Family Times December 2016

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The Parenting Guide of Central New York | December 2016

Bring mindfulness to your meals Nine tips for a smooth season How TV time can be family time

2016 Holiday Gift Guide

Unboxing Magic Presents that feed a creative spirit



Family Times December 2016


4 • Editor’s Note 6 • Bright Ideas

Following some of these tips can make a busy holiday season go more smoothly.

8 • Storytime 8

How watching TV can be quality time with your kids.

10 • Reading Up

Give books that unleash kids’ imaginations.

12 • Health

Eating family meals mindfully nourishes all of you.


Capture a Moment

Preston, age 15, Peyton, 10, and Nathan, 13, check out the gourds at Tim’s Pumpkin Patch on Columbus Day, in this photo by their mother, Tracy Long. We welcome reader submissions, whether photos of your kids or their artwork. Send high-resolution photos (jpg format saved at 3-inches-by-5-inches or larger) or color artwork to Please include the child’s first name, age, hometown, and information about what’s going on in the photo (or art), as well as the parent or guardian’s full name and daytime phone number, for verification.

16 • 2016 Holiday Gift Guide Toys, games and more that offer the most fun for your money.

22 • Family Fun Calendar of Events

Advertiser Index Learn.................................14 Party...................................15 Backpack Directory................ 31

Family Times December 2016


family times The Parenting

Guide of Central New York






hat do you like best about this time of year? Maybe it’s wrapping presents for the special people in your life. Maybe it’s the chance to bake traditional cookies or catch up with friends and family members you haven’t seen in a while.


For everyone, December brings its familiar pleasures—and also familiar annoyances. Naturally, we like to focus on the fun side, and in this issue we’ve got ideas for nifty gifts of all sorts, whether they are books that spark your kid’s imagination (page 10) or award-winning toys and games (page 16).

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Natalie Davis Greg Minix

But we also propose ways to handle the commitments and tasks that can make December a bit too hectic for comfort; see page 6 for Laura Livingston Snyder’s strategies.

CONTRIBUTORS Deborah Cavanagh,Tammy DiDomenico, Aaron Gifford, Eileen Gilligan, Linda Lowen, Maggie Lamond Simone, Laura Livingston Snyder, Chris Xaver

Also: a story about the benefits of screen time. Yes, there are good reasons to watch TV with your kid, with an emphasis on the “together” part. Linda Lowen writes about binge watching on page 8. And this issue has some ideas for ways to make family meals more mindful—and enjoyable—from local psychotherapist Nicole Christina (page 12). We wish you a holiday season filled with family, friends, peace and joy.


SALES MANAGER Tim Hudson (114) ADVERTISING CONSULTANTS Elizabeth Fortune (ext. 116) Lesli Mitchell (ext. 140) Lija Spoor (ext. 111) CLASSIFIED/BACKPACK Lija Spoor (ext. 111)

Reid Sullivan Editor in Chief

On the cover: What’s in the box? Perhaps something from the 2016 Holiday Gift Guide; see page 16. Cover photo by Thinkstock. Inside: Librarian Merrilee Witherell writes about pop-ups and other books that make great presents on page 10.

Advertising deadline for January is Dec. 14. Calendar deadline for January is Dec. 2. 4

Family Times December 2016

GENERAL MANAGER/COMPTROLLER Deana Vigliotti (ext. 118) OFFICE MANAGER Christine Burrows

Subscribe to Family Times by mail and receive 12 issues for only $25. Call (315) 472-4669 to order. Family Times 1415 W. Genesee Street, Syracuse, NY 13204 (315) 472-4669 fax (315) 422-1721

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bright IDEAS

Getting into the Spirit

Nine ways to ease your holiday season | BY LAURA LIVINGSTON SNYDER


hen I think about the perfect holiday, it’s casual and involves fuzzy socks and pajamas, not pantyhose and Spanx. If you’re like me, then an important part of enjoying your season is figuring out how to maximize your fun and minimize your hassle. So consider these ideas for keeping your spirits high and your sanity intact throughout the month of December. Plan ahead. Talk to family members and figure out what’s happening, where it’s happening and who’s doing what. Who will host which day? Will there be overnight guests? Organize menus and assign dishes. A potluck prevents one person from taking on all the cooking. It also allows each person to showcase a favorite dish. Planning in advance clears up miscommunication 6

Family Times December 2016

and allows the hostess ample time to coordinate her calendar and prepare her home. Get comfortable. Now that the calendar is set, it’s time to write out a timeline. Start with the house. For those who will have extra family staying with them, accommodations will need to be decided. Inventory bedding and linen to be sure there’s enough. Laundering now can free up precious time later. Assign duties to everyone and start in on cleaning and tidying, especially spare rooms that are ordinarily used as a catchall for stray items. Offer to help out-of-towners with hotel options. If travel plans are in your future, keep track of what to bring and what to buy once there. Prep to save time. From this point forward start stocking up each week on

ingredients that might be hard to find at the last minute. Keep these in designated bags out of sight to avoid pilfering. Bake and freeze dishes in advance. My friend Lorraine Grassi hosts Christmas Eve for 25 to 30 people and does this. All chopping is done days earlier, and casseroles go right from the freezer to the oven. Even eight pounds of potatoes can be peeled and kept in water the day before cooking so the focus can stay on enjoying company. Work together. For those families who give cookie trays as gifts, go in with others. Making a couple dozen in an afternoon is fun. Being tied to the kitchen for several dozen more becomes drudgery. Combining and then sharing the varieties also saves money on costly ingredients for several recipes. Or peruse sites like Pinterest to look

for a new approach. The site features, for example, ideas for layering dry ingredients in decorated mason jars—a strategy that takes a fraction of the time that baking does. Clear out the old. This is a great time to remind kids of those less fortunate. We go through our house for toys no longer of interest and bag them up for goodwill. Our children understand these items might go to families who can’t afford new presents. It also creates room for what will be left under our tree. Get it in the mail. It’s not too late to send cards. I love sending photo cards of the kids, especially to friends and relatives who we don’t see often. These days we can do everything online without having to wait weeks, so be creative. Check out the postal service’s guidelines for sending goodies through the mail ( You can avoid priority-mail charges by sending packages by Dec. 15. Cards mailed before

Dec. 19 are likely to arrive by Christmas Day. Pick and choose. Part of holiday burnout is attempting to do too much. There’s no rule that says every tradition must be followed. Between work functions and school parties, sometimes we barely have time for a breather between events. But limiting ourselves to a couple makes these obligations more manageable, and the novelty of a few helps to keep them enjoyable. And focus on those traditions that make the season special for your family. Every year, three generations of our family meet at Granger’s Christmas Tree Farm in Mexico with our cameras. After a tractor ride and a hike, we cut and haul our own tree, then warm up with hot cocoa. I look forward to it each year. Make a budget. Set a price limit per person. No one should still be paying in August for toys their kids have already broken. Tally purchases and

Last Minute Gift Idea ~ a HOLIDAY GIFT CERTIFICATE for your favorite horse lover!

record what’s left to buy and which stores to visit. Some teachers offer a classroom “search and find” list for parents to identify an elusive item or offer information on where they’ve seen it. And when the shopping is done, don’t second-guess or go back to the store for “one more thing,” even if it’s on sale. If funds are low or stress levels high, don’t feel badly about trimming the recipient list to one that is manageable for your budget. Maybe this is the year to offer time instead of spending money. That’s a wrap. Everyone has their routine of wrapping gifts. Keep it fun. I know someone who does all her wrapping at one time, which turns her day into drudgery and gives her a sore back. I prefer to load a DVD of Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer or A Charlie Brown Christmas and limit my wrapping to about an hour. With the first chunk of my chore done and memory lane

visited, I have a renewed sense of holiday spirit. Planning and paring down expectations are ways to stay in control and reduce stress, helping to keep the holiday season jolly and bright. Laura Livingston Snyder is a writer and mother of four who lives north of Syracuse. She blogs at




