You are currently browsing hvpguestblogger’s articles.

antonyMUGBy Antony Eminowicz

Naming a guardian in your will is not always enough

A primary motivation for parents of young children to make a will is to name guardians for their minor children. The parents can appoint a guardian of the person or of the property of a minor, or both. Guardians of a minor child’s person are responsible for the child’s upbringing; they take over the role of the parents. Guardians of a child’s property are responsible for the management of the child’s property.

This blog’s main focus is on the guardian of the child’s property. The scenario arises when the parent(s) have pre-deceased the child(ren) who then stand in line to inherit their parents’ wealth under the terms of the will.

By no means a guarantee that the named guardian under a will shall be appointed, seldom do the courts go against the wishes of the deceased parent(s), unless, of course, there is good reason (i.e. the proposed guardian has a history of irresponsibility).

Once appointed, the guardian of the child’s property “shall protect, preserve and manage the property of the infant” up until the time the child reaches the age of 18 years. In practice, once the guardian is appointed, the court will generally order that the estate be liquidated and placed in a special type of guardianship account.

Because the court has power over the property of a child, the guardianship is severely statutorily regulated and the guardian’s functions are restricted. Annual accountings of the guardianship account will be required, property will be secured by a fiduciary bond and the court (not the guardian), must determine the reasonableness and amount of expenditures for the child.

Familywill

Creating a ‘testamentary trust’

The restrictions placed on the guardian of the property as to expenditures, although highly secure, is a cumbersome process for meeting the financial needs of minor children.

Whereas it is always advisable to appoint a guardian of the child’s property in a will, the best plan is to create what is called a testamentary trust for the benefit of the children. A trustee of the trust can flexibly meet the children’s needs for maintenance, support, education, and the like. The trustee must act in accordance with the specific directions and guidelines as set out in the will.

Eligibility for trust can be raised from 18 years to 25

Another major reason (and usually the biggest reason!) behind why parent(s) need to consider incorporating a testamentary trust for the benefit of the child(ren) is that unlike a guardianship of property, which results in the child receiving all funds at age 18, the trust can run to a more mature age. Over the years of drafting wills and assisting parents of young children, the consensus view is that 25 years is a suitable age for a child to inherit. Parents tend to feel that at 25 years a person is more likely to spend less frivolously (eg. settle outstanding student loans).

When drafting a will, the testamentary trust, coupled with the appointment of a guardian of the minor’s person and property, results in an efficient and flexible plan.

Antony Eminowicz, Esq is the principal of Murad Law, a Kingston firm that specializes in elder law, estate and special needs planning. He is also the proud father to two young boys (who also keep him very busy!)

Follow Antony on Twitter: @Muradelderlaw

‘Like’ Murad Law Firm on Facebook

HVP Bio picBy Jacqui Nash

Redefining your yoga practice now that you’re a parent

Not too long ago, this was my morning routine: Wake up around 5:30am. Practice yoga for 60-90 minutes. Walk the dog. Then head off to work. I loved starting my day with time to myself when distractions from my sacred yoga practice were almost non-existent.

Now things are a little different. With a two-year old, a baby on the way and a growing business, my yoga practice is often squeezed in here and there. And a 90-minute practice on my own is almost a laughable concept. When I first had my daughter, I tried to designate her nap time, my only “free time,” for my yoga practice. I wanted nothing more than uninterrupted time to myself to get into my meditative zone, but nap time does not always equate to free time. Distractions were everywhere and I was often left feeling unresolved and frustrated.

Now a mother veteran (does 2+ years make you a veteran?), I’ve had to redefine my yoga practice. While, yes, this is still considered a sacred time and there are some occasions when I can get into a very deep practice without interruption, parenthood has brought to a place that I can honestly say feels more “yogic” and balanced than the strong, maybe even unhealthy, attachment to my practice that I previously had before my daughter. To get to this balanced state, here are some things I discovered while redefining what a yoga practice means to me.

Your practice can be shared

Sure, we love to practice on our own, and when we have a developed home practice, there’s nothing like escaping from the madness that can be parenthood. But if you have to roll out your mat in the living room while the kid(s) are watching TV or playing, do it! It might inspire them to join along or just be curious about this amazing thing that mom/dad is doing.

Jacq & Sienna Practice

Don’t get frustrated about interruptions

Yes, it’s going to happen. Your husband or wife needs to talk to you about dinner NOW because they are at the grocery store. Or your little one is finally napping, but 10 minutes later he is wailing because of a dirty diaper. It’s going to happen and the breath work that we practice during our yoga class isn’t just to center us during our practice. It’s a tool that can help transition us calmly from the yoga mat to the diaper explosion.

15 minutes on the mat is a yoga practice

Trust me. Your day will feel better if you’ve done a some sun salutations and maybe even a few other stretches and conscious breathing than if you’ve done nothing at all.

