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Volume 2, Issue 6 • Winter 2017-2018


Howtosucceedwithyour New Year’s resolution

Smart Picks

Educationalgiftsforyour holiday shopping list

Won ders e of Th

Winter Fin TS_CNG/FAMILY_TIMES/PAGES [Y01] | 12/13/17


d Fa A mily Fun in NEP

WINTER 2017-18 • Volume 2, Issue 6

NEPA Family Times

Smart Picks


Holiday Family Fun


Keepers with christina


Tips from Jenna


Today’s grandparent


A Season of Helping others


149 Penn Avenue Scranton, PA 18503 Editorial: 570-348-9185 Advertising: 570-348-9100

MANAgiNg EdiTor Tom Graham x3492

SAlES MANAgEr Alice Manley x9285

AdvErTiSiNg ExEcuTivES Judy Gregg x5425 Casey Cunningham x5458

combatting Holiday calories 10

Josette Rzeszewski x3027

cut back on Holiday Waste


dining out with children


reduce Screen Time


For the love of books


Winter Snow Fun


Family calendar


coNTribuTiNg WriTErS Jennifer Butler Dave DeCosmo Phil Yacuboski

oN THE covEr: Photo by Stephen Serge Photography

Your news is always welcome! Email or click Mailed editorial and photo submissions will not be returned. Opinions of the independent columnists do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial staff.

Succeed with your resolution 15

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NEPA Family Times is published bi-monthly by Times Shamrock Communications.




Healthy resolutions for the year ahead


any people see the dawn of a new year as the perfect time to implement changes that they hope will have positive impacts on their lives in the year ahead. New Year’s resolutions have a way of falling by the wayside as the year progresses, but sticking with the following healthy resolutions can have lasting impacts on the lives of men and women.

Read more Many adults wish they had more time to read, but busy schedules filled with commitments to work and family can make it hard to pick up a book every day. But perhaps more men and women would find time to read if they knew doing so could add years to their lives. In an analysis of 12 years of data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study, researchers at the Yale School of Public Health found that people who read books for as little as 30 minutes a day over several years lived an average of two years longer than people who did not read at all.

smartphones, tablets, e-readers and other devices that are so prevalent today. While it might seem impossible to live without such devices in the 21st century, turning them off can have profound impacts on people’s quality of life. A 2013 survey of more than 1,000 people conducted by the resilience platform meQuilibrium found that 73 percent of respondents felt their devices contributed to stress in their lives. The American Psychological Association notes that stress can negatively affect the musculoskeletal system, the respiratory system and the nervous system and potentially increase a person’s risk for heart disease and gastrointestinal problems.

Work less Working fewer hours may help many professionals cut back on their stress, as the APA notes that 65 percent of Americans cited work as their primary source of stress. But working fewer hours may also make men and women more productive. A recent experiment funded by the Swedish government compared nurses at a retirement Sleep more home who worked six-hour days on eightMore time to sleep might seem like hour salaries to a control group that worked an unattainable goal for many men and the more traditional eight-hour workday. women. But the National Heart, Lung and Nurses in the experimental group reported Blood Institute notes that ongoing sleep having more energy in their spare time and deficiency can increase a person’s risk for at work, which allowed them to do 64 perchronic health problems, including heart cent more activities with facility residents. disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, Nurses in the experimental group also took diabetes and stroke. The American Acadhalf as much sick time as those in the conemy of Sleep Medicine recommends adults trol group. As a result, the study’s authors age 18 and older get between seven and eight ultimately concluded that productivity can hours of sleep per night. increase with fewer hours worked. Committing to healthy New Year’s resoTurn off your devices lutions can have profound and unexpected As recently as 15 years ago, many consequences that can greatly improve adults made it through their days without one’s quality of life.




SMART PICKS: Educational gifts for your holiday shopping list by J b Jennifer if B Butler tl


o many toys and gadgets to choose from this holiday season. Where to start? Do you get that item that makes your child happy or are you the responsible parent? Or both? First, keep in mind that most toys provide an avenue of learning for a child. Children love to play and play has been regarded as the most effective way of learning. Children use their imaginations, they get creative and even problem solve while playing. Parents worry that they should supply them with the correct educational toys to help them grow. Do not think that leaving your child with a supposed educational toy is all there is to it. A parent should be involved with the play process as well. Be creative, re-learn how to play and ask open-ended questions to your child that pushes him/her to think or use their imagination. With this in mind, here are some educational toy picks that this writer feels will be a great boost to a child’s learning process. As an infant play is somewhat limited, stick with bright colors and patterns that interest a child. Fisher Price has many toys that have given hours of play to youngsters. The Fisher Price Silly Sortin’ Monster, the Spill-A Saurus, Laugh and Learn First Word Smart Puppy, Go Baby Go Poppity Pop it, 3-in-one Crawl Along Tumble Tower and so many more. Fisher Price has been supplying toys to young ones since 1930. Herm Fisher thought the world needed better toys that “appeal to the imagination, do something new, surprising and funny.” His mom suggested developmental toys and thus began the era of pre-school