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Family Times December 2016



TV Land

How watching a show—or two—can be quality time with kids | BY LINDA LOWEN


m and I have been spending a lot more time together lately. Gone are the petty arguments, sneering tone, defensiveness and other emotional land mines I used to step on whenever I tried talking to my college-age daughter. These days when she gets home from work or school, instead of stomping off to her room, Em seeks me out. And instead of ducking my head to avoid her glare, I meet her eyes. Today she’s smiling. “Hey, Mom? Got time for an episode?” I smile back, close my laptop and turn on the TV. As Em would say, “Don’t throw shade.” And you may . . . now that you realize our together time involves binge watching. It’s the new family game night, and as my kids grow older, I’ll take what I can get. The cease fire began when we bought a Roku—a big improvement over the 10-year-old Wii gaming console that had been connected to our ancient, clunky standard-definition tube television for years. Although we were early subscribers to Netflix, we only got our first HD flat screen TV last Christmas. 8

Family Times December 2016

Between the old TV’s fuzzy images and the Wii’s limited bandwidth, watching streaming video was like seeing a movie on a drive-in theater screen. Novelty, mostly, with little quality. So when friends raved about Netflix’s latest 13-episode drop of this season’s must-see show, I shrugged. What is this binge watching you speak of? Why do you sacrifice precious hours to the glassboxed god? I couldn’t get my head around the hysteria. It’s TV. So what? It’s easy to be smug when you don’t know what you’re missing. Then my husband hooked up the Roku. The picture quality was epic, the channel selection endless. Damn, I thought. I’ve been riding the bus all these years when I could have been cruising in a stretch limo. It’s not as if we hadn’t binge watched before. But if you recall the world before Netflix, networks were miserly, releasing just one episode a week, stringing viewers along for months and even years. In order to watch your favorite shows nonstop, you had to wait for TV marathons or buy DVDs. This ancient practice led to many a quaint family ritual. In my home, Syfy’s

annual Twilight Zone marathon has played in the background of every New Year’s celebration. Holidays have always been the season of binge watching; there would be a DVD boxed set of our favorite series under the tree and we’d start watching immediately so we could finish before vacation ended. My first serious case of binge watching was Gilmore Girls with my middle school daughters. Jaye liked Dean, Em preferred Jess, and I gained insight into the young women they were fast becoming. Those TV crushes accurately predicted whom they would choose in later years: the good guy or the bad boy. As she got older, Jaye caught up with Friends after school, clicking from channel to channel for her three-hour daily dose of Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler. In her junior and senior years, it was Sex and the City. I’d briefly perch on the couch to witness Carrie Bradshaw’s disastrous love life unfold between commercial breaks, then overhear the rest as I cooked dinner. Em became my steady binge companion because she let me choose the shows: the entire boxed set of Twin Peaks, then each season of Lost, purchased as soon as it was released on DVD.

Watching together was an activity I knew would get my daughters to open up: first about the characters and storylines, then about their own lives and concerns. As long as I avoided passing judgment and let them know any topic was up for grabs, we talked. And talked. And stayed connected. By the time Netflix launched its first original series, Mom as binge buddy wasn’t OK anymore. My husband took the girls’ place and we ran through House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Breaking Bad. Talk about peer pressure. Cocktail party chat revolved around “What are you watching?” We’d get pitying looks if we weren’t up on the right shows. One friend, obsessed with Mad Men, pushed for over two years, repeatedly offering to loan us every season on DVD. We finally caved and binged on 65 episodes in six months, catching up with the series in real time.

So I got it when we connected the Roku and Em saw HBO Now was available. It was like winning the binge watching lottery. “Now I can see Game of Thrones!” she screamed. After years of missing out on her generation’s biggest pop culture event and the endless Winter is coming references, Em finally got GoT game. We watched the first season together, and she’s halfway through the second. But when I asked why she’d gone ahead without me, she was honest. “It’s rough stuff, Mom. I’m not sure I want to see it with you.” A safer bet is Stranger Things, which I watched on my iPhone before Roku and want to see again on a big screen. Although it’s complicated, dark and scary, underneath it’s a sweet story about middle school kids trying to save a missing friend. It’s chock-full of relevant topics that are suitable for parent-child discussions on loyalty, bullying, death and friendship.

What we choose to view with our kids is a highly personal decision. When I told a good friend I made a point of watching TV with my daughters, especially reality TV and the true-life teen shows on MTV, she winced. “I don’t like them seeing that stuff. I make them turn it off when I’m around.” And when you’re not around they’re watching it anyway, I wanted to say. So shouldn’t you be there to put it in context for them? Bad TV can lead to good conversations about uncomfortable topics. You can frame discussions around someone else’s behavior without placing blame, and communicate values and beliefs. But when you turn it off and turn away, you’re basically saying you don’t want to be exposed to these issues. And if your child happens to struggle with them, you’ve closed the door on his or her coming to you with those problems.

cation open at every age and stage. For the cost of a Roku and a subscription to HBO Now, I’m getting guaranteed time with my adult child. That’s a pretty good deal. Today, like every other day, I put my work aside and tell Em, “Yes, let’s watch an episode.” There’s nothing in my life that can’t wait. This has become a priority. Foolish? Not really. I understand that the underlying question has nothing to do with television. Even though she’s practically grown up, what my daughter really wants to know is, “Mom, do you still have time for me?” Linda Lowen teaches at the Downtown Writer’s Center and is co-producer and co-host of Take Care, a health and wellness radio show on WRVO. She lives in Syracuse with her husband and has two college-age daughters, who go by Jaye and Em in her writing.

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Family Times December 2016


reading UP

Books to Give, Not Lend Gifts that unleash a kid’s unruly imagination | BY MERRILEE WITHERELL


’m a librarian, so naturally I encourage people to use their public and school libraries. Some books, however, are meant to be purchased rather than borrowed, and what better time than the holiday gift-giving season to take a closer look at those. Books can be containers of imaginary worlds, inviting us in for a closer look. For children, this is where the magic begins. And when viewing works by artist and illustrator Robert Sabuda, the magic is enthralling. Sabuda’s America the Beautiful is a pop-up book with three-dimensional images depicting the scenes described in the iconic song of the same name. Featuring intricate detailed images of the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore, a steamboat, the Capitol Building and the New York City skyline, this book has all the verses to the song, with images to match the first, most well-known verse. White 10

Family Times December 2016

images and clean lines may appeal a little more to the budding engineer than to the budding artist, but both will be impressed. Sabuda’s Peter Pan, on the other hand, is as lavish as America the Beautiful is spare. An abridged retelling of the tale by J.M. Barrie, Sabuda’s Peter Pan brings to life a pop-up version of Neverland that is sure to amaze and impress young readers. Full-color, detailed illustrations of Pan, Captain Hook’s pirate ship, and their lushly imagined environs unfold with each turn of the page. Meanwhile, the story is retold in the form of mini-booklets that appear tucked in alongside the primary pop-up elements. These mini-booklets themselves contain additional pop-up images, making this one of the most spectacular books of its kind. Pop-ups aren’t limited to the imaginary world, however. Non-fiction selections abound, such as these two books focusing on nature but targeting different age

groups. Welcome to the Neighborwood by Shawn Sheehy educates children ages 4 to 7 about the nests and homes built by such diverse creatures as snails, spiders and beavers. Images on the page blend seamlessly with pop-up recreations of a honeycomb, a wasp’s nest and a beaver lodge. The three-dimensional parts are detailed without seeming fragile, so younger hands can manage the book without accidentally damaging it. For older naturalists, and those who are not easily “creeped out,” Bugs, written by George McGavin and illustrated by Jim Kay, is informative enough to pass for a textbook on insects, but it’s a lot more fun. Lift-the-flap features, pop-ups of insects on each page, and scrapbook-style design hold a reader’s interest. The last section of the book covers superlatives, such as deadliest, heaviest, fastest and strongest insects. The author writes in the first person to

describe where and how he observed some of the book’s creatures in their natural habitats. Take my word for it that any entomologist-to-be will love this book. (And if you do take my word for it, you will never have to look at the horrifyingly detailed pop-up of a cockroach that emerges between pages 3 and 4.) The Cardboard Box Book, by Sarah Powell and Barbi Sido, is not a pop-up, but it is still a book that might be better bought than borrowed. This book features cardboard-box projects for younger children, but the instructions are better suited to older kids or adults. An array of creations—17 in all—invites readers to make a market stand, play oven, gingerbread house, and even a plane and car that kids can fit inside. (The crafts are designed and made by Bethany Side.) A puppet theater, playhouse and fairy wings are all included and are much more charming than plastic, store-bought varieties. A list of items useful in creating the projects is included at the book’s beginning, and instructions are well-illustrated and clearly written. This would make a great gift for a family, or even for the parents of children ages 3 to 8.