Remove the guilt of wanting time to yourself

There are mornings when your partner is home and everyone is relaxing and you feel required to be there with the family, but all you’re thinking about is going to a yoga class. If your partner can stay with the kids, then GO! If you come home feeling better than you did before you left, your entire family will benefit from you taking a little time for yourself.

Bring an instructor to you

Don’t have time to ever make it to a class or don’t know how to practice yoga without the guidance of an instructor? This Hudson Valley is flooded with amazing yoga instructors who would be happy to come to you and work around your schedule to help you develop a home practice. It might seem costly, but if you work with a private instructor once or twice a month, it could be the monetary equivalent (and more valuable) than going to a group class once or twice weekly. You could also find online classes (if you’ve never practiced yoga before, I highly recommend working with a teacher in a class or privately at least once to familiarize yourself with postures to avoid injury).

Let go

This is a basic concept of yoga philosophy that is beyond applicable here. Had an idea of what your perfect yoga practice should look like? Let it go. Think you need 90, even 60 minutes every time you come to the mat? Let it go. In yoga there are the balancing concepts of aparigraha and vairagyaAparigraha is a dedicated practice, such as a regular yoga practice, and vairagya means detachment or not getting so attached to your practice that you become obsessed and miserable if it doesn’t live up to your expectations. The balance, while conceptually simple to grasp, can be incredibly challenging to apply to your life, especially as a parent. And your everyday life is where the true yoga practice takes place; not necessarily on the mat, but applying the concepts and ideas of contentment and love to your ever day living.

Jacqui Nash is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through the Yoga Alliance and is the co-founder of The Yoga House in Uptown Kingston, where she teaches yoga and co-leads the Yoga Teacher Training program. As a mother, wife, yogi, foodie, student, teacher, and outdoor adventurer, Jacqui shares her thoughts on how yoga influences all aspects of her life on her website and blog, The Babbling Lotus.

UntitledBy Maddalena Casabianca-Reade

Annual Lap4Life fundraiser celebrates health and family

Two young, and very brave warriors were honored at this year’s Lap4Life event during the opening ceremony: Sean and M.J. Cadden.

Sean, 11, and M.J., 13, are the son and daughter of Sergeant Pat Cadden of the Town of Newburgh Police Department. Sean had been in remission from his Leukemia after 3-½ years of treatment. Sadly, in August of 2014, the Leukemia returned and Sean was in need of a bone marrow transplant. His sister M.J. was his match.

The day after his 11th birthday, he received the gift of life — his bone marrow transplant from M.J. Behind this brave brother, there stood a courageous sister. These siblings truly defined this year’s race theme of “Brotherly Love.”

Lap4life presented a trophy to M.J. and Sean Cadden for their bravery and courage.  A quilt made with police badges sent to Sean while he was at Westchester Medical Center. Police departments all over the country sent him badges to decorate his room.

Lap4life presented a trophy on June 20 to M.J. and Sean Cadden for their bravery and courage. A quilt made with police badges sent to Sean while he was at Westchester Medical Center. Police departments all over the country sent him badges to decorate his room.

The Lap4Life event is hard to classify. It started in 2009 as a run/walk around a picturesque lake in Newburgh, but it has grown into a community day where people come to visit the Health Fair, to enjoy the food and music; and to run or walk around Chadwick Lake or to participate in the Kid’s Fun Run.

While at this year’s event on June 20, it’s hard to miss the importance of a community coming together to support a cause, to celebrate the victories, and to share the stories that make our lives worthwhile. The event has grown each year with nearly 2,000 people participating in some way this year.

The Kids Fun Run involved children ages 4 and under. Aiden Olivieri from Kingston came in first place for his age group.

The Kids Fun Run involved children ages 4 and under. Aiden Olivieri from Kingston came in first place for his age group.

I founded Lap4Life for my brother, Dr. Angelo Casabianca, who was battling a rare tumor — a desmoid tumor — from the age of 30. Angelo proudly walked in the first Lap4Life event in June 2009. He lost his battle 6 months later at the age of 39.

Lap4Life is held each year on the third Saturday of June, to honor the memory of Dr. Angelo Casabianca by raising awareness and much-needed funds for desmoid tumor research and organ donation.

Four years ago, along with Life4Life committee member Goncalo Pinhiero, I began the Lap4Life Youth Track Program as an extension to the Lap4Life event. The goal was to help our youth build a love for running and a love for exercise in general.

Angelo Reade, 9, and his father Brian Reade at the starting line.  This was Angelo's first 4-mile race with his father.

Angelo Reade, 9, and his father Brian Reade at the starting line. This was Angelo’s first 4-mile race with his father.

The program runs from April through the end of May, and focuses on teaching the mechanics of running, introducing cardiovascular exercises, stretching, and endurance when running longer distances in a fun-family centered atmosphere. Last year, over 30 children ranging in age from 5 to 10 registered for the program. Family members are encouraged to join the workout.