Silly Sortin’ Monster toys. When World War II limited so many businesses, Fisher Price kicked in to work on aircraft parts, ship fenders and medical supply charts. When wood was in short supply, the company turned to plastic. The toys continued to develop and advance to meet the needs of new generations. Fisher Price Smart Stages technology transforms Laugh and Learn toys so they change as babies grow, getting smarter right along with them. Imaginext is a great line that first introduced roaring remote control dinosaurs and more. Toddlers are little explorers who learn by doing. Leap Frog toddler toys give children great opportunities to develop and practice new skills such as vocabulary, action/reaction, letters, numbers, shapes, and colors at their own pace. These include the Scoop and Learn Ice Cream cart, Step and Learn Scout, Tad’s Get Ready for




Scoop and Learn Ice Cream Cart School Book, Spin and Sing Alphabet Zoo, Leap Top Touch, Phonics Fun Animal Bus, the Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket and so many more. In addition, Mega Blocks are a big hit for those young builders, while V-tech has developed fun and interactive toys and games designed to help children experience “Smart Play.” They include such favorites as its Touch & Learn Activity Deluxe Desk, Kidibuzz Toy Phone, Ultimate Alphabet Activity, Touch & Teach Elephant Toy, Light Up Baby Touch Tablet and Pop-a-Balls Drop and Pop Ball Pit, to name only a few. As the children mature, do not underestimate the power of a good old board game. Some favorites include, Trouble, Sorry, Clue, Stratego, Monopoly, Connect 4 and Yahtzee. Children just love to interact during some of their playtime so playing a

game with mom and dad is a great way to interact and of course talk to your child. Lego has been a hit with children since its introduction in 1947 when plastic building blocks were introduced in the Ole Kirk Christiansen workshop. Children spend hours building and re-building intricate sets that will last a life time, with some care. Board games, video games, films and so much more have become part of the Lego legend and a creative way for children to learn. So no matter what you choose, a key ingredient to tie into your purchase is the underlying thought of spending time with your children in their times of play. They yearn for the comraderie of their parents and learn from the many good things their parents teach them. Take some time this holiday season, kick back and enjoy the time with your young ones.

Then if you are in the neighborhood drop by the Festival of Trees in Scranton at 300 Lackawanna Ave. through Jan. 12. Presented by the Marketplace at Steamtown, this year’s theme is the “Roaring Twenties.”

Holiday Family Fun in NEPA

Photo by Jake Danna StevenS.

The Shows Who does not love the family classic of “The Sound of Music?” Snuggle up on your couch and grab some popcorn to enjoy the timeless classic. Or perhaps a bit more fancy you can be and get tickets to the “Sound of Music” at the Kirby Center on Dece. 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. The show features the music of Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. You will surely love to hear the classical songs of “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Me,” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” Call the box office at the Kirby Center for more information or to buy tickets. The annual showing of the Nutcracker by Ballet Theater of Scranton will be presented free of charge Aylah Connors (left), 5, and twin sister Avery Connors who helped flip the power on to the Annual Holiday Light Show at Nay Aug Park at the Sette LaVerghetta Center for with their parents Zac Connors and Mara Capozzi. the Performing Arts at Marywood by Jennifer Butler in Scranton for its Annual Holiday Reservations are suggested so do not University. In its 42nd year, the perLights Show. The beautiful display delay. The train is operated by the formance is presented free of charge offers a fun time for family as they Delaware Lackawaxen and Stouras a gift to the community on Dec. s the holiday season comes slowly drive through the more than bridge Railroad Co. Visit www.thes26, 27 and 28 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Genquickly upon us, once again 100 displays and riders are able to for more informaeral public free tickets are available it is important to remember view a wonderland of holiday cheer. tion or to purchase tickets. 2 hours prior to the specific perforthat it is also a time for families to The display is open nightly through You can also ride Santa’s Paradise mance at the Marywood box office. come together and spend quality time early January from 5 9 p.m., weather Express operated by the Strasburg together as a family. So maybe give up permitting. There is no charge but Railroad. A tradition since 1959, that frenzied Saturday shopping and donations are accepted. do something that will leave a lasting Santa himself will be on hand to On your way home, take the long impression on your family and maybe greet families and travel to Paradise, way, and ride through some of NorthPA, with them aboard the great train. even become a tradition. eastern Pennsylvania’s great little Children ages 11 and under will towns and view some mighty grand receive a gift during the 45-minute Santa Express light displays. There is nothing like train ride. One great way to spend quality quality time spent viewing the beauty Mrs. Claus is available to help family time together is to take a ride that Christmas time brings. children finalize their letters to Santa on the Santa Express on the StourChristmas tree from noon to 4 p.m. at the Strasburg bridge Line in Honesdale. Such a simple task can bring merstation.Just bring your self-addressed Don’t be shy. As Santa makes riment and happiness into your famstamped envelope. his way through the train cars be ily. In the mood for a real, live ChristWatch for the Cranky Cars, the sure to say hello and get that much coveted picture with the big guy. The story reading caboose and the Puffer- mas tree this season? Why not make belly trains. Visit www.strasburgrail- a holiday tradition while you are at picturesque countryside of Wayne it? Pack a thermos of hot chocolate, for more information or to County is also another great part some tasty snacks and set out on an purchase tickets. of the trip to take in as you pass adventure your whole family can through on the rails. partake in? Have a small child? Why Nay Aug Annual Holiday Light Children will receive a present not pull them on a sled, weather perShow from Santa, a souvenir ticket and a mitting. Have a snow ball fight, build Want to be dazzled at a spectacucandy can during the trip. a fort, go sleigh riding. How about a lar display of holiday lights and a The trip is reasonable and it costs $15 for adults; $10 for 12 and younger great time to spend with your family? fire and make s’mores which everyone loves while you are at it. Take your family to Nay Aug Park and younger than two ride for free.





