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Saratoga County Real Estate Market Update - June 2019
Norman Rockwell of the Twenty-Teens
If I were an artist, I think my paintings would end up being similar to Norman Rockwell’s. He’s quoted as saying, “Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed”; replace “America” with “motherhood” and this works well as an explanation of my efforts with this column. I like to think of these stories I share with you each month as my attempt to put into words what he painted into images: moments of real life that feel familiar, are often funny, and are true and authentic.
Sometimes I see my boys doing something that I wish Norman Rockwell could see, because I’m sure he’d be inspired to paint them. One example is a moment my mom and my oldest shared a few years ago as they sat on the couch together. My son had his Chromebook open on his lap, but he was looking at something on Mom’s phone, which she was leaning over to show him, pointing at the screen and chuckling. Other details that surely would have made it into the painting were my mom’s sweater and slippers, the pillow behind her back, my son’s bare feet, the fact that both their ankles were crossed, the coziness of the lit lamp next to them. “Grandmother and grandson share their e-findings on iPhone and Chromebook,” the description of the painting would read.
Another example occurred during a family walk to the park. Boys number 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 were on their scooters, and I’d told them they could scooter to the next corner and wait for me there. There they were, a jumble of boys on scooters waiting at the corner, and they were all poised to ride again as soon as I gave them the go-ahead—the legs whose feet were on the scooters were bent, and they were all leaning forward as if waiting for the starting gun. Rockwell-esque details included the crooked helmets, the shorts that a couple of them were wearing with their coats, the way one of them was looking behind him at one of his brothers and laughing, a baseball field in the background. “Scooter Race” it might be titled.
Just recently, the four older boys were altar servers at Mass, and they’re all still young enough that they’re stair steps—each boy is a half a head or more shorter than the next oldest—which makes for a fun picture anyway, but I glanced over at them just at the point where the youngest of them yawned, and I thought, “That is such a Noman Rockwell painting.” I feel sure he would have enjoyed this early Sunday scene: the serious older brothers, the yawning rookie, the hair sticking up on one of them, the white robes and rope belts they each put on themselves with varying degrees of aptitude. Sometimes I’ll see them conferring during Mass about who needs to do what, or one of the older boys will direct one of the younger boys, which would also make a great painting. I’d call it, “Morning Mass.”
The way the baby opens his mouth wide to insert his pacifier himself, like a baby bird; the little boys clustered in the tree house having a chat while sitting on old chairs; my oldest boy shooting hoops by himself for hours; my five-year-old perched on the chair with the controller clutched in his hands during his turn at video games; my middle guys racing around and through the house playing tag or hide and seek; the sour face the baby makes upon trying a lime popsicle; the mismatched socks and too-big shirts and baseball hats that make their ears stick out—it’s as wholesome as modern childhood gets, and I can picture each scene painted in Rockwell style.
Even the writing of this piece could fit into my “Norman Rockwell of the Twenty-Teens” series. I’m sitting in a recliner with the baby asleep in one arm and my laptop balanced on the opposite arm of the chair, pecking away with one finger. “Mom at Work,” it might be called, or “Naptime Writer” (which is how I’ve often described myself).
They’re the kinds of moments that I think would make a lot of people think, “Oh yeah, I love when my kids do that!” or “I’ve noticed that too!” or “We did that just recently!” or “I remember those days well!” I feel the most inadequate as a writer at these times, because I struggle to convey with words what Normal Rockwell so expertly showed on canvas, and I really want to, because I think snapshots of childhood innocence and simple family life are beams of light in what many consider to be dark times. “Humor and wit were central aspects of Norman Rockwell’s character,” the Norman Rockwell Museum web site notes. “…Rockwell filled a societal niche by providing levity during times of great strife… [his] paintings presented Americans with a window into a more idyllic world.” He was certainly a master at doing so, and I’d love to think these stories I share provide a little of that to all of you!
(All quotes from the Normal Rockwell Museum site: nrm.org.)
What Would We Do Without Dad?
My sister got married recently, and while she and her now-husband certainly were and are the focus of the day, there are two other people who emerged as heroic, and this column is the perfect time to applaud them: my dad and my husband.
