US Navy in the 1980s. Don ran cross-country in high school and managed to stay in fairly good shape throughout his 20-year career in the Navy. Of course, his standards for what constitutes “health and fitness” may have evolved since then. Don recalls that, while he managed to stay at a decent weight by running and exercising, he got into the habit of occasionally smoking cigarettes and doing a lot of sitting around in between duty assignments while in the Navy. Having a family history of high cholesterol and diabetes was something that Don kept in the back of his mind and didn’t really pay much attention to – until his physician “read him the riot act” about five years ago. “After the Navy, I worked for Plug Power until 2007. I had injured my leg several years before and, after that, I just never got back into running or exercise. I got into some bad habits and really let myself go.” When Don got the call from his military health insurance program in 2014 that he was due for a physical, it was then that he had his “epiphany.” “I was 5'7" and weighed 210 pounds. All of my numbers – cholesterol, glucose – were bad, and my two brothers had already been diagnosed with diabetes.” Don told himself that it was now or never. “I didn’t want to go out of this world because of the bad choices I’d made,” says Don. He told his wife he was going to commit to getting back into fitness. That was just four years ago. Today, Don is down to a trim 165 pounds and he now runs competitively across the region. He always knew what he had to do. He just needed the motivation to do it. “I started out running 30-45 minutes, three or four times a week.” It took him about six months to lose the 40 pounds he’d gained. “As I got healthier, I started doing longer distance runs, usually running anywhere from 60-90 minutes at a time.” Don explains that he doesn’t focus on distance. He measures his activity in minutes – or in some cases, hours.

Don Proulx

September 2016 Adirondack Half Marathon ©Stacey Hetherington

In 2017, Don ran in a whopping 26 races, ranging in distances from onemile runs to half-marathons. He is a member of a local club, the Saratoga Stryders, and he enjoys running in snow shoes during the winter “for fun.” On a recent visit to his doctor’s office for a checkup, the doctor said, “Whatever you’re doin’, just keep doin’ it!” Don plans on doing exactly that.

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Ray O'Connor

Mount Katahidn in Maine, one of the Northeast 115. The stretch of rock behind Ray is called The Knife's Edge.

TOP: Below the summit of

Mount Kilimanjaro.

BOTTOM: Just below the summit of Seward Mountain, one of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks.

Climb Every Mountain… Like Don, Ray O’Conor also grew up running cross-country in school and beyond. Ray is a hometown boy who grew up Wilton. As a young man, he worked for the US Border Patrol in San Diego, followed by a stint with the Defense Department in Long Island for several years. When he and his wife, Mary, who is from Glens Falls, started a family, the desire to move back to this area drew them back here “like a magnet,” he jokes. “I continued to get faster as a runner until I hit my mid-40’s. That’s when I started to slow down,” he says with a wry smile. In the 1990s, Ray tried his hand at triathlon and competed in dozens of races of varying lengths. He completed his first and only Ironman triathlon – which consists of a 2-mile swim, a 112-mile bike race and a marathon – at the age of 40. “It was my first and only triathlon,” says Ray. After returning to this region, Ray became President and CEO of Saratoga National Bank, a role that Ray says did not lend itself to spending a lot of time training in a pool, on a bike and in long-distance running. While he continued running shorter distances, Ray says that the fascination of running finally began to wear off, and he decided to become involved in another sport – hiking. Since making the change of sport, Ray, who turns 63 this April, has climbed every high peak in the upstate NY region and proudly lays claim to being a “46er.” That’s the number of high peaks in this region. He has also completed the “Northeast 115,” which means he has climbed every mountain in New York, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. It took him six years to complete this feat. Ray says that hiking has several advantages over running. “Even though I’m out on the trail up to 12 hours a day, I hurt less afterwards than I did after a five-mile run. Hiking is a very different motion and the trails are softer, not as punishing to the body.”

“And every time I go out, a little magic happens. It could be the view, something I spot along the trail, or something that takes place on the hike.” Ray recalls a recent hike that was particularly challenging. Even though he knew he was near the summit, he was – in his words – tuckered out. “Out of nowhere, this sweet little bird came along and rested on a tree limb not far away from where I was resting, and he stared chirping at me.” It was as if the bird knew Ray needed a little encouragement to get back on the trail and finish the climb. “It gave me the second wind I needed to reach the top.” Since becoming involved in hiking, Ray has climbed some pretty high peaks, one of them being Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, which rises to a staggering 19,630 feet. “It’s the only place in the world where you travel through all three climate zones in one trip.” The fabled mountain, perhaps most symbolically depicted in Hemingway’s famous novel, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, required weeks of preparation and making sure the group had all the proper equipment for each phase of the trek. The guide Ray and his group hiked with was an invaluable resource and did a great job of making sure Ray and his fellow climbers became gradually acclimated to the altitude. Ray recalls the last leg of their journey took them from 15,000 feet to 19,000 feet in the final day of the climb. It was an experience that Ray will never forget. Ray recalls that, when he got into his mid-50’s, “I started thinking about the second half of my life. After all, there’s no reason why a person can’t live to be 100 years old!” When I ask him if that means summiting Mount Everest between now and his 100th birthday, Ray just gives me a smile and says that his wife may have something to say about that.

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f Christine McKnight

Ironman World Championships, 2013

Say Hello to Ironwoman… The last – but by no means least – of this intrepid trio is Christine McKnight. Within the first few minutes of meeting her, I realize I am in the presence of a force to be reckoned with. Her silvery hair is cut in a non-nonsense bob that frames her youthful, almost pixielike appearance. And while she may be small, make no mistake, Christine is power-packed with indomitability. Unlike her two male counterparts, Christine, who turned 70 last November, didn’t really become active in sports until she was in her late 30’s. With a busy career in journalism, first at the Associated Press for ten years and, later working for the State of New York at the University of Albany, Chris decided that she wasn’t completely satisfied with her somewhat sedentary lifestyle. While she says she was something of a tomboy growing up, she adds that, “in the 1940s and 1950s, there was no Title IX and no real sports opportunities for young girls.” Not one to live a life that is anything less than completely fulfilling, Chris started out walking to get into shape. Before long, Chris began entering the annual Freihofer’s Run for Women. Between the ages of 36 and 50, Chris was strictly a runner, becoming very accomplished at it, incidentally, competing in six marathons and completing two Boston Marathons. “I got into triathlon,” she tells me, because of injuries I sustained from running.” Twenty years ago, the triathlon boom was

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just taking off, and the cross-training necessary to compete in a triathlon were just what the doctor ordered to help Chris overcome her running-related injuries. Chris says that she wasn’t a very good triathlete and she calls herself a “late bloomer.” But, not one to quit just because she wasn’t coming in first, fifth, even tenth, Chris has managed to run an incredible 120 triathlons, ranging from “sprints,” which means doing shorter distances in each leg, to the famous Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii. Since retiring from her career, Chris has had a lot more time to devote herself to becoming a better triathlete. She re-focused on the sport and created an environment for herself that would be more conducive to success and achieving her goals. “I hired a coach and began training in a more structured way. I also began to pay better attention to how I was fueling my body.” Chris says that having a good team around her and associating herself with others who share similar goals, have made a big difference. She refers to her re-dedication at age 62 as a “complete reset,” and she credits it with giving her a “second career” as a triathlete. By the time Chris turned 65, she’d won many of the shorter distance triathlons that she’d competed in, and she seriously set her sights on the Olympic-length Ironman.

“I just had to give myself permission to take the risk,” she adds, saying that failing to allow yourself to try something is a stumbling block for so many people who allow a number like age to hold them back. In 2012, Chris completed the Lake Placid Triathlon – her first Ironman. From there, she completed the Eagle Half-Iron. Then, in 2013, she qualified for – and finished 12th in her class – at the world-famous Ironman World Championship in Kona. Make no mistake – Chris was in some very serious company, a world class field of athletes. In 2017, Chris again competed at Lake Placid, qualifying her once more to compete in Kona. Chris is now nationally ranked and has placed in the top five with USA Triathlon and is a member of its prestigious Century Club. “I’m in the mix with my peer group,” she adds with much deserved pride. For Chris, athleticism and competition are a lifestyle and something she continues to love and keep working at. Her mantras are “never give up, keep dreaming, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.” Christine is also the grandmother of four little girls, ages 7, 5, 4, and 2. Her goal is to one day run a 5k race with them. f

Ironman Lake Placid, 2017

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Excitement Right Off

the Bat



After a game, the players line up and shake the hands of their opponents. It’s a routine gesture, but an important part of the process - symbolic of baseball’s power to unite.

“For the younger kids, one of their favorite parts is to line up and shake hands at the end. Some of them like it so much they get back in line to keep doing it again and again,” said Joe Rigabar, Saratoga-Wilton Youth Baseball President.

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Teamwork Makes the Dream Work Last year, Saratoga American Little League and Wilton Youth Baseball merged their leagues to form Saratoga-Wilton Youth Baseball (SWYB). The combined organization consists of four Cal Ripken divisions (for kids to age 12), a Babe Ruth

division (for ages 12 to 15), and the Blue Sox Travel Baseball Team. In their inaugural year, 500 families participated in the SWYB league. “We feel like baseball is starting to make a little bit of a comeback. The numbers are increasing dramatically, and we hope that will continue. We had a good All-Star Team over the summer (which is a nice byproduct) but seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces – that’s what it’s all about,” said Rigabar.

Hustle and Play Ball! With so many other activities to divert their attention, baseball’s popularity was waning in Saratoga County, but is again winning their interest. “A lot of parents–for the right reasons, really–encourage their kids to participate,” said Rigabar. Playing on both the Gavin Park and East Side Recreation fields allows for safer, more structured games that better prepare players for advanced-level competition. New flags and signage instill a sense of pride, as do the new PA sound system and batting cages. “We’ve made a big investment in the facility, our equipment, and the overall commitment to the kids’ experience. There’s really good excitement about the new league,” said Rigabar. Registration fees have remained flat despite these expenses, financial aid is available, and there is no required fundraising. Costs are defrayed through sponsorships with local businesses and organizations.