remind them to believe in the spirit of the holiday.

keepers with christina

Movie Inspired Activities

Keep your guests in spirit the with these movie-themed activities: Coal in the Hole: Wrap a large cardboard box in craft paper and cut a hole in the center of one of the sides. Cut up pieces of black foam in the shape of coal. Have guests toss the coal pieces into the hole in the box.

How to Throw a Polar Express Themed Party

One of my son’s favorite holiday movies has always been “The Polar Express.” We read the book. We watch the movie. We sing the songs. Hot chocolate, anyone? When he was younger, my friends and I would throw a “Polar Express” party for our kids to help get them excited about the upcoming holiday season. We always had fun planning the party because there is so much inspiration to pull from “The Polar Express.”

er you’re sending text invites, e-vites or paper invitations, be sure to set the tone of the party with your invitation. In addition to sharing the date, time and location, guests were always encouraged to show up in their PJs — even the adults.

Setting the Theme: Here are some clever ways to pull out all of the stops for your holiday train-themed party:

Greet your guests in style: Greet your guests at the door wearing a conductor’s hat and blow a toy train whistle to announce their arrival. Pass out Polar Express tickets printed on card stock along with a hole puncher. The kids at our parties loved to create their own messages on their tickets with the hole punchers.

Send themed invites: Every great party starts with an invitation. Wheth-

Parting gifts: As a small party favor, give each guest a jingle bell to

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Candy Cane Fishing: Tie a string to a long stick to serve as a fishing pole. Attach a candy cane to the end of the string with the hook end facing down. Place several candy canes upright in a jar and have guests use their “fishing poles” to “catch” the candy canes in the jar. Find the Missing Bell: In the movie, the main character loses the bell that Santa gave him. To keep with the movie-theme, one person hides a jingle bell and the rest of the guests need to find it.

Movie Inspired Snacks

Another great way to bring the Polar Express theme to life is to have moviethemed snacks. Some of my favorites are: Elf Hat Snacks Elf Chow Santa’s Coal Candy Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate (All of these recipes are available at One of my favorite treats to make for a Polar Express party are North Pole cupcakes. They are easy to make and super festive.

North Pole Cupcakes INGREDIENTS 12 cupcakes with white frosting Clear sanding sugar 12 candy canes 12 red M&Ms Red and white craft paper for signs Extra frosting to use as “glue” INSTRUCTIONS Cover the frosting with a thin layer of sanding sugar. Break off 4-5 inches of the bottom of the candy cane. Insert the broken end of the candy cane into the cupcake so that 4 inches is sticking out of the cupcake. Place a small amount of frosting on each M&M and stick it to the end of the candy cane To make “North Pole” signs, cut small rectangles from red craft paper. Cut slightly smaller rectangles from white craft paper. Affix white paper to red paper using non-toxic glue (I used an Elmer’s glue stick). Write “North Pole” using a permanent red marker. Affix North Pole sign to candy cane using a small amount of frosting.

Christina Hitchcock Christina Hitchcock scours cookbooks, recipe boxes and the internet to bring you only the BEST recipes that have her seal of approval.

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Building financial responsibility

As savvy as kids are in this Digital Age, they remain dangerously uneducated about money. As a parent, you have many important things to teach them. First and foremost should be the importance of raising money confident kids and not dependent adults. How kids handle their monetary holiday gifts and piggy bank savings is a great way to get started. What’s the right age to start? According to, the right age to introduce financial literacy is around age 5, but don’t go overboard. Childhood shouldn’t be inside counting coins, childhood is about playing dress up, getting dirty in the backyard and playing with friends. Let kids be kids, but that doesn’t mean that you should be setting a bad example and biting more than you can chew with your own finances. Here are a few ways to guide them to become financially “literate.” Come up with an agreement before the holidays or special occasions, like

a split or a third. Whatever you feel comfortable with in your house, but allow kids to keep some of their money to become financially responsible for spending. The most important thing at the beginning is to make saving fun. Using envelopes or money jars are terrific ways to introduce savings concepts to kids by separating their money into groups. Money to save, money to spend and money to give. It’s a good idea to talk about some savings goals as well, both short-term and long-term, which can also be an envelope or jar. A short-term jar might have a picture of a specific toy, while the long-term jar might have a picture of a trip or of a college. Teach your child to set aside money for shortterm and long-term goals, and have another jar or envelope for spending on everyday items. It’s hard to financially keep up with 21st century kids, so if there is something that they want it’s OK to let them foot the bill.