For slightly older readers, writers and artists, many books encourage creativity with plenty of blank space. The popular series Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney has the Wimpy Kid Do-it Yourself Book for writers to pen their own funny, embarrassing and real-life stories and artwork. Prompts are provided to get the writer started, along with plenty of the humorous comics Kinney is known for. Other books that invite creativity include 642 Things to Draw and 642 Things to Write About by Chronicle Books. These books feature very limited text prompts, with pages each divided into two or more sections. Part of the fun is that the prompts have nothing to do with one another, with such wording as “a motel” and “a string of DNA” sharing a page in the drawing book. The writing book is similarly quirky, inviting budding authors to write “an ode to an onion,” among other things. 642 Things to Write About is best-suited to teens and adults, while the young writer’s edition is best for tweens and under. Also included in this series is 712 More Things to Write About. If you know of a child who is unable to heed the old IBM warning, first issued during computer punch-card days, not to “fold, spindle, or mutilate,” then Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith may be the perfect gift. This book borders on disturbing, at least to a librarian, but its appeal to a certain kind of kid is unmistakable. Each page has prompts, many of which would be considered ill-advised in other settings: “Document your dinner. Rub, smear, splatter your food. Use this page as a napkin,” is one such prompt. Another is “Poke holes in this page using a pencil.” “Rub here with dirt” is my personal favorite. Any mischievous kid will appreciate this book. In the spirit of the season, this list would not be complete without Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-Up by Robert Sabuda. Beginning with one chocolate chip cookie, and including such delights as fortune cookies complete with fortunes, stained-glass cookies and beautiful Linzer hearts, this book wraps up with “10 gingerbread windows for hiding,” set in a pop-up gingerbread house with gorgeous detail both inside and out. Accompanied by a nice box of cookies, this would make a delightful gift for a child, a parent or (hint, hint) maybe even your favorite librarian. Merrilee Witherell is the K-12 librarian at Red Creek Central School District. She lives in Cayuga County with her husband, daughter and dogs, all of whom love a good story. Family Times December 2016




Thinking About Eating A mindful family meal has many benefits | BY NICOLE CHRISTINA


eing a parent and trying to squeeze in time to teach your kids how to eat well is a real challenge. With both parents often working outside of the home, not by choice but because they have to, we all feel stretched too thin. Putting together a home-cooked, balanced meal, especially during the week, seems as likely as the kids replacing the toilet paper roll. We need to accept that we are doing the best we can. A little self-compassion here is really important. So instead of setting unrealistic expectations for yourself, the goal here is “good enough” eating. Mindful eating—eating with awareness rather than on autopilot — offers an opportunity to learn skills that are helpful in other parts of our lives and our kids’ lives: self-awareness, self-compassion and self-regulation. These values are well worth incorporating into your family’s life, but it’s imperative that you take it slow, and know it’s not about perfection. The main thrust of 12

Family Times December 2016

mindful eating is to be present, pausing to appreciate the food. You might have noticed that when you really pay attention to your food, the experience is richer and more satisfying. When you recognize how hungry you are, and how full you are becoming, you are able to stop at the perfect point. You don’t go past satisfaction, and your body feels better and more energized, not logy and stuffed. Bodies don’t like feeling stuffed. One of the beautiful things about mindful eating with families is that we can always start over. In this way, we are teaching our kids about perseverance. We’ll do better next time. We can wolf down our cereal, then drink our juice calmly, tasting and savoring the flavors. I’ll bet even the Dalai Lama occasionally reads the paper while he drinks his tea. We will always have another opportunity: an important life lesson. Here are some kid-friendly suggestions to incorporate mindful eating into your family’s life.

Teach your kids to rate their hunger on a scale of 1 to 10. Be dramatic, even silly. “1” is famished. “10” is “can’t move/Thanksgiving full.” In our family, we even add decimals to make it more interesting. My son may say, “I’m a 4.2,” and I know it’s time to start the grill. You don’t want anyone getting to “3” because they’ll be too hungry to eat slowly and appreciate the meal. Ideally, staying between 4 and 7 is ideal. Being too hungry is a setup for eating convenient, processed food in a fast and furious way. There are many hunger scales online; just do a Google search. Or ask your kids to make their own. The hunger scale has been incredibly helpful in teaching my clients to eat mindfully. (If you email me at NicoleChristinaLCSW@, I will send you the one I use.) Make mealtime relaxed and pleasant. Anxiety impairs indigestion. The body shuts down all non-vital operations when we are in fight-or-flight. This means that we can have the healthiest food on our plate, but if we eat it in an atmosphere of distress, we do not absorb the nutrients

properly. Mealtime is not the time to bring up annoying politics at the office or to discipline the kids. Make it a safe haven. Take a few deep breaths before starting to eat. This signals to the body that all is well. Breathing into the abdomen can help us any time and is a great way to teach kids how to reduce anxiety. Show them how to put their hand on their belly and expand it like a balloon. Or you can have them lie down and put a stuffed animal on their bellies. Show them how to make it go up and down. This is my go-to for anxiety reduction, and you can do it anywhere. Turn off screens. Eating with the distraction of screens increases food intake by 40 percent. We cannot catch up on emails and recognize our internal cues of fullness at the same time. So make mealtimes special, and separate them from the demands of the outside world. Teach your kids that everyone experiences hunger differently. Some people get headachy, some have stomach rumbles and some get lightheaded. It’s important that they can learn to tune into their individual hunger signals. Then they can also learn to recognize satisfaction/fullness signals. Bring in the gratitude. I get mocked for this by my teen, but I do it anyway. Look at your plate and think about all the people it took to bring these foods to you. Wonder aloud about where it’s grown (“Does pineapple grow in Syracuse?”) Think about the service people, truck drivers, stock people, even label designers that were involved in bringing the food to you. And then offer thanks, or “grace” as it is called in some circles. Gratitude is the highest attitude correlated to happiness. Even if you sneak this in once in a while, you will see a big return on your investment. When my son was a preschooler, he embarrassed me in the produce aisle at Wegmans, loudly exclaiming, “Aren’t we lucky to have such beautiful food to eat!”

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No diet talk. As a psychotherapist specializing in eating and food issues, I can tell you how harmful diet talk is for kids. It’s easy to say, “I shouldn’t have this last piece of bread” given the rampant weight-loss messages we are exposed to. But if we express dissatisfaction with our bodies, this gives the message that hating our thighs, hips or stomachs is a normal thing. Diet talk takes the focus away from the gifts and talents our kids have to offer. Not only does dieting almost always fail, but it leaves behind shaken confidence and feelings of shame. Focus instead on what your child does or what qualities you admire about her, rather than how cute she looks in her jeans. Get creative. Your family has its own style and sense of humor. Try to incorporate this into family snacks and meals. It doesn’t have to be perfect. One of my favorite mindfulness exercises is to savor my very first sip of coffee. I make a big deal about how delicious it is. The second sip pales in comparison. My son rolls his eyes, but kids do notice what their parents do. Even if you have to go through the drive-through, you can eat those fries with attention and appreciation. Slow down. It’s a whole different experience. Your family’s mindful eating practice will evolve and change as your kids grow. You will see what works best for your family. Be playful and patient. There’s no way to do it wrong. Nicole Christina is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist and writer. She just launched her new web course, “Diets Don’t Work, But Mindful Eating Does!”

