Page 1

December 2017

Vol. 10 Issue 12

Dungy Diaries page 8

Calendar of Events page 40

Celebrate with Purpose page 34

10 Ways to Have the Best Holiday Ever!  p. 10

25 Sights of Christmas p. 24

Manage Stress During The Holidays p. 35

n a i t s i r h C o d y Wh ? k c i w s e K moms Love They love Keswick for its proven record for Christ-centered, high-quality education. It’s a learning environment where virtue and vision matter. Where the timeless truths of scripture and timely instructional resources combine to help children grow, flourish and prosper. Kids grow in their love for the Lord and knowledge of the world around them at Keswick. Christian moms love the sound of that.

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2 • December 2017

Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

A Home for Christian families

Publisher: Editor: Contributing Editor: Designer: Web Developer:

Rodney Beck Jennifer Beck Linda Crumley Michael Crumley Matthew Crumley

For advertising opportunities: © Gulf Coast Family Publications 2017

Gulf Coast Family Publications P.O. Box 3803, Seminole, FL 33775 Phone: (727) 612-0783 Fax: (727) 865-5135 Gulf Coast Family Newspaper is printed monthly, and is distributed throughout Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Gulf Coast Family is available in distribution racks in many local Chick-fil-a restaurants, McDonald’s, CVS Stores, R-Clubs, Walgreens, Joto’s Pizzerias, Carmelita’s, After Hours Pediatrics, Cornerstone Banks, LA Fitness, Shapes, and Regions Banks in these counties, along with many other restaurants, shopping centers, churches, libraries, government offices, and over 200 day care centers and schools. For questions or comments, call (727) 612-0783 or email Gulf Coast Family Publications encourages your input. To comment on one of our articles or to submit photos and articles for possible publication, simply email Submission of your photos and letters constitutes permission to Gulf Coast Family Publications, publisher of the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper, to use them in all media. All submissions become the property of Gulf Coast Family Publications and will not be returned. We reserve the right to edit as necessary, and all submissions will be used at our discretion. No portion of the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper may be reproduced without the express written consent of the publishers. The opinions of contributing writers are not necessarily those of the publishers. Gulf Coast Family Publications assumes no liability for products, services, or statements made by advertisers. Neither Gulf Coast Family Publications nor the advertisers can be held liable for typographical errors, misprints, or misinformation contained herein. The publishers reserve the right to edit and refuse editorial and/or advertising which does not meet the publication’s standards. All rights are reserved.

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December 2017 • 3

December 2017



December 2017 Events

5 Movie Night December We 6 This Recommend That You… to Parent 7 Parent by Jennifer Beck

to Hire a Century 14 521Reasons Realtor to Sell Your Home by Sonny Glover and Melody Gallion

for Holiday Stress– 15 Planning You’ve Got This by Amy Alexander

Diaries: The Problem 8 Dungy With a Lack of Character

Ramsey’s Top 10 16 Dave Christmas Shopping Mistakes

9 Heart Gallery

Favorite Christmas Eve 17 8Traditions

by Tony Dungy,

Pro Dad: 10 Ways to Have 10 All the Best Holiday Ever by

Great to Create: 11 It’s Christmas Crafts Healthy Smile 12 The by Dr. Nick Reynolds

by Dave Ramsey


25 Sights of Christmas

Great Things You Can Get 19 20 For Free On Your Birthday

with Purpose 34 Celebrate by Dr. Kira Wilson

20 Family Night Out Coupons 22 Kids in the Kitchen 24 25 Sights of Christmas Kickboxing: An 30 Cardio Intensely FUN Class

on the Family 35 Focus by Jim Daly Holiday, Mom 38 App-y by Bob Hoose, Blocks for the 39 Building Family: Making the Most of a Moment

by Ana Frias

Spotlight 31 Species by Busch Gardens Tampa

18 The Tropical Garden: Holiday 32 Spotlight on Education Gardening the Winter Blues by Jené VanButsel 32 Beat by Judy Adorno

by Kenny McNatt

40 December 2017 Events 44 Weekender 45 ’Twas a Florida Christmas 46 Reader Photos of the Month


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Call today to schedule your personal tour!

Plugged In’s award-winning website and reviews are designed to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving families the essential tools they need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which they live.

See full reviews at

Ferdinand – December 15

“Ferdinand” tells the story of a giant bull with a big heart. After being mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – December 15

The next chapter in the Skywalker saga arrives this December. Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.


MFASTPETE.ORG Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in partnership with the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and in consultation with Lucasfilm Ltd. © & ™ 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization. The Denver Art Museum provided additional scholarship and creative modifications to the presentation. MFA leadership support provided by Mark and Marianne Mahaffey, The Bill Edwards Group, and Jeff and Penny Vinik.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – December 20

Four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game’s jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji - you must survive it.


Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; The Margaret Acheson Stuart Society; and the City of St. Petersburg Office of Cultural Affairs. Media support provided by Tampa Bay Times.

Smithsonian Institution

December 1 To advertise, call 727-612-0783

December 5

December 19

December 2017 • 5

This December we recommend that you… READ IT

Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza

Relive the Presidency of Barack Obama through White House photographer Pete Souza’s behind-the-scenes images and stories in this #1 New York Times bestseller — with a foreword from the President himself. During Barack Obama’s two terms, Pete Souza was with the President during more crucial moments than anyone else — and he photographed them all. This book puts you in the White House with President Obama, and will be a treasured record of a landmark era in American history.



Candlelight Processional Epcot, Nov. 24 – Dec. 30

by Pentatonix

The second full-length holiday outing from the award-winning a cappella group, A Pentatonix Christmas delivers a colorful set of Yuletide emissions with ample amounts of spirit and a truly impressive command of harmony. Acrobatic takes on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” fit nicely alongside highlights from 2014’s double platinum-selling That’s Christmas to Me.


Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Boat Parade December 23, Tampa River Walk

Join Friends of the Riverwalk for the Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on December 23, 2017! This free, holiday event along the Riverwalk begins at Rick’s on the River, then to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, and ends at Channelside! There are plenty of viewing locations along the water, including Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and anywhere along the Riverwalk. You will not want to miss this beautiful spectacle of lights on the water.

6 • December 2017

Experience the stirring story of Christmas—as told by a celebrity narrator, and accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and massed choir. Each night in December, a celebrity narrator tells the biblical tale of a savior born to a virgin in Bethlehem. All the while, gorgeous choral pieces are woven into the production as an orchestra and choir provide an inspirational backdrop with songs of hope and joy.


A Pentatonix Christmas Deluxe

Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

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Nope. She apparently would never share something so boring as a school assignment with me. She can take care of those just fine on her own, thank you! This was actually a slide show titled, “My Christmas Wishes,” and it was addressed “to Santa and Mommy” with the request to “please take this into account.”

Parent to Parent My daughter, Haylee’s 5th grade class has been using Google Docs a lot this year for writing assignments, so when I received an email the other day stating that she had shared a presentation with me, I assumed it would be a school assignment.

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Following the title page were twelve slides with pictures of the gifts she wants for each of the “12 Days of Christmas” this year. We have been doing a modified version for a few years now, where we get each of the kids a small gift on each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas (instead of the traditional 12 days following Christmas). In addition to the picture on each slide, she also included comments at the bottom with details such as the website where each toy could be ordered, the price (including shipping where applicable), and on a few of them, the compelling reason why she needs that particular item (“I do not own my favorite movie,” for example). I guess it really isn’t all that unexpected. After all, this is the same kid who has been writing notes to the Tooth Fairy every time she loses a tooth, negotiating what she believes to be a fair price. She has asked for as much as $35 for one tooth.

But actually, with the exception of one gift – “For my official Christmas present I would like the amazon fire 8 HD kids edition as you know and the car headrest mount for all kindle tablets” – her requests are pretty inexpensive. They are mostly stuffed animals, and the grand total, according to her notes, would come to a little over $300. Considering that we have four kids, it’s still a tad high, and she doesn’t really need that many new stuffed animals anyways. So she’ll still have a handful of days where her gift is a box of candy or some bathtub crayons. But you certainly can’t fault the girl for trying! Until next time,


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to choose what is expedient over what is right. People who bend the rules to get ahead usually get caught in the long run. But even if they don’t get caught, they will always know how they made it to the top. And at some deep-down level, they’ll know that they’re frauds and that maybe they didn’t have what it took to accomplish such achievements on a level playing field.

CHARACTER DUNGY DIARIES So often there is such an emphasis on results that it doesn’t matter how you get them. Moving up is more important than the way you move up. It doesn’t matter what kind of person you are, just what kind of player you are. It doesn’t matter if you follow the rules or break them, just as long as you come out on top. After all, that’s what everyone will remember at the end of the day. That’s why we have to have steroid testing in the NFL. That’s why medals are

by Tony Dungy forfeited in the Olympics. Competitors have to ask themselves: Since everyone is doing it, if I want to have a legitimate chance, I have to do it too, right? There’s a total lack of character.

On these matters I always come back to this: What you do is not as important as how you do it. Those are the words that keep coming back to me when I am tempted

The other problem is that, at some point, somebody who does care how the game is played-a boss, a board of directors-may well find out. For me as an employer, how you do your job has always been more important than what you do. Can you be counted on to do things the right way? Do you have the appropriate habits to get you through a tough situation, or are you the type to cut corners and hope things turn out all right? Your character will determine the answer.

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Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

Do you have room in your heart and home for a waiting child?

Photo courtesy of Imagine Pro Photography

Joshua Age 10

Joshua loves being the life of the party! Don’t let the wheelchair fool you, Joshua enjoys the outdoors, bicycling, swimming and going to the park. He also enjoys reading, playing games on his Nintendo DS and his fidget spinner. Described as kind, happy and loving, it’s no surprise, Joshua wants to be a super hero someday. He also would like a dog. If Joshua could change the world, he would change all the bad people into good people. Joshua’s favorite foods are tacos, mac&cheese, and pizza. But he will pass on green bean casserole, onions and tomatoes. Joshua says what he wants from his ideal forever family is “to have someone love and care for me just the way I am.” He also says, he’s amazing, a feel-good friend and always follows the rules.


Tyshawn Age 12 The hospital can be a scary place for anyone, especially children. Big machines and doctors in masks can seem like monsters. At St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, we help kids and their parents get to know the monsters. Because once you understand them, the things that scare us aren’t so bad after all.


Friendly and outgoing, Tyshawn is known to light up a room with a calm, yet dynamic presence. He loves spending time with friends, but nothing surpasses his love for sports, especially football! Tyshawn also likes to tell jokes and his favorite food is pizza. Tyshawn has no preconceived ideas about what his forever family will look like, he just wants a loving family.

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Photo courtesy of Remember This Studio

For more information about the Heart Gallery visit or call 727-258-4806. December 2017 • 9

10 Ways to Have the Best Holiday Ever! The essence of a great family holiday season is found in the memories that are made by just being together and sharing joy. The stresses of shopping, functions to attend, and all of the other clutter are quickly forgotten. But, the happy memories will remain forever in the hearts of our families.

