It Was Just Thanksgiving Last Week

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Wasn’t it? I could swear it was just last week I was turkey shopping, trying to remember all the food items that go into our family’s traditional meal, cranberry sauce (we are a canned family, don’t judge us), stuffing, brownies instead of pie because my kids are weird and don’t like pie (who doesn’t like pie?!).

I could swear it was just last week when we were all sitting around our increasingly crowded dining room table, the kids wearing their little Thanksgiving craft hats, the glitter glue still shining in spots on the table, a little smear of red glitter under the napkin, my pinky finger swiped with silver glitter from picking up my fork. A pretty and messy leftover from the time we spent together gluing cut out feathers onto cut out headbands just a few hours before.

With all the prep work that goes into a full Thanksgiving meal, the eating part really does go by fast, especially with little kids. As you try to cajole them into at least trying a bite of turkey, here try it with the stuffing you like stuffing, you make sure everything is on the table, butter, salt, wine (yes, yes, wine) and then you get up over and over again to get more stuff. The sippy cup. More egg nog. More butter. Another fork because one got dropped. Another fork, yes he dropped his too. You sit down, tired yet happy, just in time for them to finish up and look at you with pleading faces to be released from the table so they can luxuriate in the endless hours of no school on a weekday. All that prep work, all those hours cooking the turkey, and the main event is over. Now go wash the dishes.

That’s what I feel like I’ve been doing lately. A lot of prep. Most of our lives are prep right now. Get the clothes washed so they can wear them to school and make sure to teach them to put those clothes back in the hamper not the floor so you can wash them again, maybe teach them to do it themselves sometimes when you have “extra” time so they can be competent adults. Homework prep. Teaching, teaching, teaching. Going over test stuff. Getting ready. Getting them ready for the next test, the next level, the next grade, the next performance.

My 6 year old spent weeks doing her prep for the Nutcracker. Hours in the studio making sure they all got their little parts right, getting the bun perfect for rehearsals, making sure she had the right tights, and as we sat there in the audience the time seemed to fly by too quickly and it was all over. I cried because I am just a crier now, and I cried because it was all over too fast. All that work she put in and I wanted to savor it for longer, I tried to force myself to keep replaying the images in my mind on the ride home that night so I wouldn’t forget. I wanted to hold onto that feeling of just enjoying the moment rather than focusing on the prep like usual. Preparation is of course necessary, I’m not going to argue that. It’s even more necessary when you have four kids, you need a good deal of prep just to get them all out the door clothed and fed and hopefully on time. Prep keeps our little family ship afloat. But how much time am I prepping, and how much time am I savoring?

And then I come to now, today, it’s almost Christmas. Everyone keeps asking, “Are you ready for Christmas?”. Am I ready? It doesn’t matter if I’m “ready”, it’s going to happen. Whether I have every gift picked out and paid for, carefully wrapped and placed under a tastefully decorated tree, it’s going to happen. It will be here. And no, I’m not “ready”. We don’t have a tree yet. An almost week-long stay in the hospital last week for kidney stones prevented that from happening. The gifts, I have those, that was easy. We have tentative food plans. I put some decorations up. But I’m not “ready”, because it is all going too fast and I feel like I can’t catch up.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all the holiday magic. Hauling out the ornaments, remembering them again for another year, finding your favorites, these little baubles are almost like tiny time capsules, holding memories of all those holidays past. I also love giving the kids presents, there’s nothing quite like seeing their little faces light up when they rip off the paper to find something really exciting, especially when they still believe in the elves and Santa and all the magic of the whole experience.

So, I’m letting go of some of the prep to make time for enjoying more of the time together. I’m going to let the kids do most of the tree trimming, and although my latent OCD tendencies will cry out in my brain: “THERE ARE TOO MANY ORNAMENTS ON THAT ONE SIDE! SPACE THEM OUT!” I will sit back, sip some mulled wine, and just enjoy the fact that I have all these kids together under one warm roof and enough money to buy a tree to put up inside to hang ornaments on. I’m hoping by prepping less this year my kids will understand more what the whole point of the holiday season is. That the time together itself is a gift, and it is one that we don’t all get to have, either, that it isn’t one to be squandered.

