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Ring in the Holidays

oy J




December 2015 •


December 2015 •


December 2015 •







06 WORTH NOTING Reading Room, family photo fun, and providing food for children in need.


Behavior and hyperactivity might be a worry for some parents. One expert provides a look at the disorder and guidance on next steps.

08 Ages and Stages

Inexpensive ideas to help spark your children’s imaginations when yours runs dry.




Keep your kids safe and warm during the morning rush at the bus stop.



Consider volunteer work this holiday season at several area organizations.





A couple shares their struggles with fertility issues and how they overcame obstacles.


Start a new family tradition with a live tree. Also, pick or cut down your own at a nearby tree farm.



Find events of the season, along with some holiday light displays to visit on pg. 29.

ON THE COVER: Sawyer (born on 9/9/15 at Medina General Hospital), of Hinckley, finally sleeps for his first cover pose. Proud parents Ashley and Sam allowed Northeast Ohio Parent to photograph this cutie! Photography by Kim Stahnke Photography,


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With its picturesque downtown and idyllic green spaces, Hudson fills a unique space in Northeast Ohio’s landscape.

Pre-K teachers help kids get ready for the next step: kindergarten.


Understanding mood swings in teens and when parents should worry.


FAMILY CALENDAR Warm up with cool happenings around the region.


Six family tradition ideas to inspire your holiday season.

Find the perfect Christmas tree. pg. 22



Photo by Prelude Photography

Season of


The world is in turmoil. The Paris terror attacks, Syrian refugee crisis and our country’s seemingly never-ending battle for political play makes for a depressing start to the holiday season. I don’t know about you, but I feel like it’s a time to reflect on what — and who — matters most. Families in communities across Northeast Ohio are suffering in their own fights —whether to have more than one meal a day, to clothe their children for the winter or to help a family member through an illness. While we can’t solve the world’s issues individually, we can help others who are in our neighborhoods. In this issue, we cover non-profit groups that help kids eat on the weekend (pg. 7) and provide opportunities for people to volunteer and donate (pg. 18). Finding joy in the season can be easy when you look inside your own home. My husband and I are lucky to have our boys — in fact, my son Noel, who was born on Christmas Day, was the best gift I have ever received. If you are still waiting for your first or second or third child, take comfort in a story of hope about a couple who struggled with fertility issues, but now have their own bundle of joy (pg. 30). Also, if you are not sure how to manage your child’s or teen’s behaviors, our experts provide some tips and advice for when parents should get extra help. Finally, it’s a great time to get together with friends and family. We provide a list of light displays and holiday events to attend this month (pg. 23), as well as some creative ways to play with your kids (pg. 8). Whichever holiday you are celebrating this month, we hope the spirit of the season and all the wonderful things to share uplift you and yours. Talk to you again next year!

VOL. NO. 2 • ISSUE NO. 12

December 2015 Northeast Ohio Parent is a property of Mitchell Media LLC PO Box 1088 Hudson, OH 44236 330-822-4011 • / NEOhioParent

/ NEOhioParent

PUBLISHER - Brad Mitchell, 330-714-7712 EDITORIAL:


Marie Elium, Sara Carnes, Diana Seimer, Ingrid Schaefer Sprague, Rachele Alpine, Dr. Jess Levy, Kristen Kelly and Sara Booth PRODUCTION ADVERTISING PRODUCTION MANAGER:


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Danielle Weiler, 330-819-3233 DISTRIBUTION INQUIRIES

December 2015 •







The Outfit

by Lara Krupicka

Photo traditions can be planned — or not. Some families schedule a recurrent shot, while others find inspiration to replicate an old photograph. No tradition for your brood yet? Why not start one to track your children’s growth, record milestones or mark off achievements on a bucket list? Clothes, locations, poses and occasions all can spark a tradition. See if one of these ideas inspires your family.

Catch a shot of each child in the same outfit. This offers the opportunity to compare how similar (or not) your children look at the same age. It could be an heirloom garment such as a christening gown or a special ensemble made by a loved one. Or, you can try the whole family in matching outfits. Matching Christmas PJs are not only a great gift, but they make for a perfect shot while everyone is all cozied up wearing them.


Row four, tree six of an apple orchard is where Angie Ryg’s husband proposed. When their first child was born two years later, they began returning to the same spot for an annual family photo. “I love that it is by a tree because it represents the roots we want to grow deep with our family,” Ryg says. A place of sentimental significance is an ideal backdrop for your annual portrait. Perhaps your family visits lighthouses, beaches or science museums regularly; wherever it is that draws your family frequently can be a source of a photo tradition.


For fun, strike a specific pose for the family shot. Or switch up your child’s (or children’s) poses each year. Either way should fit your family. If it’s too much to remember an annual photo, take one as you’re able. Your kids may groan at having to assemble for the same picture every year, but the groans themselves can become a shared tradition.