The coaches feel children will exercise more if they can do it as a family. Running is the basis for most sports and it is an exercise you can do anywhere. It is important to instill a healthy lifestyle at a young age and that is what this program strives to do. Our goal is to have children and families who participate in the program join us at our Lap4Life event next June. All funds raised are directly donated to the Lap4Life foundation.

Cole Mullarkey and Angelo Reade, both 9, cross the finish line at their first 4-mile run.

Cole Mullarkey and Angelo Reade, both 9, cross the finish line at their first 4-mile run.

Maddalena Casabianca-Reade is a New York State Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist. She has been working in the field of Speech Pathology since 1997. She specializes in geriatric homecare, however has been treating individuals of all ages with communication and swallowing disorders. She is a native of the Hudson Valley and graduated from Marlboro High School, she obtained her undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree at the State University of New York at Albany and went on to receive her Master’s of Science in Education in Communication Disorders at The College of St. Rose where she graduated Magna cum Laude. In 2009, she started a non-profit foundation called Lap4Life, which raises money each year through a community event featuring a Run/Walk and Health Fair to raise awareness and funds for desmoid tumor research and organ donation.

A fun-filled day in these neighboring Dutchess County towns

me-profileBy Kathy Ng

When the weather gets warm, the Rhinebeck and Red Hook area in Dutchess County is our family’s favorite weekend destination. With lots of kids family activities, space to run around and explore, charming shops and great food, it is not hard to spend a fun-filled day in these two small towns.

Things to Do in Dutchess County

The Rhinebeck Farmers Market, which runs year round on Sundays from 10am-2pm, is probably one of the best in Dutchess County. In addition to farm fresh foods, kids can try the tasty Aba’s falafel, fresh tacos, ciders, and more. The farmers market moves outdoors after Mother’s day, which makes it even more fun for the little ones.

poets-walk-1 poets-walk-ny

The Poets Walk Park is a beautiful hike at any age. The trail is only 2 miles, but you will find woods and meadows, footbridges, special pavilions and Hudson River views.

The Rhinebeck Aerodrome opens from June to October. It is like a time machine where you can see airplanes as well as automobiles, motorcycles, and early engines from 1900-1939. Weather permitting there are exciting air shows every weekend, transporting you in time to the WWI and Lindbergh area.

Shopping in Dutchess County

On the main streets on Rhinebeck, you will find the Al Stickle’s Variety Store, which has been at its Market Street location since 1946. While your children look through all the charming old-fashioned toys like Slinkies and whoopee cushions, you can relive your childhood with its fun selection. In addition to toys, you will find interesting items like craft supplies and fabric, unique household items and cooking supplies, and more.

We also love Oblong Books, the best independent book store in Dutchess County. Not only do they carry a good selection of children and teen books, they also host lots of author events, including hosting famous authors like Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor and Park) and Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid). red-hook-new-york-diner

What To Eat:

Our favorite place to eat at Rhinebeck is Bread Alone. With its fresh bread and fluffy pancakes, you cannot really go wrong. If you are looking to dine at a fun place, try the Historic Village Diner, housed in a Silk City dining car from 1927. The food there is also pretty good and affordable.

red-hook-holy-cow-icecream

If you are up for dessert, the Red Hook ice cream shop Holy Cow is a local favorite. It was named one of the top ten ice cream shops in the country by Trip Advisor. There are also other great ice cream choices. Village Pizza in Rhinebeck serves locally made Jane’s Ice Cream, and the gourmet chocolate shop Oliver Kita serves amazing (mostly chocolate) ice cream as well.

Kathy lives with her husband, two boys, and her well-traveled dog (who has been to three continents) in Dutchess County. She enjoys traveling, photography, and trying the strangest thing on the menu. You can find her blogging on goodhomeshudsonvalley.com and realestatehudsonvalleyny.com

Why are our exceptional children denied exceptional treatment?

susan-paynter-headshot-resizedBy Dr. Susan Paynter

It must be a dirty word because teachers, legislators, and even the parents of the gifted kids seem to be reluctant to use the G word. From No Child Left Behind to Race to the Top, the focus is on bringing the low performing kids to the middle. We have to level the playing field, which means insuring that our brightest kids don’t get too far ahead of the group.

It’s not fair, is it? Those gifted kids have it all — they are smart and things come so easily to them, they hardly have to work at anything! And besides, everyone is gifted, right? Every child deserves a trophy for playing in the Little League, and every kid is a winner.

But wait, what happens if everyone is gifted? And what happens to the kids who truly are cognitively exceptional? Probably exactly what would happen to our most talented athletes if we made them sit on the bench until everyone was equally ready to play.

