Capital District Family Now - December 2020

Page 1


Shop local gift guide


Vol. 1 | DECEMBER 2020 | FREE


A pandemic year in review Marathoner goes the extra mile Remembering a Christmas past December 2020 —  1

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2  Family Now — December 2020

Editor’s desk



Stay hopeful in the new year


For every age and stage of family life.

December 2020 Features

t seems a little strange to be wrapping up 2020 when so much of what feels like the year’s defining event – the Coronovirus pandemic – will be carrying on well into the new year. This year has changed the way we work, go to school, travel, shop, eat and socialize. None of us have made it this far through these challenging times unchanged.

Fourth trimester help

24-Hour Shift


And yet our better angels call on us to keep hope in our hearts and remain resilient. It has been a long year, for sure, but now is not the time to hide under the blankets and simply wait for it to get better. Now, more than ever, we need to find ways to remain connected to our fellow human beings. Check in on your neighbors. Call those family members who you aren’t able to visit right now. Put together care packages for the lonely. And remember to take time to be truly present with your own immediate family, even if being stuck inside a house together all day can sometimes feel like a bit too much “togetherness.” These are the people who will bring you strength when yours falters.

Triple Threat


Learning Center


In this issue of Family Now, Triple Threat writer Jennifer Steuer provides her family’s year in review, which may look awfully familiar to those with school-age children at home. Robert LaCosta shares the second half of his column about a dedicated local triathlete and grandfather in his Retiring Retirement column. And Frank DeSorbo writes about a veteran’s touching “Going Home” story that has become even more poignant since his passing. Also featured is a local gift guide by Editor-at-Large Michael Hallisey and so much more. Thank you all for reading, and may your 2021 be filled with hope. Check out our articles and resource listings at and mail your story ideas and pictures to Capital District Family Now, P.O. Box 100, Delmar, NY 12054, or e-mail us at Kristen Roberts Editor, Capital District Family Now

Shop local guide

9 10-11


Retiring Retirement


A Patriot Remembers


Social Security Corner


What’s new Bookshelf: Picture Books


Kids fun page


Bookshelf: Adult fiction


Brain teasers


publisher - John McIntyre editor - Kristen Roberts editor-at-large - Michael Hallisey advertising sales - Denice Mau art director - David Abbott graphic design - Martha Eriksen Engagement Coordinator - Kaitlin Lembo

Sporting goods make great gifts for athletes. Need more gift ideas that can be purchased locally? Check out our gift guide on pages 10-11.

Capital District Family Now is a unit of Community Media Group LLC. Published monthly. Deadline for advertising and calendar events is the 5th of the month preceding publication. Display advertising rates are available on request. Capital District Family Now reserves the right to refuse advertising for any reason. We do not guarantee any of the information, services or products published in this or any issue. The opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this paper. © Copyright Capital District Family Now. No portion of Capital District Family Now may be reproduced without written permission from Community Media Group LLC.

December 2020 —  3

The 24-hour shift

parenting is a full-time job

Pandemic holiday problems


Be understanding as family members make choices about how they want to celebrate

he holidays are here! As if shopping and cooking and planning weren’t stressful enough every year, let’s throw in Covid-19! Whether you’re planning a small group celebration in person or setting up a virtual gathering, navigating the holidays has become a bit like sailing into a maelstrom.

than debating when it’s time to graduate from the kids’ table. This time, it’s personal. The folks who prefer to gather in person needn’t take offense at those who prefer to stay home. Especially if there is a family member or children who are at by risk. If they’re not at risk but prefer to stay home, let it be. Respect their decision; you’ll see them next year.