tips from jenna

Open up a kid-friendly savings account. Fidelity Bank offers a unique opportunity for children to learn smart money management through the Green Team Savings, a kids-only banking program. This family-friendly program is designed to be a fun way to help children learn the importance of saving and spending wisely. One of the benefits to the program is that Fidelity Bank will make an additional deposit of up to $10 into your child’s account each year. Teaching your children how to save is an important step to prepare them for financial responsibility and a secure future. But it won’t go very far if you don’t “practice what you preach.” Most kids don’t know the difference between debit and credit cards. For example, my children think that any time we need money, that we can just visit the ATM machine. It’s important to explain how the money gets in the ATM machine and the same thing goes for

using credit cards. The use of plastic all the time could send mixed signals, so it’s important not to ignore the questions they may have about money. In other words, you are constantly modeling money habits, which they will catch more than you think. Ultimately, saving is a good thing and positive financial habits early on in life help mold our future habits. The new year brings a perfect opportunity to teach kids the skills to be equipped to make smart money choices, especially with their newfound fortune. Because it’s never too early to teach the value of money and the importance of saving.

Jenna Urban Jenna Urban is a mother, blogger, teacher, writer and bargain hunter. Twitter: @JennaRUrban




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Christmas Gifts for All a little ahead of us, so it’s especially helpful if you can get those grandkids to make a very specific list. t’s amazing how many letters to The younger kids never seem shy Santa find their way to Grandma to tell you exactly what they’re hoping and Grandpa. to find under the Christmas tree. Of That’s a good thing because getting course they’re usually the ones most presents for grandkids can be a real influenced by advertising. challenge these days. You only hope they’re not looking for There was a time when an electric one of those limited edition toys that train, erector set or a doll would fit have thousands of shoppers searching most any girl or boy’s desires, but for the few hundred items that actually times have changed. When it comes to make it to the store shelves. getting gifts for grandkids it may be The two year old makes it really easy. the thought that counts, but you’d like Too young to make a list and just young to make sure your thought matches enough to love everything about what their wishes. to him is this “new” holiday. We’ve got six grandchildren ranging It’s a real treasure to take in Christin age from 2 to 19. Four of the six are mas through his eyes. in the teenage range and they’re the Whatever material gifts you choose toughest to buy for. please take the time to remind grand“Older kids” seem to favor electronic kids of all ages what Christmas is regadgets these days and, if you’re at all ally all about ... the greatest gift of all. like us, it’s the market we know least Hope your Christmas is merry and about. Technology seems to have gotten that all your NEWS is good. By David DeCosmo


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A Season of Helping Others by Phil Yacuboski


n the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season, there are those out there who struggle to put food on the table on a daily basis and are in much need of finding the resources to put presents underneath the Christmas tree. The Christmas Holiday Bureau in Scranton is just one of many organizations that helps families in need. They interview potential families and then determine if they are income eligible. “If that’s the case, they then will receive Walmart gift cards that are purchased through donations from the community,” said Nancy Post, director of volunteer initiatives, Christmas Holiday Bureau. She said while many other organizations provide toys for Christmas, the giftcards allow them to buy whatever the need. “That may be toys, but it also might be food or clothing for their children,” Post said. “It gives them the opportunity to make that decision at that particular time.” She said in the last few years, businesses have also been collecting donations from their offices and in turn, giving the money to the Holiday Bureau. They are about halfway to their goal.

“We are still looking for donations so that we can help all of our families,” she said. Last year, the Christmas Holiday Bureau helped about 1,000 families (about 3,000 people) and this year they expect to do the same. The organization, through the Voluntary Action Center, has been helping families since 1950. “I think there are probably families out there that either can’t get to us or don’t know that we are here,” she said. “It is a big need we are seeing. Larger families who are always looking for help.” Charitable giving has steadily been rising. According to, an online website that tracks donations and organizations, estimates in 2016, people made $390 billion in donations to charitable causes. Many of those increase around the holiday season. For families looking for toys to give their children this Christmas, United Neighborhood Centers in Scranton will open their Christmas Toy Store on Dec. 21 for needy families. “It’s for families who really need the help,” said Claire Haggerty, director of grants and communication at United Neighborhood Centers. “Families can come in and choose what they need.” Haggerty said they are looking for

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new, unwrapped toys. She said the need is growing in the Scranton area. “These families really want to provide gifts for Christmas,” she said. She said businesses that also want to help can do so as well — whether that be donations that they will pick up or doing an angel tree. “Families who need it will really appreciate the help this Christmas,” she said. If you’d like to help: Christmas Holiday Bureau, 829 Jefferson Avenue, Scranton, PA 18510 – 570-347-5616 United Neighborhood Centers, Scranton, 410 Olive Street, Scranton, PA 18509 – 570-343-8835

