Merlino & Gonzalez - November 2020

Take a look at this month's edition of In a Manor of Speaking!

November 2020




We Make Things Happen! Buying or Selling, Put Your Home in Our Hands

We helped Gabriel and his wife purchase their first house on Staten Island five years ago and their new home in New Jersey this year. The coronavirus tried its best to make things difficult for them. But we tried harder to make sure it didn’t.

eager, knowledgeable, and kept us in the loop at every step. We didn’t think the process with them could go any better than it had five years prior, but somehow it did. We moved out of our Staten Island house in mid-March, but two days later, the first coronavirus shutdowns went into place in New York. The Staten Island real estate market was booming, but there we were, unable to show our home and make a sale. We had to wait a few months, but as sanctions started to lift, we went right back to Merlino & Gonzalez to make things happen. We wanted to move even faster this time around because we were juggling two mortgages that we hadn’t planned on. Yet again, John’s team was right there with us, ready to go. I’ll be the first to admit that I was rushing them and probably bugging them. I would even text John directly at all hours of the day, but not a single text went unanswered. The entire team made themselves available. They were unbelievably quick with paperwork and follow-up and so knowledgeable and honest about everything that needed to be done. Even as quickly as I was trying to make things move, they were somehow always ahead of me. We found a buyer, and, of course, John already knew their lawyer and had a great relationship with them. In just a few short weeks, they got everything squared away on the sale of our house. We were actually on vacation when it finally closed, which, for many people, could mean a stressful nightmare. But when you work with a team like Merlino & Gonzalez, stress plays no role in the process. Who knows where we’ll be in another five years, but if it’s in the midst of another home purchase or sale, I know we’ll be eagerly knocking on their door once again.

My wife, Nicole, and I purchased our first house on Staten Island five years ago, and that was the first chance we had to work with Merlino & Gonzalez. At that time, we worked directly with Ken Gonzalez, and the process was such a pleasure that we knew if we ever got around to selling, we’d come right back and work with them in a heartbeat. Well as life goes, changes came our way. After four years in that house, we welcomed our beautiful daughter, Peyton, and knew we needed a bigger home for our growing family. We were in a good place to purchase a new home and the timing was right, so we started searching — and found exactly the home we were looking for in New Jersey. Nicole and I had always lived on Staten Island, but this house was everything we wanted, so we made the tough decision to move shop. We’re so thankful that Merlino & Gonzalez serves New Jersey as well as New York because it meant we had another opportunity to work with them. This time, it was with the other half of the team, John R. Merlino Jr., Esq. As we knew it would be, the process of purchasing our new home was completely smooth. When we explained the terms of the sale to John and that the buyer wanted to close quickly, he and his team didn’t bat an eye. We closed within three weeks. Their entire staff was helpful,



The Stories Behind 2 Iconic Animal Heroes in Video Games

Your family might have had the chance to play more video games lately and interact with some of the most famous animal heroes in video game history, like Yoshi or Sonic. But have you ever wondered about their real- world backstories? Yoshi Or should we say, T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas? That’s Yoshi’s full name according to Nintendo’s official character guide published in 1993. Ever since the first release of Super Mario Bros, Nintendo wanted Mario to have a dinosaur companion. However, the limitations of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) stalled that idea until Nintendo released Super Mario World for the Super NES. The inspiration for Yoshi traces back to the 1984 video game Devil World, which featured green lizards that hatch from eggs, eat enemies with large mouths, and emit the very same signature Yoshi giggle when they hatch.

Sonic You could say that random New Yorkers chose Sonic’s ultimate design. When Sega sought to create a flagship series to rival Nintendo’s Mario, Naoto Ohshima took character designs with him on a trip to New York. He asked random passersby in Central Park to choose a design, and the spiky blue hedgehog won. That wasn’t the end of Sonic’s design alterations, though. He had a rock band phase! Initially, Sonic had fangs, was in a band, and had a human girlfriend named Madonna. The team at Sega of America, led by Madeline

Schroeder (who calls herself “Sonic’s mother”), removed those elements to “soften” the character for American audiences. While this led to heated internal debates, Sonic game designer Yuji Naka admitted it was for the best. These famous characters make our video games more energetic and fun, and their origin stories are just as unique!

Yoshi has received a positive reception since its introduction, making it Japan’s third-favorite video game character in 2008. A few fun facts: Yoshi is often referred to as male, but its gender remains unconfirmed. Also, Yoshi and K.K. Slider (from Animal Crossing) have the same voice actor!

WHAT IS FAMILY BURNOUT And How Do I Prevent It From Affecting My Family?