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Family Times December 2016



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The Season’s Best Your Guide to Holiday Shopping | BY JULIE KERTES


is the season for shopping, but don’t let the pressure of finding that perfect gift take the “happy” out of your holidays.

Before you hit the mall — or internet — take a look at the fantastic finds shown here, all of which were recognized with the National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA). For the past 26 years, NAPPA has been the go-to source for parents looking for quality, entertaining and educational products for their families. NAPPA’s team of expert judges and parent and kid testers meticulously evaluate hundreds of submissions each year and award only the best of the best with the coveted NAPPA seal.

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Family Times December 2016

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Untangled Pro Children’s Bluetooth Headphones

by WobbleWorks, Inc. $49.99,, 8+.

Hannah the Hanukkah Hero by Mensch on a Bench $29.99,, 3+.

Furby Connect by Hasbro, Inc. $99.99,, 6+.

by LilGadgets $49,, 4+.


by Play Monster $11.99,, 6+.

Family Times December 2016


Worry Eaters

Folkmanis Monarch Life Cycle Puppet

My First Bananagrams

by Folkmanis $39.99,, 3+.

by Bananagrams, Inc. $14.99,, 5+.

Lamaze Mix and Match Caterpillar by Tomy $19.99,, 6 months+.

Lion Guard Training Lair Playset by Just Play $59.99,, 3+.

My Fairy Garden Magical Cottage by Play Monster $29.99,, 4+.


Family Times December 2016

by The Haywire Group $22.99,,  All ages.

Talk-to-me Mikey by Playmates Toys $39.99,, 4+.

Smithsonian Planetarium Projector by NSI International, Inc. $39.99,, 8+.

Christmas Traditions Start Here Freshly Harvested Trees or Cut Your Own Wreaths of All Sizes Balsam Barn Gift Shop Tasting Room Serving Cider, Beer and Wine Wagon Rides Food & Family Fun

Saturday Dec. 10 • 11am The Everson Museum of Art Members’ Council presents the Festival of Trees

Preview Gala December 1, 6:00–8:00pm

Luncheon Tea & Fashion Show December 8, 11:30am–2:00pm

Open daily November 25-December 18 M-F, 10 to 6 • S & S, 9 to 6




December 2-11, 2016

Teddy Bear Tea December 4, 1:00–3:00pm

Route 13 in Cazenovia, 3.5 miles south of Route 20 315-662-3355

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What if you could choose?

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421 Montgomery St, Syracuse

a narrated ballet

Produced by CNY Arts Directed by Larry Crabtree


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Tickets $10-$19 $1 off per ticket with the purchase of 4 use code:


To order, call (315) 299-5598, ext. #1 or visit for details

It’s a few days before the big day and Santa is going to choose an extra reindeer to help pull the sleigh. Dasher has just returned to the North Pole, but he has lost his ability to fly! Can Peppermint, his biggest reindeer fan, save the day? Dasher's Magical Gift is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and Onondaga County.

Wishing you a safe & happy holiday season!

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Super Moon In My Room

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by Uncle Milton $54.99,, 6+.

Portable Baby Sound Machine by Big Red Rooster $19.99,, Birth and up.

Ozobot Starter Pack by Ozobot $49,, 6+.

Skylanders Imaginators by Activision Publishing $74.99,,  All Ages.

Mighty Makers Director’s Cut Building Set by K’NEX Brands $34.99,, 7+.

The Nutcracker Crayola Air Maker Sprayer by Crayola $29.99,, 8+.


Family Times December 2016

Explorer of the World by Frances England $12,, 5+.

by Maestro Classics $16.98,, For the entire family.


Make fascinating discoveries about the environment through

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r e b m e c De 2016 Please note: Mistakes happen. To confirm event details, call the sponsoring organization’s phone number or visit the website.

Thursday, Dec. 1

Friday, Dec. 2

Storytime. 10-10:30 a.m.; also Dec. 8, 15, 22

First Day Festival of Trees. Noon-5 p.m.;

Tuesday, Nov. 29

& 29. Toddlers and preschoolers can have fun with stories, songs, fingerplays and more. Paine Branch Library, 113 Nichols Ave., Syracuse. Free. 435-5442.

Homeschool Craft and Storytime. Noon-1

Sing Along Friends Storytime. 10:15-11 a.m.;

p.m. Students ages 4-8 and families can hear stories and make crafts. Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool. Free. 457-0310.

Drawing in 3D for Teens. 5-7 p.m. Use 3Doodler pens to make creations such as jewelry, candy holders or other items; for ages 13-19. Hazard Branch Library, 1620 W. Genesee St., Syracuse. Free. 435-5326.

Wednesday, Nov. 30 Montessori Playgroup. 9-11 a.m. Parents of

children ages 18 months-3 years can bring their kids and learn about the Montessori method with trained Montessori teachers. Montessori School of Syracuse, 155 Waldorf Parkway, Syracuse. Free. 449-9033.

Picture Book Review Club. 4:30 p.m. Kids

ages 9-12 can read books and rate them, and also have some snacks. Mundy Branch Library, 1204 S. Geddes St., Syracuse. Free. 435-3797.

Mary Poppins. 7 p.m. (preview); through Jan. 8.

In this musical based on the stories of M.L. Travers and the Disney film, a nanny arrives to charm the Banks children and their parents. Syracuse Stage, 820 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. $20-$44. 443-3275.


Family Times December 2016

also Dec. 8. Children ages 2-5 and caregivers can share songs, stories and rhymes in a program that promotes early literacy skills. Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool. Free. 457-0310. Registration required:

IMAX Polar Express. Noon & 3 p.m.; through Jan. 1. See the animated movie about a boy on the edge of not believing in Santa Claus—until he takes a wild train ride to the North Pole. Additional screenings on Thursdays, Fridays and some Saturdays. Museum of Science and Technology (MOST), 500 S. Franklin St., Armory Square, Syracuse. $10/adults; $8/ages 2-11 and seniors age 65 and up. 425-9068.

Trail Tales. 1 p.m.; also Dec. 29. A naturalist

reads two nature-themed stories and then leads a hike whose theme matches the stories; for children ages 3-5, accompanied by an adult. Beaver Lake Nature Center parking lot, 8477 E. Mud Lake Road, Baldwinsville. $4/parking. 638-2519.

Betts Christmas Tree. 3 p.m. Make an orna-

ment and trim the Betts Christmas tree. Betts Branch Library, 4862 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Free. 435-1940.

Maker Club. 3:30-5 p.m. Children age 7 and up

(under 10 must be accompanied by an adult) can attempt edible drawings with pancake batter and test how different ingredients affect pancake texture. NOPL at Cicero, 8686 Knowledge Lane, Cicero. Free. Registration required: 699-2032.

through Dec. 11. See trees, wreaths and special displays that embody the theme “Winter Lights,” and hear live music. A fundraiser for the Everson Museum of Art. Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison St., Syracuse. $8/adults; free/child. 474-6064.

Wii and Game Fun. 3-4:30 p.m.; also Dec. 9,

16, 23 & 30. Kids age 5 and up can test their skills on the Nintendo Wii and enjoy board games while they wait. Beauchamp Branch Library, 2111 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Free. 435-3395.

Night of Lights. 6-7:30 p.m. See the tree

lighting, Santa’s arrival, performances by Colgate University singing groups and more. Hamilton village green, Payne Street, Hamilton. Free.

Polar Express Event. 7 p.m. Kids can wear

pajamas, hear The Polar Express, and take part in activities including writing a Dear Santa letter. Barnes & Noble, 3454 Erie Blvd. E., DeWitt. Free. 449-2948.

Saturday, Dec. 3 Breakfast with Santa at the Zoo. 9-10 a.m. or 11 a.m.-noon; also Dec. 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18. Enjoy a delicious breakfast while the kids share Christmas wishes with the jolly old elf, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus and create a holiday craft. Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park, 1 Conservation Place, Syracuse. Cost includes zoo admission: $18/general; free/age 2 & younger. Reservations required: 435-8511, Ext. 113.

noon; also Dec. 10. Have pancakes, sausage and a drink, and meet Santa. Beaver Lake Nature Center, 8477 E. Mud Lake Road, Baldwinsville. $3-$5/ breakfast; $4/parking. 638-2519.