Dad is his best self when he’s in dad mode, and it was on full display during the wedding trip (the wedding was in Ireland). From making any and all arrangements that my sister asked him to, to making final payments to all the vendors once in Ireland, to doing all of the Father of the Bride bits, he was in his element, and he knocked it out of the park. We’ll be talking for a long time about how he masterfully managed the shuttles from the hotel to the cathedral and back again for the bride and groom, wedding party, and guests for both the rehearsal and the wedding—a complicated arrangement that had to take into account various combinations of passengers, increased traffic because of a bank holiday weekend, and the schedule of events on the night of the rehearsal and on the wedding day itself—and he did all of it sight unseen, from home. Dad dealt with the interesting challenge of paying vendors who wouldn’t accept credit cards—he can now tell you the ins and outs and dirty details of trying to get large amounts of dollars changed to Euros in Ireland. He cut a handsome (and emotional!) figure with my sister on his arm when he walked her down the aisle; the guests loved that he made a speech that incorporated their participation; and he took special care in choosing the song he and my sister danced to. As at my wedding, he was the best possible Father of the Bride.
I wouldn’t have been able to go to the wedding if it weren’t for my husband. An overseas trip with a baby is no small feat, and doing so during our family’s busiest time of year, with the end of the school year looming and baseball still in full swing, is extra difficult and not easy to hand off to someone else. Fortunately, my husband is so hands on that there was barely a ripple in our normal goings on while I was away. He did all the school drop offs and pickups, the baseball games, the grocery shopping, the meals, the homework checks, the laundry, and church, and also thought of fun things to do on top of the normal routine. When I first told my boys that I’d be going to Ireland for their aunt’s wedding, they asked, “Who’s going to take care of us?” When I told them their dad would be doing it all, they whooped and hollered for joy, and (unsurprisingly) they loved their time with him while I was gone. To get away from the wedding for a minute, I also have to add that he did all that as well when the baby was born last fall. My emergency c-section took much longer to recover from than I expected, and my husband handled everything for those first few weeks while I focused on me and the baby. He even made dinner every night until the baby was four months old and I was feeling more up to it. I’m so grateful to have a husband who is willing and able to do it all.
Every Father’s Day is a great opportunity to honor these two men, but this year has an extra something special because of the extra feats of fatherhood done by my dad and hubby since last Father’s Day. My family and I are so lucky to have them, and I’m so grateful my boys are growing up with them as role models. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in your life!
How to Remember Everything
During my boys’ spring break we had to go to the orthopedist to get my seven-year-old’s cast off. Fourteen years of mothering and seven rowdy boys and this was our first broken bone—a buckle fracture of the wrist from falling off a fence after retrieving a ball that went over it, that needed a cast for only two weeks and Tylenol for the pain for only the first day, and I caught my little guy hanging by two hands from the monkey bars the day before he got his cast off (which gives me the willies to even write), so I guess it really wasn’t all that serious, as far as broken bones go. But it warranted a trip to the ER and a cool splint (that everyone had to sign), then a trip to the orthopedist and a cool cast (that everyone had to sign), and two weeks of no gym class, no playing on the playground at recess, and no practicing with his baseball team, so all in all it was more medical excitement than (gratefully) we’re used to.
Going into his cast-removal appointment, I reminded myself that I needed to get a note from the doctor that cleared my boy to resume gym class and recess. But I had the younger four with me, all of whom but the baby insisted on fighting over the toys in the waiting area. Then my broken-wrist boy kept trying to climb up on the exam table without using the stool and I could just picture him falling and breaking his wrist again. Even when he was actually sitting still, he kept holding his broken-wrist hand at a funny angle and saying how weird and “floppy” it felt, and every time he shifted his position on the exam table I was afraid he was going to use his broken-wrist hand to brace himself. Keeping an eye on him while also wrangling my jumpy baby, the five-year-old who can’t sit still, and the nine-year-old who likes to provoke everyone, took every bit of mental energy.
The doctor said his x-rays were great and that he could resume all activities without any restrictions, which is the exact time I should have asked for the note, but did I remember to do so? I did not.
The check-out process took a few minutes, during which I chatted with the lady who was checking me out, which was a perfect time to ask for the note, but did I remember to do so? I did not.
When we were finally able to leave, I scurried everyone back through the waiting room as quickly as I could, got everyone back in the van, seat belts buckled, and got into the driver’s seat and buckled myself in, when I remembered the thing I’d forgotten to ask for: that darned note.
For a fraction of a second I considered unbuckling everyone and herding them all back into the doctor’s office, because I knew if I drove away without that note, I wouldn’t remember to get it before he went back to school after spring break. But I just couldn’t do it—getting the kids in and out of the van is a circus and a workout all in one; I was already sweaty from the first go-round and couldn’t stomach the idea of waiting in the waiting area with them all again either. Some moms are really good at all that; I am not.
I called the office on my cell while sitting in the parking lot, telling myself that if they could get the note for me quickly, I would get everyone out of the van to go back in and get it. But I got put on hold, and I didn’t have the stamina for that either.