Put Me In, Coach With the goal of giving as many kids as possible the chance to practice and play games, this season’s teams will be constructed by the end of March. SaratogaWilton Youth Baseball will then have three full weeks to practice before games begin. After that, one practice and one game will be held every week. Although they currently have a good number of coaches, they could always use more, said Rigabar. In addition to teaching youngsters the fundamentals of baseball, SWYB coaches emphasize sportsmanship and teamwork. Kids cheer from the dugout, clap for their teammates on the mound, and immediately drop to a knee if someone is injured. Each child will be given the opportunity to play every position. “It’s a way for kids to start to learn challenging stuff and deal with adversity. Everyone strikes out and gets an error. We make it all about having fun, the love of the game, and being with friends,” said Rigabar. To register and find out more, go to f

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Nell & Martel of Beyond My Battle



hen we met for the first time at Uncommon Grounds, it was a cold day in the winter of 2016. Our parents introduced us after discovering they had daughters about the same age, both living with difficult health conditions in Saratoga. Over big bowls of oatmeal and steaming hot coffee, our friendship was immediate. While one of us has a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, and the other has cystic fibrosis, which affects the lungs and digestive system, there was a kindred spark of trust and honesty. Despite our inability to grasp each other’s struggles on a physical level, we related on an emotional one.

From that day onward, we began to turn to each other as a form of sounding board and support. We quickly found that we were able to discuss things that are hard to talk to other people about. And while we both have wonderful families and friends, it’s hard for others to understand the emotional interpretation of experiences when you have an incurable medical condition. Things like cringe-worthy stories from the past and fears over our unknown futures poured out of us. We talked about everyday vulnerabilities for our respective illnesses, and how we’re both doing our best to live without being confined by our diagnoses. There was no judgment and no comparison.

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A positive space to rise above what we can't change


One of the first things we discovered was how we had both previously sought out support around our conditions earlier in life. More specifically, we’d each explored online groups for our cystic fibrosis and retinitis pigmentosa. And it’s no surprise why! We were eager to find someone else like ourselves who could relate to what we were going through–especially since no one in our families had our rare conditions. What we individually had found, prior to our meeting, was that disease-specific groups often have a tendency to draw in those who want to compare notes, vent, and sink further into the anxiety, sadness, fear, and anger that comes with living with something you can’t fix. Scary stories and sad incidents are often shared in these spaces, so we’d both stayed away from them for quite some time. They made us fearful, doubtful, and hopeless. As two people living with incurable diseases, we knew how damaging this can be to one’s spirit. Commiserating around the negative aspects of a diagnosis increases stress, and we all know how detrimental stress can be on the body and mind. One of us works in the mental health field, and the other is a yoga teacher, so connecting the dots between heightened stress and well-being wasn’t hard to do. But it was especially troublesome when we began to think about how it’s compounded for someone living with a disease or disability. Chronic stress compromises a variety of bodily functions, including the

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immune system. It increases pain and puts us at risk for disease. In other words, it could compromise the health of someone whose health is already compromised. We wondered why it had to be this way. Why the spaces we seek support instead bring us down–increasing our stress and potentially putting us at risk. And why people gravitate toward these kinds of groups. Over many more coffees, we began to explore the idea of changing the conversation–shifting the negatives to positives. We thought, "wouldn't it be nice to leave a support group feeling better than when you got there, instead of worse?" If we wanted this kind of space, surely there are others out there who did, too. So we started an online support group on Facebook called Beyond My Battle. It welcomed anyone with any kind of disease or disability. Our focus was simple: to harness positive thought, mindfulness, and self-care. Immediately after starting Beyond My Battle our suspicion was confirmed. There were many people like us who wanted to escape the negatives surrounding their condition by embracing positivity, exploring the mind-body connection, and reframing their identity beyond their diagnosis. We also confirmed that by diversifying the community–rather than focusing on a specific condition–the pessimistic energy went down. In the group, there is little discussion around the perils of a certain illness, and therefore no gateway to compare or vent about it.

People from all over the world, with all kinds of conditions, come together to discuss and learn about how to manage the emotional stressors of living with something they, or someone they love, can’t fix. It is a community where people find unity not in limitations due to a shared illness, but in emotional struggles that cut across all conditions. A place of light, rather than darkness. Turning Beyond My Battle into a nonprofit became our vision shortly thereafter. The organization’s mission was clear from the start: to provide emotional support, resources, education and inspiration for people living with chronic diseases and disabilities, as well as their loved ones. After the feedback we were getting from our group, we knew there was a need for further learning and empowerment. One of the main motivators behind Beyond My Battle is to break down the self-imposed boundary that our conditions define us–because we had both defined ourselves, or lived in the fear of our respective conditions for so long. Today Beyond My Battle helps others learn how to live life to the fullest, rather than in sadness or anger. We leverage topics that

stretch beyond a single condition. Topics that explore deeper mental and emotional themes, such as the loss of independence, how to ask for help, communication with loved ones, and overall wellbeing. As Beyond My Battle continues to grow, it will expand on its offerings for people anywhere with any kind of disease or disability–providing accessible, easy to use information and tools on managing stress and maximizing self-love. These offerings will also be extended to and curated for family members, friends, and caretakers. We know that an individual’s network of loved ones is also experiencing chronic stress due to worry, and they can be vulnerable to the emotions and behaviors of the individual with the disease or disability. So we gear a portion of our support and educational resources toward deepening the understanding of their loved one’s stressors. You can get involved with Beyond My Battle in a number of ways. Visit our website at and subscribe to our email list (we will be hosting events in the Saratoga area, and you’ll be the first to know!). You can also help us expand our

programming and reach by donating to Beyond My Battle online. We can’t develop and deliver educational material, offer extensive support, and create awareness without donations from people just like you. Every dollar counts and goes directly toward making sure people with chronic diseases, disabilities, and their loved ones have access to the support and resources they deserve. You can also email us at! Together, we know that we are so much more than our bodies, our minds, and therefore, whatever conditions we battle in them–it’s our goal to help everyone feel the same. f


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Here's Your Baby...


when you bring a baby home for the first time, it's only natural to panic.

I had all sorts of ideas about what motherhood would look like before I had babies. I was comfortable with babies and small children and wasn’t nervous or anxious about having my own. I had strong opinions about how I was going to care for my children and was confident in my abilities. So I was totally unprepared for how terrified I felt bringing my first baby home from the hospital! For me, I think it was in large part due to the fact that I’d spent the previous nine months being the patient. I’d had frequent, regular doctor appointments, and enjoyed being cared for—I knew the baby and I were in good hands, and if any problems occurred for either of us, I would have immediate help. Even in the two days after giving

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birth in the hospital, the nurses were constantly available at the literal touch of a button. When my husband and I arrived home with the baby, we were suddenly the caregivers, the ones in charge! We had to figure things out on our own—there weren’t any medical professionals close by. We had family who helped, a pediatrician’s appointment just a couple of days later, and a lactation consultant at the hospital who I went to see in that first week, but—especially at the end of the day when it was just us and the baby, who cried a lot, and sleep wasn’t guaranteed—I definitely felt like panicking. I’ve brought five more babies home from the hospital since that first one, and it’s gone better and better each time. If you’re preparing to welcome your first baby (or subsequent babies, too), you might find these tips as helpful as they’ve been to me:


focus on you and the baby as much as possible You have a tiny baby whose demands are fairly constant, and some pretty serious fatigue to deal with at the same time. It’s great if someone else can take over all the other household needs for the first couple of weeks, so you can focus on you and the baby. Try not to worry about anything else but getting to know your baby and yourself as a parent. Some moms prefer to stay in bed with the baby, while I always preferred to be on the couch, so I could experience the normal rhythms of the day while still resting and tending to this new little person in my life and our new relationship. Keep the diapers, wipes, burp cloths, and other baby paraphernalia near you, as well as the phone and the remote control, and plan to keep your feet up for as long as you can.


sleep when the baby sleeps This can be really hard to do if you’re the kind of person who dislikes napping during the day, but if you’re not getting a lot of sleep at night, it can be essential to your mental health and your ability to take care of your baby and yourself if you can catch up on sleep at other times, and when the baby sleeps is ideal. Everything else can wait—sleep is that important. You’ll be amazed at how much sunnier the world looks once you’ve gotten some rest.


ask for help / accept help I’ve found that people are eager to help new parents—especially if the help that’s required is holding the baby! Take advantage of others’ generosity to allow you to shower or eat a meal with both hands, or even get in a nap. Accept offers of food gratefully! Homemade meals are wonderful, and having someone pick up groceries for you can be a huge help. Some may offer to do dishes and laundry and tidy up your home—if you feel comfortable accepting that kind of help, you’ll be able to focus on the baby and yourself even more. But most of all, know that “this too shall pass”—it was only in the very beginning that I really felt like I was in the Twilight Zone—by the time my first baby was six weeks old, my husband and I felt confident enough in our ability to manage that we attended an outof-town wedding with the baby. It won’t be long at all until you’ll feel like as much of an expert as the next mom (who, truthfully, spends a great deal of time questioning all the mothering decisions she makes, but that’s an article for another time). f Kate and her husband have six sons ages 13, 11, 9, 8, 6, and 3. Follow her at, or email her at

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A-B-C's of

Baby Allergies


aby’s first sneeze will likely be so adorable it’ll have you reaching for your camera in the hopes she does it again, but a new parent might also wonder – is that tiny runny nose from hay fever or a cold?

Actually, according to Saratoga Hospital’s Chief of Newborn Medicine Jennifer Lefner, MD, Neonatology and Pediatrics, infants under two years of age rarely have seasonal allergies. The sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose are more likely from a cold or other illness.