Never too late


Even if your children are older and your family has never gotten into a tradition, that doesn’t mean it’s too late. Sift through old photos and replicate a few of your favorites. “Make time to do it,” Ryg advises. “The more simple you make a tradition, the easier it will be to continue through the years.” Family Living At Its Best


Hug Machine by Scott Campbell Meredith Everett and Tracy Stanek from End 68 Hours of Hunger

Food for the weekend programs HELP KIDS IN NEED

editor's pick

The Hug Machine will hug anyone (such as an unhappy baby and a spiky porcupine) or anything (even a rock). But after a busy day of hugging, the Hug Machine is tired — and ready to receive a loving squeeze from his mom. Recommendation courtesy of Avon Lake Public Library.


hile efforts are underway to fight childhood hunger, the need continues in Ohio. A recent report from USDA Economic Research says the state ranks sixth highest in the U.S. for food insecurity. Families are being affected by poverty, as the 2014 American Community Survey showed 58 percent of Cleveland children are living in poverty. “Children can’t thrive or learn without proper nutrition,” says Karen Pozna, spokeswoman for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank in Cleveland. This year, the Food Bank has served more than 15,000 kids across six counties, including kids within the BackPacks for Kids program, which provides six meals for families over the weekend. The backpacks are filled with kid-friendly foods, often with easy-to-open tabs and individual serving packages, Pozna adds. When there is an opportunity, we try to provide fresh produce. We are steadily growing the program and trying to reach as many areas as possible,” she says. Another group in Northeast Ohio that has joined the fight against childhood hunger is the local Lake County chapter of End 68 Hours of Hunger. They packages meals — two breakfasts, two lunches and three dinners — that are distributed to school children on Fridays. “The reality is there are children in our comThe BackPacks for Kids at the munity who only Greater Cleveland Food Bank. eat at school,” says Meredith Everett. She began the group, along with Tracy Stanek after she saw a need to help children who are food insecure in the area and wanted to help. Lake Health provides the group and its volunteers with a space to store and package the non-perishable items at its TriPoint Medical Campus in Concord Township. The organization — which doesn’t receive any government support and receives all funding for food supplies through donations — works with Lake County families and school systems such as Mentor and Willoughby-Eastlake to provide meals to families for the weekend. “We have a lot of work to do in the community to make sure (these) children get fed,” Pozna says.

Look Around! for Beginning Readers by Nora Gaydos illustrated by BB Sams editor's pick

These 10 storybooks provide early readers an opportunity to gain confidence in their reading skills, as they will learn repetition and sight words, and also about shapes, careers, body parts, pets and more. Available at most retailers.

To learn more, visit or

December 2015 •



7 stages

ways to imaginative play

by name name

Though it’s tempting — and sometimes easier — to turn on the television or hand over the tablet, there are ways to foster your child’s creativity. Moms provide inexpensive ideas to help spark your child’s imagination when yours runs dry. by Diana Seimer


When in doubt, send them out The backyard can be a wonderful place to let the imagination soar. Macedonian Jennifer Stalzer says her kids have a place in her yard that’s all their own. “We have a spot tucked away in the backyard where they can dig holes, find treasure, save the worms and just do whatever they want,” she says. “It’s their space to destroy, explore and create magical memories.” Encourage your kids to find things lying around on the ground that can become something magical. Fallen tree branches can be a pretend fairy house or animal house, or kids can use natural materials to create pretend food and a restaurant. Nature walks can be a simple but amazing adventure, as well. You can lead scavenger hunts, collect leaves or just enjoy the fresh air.


Mix Up a batch of fun The kitchen can be the perfect place to learn, create and use your imagination. Extra bowls, utensils and measuring cups can be used as tools for children to make their own recipes. You can even give them some materials to mix and play with, such as cereal or dry beans. “This can be a great sorting activity or sensory activity for younger children,” says Jennifer Liederbach, of Sagamore Hills, who adds that her daughter had


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the most fun exploring the aforementioned materials. “It wasn’t so much about making an edible project; it was just fun to measure, mix and think about different flavors and tastes.”


Inside or outside, water play can last for hours. Put down some towels, fill a plastic tub, and then hand out cups, bowls and measuring tools. In the winter, fill that tub with snow. Have available spray bottles filled with warm water, with or without food coloring, so they can watch the snow change and melt. Provide toy animals that can help them create an arctic world for exploring. Joanie MacRaild, president of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Preschool Mother’s Club, says her trick to making bath time more fun is to make a “glow bath.” Take Vitamin B capsules, open them up and dissolve them in a bowl of water, and then pour the solution into the tub. Use a dark light then to watch the tub glow. “The kids were amazed.” she says.


Once upon an adventure On rainy days or when bedtime is near, creating a story can be lots of fun for the whole family. Start a story and let your child pick up where you left off. Each member of the family can take a turn — the sillier, the better. Going on imaginary adventures can be

fun, too. Simply asking your children, “Where would you like to go today?” can spark their imagination in ways you wouldn’t expect. Parent participation in their adventure makes for more fun. “We pretend we’re at the beach, dig in the hot sand, build sandcastles,” says Sara Armstrong, of Cleveland. “We go to the zoo, the farm, outer space (my daughter always wants there to be a giraffe in outer space).”


Just leaving them alone is sometimes all you need to do. “Children are naturally creative,” says Valerie Arredondo, of Stow. “They will turn the couch into a ship surrounded by crocodiles.” Lisa Gerwig, of Ashland, adds “I have found that giving children a space that they can call completely their own allows them to feel free to express themselves in ways they wouldn’t if they were in a common area.”


Turn trash to priceless treasure Tara Anderson, a seamstress from Olmsted Falls, says she puts her patterned scraps into a bin and plays a “find it” game with her little ones while she is working. Paper towel rolls, scrap paper or any leftover materials can be turned into a craft, too. Old trinkets and random things also can be a fun way to leave “treasure” for them to find. Ashley Haines, of Chagrin Falls, says she leaves little “gifts” in the garden at night from the “fairies” for her daughter to find the next day. “The look on her face when she notices it is priceless,” she says.