Theresa Davis

Family members will have different views on how holidays should be celebrated. This year, those different views are going to carry more passion

Those of you who are staying home, understand that holidays are very important to some people, and they won’t be the same without family – or

You love your aunt’s pumpkin pie, but most of all you love her and want to spend time with her – something that may not be possible this holiday season. your pumpkin pie. This is no time to lecture one another or argue. Together or miles apart, you’re still family. Your aunt is staying home because she loves you and doesn’t want to pass Covid-19 to you if she’s asymptomatic. You want your aunt at your house because

Discover the Night

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4  Family Now — December 2020 2020 Dec Discover the Night.indd 1


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you love her. And her pumpkin pie. Theresa Davis is a former early childhood educator and has worked in childcare centers for more than 15 years. She is also an adoptive mother, living and taking care of her family in the Capital District.

picture books

On the Bookshelf

Perfect pages for winter days ‘The Snow Dancer’ By Addie Boswell;

‘I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home’

illustrated by Mercè López

By Kathryn Cristaldi;

Young dancer Sofia wakes up to a quiet, white world — it’s a snow day! With the help of a new young friend, Sofia is ready to show everyone what a snow dancer can do on a perfect day like this. Two Lions

illustrated by Kristyna Litten Love knows no bounds in this tender tribute to the depths of family love. Filled with warm, funny art and rhythmic, romping text, this book is perfect for curling up with your little one at the end of the day ... or anytime you want to express your love. HarperCollins

‘Pirate Stew’ By Neil Gaiman; Illustrated by Chris Riddell Long John has a whole crew of wild pirates in tow, and—for one boy and his sister—he’s about to transform a perfectly ordinary evening into a riotous adventure beneath a pirate moon. It’s time to make some pirate stew! Quill Tree Books


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December 2020 —  5

Triple Threat

parenting triplets in the Capital District

Better vision for 2021


The Steuer family is ready to ring in the new year with high hopes

had no idea last year when I was looking at a 2020 calendar and writing in all the birthdays, anniversaries and happy events coming up that so many would end up being cancelled or postponed indefinitely. In 2019, I didn’t know about Google Classroom, Zoom or the amount of time we would all spend watching the news praying for better days. There are 366 days in 2020, but it felt like more than triple that. In January, my babies turned 12! We were planning for their birthday parties for a month or so, and they had a great time with their friends. The sleepdeprived girls had breakfast and talked about the same kind of things my 12-year-old friends and I talked about. There was giggling and whispering over hot chocolate and coffee. When Ben’s friends came over later in the day, he was full of beans! They played video games and enjoyed ice cream cake. I saw a world of possibilities on their faces, and the future was bright. In February, our family went on a fabulous adventure to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We drove down to New Jersey, listening to music and talking about how our families came to be in America. We walked the same hall as Harlan’s grandmother. We looked out into the ocean, watching the sun bounce off the water imagining what it felt like to leave everything behind and start life over in a completely new place. We tripped over one another’s words painting a story of what life might have been like for Jewish immigrants. March always flirts with spring before finally leaving winter behind. Snow boots and

For the Steuer family, much like families across the country, 2020 was marked by uncertainty, but that has not dampened their enthusiasm and hope for the new year. winter coats are lined up with wind breakers and sneakers. I watched the garden plot from the windows and daydreamed about all the veggies! Then everything shut down. Harlan and I watched the 11 o’clock news with our door shut and the kids asleep. The number of people infected and dying from Covid-19 kept going up.

completed. Summer was upon us. There were no trips to Connecticut to see my sister and her family. There were no water park or playground trips. There were no road trips. Very few of our summer fun places were open: no library, no roller skating, no ice by cream. No. No. No. I felt like all I said to the kids was “no.”

Jennifer Steuer

April brought the reality that Albany was shut down indefinitely. Benjamin, Rebecca and Olivia kept up with their school work. May was more of the same. Could they see friends soon or start up Scouts again? All appointments had been cancelled until further notice. We learned more about one another and got on every last nerve available as we searched for some place to be alone. We tried new recipes, crafts, books and puzzles. In June, sixth grade was

6  Family Now — December 2020

September brought a new school year and an overwhelmed education system. Families became IT help for one another. We leaned on one another, trying to understand new online schedules and how the lack of funds from Washington, D.C. was going to impact our schools, teachers and students. October and November seemed to melt together. Did Halloween happen? We have been wearing masks for more than seven months! The 2020 Election brought change. Thanksgiving meant

so much more. December will close 2020, a year that has proven to be a monumental challenge for all of us. Nothing can erase the sight of mobile refrigerator units acting as makeshift morgues outside of hospitals. No one can erase the stress every first responder, nurse, doctor, orderly, funeral director and social worker felt. The sound of tears falling to the floor after getting the call that a loved one died alone will never fade. I don’t know if the isolation each person has endured can ever be erased. As we ring in 2021, Times Square will remain empty, but if we look closely at the frigid space, there is something, the same thing was found inside Pandora’s Box after it was opened: HOPE. Jennifer Steuer is an Albany mom whose busy household includes her husband, Harlan, and 12-year-old triplets Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca. Follow her on Instagram: jennifersteuer.