“If you think your baby is having seasonal allergies, it’s most likely not,” said Dr. Lefner. “Those symptoms all need to be evaluated by your pediatrician.” Even if parents or siblings have seasonal allergies, it’s unlikely a baby so young would have them, too. That said, if both parents have seasonal allergies, Dr. Lefner advises there is a 60-70% chance of the child developing it eventually. Board Certified in both Neonatal/Perinatal Medicine and General Pediatrics, Dr. Lefner leads a team that provides round-the-clock neonatology coverage at the hospital’s birthing unit. Dr. Lefner

received her fellowship training at Women and Infants Hospital at Brown University, Rhode Island, and practiced neonatology most recently at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany. She is a member of the Saratoga Hospital Medical Group. In her career, she has helped infants and parents through wellness, allergies, illness, nutritional choices, and even the most critical care when necessary.

Environmental Allergies Detergent or lotions are the common culprits for causing skin reactions in babies, although sometimes the object itself is an irritant – like wool, for example. According to the Cleveland Clinic, if a baby’s skin is sensitive to a particular fabric, there will be a red, itchy rash immediately, but it goes away once the clothing or toy is taken away. Skin reactions to diapers usually occur in the creases of the baby’s skin or where the diaper is folded. If your baby is allergic to a detergent or lotion, it can take up to a week for the rash to appear. Fortunately, these kinds of reactions are fairly easy to resolve. “Use cloth diapers if your baby has a severe sensitivity,” recommended Dr. Lefner, “and buy hypoallergenic products that are free of dyes or scents. Products like [Procter &

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f Gamble’s] Dreft are marketed for infants, but can be expensive. Fortunately, there are many generic brands making it now. Read the labels on lotions, detergents – always wash new clothes before putting them on the baby, including the clothes you plan on bringing the baby home in from the hospital.” But, if your baby has a rash PLUS swollen lips or eyelids, wheezing, coughing or other breathing trouble, or vomiting or diarrhea, or has hives, then the problem is not the detergent. It is more likely something your child ingested, but it could be an insect bite or any number of issues, so head straight to the doctor’s office, urgent care or emergency room.

changing of the guidelines. Earlier exposure is better. If an infant has severe eczema or a known egg allergy, then challenge them with peanuts between 4-6 months of age under a physician’s supervision. If your baby has mild to moderate eczema, introduce peanuts at 6 months, and if no eczema, then baby can be challenged in the solid food stage. While there are many protective properties of breast milk, Dr. Lefner said that when it comes to allergies, some research has shown a decreased rate of an infant’s wheezing or rate of eczema, but it’s not long term and the research samples were small.

Finding Solutions There’s no real cure for allergies, but there are some groundbreaking studies that are already helping. Currently, the University of Rochester Medical Center is looking into a Mennonite community where allergies are nearly nonexistent as part of a comparison study with suburban Rochester infants who are considered “at-risk” for developing allergies. Dr. Lefner said that studying the development of the immune system in a population that is “protected” from allergies will lay the groundwork for future studies.

“Still, breast milk is the best first food for infants for the first six months,” said Dr. Lefner. “If they develop a reaction to mom’s diet and start developing eczema, mom is often first asked to restrict dairy. After that, it’s likely there’ll be improvement in the baby’s skin within about two weeks.” Eczema can form on your baby’s scalp, face, cheeks, surfaces of arms, knees and the diaper area. “Not all cradle cap is allergies,” she cautions. “It’s actually a very common condition.”

Food Allergies Usually if a food allergy is going to present itself, it’ll happen during the introduction to solids at four to six months of age. Dr. Lefner recommends introducing just one new food every 3 to 4 days. Any reaction would appear quickly, within a couple hours, usually on the skin. If it is minor, Dr. Lefner said you can make a second attempt, but if there is severe swelling of the lips, or problems breathing, then stop exposure and go to your pediatrician or other doctor immediately. Always check with your doctor before introducing new foods.

Formula is a whole different ballgame when it comes to allergies. Most baby formulas are cow’s-milk based. A rash, eczema, or some blood in your child’s stool could mean he or she is not tolerating cow’s milk well. The reactions to soy formula are about the same, she said, so that is no longer a recommended second option. For infants who are not breastfeeding, Saratoga Hospital first offers a cow's-milk-based formula, and then marches down a list of options until the right type is found for your baby’s needs.

“To be able to create new therapies for food allergies, we must first understand why infants’ immune systems respond the way they do,” she added. “There are other studies that looked at dust in mattresses on a farm that found those children [raised there] had lower [allergy] incidence rates. Babies brought to a home with dogs have fewer allergies, especially if dog exposure falls in the immediate newborn period.”

If siblings have food allergies, Dr. Lefner said it’s best to test babies for those allergies prior to food introduction. “And keep in mind,” she said, “just because a baby tests positive does not mean the baby will be allergic, just that the baby has a sensitivity and could develop an allergy.” Common allergies are to milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shell fish. Dr. Lefner said that in 2015 there was a landmark study published about peanut allergies, and it resulted in widespread

26  SARATOGA FAMILY  //  spring 2018

The earlier the exposure the better but do your research first – see suggested websites below – and don’t do anything without guidance from your pediatrician. What about thumb suckers and nail biters?

“Those kids actually have less allergies – not that we want to condone that behavior,” said Dr. Lefner. And none of this is to suggest skipping the dust cloth and housecleaning, she laughed, but she does caution parents against antibacterial soaps. “General soap and water is best, cheapest and easiest,” she said. “Save the antibacterial soaps for when there is flu or other illness in the household, so you minimize exposure to your baby, but other than that, regular soap and water is just fine.” f

Saratoga Hospital’s Chief of Newborn Medicine Jennifer Lefner, MD, Neonatology, Pediatrics. Photo provided.

There are many good resources for parents to learn more, such as your own child’s pediatrician or the family practice clinics through the Saratoga Hospital Medical Group. For details, visit services/medicalsurgical/family-medicine Also, Saratoga Hospital offers a prenatal education series, including Expectant Parent Night where you can meet Dr. Lefner and ask questions. There are childbirth classes, breastfeeding basics, even a Dads on Duty class in a men-only environment. Learn more at childbirth-education Dr. Lefner recommends two websites that have good information on allergies and other health topics for children:, which is sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics; and, which describes itself as an “evidence-based, physician-authored clinical decision support resource” that Dr. Lefner often uses herself. Dr. Lefner is located at Saratoga Hospital Medical Group - Neonatology 211 Church Street Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. The phone number is (518) 583-8331. You can also find her at William J. Hickey Women’s Health Services. For more information about Dr. Lefner and the Neonatology Unit, please visit

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ne of the toughest things about being a new mom or dad is finding a group of people who get it. You know what I mean–the people you can text about diaper blowouts or will happily meet you for an early bird dinner. But whether you’re still making your way out of the newborn fog or getting ready to tackle the preschool years, making lasting adult friendships can feel daunting. Having a mom (or dad) tribe is essential to navigating the tough work that is parenting. A go-to crew can make you feel less alone, help you solve tricky potty-training problems, or give you some much-needed adult-conversation. But how do you make other parent friends? I have some tips that might help–and luckily the Saratoga area is a great place to connect with other young families!

Structured Activities

Wondering where to begin? Plenty of area businesses and institutions hold activities that bring parents together. Some local favorites include: • Check out the calendar for the Saratoga Springs library–they offer multiple (free!) music classes and story hours. Plus, they have a great playroom for chilly or rainy days. •

New parent meet-ups at Northshire Bookstore in downtown Saratoga. On winter Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m., head to the bookstore to connect with other new parents.

Want to work up a sweat while still keeping an eye on your little one? Check the schedule at the YMCA – most locations offer parent boot camp classes once or twice a week. And if you hit it off with a fellow parent? Take advantage of their on-site childcare and take a spinning class together! Exercising + social time is a great way for busy parents to multi-task.

Whether you’re expecting or in the postpartum period, the prenatal and mommy & me classes at Yoga Mandali are a great way to meet other zen mamas.

Love to cook? Explore the options at Healthy Living Market’s culinary center. From demos to tastings, there’s something for everyone (and every age!).

Just Say Hi


Off to Yog 28  SARATOGA FAMILY  //  spring 2018

Classes not your thing? The next time you’re at the park or strolling the neighborhood, sum up your courage and introduce yourself to a mom or dad with a similarly aged child. Use whatever you can as an icebreaker! For example, a few days ago I noticed that my neighbor and I have the same stroller. As she passed by, I gave her the thumbs up and commented on the brand. The next time I see her, I’m hoping we’ll chat a bit longer. It might feel strange at first, but the more you try it, the more comfortable you’ll get with making introductions. Who knows, the family on the next street might be your future BFFs!

Making friends at the Library!

Great day at Yoga Mandali

Friends without Kids

Got plenty of friends… but none of them have kids? I’ve been there, too. And this one can be a little tricky. Whether your social group is childfree by choice or just a few years away from a family, finding activities you can enjoy together is challenging, but possible. If your little one is small enough for a baby carrier or will cooperate in the stroller, meet a non-mom friend for a weekend stroll through Saratoga Spa State Park. You’ll both get a little exercise, chitchat, and with any luck your babe will sleep the whole time. And whether your friends have kids or not, there’s something to be said for a babysitter night! The Saratoga Regional YMCA occasionally offers “Parents Night Out” at its various locations. For a reasonable fee, you can drop off your kiddo for an evening of crafts and snacks while you enjoy (an early) dinner on the town.

As parents, our kids often come first, but nourishing existing friendships and creating new ones goes a long way in building a strong support network. And if none of these tips work for you? Get in touch! I’m always looking for more parent friends. f

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arenthood, the ultimate gift and the ultimate challenge. We all go into it thinking we have it figured out, only to discover that countless unplanned scenarios arise on a monthly basis. No one said it would be easy, but nothing worth doing right is ever easy.