While I was in the hospital last week my mom found out she would have to undergo another surgery, a mastectomy this time, and I have to admit, it was a blow. One that we were hoping wouldn’t be the case, but one that we are hoping will be the first step toward her being cancer free. It definitely isn’t something that we were ready for. That whole experience itself has happened so fast, didn’t she just get diagnosed? Didn’t that just happen like last week?! And yet here we are, it’s happening, and even with no prep time it is something that she will get through, something that we will all get through, if only simply because time and the passing of time forces you to go through it. Originally, when she told me about the next surgery, they had scheduled it for December 23rd, and of course my first instinct was to protest that date, it would be Christmas! What about Christmas?! But I didn’t say it. Her health, this happening, her being well, is more important, and Christmas can go suck it if this is what needs to happen first. The kids wouldn’t mind waiting for Christmas, this takes priority. And to be honest, I wasn’t super excited about celebrating anything at that point. Wallowing, that sounded more like it.

But thankfully, the surgeon gave the okay to postpone it till after the new year, so we will all celebrate the holiday together, and for that I am grateful. So grateful for the time. I remember as a kid asking my parents what they wanted for Christmas, and they always said they didn’t want presents. Didn’t want presents?! That was crazy talk to me, I had no idea how they could not possibly want anything at all. But I get it now. I have zero things on my list this year besides just getting to be together. Underneath all the mistletoe and holly, the cute wrapping paper and the lights, underneath the tree and the treats and the carols and the cards, that’s what you have, this time. For this year I wish you all so much happiness, and togetherness. And once again, know how much your thoughts and prayers have meant, especially right now. Happy Holidays to everyone, sending you all love and hugs from my family to yours. xoxo

 

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My #1 Gift Pick for Moms 2014

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Okay ladies (and gents that might be reading to get some hints on what to get), here is my number one gift pick for 2014…

The Lotus Initial Charm necklace from Silverwood Home and Gallery in Saratoga Springs is my top pick for a few reasons. First, it is very affordable, even for me with four letter charms (the gold chains are just $20, silver are $16. Gold and silver charms are both $20). I have loved the look of initial necklaces for a while now, but the ones I covet are always out of my price range. I am also super duper sensitive to nickel in jewelry, and I have more than once bought less expensive jewelry only to be disappointed that I can’t wear it because it gives me hives (the worst).

The delicate chain is a very pretty length, not too long and not too short, and the charms sit right below your collarbone so you can see them poking out over a shirt. I wear mine every day, with my four F, L, J and T charms, and it looks sweet with a casual outfit or delicately understated with a cocktail dress or a button down. You can get your own initials, your husband’s and your own initials together, just the kids, whatever combo makes you happy.

Every time I see the necklace and charms it makes me smile, and every time I have one of the kids sitting on my lap they always want to find “their” letter on the necklace. For Christmas I also picked one up for Levy with a little L on it. The shorter length looks just perfect on a little girl, and the delicate chain and tiny charm doesn’t overwhelm a petite neck. I can’t wait for her to open it on Christmas morning so she can see we have a matching set (also getting one for my Mom so all of us can match).

So there you have it, my number one holiday pick for 2014. I love that Silverwood is also a small business run by a local mother and daughter team (daughter Chelsea is also a mom of two). Affordable, chic & sweet, this set also comes in silver as well. To find out all of my picks for this season visit the Gift Guide page right here. xoxo

ps my beautiful rose sweater in the photo above is a custom Yoicks cableknit and the color is even prettier in person {obsessed}

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Mamatoga Gift Guides: Stocking Stuffers Edition

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Clockwise from the snowman…

Do you want to build a snowman? Give kids this adorable Meri Meri cupcake set and let them create.

Embroidered lion rattle from Lex & Cleo for those tiny stockings

Nui Organics Merino Wool balaclava from The Bundle Store, {the BEST}

BabyLit board books, on the list again this year because they are just too cute. Find them locally at Northshire Bookstore

This spinny speller is a great busy toy for car rides, perfect for building early reading skills

Bo the Rainbow Creature Kit let’s kids customize their own little felt friend

Take the manis up a notch with this fingernail friends kit, perfect for that upcoming sleepover

We buy these temporary Dino Hands tattoos every year for the stockings, they are the funniest things ever

Who doesn’t love a Blabla? Find this dapper dude and more locally at Yoicks.

The sweetest little rattle from The Bundle Store.

I love this I Love You teether.

Be like Prince George in his favorite footwear, we have these Early Days soft soled shoes and they are so cute AND stay on wiggly baby feet.