Understanding is the key to reading success

lthough many children can successfully read a passage out loud, that ability does not necessarily mean that they understand what they are reading. Reading and reading comprehension are two very different things. Reading comprehension requires not only understanding the words that were just read but also understanding their meaning – and not just those words, but the text as a whole. Successful reading comprehension requires the ability to read, process, recall, interpret and explain what was just read. Moreover, effective writing, the concrete way we show our understanding, is only possible if one has truly processed what one has just read. For many students who write poorly, the source of that problem is that they don’t comprehend what they are reading. Having excellent reading comprehension skills is critical to success in school. It not only increases the effectiveness and enjoyment of reading, it also enables students to both understand the questions they must answer and to express their answers effectively. Often, students whose grades are not

commensurate with their level of effort conclude that they are just not “smart enough” or are told they are not “trying hard enough.” But very often, their grades arise not from their lack of effort or ability, but from a deficit in their reading comprehension skills. Students who are in 8th grade, but who are reading at a 6th grade level are going to find virtually all of their 8th grade material very difficult, as it is created on the assumption that the student is reading at grade level. A strong student may compensate for low reading comprehension skills by reading the material multiple times, or they may listen carefully in class and pick up what they missed that way. But when they come to the test (and its time limits), their compensating skills are not available, and so they may fail to properly understand the question because they read it too quickly (and only half answer the question) or they freeze up and fail to provide much of an answer at all.

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Learning Center

Get the word out! List your local event or meeting in our monthly calendar

Send calendar submissions by the 5th of the previous month to:

Capital District Family Now, Attn: Calendar, P.O. Box 100, Delmar, N.Y. 12054 or Email:



Education insight for parents


Reading comprehension doesn’t only influence success in ELA. Comprehension is crucial for success in every facet of a

Continued on Page 12


Reading comprehension is crucial for success in every facet of a student’s education.

December 2020 —  7

n u P F age s d i K


ACROSS 1. Turned to ice 2. An area that gets a lot of snow 7. Close by 8. Warming up DOWN 1. Very cold 2. Elongated shape 3. It can get red in wintertime 4. Cold season 6. Decorative mark

Crossword Answers ACROSS: 1. Frozen 5. Snowbelt 7. Near 8. Heating DOWN: 1. Frosty 2. Oblong 3. Nose 4. Winter 6. Bindi

Coloring Fun

8  Family Now — December 2020

Your health

was talking to an expecting mom and asked her if she was ready for the fourth trimester. Many people look at me very confused when I say the words “fourth trimester.” However, this is the 12-week period after having your baby that not many people give a high level of attention to. It’s a time where a lot of physical and emotional changes are happening. Your baby is adjusting to this new world outside of the womb, and you’re adjusting to life as a new mom.

with their baby during a global pandemic. This trimester is a learning curve, but you got this. First, know that asking for help is a strength. Team work makes the dream work, and it is important to know who that by dream team is, who will be allowed to visit, and who will be there to answer the phone when you call. Because we are all navigating a pandemic, you need to know what is going to make you and your partner feel comfortable and not comfortable.

Quoida Lauzon

This year has brought a lot of challenges, and it is important for new parents to feel a little more hopeful being home

Having visitors do a chore or drop off food and care packages

New parents should communicate with their support team when visits or help would be appreciated. is going to take something off of your plate, and that’s going to make a difference. Make sure to communicate to your partner/support people your wishes of who, when and where people will be seeing you and

baby, as well as how you’re feeling physically and emotionally. Make a game plan, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about what you have decided to do.