Dress up Role playing different characters can make a boring day go by quickly, however, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on costumes. Old hats, gloves, glasses and jewelry can make the perfect costume. You also can find fun dress up items at yard sales, thrift stores and in clearance bins. Michelle Murdock, of Grafton, says the post-Halloween sale is her favorite time to stock up on items for her dress-up box. “Go get a bunch of pieces of nonscary costumes, put them in a box, stand back and watch the magic happen.”



Warm While

Waiting K

eep your kids cozy and safe while they wait for the bus in frigid temperatures. The winter months have crept up on us and the bitter cold of another Northeast Ohio winter is settling in. Check out these tips from local moms about keeping your children warm and safe at the bus stop. GRETCHEN (ROCKY RIVER) Most kids can’t sit still, so take advantage of this in cold weather and challenge them to see how many jumping jacks they can do in a minute or to make tracks in the snow and then try to come back backwards. Kids love the challenge and generate important body heat to keep them warm.

SARAH (ROCKY RIVER) I’d like to say that I give the kids a warm potato in the morning to keep their hands warm, as my grandpa said, but mostly it’s about timing the bus and dressing appropriately. By the time winter rolls around, you have a good idea when the bus arrives, so I wait to send the kids out until just before it pulls up. My kids wear their winter gear, including all the fun accessories—scarves, hats and gloves. In fact, the more fun they are, the more apt they are to wear them.

RITA (MENTOR) I bought ski masks for waiting at the bus stop during the polar vortex. I never buy white or light colors in hats, gloves and scarves; nothing is dirtier than a school bus floor in the winter, and gloves, hats and scarves will end up on the bus floor at some point. Also, the kids set out gloves and hats the night before with their uniforms; looking for that stuff added time to our morning. LISA (PERRY) My daughter wears layers on extremely cold days, like an undershirt, regular shirt and coat. If it is below zero, she may even wear snow pants over her actual pants and her socks with boots.



There are a couple things I would do. If it was super cold, we would drive to the bus stop and wait until I saw the bus coming before we would get out. The one thing I would say is that I would tell my son the clothes he was wearing was all he had for the day so if he got wet playing in the snow before school, there was no going home to change.

Their school is big on kids going outside in all weather, so going to school they are dressed appropriately to be playing outside whatever the weather is. I always tell the girls that you can take it off if you don’t need it, but if you don’t have something, there’s nothing you can do.

MAUREEN (NORTH OLMSTED) My boys have outside recess until 10 degrees, so they just wear what they would for recess. I shovel the driveway as I’m waiting with them to keep me warm. December 2015 •


Take note for a week or two of all the elements of your morning routine, and adjust accordingly to what can be done at night.

✱ Bus Duty

Get Ready Early

Waking up on a cold winter morning can be hard. Getting kids ready and off to school can feel impossible, even with the help of coffee. Shuffling your children to and from school doesn’t have to feel like a chore. With a little bit of planning, your morning routine can be handled with ease. Think about what you can do ahead of time, such as laying out clothes the night before, or try packing lunches as part of the afterdinner cleanup. If your children are old enough, have them pack their own. Or, ask them to prep the next day’s breakfast, like getting out anything they’d need to eat breakfast and non-perishable foods, like cereal or bread and the toaster. This will give you a bit of extra time in the a.m., as well as your children the chance to make their breakfast choices, which will prevent fighting about what to eat in the morning. Make sure backpacks ready at night. If you drive them to school, have them put their bags in the car, as it’s one less thing you have to grab when hurrying out the door.

If you have little ones at home, consider sharing bus stop duty with other parents in your neighborhood. Take turns waiting outside for the bus with each other’s children, so you’re not outside every day.


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BUS STOP SAFETY Here are the Ohio Department of Education’s guidelines for kiddos heading to and from school. • Be early to the bus stop

• If you drop something under the bus, do not pick it up; instead, tell the driver or another adult • To prevent injury, avoid horseplay at the bus stop

• Be careful at the bus stop • Stay out of the street • Dress in bright-colored clothes so you are always visible to drivers

• Always walk in front of the bus, never walk behind it

For more information, visit Also look for “Safe Days with Oliver Owl,” a school bus safety activity book for students in kindergarten through third grade.

• Wait in a straight line • If the bus doesn’t come, go straight home to tell an adult • Make sure the bus is stopped and door is open before approaching the bus • Watch the driver and wait for her hand signal before entering the bus • Use handrails on and off the bus

December 2015 •


Pick Up the Premier Issue!


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Moving up the Ladder Is Your Preschooler Kindergarten-Ready? by Marcy Escott and Vicki Teitlbaum

The primary goal of pre-k is to prepare your child for kindergarten socially, emotionally and academically. While no hard rules guide kindergarten readiness, some commonly held expectations exist, including the items below.

Follow simple directions.

Does your child have the ability to listen to the teacher and complete multi-step tasks with consistency?

Sit still.

Your child should be able to remain in one spot long enough to listen to a story, participate in circle-time and other class activities.

Recognize letters.

Your child should be able to recognize most, if not all, of the letters, particularly the letters of his name. Any pre-k program should include lots of laughter and learning fun.

Progress in gross motor skills.