Soule Road Craft Fair. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. More than 120 crafters display their wares; raffles and food as well. A fundraiser for Soule Road Elementary School, 8338 Soule Road, Liverpool. srecraft@

Natural Holiday Decorations. 9 a.m.-noon.; also Dec. 10. Children can learn to make simple holiday decorations and ornaments using natural materials. Beaver Lake Nature Center, 8477 E. Mud Lake Road, Baldwinsville. Admission: $4/ vehicle for parking. 638-2519.

Plowshares Craftsfair and Peace Festival.

10 a.m.-5 p.m.; also Dec. 4. Dozens of crafters, as well as food and music. Nottingham High School, 3100 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. Admission: $2/ adult; free/age 16 & younger or 65 & older. 4725478.

Make Your Holiday. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Make gifts for the whole family; choose from a terrarium, wall art, mason jar cookie kit and more. Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville. $10. Registration required: 637-6374.

Saturday Storytime. 10:30 a.m.; also Dec. 10

& 17. Children from birth to age 5 can sing, dance and hear stories. Mundy Branch Library, 1204 S. Geddes St., Syracuse. Free. 435-3797.

Meet the Doula Chicks. 11 a.m. Hear about

how a doula can help you before, during and after the birth of your baby. Simpson Family Wellness, 309 Kasson Road, No. 1, Camillus. Free. Registration recommended: (716) 532-1999.

Beauty and the Beast. 12:30 p.m. The Magic

Circle Children’s Theatre presents an original, interactive version of the familiar story, in which children can help Beauty teach the Beast to be nicer and have good manners. Audience members are invited to dress up as a prince or princess. Spaghetti Warehouse, 689 N. Clinton St., Syracuse. $6. Reservations recommended: 449-3823.

Syracuse City Ballet Nutcracker. 1 & 6 p.m.; also Dec. 4. Syracuse City Ballet artists perform the tale of a young girl who ventures into an enchanted world after saving a dashing prince. Mulroy Civic Center, 411 Montgomery St., Syracuse. $20-$75 (plus fees). 435-2121.

Open Chess. 2-4 p.m.; also Dec. 10 & 31. Players of all levels can meet up with others for a game of chess. Boards provided, or bring your own. Petit Branch Library, 105 Victoria Place, Syracuse. Free. 435-3636.

December Cabaret. 2-4 p.m. Front Row

Players, a theater program for adults of all abilities, perform songs from Beauty and the Beast, Guys and Dolls, and more. Eastern Hills Bible Church, 4600 Enders Road, Manlius. Free. 663-8390.

six-story IMAX theater (7 p.m.). Museum of Science and Technology (MOST), 500 S. Franklin St., Armory Square, Syracuse. $4/person for party, in addition to movie tickets: $10/adults; $8/ages 2-11 and seniors age 65 and up. Reservations required: 425-9068.

Tree Lighting and Who-Bilation. 6-8 p.m.

Come for the skit, songs, sack races and other activities; followed by a tree lighting. Also a pudding, fudge and cookie competition. Lakeshore Baptist Church, 6696 Lakeshore Road, Cicero. Free. 7523134. Register for the competition:

Sunday, Dec. 4 Plowshares Craftsfair and Peace Festival. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. See Dec. 3 listing.

Moto-Inventions. 1-2 p.m.; Sundays in De-

cember (closed Dec. 25). Tinker with recycled materials and electricity to make whirling, moving machines. Sciencenter, 601 First St., Ithaca. Admission: $8/adults; $7/seniors; $6/ages 3-17; free/ under 3. (607) 272-0600.

Teddy Bear Tea. 1-3 p.m. Children, adults and

17. See an interactive presentation on a different aspect of science. This month’s topics include brains and chemistry. Sciencenter, 601 First St., Ithaca. Admission: $8/adults; $7/seniors; $6/ages 3-17; free/ under 3. (607) 272-0600.

teddy bears can have a fun afternoon, including tea, treats and activities. Admission to Everson Museum of Art’s Festival of Trees included with each Teddy Bear Tea ticket. Persian Terrace, Marriott Syracuse Downtown (Hotel Syracuse), 100 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse. $25. Reservations required: 474-6064.

Polar Express Pajama Party. 5:30-8:30 p.m.;

Chemsations. 2 p.m.; also Dec. 18. Local high

Sciencenter Showtime. 2 p.m.; also Dec. 10 &

also Dec. 17. Children, who are invited to wear pajamas, can take part in activities—including making whistles and crystal snowflakes—and visit with Santa. There will also be a visit with Santa Claus. Then they can see The Polar Express in the

school students demonstrate chemical reactions with color changes, bubbles and light. Sciencenter, 601 First St., Ithaca. Admission: $8/adults; $7/seniors; $6/ages 3-17; free/under 3. (607) 272-0600.

Family Times December 2016



Beaver Lake Breakfast with Santa. 9 a.m.-

Dec. 3 listing.

Voices of Faith Choir Concert. 7 p.m. Carols and classical music with the Voices of Faith Choir and guest performers including West Genesee Brass and the John Spillett Jazz Duo. A holiday reception follows the concert. Holy Family Church, 127 Chapel Drive, Fairmount. Free will offering. 488-3139.



Syracuse City Ballet Nutcracker. 2 p.m. See

Monday, Dec. 5 WeDo Lego Robotics. 4-5:15 p.m. Kids in

grades K-1 can work in teams of two to build and program a robot. Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville. Free. Registration required: 637-6374.

Craftastic Critters. 4:30-5:30 p.m.; also Dec. 12 & 19. Kids in preschool through grade 2 can drop into the Fab Lab and make a craft. Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville. Free. 637-6374.

Yoga for Everyone. 6-7 p.m.; also Dec. 12 & 19. A class of gentle yoga for all. Betts Branch Library, 4862 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Free. 435-1940.

Multiple Moms Mingle. 6 p.m. Monthly

meeting of mothers and expectant mothers of multiples. Tully’s, 2943 Erie Blvd. E., Syracuse. Reserve if you wish to attend:

Art Classes

dults, Home Schoolers, Teens and Children

Family Chess Night, Dec. 7

Tuesday, Dec. 6

can listen to stories and do crafts. Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool. Free. 457-0310.

Signing Storytime. 10:30 a.m.; also Dec. 20.

Children ages 3-6 can learn six to seven signs that correspond to the week’s story. Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville. Free. Registration required: 637-6374.

Chess Club. 6-7 p.m.; Tuesdays through Dec. 27. All ages and skill levels of player can play chess or receive instructions from local players to improve their game. Chess boards are provided. Paine Branch Library, 113 Nichols Ave., Syracuse. Free. 435-5442.

Family Coding. 3:30-5 p.m.; also Dec. 13.

Families can together complete a hands-on coding challenge. Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville. Free. Registration required: 6376374.

Family Fun Night. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Listen to a Christmas story and music, and make some crafts. NOPL at North Syracuse, 100 Trolley Barn Lane, North Syracuse. Free. 458-6184.

Drop In Craft and Storytime. 4:15-5 p.m.;

also Dec. 13. Children ages 4-8 and their families

Ilene Layow, BFA, MFA, CAS Teaching Artist, Owner

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Maker Club. 3:30-5 p.m. Children age 7 and up

a.m.; also Dec. 14, 21 & 28. Toddlers and preschoolers hear stories, sing songs, recite rhymes and more. Central Library, 447 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Free. 435-1900.

(under 10 must be accompanied by an adult) can fold an origami shape, then add a battery and LED to make it light up. NOPL at Cicero, 8686 Knowledge Lane, Cicero. Free. Registration required: 699-2032.