Continued on Page 12



Fourth trimester self-care

December 2020 —  9

Feeling presen

Consider these easy gift ideas that can b


he thought of holiday shopping often induces anxiety. Well-intentioned people respond to such a confession with, “Oh, it’s the thought that counts,” but that only adds more fuel to the proverbial Yule Log fire. For me, gift cards are great. They’re quick. They’re efficient. You can walk up to the end cap at your local grocery store and find cards for everyone in your life. Fifteen minutes and you have the whole family covered. Bing. Bang. Boom. No holiday rush. No stress at the mall. Not to mention, it’s a sound approach at keeping to a responsible budget like an adult. My good friend, Jim is a coffee addict. They know him by name at all of the local Starbucks. Says so on his cup. Each Christmas, I can look forward to knowing that one of his daily venti mocha lattes with almond milk is on me. You’re welcome, Jim.

All kidding aside, gift cards to make for a good gift. You just may want to supply more thought into purchasing one than I do. Here are a few more ideas I promise are better planned out.



Single men may want to avoid this topic. You don’t want to buy earrings. Earrings come in a small box and that leaves the impression that you’ve bought a ring. If you bought a ring, well, it better be THE ring. Now you see where I’m going. Approach this avenue with extreme caution.

Michael Hallisey

And, my parents love to go out to dinner. Nothing says “I appreciate your love for the culinary arts” by bestowing them with a $25 gift card to Olive Garden. One loves bread and the other loves cheese. It’s a winwin situation. But, when I get a gift card, it sits on my desk for months, or longer. The pressure of being able to

10  Family Now — December 2020

purchase whatever I want weighs on me. It’s not so much that I don’t know what I want. Sometimes there’s the fear of judgement. Knowing that whatever I do buy with that card, I have to report back what I purchased. And, I’m not sure I’m ready to explain why I bought a used copy of SWV’s 1992 release “It’s About Time.” It went triple platinum and I get weak for New Jack.

Otherwise, one can find unique articles of jewelry from places like Joyelles Jewelers in Delmar. The jeweler carries an assortment of both new and estate jewelry; watches, rings, necklaces and more. The store also carries scents, lotions and scarves, too.

Sporting Gifts It doesn’t matter what year it is, a baseball bat or mitt can still light up a kid’s holiday. And, if you’re looking to help that kid’s future career as a slugger for the New York Yankees, a bat can be an investment they can’t quite afford. Steiners Sports in Glenmont carries items from various sports, including top-ofthe-line bicycles.

nt tense?

be purchased locally Investing So you want to purchase a bond or certificate of deposit? There are many ways to gift someone money over the holidays. Speaking to a financial advisor would be your first step. Key Bank, Saratoga National, Sunmark FCU and other institutions can walk you through options, from CDs to 529 education plans and more. Depending on your plans, you may want to ask about other investments that can be purchased as a custodial account under the Uniformed Gifts to Minors Act.

Gift cards Sometimes you don’t know what to get. The person you’re thinking about has such a variety of interests, it’s difficult to pinpoint which one is the current favorite. Spending money on an item they’re no longer interested in can be a disappointment for you. Getting a gift card, however, is a great alternative. Whether it be a restaurant or favorite store, reach out or visit the establishment. There’s no guarantee the grocery store will carry them, not to mention you may have more options available to you. Upstate Wine & Spirits allows you to purchase a gift certificate of any amount. A $25 gift card could make the difference between a 750 milliliter bottle of Knob Creek Bourbon Small Batch Smoked Maple and a bottle of Knob Creek Bourbon Single Barrel Reserve 9-year.

Books Introducing a kid to an epic book series like J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” or Frank Herbert’s “Dune” can leave an everlasting impression. It not only welcomes them into new, imaginary worlds, they may find themselves building real-life friendships with like-minded fans. If you’re not sure what books may be appropriate, you can always visit a store like I Love Books in Delmar and ask a staff member for help.

December 2020 —  11




Monthly Deadlines January Deadline:

February Deadline:



n Learning Center continued from Page 7 student’s education. History and science require students to read and understand challenging passages and new vocabulary. Math word problems are often where a problem with reading comprehension is first identified. If you can’t figure out what the word problem is asking you to do to get that answer, you aren’t going to score very well.


Improvement of reading comprehension is very possible with active involvement in a student’s reading practice. Reading practice should include the following:


All children should spend at least half-hour daily reading. Younger students should read with parents. Older students can read on their own, but parents will need to read it too. Not only does this foster a positive relationship with reading, but it also allows you to model the cognitive steps required to comprehend what is read. Reading regularly is the most critical part of developing reading comprehension.