Most kindergarten children are able to run, skip, jump with feet together, hop while balancing on one foot, climb stairs with alternating feet, walk backward, bounce a kickball, and attempt a two-handed catch of a kickball. To develop these skills in your child, look for programs that incorporate time spent in a large muscle room, the playground and physical education.

December 2015 • June 2015 • NortheastOhioParent.com13



Progress in fine motor skills.

Your child should be able to hold a writing utensil in a nonfisted grip, control scissors to complete an intentional task, trace lines and basic shapes, and copy basic figures such as a circle, square and a straight line. In pre-k, these skills are emphasized through journaling and other art-related activities.

Socialization skills.

Sharing and taking turns are critical skills for moving into kindergarten. Taking turns and cooperating with each other aren’t specific to any particular activity, and the skills must be used in and out of school.

Shows interest in learning.

In kindergarten, the daily routine is filled with stories, music, individual book time, learning about the world and community, and so much more. Bring the world of music and literature into your home as much as possible to help stimulate your child’s imagination and love for learning. Join in their play and exploration to deepen and enhance curiosity. Marcy Escott and Vicki Teitlbaum are pre-k teachers at Gross Schechter Day School in Pepper Pike.


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g n i r Explo Is the writing on the wall for ADHD or is your child just hyperactive? By Dr. Jess Levy


tudies seem to indicate that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is both under-and over-diagnosed in young people. Why have researchers reached such wildly different conclusions? In some groups of children, symptoms of ADHD, like poor attention span and hyperactivity, are quickly attributed to ADHD; in other groups, the same symptoms are ignored or dismissed as oppositional behaviors. Gender, ethnicity and family income also seem to play a role in the likelihood of a child’s ADHD diagnosis. Even within the field of pediatric mental health, much controversy surrounds ADHD. Clinicians looking to increase ADHD awareness argue that when untreated, ADHD can lead to depression, anxiety and substance use. Others take a more reserved stance, pointing out that the rapid rise in ADHD diagnoses coincides with the increased consumer demand for stimulant medications. Because of the controversies surrounding ADHD, it can be difficult for families to know when to worry about their child being too hyperactive. Perhaps a teacher alerts parents that their son is more fidgety than his classmates. Or maybe parents noticed that their daughter acts “wilder” than her siblings. On the other hand, we know some kids are naturally more energetic than others. I often hear parents say they were hyperactive themselves as children and turned out just fine. Even when a child clearly has symptoms of ADHD, some parents worry about the stigma of having a mental health condition and the side effects of ADHD medications.

worried your child is too hyperactive?

As with any behavioral concern, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a trusted source. A good starting point is to discuss concerns with your child’s teachers. Teachers are accustomed to working with groups of children, they often are invaluable in distinguishing normal versus abnormal behaviors. If concerns persist, you likely will want to get a professional opinion. Most pediatricians and family doctors have experience handling behavioral concerns and carry the added benefits of accessibility and familiarity with your child. Psychologists and other mental health providers are invaluable guides, as well. Based on your child’s symptoms and your provider’s comfort level treating mental health concerns, you may wish to see a child and adolescent psychiatrist who has expertise in behavioral health concerns. Determining the difference between a normally active child and the ADHD child can be complicated. Pay attention to any concerns raised by teachers and other influential adults in your child’s life. More importantly, trust your instincts. A knowledgeable healthcare professional will help make (or exclude) an ADHD diagnosis. If your child does have ADHD, your provider will with work you on creating an effective, evidence-based treatment plan tailored to your family’s needs. CONTINUED ON PAGE 16

December December 2015 2015 ••


Keep in M ind

Still worried about hyperactivity in your child? Remember the following: • ADHD is more than just hyperactivity. To make the diagnosis, providers look for other symptoms, such as poor focus, distractibility, avoidance of work requiring a lot of thought, and impulsivity (acting without thinking). Some children with ADHD only have problems with attention span and not with hyperactivity or impulsivity.

For more parenting advice and tips visit


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• Other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, learning problems and emotional concerns, mimic ADHD — all of these can cause a child to look hyperactive or distractible. A child can have multiple diagnoses simultaneously (for example, ADHD and anxiety). An experienced professional can help sort out these diagnoses.

• ADHD is developmentally contextual. We expect younger children to be naturally more fidgety and have more difficulty following directions compared to older children. Even within the same age group, expectations vary based on IQ and maturity level. • ADHD is a chronic condition. Symptoms should be present before age 12, and very often are noticed by the time the child is in pre-school. We do not know exactly what causes ADHD, but we think genetics play a large role. • Symptoms are not enough to be diagnosed as ADHD. There also has to be concerns that the symptoms are causing problems in the child’s life in multiple settings, such as home and school.

Dr. Levy specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.


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This holiday season, consider giving the gift of volunteering By Ingrid Schaefer Sprague


isa Durbin, of Twinsburg, wanted her family to experience the satisfaction of giving back, which she first experienced while working as a teacher of military dependents on a U.S. Air Force base in Japan. Twenty years ago, Durbin helped serve prisoners on a naval brig. She then encouraged her husband Mark and children Kiara, Marissa and Liam to participate in giving back at Hanukkah. “Instead of giving our children gifts each day of Hanukkah, on every other day of the eight days of the Jewish holiday, we opted to give back through various giving opportunities in our community,” Durbin says. The Durbin family selected gift tree requests from a beauty salon in Twinsburg, the City of Twinsburg


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fitness center, a martial arts dojo, and a mitten tree at Bissell Elementary School. “What I hope my family got is that the holidays are a season of giving, not just receiving,” she says. As the holidays approach, do you wish you could provide your children with a gift that would give joy beyond the winter break? This year, consider giving a gift of your time and effort by volunteering for your favorite organization. Here are some to consider this season


Ever wonder what happens to the contents of the big yellow collection bins with the picture of the Earth on the side? Planet Aid uses those clothes donations to support community

based projects and organizations local and abroad. Planet Aid Operations Manager Patrick Kearney says they serve people on two fronts; economically and environmentally by providing local jobs and a local service to collect and recycle textiles, diverting from the landfills and giving them an extra life to continue. Volunteers can help Planet Aid ( by donating to the Yellow bin and or advocating support as a brand ambassador.