In today‘s society it seems as though the role of the father is diminished and masculinity has taken a back seat. But statistics, and common sense, show that children need strong men in their lives as much as they need nurturing mothers. To clear up any misconceptions, being a strong man doesn’t mean being rough, tough or unemotional.

A strong man is a virtuous man who lives by a set of moral principles and imparts those values on his children. He stands up for what is right, and sometimes has to make tough decisions, which go against the grain of society. While I don’t claim to be an expert in those areas, I do have many good ‘Dad Hacks’ that I have acquired throughout my parenthood journey. My goal is to share some of these ideas and help you in your journey. Whether you learn a good skill or a good idea, at least you will be spending quality time with your children.

Welcome to… Dad Hacks.

The Car Ride Between work, school, homework, practices, games, meets, screen time and sleep, there is very little time for meaningful conversation with your children. But I have found that car rides are one of the few times you have a captive audience, and it is a perfect time to impart your wisdom, values and life lessons.

➀ ➁ ➂

Here is my 3-point plan for a successful drive time: Set the rule that there will be no games or cell phone use in the car. Be prepared for the backlash. Stand your ground. Smile. It will get easier (hopefully) with each car ride. Tap the advice of the experts for discussion points; that is what they get paid for. They can provide clear, wellthought-out details on a variety of tricky topics. You can also rely on them for ideas that are age appropriate. Topic ideas: premarital sex, obedience, respect for others, prayer/faith, setting goals, friendship, etc. Have your discussion topics planned and rehearsed. There is nothing worse than stumbling through an already difficult conversation. Also, try to make the discussion conversational, not dictatorial. Ask them questions to get involved. Maybe add in a personal story or experience.

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If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money. - Abigail Van Buren

Tying a Square Knot The Square Knot, or Reef Knot, is quick and easy to tie for securing non-critical items. Although it’s not the most secure knot, it is a good starter knot that every child should know and be able to tie quickly. When tying the knot, it is important to make sure that both parts of the rope, the standing line and the free end, exit the knot together.

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Good Manners



Etiquette Tips Here are some tips for parents to reinforce with their children for everyday life and before they attend summer camp.

Following these social tips will help to ensure your child has a great experience and becomes a favorite with everyone at camp! 1. Always say “Please” and “Thank you.”

2. Do not interrupt grown-ups or others when they are speaking. Wait until they are finished. If it is an emergency say, “Excuse me” and wait to be acknowledged.

3. Always ask permission to do something or go somewhere if you are unsure if you are allowed to do so. 4. Knock on any closed door and wait for a response before entering a room.

5. When you walk through a door, always look to see if you can hold the door open for someone else.

6. If you happen to bump into someone, immediately say, “Excuse me.”

7. Do not use vulgar language, ever... for any reason.

8. Do not call names, nor make fun of anyone for any reason.

9. Even if a presentation, a lesson, or a play is boring, sit quietly and pretend you are interested. The instructor/performers are trying hard to do a good job. 10. At the end of each day, thank your counselor for the good time that you had, and mention one thing you liked best that day.


anners are the uniting of good intentions with like actions. They show kindness and respect for others and they help us to feel kinder and more respectful within ourselves when we use such actions. Moreover, manners are important because they ultimately make up the language of the biography that is written about each of us! Etiquette training builds confidence, enhances the way you treat your friends and improves relations with clients. How? Simply; your friends like being treated with courtesy, compassion, and care while business associates prefer doing business with those individuals who mirror their own values. In today’s world of rush, short cuts, abruptness, and causal everything, it is the polish of self-presentation, bearing and the confidence and knowledge of social graces that will help you to be embraced by your friends and stand out from your competition. By knowing the rules of polite society, any child, teen or adult can be comfortable in any situation they may find themselves in whether in the professional arena or enjoying family and friends. At The Etiquette School of New York in Saratoga Springs, we love the look in a child’s eyes when an

etiquette lesson is comprehended and imprinted as a new part of their personal repertoire. We enjoy observing the growth in confidence of our adult clients as their selfpresentation skills are enhanced through our series of lessons. Whether you are a parent looking to have your child master the art of social graces along with proper dining skills or a business person looking to improve your own skills or perhaps those of your employees, we hope you will contact the The Etiquette School of New York in Saratoga Springs for all your refinement needs. Our engaging and enjoyable classes are offered in a variety of groupings for your convenience. We offer a Family Package; minimum of four family members. We teach preestablished groups; minimum of six participants. We offer large group courses for businesses, universities, and other organizations. We even offer an afternoon preschool class for three and four-year-olds where proper behavior while dining out at restaurants with their parents or grandparents is taught! f For more information and pricing, please call us at (518) 893-0066 or email us at

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tions fro

enda Recomm

ire h s h t r o N re o t s k o o B


An introduction to life on Planet Earth for brand new humans! Full of info on our planet and its many wonders, the fun illustrations and short text make this a sweet shower gift, or a perfect read-together book for toddlers and parents.

Baby & Toddler


A perfectly delightful, wordless story. Learning how stories develop is an important pre-reading skill, and this is a charming way to practice. Full of enchanting details and plot twists.




“History is boring,” that’s what students said. Well, Abe Lincoln didn’t agree, so he came into the future to tell them so! Hilarious hijinks, silly illustrations and, of course, a wrestling match make this book awesome!

34  SARATOGA FAMILY  //  spring 2018

Lower Elementar y

WISHTREE By Katherine Applegate A story of acceptance and inclusion with many historical references coupled with modern political concerns. Applegate assigned a tree to be the narrator and mixes in some laugh-out-loud humor. For ages 7 and up, it will make a superb read aloud for an advanced elementary school student.

Upper Elementar y


Tweens & Teens

Harry Potter with a dash of Roald Dahl! Morrigan is cursed, doomed to die her next birthday, unless she can win a place in the mysterious Wundrous Society. She must pass four Trials, face dangers–and overcome her curse... A suspenseful, fun read!

THE POWER By Naomi Alderman The social construct is turned upside down when girls discover they have the power of electricity at their fingertips—literally. With thrills and frights, The Power examines the age-old chicken and egg dilemma, with power and corruption at its crux. If women were suddenly the dominant sex, would anything be better? Winner of the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, and a NYT best 10 books of 2017.


spring 2018  //  SARATOGA FAMILY  35







t’s that time of year; time to commit to that family garden. I had always fantasized about gardening with my young ones someday, too. My husband and I bought our home in the Capital Region two years ago after finding out that our first little one would be joining us in the fall. It was April, we were moving, I was carrying a little extra weight, and the house projects were about to begin. There wasn’t much time to get the garden ready, so we got to work.


The first step was finding a space. Our choice? The landscaped bed next to the back patio. THIS WAS THE FIRST FAMILY GARDENING LESSON: THE SPACE WILL WORK IF YOU WORK WITH IT. While it wasn’t the sunniest part of our property, we couldn’t imagine my pregnant belly hiking up a hill everyday to water and weed. So we went with an area that received relatively good light and had easy access to water. We used the original landscaping rocks as a DIY border and using a shovel, turned the soil to get it ready for planting. It was starting to look like a garden.



In the evenings, we mapped out our garden plan. THIS WAS THE SECOND LESSON AND PERHAPS THE MOST SIMPLE: PLANT WHAT YOU EAT, BUT LEAVE ROOM FOR FLAVOR EXPLORATION. With a ruler and a few online resources in hand, we mapped out the plan (many apps make this quite simple). We filled the garden with our favorite items (and ones we had found easy to grow in the past) such as a variety of tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans, things the next year we hoped our little one would try and love. In between, we speckled unique plants gifted to us by a friend.


LESSON NUMBER THREE WAS TO START PLANTS INDOORS... MOST OF THE TIME. Potting soil from the local garden shop and

36  SARATOGA FAMILY  //  spring 2018

leftover egg cartons made great starter kits for seeds. And the windowsills were the perfect place to get them going. A variety of beans did well in this regard, but root crops weren't a great choice to start inside. We saw that difference in how the plants grew once transplanted into the garden itself.

As our son grew, so too did our plants. THIS BRINGS ME TO LESSON FOUR WHICH IS TO INVOLVE YOUR KIDS. Many days last season, I would strap my son (then around 8-months) on my back to water, weed or harvest. Or I’d watch with him from the window as my husband did the work. And on days where he was too antsy to sit still (my son, not my husband) and the weather was right, I would bring the Pack-n-Play outside under the shade, pop him in with a few toys and a snack and get to work in the dirt. Regardless of where my son was, he loved being involved in the process. We used harvest time to talk about colors and shapes, even textures. And when he got a little bigger, we would harvest together, an experience unlike anything else.


So as you consider whether gardening is for your family, consider not whether you will be good at it or will yield the largest harvest, instead consider the final lesson we learned: PATIENCE AND FLEXIBILITY CAN MAKE ANY SORT OF GARDENING SITUATION POSSIBLE. Don’t worry if you only have porch pots to use, forgot to give your cucumbers a trellis to climb (been there!), or that the kids accidentally just stepped on a plant. Feel at ease knowing this mama still hasn’t fully figured it out so you’re in good company and that at the bare minimum, we can use our gardens as spaces to grow together as families. f



Harvesting as a family!

According to the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Map, much of Saratoga County falls in hardiness zone 5a, a small portion in zone 5b. Essentially the zones tell you what plants will hold up in your region and when to plant. We tended to use the back of most seed packets for this type of information, which for us proved to be a simple option.


Spring Recipes

Quick, Easy & Tasty!