Teen Photography Club. 3:30-5 p.m. Teens

Action Art. 4-4:30 p.m. School-aged children can

Read, Sing and Play Storytime. 10:30-11:30

ages 13-18 can take part in a photography club shaped by their interests. Central Library, 447 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Free. 435-1900.

make friendship paintings on Plexiglass. Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville. Free. Registration required: 637-6374.

Sherlock Holmes Detectives. 4-5 p.m.

School-aged kids can discuss a book and then do a related activity or experiment. Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville. Free. Registration required: 637-6374.

Friday, Dec. 9 Home School Nature Series. 10 a.m.-noon.

Come to pray, meditate or just sit in peace in the sanctuary. Liverpool First Presbyterian Church, 603 Tulip St., Liverpool. Free. 457-3161.

Teen Geeks. 6-8 p.m.; also Dec. 14 & 21. Teens

Cookie Wars. 2:30 p.m. Teens can compete to

can hang out, eat snacks, and play a different game or do another activity at each week’s session. Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool. Free. 457-0310.

Family Chess Night. 6 p.m. All ages of players can play chess or learn to play. Chess sets will be available. Betts Branch Library, 4862 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Free. 435-1940.

Thursday, Dec. 8 Drop In Crafts. 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Enjoy

making seasonal crafts with provided materials. Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool. Free. 457-0310.

Elf, The Musical, Jr. 7 p.m.; also Dec. 10, 11,

16, 17 & 18. A presentation of Syracuse Children’s Theatre. Mulroy Civic Center, 421 Montgomery St., Syracuse. $18.50/adults; $16.50/age 55-plus; $10/ages 3-12. To purchase tickets:

Saturday, Dec. 10 Holidays with the Animals. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Homeschooled children ages 5-12 learn about watersheds and how their actions can affect the watershed they live in. Montezuma Audubon Center, 2295 Route 89, Savannah. $8/student. 3653588.

Open Sanctuary. 4-7 p.m.; also Dec. 14 & 21.

giveaways. Barnes & Noble, 3454 Erie Blvd. E., DeWitt. Free. 449-2948.

decorate the best cookies; all cookies and supplies provided. Betts Branch Library, 4862 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Free. 435-1940.

Ornament Crafts. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Create an

ornament. All ages. Salina Library, 100 Belmont St., Mattydale. Free. Registration. 454-4524.

Holiday Hay Rides. 6:30-9 p.m.; also Dec. 10,

16 & 17. Families board horse-drawn wagons for rides through the decorated park, with visits with Santa and treats at the “North Pole.” Burnet Park, Coleridge Avenue at Burnet Park Drive, Syracuse. Free. 473-4330.

Harry Potter Magical Holiday Ball. 7 p.m. Dress like a Harry Potter character or come as you are and enjoy dancing, music, activities and

Watch as animals throughout the zoo receive “presents”—new toys that give them a chance to play and demonstrate natural behaviors. Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park, 1 Conservation Place, Syracuse. Admission: $8/adults (ages 19-61); $5/over age 62; $4/ages 3-18; free/age 2 and younger. 435-8511.

Toddlers’ Tango. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Toddlers and

preschoolers can take part in this popular music and movement class. Salina Library, 100 Belmont St., Mattydale. Free. Registration required: 454-4524.

Dasher’s Magical Gift. 11 a.m. In a narrated

ballet for children performed by students from Dance Centre North, a crisis arises in the days before Christmas when Santa’s fastest reindeer, Dasher, loses his ability to fly. Presented by CNY Arts. Mulroy Civic Center, 411 Montgomery St., Syracuse. $9-$19. 299-5598.

A Charlie Brown Christmas. 11 a.m.; also

Dec. 11, 17, 18 & 31. In this puppet version of the popular television special, the Peanuts gang gets together to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Open Hand Theater, 518 Prospect Ave., Syracuse. $15-$17/adults; $10-$12/ages 3-18; free/ age 2 and under. 476-0466.

Exclusive stores Luxury brands More than 170 specialty shops Athleta Brooks Brothers LEGO Madewell TUMI Von Maur

I-90 to Exit 45, Victor (585) 223-4420 Family Times December 2016



Wednesday, Dec. 7


Beauty and the Beast. 12:30 p.m. See Dec. 3 listing.

Ukelele Workshop. 1-2 p.m. Beginners age 12 and up can learn ukulele fundamentals from Pat Doherty. Participants should bring an instrument or call in advance to see if the library has one available. Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool. Free. 457-0310.

Santa Saturday. 1-3:30 p.m. Enjoy the Festival of Trees, meet Santa, make a craft and have a snack. Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison St., Syracuse. $12/adults; $10/age 11 & under. 474-6064.

College Essay Writing Workshop. 1-2:30

p.m. Molly Voorheis, a Syracuse University writing instructor, will help students at all stages of the essay-writing process. Petit Branch Library, 105 Victoria Place, Syracuse. Free. Registration required: 435-3636.

Caroling in the Woods. 7-8:30 p.m. Pick up

a lantern and a song sheet for this traditional event. Bring natural treats to hang for the birds and holiday cookies to share with fellow carolers. Baltimore Woods Nature Center, 4007 Bishop Hill Road, Marcellus. Free. 673-1350.

Sunday, Dec. 11 Free Sunday at the Sciencenter. Noon-5

p.m. Explore the Sciencenter’s interactive exhibits, including From Here to There, which focuses on how things move on land, sea and air. Sciencenter, 601 First St., Ithaca. Admission on Dec. 11: Free. (607) 272-0600.

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker. 1 & 5 p.m. The international touring ballet

17 & 18. See Dec. 9 listing.

company returns to Syracuse for its holiday performance. Mulroy Civic Center, 411 Montgomery St., Syracuse. $28-$175 (plus fees). 435-2121.

Sensory Friendly Time at the MOST.

Elf, The Musical, Jr. 2 & 7 p.m.; also Dec. 16, 17

Elf, The Musical, Jr. 2 & 7 p.m.; also Dec. 11, 16, 5:30-7 p.m. This chance for children with sensory processing disorders to experience the museum is also a Polar Express pajama party, with hot chocolate, activities and a visit with Santa. Doors are left open so visitors who need a break can get away from the stimulation of the exhibits, and during The Polar Express (7 p.m.) the IMAX sound is turned down. MOST (Museum of Science & Technology), 500 S. Franklin St., Syracuse. IMAX tickets: $10/adults; $8/ages 2-11 and senior citizens; cost for the party is $4 more per person. Reservations: 425-9068.

Holiday Hay Rides. 6:30-9 p.m.; also Dec. 16 & 17. See Dec. 9 listing.

Monday, Dec. 12 See Ongoing Events

Tuesday, Dec. 13 Yoga Storytime. 10:30 a.m. Kids ages 3 to 6

and parents can learn yoga and literacy skills in a session that features puppets, stories, songs and breathing exercises. Participants must wear socks;



Bo Rinn, PNP • Theresa Morse, FNP Celeste Madden, MD • Kristina Hingre, MD Elizabeth Nguyen, MD

475 Irving Ave. Suite 210 • Syracuse, NY • 315-471-2646 • 26

Family Times December 2016

Teen MOPS. 4-6 p.m. Pregnant women or

young mothers, ages 13-21, with children under 6 enjoy a faith-based program with fun, food and activities while their children are cared for by the childcare program. Liverpool First United Methodist Church, 604 Oswego St., Liverpool. Free. Call or text: 569-2542 or (518) 441-3690.

Family Fort Building. 7-8:30 p.m. Families can

read under a blanket fort they build themselves. Bring your own stuff or use the library’s—including a flashlight. Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool. Free. 457-0310.

Star Party. 7-10 p.m. See the Geminid mete-

or shower, a shower of asteroid debris, as well as bright stars and nebulae through telescopes. (Backup date: Dec. 14.) Baltimore Woods Nature Center, 4007 Bishop Hill Road, Marcellus. $9/ person. 673-1350.

& 18. See Dec. 9 listing.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from your neighborhood

Accepting New Patients

mats provided. Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville. Free. Registration required: 637-6374.