Whether you are reading to your child, your child is reading to you, or they are reading to themselves, periodically check in to confirm comprehension. Doing this not only helps you


4 1

n Fourth trimester continued from Page 9



Stay connected with loved ones, even if it is a group text so everyone can get updates and you can ask for advice or vent.




To advertise in one or more of these issues please call: Denice Mau at 518-439-4940 or email: 112398_4

12  Family Now — December 2020

Trust me when I say this: Let yourself nap when the baby does and go to bed early. You’ll be glad you did. Consider delegating tasks that you can to your partner/support people. I highly suggest new mothers invest in a baby carrier to wear their babies. You will be able to snuggle your baby and also be hands free. During the day,

see if they are understanding what is being read, but it also teaches them what questions they should be asking themselves as they read. The fact that they pronounced every word perfectly doesn’t necessarily mean they understood what they just read. At the end of a page or chapter, you might ask what just happened, or where, why, or how did it happen? Making inferences and predictions is an important to skill for reading comprehension. Inferring is the ability to take what is in the text and conclude what will happen next. You might ask “Why did the character just do that?” or “What do you think will happen next?” If, as you read, you see that they are confused or don’t understand what they’ve read, it is important to go back and reread. They will learn that this is part of the reading process. Developing good reading comprehension skills take effort. As your child’s skills improve, they will grow to learn that it is important to understand every single word, sentence, paragraph they read and how to achieve that goal. Patrick McNamara is the owner and executive director at Sylvan Learning of Albany and Clifton Park. For more information, visit

do some things you love to do that uplift you. Listen to your favorite upbeat song, sing and sway with your baby. Take some time for self-care too. The little things add up. If you love to read, work out, paint or craft, do those a few times a week when your partner is snuggling your baby. Just know you can’t pour from an empty cup, and even though these early months are a huge adjustment, know that you are important. The author is a registered nurse in the Capital District who works to support new mothers postpartum. Learn more about her at

fiction for adults

On the Bookshelf

Page turners with a twist ‘Every Last Secret’

‘Fairy Godmothers, Inc.’

By A. R. Torre

By Saranna DeWylde

Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get what she has: a gorgeous home; social standing; and William, her successful, handsome husband. Then a new couple moves into the estate next door, but the new neighbor’s infatuation with Cat and her husband escalates into a dangerous obsession. Thomas & Mercer

If love is the source of all the magic in the universe, and the town of Ever After, Missouri, is the epicenter of enchantment, then the locals are in dire need of a reboot. At least according to resident fairy godmothers Petunia, Jonquil and Bluebonnet. Their solution? Blow a bit of fairy dust in the direction of those in need of romance ... what could possibly go wrong? Zebra

‘The Wrong Family’ By Tarryn Fisher Before moving in with the Crouch family, Juno thought Winnie and her husband, Nigel, had the perfect marriage, the perfect son— the perfect life. Only now that she’s living in their beautiful house, she sees the cracks in the crumbling facade are too deep to ignore. Graydon House


From all us at



December 2020 —  13

Retiring Retirement

A time for training and rest This is the second in a two-part series.

bicycle ride and a 26.22-mile marathon.

here is no tension in the man who employs and enjoys both extended sabbaths and triathlons.

Perhaps one of the unexpected benefits of being a grandfathertriathlete is the inspiration it is providing for his progeny.


In fact, Tim Madden’s commitment to both the physical and spiritual may end up being a generational marathon as his children and grandchildren are literally following fast in his footsteps.


“I had a bunch of grandkids in the living room and asked them, ‘Who’d like to learn to swim laps?’” Madden said. “They liked the idea, and so I trained them to swim laps.

Robert LaCosta

When he was 60, the founder of Matchless Stove & Chimney says God “carried him” through his Ironman competition – a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile

Tim Madden, an accomplished triathlete and local business owner, shares his love of physical training with the younger members of his family.

“Then I said to one, ‘Would you like to ride with me this summer?’ Lo and behold, I had a group of them riding with me. Next, their parents

Continued on Page 17



The Capital District family has changed -- and we are changing too. In recognition of the multi-generational nature of the modern household, we are merging Capital District Parent Pages with Senior Spotlight to create Family Now, a monthly publication with timely features for every age and stage of family life. With Family Now, readers will find all the great columns and features they already enjoy every month, plus so much more.