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Combatting Holiday Calories

by Phil Yacuboski

“Eat normally,” she said. “Honor your preferences and eat what looks ookies. Adult beverages. Fruit- good and know that you don’t have to choose everything. Make a balanced cake. Did we mention cookplate.” ies? The holidays are a time She suggests enjoying and tastwhen we overindulge on just about ing the food too and don’t forget to everything, but there are ways to maneuver around these special times engage in conversation. “Know when your body is full,” she without blowing it completely. said. “Food does bring people together Campanella said most importantly, and to have too much of a restrictive know that the holidays are a time to mindset can sometimes cause people to enjoy. And when you have a big event, fixate too much on food and go overdon’t forget to get back on track the board,” said Marissa Campanella, a next day. registered dietician and blogger with According to the New England a private practice in Scranton. “Even Journal of Medicine, Cornell Unibefore we get to the holidays, I always honor those favorite foods before we get versity researchers estimated in 2016 the holiday weight gain begins at there throughout the year.” Thanksgiving and increases around Campanella said many people choose Christmas. In a study of more than to skip meals before a ‘big’ meal, 1,700 people, it took an average of five however that tends to allow people to months to ditch the holiday weight overeat.






(don’t forget, Easter is within that five-month span). “Eat normally the following day,” she said. “Don’t skip any meals. Your body will end up craving food tenfold. Find your way back to your routine.” And part of that routine means exercise. “What I find is that by the end of the year, people are giving up and waving the white flag,” said Candace Murphy, a personal trainer at Core Fitness in Scranton. “They figure it’s too late and they will just start at the new year.” But Murphy said she tells her clients to start now. “Maybe you can’t get everything in, but something is better than nothing,” she said. Typically, people feel that with all of the shopping, wrapping and partying there simply isn’t enough time to get in a workout, she said.

“The holidays are stressful,” she said. “We all overeat. I’m a trainer. I’m going to eat well, but I try to tell my clients, if you can only get to the gym once a week, that’s one time you would have gotten there that you wouldn’t have gotten there otherwise,” she said. “Gym time is supposed to be a de-stress time, not a stressful time,” said Murphy. “If you’re stressing to get to the gym, then it’s not doing you any good.” It’s no secret that gym memberships spike in January. According to Gold’s Gym, they see a 40-percent increase in foot traffic and memberships. Often, however, those numbers taper off drastically. “There’s no reason to wait for the new year,” she said. “Start now. I always tell people don’t try to finish the year perfect. Finish it strong.”

How to cut back on holiday waste


he holiday season is a joyful time of year. But the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day also tend to be very wasteful. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that household waste increases by more than 25 percent during the holiday season. Reducing waste come the holiday season does not mean celebrants have to forgo big family meals or beautifully wrapped gifts. In fact, there are several ways to reduce waste without spoiling the spirit of the season.

n Give eco-conscious gifts. The environment may not be the first thing that comes to mind when holiday shoppers are looking for gifts for their loved ones. But giving reusable gifts can have a positive, long-term impact on the planet. Reusable coffee mugs or water bottles can dramatically reduce waste over time, and such items make great stocking stuffers. Shoppers also can look for items made from recycled materials, which run the gamut from home furnishings to calendars to clothing, as eco-friendly alternatives to gifts produced without the environment in mind. n Reuse holiday-specific items. Many people only use gift wrap, gift boxes and gift bags during the holiday season. Such items are oftentimes discarded after Christmas morning. But these items can be reused to cut back on holiday waste. Reusing wrapping paper from year to year can be especially beneficial to the environment. That’s because wrapping

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paper tends to be dyed or laminated, and many wrapping papers contain non-paper additives that cannot be recycled. Reusing wrapping paper, purchasing only recyclable paper or wrapping gifts in old newspapers or magazines can help holiday celebrants reduce their carbon footprints. n Prepare less food and donate any leftovers. The Worldwatch Institute notes that, during the holiday season, celebrants generate three times as much food waste as they do during other times of the year. Large family meals are a tradition of the holiday season, but hosts who routinely find themselves discarding leftovers can plan on preparing less food this year. Consider how much guests are likely to eat and plan meals accordingly instead of buying enough food to feed a small army. Donate leftovers to nearby shelters so nothing goes to waste. n Recycle live Christmas trees. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, 25.9 million real trees were sold in the United States in 2015. Trees put out on the curb for collection after the holiday season has ended typically end up in landfills, but some communities recycle Christmas trees each year. Real tree enthusiasts can contact community officials to determine if they can recycle rather than discard their trees. The holiday season is a wasteful time of year, but there are ways for celebrants to dramatically reduce their carbon footprints between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. — staff


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Dining out with children


ining out at restaurants can be an enjoyable activity and a break from kitchen duties at home. Many people in both the United States and Canada dine out at least once a week. According to a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, 58 percent of American adults say they visit a restaurant during the week. The Canadian Restaurant Food Association has found around 23 percent

of Canadians dine out once a week. Even busy families want to indulge. However, parents of young children may avoid restaurants because of apprehension about the experience. Getting ready for the restaurant excursion can help families avoid some of the common pitfalls. Patience and planning can help dining out with the family go smoothly.