That cube bot dancing in the middle? Find him at Northshire Bookstore. On their children’s floor AND on their first floor toward the back where their sitting area is, they have an unbelievable selection of stocking stuffers.

For the complete Gift Guides for 2014, click right here. Happy Holidays! xoxo

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Best Winter Baby Item EVER

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Bundling a baby, not the easiest thing to do, you worry about them being too hot, or too cold if they aren’t bundled enough. Enter merino wool, aka the best thing EVER for winter baby bundling. With millions of tiny air pockets, merino wool is the perfect insulator since it creates its own “microclimate” around the body with unique temperature regulating qualities. It keeps you warm when it’s cold, and cool when it’s warm. Think long underwear but softer, warmer, and more comfortable (YES even more comfortable than long underwear).

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Babies and children have a higher surface area to mass ratio than adults so thermal regulation for them is even more important. Merino wool also breathes and is able to wick moisture away from the skin. It can actually absorb up to 30% of its weight in water without feeling clammy or wet to touch. It then releases this moisture into the atmosphere to keep the wearer feeling warm and dry. This ensures the layer between the merino and your baby’s skin remains dry and rash free.

Synthetic fleece is warm but doesn’t breathe easily like the merino wool does. The merino also has tiny overlapping scales which case the wool fiber. They’re hydrophobic (water resistant), like tiles on a roof, which allows wool to repel liquid spills with ease. When it does get wet it stays warm, unlike cotton and synthetics. This wool isn’t scratchy like you might imagine, but is super soft and fine. Naturally fire retardant, it’s safe for children. Merino also has high UV protection, defending against the harsh sun.

nui-organics-merino-wool-balaclava-pink_large The first piece I bought was a Nui Organic merino wool balaclava for Talley (pictured above, all of the items pictured are Nui Organics). I saw it at The Bundle Store and besides being super cute in a beautiful shade of rose pink, it has kept her nice and toasty warm and is remarkably thin for something that keeps her so warm. The best part of the balaclava is that it covers her head, ears, AND goes down and covers her neck, a million times better than just a hat and it never falls off. The balaclava has quickly become my number one suggestion for winter babies and kids, and now I am quickly building a whole merino wool wardrobe for all the kids.

 

Find Nui Organics locally at The Bundle Store and their full range is online right here. Also check out my picks for best winter clothing item and accessory. Stay warm out there! xoxo

 

 

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Mamatoga Holiday Guide: Favorite Holiday Recipes

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For us, the holidays are all about the food. Cookies and snacks, sweet treats and savory favorites. Finn loves  a good winter Sunday roast supper, and Levy loves making the sugar cookies. Jack is obsessed, OBSESSED with egg nog (he gets it from me), and Papa pretty much loves all of it. Here are some of our favorites for the holidays, easy dishes that have worked their way into their own spots in the list of family holiday traditions.

Nutella crepes always remind me of being in Paris and being able to get a sweet crepe right there on the street. What is nice about this recipe is that you can customize them pretty easily, you can make one with bananas and whipped cream, one with just strawberries, one with bananas, strawberries AND whipped cream, whatever their little hearts desire.

Rainbow pancakes can be made into these adorable Christmas tree pancakes by making just green ones of different sizes. I can’t think of a better (or cuter) Christmas morning breakfast.

Now for the grown ups. Mulled wine is like liquid holiday. It’s warm, it’s delicious, it makes you want to curl your feet up in front of a roaring fire and listen to Bing Crosby. Plus it is super easy to make AND if you want to save a bunch on ingredients, go to Healthy Living Market and Cafe’s bulk section and ask them for their “mulling spices”. I think the last time I bought some it cost me less than $2.

Hattie’s is one of my favorite local restaurants, and the family that owns and operates it is also one of my favorite families. Here is what they serve at home for the holidays. Sounds good right?

Party popcorn is SO easy and comes out SO cute, just substitute the rainbow sprinkles for some gold or red and green for the perfect holiday movie night treat.