I put the van in reverse, knowing the whole time that if I left that parking lot I’d forget to call about it when I got home. I drove out of the parking lot, onto the road and back home, knowing the whole time that my window of opportunity was gone. Not that I wanted it to be, just that I knew “call the doctor for the note” would get lost in the jumble of things rattling around inside my head. Indeed, by the time I pulled into our driveway, I’d completely forgotten.
A few times during the rest of the week I would think, “Oh! I have to call the doctor about the note before spring break is over!” but I never thought of it when I could actually pick up the phone and call, and by the time I could, I’d forgotten again.
Last Monday, the kids went back to school after spring break. My boy had already resumed playing baseball on his team, as well as all normal shenanigans at home and in the backyard, so the fact that he’d even had a cast seemed a distant memory. Had I remembered to call the doctor and get the note to send into school with him? I had not.
Later that Monday morning, I got a call from the school nurse—she needed a note from the orthopedist before she could allow my son to participate in gym or play on the playground at recess. As soon as I got her message, I called the doctor. I was able to pick up the note later that morning and I dropped it off at school when I picked the kids up that afternoon.
One of the questions I get asked the most when people see how many children I have is, “How do you remember everything?” Now you know! But the world doesn’t end and mostly everything ends up getting done eventually, so I just keep plugging away, one day at a time.
Mean Mom Gets It Right
I have never minded that my kids might sometimes think of me as a Mean Mom. While my husband and I are certainly a team in bringing up our kids and making decisions for our family, my husband is generally considered to be the Fun Parent, full of energy and always eager to play with the kids, while I’m pretty comfortable with the fact that nurturing, scheduling, and disciplining are some of my strengths. Sticking to bedtimes, requiring vegetable-eating, and turning off the TV are things I’m really good at, much to my boys’ chagrin.
There have been a few times, however, where I make a decision that I think is good and necessary but also is likely to be particularly hard for the kids, and I brace myself for the howls of despair… only to discover that they like my hard decision more than the alternative.
Here’s one example: A few years ago I decided to plan for three meatless dinners per week, and in trying to come up with ideas I decided we’d have a Cereal Night every week. On one such day, one of the boys asked me what was for dinner, and when I said “cereal,” he surprised me by responding, “Yes! I love cereal night!” I was so surprised!
Another example: None of the boys has his own room, which they occasionally grouse about (brothers are always getting into each other’s things and they don’t have any privacy and their roommate makes too much noise at night or keeps the light on too late when the other is trying to fall asleep—I’ve heard all the reasons why sharing rooms is a terrible thing). But I’d once considered moving one of my boys out of the room he shared with his brother and when he caught wind of it, he begged me to reconsider, citing how much he loved chatting with his brother while they fall asleep at night. And another of the boys was recently reminiscing fondly about when the four older boys all shared a room, and how great those days were.
The most recent example: Though each of the boys chooses his own Lenten sacrifice (usually giving up dessert or similar), I’ve chosen the additional sacrifice for us as a family for the last few years of “no video games on Fridays during Lent.” This is difficult for my husband and I, since the boys behave pretty well during video game time, and it’s difficult for the boys, since they love playing and plan all week for their turns (we only let them play video games on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and only one hour each per day). In fact, taking away one of their three allotted days seemed so penitential that I felt I had to replace it with something that was less fun but still fun, since so many of them are all still so young, so I replaced it with Family Movie Night. This is the third year we’ve done movie nights instead of video games on Fridays during Lent, and apparently it’s not quite as much of a sacrifice as I thought—“Movie nights are even more fun than playing video games!” one of them said to me the other day. I’m shocked!
Is this phenomenon an offshoot of the idea that kids crave boundaries and thrive under them? An example of how resilient kids are? Evidence that their wants and needs are simpler than parents sometimes think? Or maybe I’m just not as much of a Mean Mom as I thought I was!
Photos by SuperSource Media, LLC.
SCHUYLERVILLE - Schuylerville students represented their independent robotics team at the regional FIRST Robotics Competition held at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute March 9 and 10.
FIRST, which stands for, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology was founded in 1989 with a mission to encourage students to enter STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) related fields. At the beginning of each season, the teams register to join the competitions where they are given a task, which the robot they design will be required to accomplish. The teams spend about six weeks programming, constructing, and marketing their design until their deadline, when they will bag and seal their creations until the day of the competitions.
The Schuylerville robotics team, the Steel Stallions began in 2011 by its founders Kevin and Betty Gifford. Kevin Gifford, the head mentor turned the reigns over to Todd Kehley, who has a nine-year Naval background working with nuclear power and, has a vested interest in the program.