Recognize their unique needs

We acknowledge that some children need special services because they struggle. Without recognition of the unique needs of the bright kids on the other end of the learning continuum, the gifted become an oppressed class, the ones who are denied services, and appropriate support. If we tried that with a cognitively challenged child we would be sued, right?

Does oppressed seem like a strong word? What’s it like when the gifted are sitting in a classroom learning things they have known for years waiting for the rest of the class to understand …. learning your letters when you already know how to read, or learning to count when you can already multiply? And while they are waiting for the rest of the class to catch up, they are told to sit still.

No one wants to use that dirty word “gifted” since, after all, they don’t need anything because they are already so smart and know everything in the common core curriculum. And talking about them makes you an elitist. What if you were asked to sit in a room and learn how to tie your shoe for hours each day, even though you have known how for years. Would you feel lucky to be smart?

Children in one of Dr. Paynter’s workshops for gifted students participate in a floating experiment.

‘Grit factor’

What about that “grit factor” everyone is talking about? It is widely accepted that one of the most critical attributes of success in adulthood is grit. If a child is spending their day learning things they already know, then how do they develop the grit that is essential for success? How do they learn resilience? How do they snatch victory from defeat if they never fail?

It’s time we fought for the rights of our brightest students with as much energy and effort as we have fought for the rights of our struggling learners. And let’s shout that dirty word “gifted” from the roof tops because we are mad as hell and we are not going to be average anymore.

Dr. Susan Paynter lives in Woodstock and is a national presenter on programming for gifted children. Dr. Paynter served as the Director of Gifted Programs for Montclair University and is a New York state certified school administrator and experienced teacher of gifted and twice exceptional students. For more information on advocacy and support for gifted children, visit www.giftedmatters4kids.com or email giftedmatters4kids@gmail.com.

Insider tips from a professional ‘momarazzi’

IMG_4907By Kate Garland

Last winter my husband accepted a job offer in the Hudson Valley. More money, closer to family, and his closing argument that won me over: “You can quit your job and stay home with the baby.”

B-0004I liked my job, I really did. But racing home on lunch breaks to simultaneously pump and feed the baby all while shoveling lunch in my mouth was starting to stress me out. Needless to say, I handed in my notice and we quickly packed up our waterfront condo in Florida and moved to New York.

Like most of you, from the moment my daughter was born, the camera came out and was never put back down. Her birth made me want to document every little moment of her life, a way to freeze time with each photo. Overnight I had transformed into the “momarazzi.”

Ever since I took my first photography class in college an unidentified amount of time ago (Hint: digital cameras didn’t exist yet) I’ve always owned professional photography equipment and people have always told me I should take photos for a living. Only now that I had all of this wonderful time on my hands, did I start to experiment with different lenses and editing software. I fell in love all over again, and I quickly discovered there was a lot I would need to learn. I enrolled in classes with some of the best photographers on the East coast (lucky for me most of them reside in Manhattan which was a short jaunt from my new home)

Look for the light

Photography in its basic form is light and shadow, pure and simple. Learning to appreciate how light falls on your subject is a photographer’s most important lesson. You don’t need elaborate landscapes or fancy styling, although I do adore both of those. You just need beautiful light, which is around us everywhere, and you don’t even need a camera to practice seeing light.

[Read more: Say cheese! Expert tips for getting the best photos of your children]

B-0003

3 simple tips

While you are out and about, here are three simple tips for photographing your kids in the Hudson Valley this summer:

  1. Move in closer
  2. Focus on eyes
  3. Shoot at sunset 

Lucky for you, the Hudson Valley is a photographer’s paradise. The changing seasons provide picturesque backdrops — from wintry wonderlands and snow-kissed mountains to fresh vibrant green colors in spring to brilliant red and orange fall foliage. The scenery is awe-inspiring, rolling mountains, cascading creeks and little historic towns with steeple-filled skylines. Each photo is unique with its own personality. I encourage you to grab your camera and explore the streets of your own town this summer!

Play tourist

Think to yourself, if visitors were in the area for the first time, where would you take them? Approach a day in your town the same way you would a city that you visited on vacation. Check out tourist guides, the web, and visitor’s centers for hidden gems. Photograph something in your town that you never knew existed!

[Read more: How to take the perfect family holiday portrait]

B-0011

Attend an event

We all know that the Hudson Valley has a festival for everything from pumpkins to beer to country music. Really, I think I have seen a celebration for every fruit and vegetable. Bring your camera along to capture photographs of your family, scenery and the location! 

Visit a park

Easy enough right? Pack a blanket and picnic lunch and head to a park.  Photograph the sunlight filtering through the trees or your littles flying down a slide!

Summer reading

And if you are up for some summer reading, pick up the manual that came with your camera and really study how to use all of the settings, you’ll be shooting like a pro in no time!

Kate Garland is a photographer and blogger living in Warwick with her husband, their toddler, and two dogs. She specializes in lifestyle photography … and drinking copious amounts of coffee. Find her at kennedygracephotography.com.