2  Christmas Movie Marathon: Another way to get in the spirit is to make your own festival in the living room. Break out the blankets and cookies and have a movie marathon. The Hallmark Channel offers an array of non-stop holiday movies, and of course there is always Netflix or Redbox.

To help you have the best holiday season ever, we offer these 10 ways and wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

3  Outdoor Activities: It’s too cold outside? So what! Get out there and have fun in the winter splendor. If you’re lucky enough to live in a cold climate, that means doing all the fun things that come with that like sledding, ice skating, and building snowmen. If you live in a warm climate, don’t be discouraged. Find an indoor skating rink or a festival that creates its own snow. Go play.

1  Parades and Festivals: There is no better place to ignite the Christmas spirit than to attend a holiday parade or a festival with the whole family. Cities and towns offer parades, snow fests, ice sculpting contests, sledding, hot chocolate, and all of the things we associate with the season depending on where you live. Check the calendars in your area for events and make it a family date.

4  Have a Christmas Craft Party: Allow the kids to invite their friends over and have a Christmas craft making party. Serve lots of treats and have fun creating items that will last for years to come. Pinterest and eHow offer lots of suggestions on easy crafts for kids to make. 5  Spend Time Serving and Giving Back: In order to keep our perspective in the proper context, we should also spend time serving and giving back to our communities during the holiday season. There are countless ways to do that as a family. 6  Learn About Other Traditions: Folks tend to get uptight about the phrase, “Happy Holidays,” but it’s there for a reason. There is more than one going on this time of year. Spend some time as a family learning the holiday traditions and gaining appreciation for other cultures. The more we understand

each other in this world, the more peace we foster– Peace on Earth. 7  Take a One-Tank Trip: Money is tight at Christmas for most, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do a little traveling. Research fun events going on in your region and take the family on a short getaway. Nothing creates lifelong memories more than a family trip. Who knows, maybe the world’s tallest snowman is only 2 hours from your house? 8  Cooking and Baking: Who can resist the smell of Christmas cookies baking in the oven filling the house? Get together as a family to cook, bake, and decorate a whole mess of holiday goodies. Be sure to make enough to give some away to friends and family! 9  Go Christmas Caroling: Yes, the stigma is what it is, and yes, some might find you annoying, but most will be blessed and your spirit will be infectious. Is there singing at the North Pole? Yes. So there should be at your house, too. To make it even more fun, get your family to dress in the costume of their favorite Christmas character. 10  Worship Together: What’s the point of all this celebrating if we don’t worship? Attend and participate in worship services throughout the season (and all year). Rejoice in the good news of the newborn King!

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Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

t a e r G It’s ! e t a e rmas Crafts to C ist Chr

Minnie Mouse Ornament

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1. Select a red bulb. 2. Take a black sharpie marker and draw a circle around the top third of the ornament. Then fill the circle with black marker. 3. Paint white dots on the bottom portion of the bulb. 4. Cut out two small circles from the black foam for the Minnie ears. You can use a quarter as a guide. 5. Take a ribbon and tie a bow. 6. Glue on the ears and the bow. 7. Hang your ornament on the tree!

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1. Create and cut out a silhouette of the manger scene using black construction paper or card stock. You can find many templates on the Internet. 2. Trace the manger onto a piece of Con-tact paper and cut it out. Cut out slightly smaller than the silhouette. 3. Cut up a bunch of little squares of colorful tissue paper. 4. Peel off the backing of the contact paper and begin to layer down all the pieces of tissue paper. 5. Tape or glue down the contact paper art to the back of the silhouette. Use a hook or string to hang on the tree.

To advertise, call 727-612-0783

1. Clean the glass light bulb with rubbing alcohol. 2. Next paint 2-3 coats of white paint over the entire bulb. 3. Allow time to dry between each coat to avoid paint drips. 4. Paint on the black tuxedo. 5. Paint on the penguin eyes, beak and sweet cheek blush. 6. For the hanger, knot a string into a loop and hot glue it to the cap of the bulb. December 2017 • 11

10 Tips for Keeping Your Teeth Extra Clean During Christmas Holidays by Dr. Nick Reynolds, Northeast Orthodontics

A beautiful, bright & white smile will always help you stay self-confident. Here are 10 tips for keeping your teeth extra clean during Christmas Holidays.

1. Eat right for whiter teeth.

If you are used to consuming coffee, black tea and on top of that you also smoke, chances are that your teeth look yellowish and spotted. After eating any foods that stain your teeth you should immediately brush them in order to avoid staining. Avoid dark juices, cola and gravies and get used to healthy snacks such as raw vegetables (apples, carrots, etc.) that help clean your teeth thoroughly.

2. Respect brushing times.

Latest researches have released a study according to which the perfect time for

brushing your teeth is two minutes. Two minutes are needed in order to cleanse your teeth from bacteria and harmful deposits. Use either a timer, or get used to humming a song such as “I Wish You A Merry Christmas” (it actually works!)

3. Use the brush lightly on your teeth.

There is a misconception that if you brush harder the teeth, you will cleanse them teeth better. Brush using circular movements, and by holding the brush at a 45 degree position against your gums.

5. Use only alcohol-free mouthwash.

your gums, use salt instead because it has the same whitening effect.

6. Always cleanse your tongue.

Make sure that you always have in handy a pair of scissors and bottle openers. Using your teeth for such purposes can break or chip them easily.

Rinses that contain alcohol dry your mouth excessively, and some studies have even proved that alcohol mouth washes increase the risk of oral cancer. Make sure to clean your tongue thoroughly in order to remove all the harmful bacteria deposits and to obtain a fresh breath. There are several professional brushes that come with a tongue scraper.

4. Tea is important for your teeth. 7. Use baking soda for Drink at least one cup every day, because tea contains important flavonoids and whiter teeth. fluoride that will prevent the bacteria from sticking to your teeth.

Use a small amount of baking soda to brush your teeth with it. Alternatively, if you feel that baking soda is rough on

8. Don’t use your teeth to open bottles or Christmas gifts with tear plastic covers.

9. Hydrate properly.

Make sure to drink one glass of water every hour while you are working. This way you will help flush all the harmful bacteria from your mouth, and you will also keep your digestive system healthy. The more water you drink, the healthier and whiter your teeth will be. Moreover, the risk for gum disease and cavities will also be significantly reduced.

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Morning Star School - Pinellas Park

10. Chew on cinnamon flavored gum.

Recent studies have shown that if you chew on cinnamon flavored gum the bacteria in your mouth will be significantly reduced. The main ingredient that helps doing this is called “cinnamic aldehyde” (essential oil that fights against the production of bacteria in the oral cavity). The first step toward achieving a beautiful, healthy smile is to schedule an appointment. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation, contact Northeast Orthodontic’s front office at (727) 954-3440. Northeast Orthodontics proudly serves families in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Gulfport, and the surrounding neighborhoods and communities in Pinellas County.

Dental Fun Fact

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. However, people who drink 3 or more glasses of soda daily have 62% more tooth decay, fillings and tooth loss than others. Every can of soda has 10–12 teaspoons of sugar — the recommended daily intake is 4 teaspoons.

To advertise, call 727-612-0783

December 2017 • 13

by Sonny Glover and Melody Gallion

Exposure / Advertising

period, which includes inspections and requests for concessions.

You want your home to get the maximum exposure to the greatest number of potential buyers. Your agent will prepare all the marketing materials, coordinate the Internet marketing, host open houses, and network regularly with other agents who may have interested buyers.


Selling your home is a major business transaction. The sale process has three significant negotiations: the initial offer, the counteroffer, and the postoffer

Bottom line: You need a skilled and objective negotiator on your side during these discussions.


The fastest and most affordable way to sell your house is to price it correctly. Price too high, and you risk your home’s becoming a stale listing. Price too low, and you lose money. Experienced agents know the nuances of your local market and how to price based on those specifics.


Having someone who represents you and makes sure everything is done ethically and legally to ensure the steps are completed smooth and successfully. For most people, this is the single most expensive purchase in your life and you want to make sure everything is done correctly.

Up To Date Market Expertise

Real estate agents can disclose market conditions, which will govern the selling or buying process. Many factors determine how you will proceed. Data

Sonny Glover

As a Florida native, who was born and raised in the area, I can offer you local expertise that will streamline your home shopping or selling experience. My 7 years of previous luxury sales experience helps you get the best price for your home and delivers value to buyers, as well.

such as the average per square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on market and ratios of list-to-sold prices, among other criteria, will have a huge bearing on what you ultimately decide to do.

Melody Gallion

Sonny 813-321-9946 Melody 727-453-0039

Melody Gallion’s number one priority is her clients. She cares about every person she works with. Her main objective is listening to what her customers want and need in a home and finding a match! Her previous education and employment have lead her through natural progression to the best place she could ever be—A Career in Real Estate. Let her knowledge in buying and selling homes, decorating, remodeling properties, and general expertise in the real estate market go to work for you. She can make your experience in buying or selling a home the best you will ever have, because…she is dedicated to just that!

Feather Sound Smiles Dr Amir Daoud, DDS BDS

Restorative, Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry

St. Paul United Methodist Church NOW ENROLLING for


Son Kissed Preschool

2325 Ulmerton Rd Ste 27 Clearwater FL 33762

727-561-0800 14 • December 2017

Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

Ages 2–Pre-K Free VPK Operating for 21 years Safe, nurturing environment with professionally trained teachers

Licence #C900709


Reasons to Hire a Century 21 Realtor to Sell Your Home

Full-time (7am – 6pm) & half-day (9am – noon) We believe that children grow and prosper in an atmosphere of love and understanding.

If you have questions about 1199 Highland Ave. N.E. Largo, Florida 33770 our school, please call


Free Comparative Market Analysis On Your Home!

Planning for Holiday Stress–You’ve Got This by Amy Alexander

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it’s time to think about your holiday dinner, trimmings, shopping, pie – and everything else the holiday season brings. Although, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, some consider it to be the most stressful. So, in the hustle and bustle, what can you do to stay healthy, stress-free and keep heading towards your fitness goals?

1. Be realistic. Don’t put a tremendous amount of pressure


Even if you are not planning on buying or selling right away you still need to know the value of the largest asset in your financial portfolio… your home! Call Melody & Sonny to schedule your appointment today.

727-453-0039 (or) 813-321-9946 Each Office is Independently Owned and Operated.

Pinellas Preparatory Academy, Inc Award Winning Art Departments Music / Spanish / Athletics Challenging Curriculum Afterschool Clubs Technology Integration

2300 S. Belcher Road, Largo, FL 33771

Call 727-536-3600 to schedule a school tour.

PPA is a high performing, tuition free, public charter school for highly motivated students in grades K-8. Our highly trained, award winning teachers offer a private school education in a family atmosphere.

Now accepting applications for 2016-2017

Application deadline for lottery is April 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm. To advertise, call 727-612-0783

on yourself to make the holidays perfect. Do what you can. Make realistic plans and focus on enjoying time with friends and family. As you celebrate, remember to exercise. Go for a run outside or take a group fitness class at a gym like Lifestyle Family Fitness — working out is a great way to relieve stress. This will keep you on track to reach your goals and give you a nice head start to your fitness resolutions.