Looking for a few new recipes to keep life fun & delicious? Check out this issue's tasty dishes that are quick and easy during a busy sports season! Follow along with Jodie for more recipe bites at

No Bake Overnight Blueberry Oatmeal It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s fun to make! If you’re making lunch the night before, take a few extra steps to throw these ingredients together, pop them in the refrigerator and make your mornings easy with this No Bake Overnight Blueberry Oatmeal Recipe. In fact, the kids can totally help with the prepping, stirring, layering and refrigerating. Once they learn the basic foundation they can add their own favorite fruity fun to the mix.

• •

5.3 oz. container of yogurt * ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats 1 tablespoon honey ¼ teaspoon cinnamon ¼ cup frozen blueberries

• • •

2. Add the frozen blueberries on top. Seal the container & let it sit over night in the refrigerator for a quick and easy breakfast grab. *NOTE: This recipe can be made by using Greek plain, Greek vanilla, plain coconut yogurt alternative, vanilla coconut yogurt alternative, soy yogurts or regular vanilla yogurt.


Stir the yogurt, rolled oats, honey and cinnamon together. Pour the mixture into an airtight container. Small Canning jars work great!

Lettuce Chicken Wraps Are you like me? I’m always looking for ways to cut time in the kitchen and make any meal easier! These lettuce chicken wraps are a triple winner. Why?

• • •




Chicken Lettuce Wraps are EASY to make (about 30 minutes).

• •


You can let the excess chicken mixture cool, freeze it in an airtight container or freezer bag & have dinner ready to thaw & warm on another busy evening.

• • • •

5 lbs. chicken, boneless skinless, diced 1 cup sweet onion, finely diced 1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained ½ cup hoisin sauce ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce ¼ cup water 2 tablespoons canola oil 1 clove garlic 1 tablespoon ginger


Once the chicken is fully cooked add the onions and water chestnuts. 2. Stir and cook the onions until they begin to soften. Add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, water, garlic and ginger. 3. Stir the ingredients together over low to medium heat. Serve the chicken in butterhead lettuce as a wrap. This meal is deliciously paired with a side of rice and vegetables.

1. Sauté the chicken in 2 Tbs. of canola oil.

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Foods for Children:



et’s face it, the number one goal when you find yourself surrounded by toddlers and little children, especially when they are your own, is survival. The relentless demands of little ones and their needs can make for a very (emphasis on very) long day and as we know, crisis situations often require pragmatic compromise (at least from an overwhelmed dad)–like the TV might have stayed on “a little” longer than optimal or maybe nap time didn’t end when it should have, because I “lost” track of time during the (so unbelievably awesome) peace and quiet. Then there’s food. Sure, we know that fruits, vegetables, less-processed locally-grown, whole grain without refined sugars and trans-fat foods are what we should be eating and feeding to our children, but those often take time, money and energy to produce adequately– exactly the things we’re short on. Not only that, but the last thing we need is to manage to prepare something healthy only to have a struggle to get them to eat it, when it doesn’t taste as unnaturally sweet, savory or as good as the “other” foods. How easy it is when it comes from that box, tub, bag or carton–they want it, you want it, it’s everywhere, on sale and super fast–problem solved. So what’s the problem? There’s no problem.

First, for babies and toddlers, if you do nothing else, buy and use a baby food mill. Green Sprouts, Oxo or Munchkin all are readily available. Store bought baby food is great when you’re traveling or out to dinner, but it’s super simple to put almost any food through a mill–including avocados, rice, quinoa, beans, greens, squash, bananas, apples, broccoli and so on. Yes, it looks nasty but they don’t know, and they get accustomed to simple fresh foods that will help later in the next stages of life. If you make sure to add in some grains, you can form the mush into bite-sized balls and let them serve themselves, as they get old enough. Plus, it’s a sure way to be cost effective because you won't be paying for packaging.

Well, maybe there’s one small, minor issue–time and time again studies show that over consumption of processed foods make us and our children overweight, depressed, diseased, diabetic, hyper and unable to focus. Oh, is that all? Some refined foods wouldn’t be a big deal except everyday brings the same need for coping mechanisms and our pattern

Next, we loved this book: Feeding the Whole Family–Whole Foods Recipes for Babies, Young Children and Their Parents by Cynthia Lair. This is a great resource for super simple ideas and plans! Yes, most do involve at least a little cooking, so if you’re really that opposed, read ahead to the next recommendations.

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repeats over and over again until we find ourselves hardly eating any of the good things. So what to do? Here are a few strategies and options to help you in the daily struggle of eating and feeding. Everybody in my family found these to work well. I survived the baby/toddler stage (barely) and even better is that I don’t really remember those early days, so all worked out well. To make changes, start small and substitute new things into the daily flow little by little. If I can do it, so can you!

Here’s some food ideas listed by degree of difficulty:

Dang, dang easy: •

Miso-tahini on toast: This is made by combining miso paste (Japanese fermented grains and soy beans) with tahini (middle eastern sesame paste)...the combination is delicious, easy and full of beneficial probiotics and nutrients. We liked spreading it on toasted rye bread, which provides the slightly crunchy and tart canvas for the spread.

Carrot raisin manna bread: It comes frozen; you simply thaw it. It’s made from sprouted grains mashed up into a loaf. Eat cool, room temperature, or warmed slightly in the toaster oven. Spread on some tahini or nut butter for an amazingly good and quick treat.

Carrot Raisin Manna Bread with Miso-Tahini Spread

Mochi: Pounded sweet rice that you cut into squares and bake it quickly in the oven. Serve with apple butter for a fun treat to eat.

Super easy,

but next-to-no effort is required: (Okay, okay these take a little forethought, but not much and you can make them anytime and keep them in the fridge): •

Cooked fruit: Into a pot, put in some unsulphured dried fruit in a little water and apple juice; add a cinnamon stick and a lemon wedge and cook on low for about 20 minutes– apples, apricots, plums, peaches, pears–all favorites. Add raisins towards the end. If you have the energy, soak raw cashews overnight, blend them in a food processor with a little maple syrup and vanilla into a rich creamy topping to serve with the fruit. Grandma did know best after all! Chia seed pudding: Into a quart Ball jar, add ½ cup of chia seeds, 2 ½ cups almond milk, a tablespoon of maple syrup, and a few pieces of lemon or orange rind. Shake well and refrigerate overnight. Homemade granola bars: Don’t buy packaged ones with lame ingredients when you can make them better in 10 minutes... our favorite recipe is to the right!

Chai Seed Pudding

Homemade Granola Bars

A favorite recipe:

Orange Granola Bars

(inspired from the Cookie & Kate blog)


¼ c. pumpkin seeds ¼ c. sunflower seeds ½ c. dried cranberries (or raisins) 1 ¾ c. oats zest of 1 orange (organic) ½ t. cinnamon ½ t. salt 1 c. sunflower butter ¼ - ½ c. brown rice syrup, honey or maple syrup 1 ½ t. vanilla




Line a 9-inch square baking dish with wax paper.


Pulse oats in a food processor.


Add seeds and cranberries to food processor and pulse until broken up.


In a mixing bowl – combine processed oats, seeds and cranberries with orange zest, cinnamon and salt. Whisk to combine. In a smaller mixing bowl – combine sweetener, sunflower butter and vanilla until blended.


Add contents of small mixing bowl to oat mixture. Mix well.


Press mixture into baking dish.


Refrigerate overnight. Slice into bars. To maintain freshness keep refrigerated, freeze individually wrapped bars or store at room temperature if they are to be eaten in a couple of days.

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Off the shelf: •

Bust open some popcorn, which is also absurdly easy to make, if you are on the go and don’t care about the mess that eating popcorn invariably makes, it’s a good alternative to Nacho chips... Little Lads brand is our favorite and corporate food engineers eat your heart out... these guys mastered the addictive natural herb profile that can’t be beat!

Energy bars: They aren’t all created equal and it’s hard to distinguish sometimes. There are a lot of choices and the companies reformulate over time and can start adding in preservatives etc. without warning, so you have to check in with the ingredients panel... right now we like these:

Go Macro Bars: Originally started by macrobiotic dieters who eat a diet of grains, beans and vegetables. These folks created a bar that came from an authentic whole foods philosophy.

Rx Bars: Made from egg whites and fruit and taste pretty good! Check out the new smaller portion kid's sizing and flavors.

Matt’s Munchies: Fruit roll ups, the healthy way. Organic with cool flavors... a nice treat!

Seaweed Nori snacks: Not over-filling, but can be good to add into the mix. Sea vegetables are incredibly nutrient dense, and they filter in nutrition from the oceans that are hard to find elsewhere.

Good luck and let us know if you have questions or need help!

Rich, Katie and Four Seasons crew.

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Wan t a Happy, Successful Child?


In my years of interviewing many, many parents, I have never encountered a parent wanting to raise unhappy, anxious, angry, spoiled or irresponsible children. Of course not! Yet parents and teachers are facing more and more young children and adolescents who show up with these unhealthy emotional and behavior patterns. So, why are the problems escalating? The answer is quite straight-forward: There is a false consensus that you can raise healthy kids without attending to the fundamentals. In essence, you can cheat on the basics of life. We have been given permission to assume that we can parent this way, and things will work out well.

Dr. Cale is a Clifton Park-based parenting expert, author, speaker, and licensed psychologist who offers practical, no-nonsense parenting advice for all ages. His website,, features hundreds of articles and dozens of parenting products that will help you achieve your goal of happier children and a peaceful home.

This is a lie. If we want happy, thriving children, we must confront these cheats and make a choice. I know this sounds a bit harsh, but these cheats will leave you with lots of wasted effort and frustrated results. So let’s explore:

Ch eat #1

Spoil them while they are young. It’s okay. No, it’s not. Spoiling kids translates to giving them everything they want, without condition. And when they tire of something, we get them a new toy or game. This teaches nothing about happiness and nothing about gratitude for what we do have. When parents and grandparents start down this path early in life, it quickly becomes a habit and a pattern of expectation develops in the child’s mind. They seek the next new thing and become trained to expect something new to bring them happiness. It simply doesn’t work that way. Over and over, I see how hard it is to change this pattern as kids get older. My suggestion: stop it now.