Finally, the cookies. Try out some traditional gingerbread men with a twist by either making these sweet little jockeys (best Saratoga Springs party treat ever?) or make one for each family member. The kids will love decorating “their” cookie!
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For more holiday goodies, head to the complete Mamatoga Holiday Guide, and find even more fun in the Mamatoga Magazine Holiday Issue! xoxo

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The Best Thing about Cancer

indexThe best thing about cancer is the loud and clear wake up call it gives you. The one that says STOP WORRYING ABOUT STUPID STUFF. The one that makes you realize you, your children, your family, and everyone you love has a limited amount of days to spend together, and although it isn’t easy to face and isn’t something you want to think about, when you do think about it, you start to make some decisions about how you spend your time, and who you are spending it with. My mom having cancer has made me realize that I can make a choice about how to spend these days, and if I waste them, I have no one but myself to blame. It is time for me to put down the silly stuff, the unimportant stuff, to let go of the toxic friendships and self created stress, to turn my back on the bulls@#t and embrace the good stuff. I’ve been saying this to myself for years, but I guess I needed that giant kick in the pants that a loved one with cancer can be.

Case in point. Our Elf on the Shelf. I am a fan, for the most part, but I’m not the best at it, I don’t make up little “mischief” scenes with him, and if the kids are lucky I remember to move him. For most of last week he remained in the same spot on our mantlepiece, his little face looking out at me as a reminder that I forgot every single day. The kids also reminded me, wondering aloud (VERY loudly actually) why the elf didn’t move, why he didn’t do things like their friends’ elves did, when he was going to finally move. One night, over tired and over stressed, I thought I might just call it quits on the ol’ Shelf Elf. Maybe he would become the Elf in the Storage Container Downstairs Behind the Pile of Old Clothes. Maybe Junk Drawer Elf. The kids don’t need a stuffed Elf toy to find joy in the holidays, I thought angrily. Why did I buy into this silly trend, it’s just another thing to buy, to try to force more festivity into an already super festive time of year. It was just another thing that I though we needed to buy. That we didn’t need. Something that was distracting from the real meaning of the season, to be kind to one another, to give, to spend time with loved ones. To appreciate what we have.

I didn’t move him for another few days. I ignored the kids’ questions. I was tired. I was stressed. I didn’t want to add a freaking imaginary Elf needing to move to my list of about 5,000 things I have to do in any given day. Pay the mortgage, take the dog to the vet, move the elf. No thanks.

Then Levy wrote him a note, and left it on the floor by the mantelpiece. I figured it was a note asking for toys for Christmas, and I didn’t pick it up until they were in bed and I was doing my usual tidying routine that is less than actual cleaning but more than ignoring the mess that also makes me feel a little bit more sane.

But she didn’t ask for toys. She just wanted to know his name, and she drew him a picture of a Christmas tree. And it was so sweet. And I realized that it wouldn’t be that hard to let the kids have this little piece of magic. Before they get too old for it, before they are certain Santa isn’t real, before they aren’t my littles anymore. Because that is happening at a more rapid pace every single day. The time is slipping past me, past us, past their childhood, and I want to hold on to it, to hold on to that magical time. Especially now when it seems like things are the hardest for our family. Why not make the small effort to help inject a little magic into an otherwise boring Monday morning.

So I moved the elf. And I named him Boodle. I wrote back to Levy, carefully trying to use a phony handwriting that they wouldn’t recognize, and this morning when I heard how excited she was that not only did he move but he wrote back AND has a name I knew it was worth the very little effort it took. Will I keep it up? Who knows. But I know elf or no elf they will be happy kids. And, just like a lot of things lately, it made me cry.

The thing is, I’m not a crier. But lately, it takes very little for it to start, because I feel like I am finally realizing just how beautiful things can be when you look past the every day stuff. The other night, I stopped into a convenience store late after working a party, we needed milk, and it was the last stop on a super long day for me. I was all dressed up for the party but felt anything but put together. I put the milk down on the counter and fished around in my tiny gold clutch for my debit card, which I apparently didn’t bring. The woman behind the counter paused, reached out to my hand on the counter before I could speak, and said, “Are you okay honey?”. And I cried. Right there next to the US magazines and Hostess snacks I cried, while trying to make some sense to her, explaining that I’m not a crazy person but my mom has cancer and I am so scared and upset but I don’t want to cry in front of the kids and I don’t want to cry in front of her because then she’ll cry and if I make her cry when she has cancer I’m afraid I will just never stop crying.

“It will be okay, honey,” she said, softly patting my hand. “I know it is scary, but you will be okay, it will be okay, I just know it honey.” I wiped my eyes on my coat sleeve and laughed a little bit at how ridiculous I was being, but the laugh came from a place of deep, deep appreciation for this stranger who was basically talking me down from a very scary ledge of anxiety. I checked one last time in my clutch and found a ten dollar bill that my mom had given me in case there was a coat check and I needed a tip. Because she always thinks of things like that, she always remembers that I never have cash and then feel guilty for not tipping. Which of course made me cry again, just for a minute. The thoughtfulness of a good mother.