2. Organize and budget. Make a list of what you need

to do or purchase. Set a budget for yourself and stay within that budget. A lot of stress comes from overextending yourself financially. Start shopping now — you’ll beat the crowds and it’s a great way to get in an extra workout by walking the mall!

3. Exercise and eat healthy. It’s too easy to let everything go during the holidays. Ever heard yourself saying, “I’m too busy, I’ll start eating healthy after the New Year.” Between co-workers and family tempting you with candy, pies and other heavenly treats that show up uninvited, you can really pack on the pounds if you’re not careful. Don’t give in. Why not keep your fitness goals you worked so hard for during the other months? Indulge in the sweets and treats, but set a limit for yourself and stick to it. Make a plan, ditch the second trip to the dessert table and stay active to burn excess calories and reduce stress. After all, the holidays are a time to be thankful, not stressful! Remember, YOU are important! Take care of yourself, have fun and enjoy the season — and you’ll see the benefits of your hard work and get a head start on reaching your New Year’s Fitness Resolution! Amy Alexander is an ACSM certified personal trainer and RPM instructor. December 2017 • 15

Dave Ramsey’s

say no to keep yourself sane. Shopping for gifts is more fun when you’re not completely stressed out. 2  Not having a budget written down. Before you make a gift list and head to the mall, set aside a reasonable amount of money for gifts. Make a commitment that you won’t add $20 to the fund just because you saw something cute that your niece would love.

Christmas Shopping Mistakes

We’ve all paid the “stupid tax,” making costly decisions with zeros on the end. And a lot of those decisions happen when we’re caught up in the emotion of the Christmas season and procrastinate a little too long. Make this year different than before! Here are the top 10 Christmas shopping mistakes and how you can act differently: 1  Not prioritizing. Instead of getting stressed out with all the parties, baking and shopping in addition to your normal daily life, set some priorities before you’re bombarded with a million requests. Think about what things are “must do” and which are “would be nice to do.” It’s all right to

3  Using credit cards. Once you have your budgeted amount of money, stay away from credit cards! You will still spend 12-18% more if you use plastic and you’ll be paying it off come next year! Doesn’t paying with cash and going on about your day sound more relaxing than having a credit card balance looming over your head through the holidays? You betcha. 4  Buying for everyone. Do you really need to buy gifts for every family member and friend you have? That can get overwhelming and expensive for everyone. Talk with them about this and work toward an agreement to draw names for gifts or donate money to a common cause.

5  Not listening. Listen to the hints your loved ones drop about what they need or want this year. Maybe your Aunt Sally mentioned in July that she would love someone to help her in the garden or cousin Bob keeps losing guitar picks. A thoughtful gift like this will mean a lot to the person. 6  Not having a thought-out list on paper. If you think you can spend time in “Christmas retail world” and not get distracted by all the shiny toys, you’re in for a big surprise! You’ll be more likely to buy impulsively if you do it that way. Write down what each person you’re buying for would like and stick to the list. Stay focused! 7  Not shopping around. “Shopping around” doesn’t mean you have to spend 24 extra hours running from store to store to save 10 cents. Take a look at your gift list and do some comparative price-checking online before you head out into the retail and traffic madness. This will save you money, time and stress! 8  Waiting until the last minute. Giving the gift of procrastination is

not the most appealing gift out there. Don’t find yourself stressed out on Christmas Eve just because you didn’t invest a little bit of time to plan.

9  Forgetting to plan for next year. Be on the lookout for outrageous sales on things your loved ones will need throughout the next year. If you time the sales just right and clip some coupons, you could land a major discount on something you were going to buy in a few months for a birthday or wedding gift. Remember to have a list and budget for this, too. 10  Forgetting why we celebrate. If this season becomes all about shopping and gifts, you’ve missed the whole point. People—not things—matter. The miraculous birth of a baby who changed the world is what matters. Used with permission from

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Send Christmas flower arrangements or gifts to St. Petersburg, FL or nationwide with Hamiltons Florist. We have a wide selection of wreaths, centerpieces and bouquets for Christmas decoration and Christmas gifts!

First Baptist Preschool Center

For more information (727) 544-9465 5495 Park Blvd. Pinellas Park

Free registration with this coupon.* A $100 value.

* Preschool only

16 • December 2017

Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

voice | piano | guitar | Drums | Uke | Rock Band | Hip Hop | Lyrical | Tap | Combo | improv | Sketch Comedy | Writing | Directing | Audition | Music Theatre

15% OFF

1st two months = Just $22 per week

Call to register for group and private lesson opportunities designed to build confidence, teach accountability, and develop skills your child will use for life!

New Class!

Disney Debut: Song & Dance program Live out your favorite Disney classics through Lyrical dance choreography, Broadway style singing, musical theatre, and the magic of Disney!

727-393-7625 *New student discount is for students not enrolled in the prior 12 months. Discount is for one class per child enrolled. Annual membership not discounted.

voice | piano | guitar | Drums | Uke | Rock Band | Hip Hop | Lyrical | Tap | Combo | improv | Sketch Comedy | Writing | Directing | Audition | Music Theatre

Music Lessons

8 Favorite Christmas Eve Traditions

I was talking to a friend of mine this morning whose children are grown and out on their own. My question had to do with whether or not to keep doing one of our annual holiday traditions when it seemed my kids were being pulled to participate in other things, in other directions. “Do not stop your Christmas Eve traditions,” she said. “Traditions are so important; you’ll see it more as time goes by. And once you stop them, it’s very difficult to start them again.”

church together is a year-round family staple, there’s something uniquely moving about the dim lighting, the glow of the candles, and the words of the age-old Christmas hymns.

Every family celebrates special holidays in their own way. Christmas Eve is no exception with families incorporating a wide variety of traditions from the sacred to the sentimental. Here are a few of our favorites. Maybe they’ll inspire you to start a new tradition this year with the ones you love!

5. Caroling the neighborhood. What better way to spread Christmas cheer than to serenade the neighbors? Who knows? If you’re good enough, there might be hot cocoa and cookies in it for you!

1. Pajama game. In more than a few families we talked to, each family member is allowed to open just one gift on Christmas Eve. Several of these same families know exactly what they’re opening: snuggly Christmas pajamas. This traditional kickoff to the giving and receiving of gifts gets everyone set for bed and looking cute for Christmas morning photos. 2. Christmas Eve hot chocolate and Christmas stories. Before your little elves head off to bed, spend part of the evening drinking hot chocolate and sharing Christmas stories. 3. Candlelight communion. Many of our families treasure memories of attending a candlelight service on Christmas Eve with some even taking communion. While attending

To advertise, call 727-612-0783

4. Sibling slumber party. The anticipation of Christmas morning can bring together a group of siblings like little else. Some maximize the fun by sleeping together in one room. It’s fun to have someone to whisper to while listening for reindeer hooves on the roof!

6. Stuffer scramble. One family reported a hilarious tradition that started on the parents’ first Christmas together: Having just married 6 days earlier, they realized they had no “stocking stuffers” for one another. In a panic, they set out for Kmart and had only 15 minutes until closing to come up with unique, funny gifts for one another. It was so much fun, they’ve done it every year since— on purpose! 7. A scattered, dashed, covered, and smothered Christmas. If your Christmas Eve service makes a big family meal difficult, you could join the ranks of families who enjoy a holiday meal at Waffle House! It’s one of the few places open on this holiday and makes for a low-stress, budget-friendly meal on the way home. Because nothing says celebration like syrup. 8. Light ‘em up. Light up another family’s Christmas Eve by playing elf. One family we polled does this on their Waffle House stop by secretly paying someone else’s check. Then they leave the restaurant and watch from the car. They love seeing the joy and surprise on the face of the unsuspecting diners when they learn it’s “on the house.” You can also light up the night for someone who has to work on Christmas Eve, such as a pharmacist at a 24-hour drugstore or a gas station attendant. December 2017 • 17

18 • December 2017

Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

20 Great Things You Can Get For Free On Your Birthday The great thing about your birthday (other than the cake and presents) is that lots of stores, restaurants, and other businesses want to celebrate with you by giving you free stuff! If you want to take full advantage of your special day by loading up on freebies, we have the list for you!

While most places will require you to sign up for a rewards card or email newsletter to get your birthday bonuses, some don’t ask for anything—except for proof that it’s your birthday. We’ve come up with a list of 20 great places that offer the best free stuff on your birthday. 1. The Cheesecake Factory: Free mini hot fudge sundae (and birthday song) 2. Cracker Barrel: Free dessert (and birthday song) with purchase of a meal 3. Denny’s: Free Original Grand Slam breakfast: two eggs, two sausage links, two bacon strips, and two pancakes

Coupon not valid with any other offer, one per visit. Expires 1/31/18. Good at St Petersburg loca�on only.

4. The Melting Pot: Bring a friend and enjoy a chocolate fondue for two. 5. Dunkin’ Donuts: Free drink of your choice (excluding bottled beverages) 6. Baskin Robbins: Free scoop of ice cream on your birthday 7. Cold Stone Creamery: BOGO (buy one, get one) ice cream coupon every year on your birthday 8. Krispy Kreme: Free donut and free small coffee (or beverage of your choice) on your birthday 9. Rita’s Italian Ice: Free regular Italian Ice on your birthday

10. Starbucks: Free drink or food item on your birthday 11. AMC Theatres: Free large popcorn on your birthday

Coupon not valid with any other offer, one per visit. Expires 1/31/18. Good at St Petersburg loca�on only.

12. Medieval Times: Free admission to their castle for dinner and a jousting tournament with the purchase of one adult admission 13. Redbox: Free one-day movie rental

Just remember to bring along your ID with you to take advantage of freebies, or sign up at least a few weeks ahead of time to enjoy freebies that are offered for signing up as a customer or for a rewards program.

14. Firehouse Subs: Free medium sub 15. Applebee’s: Free dessert shooter on your birthday 16. Chili’s: Free dessert on your birthday 17. IHOP: Free meal on your birthday 18. Outback Steakhouse: Free birthday dessert with meal purchase 19. Red Robin: Free birthday burger during your birthday month; choose from over 24 gourmet burgers 20. Ruby Tuesday: Free burger or garden bar entrée on your birthday

Coupon not valid with any other offer, one per visit. Expires 1/31/18. Good at St Petersburg loca�on only.

To advertise, call 727-612-0783

December 2017 • 19

Your Neighborhood Favorite Since 1974…


We all know that eating out often can add up! So, it’s important to know where the best deals are for the family. Here are some great places in the Tampa Bay area that are family friendly and are offering some great specials.


13050 Park Blvd.





Banquet Room Available

9119 Belcher Road DINE IN DELIVERY



Family Owned and Operated for over 40 Years!!!


$5.00 OFF

any purchase of $25 or more!

with any other special, Please present coupon when ordering. Not valid ugh 1-31-18. Limited to one Discount, promotion or coupon. Enjoy thro y’s locations in Pinellas Coupon per household. Good at participating Sonn GCF and Hillsborough Counties Only.

20 • December 2017

Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

FRESH FOOD FAST Dine-In or Drive-Thru Catering US

49th St. N.


Park Blvd.