Wednesday, Dec. 14 First Steps. 9:30 a.m. A storytime for children

who are good walkers, up to age 3. Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville. Free. 637-6374.

Sing, Learn, Sign for Babies. 10:30 a.m.

Instruction in six basic signs to help you communicate with your baby before he or she learns to talk. Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville. Free. 637-6374.

can learn skills for using technology for everything from 3D printing to game design. Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville. Free. Registration required: 637-6374.

dren age 18 months to 5 years can dance, play musical instruments, play with bubbles, and more. DeWitt Community Library, Shoppingtown Mall (below food court), 3649 Erie Blvd. E., DeWitt. Free. 446-3578.

Discovery Club. 4:15-5 p.m. Science enthusiasts

Holiday Hay Rides. 6:30-9 p.m.; also Dec. 17.

The Nuttycracker. 3 p.m. A twist on the

can learn facts and conduct science experiments. Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool. Free. 457-0310.

See Dec. 9 listing.

familiar Nutcracker story, with holiday tunes and varied forms of dance including ballet, tap and jazz. Presented by The Dance Studio CNY and Bogardus Performing Arts. Eagle Hill Middle School, 4645 Enders Road, Manlius. $9-$12. 922-3232.

Elf, The Musical, Jr. 7 p.m.; also Dec. 17 & 18.

Holiday Hay Rides. 6:30-9 p.m. See Dec. 9

See Dec. 9 listing.


Thursday, Dec. 15

Saturday, Dec. 17

Sunday, Dec. 18

Free to Be. 10:30-11:15 a.m. Children ages 3-6

can take part in this early childhood music and acting class with live guitar music, creating unique lyrics. Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville. Free. 637-6374.

Terrific Thursdays. 11 a.m.-noon. In a program for homeschooling students and families, children can learn how animals survive in winter. A Great Swamp Conservancy staffer will bring artifacts to examine and teach participants a survival game. DeWitt Community Library, Shoppingtown Mall (below food court), 3649 Erie Blvd. E., DeWitt. Free. Registration required: 446-3578.

A Christmas Concert. 6:30 p.m. The Lyncourt Community Band, conducted by Tony DeAngelis, and barbershop chorus Harmony Katz perform holiday music and songs. St. Daniel School gym, 3004 Court St., Syracuse. Free. 432-1005.

Friday, Dec. 16 Toddler Dance Party. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Chil-

Paws to Read. 10-11:30 p.m. Children can read

to one of three friendly dogs from Paws Inc. of CNY. Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool. Free. 457-0310.

Elf, The Musical, Jr. 10 a.m., 2 & 7 p.m.; also Dec. 18. See Dec. 9 listing.

Gingerbread House Workshop. 11 a.m. & 1

p.m.; also Dec. 28. Children can make a gingerbread house. Erie Canal Museum, 318 Erie Blvd. E., Syracuse. $10. 471-0593.

Beauty and the Beast. 12:30 p.m. See Dec. 3 listing.

Elf, The Musical, Jr. 2 p.m. See Dec. 9 listing. Elf. 3-6 p.m. See the movie (starts at 4 p.m.)

starring Will Ferrell as a human raised as one of Santa’s elves. Holiday activities and a visit with Santa take place before the movie. Presented by the Syracuse Department of Parks and Recreation. Landmark Theatre, 362 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Free. 473-4330.

Monday, Dec. 19 See Ongoing Events

The McCarthy Family Holiday Concert. 1

p.m. Jim, Deirdre and Shane McCarthy will sing holiday favorites and play guitar, concertina, spoons and other instruments; for all ages. Petit Branch Library, 105 Victoria Place, Syracuse. Free. 435-3636.

Santa and Mrs. Claus. 2-4 p.m. Hear Merry

Mischief perform, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and have a candy cane. NOPL at Cicero, 8686 Knowledge Lane, Cicero. Free. 699-2032.

1 Week in the gym! HOLISTIC LIVING FAIR Dec. 4TH 11am3pm Vendors, Free Santa, kid’s room, raffles


Tuesday, Dec. 20 See Ongoing Events

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Creation Club Junior. 4 p.m. Kids in grades 3-5


First Day of Winter Scavenger Hunt. 9 a.m.-9

Open your

p.m.; daily, during library hours, through Dec. 31. Clues throughout the library can lead hunters to prizes. Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool. Free. 457-0310.


Open your


Thursday, Dec. 22

with Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth!




Become a Foster parent with Berkshire Farm

Spoken Word for Teens. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Young

people ages 12-18 can share their rap and spoken word poetry creations. Central Library, 447 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Free. Registration required: 435-1900. events/calendar.

Teen Gingerbread Houses. 6 p.m. Young people in

grades 6-12 can build their own “gingerbread” houses using provided supplies. Salina Library, 100 Belmont St., Mattydale. Free. Registration required: 454-4524.

Friday, Dec. 23 Full STEAM Ahead Storytime. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Children ages 3-5 can hear a story related to science, technology, engineering, art and math—and then do an experiment. DeWitt Community Library, Shoppingtown Mall (below food court), 3649 Erie Blvd. E., DeWitt. Free. 446-3578.

or plan an original project. DeWitt Community Library, Shoppingtown Mall (below food court), 3649 Erie Blvd. E., DeWitt. Free. Registration required: 446-3578.

Make a Block Breaker Game. 2:30 p.m. Kids in

grades 4-8 can make a block breaker game using Scratch programming language; bring a flash drive if you want to take your game home with you. Salina Library, 100 Belmont St., Mattydale. Free. Registration required: 454-4524.

Teen Baking and Trivia. 6-8 p.m. Teens can learn

to make pancakes, then they can eat them. Competitions will judge the work. Trivia takes place afterward. Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool. Free. Registration required: 457-0310.

Thursday, Dec. 29 Craft and Cocoa. 2 p.m. Draw in chalk like the Im-

pressionists; for children. Betts Branch Library, 4862 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Free. 435-1940.

December Daisies. 2 p.m. Students in grades 6-12 can

learn how to make a colorful daisy-stitched bracelet. Salina Library, 100 Belmont St., Mattydale. Free. Registration required: 454-4524.

Reindeer Games Escape Room. 1-5 p.m. Kids and

454-4700 1065 James St. Syracuse 13203

their grown-ups can make their way through an escape room puzzle game. Groups require about 45 minutes to solve all the puzzles; those that arrive after 4:15 p.m. may not have time to solve everything. NOPL at Cicero, 8686 Knowledge Lane, Cicero. Free. 699-2032.

Saturday, Dec. 24 HANUKKAH BEGINS Beauty and the Beast. 12:30 p.m. See Dec. 3 listing.

Sunday, Dec. 25 CHRISTMAS See Ongoing Events

Gift Making Workshops Saturday, December 3 10:00-2:00 Don’t miss this fun afternoon of making high-quality, customized gifts! Each workshop is $10, all supplies will be provided!

Holiday Book Sale Saturday, December 3 10:00-2:00 Thousands of books PLUS audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, records, sheet music and videogames! Prices start at less than $1. We accept cash, credit or check. All proceeds beneet the FFL.

Monday, Dec. 26 KWANZAA BEGINS See Ongoing Events

Tuesday, Dec. 27 Game Day. 2 p.m. Play your favorite board or computer games. Betts Branch Library, 4862 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Free. 435-1940.

Battlebots. 2 p.m. Kids ages 8-14 can make a basic

bristlebot and use it to battle in the mini-stadium. Salina Library, 100 Belmont St., Mattydale. Free. Registration required: 454-4524.

Wednesday, Dec. 28 Gingerbread House Workshop. 11 a.m. See Dec. 17 listing.

Beauty and the Beast. 12:30 p.m. See Dec. 3 listing. Craft and Cocoa. 2 p.m. Make decorative jars and relax with a cup of cocoa; for kids and teens. Betts Branch Library, 4862 S. Salina St., Syracuse. Free. 435-1940.