An introducion to Spiritual Mentoring

StollerPortrait09By Lincoln Stoller

“All that we humans do, we do in conversation… as we live in conversation new kinds of objects continue to appear.” – Humberto Maturana and Pille Bunnell

I want you to expand your notion of education beyond skills and information, beyond encouragement and the setting of examples, all the way to the joining of spirits. Leave behind the notion of knowledge as facts. Recognize that we evolve as a species through the change of individuals.

Encouragement

My first memory of being deeply moved to learn was when I watched a documentary movie about stars and galaxies in preschool. No teacher or person in K through 12 engaged me to the same degree. I was so disappointed because

Eugene Wigner

Eugene Wigner

of this that when I was 16 I went looking for someone to talk to. I looked through college brochures and found Professor Wigner in the physics department at a good university. I phoned him out of the blue and asked if he would talk to me about my interest and what path I should take. Although a bit taken aback by his enthusiasm and anticipation to meet me I scheduled a meeting at his office, several hours drive from where I lived.

I drove through the rain, navigated the town and campus, and arrived wet and late. I didn’t prepare myself aside from reflecting on my own curiosity, and I didn’t know anything about him or his field. I didn’t even have a high school diploma. We spent the entire afternoon talking about the universe. He affirmed my interests, endorsed my questions, and charged my sense of self and purpose.

I went on to study physics and often encountered the work of my friend Eugene Wigner, celebrated contributor to the invention of quantum mechanics and Nobel laureate. Throughout my education I searched for deeply curious people who were aware of their own limitations and respectful of mine. The inspiration I gained from the few I found taught me that sincere encouragement from a knowledgeable elder is inspirational.

Transformation

The field that develops between people determines the value of the information exchanged within it. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson says, “I would rather have someone who is inspired by their work stand in front of me and be my teacher, even if they don’t know how to teach. Because — you know something — that doesn’t matter. In the end what matters is the osmotic link that is made between your and their enthusiasm. Just by being in the same room at the same time…”

[Read more: 9 ways to help kids grow into healthy adults]

We are becoming aware that a person does not grow by gaining information, but by developing a larger state of mind. Facts don’t enlarge a person, relationships do, and relationships that expand one’s boundaries stimulate the most growth. A relationship’s texture will have a greater effect than what is said. An inappropriate or disrespectful encounter can have as negative and long-lasting an effect as meeting an open-hearted spirit can have an effect that is unforgettably positive.

“You want to entertain in your imagination, as well as in the substance of your beliefs, the ability to create and sustain states that are more powerful than in your limited, conscious awareness. Even if you only believe you are making it up, do it really well …” – Richard Bartlett

Personal Space

Mary Ann MaNais

Mary Ann MaNais

“When I sit down with my friends and socialize … we don’t go into depth about what society has given us, what we need, versus what we want… because we don’t care right now. But as far as me, speaking for myself, I care.” – Mary Ann MaNais, 19 years old

Teenagers rarely engage each other, or anyone else, on deep and personal issues. That kind of engagement is not cultivated in children nor in the adults who surround them. Young and old alike, we are hiding in our own shadows, not looking seriously into ourselves and not sharing what’s there. It’s time to recognize that we will only grow ourselves by exposing our doubts and sharing our strengths.

“The circle of learning between student and teacher is a flow that has no clearly defined beginning. My students’ desire to understand and my capacity to articulate are two sides of a synaptic bridge in a larger mind, and only when we came together and combined our resources did we fulfill our respective roles in this larger dance… as when a vibrating tuning fork is brought near a quiescent tuning fork until something of the energy of the one is transferred to the other.” – Christopher M. Bache

[Read more: Child Behavior: Teaching kids money doesn’t buy happiness]

Spiritual Mentoring

In the heart space there is a little distance between those with and those without experience, who share a common interest, but age and rank fosters an illusion of separateness. I would like to take a “subtle knife” and create a door through which the two can meet each other.

I’ve created a web page to connect interested young people with experienced elders. An inexperienced person can submit their interest, background, and contact information through a web form, and an experienced person can do the same. I will scrutinize each and, if they share a sincere, common interest, I will share this information without identifying either of them. If they are both interested and both approve, then I will introduce them. I don’t expect the perfect mentor and mentee will approach me simultaneously, but I also don’t expect them to be far apart: given one, I’ll look for the other.

[Read more: Child Behavior: Teens becoming self-centered]

“Human beings dance in life, and as we dance different patterns emerge around us. Sometimes a spark jumps between two poles. Lightning strikes and suddenly a possibility seems closer for someone in the room. There is a heartfelt exchange, a truth transmitted. Unpremeditated and uncontrolled, it is guided by its own radar, advances its own agenda… These sparks express the learning of our collective intelligence.” – Christopher M. Bache (6)

If you’re a young person with a passion to learn, or an elder with a passion to share, then visit the Spiritual Mentoring page, fill out the mentee or mentor form, and I will contact you.