4601 Park Blvd. Pinellas Park, FL 33781 Catering: 727-362-1007

Catering Available for Tenders, Sandwiches, Salads Spend over $100 in catering With this ad. Valid at Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg PDQ only. Expires 1/31/2018.



Valid at Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg PDQ only. Expires 1/31/2018.

To advertise, call 727-612-0783

Valid at Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg PDQ only. Expires 1/31/2018.

December 2017 • 21

in the kitchen

We all know the drill: Put on your PJs, read “The Night Before Christmas,” place a pile of freshly baked cookies on a plate by the tree, along with a glass of cold milk, and then head to bed to count sheep for what feels like forever. With this fun Christmas tradition in mind, we have selected two great cookie recipes for you to try with your little chefs that Santa will not be able to resist - no matter what Mrs. Claus has to say! So this December, leave Santa something homemade and whip up one of these delicious Christmas cookie recipes.

Monster Cookies

• 2 eggs • ⅔ cup sugar • 1 cup peanut butter • ½ cup chocolate chips • ⅓ cup butter • 1 tbsp. vanilla • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda • ½ cup chopped nuts • ⅔ cup brown sugar • 2 tbsp. corn syrup • 3 cups quick-cooking oats • ½ cup M&Ms candies 1. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Mix well. 2. Add vanilla, corn syrup, and peanut butter. Mix well. 3. Add baking soda and oats. Mix well. 4. Add chocolate chips, nuts, and M&Ms. Mix just until combined. 5. F  or large cookies, drop by ¼-cupfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake 18 to 20 minutes at 325 degrees. Bake smaller cookies at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

Cool Kids Cook

Free Drink With Purchase


Limit 1 coupon per person. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Expires 12/31/18.

Buy 1 get 1 ½ off Valid from 4–6pm

Come enjoy a delightful homestyle meal!

½ off second entreé of equal or lesser value. Limit 1 coupon per person.Cannot be combined with any other offer. Expires 12/31/18.

4871 Park Street N. St. Petersburg FL


22 • December 2017


727-545-3057 Catering and Take Out available Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

Offering homestyle meals made from quality ingredients for more than 27 years.

Breakfast served all day Located on Starkey and Bryan Dairy in the Bardmoor shopping center next to Publix.

10801 Starkey Rd. (727) 397-9251

Happy. Secure. Inspired. Students with a 504 Plan or IEP may now qualify for a McKay Scholarship!

• Since 1968 • Grades 4-12 • SACS Accredited • ADHD & LD • Caring Staff

Triple Chocolate Cookies • ½ cup butter • ⅔ cup semi-sweet • 1 tsp. vanilla extract • 1 tsp. baking soda • ½ cup brown sugar chocolate chips • 1 cup flour • ½ tsp. salt • ¼ cup sugar • 1 egg • ¼ cup cocoa • 1 cup white chocolate chips 1. Beat butter, brown sugar, and sugar in a large mixing bowl until creamy. 2. Melt semi-sweet chips in a microwave safe bowl for 1 to 2 minutes at 70% power, stirring every 15 seconds. Add to sugar mixture and mix well.


Riverview Pinellas Park Palm Harbor

813 909-9442 813 677-7777 727 541-5716 727 781-2986

3. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well. 4. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. 5. Add white chocolate chips. Mix just until combined. 6. For large cookies, drop by ¼-cupfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake 16 to 18 minutes at 325 degrees. Bake smaller cookies at 350 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes.

Accepting Ages 2 – 6 and FREE Immediate space available all ages Tours available Monday – Friday from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. Call to schedule your tour today! Convinently located serving Clearwater, Countryside, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Safety Harbor

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To advertise, call 727-612-0783

December 2017 • 23

25 Sights of Christmas


Christmas Town at Busch Gardens

’Tis the season for family traditions! Busch Gardens Tampa’s Christmas Town, the Bay area’s biggest Christmas celebration, is returning this year and is now included with any annual pass, Fun Card or daily admission to the park. Even Busch Gardens’ most familiar fans will barely recognize the portions of the park that convert to Christmas Town through special entertainment, live music, festive treats, holiday shopping and Christmas lights everywhere!

Christmas is a time for family, joy, fun – and lots of Smiles! Now we know that the weather outside may not be frightful, but Christmas in Florida can be so delightful. While balmy breezes and swaying palms may not be everyone’s idea of a typical Christmas, Floridians have found some pretty unique ways to celebrate the season. And, for those who just can’t do without ice and snow, we have that too… we even have a town named Christmas! So if you need a little coaxing to get into the spirit of the season, then take your family to one of these merry and bright destinations and watch the smiles grow!

This year, with more than a million twinkling lights, Christmas Town transforms the park into a nighttime holiday wonderland of wintery surprises and all things Christmas, filling guests’ senses with seasonal sights, sounds and flavors, and continuing a beautiful tradition for Tampa’s families. Plus, beloved characters from the television special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”™ return with Christmas


Town’s debut of Sam the Snowman. The Christmas cheer begins on select dates from Thanksgiving through Dec. 31. What’s even better than that? A portion of the proceeds from Christmas Town will benefit All Children’s Hospital here in the Bay area. Guests can experience all of the Christmas celebrations throughout the day, and park closing times will range from 8pm to 10pm throughout the event. For ticket information visit events/christmas-town/

St. Augustine Nights of Lights

There is always a lot happening in St. Augustine. Ramp it up 1,000 times and you have St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights Festival—2 months of 3 million Christmas lights, magical memories and a heck of a lot of fun!


This year’s dates run from December 1st to January 31st. With a display that is ranked as Top 10 in the WORLD, St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights is a must see and a whole lot of fun. For more information visit

HOMES.RQ@GMAIL.COM 727-251-3501


Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper


Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Celebrate the magic of the holiday season with your family at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a special event held select nights in December at Magic Kingdom theme park! With Christmas Carols in the air, special holiday entertainment, and a spectacular version of the Wishes fireworks themed to the evening’s festivities, you’ll experience an unforgettable evening. The party begins at 6:00 and ends at midnight. For more information visit


Christmas at Gaylord Palms

Even as the sun shines bright with no snowflakes insight, Christmas at Gaylord Palms kicks off the season this December with Santa, snow, and so much more. With exciting new additions and the return of favorite experiences, the Kissimmee resort becomes the ideal place to celebrate the holidays in Central Florida. During Christmas at Gaylord Palms, your family will marvel at lavish holiday displays that include more than 2 million twinkling Christmas lights and acres of larger-than-life decorations. Enjoy visits with Santa, an all NEW Cirque Dreams UnWrapped Live Stage Show, ICE! featuring Christmas Around the World, Christmas Traditions with Mrs. Claus and if that’s not enough, wander through the atrium’s lush gardens (over 500,000 plants) sprinkled with poinsettias and other grand holiday displays. To schedule your visit go to

To advertise, call 727-612-0783


LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular

Bring in the holiday season with a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree made of thousands of LEGO and DUPLO bricks, festive decorations, a life-size LEGO Santa, reindeer and sleigh, holiday-themed scavenger hunts with prizes and opportunities to build with LEGO alongside Master Model Builders. Meet LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldier during daily park appearances and end the evening with a not-so-silent-night fireworks spectacular set to classic Christmas melodies. With more than 50 rides, shows and attractions all dedicated to families with children age 2 to 12 and one of the widest selections of LEGO products available, LEGOLAND Florida is a great place to celebrate the season and pick up the Christmas gifts that are on every child’s wish list – LEGO! For more information visit

December 2017 • 25

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The Nutcracker presented by the Next Generation Ballet

Wind the clock, mind the mouse, and get ready for the Tampa Bay area’s stand-out production of Clara’s great dream in The Land of the Sweets. Next Generation Ballet’s delightful, inventive Nutcracker has become the crown jewel of a glittering holiday performance season. The production features internationally-renowned principal dancers from Miami City Ballet and New York City Ballet onstage with NGB’s award-winning young dancers. This family-friendly favorite transports audiences to a fantastical place where magic fills the theater, toys come to life and visions of Sugar Plum Fairies dance in your head.

This Nutcracker is a standout among many. For ticket information visit


ANDY BROWN INSURANCE Get a free quote online from your smart phone or computer!

West Bay Drive 727-586-1601 2401 Largo, FL 33770

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Welcome Home.

 oliday H Boat Parades

There’s nothing that beats the pleasures of Florida living like enjoying a boat parade in tee-shirts, shorts and flipflops while the rest of the nation is just digging in for a long, cold winter. Here in the Tampa Bay area every December families have an opportunity to take in some of the biggest and best boat parades in the country. Three of our favorites are the St. Petersburg Illuminated Boat Parade at Vinoy Park scheduled for December 9th, the Treasure Island Holiday Boat Parade scheduled for December 15th and the Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Boat Parade scheduled for December 23rd. For detailed information on these parades visit


Mark Sanchez REALTOR® Mobile: 727-488-1419 Email:

 ictorian V Christmas Stroll

Come experience the innocence and charm of a Victorian Christmas. Escape the commercialism and stress of a modern Christmas and capture the warmth and joy of an old-fashioned holiday with your loved ones at the Henry B. Plant Museum’s 36th annual Victorian Christmas Stroll. The Victorian Christmas Stroll preserves the essence of an old-fashioned Christmas and is treasured as one of Tampa’s most popular family tradition. For information visit

Proudly serving the Real Estate needs of Pinellas County. 26 • December 2017

Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

12 9

Edison and Ford Holiday Nights

During the holidays the homes and gardens of Thomas and Mina Edison and Henry and Clara Ford are seasonally decorated and visitors have the option of taking a self guided tour or a guided tour with an Estates site historian. The Edison and Ford Holiday Nights includes nightly entertainment by school and community groups, culinary demonstrations, book signings and appearances by artists, and the “Children’s Tree Trail” a forest of trees decorated by Lee County Students. The Estates Museum and Edison Botanic Research Lab will also be open during the event. For more information visit


Santa’s Workshop at MOSI

The best gifts in the world are the ones that are made from the heart. This December, give your kids the opportunity to create something special. MOSI’s Idea Zone has been transformed into Santa’s satellite toy workshop. Kids of all ages can design and create cool stocking stuffers and gifts for their parents and grandparents in preparation for the big day. Santa’s Workshop is included with MOSI admission and free for MOSI members.