To advertise, please call Denice Mau at 518-439-4940 or email 14  Family Now — December 2020


A Patriot Remembers

Frank Desorbo

A Christmas story recalled

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Red Newell’s ‘Going Home’ memories resonate long after his passing

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During six weeks of the year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we truly enjoy the American sentiment of family and friends. To our current military servicemen and women and veterans there are two simple words that have a world of impact: “Going Home.” It is Christmastime 2015 at the coffee club of TGIV (Thank God It’s Veterans) at the Gateway Diner. There is small event scheduled to have veterans tell their Christmas story when they were in service. We recorded their stories on video thanks to Patriot Flight’s videographer, Bob Shenise. Red Newell’s “Going Home” story impressed me so much that I need to record it on paper for posterity. He was born in Ireland, and he still has a slight Irish brogue. He is a person to admire for his air of simplicity and high integrity. Red visited the coffee club for the first time on the day of telling the Christmastime stories. There were about 10 of the 35 Veterans who shared a minute

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Years ago, local veteran Red Newell shared his memories of returning home for Christmas – a tale that was highlighted in a 2017 article by the author. or two of their experience that morning. Red is an Army veteran of the Korean War serving in Germany working in the AAA unit (Anti Aircraft Artillery). His work on the air base served him well for Christmas 1950. Red was granted a three-day pass to go home to Ireland. Red hopped an Army plane headed to London. In England he took a train to Liverpool. Then next was a ferry ride to Dublin, Ireland. From Dublin he catches a train to Galway. When he is to arrive at the Galway train station, he realizes it is still 17 miles from his home in Headford. He knows the venture is not over, and he is not sure how he will make it to Headford. He is so close but yet so far. The journey consumed all day and it was miraculous that he even got this far. He told his mother that he would try to

Continued on Page 17


hristmas is a time for families, and sharing time with our loved ones is definitely more cherished than the gifts we give and receive. Prior to writing for Family Now, I wrote a Senior Spotlight column for military veterans called “The Veteran Next Door.” The most memorable of those columns was “Going Home,” which touches on the Christmas spirit. The following is the article as it first appeared in December 2017.

Roy F. Bordeau



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December 2020 —  15

T EE R VOLUN Puzzle Answers on page 18 Clues Down Clues Across


1. Hair care product 4. Looped 10. It’s present in all living cells 11. Choose 12. South Dakota 14. Cash machine 15. Of the pia mater 16. Ancient Egyptian documents 18. Layers at the back of the eyeballs 22. Not perceived 23. Look over 24. Improve a tire 26. Time zone 27. Main branch of Islam 28. Bark of the mulberry tree 30. Sea eagles 31. Records heart muscle activity (abbr.) 34. Famed Hollywood producer 36. Yuck! 37. Reject outright and bluntly 39. __ 500, car race 40. Small heap or pile 41. Type of degree (abbr.) 42. Contagious skin disease 48. Erases from a surface 50. In an enthusiastic way 51. Begin again 52. Intricately produced pattern 53. It flows NW to the Seine 54. Be obliged to repay 55. Southeast 56. Slip in 58. Leisure time activity 59. Breastbones 60. Sun up in New York

1. More cloudy 2. Main course 3. Protect with plastic 4. Equally 5. Rebukes 6. Friend to a salesman 7. Warms up 8. Overshadow 9. Interior lineman in football 12. San Antonio hoopster 13. Comedian Cook 17. Time zone 19. First PM of India 20. Performing perfectly 21. A way to hide 25. Former NBA commissioner 29. Peter’s last name 31. Outlying suburb of London 32. Used to cut steak 33. Deep inlets 35. Type of tree 38. Done openly and unashamedly 41. Indigenous person of N. Africa 43. Confessed openly 44. A way to separate with an instrument 45. Influential journalist Tarbell 46. Manning and Roth are two 47. One who cares for horses in India 49. Something to believe in 56. Form of “to be” 57. Atomic #73

Giving Back


Solve the code to discover words related to PHILANTHROPY Each number corresponds to a letter. (Hint: 25 = i)

