Spring 2016: The NNY Life

The struggle to let go as a child’s boyhood slips away

Kathy Hirschey

Kathy Hirschey

I have been home with my son, Evan, for three days. He’s sick. Not terribly so, but he has a mild fever that lingers. I don’t do well being trapped in my house for long periods of time. I like to get out. I feel guilty calling in sick for work, and I know my son worries about missing school and the assignments he will face piled up high when he returns. [Read more…]

Winter 2016: The NNY Life

Rhinestone pins and cigarette pants help define character

Kathy Hirschey

Kathy Hirschey

I recently spent part of the afternoon at the Social Security office. My husband and son needed replacement cards. As we sat in the waiting room, I was fascinated and moved by one person who was sitting nearby. It was a woman who appeared to be in her late 70s.

She was wearing a fur coat, full length, with a rhinestone pin affixed to the lapel. It was a glittery cursive “L.” Her hair, gray and short, was combed and shaped into a lacquered shell of elegance and tucked gently into the front of her bangs was a bobby pin affixed with another shiny stone, perhaps a rhinestone, or it could have been a diamond. [Read more…]

Holiday 2015: The NNY Life

Share the holiday season like our love that connects us

Hirschey_Kathleen WEBHere come the holidays, the time of year when traditions and memories intertwine with new moments of the season. There is the blur of the Thanksgiving meal, our grateful souls devouring the company of loved ones, along with too much delicious turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. Then the string of days that leads us to Christmas, when we gather again with family, catching glimpses of our younger selves as we watch the children around us, their eyes sparkling in the lights from decorated trees. [Read more…]

Summer 2015: The NNY Life

A bittersweet farewell to the great north country

Columnist Katie Stokes

Columnist Katie Stokes

In preparing for this, my final column for NNY Living, I went down a bit of a thesaurus rabbit hole searching for a synonym for the word bittersweet. [Read more…]

Spring 2015: The NNY Life

Dear NNY: A ‘Dear John’ letter to the north country

Columnist Katie Stokes

Columnist Katie Stokes

The Stokes family is leaving you. We’re going west.

At first, our decision to move all the way across the country — to Idaho — felt like giving up. In my defense, I’ve been trying to force myself to bloom where I was planted for nearly half my life, but my buds just kept getting buried under snow. [Read more…]

Winter 2015: The NNY Life

Take a deep breath, it’s just  another north country winter

Columnist, Katie Stokes

Columnist, Katie Stokes

A few weeks ago when the 2015 “Snowmageddon” was barreling toward New York City, I had to do a double take when I saw people were fleeing their burroughs because it was predicted that the city could get up to two feet of snow. [Read more…]

Break the silence: Seek out options to treat depression

Katie Stokes

Katie Stokes

I’ve suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder every winter since I moved to Northern New York. Because I figured out pretty quickly that I can’t just hibernate and cry all winter, I actively seek out methods to curb my depression well before it gets to the point of crisis. [Read more…]

Long car rides with kids require creative strategies

Katie Stokes

Katie Stokes

Last year, my family and I met up with my sister and her family in Indianapolis, a midway point between Northern New York and Oklahoma. We rented a house and cooked our own turkey dinner with groceries we brought from our own homes.

But to get there, we had to first endure a 14-hour cross-country road trip. My kids were three and six, and inexperienced at sitting for long intervals in a car. We’ve flown many, many times, but the thought of having them strapped in for longer than the hour ride to Syracuse, or even the nearly three-hour trip to Rochester, was intimidating.

As is my way, I fretted and planned for several weeks before the road trip. I read articles and blogs for tips, downloaded books and games on our Kindle, rented DVDs and audiobook CDs from the library, created an entire Pinterest board of ideas on how to keep young kids occupied during the 14-hour trip and assembled personalized binders for the kids with age-appropriate printable games, coloring sheets and puzzles. [Read more…]

For most Okies, tornadoes are just part of being home

Katie Stokes

My daughter and I were visiting my family in Oklahoma in May when those tornadoes went through the state.

Were we hurt? Not a bit. Were we scared? Uh, you know the expletive I want to write here. Diva and I — along with my Oklahoma family — had a close shave with a storm that could have produced a tornado basically within spitting distance of my parents’ house at the same time the city of Moore was getting clobbered just north of us.

When I told folks here in Watertown that I was visiting my home state during one of the most violent tornado outbreaks in history, I was shocked by how many times I heard: “Who would live there?”

Let me try to answer that, starting with this tidbit: what happened in May was completely unprecedented. The scale of those storms was unprecedented. The fact that there were three deadly category EF3 to category EF5 tornadoes within the same month was unprecedented. These storms were not only measured by how fast the wind was churning, but also their miles-long width. The storm that killed the National Geographic storm chasers may have been two miles wide. That just isn’t something that has happened very often. Or ever. Unless that’s what killed the dinosaurs. [Read more…]

Yes, Diva, they do have birthday cards in heaven

Katie Stokes

This spring we suffered a Stokes family first: a death in the family. We had to euthanize our beloved 11-year-old standard poodle, Sophie, just a week before what would have been her 12th Easter.

I found Sophie listed as “Free Standard Poodle Puppy” in a March 2002 Watertown Daily Times classified ad. I didn’t just rescue Sophie from a flea-infested house in Theresa, I adopted her in every sense of the word. Our Christmas cards bore her picture. She shared our bed. She had her own couch. For all intents and purposes, Sophie was my first child. [Read more…]