According to one study from 2018, over half of all parents surveyed were experiencing some form of burnout (i.e., exhaustion, cynicism, lack of professional satisfaction, etc.) — and that was before the pandemic. Now, as the world enters the eighth month of the coronavirus pandemic, many parents are working from home or dealing with unemployment, and many children are doing school online. Families are spending a lot of time together at home, balancing new routines — and that’s led to family burnout. When you experience “family burnout,” the kind of exhaustion that comes from spending too much time with family, it manifests itself as physical and emotional exhaustion, an inability to handle usual tasks, and increased irritability. The more demanding your work and home responsibilities are, the more susceptible you are to family burnout. Single parents are especially susceptible, but burnout can drastically affect romantic relationships and even children. Most people are not used to spending so much time together at home. With all that in mind, don’t worry — family burnout is preventable. It starts with creating a balance between work and rest. While it might feel like you don’t have a moment to spare between work and taking care of the kiddos in the house, identifying those spare moments in your day is absolutely necessary for your health.

Establish a routine that defines time for work, sleep, studying, and other tasks. You’ll then move from task to

task easier, leaving less room for conflict between others in the household. You’ll also see more clearly when you can rest! Those breaks don’t have to be anything special — a 15-minute walk by yourself outside or a 30-minute stretch with a good book in a comfy chair. Find time to let your kids have a break, too, like playing their favorite games, reading their favorite books, or playing outside. You’ll all feel more refreshed to tackle the remaining tasks of the day. Even though you can prevent or minimize burnout through a more balanced routine, sometimes that’s not enough. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Family therapy can be immensely helpful for maintaining your mental health when your own attempts need a boost. These are unique times, so be patient with yourself and your family as you cope with new challenges and routines. Burnout doesn’t have to be inevitable.


DO THEY REALLY WANT THAT? Why You Should Ask Your Heirs About Your Possessions

Transfers of wealth are common from baby boomers to their generation X, Y, and Z children and grandchildren. But money isn’t the only thing that gets transferred to younger generations — boomers are lovingly passing along tons of mementos, heirlooms, and tchotchkes that their offspring may not want. If you’re planning to hand down these kinds of things or have already listed them in your will, you might want to rethink your plans. The odds are that younger generations either don’t want your stuff, don’t need your stuff, or just don’t have room for it, much like yourself. So in reality, leaving things to them might be more of a burden than a blessing. Even though there might be a great backstory to your cherished items, your heirs will likely have other thoughts about their value. Let’s face it: Their tastes are not your tastes!

So, before you make finite decisions about which of your belongings need to be preserved as a legacy for your heirs, have an open and candid conversation. If you do, two things are likely to happen: If they want it, they’ll tell you so. If they don’t want it, they’ll be honest about it, or you’ll be able to see in their response that they aren’t interested. Should the latter be the case, don’t take it personally. It’s not meant to be a comment on you or how they’ll choose to cherish your memory. Instead, see which of your items you might be able to auction or sell at consignment stores and which you can donate to places in need. You might have to swallow your pride, but in the end, it’s best for everyone involved. If you have questions about how to properly leave possessions to heirs who do want them, contact our office so we can help.

take a break



• 4 lbs orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces, then cut lengthwise into 1-inch wedges • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed

• 1 tbsp kosher salt • 1/4 tsp ground cloves • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed • 4 (2-inch) cinnamon sticks


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. 2. Place sweet potato wedges in a 4-quart baking dish. 3. Sprinkle sugar, salt, and cloves over sweet potatoes. 4. Dot with butter and place cinnamon sticks around sweet potatoes.

5. Bake, turning every 15 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender and the liquid is syrupy, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. 6. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. 7. Discard cinnamon sticks and serve.

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394 Manor Road Staten Island, NY 10314



718-698-2200 |


Closing Fast and Closing Right Page 1 The Stories Behind 2 Iconic Animal Heroes in Video Games What Is Family Burnout, and How Do I Prevent It? Page 2 Do Your Children Really Want Your Stuff? Cinnamon-Spiced Candied Sweet Potatoes Page 3 A Number of Importance Page 4

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month Why Veterans Day and the Number 11 Go Hand in Hand

Veterans Day comes every Nov. 11. It’s a national holiday that recognizes veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces and honors those both living and deceased. Historically, the day marks Armistice Day and the end of the Great War: World War I. But what is the significance of the number 11?

This lasted until 1954, when President Dwight Eisenhower signed a proclamation turning Armistice Day into Veterans Day.

The change was made in order to recognize all veterans who had honorably served their country. By 1954, the U.S. had fought in more wars — specifically World War II and the Korean War — and hundreds of thousands more Americans had served. Unsurprisingly, there was some political drama surrounding the day. In 1968, Congress made Veterans Day a federal holiday under the Uniform Holiday Bill. The idea was to increase the number of three-day weekends in the year. Veterans Day became a holiday that would fall on the fourth Monday of October, a far cry from Nov. 11.

The armistice was signed at 5:45 a.m. in France, but it took effect at 11 a.m. that same morning — which happened to be Nov. 11, 1918. The armistice originally lasted 36 days but was extended month after month. This led to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, when peace was officially declared. Later that year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that Nov. 11 would be known as Armistice Day to honor those who fought in the Great War.

However, in 1978, Veterans Day was restored to its original Nov. 11 date. But why?

The answer is simple. It’s a number that sticks with you. When the clock strikes 11:11, you always take notice. By that same notion, we all remember the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Because of this, we’ll never forget the end of the Great War, nor will we forget those who served.


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