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Teach kids to learn to appreciate more of what they have, by playing with them. Much more is gained by engaging with children in their world and showing them how to remain curious and creative with the toys and goodies they have now.

Ch eat #2

It’s okay to react, raise your voice, lose your cool and yell at your kids to get them to listen. Yes, it is okay. But only if you want reactive children who yell, scream and raise their voice when they want you to listen! They will repeatedly give back to you the same ‘tantrum’ they witness, when things aren’t going your way and you yell and react emotionally. Do you really want that? I doubt it. Thus, we can’t cheat on this. We can’t expect to have reasonably calm children who readily accept transitions without a battle, if we are reactive. We can’t expect our children to easily receive a necessary ‘no’ when we can’t calmly deal with a child who says ‘no.’ The bottom line here is this: You can’t escape what you model. If you model reactive, angry and demanding behavior, you will only get this from your child. Thus, if you want a calmer home where kids accept limits and transitions, then it’s essential to take full responsibility for the ways in which you communicate with your children. Always model the emotions you want the child to have when things change or don’t go your way. Stay calm, centered and clear. Make it your daily intention, and recognize that cheating on this key point will only bring havoc into your home, that grows into an emotional monster over time.

Ch eat #3

Discipline is a dated concept, and too hard this day and time. My kids are okay without it. False conclusion. Bad plan. Every aspect of success and fulfillment will hinge upon your realizing the need to be disciplined in your parenting plan, so you can teach your kids about disciplined effort. Without it, all your child’s talents and intellect will be wasted in an unfulfilling life. It’s almost guaranteed. Without a disciplined parenting plan, there is constant discussion, repeated negotiations and common routines turn into daily discussions with repeated negotiations and wasted time. Kids learn to fight for the easy way out, and without a disciplined system, they are almost always successful. There is little satisfaction awaiting the child who seeks the easy path out. We call that lazy. The rewards for lazy are few, and almost always the product of the undisciplined home. So, discipline is needed, but not like many of you may be thinking. It’s not about old school punishment or a ruler and stick. It’s not about making kids feel bad for mistakes. It’s also not about control of the child as much as it is about control of the home and the environment. In other words, nagging, demanding, pushing and prodding…that’s all control stuff. It’s a sloppy form of managing things at home, but it almost always falls apart and gets ugly over time. Thus, this is not the disciplined home I refer to here. Healthy discipline in the home suggests a parenting system that is devoted to developing good habits. Habits that will serve your child in the future. Within such a system, there are fewer and fewer words

spoken about behavior. There are few negotiations and arguments. The idea is simple: You set up a discipline system and let the system manage your children. You don’t waste time talking about limits and responsibilities every day. This leaves you free to talk about the good stuff: what you love, what you laugh about, what you learn and how you enjoy your life. These are much more worthy of your time and attention.

Ch eat #4

Words will teach key lessons. I don’t need a behavior plan. No, words don’t teach better behavior. If they did, I would be out of business and so would most psychologists. Think of it this way: Words reside in one domain, and can be cleverly used to discuss, rationalize, make excuses, and talk in fancy ways about behavior. More words with your child only means more words back, not better behavior. Action and behavior reside in another domain of the brain. They are not that easily susceptible to change through words. Yet, society keeps suggesting that we talk to our kids more and more about their behavior if we want better behavior. Please stop doing this. It does not work to get better behavior. Instead, if you want better behavior, please get a better behavior plan. Not a better word plan. We don’t want to look back with regret, realizing that we ourselves were lazy and just didn’t put in the time to get a better action/discipline plan. When it’s too late, it’s too late. So, my suggestion: Focus more on your actions, holding your child accountable for the actions you want. This requires a good plan, with an understanding of leverage and consequences. All of this can be learned quickly, with a few days of study. It will be worth it, as it changes the destiny of your children. f

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Jason Spector Co-Creator

Tom Murphy Co-Creator

hances are if you went to school, lived in a neighborhood or currently have or had kids in a school, you have what I refer to as a “bully story.” Over the years, I have collected hundreds of “bully stories” through simple conversations with people related to my life’s work. What I have come to observe is, bullying conversations get uncomfortable and emotional for many to talk about. The reason for the broad spectrum of emotions and varied comfort zones is that everyone has a different perspective on the topic. Every bully story is unique, ranging from “I punched my bully in the nose to teach them a lesson” to “I dropped out of school because bullying was so bad.” Every story is the same, but very different. My name is Jason Spector. I am a 20-year veteran physical education teacher, strength and conditioning coach, wrestling coach,  speaker, husband and father. Oh, I am also a “Sweetheart” and a real life “Hero.” I work hard to save and change lives daily everywhere I go through H.O.P.E. and Action. I am a co-creator of Sweethearts and Heroes, which is both a message and a movement that fights bullying through bystander empowerment, and empathy activation. It also educates parents, teachers and children on hope and hopelessness.

Rick Yarosh

An American Hero

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The creators of Sweethearts & Heroes, Tom Murphy & Jason Spector

Here is your first lesson in perspective. In order for a behavior to qualify or be identified as actual bullying, it requires four things. 

• It has to be habitual or repeated over time. • There has to be an element of intimidation involved. • There has to be a power differential: larger vs. smaller. In addition to physical size and strength it could be social net worth or popularity. • It has to be intentional, not an accident or random act. Pranks, conflicts and physical altercations can often be mistaken for bullying. Many non-bullying incidents and individuals can easily be labeled or accused of bullying or being a bully.  To further your perspective on bullying, I’d like to define a Sweetheart and Hero. In the 16th Century, the word bully was actually a term of endearment, meaning sweetheart. We work with our “Sweetheart’s” to carry HOPE to others through compassionate empathy. A “Hero” is someone who is willing to do things others are not. Heroes take action when people need it most. They not only identify people who need help, but are willing to jump into action no matter what. Our answer to bullying and hopelessness is to teach, train and create more Sweethearts and Heroes.

...Stopping bullies one student at a time! I started Sweethearts and Heroes ten years ago with my former college wrestling teammate Tom Murphy. Tom and I were both Division III, NCAA, All-American wrestlers at SUNY College at Brockport.  Tom, a psychology and philosophy major, went on to successfully work in the railroad industry and I went into teaching physical education. Tom took his competitive wrestling experience to the highest level, competing in the UFC as a pro mixed martial artist. During his free time, Tom started speaking at schools and businesses on topics including leadership, goal setting, strategies for success and personal development.  Right around the same time I was approaching my 8th year in education, I started realizing something was very different from when I first started teaching and when I was in school. I knew I had a greater purpose. In 2007, I invited Tom to my school to give an anti-bullying presentation to my physical education classes. The response we got from students and staff was encouraging to say the least.  (The iPhone was invented in 2007 and suicide has doubled in 10-14 year olds since 2007). Having a Mixed Martial Artist and UFC veteran speaking on bystander empowerment and kindness, was the hook that kept the students interested. Fast forward a decade and the Sweethearts and Heroes message has reached over one million kids, college students, teachers and parents. From Vermont to Hawaii,  Sweethearts and Heroes has developed what is commonly referred to as “the best and most impactful message in anti-bullying and bystander empowerment in existence.” In 2012, Sweethearts and Heroes added an American Hero to the team. We had no idea that while attending a wrestling event, we would be meeting, quite possibly one of the world’s leading hope experts,

Commonly referred to as, “the most who also happened to be another former impactful program addressing the extremely New York State wrestler. Rick Yarosh is a challenging topic of bullying in schools and Wounded Warrior from the Iraq War. On communities,” what sets the Sweethearts and September 1, 2006, Rick was hit with an Heroes program apart from others is that IED while on patrol. Rick suffered severe burns over 60% of his body, lost his ears we have developed an “ABC” action plan for bullying, similar to the “Stop Drop and and nose, suffered disfiguration of his Roll” of fire safety. However, in our action hands, and lost his leg below the knee, plan, bullying is the fire. Kids feel like they requiring a prosthetic. Rick’s presence in are socially and emotionally burning alive schools is an obvious empathy ignitor, but on the inside, with little or no answer on more intensely, he magnifies what the true what to do. As a result, they live in a world meaning of hope is. While lying on the of secrecy and silence, which only serves to ground burning alive and believing that stoke that fire. We have the simple, actionhe was going to die, he took one last roll based, and lifesaving plan to extinguish the which led to the flames being extinguished flames and #ChangeTheWorld. It is simple, and his survival. Rick has lived through we need to train our children. Bullying has hopelessness and found the hope to been around since the beginning of man survive. Rick shares H.O.P.E. (Hold On and it isn’t ever going to go away, rather, Possibilities Exist) with kids, to teach them that no matter what they are going through, it is becoming more toxic. For example, cyber-bullying is the most potent form of they always have HOPE.  Students connect and take strength from Rick’s story and feel “bully” venom. The use of technology and devices are amazing and can offer great empowered to hold on to the possibilities opportunities, but they can just as easily that exist, even though they feel as though change and end lives in the click of a button. they are burning alive on the inside. If you feel the concept of Hope is too “Hocus Pocus” or “Rainbows and Unicorns,”  it’s crucial to understand that hopelessness is our greatest enemy. It plagues the lives of our children. Suicide, mental health and emotional wellness statistics in adolescents prove that we are currently in a contagion of  hopelessness. With suicide rates in teens at an all-time high and the number one cause of death in children ages 10-14, we are facing one of the greatest moral puzzles we’ve ever seen. I have conversations all the time with parents that are blown away by the information I share with them related to providing the best possible environment for children to grow and succeed. From cell phones, social media, and cyber-bullying to the brain science of teens, parents are coming to learn that it is an entirely different world out there that our children are living in.