Another worldwide charity with local presence is Ronald McDonald House Charities, with a Cleveland House and Ronald McDonald Family Rooms within Cleveland Clinic

Children’s, Rainbow Babies and Children’s, Fairview Hospital and MetroHealth. Lisa Sinisgalli, volunteer manager, says Ronald McDonald House ( provides basic and essential resources and services to families who have a child receiving inpatient or long-term outpatient medical services. “This includes a home-like and affordable place for the family to stay or visit, hot meals, laundry facilities, free parking and other services to keep families together during stressful times, and aid in the child’s healing,” Sinisgalli says. “About 1,500 families are served at the Cleveland location, with a 96 percent occupancy rate.” Long-term volunteers who serve weekly need to be at least age 18, but occasional volunteer work, such as house chores or meal service, can be done by those as young as age 13, when accompanied by an adult. Families can contribute in other ways by collecting soda pop tabs for their fundraiser, collecting for the Wish List drive or canned foods, or creating Breakfast Bags.


Andy Junn, Salvation Army divisional director of development and community relations, says volunteers are needed to ring the bell and collect money as part of the Salvation Army Red Kettle drive. “It can be an individual or group, but it is easier if someone is with you,” Junn says. “Even families like to hold ‘battle of the bells.’” The Salvation Army (salvationarmy. org) provides many other ways to volunteer and donate. Christmas toy drives and distribution can be held at schools, churches and businesses, or through angel tree programs. Food donations are needed yearround. Soup and hot meals are served at various community locations, along with food pantry services. Families can donate food, stock food, or distribute food or meals across Northeast Ohio counties.


December 2015 •



Cleveland also is home to Youth Challenge Sports, an organization that assists children and young adults with disabilities through physical activity. Sarah Perez-Stable, director of volunteer services at Youth Challenge Sports, says once volunteers are trained and shadow a program, they are free to help out at activities season after season. Youth Challenge (youth provides opportunities for sports and recreation programs held at facilities in Westlake and Shaker Heights, or off-site at bowling alleys, recreation centers, parks and pools, museums, art studios and more. Youth Challenge volunteers must be at least age 12. “While the majority of our programs run with the help of teen volunteers who are paired one-on-one with participants and help them adapt each activity,” Perez-Stable says, “We also work with corporate and community groups (Scout troops, churches and schools) who are looking for ‘done in a day’ projects.” She adds the organization does have a need for adult volunteers at its Youth Empowerment & Leadership Project (YELP) programs.


If you would like your family to contribute to those in need in your local community, consider volunteering at your city’s human services organization or food bank. Some cities join together in their efforts to reach more community members. Broadview Heights Director of Human Services Amy Washabaugh says the community has been working alongside Brecksville, Seven Hills and Independence for the annual Yuletide Hunger program, a non-perishable food collection drive. There will be a canned goods sorting event, held in late afternoon sessions, from Dec. 7-12 at Blossom Hill School, located at 4500 Oakes Road in Brecksville. Washabaugh asks volunteers to call Broadview Heights Human Services at 440-526-4074 to arrange a time to help.


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PINING FOR CHRISTMAS Start a new family tradition with a live tree By Kristen Kelly


rowing up, my family was really into Christmas. We were a family full of Clark Griswolds. The trip to pick out our Christmas tree kicked off the holiday season each year. As an adult I have continued many of my family’s traditions, including getting a real Christmas tree each year. I don’t plan on ever going back to an artificial one. However, real trees are not for everyone. If you are considering making the jump from an artificial to a real tree, here are some tips that might help you make your decision.

FUN FAMILY TRADITION For my family, picking out a Christmas tree isn’t just a task, it is an entire event in itself. We visit the local tree lot each year and take our time picking out the perfect tree. If we ever get particularly adventurous, we might one day consider visiting a tree farm and cutting down our own. When we find the one everyone loves, we bring it home for a night of holiday music and decorating. We make a night of it with a nice spread of food and watch a Christmas movie together.


I usually find that real Christmas trees are larger and fuller. They may have a bare patch or two, but there usually is a good side you can face forward while hiding those patches in the back. There are many strong branches to hang heavy ornaments on, too.

tree stand can be a balancing act that often requires some additional cutting, trimming and rotating.


Depending on the type of tree you pick, it can sometimes be prickly to put up and decorate a real Christmas tree.



Buying a real Christmas tree each year gives you the freedom to try different types and styles of trees. There are so many to choose from. Visit to find information that will help you choose the tree that is right for your family.

BE ECO-FRIENDLY Christmas trees are recyclable, and many communities will pick up your Christmas tree for you. Trees are taken and turned into mulch to use when the weather warms up.