Resolve to put down devices and reduce screen time


lectronic devices have infiltrated nearly every aspect of daily life. And thanks to the portability of today’s smartphones and tablets, many people are rarely without access to the internet or other digital applications. A 2016 Nielsen Company audience report found that adults in the United States devoted about 10 hours and 39 minutes each day to consuming media. The analytics firm Flurry says users are spending nearly half of that time on


mobile devices, particularly using mobile apps. Active Healthy Kids Canada reported in 2014 that children between the ages of 3 and 5 spent an average of two hours per day in front of screens, while the statistics group eMarketer estimates that adults in Canada spent an average of nine hours and 41 minutes a day using media in 2016. A study from the Canadian Paediatric Society states that exposure to digital media is a concern and can affect




Infants New parents often need a respite from the near-constant demands of infants. Dining out can be one of those breaks. When a babysitter is unavailable or if you’re not yet comfortable leaving a little one with someone else, bringing baby along may be possible. First, find a family-friendly restaurant or try an establishment that has outdoor seating where you can quickly distance yourself from other diners if need be. Plan dining out around the baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule. Babies sated by a recent feeding and a relaxing car ride may be more inclined to sleep through your restaurant meal. Just in case, pack an extra bottle or prepare to breastfeed to keep your baby happy.

pany is adults only. A place that is used to noise (and moderate mess) is better. A restaurant that has interesting decor, such as an aquarium, can keep toddlers occupied. But bring along some games, toys and other trinkets to keep their attention. Try playing games, such as counting the packets of sugar or finding people wearing red shirts. Avoid dining out with a tired child, and be prompt in selecting meals and eating. This is not a time to linger, as youngsters’ attention spans and willingness to sit still tend to be minimal. Be prepared to leave with a to-go box if a child proves unruly.

children and families. Exposure to screens can be habit-forming, and early overexposure increases the likelihood of overuse later in life. Reducing screen time has become a mantra in many households across North America and may also be something adults hope to do in the future. The following are some ways to cut down on screen time.

experiences in one’s pocket that they can refer to when they’re tempted to look at their screens. Then they can engage in a real-world experience instead of simply looking at their phones.

Older children Part of the challenge of dining out with older children is holding their attention, but meals can facilitate family Toddlers and school age conversation and be good for the parentActive children can learn table manchild dynamic. Set a device-free rule ners and restaurant behavior early on at the table and use the opportunity to through practice. These lessons can open converse. Try exotic cuisine or new dinchildren up to new food experiences and ing experiences so it is an adventure for help them grow accustomed to social all involved. settings. Dining out with children requires difDo not set your child up to fail by select- ferent strategies depending on younging a restaurant that is too fancy or quiet. sters’ ages. Save those restaurants for when your com— staff

n Keep a journal. A journal can help men and women log their screen time over the course of a few weeks. Jot down time spent watching TV, using a computer, using mobile devices, or playing video games. Some people may be surprised to learn just how much time they’re spending staring at screens, and that realization may be just what they need to make changes. n Use a standard alarm clock. By not using their smartphones as alarm clocks, people can avoid the temptation to begin looking at social media or emails even before they’ve wiped the sleep from their eyes. n Make a list of goals. Rather than reaching for a phone, Digital Detox experts suggest keeping a list of goals and

n Schedule media hours. Set aside blocks of time when media use is allowed, and resist the urge to activate devices throughout the rest of the day. n Put away the phone or tablet. Simply moving a device out of sight may reduce the temptation to send a text or hop onto an app. n Remove superfluous apps. Delete apps that take up too much of your time. Having to go the extra step to view Facebook on a web browser, for example, may reduce the likelihood that you will do so. n Go screen-free. Resolve to leave home without a phone for a few hours to enjoy unencumbered screen-free time. Electronic devices can be addictive. But over time and with some concerted effort, men, women and children can cut back on screen time. — staff


For the Love of Books

Book Gifts and Home Libraries

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald


eceiving books as gifts is more popular than ever. I am always excited to see parents suggesting books as gifts for baby showers, birthday parties and Christmas. I reached out to some of my friends who often request books as a gift for their children. As a librarian who is

Jessica Trescavage, Moosic: “We keep our books in a common area in between the bedrooms. Children books are kept on the bottom shelves with their favorites in easy access bins. My suggestion for parents is to borrow books from your local public library before buying them. Take note of what your child gravitates toward and then buy related subjects and their favorites. My daughter, age 6, loves Pete the Cat, The Day the Crayons Quit, Mo Willems and Olivia. My son, age 3, loves Marvel Superhero and Dr. Seuss. They both absolutely love the book My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words.” Renee Miller, Archbald: “We keep most of our books in the playroom, but they keep their favorites in their bedrooms. They used to be organized by size and once by reading level, but I eventually gave up as they are used too frequently.”

used to a specific way of book organization, I was curious about where they keep their children’s books and Rachel Drazdowski, Taylor: how they are organized. It’s not ac“The books are supposed to stay cording to the Dewey Decimal System in one room but they end up all over ... and that’s OK. the house. My 9-year-old, Senah, is in Where do you keep your children’s charge of organizing her own books now. Her favorites include any books books? with facts, collection of poems, biogHow are they organized? raphies and fiction series.” Do you have any suggestions for parents?