Fuze Coding and Maker Club. 2-3 p.m. Young

people ages 11-14 can play with pixels using perler beads. Make stackable sheets to form 3D models; use templates


Family Times December 2016

Friday, Dec. 30 Zoo to You. 2-3 p.m. School-aged children will meet

and learn about animals, birds and reptiles from a Rosamond Gifford Zoo educator. NOPL at Brewerton Library, 5440 Bennett St., Brewerton. Free. 676-7484.

The Shimmering Winter Sky. 6-7:30 p.m. Join a

naturalist for an evening of star gazing. Bring a flashlight with a red filter. Beaver Lake Nature Center, 8477 E. Mud Lake Road, Baldwinsville. $4/parking. 638-2519.

Saturday, Dec. 31 Noon Year’s Eve. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Ring in the

“noon” year with entertainment, a dance party and a sparkling-juice toast at noon. Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park, 1 Conservation Place, Syracuse. Admission: $8/adults (ages 19-61); $5/over age 62; $4/ages 3-18; free/ age 2 and younger. 435-8511.

Beauty and the Beast. 12:30 p.m. See Dec. 3 listing.

Sunday, Jan. 1 NEW YEAR’S DAY See Ongoing Events



Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles, in Ongoing Events

December 1

December 7

December 13

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December 19

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December 2

December 8

December 14

December 20

December 3

December 9

December 15

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December 10

December 16

December 22

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December 23

December 6

December 12

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50 min Oneida custom massage $105 at Sk7:n8:

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31 5 .36 1 .8200

Family Times December 2016



Calendar Snow Leopard Days at the Zoo, Jan. 2-Feb. 28


Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles. Saturdays & Sundays through Dec.

Erie Canal Museum Gingerbread Gallery. Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.;

through Jan. 8; Dec. 24 & 31, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Closed Dec. 25 & Jan. 1.) See a fantastical village of more than 30 houses, boats and more incorporating gingerbread, candy, crackers and other edible items. Erie Canal Museum, 318 Erie Blvd. E., Syracuse. $7/adults; $5/seniors; $2/age 12 & under. 471-0593.






18, noon-4 p.m.; Dec. 24, noon-2:30 p.m. More than 50 Victorian characters, including the author of A Christmas Carol himself, fill the village of Skaneateles, on Genesee, Jordan and Fennell streets. Also special performances at the library, 49 E. Genesee St. (1 & 3 p.m.), and horse and wagon rides that pick up at the Sherwood Inn, 26 W. Genesee St. Free. 685-0552.

Horsedrawn Wagon or Sleigh Rides. Saturdays & Sundays, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Dec. 17-Feb. 26 (no rides Dec. 25). Twenty-minute ride into the woods at Highland Forest. Rides take place weather permitting. Highland Forest, 1254 Highland Park Road (off Route 80), Fabius. $6/person; $3/age 5 & under. 683-5550.

Lights on the Lake. Daily, through Jan. 8, 5-10 p.m. Drive through the

annual light extravaganza featuring two miles of life-size displays. Onondaga Lake Park, Onondaga Lake Parkway, Liverpool. $10/car, Monday-Thursday; $15/car, Friday-Sunday. 453-6712.

Snow Leopard Days. 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m, daily; Jan. 2-Feb. 28. Half-price

admission at the zoo. Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park, 1 Conservation Place, Syracuse. Admission in January & February: $4/adults; $2.50/age 62 & up; $2/ages 3-18; free/age 2 and younger. 435-8511. Ongoing attractions include Humboldt penguins.

Weekend Walks With a Naturalist. Saturdays and Sundays, 2 p.m. Nature discovery hike with different topics each weekend. Beaver Lake Nature Center, Route 370, Baldwinsville. Admission: $4/vehicle. 638-2519.

Great Swamp Conservancy Nature Trails. Daily, dawn to dusk.

Throughout the year, visitors can grab their walking shoes and explore 4.5 miles of well-groomed, flat trails. Trails feature a 900-foot boardwalk, osprey nesting platform, and wetland and grassland restoration areas. The area is a stop for many migratory waterfowl and songbirds; other wildlife include muskrats and beavers. Great Swamp Conservancy, 3.5 miles off I-90, Exit 34, 8375 N. Main St., Canastota. Free. 697-2950.

Baltimore Woods Nature Center. Hiking trails and parking are free






Family Times December 2016

and open every day from dawn to dusk. Interpretive Center open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; closed Sundays. Snowshoe rental: $5/day. 4007 Bishop Hill Road, Marcellus. 673-1350.

Wegmans Playground. Boundless Playground for children (and parents)

of all ages and abilities includes accessible swings, slides, bridge and more, including special section just for the tiniest tykes. Onondaga Lake Park, Route 370, Liverpool. Free. 451-PARK.

DeWitt Community Library. Library offers hundreds of free programs for parents and children. DeWitt Community Library, Shoppingtown Mall (below food court), 3649 Erie Blvd. E., DeWitt. 446-3578.

Maxwell Library Storytimes. Storytimes and book groups for all ages.

Call for dates and times. Maxwell Memorial Library, 14 Genesee St., Camillus. Free. 672-3661.


Body Recognition Class Movement. Music. Instruments. Imagination. We will explore the motions of our bodies with dance. For children 8 mos.-5 yrs old. Birthday parties available. Call Tamar @ 480-3975 or

CLASSIFIED DIRECTORY Second Chance Thrift Shoppe is located on Route 20 just 1/4 mile west of Morrisville in the former Buzzy’s Diner. Volunteers are always needed for 3 hour shifts to wait on customers during business hours or Wednesday evenings from 6:30 until 8 p.m. for general cleaning and restocking merchandise. The homeless puppies and kittens (and other animals) will love you for it. Stop in for volunteer information or contact Gail Smith at or call (315) 480-0336.


NOW ENROLLING 3 YEAR OLDS Pre-School Program: Ages 3-5yrs & Before & After School Program: UPK-6th Jordan United Methodist Church 63 Elbridge Street, Jordan ** 689-9686**

1 & 2 Bedroom

Living Room, Kitchen, Dining Room, all utilities, free parking. No pets. 915 James St. 472-3135.


has openings in your area! if you are seeking work, register with us TODAY at or call us at 299-6977 “We Get People!”

PET SERVICES SECOND CHANCE THRIFT SHOPPE TO RE-OPEN The Second Chance Thrift Shoppe of CNY inc. is operated 100% by volunteers and raises funds for local animal rescue programs. The shoppe is incorporated in New York as a nonprofit Charity Corporation and is in the process of applying for Federal status as a 501c3 tax exempt corporation. The thrift shoppe will reopen March 11th for its 5th year of operation and will remain open until Mid December. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Friday & Saturday.

4 Tickets Sat, Dec.10 @ 11am

The Dance Studio CNY


Painting, bathroom, kitchen, basement, remodeling. Flooring, door & window installation, plumbing & electrical. Retired teacher, 35 yrs exp. Joe Ball, 436-9008

TO ADVERTISE IN BACK PACK DIRECTORY Call 472-4669 and press 2. December issue deadline: 12-10-16

CONGRATS! Brenda From Oswego! WINNER of our November Giveaway!

4 Tickets to the Nuttycracker Sat, Dec.17 @ 3pm

Entry deadline is noon on 12/7/16



Remedy Intelligent Staffing in Syracuse

Dasher’s Magical Gift Entry deadline is noon on 12/1/16.


Jordan Elbridge Country Kids Childcare Center




Send contact info to with “Dasher” or “Nuttycracker” in the subject line.

Check out our Calendar! Don’t forget to pick up your Family Times every month to see what fun and exciting events are happening in Central New York!

Family Times December 2016




Upstate is the only children’s hospital for 700,000 families from Pennsylvania to Canada and the first nationally verified pediatric trauma center in New York state.



Downtown Campus, 750 East Adams St. Open 24/7

Community Campus, 4900 Broad Rd. Hours: Mon. thru Fri: 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. & Sat. / Sun: Noon to 11 p.m.


AFTER HOURS CARE HOLIDAY HOURS Christmas Eve: Noon to 6 p.m. | Christmas Day: 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. New Year’s Eve: Noon to 6 p.m. | New Year’s Day: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.



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