I wanted to share this to be a nudge to all of you who are kind enough to read my blog. Especially during this holiday season, don’t stress about little things. Don’t worry if you don’t move your elf or if you never even got one in the first place, they will get over it. Don’t worry about not being able to get the kids everything on their list, they don’t need any of it. Just be there, together, in your warm house, with your kids, and your loved ones, with maybe something yummy to eat, and realize how lucky you are. Know that there are people out there who need help, whether it be a pat on the hand in a convenience store at 11pm or donating a small gift or a warm coat. Take stock, today, of what you need to do more of and what you can do less of, and what to just simply let go of. Make that part of your holiday routine, doing something as little as smiling at a stranger, telling a friend you are thinking of them, putting some love and kindness into the world. Teaching your children how they can do it too. Most of all, don’t let the reality of a limited amount of time scare you, but don’t ignore it either. Use it as a challenge to rise above the stupid stuff and celebrate the beautiful.

I also wanted to thank you guys for all of your kind words, some on facebook, some here on the site, and some of you in person. It has all meant so much to me and my family, and I wanted you to know how important that is, that sense of community, even in our time of social media being the one to remind you when it’s your friend’s birthday. That we can still reach out and help each other, that we still need to do that, it is vital for all of us. And now I’m crying again, but it’s a happy cry. Love you guys. xoxo

 

 

 

 

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my {Nutcracker} weekend in photos

I have said it before, but I must say it again, how much I love the Northeast Ballet Company and Myers Dance Center where Levy takes ballet. This was our second year doing the Nutcracker with the Company and it was just as incredible of an experience as last year. She was a gingerbread again, and what struck me as it did last year, was how the Company manages to both take the production very seriously and at the same time make it seem like you are all in a little supportive ballet family with everyone looking out for each other.

During the dress rehearsal, Levy’s teacher (also a dancer with the Company who was a Party Girl this year) came in and gave the kids all a special gift, a miniature snow globe with Clara and the Nutcracker in it, and they signed a special card for “Mother Ginger” aka “Mr. Bruce” who walks them out in his giant skirt which they then pop out of to do their dance. They got a chance to watch the rest of the performance after rehearsal from the balcony and I could barely drag her away from it. I have to admit I have also thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by Tchaikovsky for the past few weeks as well.

This year meant so much to us, and we had fifteen family members in the audience to watch her, including my mom, and I was so happy she could be there. I am so incredibly proud of Levy, I don’t think I would have been able to get on that big stage and dance in front of all those people when I was six years old. I was definitely one of those crying moms, holding Talley in my arms and simultaneously feeding Jack a steady stream of Mike and Ikes as we watched to keep him in his seat. It was an experience I will cherish always, and I want to give a huge thanks to Darlene Myers, all the parents, teachers and staff at Northeast Ballet for making it possible for all of us, and bravo to all the dancers (including Lauren Lovette and Gonzalo Garcia of New York City Ballet!) on such a beautiful performance! xoxo

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Mamatoga Gift Guides 2014: Dad Edition

topapa1. I vote we bring the boater back to Saratoga Springs for August. Find this one by Lock & Co. at Yoicks on Beekman Street in Saratoga.

2. Also at Yoicks, Luke Eyres scarves. Fantastic quality, they will last forever, which is perfect because they will always be a classic style.

3. This watch, this strap.

4. I am in LOVE with this bow tie for the holidays, just enough preppy with just enough pop to make it stand out. Plus it matches this clutch. Just saying. Not a bow tie guy? Comes in a tie too. Done.

5. TOMS Kilgore sunglasses. With every pair of eyewear you purchase, TOMS will help give sight to a person in need. Just perfect.

6. Harry’s Deluxe Shaving Kit is so sleek looking you won’t mind if it gets left out on the bathroom sink every day.

7. Oh how I love Restoration Hardware, where you can find this adorable (yet somehow rugged, of course) portable power source for his smartphone. Tiny enough to carry on a keychain, it holds enough backup power to enable 30 minutes of talk time. I see myself borrowing this in the future. Many times. Many, many times.

To find ALL of the Mamatoga Gift Guides for 2014 click right here.