Lia Bell, Moscow: “My two daughters keep books on shelves in their bedrooms but we also keep books in the toy room. They decide how to organize the books. One time it was alphabetical by title, another time by size. The organization changes as they grow and their interests change. I am forever picking them up, but I guess there could be worse problems.” If you are a new parent or just starting a home library, there are no rules. Keep the books where they are accessible and do not worry about keeping them in any particular order. A messy library is a used library. Let’s your kids decide what works best for them. Librarian Voytko’s Holiday Gift Advice: Now although books make great gifts, the best gift, in my opinion, is a Library Card. Also, you can never go wrong with the 4 Gift Rule: Something they want. Something they need. Something to wear. Something to READ.

Maria Voytko Maria Voytko is the K-12 District Librarian for Riverside School District in Taylor.





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inter storms are on the way. While many people are anxious to see landscapes covered in white, others already are counting down the days to spring blooms. Weather can be awe-inspiring and interesting, and learning the secrets about snow is no exception. Snow forms when water vapor in the atmosphere freezes into ice crystals. Snow falls as snowflakes, which come in a variety of shapes. However, according to Mental Floss, snow also can precipitate as graupel or sleet. Graupel are pellets of opaque ice particles that fall through freezing cloud droplets. They are not the same as sleet, which are drops of rain that freeze into small, translucent balls of ice. Snowflakes are generally small and accumulate to form visible snow coverings. However, snowflakes can be large. The largest snowflake on record was reported to be 15 inches across and eight inches thick. According to “The Guinness Book of World Records,” this giant snowflake was discovered at Fort Keogh, Montana, on January 28, 1887. Although it appears white, snow is actually clear and colorless. The National Snow and Ice Data Center says the complex structure and many facets of snow crystals results in visible light being reflected. Light is absorbed uniformly over the wavelengths of visible light, which gives snow its white appearance. Even though snow is more common

in northern elevations and cold regions, snowfall is not exclusive to frigid climates. In the United States, snow has fallen in cities most often associated with sun and warmth, such as San Diego, Miami and Honolulu. The southern Italy town of Capracotta received 100 inches of snow in 18 hours on March 5, 2015. In spite of its location, Capracotta has been known to receive enormous one-day snowfalls. While snow can fall even in warm climates, the world record holder for the most snow belongs to a northern area. Mt. Baker ski resort in Washington state experienced 1,140 inches in the 1998/1999 winter season. Snow can fall at temperatures well above freezing. According to, snow can still fall at temperatures as warm as 46° F. For snow to fall when temperatures are warm, humidity has to be very low. Even though there’s a common perception that no two snowflakes are alike, this isn’t completely accurate. A scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research found two identical snow crystals in 1988. Also, similar results have been produced in laboratories. Snow is an interesting form of precipitation. It can be scarce or plentiful, form in the north or the south, and may feature tiny snowflakes or extremely large ones. Snow also may take on the color of its surrounding environment. — staff