Holiday Lights in the Gardens

The annual “Holiday Lights in the Gardens” is a seasonal escape into a wonderland of twinkling lights and fun entertainment. Over 1 million LED lights shining throughout our Botanical Gardens highlighting our plants and in nature-themed or holiday-themed light displays. This is a family-friendly event with nightly entertainment, including visits with Santa. For times visit


Florida Aquarium’s Holiday FantaSea




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This December, experience a new “Holiday FantaSea” when you bring your family and friends to celebrate the holidays at the Florida Aquarium. Santa and his diving elves are coming to town on select Saturdays in December and from December 26th to 30th the Florida Aquarium will have a play area featuring real snow for the kids. There will also be magnificent holiday light shows and a mesmerizing displays. For information visit


To advertise, call 727-612-0783



December 2017 • 27

15 13

Christmas in the Wild

Rudolph The  Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Musical

The beloved TV classic Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. Come see all of your favorite characters from the special including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph, as they come to life in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer The Musical. It’s an adventure that teaches us that what makes you different can be what makes you special. Don’t miss this wonderful holiday tradition that speaks to the misfit in all of us. For ticket information visit

The Zoo is brimming with holiday cheer as Christmas in the Wild returns with even more twinkling lights and jolly surprises! Experience 18 wild and wonderful nights. Enjoy seasonal treats, enchanting entertainment and a 50-foot animated Christmas tree! Best of all, visit Santa in his Tree Top Lodge and marvel at the magic of wildlife at night. For more information visit



Oakdale Christmas House

This home display was once named one of the top-three Christmas lights displays in the U.S. by the “Today Show” and has appeared on HGTV. More than half a million lights, including a 70-foot-tall Christmas tree and more than 700 animated or moving objects will be on display, 6-10 p.m., every night until Jan. 2. Admission is free. The house is located at 2719 Oakdale St. S. in St. Petersburg.

Just days before Christmas, The Florida Orchestra and the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay will perform Handel’s Messiah with its famous “Hallelujah” chorus at two large churches (Idlewild Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks) and the Mahaffey Theater. George Frideric Handel’s Messiah has mesmerized audiences since its debut in 1742 in Dublin. The oratorio based on scripture is in English and was originally an Easter offering. Now it’s a fixture at Christmastime in churches and concert halls around the world. Discover why Handel’s divine masterpiece has awed audiences for 275 years and become a holiday favorite around the world. For ticket information visit

28 • December 2017


Put a little mischief in your merry when Universal Orlando Resort™ takes the holiday season to new heights with an all-new lineup of festivities in their parks and beyond. Experience Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are transformed with wondrous spirit. Watch the live retelling of Dr. Seuss’s classic holiday tale starring The Grinch as the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular returns. Merry and Mayhem combine as the Minions join Santa Claus in the all-new Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. You’ve never had a holiday like this. For more information visit

The Florida Orchestra presents Handel’s Messiah


All-New Holidays At  Universal Orlando Resort

Symphony of Lights

The Shops at Wiregrass invites you to see the BRAND NEW Symphony in Lights presented by Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel! Enjoy a lively array of dancing lights, dazzling décor, and snow too! Symphony in Lights is an amazing holiday light show, choreographed to music featuring the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and selections from our guests. With an amazing new tree, new RGB lights, new stereo sound and of course snow too, this is a holiday tradition you will not want to miss! For show times and directions visit

Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper


Cirque Musica  Holiday presents Believe

Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular is a fun-filled family holiday event featuring the cast of Cirque Musica together with all-time favorite holiday songs performed by a live orchestra. Cirque Musica is a concert and visual experience where audiences journey into a world of high-flying adventure with amazing acrobats, aerialists, hilarious hijinks and holiday cheer, too! The show blends the spell-binding grace and dare-devil athleticism of today’s greatest circus performers with the sensory majesty of the greatest holiday music of all time. This is the perfect opportunity for the entire family to experience great Holiday music LIVE while enjoying an edge of your seat circus experience. For ticket information visit



Winter Village – Downtown Tampa

22 Celebrate the holiday season in Downtown Tampa at the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park. Located along the Tampa Riverwalk, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is transformed with the sights, sounds and activities of the holidays for children and adults of all ages. Featuring Tampa’s only outdoor ice rink, the Winter Village welcomes families and friends to share in this holiday tradition with a view of the beautiful Tampa Riverwalk and Hillsborough River. Whether you are a first-timer, or an experienced skater, the Winter Village Ice Rink is a must-do activity this holiday season. For more information visit


A Charlie Brown Christmas Live!

The Emmy® and Peabody award-winning story by Charles M. Schulz has been a longstanding tradition, warming the hearts of millions of fans since it first aired on television over 50 years ago. Now, the live on stage adaptation of the classic animated television special brings all your favorite characters to life - all set to the unforgettable sounds of the Vince Guaraldi musical score. Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the Peanuts gang in their journey to uncover the true meaning of Christmas. For ticket information visit

Performed by students in grades 2-12, Ebeneezer Scrooge and his ghostly encounters come to life in this lavish and thrilling stage adaptation. With an infuriated “Bah! Humbug!” Scrooge summates his feelings of Christmas tidings and charitable giving, but he’s forced to face his selfish ways when three ghosts on Christmas Eve lead him through his Past, Present and Future. For ticket information visit


Winter’s Wonderland at CMA

Join Winter for a splashingly great holiday celebration at Clearwater Marine Aquarium! Guests can get their photo taken with the Winter Claus mascot, can experience a Winter Wonderland with lights and décor all around, see the holiday themed habitats for all the resident animals and enjoy the Christmas Kids Fun Zone. Also, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy extended hours on select night for Sea of Lights. Sea of Lights will be from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. on select dates with $9.99 admission starting after 4 p.m. The Sea of Lights Boat Cruise will take you around Clearwater Bay to see the holiday lights by boat for $9.99. For more information visit

P  atel Conservatory Presents A Christmas Carol


All Children’s Hospital Toy Drive

Christmas Services

For many families living in the Tampa Bay area Christmas is one of the most important holy holidays of the year. It is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and it will be celebrated throughout the area by many churches and ministries, all highlighting ‘the reason for the season. This Christmas, let’s follow the example of Linus’ in the Peanuts classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and focus on the real meaning of Christmas. If you are looking for a church to attend, we encourage you to check out our Church Directory on our website,

It’s the most wonderful time of the year... unless it’s not. For many children and their parents, this time of year may be depressing, stressful or simply go by unnoticed due to more pressing problems. Here locally there are many kids who have to spend the holidays in the hospital. According to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital website, “A gift of toys, games or activity supplies can make a big difference to children and families spending time in the hospital.” At John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, you and your family can donate new, unused toys in the hospital lobby. To learn more about what items are needed visit

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December 2017 • 29

Cardio Kickboxing: An Intensely FUN Class

By Ana Frias

Cardio kickboxing refers to a fitness class delivered and practiced in groups, where a combination of fastpaced cardio and martial art techniques is applied. It’s often referred as an intense, high-energy workout that tackles beginners and pro athletes alike. Cardio kickboxing results can be measured in a number of ways, especially by building stamina, increasing flexibility, improving coordination and – the most sought of all – burning calories while building strong, lean muscles. Our Kickboxing program is known as a popular fitness program that replaces the need for heavy exercise equipment to get the best of a workout. Cardio kickboxing is a full-body workout that targets every part of your body and has become one of the most popular methods for fitness classes. The discipline is the perfect and balanced combination of aerobics; this type of regime focuses on increasing heart rate, thus, burning more fat and calories in a shorter time span. You can expect to burn as many as 350 to 450 calories in a one-hour class. The kickboxing classes in St Petersburg FL program also include a good, medium-paced warm up and cool down interval – great for muscle recovery – and both dynamic and static stretching. We also include a more-focused interval, aimed at working the core with crunches and planks.

Another good thing about taking cardio kickboxing, is that you don’t need previous experience to practice the sport. Everyone, with or without training experience, is welcome! Furthermore, working out with a group at our kickboxing program has an accountability factor, helps build new relationships and encourages a healthy sense of competition.

These fitness classes are full of fun! Unlike a traditional martial arts class, the music that sets the mood for the workout, adds to your stimulation and motivation. Our kickboxing classes go by fast and they are highly enjoyable, making you forget about the actual workout and focusing on the fun part.

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Despite the name (which can scare people away when they don’t know what it implies), cardio kickboxing is a non-contact program. All the punches and kicks that you throw, are directed into the air, and sometimes onto pads.

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Cardio kickboxing is an ideal program within the fitness classes. This choice is good for those looking to burn calories for weight loss, or to improve stamina and heart health. If you tend to become bored or tired of the same stationary cardio equipment in your gym or at home (treadmills, steppers, etc), you will definitely enjoy the rapid movements and fast rhythm of a cardio kickboxing class.


30 • December 2017

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These types of fitness classes have a positive impact on your heart. Taking part in a cardio routine improves heart conditions and allow a paced fat loss. Excess body fat has often been associated with having a higher risk of heart failure or disease, diabetes and eating disorders. A good cardio kickboxing class will challenge your physique, by targeting your endurance, resistance, strength and concentration. One should know that, practicing cardio kickboxing is not only physical, but that half the battle is mental. You will need to focus on movements that make up a good combination.

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Say Hello To Our Newest (And Cutest) Animal Ambassador Emily C., Busch Gardens

This past November, was Orangutan Caring Month, a global initiative to raise awareness about the plight of critically endangered orangutans. While Busch Gardens Tampa has been hosting an Orangutan Caring event for the past few years, this year the park had another reason to celebrate: their newest addition! As you may have heard, Busch Gardens recently welcomed a healthy baby boy into their orangutan family. Busch Gardens participates in the Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a managed breeding program for orangutans in accredited zoos. An SSP is kind of like online dating for endangered species! Because the gene pool is reduced due to the low population of an endangered species, the SSP coordinates diversification of a gene pool. Busch Gardens currently participates in over 30 SSPs! The main job of an SSP coordinator is to figure out which animals are the best genetic matches. Of course,

the animals have the final say in how well those matches have been made! Luna Bela, the park’s 20 year-old bachelorette, said “no” to two different suitors who traveled to meet her! Her most recent match was with a younger guy, Madju, a goofy redhead who traveled all the way from the Auckland Zoo in New Zealand to meet her. Luna and Madju hit it off immediately! Their playful personalities meshed perfectly, and it wasn’t long before we learned Luna was expecting! Much to everyone’s delight, soon after Luna delivered, it was immediately apparent that Luna had every intention of caring for her baby! She hugged him close, kissed his head, and frequently lay on her back with his chin resting on her nose, staring at his face. Luna wasn’t entirely sure about how to nurse the baby at first, but with some gentle coaching from the team, she quickly figured it out. She has become very proud of him, and seems to enjoy bringing him over to show us!

Watching Luna interact with her baby is nothing short of heartwarming. She often sits gazing into his face or holding his hand in hers. She has surpassed everyone’s expectations and is a phenomenal mother. Orangutans are expected to be extinct in the wild in 10 years. That’s right, 10 years. The main threat to orangutans is unsustainable palm oil production. Forests are cut and burned down to make room for palm oil plantations. Palm oil is found in almost everything we use, and about 50% of what you find in the grocery store contains this ingredient. There are sustainable ways to produce palm oil, but how do you tell the difference? You can actually use your smart phone! Simply search “palm oil” in the app store on your phone, and download one of the free sustainable shopping apps, which will help you determine which products

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are orangutan-friendly. When you shop orangutan-friendly, you are also helping out tigers, Asian rhino species, Asian elephants, gibbons, and more! It’s a simple way that you can help orangutans just by doing something you already do! Did you know that visiting the Busch Gardens parks also supports our SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund? Through the Fund, the park supports many conservation projects helping many different endangered species, including orangutans. So, come meet Busch Garden’s newest addition and support wildlife conservation at the same time!