BALANCING THE TREE Real trees are not perfectly symmetric like most artificial trees. Because of this, getting them to stand up straight in the

Remember when your kids were little (or maybe they still are) and there were Cheerios everywhere? Having a real tree is kind of like that, but with needles. They get everywhere. Especially as the end of the holiday season nears, frequent sweeping or vacuuming is necessary so that you aren’t constantly walking on and getting pricked by dead needles on the floor.


Make sure to keep your tree fed and watered. If you are going out of town for the weekend, make sure it has enough provisions. It is sometimes tricky to water the tree, depending on how low the branches are and how many presents lie beneath.

Kristen Kelly is a blogger, writer and mom. Visit her blog “Ready Set Parenthood!” at December December 2015 2015 ••


Christmas Tree Farms

For more hours and addresses, visit ASHTABULA COUNTY Manners Christmas Tree Farm 780 Dodgeville Road, New Lyme 440-294-2444

ASHLAND COUNTY Sugargrove Tree Farm 1619 Township Road 1455, Ashland, 419-282-5151

GEAUGA COUNTY McKosky Tree Farm 14740 Leroy Center Road, Thompson, 440-298-1412 Sugar Pines Farm 9500 Mulberry Road, Chesterland, 440-729-1019 North Corner Farm 13800 Butternut Road, Burton 440-785-3692,

Rhodes Sisters Christmas Trees 12020 Clay St., Huntsburg 440-636-5498 Soubusta Farms 1180 Thwing Road, Chardon 440-256-1768,


MEDINA COUNTY Medina Christmas Tree Farms Three separate locations: 3301 Hamilton Road, Medina 3283 Foskett Road, Medina 3235 Hamilton Road, Medina 330-723-2106,

Kall Christmas Tree Farm Pioneer Trails Tree Farm 3605 Foskett Road, Medina 4222 Center Road, Poland 330-725-8870, 330-757-0884,

LAKE COUNTY Mountain Creek Tree Farm 7185 Williams Road, Concord 440-354-8928

LORAIN COUNTY DiVenoraino Family Tree Farm 16101 Island Road, Grafton 440-926-3873, Kurtz Christmas Tree Farm 22350 Quarry Road, Wellington 440-647-3507, Wilcox Tree Farm 17620 Diagonal Road, LaGrange 440-355-4027,

PORTAGE COUNTY Diversified Tree Farm 8546 Nichols Road, Windham 330-527-7409 Flower Family Christmas Trees 1186 Hudson Road, Kent 330-678-8967, Wintergreen Tree Farm 3898 Winchell Road, Mantua 330-221-3835

STARK COUNTY Doc Miller’s Christmas Tree Farm 12666 German Church St. NE, Alliance, 330-823-1589 Millers’ Christmas Tree Farm 9312 Cleveland Ave. NW, North Canton, 330-499-5023 Moore’s Christmas Tree Farm 6767 Edison St., Hartville 330-877-6520,

SUMMIT COUNTY Shawnee Trail Tree Farm 900 Terex Road, Hudson, 330-486-7024

TRUMBULL COUNTY Storeyland Christmas Tree Farm 5148 State Route 7, Burghill 330-772-8733,

WAYNE COUNTY The Farms at Pine Tree Barn 4374 Shreve Road, Wooster 330-317-0567, Galehouse Tree Farms 11762 Coal Bank Road, Doylestown, 330-658-2480


Family Living At Its Best






Scrooge! The very first Christmas holiday classic on Near West’s glorious new stage. Based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Near West Theatre, 6702 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-961-6391,

Ashtabula County’s Lights on the Lake. Experience the festival of lights, sights and memorable beauty at Lake Shore Park. 6-9 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. 6-8 p.m. Christmas Eve and Day. 1700 E. 1st St., Ashtabula, 440-993-1051,

Holiday at Finwood. The Elyria Parks & Recreation Department will once again transform the Finwood Estate into a winter wonderland. 6-9 p.m. Finwood Estate, 799 N. Abbe Road, Elyria,

THROUGH 12/20 Polar Express Train Ride. Wear pajamas to hear a reading of the Polar Express on a journey to the North Pole. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, 800-468-4070, A Christmas Carol: The Musical. Ebenezer Scrooge and his ghostly encounters come to life in this lavish and thrilling musical adaptation. Weathervane Playhouse, 1301 Weathervane Lane, Akron, 330-836-2626,


Santa Express Train Rides. Ohio Station Outlets, 9911 Avon Lake Road, Lodi, 330-948-1239,

THROUGH 12/30 Lights on the Lake. Drive through Lakeview Park to view the twinkling holiday lights and displays. 6-8 p.m. Lakeview Park, 1800 W. Erie Ave., Lorain, 440-458-5121,

THROUGH 1/2    Deck the Hall. See the estate illuminated inside and out with more than 800,000 lights, a fantastic light show animated to music, and Gingerbread Land. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, 714 N. Portage Path, Akron, 330-863-5533,

12/3-23 Country Lights. Build a toy in Santa’s workshop, enjoy a wagon ride, visit Santa, wander through old-fashioned toy displays and visit Farmpark animals. Lake Metroparks Farmpark, 8800 Euclid Chardon Road, Kirtland, 440-256-2122,


Chardon Square Christmas Lighting. Santa and Mrs. Claus decorate Main Street and the park for the holidays with a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, entertainment and a visit. 6:30-8 p.m. Short Court St., Chardon, 440-285-3519,