The Spiritual Mentoring Project

To participate in the project as either a mentor or a mentee, visit the Spiritual Mentoring page and fill out the mentee or mentor form.

Lincoln Stoller helps people to learn by using neurofeedback to empower their brains, and past life regression therapy to expand their spirits. He has two sons and lives in Shokan.

The Kingston YMCA Farm Project helps community children connect with nature and food

By Kaycee Wimbish 

kayceewimbishI have been growing food for more than eight years now, yet the magic and wonder of seeds awes and amazes me over and over again. It is wonderful and miraculous: you put a tiny, seemingly lifeless object into the ground. I wait — sometimes patiently, sometimes impatiently — until it germinates and sends a green shoot through the soil and exposes itself. Many times I almost give up hope. I think the seeds aren’t good; I did something wrong; the birds ate them. But then, it happens, they emerge. Every single time I rejoice, I marvel, and I celebrate. And then I watch that sprout grow and change and eventually I eat it. I think, “I grew this!” On top of being amazing, it is empowering! It is this joy, this wonder, this feeling of power that I hope every child is able to experience.

At the Kingston YMCA Farm Project, we get young people’s hands in the dirt, planting seeds, watering plants, harvesting fruits and vegetables and hopefully wondering at the magic at all.

afterschoolseedingcovercrop9:14

Connecting young people to food

What I have seen with my work with children, is that there is so much that surprises them and makes them wonder because they know so little about where our food comes from and how it grows. I knew intellectually that most people are disconnected from real food and where it comes from, but what I repeatedly witnessed was very surprising. Teenagers saying “that’s what broccoli looks like” and not knowing that pickles are made from cucumbers. I did a garden scavenger hunt with a group of campers and they were unable to match names of vegetables to the growing plants (the counselors found this task just as challenging!) But despite their lack of knowledge, they love it; they want to know; they can’t believe it! The interest seems innate. The desire to pull that radish from the ground when you have never tasted a radish and have no idea what to do with it is very strong.   The joy that children feel when they can harvest something and take it home to their parents to prepare is so beautiful.   The smile that comes over a young person’s face when they are asked, “did you grow that?” is beyond compare.

Richard Louv says “The children and nature movement has perhaps even greater potential because it touches something even deeper within us, biologically and spiritually. An array of leaders from different religious backgrounds have stepped forward to support the reconciliation of children and nature. Such leaders understand that all spiritual life begins with a sense of wonder, and that one of the first windows to wonder is the natural world.”

Plant seeds and watch them grow 

As parents, I invite you to share this wonder and magic and power with your children. Plant some seeds and watch them grow. You don’t need a lot of space or experience. You just need time and sun and a willingness. Nurture that plant, observe that plant, eat that plant. I guarantee you will never taste anything as delicious as the food you grow. Start small and build up. Growing food becomes addictive. The magic never wears off and it never stops being awesome.

Upcoming events at Kingston YMCA Farm Project

There are many ways to get your children’s hands in the soil at the Kingston YMCA Farm Project.  We host Second Saturday Community Work Days, May 9, June 13, July 11 and August 8.  From 10 am to 2 pm, we invite volunteers of all ages and sizes to do what seasonal work needs to get done in the garden. 

School age children attending the YMCA’s School’s Out after school program work in the garden on a weekly basis during the growing season.  Children attend the YMCA’s Camp Starfish have at least a weekly farm experience. 

For pre-school aged children we offer Little Farmers, a weekly drop in program for young children and their caregiver.  We read garden related books, do an age appropriate garden based activity and make a fresh from the garden snack.  This program runs on Wednesdays from 10-11:30 am from July 1-August 19.  There is a sliding scale drop in fee of $5-15 per family. 

For more information, visit our website or visit us on Facebook.

KayCee Wimbish is an educator and farmer and is thrilled to have this opportunity to combine her two passions at the Kingston YMCA Farm Project.  She has a Master’s in Education from Bank Street College of Education, and over 10 years of teaching experience.  She taught elementary schooI for five years before pursuing her interest in farming.  She currently teaches vocational English as a Second Language to adults who are studying to be Nursing Assistants.  She has been farming in the Hudson Valley for the past 9 years, working at Hearty Roots Community Farm, a vegetable farm that uses the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model.  She also owned and operated the former Awesome Farm, a pasture based animal farm, raising cattle, sheep, turkeys and chickens.   

How downsizing our home helped our family grow

By Beth Mackey

Beth MackeyWe used to be “normal.” You know, a 1,200 square foot, 2-bedroom apartment in a city, with closets and things sitting in them that we didn’t use. For a family of three, this seemed just about right.

Then we started off on an adventure.