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December 2017 • 31

Beat the Winter Blues

Inspire Your Child to Learn with These Helpful Tips

Countryside High students win Congressional App Challenge William West, Jacob Siegel, Jason Davenport, and Theo Jeffers are students in Countryside’s Game Design program. The students created an app called Procrastin8 that helps students to use their time wisely by not procrastinating. Students enter their course information into the app, and times that they are free to study, the app reminds them to do homework and study during those times. The app was created using Android Studio.

to be selected for recognition by their Member of Congress, win prizes, and have their work put on display in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. As result of winning the challenge, the Countryside High students were visited by Congressman Gus Bilirakis. Their app will also be displayed on the Congressional App Challenge website.

The Congressional App Challenge is a public effort to encourage students to learn how to code through annual districtwide competitions hosted by Members of Congress for their district. Students in participating districts code original applications for the chance

By Judy Adorno, Director, Sylvan Learning Center – St. Petersburg How did your child do in the first half of the school year? Were you pleased with his performance, or do you think there is room for improvement? No matter what letters appeared on your child’s report card, January is the perfect time to help him get excited about going back to school and learning. This can be accomplished by creating an atmosphere in your home that encourages learning. Here are a few tips on how you can be involved with your child’s learning process and help motivate them in the new year. Have family reading time at least once a week. One great tool that can help families develop a family reading time, is Book Adventure, a free Sylvancreated interactive, reading motivation program that can be found at www. Students choose their own books from more than 7,000 titles, take short comprehension quizzes and redeem their accumulated points for small prizes. Book Adventure also offers teacher and parent resources and tips to help children develop a lifelong love of reading. Set aside a specific time for homework and studying. Take advantage of this quiet time to sit with your child and work on your paperwork. This visually demonstrates the importance of “work time” to your child. If homework was a struggle during the first semester, set up a reward system for this semester. For example, deposit change in a small jar when homework is complete. As soon as the jar is full, treat the whole family to something everyone will enjoy.

From left to right: William West, Jacob Siegel, Jason Davenport, and Theo Jeffers.

Seminole High School band wins southern states competition Congratulations to Seminole High School’s Band! The Band won the US Bands Group V Open competition at the 2017 Southern States competition in Chattanooga, Tenn. The band was also grand champion, recognized as the best band in all divisions.

Refresh your child’s “study space.” Make sure that all materials, such as pencil sharpeners, erasers and extra paper are easily accessible and in adequate supply. Create study plans. Have your child do his most challenging assignment first, while he is most focused, then have him work on easier tasks. Finish each homework session with a fun activity. Encourage your child to choose a classmate with whom he can study and swap reading books. Get your child organized inside and outside of school. By being organized, your child will have plenty of time to complete all assignments, and she will also learn the value of time management. Talk to your child’s teachers. The second half of the year can be more challenging than the first. Find out if your child needs extra help in a specific subject in order to keep up with the class. For more educational resources for children in grades pre-K through 12, please visit or call 1-800-EDUCATE.

32 • December 2017

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December 2017 • 33

Celebrate with Purpose by Dr. Kira Wilson

What comes to mind when you think about Christmas? Gifts, baking, shopping, parties, eating, and busyness are sure to be on your list. How about faith, family, giving, love, joy, peace, and Jesus? While you may agree that these are words associated with Christmas, many of us may not purposefully pursue or experience these meaningful facets of this special holiday.

As an educator I encourage parents to look for learning opportunities everywhere and Christmas is no exception. The Advent season (the four weeks leading up to Christmas) provides opportunities to discuss the events of the Christmas story and our response to the Christmas story. Children will follow your lead when it comes to finding meaning in Christmas.

Reading the events of the Christmas story is a good place to start. Gathered together at the dinner table or just after dinner on the couch, the story can be read from Luke Chapter 2 in the Bible or from a beautifully illustrated children’s book. You might read the entire story the first night and then focus on certain aspects of the story on different nights throughout the month. Singing Christmas carols in the evening is another way to share the story and events of Christmas. From O’ Little Town of Bethlehem to Hark the Herald Angels Sing, the lyrics tell the wonderful story of the Christ child being born, the shepherds seeing the star, the wisemen traveling from afar, and the angels rejoicing. As you read and discuss the story, share how your life is different as a result of the Christmas story. The Christmas season provides a fresh opportunity to share your faith with your children by telling them what you believe about the Christ child and how His life has effected yours. Draw parallels between your experience and those of the characters in the Christmas story. The shepherds saw the star that led them to the baby. What was the “star” that led you to Jesus? The wisemen came a great distance to find the new born King. Where were you, in your life’s journey, when you met Him? The angels and heavenly hosts rejoiced with shouts of praise. In what ways do you rejoice because of His birth?

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34 • December 2017

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Encourage your children to respond with purpose to the story by connecting the attributes of love, joy, and hope, to their words and deeds in their celebration of Christmas. Sharing a meal, anonymously giving gifts, baking for the neighborhood, visiting a nursing or retirement home to sing as a family, or including single parents and widows in your celebration are ways that your children can learn what it means to love others and think of others more than themselves. Celebrate with purpose. Take time to share His story with your children and help them respond in a way that will make Christmas meaningful. Dr. Kira Wilson is the Director of Covenant Academy in Pinellas County. With more than 30 years in Christian education, her passion is to encourage and equip teachers and parents to develop in children a love for learning and a love for God. She cherishes family time with her husband of 38 years, three children, and two grandchildren.

with Jim Daly


Q: My husband lost his job five months ago, and money has been really tight. We’re agonizing about Christmas. Our kids understand the situation, but I know their friends will all be getting the latest toys, games, etc. I’m dreading seeing their disappointed faces on Christmas morning. What can we do?

Every few weeks, go to the public library together. Check out books and DVDs that will introduce all of you to people and places you’ve never dreamed of before, and explore on a rainy or snowy day. Try giving your children simple (or elaborate!) coupons for designated activities like these, as well as generic times like “an uninterrupted hour with Dad” or “baking with Mom.”

Jim: My heart goes out to your family. It’s always hard to deal with financial challenges, but somehow they seem worse this time of year. That said, you might be surprised by what your children really want from you for Christmas. A few years ago, a viral Internet video showed 10 families who were asked to participate in a simple experiment. The children—ages 4 to 9—were asked to write a letter to Santa, listing what they wanted from him for Christmas. Not surprisingly, the kids were excited and had plenty of ideas, asking for everything from video games to musical instruments. One little girl even asked for a unicorn. But then the children were asked to write another letter, this one to their parents. The task was the same—list the things they wanted from Mom and Dad for Christmas. This time the kids were more quiet and thoughtful, and their requests were quite different. “Play with me more,” one said. “Have dinner with us,” said another. And on it went: “Spend a whole day with me.” “Read us a story.” “Tickle me.” Children love to get presents at Christmas. And we Moms and Dads love to give our children gifts. But as much as our kids may want that new video game—or even a unicorn—what they really want is time with us. As one of the parents in the video said, “Imagine! You want to give your kids the best you can. And the best is yourself!”

Many parents simply don’t have the money to buy their children the latest toys and electronic gadgets. The good news is that to make a child’s upbringing rich and meaningful, none of those are necessary. A little thought and creativity can go a long way. So what I would suggest is that when your children open their (simple) gifts this Christmas, they find a wide range of personalized coupons for various times and activities with Mom and Dad. An afternoon at the park. Playing catch in the backyard. A game night at home. Make coupons that your kids can “redeem” at times of their choosing throughout the year, as well as planned events on specific dates. Most communities have a number of fun opportunities to choose from. You can take advantage of museums, science centers and zoos in your area, most of which offer lowcost or free children’s programs. (They generally advertise special days well in advance, so you can plan your schedule and coupons.) Many universities offer classical or children’s concerts and Saturday morning theater productions for kids.

St. Early Jerome Childhood Center Space Available for Fall

You may have to get creative, but take heart! The happiest, most well-adjusted children are not those with every new toy that hits the stores. The kids who thrive best have committed, caring parents who take a genuine interest in their lives. So this Christmas, and throughout this next year, give your children the best gift of all—you! For more encouragement to make this season meaningful, visit

TEMPER YOUR EXPECTATIONS TO MANAGE STRESS DURING THE HOLIDAYS Q: We moved into a new (larger) house this year. So for the first time at Christmas, the entire extended family will be under one roof: ours. What can we do to manage the stress of hosting? Jim: This should be the most joyous time of the year— but often it’s the most stressful. I think a big reason is the amount of expectation we pour into the holidays.


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December 2017 • 35

with Jim Daly We put expectations on ourselves and our family members, and they have expectations for how they want things to go as well. It’s a special time of year, and we want the house to be perfect, the gifts to be perfect, the meals to be perfect. Everything must go off without a hitch. The trouble is, holidays rarely work out as perfectly as we’d like because there are too many variables that can go wrong. And the moment our expectations get dashed, then stress, disappointment and conflict aren’t far behind. The most obvious solution is to lower your expectations. Of course, that can be a little tricky because we often don’t realize just how high our expectations really are until it’s

too late. The best way to defuse that problem is to talk about everything ahead of time. So as you’re finalizing your Christmas get-together this year, talk with your spouse or other family members about how you hope things will go. And then proactively discuss how you can adapt if (when) necessary. It may not seem like much, but conversations like that can make a big difference. They’ll help you put things in their proper perspective. And those lowered expectations can create just enough wiggle room for you to stay calm when things go differently than you expect.

KIDS’ CHRISTMAS LISTS SHOW HOW SELF-CENTERED THEY’VE BECOME Q: Our kids made their Christmas lists early this year. Reading through them, I’m taken aback at how… well, self-centered they are. How can we adjust their point of view? Jim: Most children have a tendency to feel that the world revolves around them. Our culture encourages this problem by telling kids—and adults, frankly—to be self-

centered, to look out for No. 1. As parents, we have to work hard to help our kids look beyond their own interests and to develop empathy for others. Author Silvana Clark addresses this issue in her book “Fun-Filled Parenting.” She suggests that one of the best antidotes for self-centeredness is to volunteer as a family. It might be donating some items to a local shelter, or hosting a neighborhood car wash and giving the proceeds to charity. Picking up trash at the park, taking part in a church service project, putting together care packages for the troops… the possibilities are endless. According to Clark, volunteering can help children learn four valuable lessons. First, it helps them understand that

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they’re not the center of the universe. Second, it enables kids to learn responsibility and gain self-confidence. Third, it puts them in touch with community resources and groups that depend on volunteers. And finally, volunteering helps children build relationships with positive role models—men and women who have invested their lives in reaching out to others. It’s important that we as moms and dads model service and self-sacrifice for our children, but it’s even better if we can get the kids involved in the same activities. Make volunteering a family affair! It will draw you closer together, and you just might make some lasting memories in the process.

to approach their relationships with their wives like they would a teammate. Like a lot of guys, I was involved with sports throughout my childhood, and I’ve spent my adult years working with some great organizations. One thing I know: When you create a culture of respect and hard work among teammates, you can be successful at just about anything. I once heard a two-time Super Bowl champion say it this way: “When teammates give their best as individuals, they make each other better.”