December December 2015 2015 ••


- HOLIDAY SHOWCASE & LIGHTS Peninsula Candlelight Walk. Celebrate the heart of the holidays with a traditional Candlelight Walk throughout the village of Peninsula. 5-9 p.m. 1582 Main St., Peninsula,

12/4 Holiday Night Tree Tradition. Celebrate the heartwarming story of The Night Tree — one family’s tradition of sharing the spirit of the holidays with nature. 6-8:30 p.m. Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, 28728 Wolf Road, Bay Village, 440-871-2900, Scrooge the Musical. Dec. 4. 11 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 2 p.m. $25 adults, $23 seniors and students ages 11 and older, $15 children ages 10 and younger. Corning Auditorium at The Fine Arts Association, 38660 Mentor Ave., Willoughby, 440-951-7500,

12/3, 10, 17 Craft in Santa’s Workshop. Join Santa and his helpers making crafts inside his workshop. 5:308:30 p.m. Lock 3 (inside Polar Putt Putt), 200 S. Main St., Akron,

12/4, 11, 18 An Evening of Holiday Magic. Celebrate the Christmas holidays in grand style with an exceptional night. 5-9 p.m. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, 714 N. Portage Path, Akron, 330-863-5533,  

12/4-6, 11-13 Short and Sweet Shop. Featuring locally handcrafted gifts for everyone, from everyone. Art House, 3119 Denison Ave., Cleveland, 216-398-8556,

12/5 Holiday Concert. Holiday music will fill the air from the musicians of the Canal Fulton Community Band. Bring your sing-along voice and non-perishable donation for a local food bank. 3-4 p.m. Exploration Gateway, 5710-5712 12th St., Canton, 330-409-8096, Light Up Lakewood. Detroit Avenue will transform into a pedestrian-only winter wonderland of activity, including live bands and talents, pictures with Santa, crafts, games, food, and shopping specials. 4-8 p.m. 14701 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, Easter Seals Breakfast with Santa. Enjoy a pancake breakfast, a visit with Santa and a gift for every child. $8 adults, $6 children. 8:30-10 a.m. 4115 Pearl Road, Medina, 440-838-0990, Santa on the Green. The Rotary Club of Hudson brings Santa and Mrs. Claus to the Green. 9 a.m3 p.m. Gazebo Green, N. Main St. (Rt. 91), Rt. 303 and Aurora St., Hudson, Christmas on the Canal. Stroll through the streets of historic downtown Canal Fulton, visit Santa, see an electric lights parade and much more. 2-7 p.m. 125 Tuscarawas St., Canal Fulton, 330-854-6835, Lunch with Santa. This memorable holiday event includes lunch, decorating a holiday cookie, photo, crafts and games. 11 a.m-1 p.m. Quirk Cultural Center, 1201 Grant Ave., Cuyahoga Falls, 330-971-8225, Here Comes Santa. Bring your camera for a photo opportunity with Santa and hear stories. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Exploration Gateway, 5710-5712 12th St., Canton, 330-409-8096,

Community Tree Lighting and Holiday Party. Christmas caroling, free photos with Santa, refreshments, inflatables and other activities. 6 p.m. 9543 Broadview Road, Broadview Heights, Cocoa and Cookies with Mrs. Claus. Mrs. Claus will tell stories about her adventures. 2-2:45 p.m. Elyria Central Library, 320 Washington Ave., Elyria, 440-322-0287, Santa’s Secret Shop. Kids ages 12 and under can shop for presents for family and friends with the help of our elves (Cub Scout Pack 102). 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Falls-Lenox Primary School, 26450 Bagley Road, Olmsted Falls,

12/5-6 A Log Cabin Christmas. Stop in and learn about traditional holiday customs of the past, warm up with a hot beverage and enjoy the cozy log cabin. Noon-5 p.m. Susan Hambley Nature Center, 1473 Parschen Road, Brunswick, 330-722-9364, The Uniquely Cleveland Nutcracker. Cuyahoga Community College Eastern Campus, 4520 Richmond Road, Highland Hills, Ballet Theatre of Ohio presents “The Nutcracker.” This classic has become a treasured holiday tradition for families of all ages. Akron Civic Theatre, 182 S. Main St., Akron, 330-253-2488,

12/5-23 Holiday Lantern Tours. Take a charming lantern-lit tour of the village and visit historic houses delightfully decorated for the season. Hale Farm & Village, 2686 Oak Hill Road, Bath, 330-666-3711,

12/5, 12, 19 Bistro Lunch with Santa at Gervasi Vineyard. Bring your kids for lunch at the Bistro and meet Santa Claus. Reservations recommended. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Gervasi Vineyard, 1700 55th St. NE, Canton, 330-497-1000,


Chanukah Mitzvah Day. Bring the joy of the holidays to children who might not otherwise receive gifts (9:15 a.m.), participate in a blood drive (9 a.m.-2 p.m.), or help the Women of Fairmount Temple with projects for those in need (9:30-11:30 a.m.). Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, 23737 Fairmount Blvd., Beachwood, 216464-1330, Christmas on Hoover Farm. Visit with Santa, hear live music, watch ladies in vintage attire baking cookies, and Christmas carol through Hoover Park on horse-drawn wagon. 1-4 p.m. Hoover Historical Center, 2020 E. Maple St., North Canton, 330-409-7435, Holiday CircleFest. A free annual Circle-wide celebration with activities, entertainment, and a procession led by community lantern artists, illuminated dancers and giant puppets. 1-6:30 p.m. The Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., Cleveland, 216-707-2483,