16  Family Now — December 2020


continued from Page 14 came to me and said, ‘They’re really excited about doing a triathlon with you.’ I told them we needed to create a team. We are called ‘On Eagle’s Wings.’ One of them is designing the logo of the gear we will wear, and we are all training as much as we can with COVID.” With six children and 24 grandchildren, Madden feels that the gold medal of grandparenting occurs when the youngsters talk about some random subjects that surprise, delight and even concern him. He simply takes all of these things to prayer. “My hero growing up was my grandfather,” Madden notes. “He taught me things like rewiring a lamp and how to start over if I had to. That’s an important life lesson.” Physical training provides Madden with a body that allows him to grandfather with “street cred,” work at Matchless Stove & Chimney and think clearly. “When we engage in activity,” he said, “the body releases growth hormones that help injured parts of the body and

n Patriot Remembers continued from Page 15 get home but never told her for sure he was coming. His sincere intention was to surprise her that he made it home for Christmas. When he arrived at the Galway train station, the tears, the heart pounding and to his surprise, there was his mom was waiting for him. A lovely Christmas “Going Home” present! Red told me after he read this story that the plane trip from Germany to England was his first ever. He and his family and granddaughter (also in the military) love the story, and it is posted in his home. Red was definitely a Veteran Next Door you would never suspect. He was a plumber in

endorphins that help the brain.” That intense part of his life is complemented and juxtaposed with rest and spiritual sabbaths. “Instead of a cup of tea to keep me in the zone,” he said, “I might take a 20-minute nap. I get 8 hours of rest every night and take natural sleep aids. While we are sleeping, we are healing.” Madden’s mission work with his wife, Wanda, has taken him to six countries. As a result of their tireless work, he has also used sabbaticals for extended rest every seven years and has found them to ground him in God. He ironically gets his direction for life and particularly his senior years from the biblical invitation and warning in The Book of Isaiah: “Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved; in quietness and confidence is your strength; but you’ll have none of this.” Tim Madden is having all of this. Robert J. LaCosta has written over 2,000 songs and blogs daily at Write him at or call (518) 435-1250.

the Plumbers Union # 7. He raised a family of five children, married for many years and enjoyed the American life. He loved golf, volunteered for many years at the Albany VA Hospital and the Albany food bank on New Scotland Avenue in Albany. He was a hard and happy worker when the veteran volunteers went to mend fences at Little Brook Rescue Horse Farm in Old Chatham. He was a regular at the TGIV at the Gateway on Friday. I am humble and proud to have known him. Red passed away in April 2020. This is my Christmas card to his family. The author is a Capital District resident and freelance writer and guest speaker. Contact him at

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December 2020 —  17

Social Security Corner


Social Security benefits to increase in 2021

early 70 million Americans will see a 1.3 percent increase in their Social Security benefits and SSI payments in 2021. Federal benefit rates increase when the cost-of-living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index.

on the increase in the national payees. Want to know your new average wage index. For example, benefit amount sooner? You can the maximum amount of earnsecurely view and save the Social ings subject to Social Security Security COLA notice online payroll tax in 2021 will be via the Message Center higher. The retirement inside My Social earnings test exempt Security in early by amount will also December without change in 2021. waiting for the You can read mailed notice. more informaHome is Where You’ll Find Us My Social tion here: www. Security account holders can opt out press/factsheets/colaof receiving a mailed facts2021.pdf. COLA notice and other

Elizabeth Pivonka

The Consumer Price Index rises when inflation increases, leading to a higher cost of living. This change means prices for goods and services, on average, are a little more expensive, COLA notices will be mailed Home You’llthe Find Usof Deso the COLA helps to offsetis Where throughout month these costs. cember to retirement, survivors and disability beneficiaries, SSI January 2021 marks other recipients, and representative changes that will happen based

paper notices that are available online. You can choose text or email alerts when there is a notice in Message Center by updating your Preferences at www. html so you always know when we have something important for you. Be the first to know! Sign up for or log in to your personal account today at myaccount. Choose email or text under “Message Center Preferences” to receive courtesy notifications. This way you won’t miss your online COLA notice! You can find more information about the 2021 COLA at The author is with the Social Security Administration in Albany.

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18  Family Now — December 2020


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20  Family Now — December 2020