For more tips on how to help your family thrive, go to

The best teams aren’t always those with the best players. Winning often comes down to teammates who are willing to work hard themselves and to motivate one another toward excellence. Play as hard for the guy next to you as you do for yourself. That’s key to success—not just in sports, but also in business, and particularly in marriage. Your wife is your teammate through life. Be willing to work as hard at your relationship with her as you do your job, your business or the hobbies you give so much time to. Know your role on the team and handle your business. I’m sure she has a few things that she needs to work on, too, but that shouldn’t be your primary focus. You’ll only motivate her to improve her part in your marriage if you step up and improve yours. And when everybody does their part, the team succeeds. For more ideas to help your marriage thrive, visit

HAPPY HUSBAND WANTS TO TAKE MARRIAGE “FROM GOOD TO GREAT” Q: My wife and I have a good marriage. I’d like to make it even better, but I’m not very adept at the “warm and fuzzy” stuff. How do I move our relationship from good to great?

Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, host of the Focus on the Family radio program, and a husband and father of two.

Jim: I hear this type of question a lot from men. I think it’s basically a matter of perspective, so I encourage them

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December 2017 • 37

App-y Holiday, Mom

by Bob Hoose, The holidays are here, moms and dads are making their lists and checking them twice, and kids are hitting the sack with visions of smartphones and hand-held tablets dancing in their heads. And odds are, a lot of them are gonna see those high-tech dreams come to a Christmas morning reality. Of course, with techy treasure can come techy temptation … and techy trouble. And while many parents accept that small screens and childhood are fated to comingle in this day and age, there are still plenty who feel a bit wary about that fact. After all, some experts are suggesting that by the age of 7, most kids have spent over a year’sworth of 24-hour days watching some sort of little screen. So what is a discerning mom and dad to do? Once they open Pandora’s iPad, how can they keep a hand on that tiger’s tail? Fortunately, there are a number of smart mothers and fathers who have been putting a lot of thought into the subject. One of them is a guy named Steve Vangasse who helped create an app called “Screen Time.” The free version of this downloadable application gives users a bit of what-are-my-kids-doing monitoring ability. But when mom or dad ponies up a small monthly fee, that’s when the magic is truly uncorked.

What can it do? It sets time limits on screen access and game play, of course. And it selectively blocks whatever you want blocked. But it also does a number of other really cool things, too. For one, it lets you set up certain times of the day or night when game play and the like is turned off altogether. So, if junior heads off in the morning with a phone in his pocket, he’ll be free to call if there’s an emergency, but the phone will know that web searching and Candy Crush play are strictly verboten during school hours. The app also lets parents essentially connect all their kids’ devices to their central remote control. So even though the chillens may be scattered to the four winds, one punch of a button on your phone puts any or all of the devices in “pause” mode. Nothing will get a kid running to see what Dad needs quicker that having the iPad pause in the middle of a Netflix show binge. Oh, and there’s a get-the-choresdone bonus feature in the mix, too. If little Susie runs out of allotted time and sees that she can earn a reward of 20 extra minutes for 30 minutes of backyard play, you could see unexpected things come to fruition. (And you might also be surprised to see how quickly a 30-minute “chore” outside can grow into much longer playtime once the, uh, ball gets rolling.)

On top of all that, as the promotion clip suggests, the Screen Time app is more than happy to be the mean ol’ baddie and shoulder the blame for time limitations and blocked apps. “Hey, it’s not my fault, Jimmy. It’s the app.” The drawback to all this, of course, is the fact that the app really only gives you the goods if you opt to pay a $3.99 monthly fee (or $39.99 per year). It would be so much more wallet friendly if this little helper were a freebee. But, hey, nothing’s perfect. Besides, wielding smartphone super powers like this might just well be worth buying one less latte a month.

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Making the Most of a Moment by Kenny McNatt

What was so extraordinary? For generations the people of Israel had looked forward to the coming of the messiah. The one who, by his physical strength and military prowess, would lead his nation back to prominence. It was It’s no wonder that there were many people who missed the splendor of the moment because it didn’t look or feel like they had imagined. The long awaited king had come, but not the way most would have imagined. Rather than being outfitted as a warrior, he was clothed as a newborn baby… and they missed him.

the people in their lives. Those who were fortunate enough to see the newborn on that Bethlehem night, saw the light of hope that beamed radiantly in his eyes. Today, those who see the value of making themselves available to family and friends will shine a similar light of hope. Over the next few weeks, you will have the opportunity to celebrate the Christmas season with family and friends. Hold the hug for a few extra seconds, laugh a little louder and forgive those who have hurt you. In doing so, make sure that you do not underestimate the extraordinary value of a ordinary moment.

The narrative of Jesus’ birth is well recorded. We sing Christmas carols that remind us of a holy night when a child was born in a manger and wisemen were on a search to find him. We read stories that bring a warmth to our hearts as we are reminded that we should help those who are struggling.

It’s a

While these are all wonderful aspects of the Christmas season, the greater significance is sometimes overlooked. Whether it is due to the busyness of our lives or because the commercial appeal of the holidays is so prominent, the greatest reality of the night in Bethlehem remains allusive.

Wonderful Life

The birth of Jesus who would be called “Immanuel” is one of the most significant moments in human history because in that moment God came close to us. The wonder of the Bethlehem night is seen in the name, “Immanuel”. It means “God with us”. This is what Christmas is all about. Think about it. God showed His love for us in a profound way. He came to earth. He made Himself available.

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Kenny is a husband, a father, and a follower of Christ. He is a graduate of Southeastern University, Lakeland, Florid. He curently serves as the Lead Pastor at Seminole Assembly of God.

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For most people in Bethlehem, the night of Jesus’ birth was a night like any other . The busy pace of the day had given way to the evening’s slumber. It was finally time to unwind. However, most of them had no idea that this seemingly un-eventful moment in the course of the day would soon give way to the most extraordinary moment in human history.

Bryan Dairy Rd

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Sunday 10:00 am Worship Service 6:00 pm Spanish Service / Youth Group

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727-391-9788 December 2017 • 39

December 2017 Events

December 1 - 31 MFA STAR WARS AND THE POWER OF COSTUME Take a unique journey into the Star Wars™ universe as characters are brought to life through a dramatic presentation of more than 60 original costumes. Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume will closely examine the captivating process of costume design for iconic outfits featured in the first seven films of the Star Wars saga— from Queen Amidala’s lavish gowns to Darth Vader’s imposing black armor. Feast your eyes on the costumes of Han Solo, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and more! Don’t miss your chance to see iconic figures from your favorite movies.

December 1 - 31 CHRISTMAS TOWN AT BUSCH GARDENS Busch Gardens beams with twinkling lights, Yuletide shows, holiday shopping and even a visit to Santa’s House during Christmas Town™. The park transforms into a holiday wonderland of entertainment and attractions where a beautiful family tradition awaits. Guests will also have the opportunity to ride some of Busch Gardens’ most popular thrill rides, including family spin coaster, Cobra’s Curse®. Christmas Town is included with daily admission. December 1 -30 EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE HOLIDAYS Holidays Around the World is transforming into Epcot® International Festival of the Holidays from December 1st to December 30th. Experience Disney’s annual Candlelight Processional, where you hear the stirring story of Christmas—as told by a celebrity narrator, and accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and massed choir. Your Epcot admission is all that’s needed to participate in this popular event! December 1 - 31 MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY When Mickey celebrates the season, Magic Kingdom lights up with excitement for guests of all ages. Cinderella Castle shimmers. Joyful music fills the air. Disney characters don their most festive attire. Favorite attractions take on a holiday theme. And enchanting surprises lie around almost every turn!

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December 1 - 8 GEEK WEEK AT THE GLAZER CHILDREN’S MUSEUM It’s All About Coding, Robotics, & Tech! >From December 1-8, kids will be coding, practicing computational thinking, tinkering with robotics, and learning through narrative play at Glazer Children’s Museum. The week will be jam-packed with robust programs curated to advance skills for children growing up in the Imagination Generation. Geek Week at GCM celebrates the Hour of Code, a global movement coordinated by reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries, and kicks off Computer Science Education Week.

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December 1-2, 8-10, 15-17, 21-23, & 26-30 CHRISTMAS IN THE WILD AT TAMPA’S LOWRY PARK ZOO The Zoo is brimming with holiday cheer as Christmas in the Wild returns with even more twinkling lights and jolly surprises! Experience 18 wild and wonderful nights. Enjoy seasonal treats, enchanting entertainment and a 50-foot animated Christmas tree! Best of all, visit Santa in his Tree Top Lodge and marvel at the magic of wildlife at night.

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Tampa’s majestic movie palace is sharing the warmth and light of the season with classic holiday favorites on the big screen. With Tampa Theatre temporarily closed for restoration, the 2018 Holiday Classics Movie Series will be presented as a series of free, family-friendly films in Curtis Hixon Park, Dec 1-Dec. 16, as part of the Winter Village celebration. Classics like The Polar Express, Elf and It’s a Wonderful Life will be featured. December 2 & 16 MFA MAKE & TAKE SATURDAYS Create your own masterpiece inspired by works in the collection and special exhibitions. Supplies are included. FREE with Museum admission. No registration necessary. Recommended for ages five and older, but entire families are encouraged to participate. December 2, 5, 7, 9, 21, 23, 28 & 29 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING HOME GAMES Catch the First Place Tampa Bay Lightning as the Lightning’s 25th season gets into full swing. Bring the Thunder and come cheer on your hometown Bolts as they take on the Sharks, Islanders, Avalanche, Jets, Senators, Wild, Canadiens, and the Flyers!

December 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30 DILLYDALLY WITH DALI Children can discover the creative world of Dali through games, puzzles and arts + crafts activities which educate and encourage family interaction. Dillydally with Dali takes place under the direction of the museum’s Family Programs Coordinator in the 1st floor Education Classroom. December 2 MY DOLL AND ME: JOSEPHINA Drawing on the American Girl© book series, we’ll travel through time with your favorite dolls! Peek into the past with crafts, games, and snacks as well as hands-on gallery experiences. All activities reflect the time period or theme presented each week. This month, experience the similarities between Josefina and Florida Seminole girls while crafting a colorful wrap skirt for your doll! December 5 CHILDREN’S BOARD OF HILLSBOROUGH FREE TUESDAY AT THE GLAZER CHILDREN’S MUSEUM The Children’s Board of Hillsborough proudly presents a Free Admission Tuesday program held on the first Tuesday of every month, between 12-7pm. This event aligns with the Children’s Board’s mission to promote the well-being of children and families by uniting community partners, investing in innovative opportunities, and leading the county in best practices so that the whole community can realize its full potential. Join us for free, family fun at the GCM.

December 7 THE FLORIDA ORCHESTRA - CHEERS! A festive combination of holiday favorites, including selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and celebratory music for The Florida Orchestra’s 50th anniversary. Stuart Malina conducts. December 8 HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS The worldwide icons synonymous with one-of-a-kind family entertainment – the Harlem Globetrotters will bring their show to AMALIE Arena in Tampa on Friday, December 8, 2017 at 7:00 PM as part of their 2017 World Tour. The Globetrotters are continuing an epic 2017 season as they prepare to bring their awe-inspiring talents to Tampa. This season alone, the Globetrotters conquered incredible feats like, breaking nine Guinness World Records in a single day and netting the highest basketball shot ever recorded in North American from staggering 583-feet in the air from the Tower of Americas in San Antonio.