“My son, when he was going to school at Schuylerville, decided that he wanted to get involved with the team…I decided that it was something I wanted to do with my son."
Babies are the Best Medicine
My now-seven-year-old has never been a big eater. He doesn’t have a huge appetite, and he doesn’t like a lot of things. When he was smaller he would sometimes go days without getting what I would consider to be a good, solid meal. But I remember one day, when he was probably three (and he’s always been small for his age, so he was a really tiny guy), he asked me if I would make him some scrambled eggs.
Oh! What joy for this mama, whose worry that everyone is getting enough to eat is constantly bubbling just below the surface! I happily scrambled up three eggs, thinking I’d give him half, and then, in the off chance he’d want more, there would be some left.
Well. He sat right down and ate all of what I gave him and asked for more. I gave him the rest of the eggs, and he ate those as well. Then he asked for more! So I scrambled up three more, and he ate all of those, too.
Six eggs in one sitting! Into a tiny body that would consider a handful of goldfish to be a meal!
When he was done eating, he hopped down from his chair and went off to play and I thought, “He must have needed protein.”
I was thinking of this story recently, because I’ve been feeling some pretty intense cravings of my own, though not for food. My cravings have been for *goodness*, for the fresh air of wholesomeness after the pollution of what-the-heck-is-going-on-with-our-world.
Recent low points: I was reading recently about detailed guides to suicide being inserted into children’s shows on YouTube by hackers, and the related worry about the Momo Challenge—later reported to be a hoax—whose character’s horrifying face is enough to give anyone nightmares. I read a longer, more-detailed piece than I’d yet read about Otto Warmbier, the American student who was imprisoned in North Korea for the alleged theft of a propaganda poster and was returned to the U.S. and his parents more than a year later in a vegetative state; he died less than a week after. I can’t even think about how the Senate voted to block consideration of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act last week. There are so many things that are horrifying, saddening, frightening, and maddening that are bombarding my mental peace.
Then of course there are all the small bits of violence and corruption in my own home, as in everyone’s—meanness, selfishness, exclusion of others, impatience, and bad tempers at and among the very people I love most. It’s no mystery to me why the world is the way it is. We can be such burdens to each other, and sometimes we’re our very worst enemies.
One of the best medicines I’ve found for restoring peace and hope in my own heart? Babies!
While small children in general are full of innocence and wonder and are a balm for the soul, there is none so innocent, none so full of wonder, none so balmier, as a baby. My youngest, who is six months old, provides that breath of fresh air with just about everything that he does. He’s sitting in his high chair next to me while I write this, babbling to himself and gnawing on a teether, and when he catches me looking at him, he breaks into the happiest smile you’ve ever seen. Can anyone be happier than a mother whose baby is beaming at the sight of her?
I often marvel at his eyes—so big and clear—as they take in everything around him. I love how peacefully he sleeps, how his eyelashes lay on his cheeks, how fully trusting he is that he is safe and loved. I love how peacefully *I* sleep when he falls asleep on my chest—those are the best naps.
I love that he lets me love him—he’s not yet old enough to want to run away from my hugs and kisses. I kiss him all over his face and he laughs and holds onto my face and my hair with his little hands and neither one of us can get enough of each other.
When any of the older boys are having a hard time, putting the baby in their laps is an immediate mood enhancer. When my husband comes home from work, he makes a beeline for the baby.
Even all the care a baby needs helps alleviate some of the gloom—the burden of a darling baby is the nicest burden a person can have, much nicer than the nastiness and general “issues” adults (myself included) foist upon each other with troubling regularity. I’ve seen babies bring out the sweet side of even the most irritable—they certainly do that for me.
I suspect that the most cynical among you are thinking, “Babies grow up. Bad guys were once babies.” And I know that the particular characteristics I’m writing about here are some of the most fleeting of the fleeting baby age. I still say: if you’re looking for heaven on earth—for pure, untarnished goodness and restored faith in humanity and all its beautiful potential; for a natural high that’s all goodness and no badness—babies are where it’s at.
Roohan Realty Announces Top Performers for 2018
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Roohan has announced their top Realtors for the year of 2018. Congratulations to these top 5 residential agents: Valerie Thompson, Kate R. Naughton, Conner Roohan, Meg Minehan and Darlene Chorman. In addition, the top commercial agent was Amy Sutton. The Company recently held an awards celebration and dinner in their honor at The Lodge. In total, these accomplished Realtors achieved over $56.8 million in real estate property sales last year.