Our daughter was about 10 months old when we moved into a 900-square-foot home with an open floor plan and one closet in Keene. No way could we even think about fitting her stuff, our stuff, and ourselves into this place!

Then, thanks to a friend’s post on Facebook, I stumbled across the tiny house movement. I found cute story-book houses and blog posts telling the chronicles of brave souls giving away their possessions and living with less, all to live in infinitesimally small spaces.

But the one thing I didn’t find much about were families living in tiny and small houses. Individuals, absolutely. Couples, sure. But with kids? Not so much. I just figured that we’d have to figure it out on our own.

Since then, I’ve found a number of other families that have shared their experiences with living small. Maybe it would be possible for us.

There are definite joys: less to clean, less to buy, less to pay for, smaller mortgages and utility bills. But with a 2-year-old and another on the way, parenting in a small space comes with some challenges, too.

Discipline

Just about everything gets shared, all the time. Living space? Shared. Play space? Shared. Sleeping space? Shared. Headaches? Sometimes, they’re shared, too!

Probably the hardest part of living in a small space is handling a 2-year-old’s temper tantrum. She needs a break, and I need a break, but we can’t get away from each other!

We now understand the power of going outside. The fresh air, the change of scenery, the temperature change, all provide a good opportunity to take a breath. During an outburst, it calms us down. But we live in the mountains, so this is not always a viable solution. When it’s 10 below or raining (both of which happen frequently!), we make a point to look out the window and find something outside to focus on: a bird, the weather, the wind, a leaf.

IMG_8358

Heading outside gives everyone a chance to take a deep breath.

Independence

Since we’re constantly sharing space, I find it sometimes difficult to impart healthy separation to my daughter. She is always in my sight and I’m always in hers.

On the other hand, my daughter plays where I can see her, and we always get to be a part of each other’s lives. When she squeals over a re-discovered book she hasn’t read in months, I’m right there to share in her joy. When I’m working on a project, she gets involved. When she’s about to draw on the wall with a marker, I know. In reality, her independence is stronger because I’m not worried about her getting into trouble in another room. She can explore with freedom.

Sleeping

Yes, we sleep in the same space: we have a sleeping loft, where one side is hers and the other is ours. Until we bought this house, I never considered that there might be any way of living other than each kid having their own bedroom, with a door, and toys and books, and a closet full of clothes, and space. When my daughter was an infant, I remember feeling so very relieved when we finally moved her to her own bedroom in our last house. Freedom! And it was great, at the time.

Now, I treasure the fact that I can hear her breathing when I wake up in the night. In the morning, I see her sleepy eyes and her amazing little smile first thing. I’m literally right there if she needs anything.

Believe it or not, she still has enough space to practice her dance moves on the carpet before she hops into bed for the night.

Our shared loft bedroom.

Our shared loft bedroom.

Privacy

This seems to keep coming up in my conversations with friends and family: Where do you go to be alone? The truth is, nowhere. I can try the bathroom, but any parent knows no toddler is going to let that happen!

Where do you have private conversations? We wait until bedtime, or go outside. Or, we spell things. It makes a two-minute conversation last ten, but right now it works. I’ve heard pig latin works well too, and we might have until middle school before she figures that out!

Where will your kids get private space? Honestly, I’m not sure. My daughter has a reading nook with her books and a miniature rocking chair of her very own. She loves to hang out there, and it seems to make her happy. And there’s no way on earth that I can fit in that rocking chair, so that space is all hers!

If one of us really needs to escape the shared environment, our sleeping loft provides some private space during the daytime Sleeping lofts: for more than just naps!

For now, living in a small space works for us. As far as our human experience tells us, we only have a finite time to live and enjoy this life. I’ve always had a strong push to make the most of my time, and living smaller is helping me do that.

We know that, as our kids grow up and start playing in the school band, they’ll probably need more space. And so will we!

We’ll cross that bridge — and buy that house — when we come to it.

When Beth Mackey isn’t plotting how to get rid of her stuff, she works as a consultant in data management and runs Tamarack Mountain Guiding, a climbing guide service in the Adirondack Park. Read her blog at livingsmartlivingsmall.blogspot.com.

I’ve gone and done it, blown my New Year’s resolution to stop reading the comments on any given news story.

“I’m so scared about dying in a car accident that I’m thinking about removing the tires. Angelina Jolie should go see a psychologist you cannot live in fear of everything.”

I dug up that gem — one of the less hostile ones, actually — in the comments section of a Huffington Post news story about Angelina Jolie’s recent New York Times op-ed piece. These insults were sprinkled among comments praising the actor, mother and humanitarian for using her celebrity pulpit to spread awareness of hereditary cancer risks. I could probably post a hundred more that criticized her choice, just to prove what D-bags people can be, but I won’t. Because right now I’m pissed.