 

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Guest Blogger Robin Dalton {Saratoga Hospital Maternity Ward Interview}

The Saratoga Hospital’s Flower and Fruit Mission will be holding it’s Annual Snow Ball this Saturday, December 6th, so this week The Saratoga Social and I will be sharing stories about the Fruit and Flower Mission and the Saratoga Hospital Maternity Ward that the mission raises funds to support. Today my friend Robin Dalton shares her own experience at the Saratoga Hospital Maternity Ward as well as an interview with Doris, who has been a nurse with Saratoga Hospital for 8 years.

Robin: I have been a frequent visitor in Saratoga Hospital’s Maternity Ward, having delivered all three of my children there, now almost 2, 3 & 4 . Childbirth was certainly something that despite my best efforts, I couldn’t plan for and there were about a million little things about the experience that took me by surprise.  One of which was how much of a role the nurses at the hospital would play in how I experienced my children’s delivery and the joyous, unpredictable transition into parenthood. Beyond the physical care, I had no idea the amount of emotional support I would look to them for and what a great comfort they would be to me on more than one occasion as I welcomed John, Charlie and Alice into the world.

This was particularly true during the birth of my daughter Alice, who was born after an easy pregnancy, early in the morning, two years ago today. I was thrilled to finally have a little girl and everything seemed as it should for a brief time. After getting settled back into my room, I learned her breathing was very labored and then minutes later, that her lungs were full of fluid. A team from Albany Medical was already en route and I had 5 minutes with my little girl before she would leave for the NICU. I had no choice but to stay behind in Saratoga alone while I recovered from my c-section. The next four days were the toughest of my life, as the uncertainty of having an ill child is relentless and too terrifying to put into words. But whenever I reflect on that time, one of the things I remember the most was the compassion I felt around me. Every nurse in the labor and delivery ward somehow knew exactly how to support me and take care of my needs, when all I could think about was what was supposed to happen and didn’t. Fortunately our story had a happy ending and as we are about to celebrate our healthy, happy little girl’s second birthday sharing our experience and supporting the maternity ward has never felt so important.

baby Alice in the NICU

baby Alice in the NICU

baby Alice today, almost 2 years old {photo by Megan Mumford}

baby Alice today, almost 2 years old {photo by Megan Mumford}

Unbeknownst to some, the maternity ward is supported by one specific volunteer group at Saratoga Hospital called The Flower and Fruit Mission. The history of the Flower and Fruit Mission dates all the way back to 1904 when they were formed with the sole purpose of raising money for Women’s Health Services. They have two major annual events, one of which is the Winter Ball on December 6th. Over the years the Mission’s work has paid for everything from continuing education for nurses, to purchasing a computerized birthing simulator and so much more. To better understand the impact of the Flower and Fruit Mission on the Hospital and its contributions to patient care, I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with Doris, who has been a nurse with Saratoga Hospital for 8 years.

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Why did you become a labor and delivery nurse?
I knew going through nursing school that OB was what I wanted to do, I couldn’t get enough when we were doing our rotations. I’ve been at Saratoga Hospital going on 8 years now and I love it. Everybody here is kind of like family, if something happens to one of us we all feel it like it’s part of us.

When did you first hear about the Flower and Fruit Mission?
I knew about the Flower and Fruit Mission the minute I started working here, they do so much for our unit. They recently purchased all of the reclining chairs that you see in each room, for our new dads to sleep in and also supply the bags of baby shampoos and soaps that every new mom gets. The Mission makes our continuing education possible and have purchased equipment for us to train on- they do so much and everything they do leads back to why we are here, to help our patients.

What is the day to day experience of working in labor and delivery like?
I make sure I connect with my patients and really try to become part of them while they are here. Walking from one room and into the next you experience all different types of people and personalities, but providing the same level of care across the board is what is the most important thing.

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Childbirth is so full of emotion. How does that affect how you do your job?
We notice that patients come in with a lot of worry and anxiety and that is one of the biggest challenges. You have to let the patient know that you are 110% going to support them and take care of them. Just last week I had a patient whose anxiety level was really high. I walked into the room and said ‘ok, we are doing X, Y&Z and I will be right next to you, I am not leaving your side.  She was going to the OR to have her baby and I just kept telling her, I am not leaving, I will be right here until I let go of your hand and your husband takes it. And she had a total trust in me, that I would take care of her and it just gave her the confidence she needed.