December 9 2017 YMCA REINDEER RUN Celebrate the holiday season and run for a cause in our YMCA Reindeer Run 5K and 1 Mile Run/Walk on Saturday, December 9! This year, the race is also the Florida Senior Games 5K state championship run. This run benefits the Y’s programs for individuals with special needs, such as MASH, cooking classes, camp, and adaptive programming. This year marks the 32nd year the North Pinellas YMCA has held a run on the shores of Lake Tarpon at John Chesnut Park in Pinellas County. December 9 TFO GALA CONCERT: AN INTIMATE EVENING WITH THE FLORIDA ORCHESTRA & STING Going all out for its 50th anniversary, The Florida Orchestra will feature a performance by world-renowned musician Sting at its gala concert on Saturday, December 9, under the baton of Music Director Michael Francis. In a concert like no other in Tampa Bay, “An Intimate Evening with The Florida Orchestra and Sting” puts the iconic rock star and former frontman of The Police at center stage, but it will not be your typical rock show. December 10, 18 & 31 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS HOME GAMES Come pack the house and cheer on your hometown Buccaneers as they host the Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints.

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December 2017 • 41

his hit truTV series, “The Carbonaro Effect” now in its second season. The St. Pete show will be jam-packed with audience interaction, hilarious video clips, and a whirlwind of mind-blowing magic performed live on stage.

December 10 GREAT CONNECTIONS AT GREAT EXPLORATIONS Great Connections is a monthly program just for children with special needs and their families. The second Sunday of the month, Great Explorations will close to the general public from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., will modify lights and sounds, and will provide a “cool down” room for families who need to take a break. December 12 - 17 LOVE NEVER DIES! The ultimate love story continues in LOVE NEVER DIES Andrew Lloyd Webber’s spellbinding sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. LOVE NEVER DIES is a dazzling new production, which takes audiences on a thrilling rollercoaster ride of intrigue, obsession and romance. Be seduced by the beautiful, sometimes magical and poetic, sometimes joyful, and occasionally melancholic score. Don’t miss this magnificent continuation of one of the world’s greatest love stories as it makes its premiere in Tampa.

December 24 BRIDGEPOINT CHRISTMAS EVE AT THE MAHAFFEY Experience a Christmas celebration like no other including live music, an impactful message, and fun for the whole family! December 16 & 17 GUY HARVEY WEEKEND AT BUSCH GARDENS Meet Guy Harvey, renowned artist and conservationist, in person December 16 & 17 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for meet-and-greets, autographs and more! Wrap up your Christmas shopping with the perfect stocking-stuffers! Visit the Xcursions gift shop on December 16 & 17 to meet Guy Harvey and have him sign your favorite gear! Autographs and photos will be available at select times between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

December 27 MOSCOW BALLET’S GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER It’s the quintessential holiday fantasy as it was meant to be experienced - on a grand scale! You won’t want to miss the Moscow Ballet’s fanciful, beautiful interpretation of the timeless tale of a little girl and her Christmas Eve dreams, with the iconic musical score by Tchaikovsky. Critics praise the Great Russian Nutcracker danced by a company of 40 world-class Russian artists, with nine lush, aweinspiring sets and elaborately detailed costumes. This is one show you will not want to miss!

December 17 MICHAEL CARBONARO LIVE! Get ready for nationally acclaimed magician, actor and improv artist Michael Carbonaro. The New York Times calls his unique blend of magic and bizarre antics, “genial and witty…utterly convincing.” He’s performed over 500 comically perplexing and improbable feats of magic on

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The Harry Potter™ film series is one of those once-ina-lifetime cultural phenomena that continues to delight millions of fans around the world. The concert will feature The Florida Orchestra performing every note from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets™. Audiences will be able to relive the magic of the film in high-definition on a giant screen while hearing the orchestra perform John Williams’ unforgettable score. December 31 OUTBACK BOWL NEW YEAR’S EVE PARADE AND PEP RALLY Eclectic Ybor City is the site of this festive celebration featuring the Outback Bowl New Year’s Eve Parade and a pep rally. The parade will feature floats and about twenty marching bands including the two college bands! The Pep Rally features a battle of the bands and cheerleaders from both universities. This is a free family event. The Parade starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs along 7th Avenue.

Fury, or Florida’s first triple-launch coaster, Cheetah Hunt. Jam out to music throughout the park and ring in the new year with a park-wide countdown and spectacular fireworks show in Gwazi Park. And with the park open until 1 a.m., you can make the first hour in 2018 a thrilling one! December 31 FIRST NIGHT ST PETERSBURGH First Night St. Petersburg is the LARGEST family friendly New Year’s Eve Celebration of the Arts in the great State of Florida. We ring in the New Year with music, drama, games, comedy, lights, dance, fire, bubbles, stories, creative fun, fireworks and much more! This December 31, 2017 we are celebrating our 25th Anniversary of bringing the City of St. Petersburg Art in Unexpected Places. See you there! December 31 JIM GAFFIGAN: NOBLE APE TOUR Jim Gaffigan is a Grammy nominated comedian, New York Times best-selling author, top touring performer, and multi-platinum-selling father of five. He recently wrapped the first season of his semi-fictitious television show, The Jim Gaffigan Show. With multiple projects in motion, Gaffigan is currently traveling the world on behalf of his stand-up tour, Contagious, and headlined Madison Square Garden for the first time in December, becoming one of only ten comics in history to sell out The Garden. Last fall, Gaffigan had the honor of performing in front of Pope Francis and over 1 million festival attendees at the Festival of Families in Philadelphia.

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December 31 NEW YEARS EVE AT THE MFA The Museum of Fine Arts will be open New Year’s Eve day beginning at 11 am for your viewing pleasure of our MFA collection and special exhibitions. First Night events will take place on the MFA property and they include a radio broadcast – “Let’s Talk Life”, hosted by Velva Heraty, and dancing in front of the MFA steps. Here you can salsa, bachata, cha cha and meringue to the Little Latin Quarter with Simone Amaral who is one of Tampa Bay’s leading dance instructors. First Night buttons are on sale at the MFA Museum Store to attend the First Night events.

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December 31 BUSCH GARDEN’S NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATION Join Busch Gardens for an awesome New Year’s Eve celebration on Dec. 31! Enjoy thrill rides in the dark, like Busch Garden’s newest family spin-coaster Cobra’s Curse, North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower, Falcon’s


December 31 LIGHT IT UP CLEARWATER Come join us on New Year’s Eve for Clearwater Beach’s Annual Fireworks Celebration. Grab a bite to eat, relax with your toes in the sand, watch one of our world famous sunsets and then ring in the New Year with Fireworks at midnight, compliments of the Beach Chamber of Commerce and our wonderful sponsors. As one of U.S. News Travel’s top 5 kid-friendly places to ring in the New Year it’s sure to be a celebration not quickly forgotten!

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The Gulf Coast Family Weekender FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY 2 1 3 Star Wars and the Power of the Costume Museum of Fine Arts

Patel Conservatory presents: A Christmas Carol

The Straz Center


Take a unique journey into the Star Wars universe as characters are brought to life through a dramatic presentation of more than 60 original costumes.

The world famous Harlem Globetrotters, featuring some of the most electrifying athletes on the planet, will bring their spectacular show to Tampa during their 2017 World Tour.

22 29

The Florida Orchestra: Holiday Pops Straz Center

Have a jolly good time with the whole family at this popular Florida Orchestra tradition, filled with the joy of your favorite yuletide carols.

Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer: The Musical Ruth Eckerd The beloved television classic Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer soars off the screen and onto the stage.

Lightning Hockey Amalie Arena

The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Philadelphia Flyers at Amalie Arena.

GO BOLTS! 44 • December 2017

Enjoy a merry and memorable evening with this unique, but traditional holiday event in the special setting of the Zoo at night.


Harlem Globetrotters Amalie Arena


Christmas in the Wild Lowry Park Zoo


Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom




Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The Ghosts of Christmas Eve Amalie Arena

Ruth Eckerd Hall ICE! Christmas Around the World Gaylord Palms Resort Orlando

Journey through more than TWO MILLION pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures and two-story-tall ice slides.


Outback Bowl Beach Day Hilton Clearwater Beach / Pier 60

Join the teams, their marching bands and cheerleaders as they enjoy the sun and beaches. This fun day includes live music, skydivers, a tug-ofwar and other contests Say you saw it in the Gulf Coast Family Newspaper

24 Candlelight Processional at Epcot Narrated by CCH Pounder


St. Petersburg rings in the New Year with music, lights, dance, fire, bubbles, stories, creative fun, fireworks and much more!

’Twas a Florida Christmas ’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the town, no noses were frozen, no snow fluttered down, no children in flannels were tucked into bed, they all wore shorty pajamas instead. To find wreaths of holly, t’was not very hard, for holly trees grew in every back yard. In front of the houses, Dads and Moms were adorning the bushes and coconut palms. The sleeping kiddies were dreaming in glee, hoping to find water skis under the tree. They all knew that Santa was well on his way, in a Mercedes-Benz, instead of a sleigh. And soon he arrived and started to work, he hadn’t a second to linger or shirk. He whizzed up the highways and zoomed up the road, in a S-L 300, delivering his loads. The tropical moon gave the city a glow, and lighted the way for old Santa below. As he jumped from the auto he gave a wee chuckle, he was dressed in Bermudas with an Ivy league buckle,

Finding the Right School

Next Issue

in the

January 2018

of Gulf Coast Family

Cover story ▲

Picking the right school for your child is a process of asking yourself some fundamental questions. To determine what kind of school is right for your child you need to explore all the options and then begin to make some choices. January begins our three month special on private education here in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

◀ New Years Resolutions

There weren’t any chimneys, but that caused no gloom, for Santa came in through the Florida room. He stopped at each house....stayed only a minute, emptying his sack of stuff that was in it. Before he departed, he treated himself to a glass of papaya juice upon the shelf. He turned with a jerk and bounced to the car, remembering he still had to go very far. He shifted the gears and stepped on the gas and up Highway 19 he went like a flash. And I heard him exclaim as he went on his way, “MERRY CHRISTMAS Y’ALL, I WISH I COULD STAY!”

No matter how successful one has been in following resolutions in the past, one makes fresh resolutions for the coming year with full determination and will. Come with us we look at some fantastic New Years resolutions.

Kids & the Internet ▶

In addition to the usual Internet issues of viruses, ad-ware and worms, when our children use the Internet, we also want to protect them from the inappropriate content and from endangering themselves. Come with us as we examine ways in which we can protect our children.

Calling All Angels Many in our community are struggling and in search of hope. Food, toys, financial support and prayer will help change a life. We can’t do it without you. Call 813.209.1000 to make a financial donation.

Donate | Volunteer | Give Hope

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December 2017 • 45



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Sadie Mae Bring on the Eggnog!

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Gulf Coast Family - December 2017  

Gulf Coast Family's primary purpose is to encourage families along the Gulf Coast by providing worthwhile information that deals with family...