3.25HLaBrunaBald

Had I known about my BRCA status in advance, I could have taken the necessary steps and likely avoided this whole baldness mess.

Yes, look at me, world! I’m a cautionary tale!I take such comments personally, not because I have a huge girl crush on Angelina, or because we’re obviously twinsies (cough, cough), but rather, because we’re both mutants. For every Angelina Jolie, there’s someone like me, someone who didn’t know she carried a potentially fatal genetic mutation until after being diagnosed with cancer.

The smoking gun

In 2013, at the age of 36, I went in for a baseline mammogram. I left that warm September day with x-ray images of diseased-looking breasts burned into my brain and the radiologist’s words, “There’s a lot I find suspicious” echoing in my ears. I wanted to tear my boobs from my chest.

Three biopsies later, I learned I had breast cancer. Not just in one breast. Both.  The tumors, while caught early in stages 0 and 1, were grade 3, which, in cancer-speak, means they were aggressive. In addition, there were signs that cancer cells had breached my blood vessel walls and could have escaped into my bloodstream. All this, and I never had a lump or any other symptoms.

A few weeks later came the smoking gun: a positive test for a BRCA mutation. The deaths of my paternal grandmother, my grandmother’s twin sister and my aunt from breast cancer weren’t bad luck. In my family, we had genes that killed. BAM! IN YOUR FACE, every-doctor-who-ever-told-me-that-I had-nothing-to-worry-about-because-the-cancer-was-on-my-father’s-side-and-that-my-breast-cancer-risk-was-probably-the-same-as-the-general-population!

I’m a BRCA mutant

Over the course of a year, I would have a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction using a technique known as Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) flap, which harvested fat from my abdomen to recreate the breasts. I would also undergo eight rounds of chemotherapy, a hysterectomy and oophorectomy (removal of the uterus and ovaries, respectively), and nipple reconstruction, along with facing down at least 10 years of taking the drug tamoxifen to suppress any residual estrogen production, because my tumors found estrogen DEE-lish. Thanks to the drug regimen and forced menopause, a good day for me means feeling like I’m 70 instead of 90.

So please, don’t think we BRCA mutants take such decision-making lightly. It’s just that the alternative—namely, death by cancer—can be a lot worse. Angelina and I carry mutations in our BRCA genes, she BRCA1 and for me, BRCA2. We all have BRCA genes, which normally produce proteins  that help stop cancer-causing DNA errors. However, for BRCA mutation carriers, these proteins  don’t work properly, making us more susceptible to the Big C.

I remember Angelina taking heat for the first op-ed piece she penned, describing her preventative double mastectomy. But I envy women who are able to reduce their risk of hereditary cancer by being knowledgeable, getting the necessary screenings –and yes, if they choose to, surgeries—to help reduce their risk before cancer ever has the chance to rear its big, fat, ugly head.

The chance for preventative action

Just how effective is this surgery for preventing breast cancer in women who are at high risk? Try 95 percent or more, according to the National Cancer Institute . You don’t think that statistic haunts me, that had I known about my genetic mutation I might have had the opportunity to reduce my cancer risk drastically? If I had my surgeries preventatively, I’d feel a whole lot better right now about the odds of seeing my two young kids grow up. As for ovary removal, that reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by up to 90 percent and breast cancer risk by 50 percent in high-risk women.

I feel for Angelina and all others who are faced with the choice of removing seemingly healthy parts of their body—the very parts that society so often uses to define womanhood and sensuality. For me and my breasts, things were more cut-and-dry: I had cancer in both of them and they needed to go. But the hysterectomy and oophorectomy?  I was removing my uterus and ovaries based on odds. Though I hated doing it, I never wanted to be facing a cancer recurrence or new cancer and have “coulda, shoulda, woulda’s” filling my head.

Hopefully my journey is winding down, with just my areolas to be tattooed on. My BRCA2 mutation also carries increased risks for pancreatic cancer and skin cancer, to name a few. These risks are nowhere near as high as those for breast cancer and ovarian cancer, but having this knowledge allows me to be vigilant just the same.

So, I just want to say, Ang, GOOD FOR YOU! You were your own advocate and set the course that best suited you—all that any of us can really do, whether we choose surgery or surveillance. Let no one criticize you for your choice. It was yours to make, and yours alone.

And for that HuffPost commenter who used the automobile analogy I referred to earlier, I’m going to break down Angelina’s recent decision for you with another auto analogy, one often used in BRCA circles: If you knew you had a 50/50 shot of your brakes failing, would you continue to drive that car? Or would you do something to fix the friggin’ brakes and keep yourself from dying in a fiery crash?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Heather Labruna lives in Goshen with her husband and two children. Follow her ongoing journey at: Breaking Breast Cancer

About Me!

This blog is where we comment on the issues and topics Hudson Valley parents deal with every day. We invite you to join us! Please leave us your comments.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 55 other followers

Categories