benefit the studio scholarship fund. Call for tickets, 570-878-4026 or 570-878-1883. North FAMILY TIMES CALENDAR Pocono High School, 300 Bochicchio Blvd., Covington Twp. The Harvesters Concert, Saturday, Santa on the Trolley, Saturday, Dec. 16 Dec. 16, 4:45 p.m. Jackson Street Baptist through Sunday, Dec. 17; Saturday, Dec. 23. Church, 1206 Jackson St., Scranton. 570-346Rides depart are at 10 and 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1674 or 2 and 3:30. Electric City Trolley Museum, Bluesy, Swingin’ Christmas, Sat300 Cliff St., Scranton. 570-963-6590 or ectma. urday, Dec. 16, 7 p.m. Presented by Facorg. toryville choir and friends. Factoryville Where Are You Christmas? A HoliUnited Methodist Church, 162 College Ave., day Cabaret, Saturday, Dec. 16. Presented Factoryville. by the Spotlight Players. Holiday meal The Nutcracker, Saturday, Dec. 16, 7:30 served at 6 p.m. with a holiday performance p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 17, 2 p.m. Presented by to follow at 7:15. The Lodge at The Hideout, Degnan Ballet Center. Dorothy Dickson Route 590, Lake Ariel. $29 adults/$21.95. Darte Center for the Performing Arts at 570-698-4100. Wilkes University, 84 W. South St., WilkesBreakfast with Santa and film Barre. $22 adults/$15 seniors, students and screening, Saturday, Dec. 16, 9 a.m. A children. holiday film follows at 10. Iron Horse Movie A Christmas Carol, Saturday, Dec. 16, Bistro, 301 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton. 8 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 17, 3 p.m. The classic $12.99 adults/$9.99 children.. Christmas story by Charles Dickens. The A Royal Affair Tea Party and Revue, Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre, 537 N. Main Saturday, Dec. 16, 11 a.m., 2 p.m.; Sunday, St., Wilkes-Barre. $17. 570-823-1875 or ltwb. Dec. 17, 1 p.m. Dress up as a princess or a org. prince and enjoy a fully catered tea party. Miracle on 34th Street, Saturday, Dec. CaPAA Theater at The Ritz, 222 Wyoming 16, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 17, 3 p.m. Presented Ave., Scranton. $22 advance/$25 at the door. by Music Box Players. Music Box Dinner 570-252-4156 or or danab@ Playhouse, 196 Hughes St., Swoyersville. Dinner and show: $35/$25; show only: New Stories on Saturday with Miss $18/$14. 570-283-2195 or Alyvia, Saturdays, 11 a.m. Story time with All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast with books, songs, nursery rhymes and a craft. Santa, Sunday, Dec. 17, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Older siblings permitted, but program is Clarks Summit Fire Department Banquet geared toward kids 18 months to 5 years. Hall, 321 Bedford St., Clarks Summit. 570Register ahead at 570-654-9565, ext. 26. 586-7581. Pittston Memorial Library, 47 Broad St., Hughestown Hose Company annual Pittston. Breakfast with Santa, Sunday, Dec. 17, 8 Sixth annual Christmas Cookie a.m. to noon. Santa arrives at 9 a.m. with Walk, Saturday, Dec. 16, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. toys. There also will be activities for chilSponsored by the church’s youth ministry. dren and a raffle for two bicycles. Food drive Cookie containers may be purchased for $9 follows the breakfast. Residents are asked and filled with Christmas cookies of one’s to drop off canned goods starting around choice. Cookie platters also are available for noon. Hughestown Hose Company No. 143, $35. Exaltation of the Holy Cross Church, 30 Center St., Hughestown. $10 adults/free 420 Main Road, Hanover Twp.. 570-814-6444. for children 5 and younger. hughestownFree Film Series: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Saturday, Dec. 16, 11 a.m. Christmas concert, Sunday, Dec. 17, PG-rated movie tells the tale of a revenge10 a.m. Worship service choir and the seeking Grinch who plans on ruining Brass Elves perform. Children’s Christmas Christmas in Whoville. Scranton Cultural program and party follows. Jackson Street Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Baptist Church, 1206 Jackson St., Scranton.. Washington Ave., Scranton. Free. 570-344Christmas Cookie Walk, Sunday, Dec. 1111 or 17, 10 a.m. Cookies include Kolachi, Italian Holiday Open House and Artisans’ ricotta, peanut butter, chocolate chip, linzer, Market, Saturday, Dec. 16, 1 p.m. Whole cherry winks, Russian tea cakes, butterLife Center for Health Ltd., 600 N. Hunter scotch scotchies, gingerbread, nut and fig Highway, Drums. 570-788-4484. filled cookies, fudge and more. St. Michael’s The Grinch, Saturday, Dec. 16, 1 p.m., Byzantine Catholic Church, 205 N. Main 6 p.m. Presented by the Occhipinti Dance St., Pittston. $8 per pound. 570-905-7387 or Company. Proceeds from the show will

How to succeed with your New Year’s resolution


resolution to lose weight may be successful if you only shed a single pound. But people who resolve to lose weight typically want to lose more than one pound. By resolving to lose a predetermined and specific number of pounds, you might be more likely to commit to your goal and more encouraged the closer you get to achieving that goal. Don’t be shy. Sharing your resolution with others is a great way to generate support for your pursuit. And that support can motivate you if you hit a rough patch and keep you on track as you progress toward your goal. By sharing your resolution with others, you’re also indirectly inviting others who might have set similar goals in the past to offer incite and/or advice, which can prove invaluable. Expect setbacks. Just like it’s important to be patient, it’s equally Plan on being patient. People who important to recognize there will be setbacks. Men and women who resolve expect immediate results may be in to save more money and have set spefor some disappointment and that can cific monthly savings goals should not compromise their future efforts. Recognize that resolutions rarely produce allow one monthly shortfall to derail all of their efforts. An unforeseen exovernight results and that commitpense such as an automotive or home ments to losing weight and saving more money take time. If necessary, set repair might compromise your ability to meet your monthly savings goal. small goals that can serve as markers Such setbacks are inevitable regardless on your way to achieving the larger of your resolution, so don’t be discourgoal. aged when they happen. Just commit Be as specific as possible. In adto getting back on track in time to meet dition to being patient, being specific your next goal. when deciding on a resolution can Successful New Year’s resolutions increase the likelihood that the sucmight be hard to come by. But there are cessful pursuit of that resolution will have as positive an impact on your life ways to stay the course and see resoluas possible. For example, a nonspecific tions through to realization. hile it’s difficult to gauge just how many people make New Year’s resolutions each year, various factors suggest millions of people resolve to improve their lives each January. Television segments devoted to healthy resolutions and discounted gym memberships are just two of many indicators suggesting resolutions are popular and potentially big business. As popular as making resolutions may be, reports indicate that they’re more popular to make than commit to. For example, a 2015 report from U.S. News & World Report indicated that 80 percent of resolutions fail. So how can men and women become part of the minority who see their resolutions through to fruition? The following strategies may help.




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Family Times--Winter 2017  
Family Times--Winter 2017