The hardest part is the emotions though, this job is the best of the best and the worst of the worst. Three of us were able to go attend a bereavement program and when I talk about emotion and the worst of the worst, that’s it. Those moms need all the support they can get from us. I don’t leave the room, I stay right beside them and do everything I can to help.

I have experienced that loss myself, I had a daughter that I lost at 22 weeks.  So I can relate to them and tell them I know what you’re feeling; I know you don’t think there is going to be an end to this pain, but you need to go on and keep living and you will get through this.

And ‘the best of the best?’
My niece delivered here on January 9th, when she was only 26 weeks pregnant. She didn’t even think she was in labor, she thought she was getting a stomach flu. She got here and the baby came within minutes and didn’t even weigh 2 lbs. The teamwork here is really incredible and they responded to everything all the while knowing it was my niece and part of my family. The baby came through it and today is thriving and healthy and will be having her birthday in a few months. That represents the best of the best to me, it is why we do what we do.

Have you ever consider a different area of nursing?
The nurses here are special people and coaching women through childbirth it is almost like a high that we live off of.  I couldn’t ever leave labor and delivery. I became a Grandmother this year and got to be with my daughter in law and daughter when they delivered last Spring. After my son’s baby was born he called me to tell me how much respect he had for what I did everyday and how amazed he was by it all. I was right next to his wife, holding her hand and coaching her every step of the way and pulled my son into it as well, to make sure he was a part of the birth. He couldn’t believe it was what I do every day.  So when my daughter was deciding on whether or not she wanted me in her delivery room, my son said you’re not going to want anyone but her there. I just tell them that this is my calling, it’s why I love what I do.

There have been so many great additions to the Maternity Ward here like the tub and water birthing room. Are there any other changes ahead?
We are so excited about what is going to be happening here. In January we have 6 midwives who will be joining us, who will be employed by the Hospital and we are so excited about the new opportunity it will bring to our patients. There will always be a midwife on the unit, around the clock, and we can’t wait to start offering that service to our patients.

To attend the Flower and Fruit Mission’s Annual Snow Ball and help support the Saratoga Hospital Maternity Ward, purchase tickets by calling Michele Funiciello at (518) 265-0086. The Snow Ball takes place this Saturday, December 6th at the Hall of Springs, tickets are $125 per person; a Junior ticket (35 and under) is $90.

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Mamatoga Review: 9 Miles East Pizza Delivery

1798245_1572955676258068_7153115551792800847_nSpoiler alert on this review, I LOVE THIS IDEA.

I also love the idea of feeding my family local, fresh food, but to be honest it doesn’t happen nearly as much as I would like it to. Add into that mix some very picky eaters and that makes it even more difficult to find something good for dinner.

Enter 9 Miles East Pizza Delivery. You might recognize the name from their 9 Miles East Farm, where they grow vegetables on the 11-acre farm and prepare weekly meals in a commercial kitchen for a group of subscribers near Saratoga Springs. It’s like a CSA, only instead of a box of vegetables, you get lasagna. Or gumbo. Or Indian eggplant. Whatever’s freshest that week.

Getting my kids to eat gumbo? Probably not going to happen (although I will continue to try to expand their culinary horizons). But pizza? That’s a definite yes.

We chatted with Gordon Sacks from 9 Miles East about this great idea as the scent of homemade, farm fresh pizza wafted nearby…

“Our whole idea is that is should be really easy for people to eat healthy food, people are busy, and it’s not going to work till it is as easy as fast food. We grow it, we cook it, we deliver it, that’s how we got started, and pizza is the next evolution of that. Pizza is universal, everybody eats pizza. We want to introduce local food to people in this great common ground way in something that everyone will eat. We want people to know you can have something that is healthy, local, delicious, and accessible.”

We tried their farmhouse and the barnyard, as well as a special that they had that week (changes weekly) and all three were simply amazing. They totally nailed the crust. It has a great texture without being too doughy or heavy, the tomato sauce is zingy and rich and fresh, and the cheese, OMG the cheese… All three kids loved it, which is RARE for them to all actually eat and enjoy something. I can’t actually pick a favorite since I liked each of them, but if I had to suggest a family friendly one I’d say go with the Farmhouse (also check on what their special pizza is that week for sure).

To see the full menu click right here. Their pizza is available 7 nights a week, from 5-10 pm. Order via their Facebook page here.

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