When it comes to sharing our message with educators, parents or students, we find the most impactful strategy is to challenge and shift perspectives. In upcoming editions of Saratoga Family, I intend to explore best practices around parenting, education and share “Superhero” strategies that empower anyone to jump into action for others, especially children.  f

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Horses are magnificent creatures



It’s an idyllic summer scene:

horses in large pastures or down by the creek to take a drink. An extraordinary experience like this is more than just something you see in photographs, it is something children can experience–even if they don’t own a horse.

A Chance to Change Providing riding experiences to children of all skill levels, North Country Horses organized the first Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) team in the Capital Region. It is a program that teaches middle and high school students how to ride confidently on any horse.

that all have the same interests and they’re getting lifted up there. They can leave the school day behind and be in a more accepting environment. Parents are really excited for the outside-of-school relationships and a place for kids to get away. The kids absolutely love the friendships, too,” said Vance.

Learn How to Fall North Country Horses is home to 65 “It’s a program that grew throughout the horses on 30 acres of the Gansevoort Horses are unpredictable by nature, and countryside. At the farm they teach lessons, country. Its purpose is to allow kids who at North Country Horses, instructors don’t own their own horses another area to rehabilitate retired racehorses, and offer encourage riders to take responsibility for compete,” said Vance. privately-owned horse boarding. their own successes–and defeats. “Our primary focus is our programs for kids,” Financial assistance and scholarship awards “The ride doesn’t always go your way–for are added incentives to participate in the IEA said Director Amanda Vance. every action, there is a reaction. Sometimes horse shows, some of which are hosted on-site. it’s really great to see someone who’s had a difficult practice. There are high-fives all “Our barn doesn’t have to be your primary around. They may not have won, but they stable, and we’re always looking to get other felt like they won,” said Vance. f riders and kids into the program,” said Vance. Be Strong & Belong Horses are magnificent creatures. “A child getting on a horse that weighs 1,000 pounds, controlling that, and getting around fencings–there’s something really empowering about that,” said Vance. Youngsters learn how to care for the horses and have the opportunity to bond with teammates during lessons, but also through activities and field trips. “All of a sudden you’re with a group of kids

North Country Horses Summer Camp Want a summer full of sunshine, sweat, and horses? Sign-ups for North Country Horses camp experiences are open online. The Full-Day Camp teaches beginners basic riding techniques, while intermediate and advanced riders are given a chance to hone their skills. No experience is required. Pony Pals is a half-day camp for ages 4-6, where riders learn how to be safe and comfortable around the horses. IEA Training Boot Camp is a full-day training camp exclusively for new/returning IEA Team members. To participate in September shows, new members must attend this training week. For more information see page 53, or visit

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is creeping up and it’s time to start thinking about summer camps! Our Saratoga Summer Camp Guide highlights some excellent area options!

Sign up for


Saratoga TODAY newspaper & all our magazines!

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When you feel like travelin' East of it

- Saratoga Springs, that is!


“TIME PASSES BY SARATOGA AND GIVES IT ONLY THE SLIGHTEST AND MOST AFFECTIONATE OF TOUCHES... EVERYTHING IS A PAGE FROM THE PAST.” - Arthur Daley So many of us feel the same; Saratoga's in the midst of a changing country, but never seems to change herself. It's part of the allure I think – showcasing a small town feel – even when Broadway's wallto-wall-people during the warmth of spring and heat of summer, during the coolness of fall, and snow-globe of winter. Traveling to the north, south, east and west we discover change though, and lots of it. In fact, aiming our vehicle in any direction can lead us toward a plethora of attractions, just a few hours outside the Spa City. Whether you have children, are a young married couple or celebrating your silver anniversary, it's easy to find interesting adventures, a simple day-trip away. In fact, to the east of us, a mere 2 hour drive from Saratoga via I-90, Springfield Museums is an easy and enjoyable trip for the entire family.

ONE TICKET GETS YOU INTO FIVE MUSEUMS You'll be amazed. The fact that you can park your car in the heart of downtown Springfield, MA – for free – then walk to all five museums, located in what they refer to as the Quadrangle, is delightful. And buying one ticket, which grants access to not one, but five world-class museums, will blow your mind.

T he Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum We all know him – Dr. Seuss – the beloved author of children's books we can't help but remember; because he still speaks to that child in all of us. Entering the museum is like stepping foot into one of his classics, you'll feel just like that hopeful kid again. Remember? You can accomplish anything! Go anywhere! Everywhere you turn, 3-D recreations of characters that sprang from his active imagination greet you. Springfield's influence on his writing from the get-go is evident in numerous exhibits. And you'll see stations that explore literacy and motor skills, creative and imaginative play, throughout this unique museum. His studio and sitting room are well showcased. The highlight is his drawing desk, easel, colored pencils, and the cherry-red rotary phone often used to talk with his editors.

©Springfield Museums

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Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts Here you'll wander through several hallways and rooms covered with exquisite art. Established in 1933, the museum includes a vast collection of American, Asian, and European paintings, prints, watercolors and sculptures. If you like Currier & Ives – you're in for a treat. Their collection is the largest lithograph holding in the world. A favorite exhibit is Jack and Jackie: The Kennedys in the White House. Many remember that historic time in vivid detail, devouring everything possible about the couple and their family life in Washington. (Exhibit runs through late-March)

Springfield Science Museum If anyone in your family has an interest in science, even if only fleeting, this is the perfect place to visit! The Science Museum showcases numerous permanent exhibits. They cover Natural Science, Anthropology and Physical Science, all under one roof. The very impressive Seymour Planetarium lays claim to the historic Korkosz Starball. It's the oldest operating star-projector in the United States, definitely a labor of love from brothers Frank and John Korkosz.

Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History This informative museum is for history buffs everywhere. The ever-changing exhibits and wide-range in collections, cover all things local – centering around the Connecticut River Valley. Learn about old-fashioned bicycles and the history of airplanes. Peruse 1,600 Smith & Wesson firearms in America and the birth of Friendly's Ice Cream parlors. Their collection of Indian Motorcycles and memorabilia is the largest in the world. They even have a wonderful Hasbro game room, where adults can wax nostalgic, while children play with toys of yesteryear.

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George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum Located in an Italian palazzo-style building and established in 1896, this art collection is astounding. It houses one of the largest collections of Chinese cloisonné outside of Asia – even though the husband and wife team never traveled to the orient themselves. Greek and Roman antiquities, rare plaster cast collections, 19thcentury Middle Eastern carpets, Tiffany stained-glass windows, as well as Japanese arms and armor abound here. Visit the Hasbro Games Art Discovery Center, where families can spend time learning about other countries and cultures. This area's painted in bold, beautiful colors and invites guests to trace their own Chinese horoscope, try on costumes, and learn the meaning behind Asian motifs.

Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden Upon leaving the museums, a walk through this sculpture garden is a must. Seeing life-size characters from some of our most-beloved children's books evokes feelings of hope, and innate joy – in the truth that change indeed happens, but some things stay the same, regardless. f

Springfield Museums 21 Edwards Street, Springfield, MA 01103 Easy access from I-91 and the Mass Pike Contact Museums for list of upcoming events, there's something for everyone! 1-800-625-7738

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I can’t imagine my life without pets; they’re family members. And, I can’t imagine being anything other than a veterinarian. I knew it from the first day I worked in a veterinary practice as an undergraduate student, shadowing Dr. Frank Akawi for the summer. I had left for college intending to be an English major and then go to law school, but the course of my life changed immediately through this experience. I transferred to Skidmore College, which I loved, to be able to work for Dr. Akawi, and he has supported me every step of the way. I still work for him, at Greenfield Animal Hospital, in Greenfield Center, and still learn from him.

As a veterinarian, I am often asked for advice about what to look for in a new family pet and there are several factors to consider. For example, what age do you want your pet to be? Even though they’re cute, a puppy isn’t right for everybody–especially if you don’t have time for or want to do the potty training necessary for a young dog, which sometimes can take six months. Also, an older dog probably won’t be as hyper as a puppy and you may want a dog who has more control over his or her energy. On the other hand, if the dog hasn’t been treated well in the past, you might have to deal with some


Because... a pet is a family member too. behavior problems. That’s why it’s really important to do meet-and-greets before you bring a dog into your home permanently, not only with the adults in the household, but also with any children the dog would be coming to live with, and, if possible, any other pets in the household. Kids also have to be guided on how to treat a pet–not to pull its ears, tail or whiskers, or get into its face. You are looking for a good fit and safety for all involved. Related to that, you want to think about what size you want your new pet to be, especially a dog. Are you planning to take the dog hiking? You probably want a larger dog who wants to run and climb. But, if you travel a lot, a small dog that can fit into a carrier is a better choice. Where you live–a house or an apartment–should also influence your dog choice. Remember: Big dogs usually are going to be happier in more space. You also want to think about shedding. Some dogs shed more than others, and there are dogs that don’t shed at all, such as Golden Doodles and Labradoodles. Those dogs have hair instead of fur; it keeps growing and needs to be cut, so that it doesn’t get out of control or matt. Shedding dogs need

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TIPS FOR BUYING A DOG Based on information provided by the American Kennel Club


So, you've decided to purchase a dog. This can be the beginning of a special bond. However, to ensure the best relationship with your dog, you must be prepared for some important responsibilities. Keep the following questions in mind. 1. Have I found the right breed to fit into my lifestyle and home? 2. Will I have enough time to spend training, grooming and exercising a dog? 3. Am I willing to spend the resources to ensure the best future for a dog?


The more you know before you buy, the better off you will be, whether selecting a purebred or rescue. This applies to all aspects of buying your dog, from selecting the breed to deciding where to obtain the puppy. Remember, dogs are for life. Be honest with yourself. The Bearded Collie you fell in love with because of his lush coat is beautiful, but are you going to brush this coat every day? Maybe a short-coated dog better suits your busy lifestyle. Think about the size of your house or your apartment. Will that Golden Retriever be happy in your studio apartment? The Retriever is a large dog that requires a lot of exercise. Do you have a fenced yard, so he can go out safely? If not, can you afford to install a fence? These are crucial questions regarding the safety of your dog and being a responsible neighbor.


The purchase price of your puppy is not the only cost you have to consider. A dog needs food and health care, as well as a collar with identification, a bowl, a leash and, depending on your lifestyle, possibly boarding or daycare. Evaluate your budget; ask yourself if you really can afford a dog. Being a responsible owner means considering your dog's lifelong health-care needs, whether for preventive care or unexpected accidents, injuries and illnesses.


Dogs must be cared for daily. This means proper diet, exercise, grooming and veterinary attention. All dogs should be regularly examined by a veterinarian and inoculated against the major infectious canine diseases. Pet health insurance offers options for coverage toward these essential items, as well as toward preventative costs.


All dog owners must be aware of their responsibilities to neighbors. Dogs, for all the pleasure they bring, can be a nuisance to your neighbors if not trained. Remember, excessive barking can be annoying. And, always keep your dog on a leash or inside a fenced yard when exercising. Remember to pick up after your dog goes to the bathroom.


One way to make your dog a good neighbor is through obedience training. A poorly behaved dog is a problem for everyone. Nothing is more frustrating than attempting to corral a dog that will not come when you call. A well-trained dog is not only a pleasure to own, he is a good will ambassador for the entire canine community. A well-behaved dog is the result of the dog's owner being willing to work with the dog regularly. Obedience classes are available in most communities. Time spent training your dog is time well spent.


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Dr. Ashley Serfis, busy at work

brushing. Are you going to do it yourself, or bring the dog to a professional groomer? The non-shedding dogs are better for people with allergies, and that’s important to think about when you’re making your choice. Whether you want a purebred or mixed breed is another question. It’s very important to do research on the breed you’re interested in and find a breeder you trust, because some breeds are more at risk for medical problems, like heart disease. Mixed-breed dogs have fewer medical problems, in general. If you decide to go with an organization that fosters or shelters pets for adoption, your vet can give you guidance about which rescue organizations to contact, or may even know of a pet that needs a home. Regardless of whether you choose a mixed-breed or purebred dog, you should bring it to a vet very soon after it comes into your life–animals can be born with or acquire various problems, ranging from cleft palate to ticks. You also want to check for parasites, heart health, etc. Another thing to consider is whether you want pet insurance, which more and more people do. Some insurances cover preventive care, but other insurance covers everything, including surgeries. This is something to investigate. Your veterinary hospital can help you.

Qi-Institute in Florida in August 2012. Serfis is interested in canine and feline internal medicine, surgery, diagnostic imaging and alternative medicine. She has two cats and two dogs and a ferret, all rescues with special needs. In her spare time, Dr. Serfis enjoys spending time with her family, friends and pets, hiking, running and reading. Serfis works at Greenfield Animal Hospital, 3100 Rte. 9, Greenfield Center, N.Y., a fullservice animal hospital for comprehensive routine and emergency care. The hospital cares for dogs, cats, ferrets, chinchillas, guinea pigs, rabbits, reptiles and fowl.

Gotta get those belly rubs in!

We’ve been talking a lot about dogs, but cats are also great pets and much more suited to a lifestyle of somebody who is out a lot, because if you put out food and water and keep the litter clean, cats can be very independent for a day or two. If you’re going to be that busy though, consider having two cats together. Pets need company too. Cats’ independence appeals to some people, but others want pets they can take for walks and in the car. Cats are better off at home. Food is another topic to discuss with a vet. Like people, pets have specific nutrition needs and you want to make sure you’re making good choices on their behalf. Highprotein or low-protein, for example?

For more information call 518-893-6228, email or visit

Akawi for a summer. He became her mentor and she still works alongside him today. Serfis attended Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts, receiving a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. She completed her clinical training at Tufts University in Boston, Mass. In addition, Serfis earned certification for acupuncture and is now a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. She received her certification from the

We also like to discuss potty training. Cats are easy–if you show them their litter box, they adapt very quickly. Dogs take training and the key to that is consistency and rewards. I love what I do and I enjoy talking to our clients about their pets and helping them create a safe and loving environment for their pets. It’s so satisfying to see pets in our practice being cared for by our clients who love their fur babies. f Dr. Serfis grew up in Lake George. She spent a year at Northeastern University, then completed her undergraduate studies at Skidmore College, where she received a B.S. in Biology in 2006. She started working in the veterinary field as a freshman in college, when she shadowed veterinarian Dr. Frank

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from our readers... Duke, looking dapper in his bowtie

Making sure she wasn't getting left behind



w Yay! A ne


Sawye r catchin ga snowb all

t a fight Marlo los quirrel s with the

Kuni loves her trampoline

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I know there's a squirrel somewhere in here

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Until we meet again (next issue out 5/25) here are some great activities for your family!



Saratoga Springs City Center The Saratoga Home and Lifestyle Show features a variety of home and lifestyle businesses. There are also hourly door prizes, a grand prize, and other special activities taking place throughout the weekend. Admission is free. Hours: Friday 5-9 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Special activities include an Art Show with items available for purchase, Saratoga Springs Police Department child safety booth, and identification cards, Mac ‘n Cheese Bake-Off (Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.) and Kids activities with Balloon Gal Jenny and JoJo’s Face Painting (Sunday, Noon-3 p.m.).


Downtown Albany ∙ 2 p.m. Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with the 68th Annual Albany St. Patrick's Day Parade! The parade starts at 2 p.m. and travels through the Capital City. Route: From Quail Street and Central Avenue, Travels east, merging with Washington Avenue, Turns at City Hall and travels east on State Street to Pearl Street.

3/17 – 3/18 13TH ANNUAL ADIRONDACK SPORTS & FITNESS SUMMER EXPO Saratoga Springs City Center With over 100 exhibitors and thousands of attendees, this is an event you won't want to miss! Hours: Saturday, 10:00 am-5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Activities that will be represented at the Expo include: running, cycling, triathlon, hiking, paddling, travel, and healthy living. Attendees can also enjoy seminars, clinics, demos, prizes, and giveaways. For more information, visit

3/17 – 3/18 & 3/24 – 3/25 MAPLE WEEKEND

Various Locations throughout New York State During Maple Weekend, maple farms across New York State invite visitors to their “sugar houses” to experience firsthand how pure, mouth-watering maple syrup and other related products are made. Visitors can enjoy fun, family-friendly activities, taste New York’s freshest syrup and purchase maple products. For a list of participating sugar houses, visit or

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Saratoga Knights of Columbus ∙ 1-5 p.m. The Annual Palm Sunday Polka Benefit features dancing to the sounds of the Polka Country Musicians, door prizes and raffles. Cost is $25 (couple), $13 (per person) - Prior to April 3; $15 at the door. For reservations, contact Steve or Cathy Coblish at 518.899.3061 or

Saratoga Springs City Center ∙ 1-8 p.m. Join as we celebrate great wine and sweets from down the street and around New York. Wineries and wine enthusiasts from across the region will gather for an unlimited sampling of dozens of fabulous wines of all styles and tastes. We'll have distilleries and cideries too. Enjoy a fabulous selection of tasty nibbles and treats, chocolates, cheeses and sweets. Take a dip at our chocolate fountain. Then get some serious shopping done. Browse through fantastic mini boutiques featuring purses, jewelry, clothing and more.


Holiday Inn, Saratoga Springs ∙ 7-11 p.m. A fun, women only night raising money for two local charities. This year's recipients are the Community Hospice Wave Riders Program and the Saratoga County Children's Committee Summer Campership Program. The evening includes light fare, cash bar, DJ, dancing, raffle baskets, silent auction items, and more. Cost is $60/person. This event typically sells out, so RSVP at in advance.


The Hall of Springs ∙ 6:30-11 p.m. Join us for a one-of-a-kind evening, featuring great food, dancing, a spectacular auction, and much more. With your support, the American Cancer Society saves lives by helping people stay well and get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back against cancer. The 2018 Beacon of Hope award will be presented to Jeanne Walsh who recently retired from a 28 year career with the American Cancer Society. Honorary tickets $300, General Tickets $250. To purchase tickets, MyEvents/2018GalaofHope/TicketInformation/ tabid/892237

Saratoga Springs City Center ∙ Noon – 3 p.m. Free for the entire family with a bounce house and arts & crafts. Exhibitors from Camps, School Programs Pre-K through College, Technological Apps for Autism and Recreation &Therapeutic Programs. For more information, contact Julie Marks at

Excelsior Springs, Saratoga Springs, 6:30-9 p.m. Experience an exciting battle of culinary wits as two award-winning chefs create their finest dishes. The catch? They must incorporate a “secret ingredient” in each of their dishes. They will be judged by a panel of Judges, seats will be auctioned off just before the competition starts. Sample specialties from 7-8 competing regional restaurants, offering their signature dishes that incorporate fresh summer flavors, then vote for the Peoples’ Choice Dish. Sip on delicious concoctions from competing bars as they mix, shake, and stir to perfection. You can even vote for the Peoples’ Choice Cocktail. Proceeds will benefit Big Brother Big Sisters of the Capital Region, providing children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported 1-to-1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Cost: Young Professionals $50 per person, General Reservations $75 per person, Date Night (2x general admission tickets) $112.50, Honorary Committee $150 per person. Contact Elena Marosek for more information, or 518.862.1250 ext 104.

Look for our complete calendar of events and activities online at!

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Saratoga Family Spring 2018  
Saratoga Family Spring 2018  

The first edition of Saratoga Family Magazine! This helpful guide to raising a family in Saratoga County has something for everyone. We've g...