Family Living At Its Best


Come Home to Hudson

herever your holiday travels may take you, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of warmth and charm you will find in the heart of Hudson as the city prepares for the season. Recently named one of Ohio’s Best Hometowns, Hudson is host to more than 80 unique shops, restaurants and service businesses. The blend of locally owned boutiques and national retailers offers something perfect for everyone on your holiday list. Nothing completes a day of shopping like a great meal. Hudson offers everything from five star restaurants to delicious sub shops to re-energize you as you pick up the final items on your holiday list. Searching for a little piece of Hudson to take home with you or send to a loved one? Stop by the Destination Hudson Visitor Center at 89 First Street, Suite 206, and see the new clocktower ornaments and browse the latest selection of Hudson themed merchandise. From coffee mugs and puzzles to t-shirts and paintings, the Visitor Center is your one stop shop for all things Hudson. Known as Summit County’s premier shopping district, Hudson also offers several special holiday events to kick the season off in style. Friday, November 27, Hudson will magically transform as

Santa arrives downtown and the trees on the Village Greens are illuminated as carolers rejoice in the sounds of the season. Merchants will be offering holiday cheer and special promotions all weekend long to officially kick off the holiday season. A complete list of specials and events can be found at www. Enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride through First & Main as the festivities continue the following weekend with the Hudson Holiday Walk on Sunday, December 6. Santa and his elves will make special appearances around town while a Live Nativity scene is staged on the Clocktower Green beneath the iconic Clocktower Mouse. Enjoy caroling and hot cocoa around the First & Main green and take a moment to stop in the warm up station and send a special message to our troops or drop off a new, unwrapped toy for a military family in need. There’s nothing quite like a stroll through the quaint town of Hudson during the holidays. An old-fashioned holiday spirit abounds from the giant pine trees lit on the Village Greens to the fragrant pine that adorns the window boxes. The members of the Merchants of Hudson invite you to come home to Hudson this holiday season and share in the experience of Hudson and all it has to offer.

December 2015 •


- HOLIDAY SHOWCASE & LIGHTS Wildwood Cultural Center Holiday Display & Craft Show. Enjoy live entertainment and a huge variety of fine arts and crafts. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wildwood Cultural Center & Park, 7645 Little Mountain Road, Mentor, 440-974-5735, The Annual Nutcracker Tea. One-hour performance, complete with a traditional Englishstyle tea, catered by the Renaissance Hotel. 1-3 p.m. Seven Hills Christmas Party. You can find kids crafts, swimming, Sparky the Fire Dog, lots of Christmas characters and of course, the man himself, Santa. Seven Hills City Rec. Center, 7777 Summitview Drive, Independence, 216-524-4421, Songs of Resistance: The Imani Temple Ministries Choir. An uplifting acapella concert that features music from the era of slavery. 3 p.m. Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, 2929 Richmond Road, Beachwood, 216-593-0575, Live Nativity. A live nativity with animals and characters. Noon-5 p.m. Clocktower Green, 27 E. Main St., Hudson, 330-653-8230,

12/6, 12, 13, 19 & 20 Breakfast with Santa and the Animals. Enjoy breakfast buffet and live music, decorate sugar cookies, feed the penguins and visit with Santa. 9-11 a.m. Akron Zoo, 504 Euclid Ave., Akron, 330-375-2550,

12/7 Community Family Chanukah. Open to the community, a family event to celebrate Chanukah. 6:30-8 p.m. Summit Mall, 3265 W. Market St., Fairlawn, 330-867-7292, Menorah Lighting at Eton. The event will commence at 6 p.m. with the lighting of the Menorah, followed by entertainment & refreshments inside the mall. 28699 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere,

12/8 Deck the House. Join Providence House for the 20th Annual Deck the House Benefit Auction presented by the Cleveland Browns. Find the perfect gift and support your favorite cause. 5:309:30 p.m. FirstEnergy Stadium, City View Lounge, 100 Alfred Lerner Way, Cleveland, 216-651-5982,

12/9 Friends of the Maltz Museum Hanukkah Candle Lighting. Children of all ages and backgrounds are invited to celebrate the Jewish festival of lights. 5-6 p.m. Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, 2929 Richmond Road, Beachwood, 216-593-0575, Â


Christmas Open House. Enjoy festive entertainment, games and crafts. Eastlake Public Library, 36706 Lake Shore Blvd., Eastlake, 440-942-7880,


Garfield Memorial UMC Handbells. An evening of sacred and secular holiday songs. 7-8 p.m. Parma Branch Library, 6996 Powers Blvd., Parma, 440885-5362, Family Living At Its Best

December 2015 •


- HOLIDAY SHOWCASE & LIGHTS Catholic Montessori Christmas Shopping Night. 6:30-9 p.m. Catholic Montessori School located at Divine Word Church, 8100 Eagle Road, Kirtland,


Santa’s Wild Workshop in the Woods. Make a toy with the Wildwood elves and help Mrs. Claus decorate cookies. Then get your magic ticket to ride the Wildwood Express. Wildwood Cultural Center, 7645 Little Mountain Road, Mentor,


Pictures with Santa. Bring your camera. No registration required. 10-11:30 a.m. North Canton Public Library, 185 N. Main St., 330-499-4712,


Holiday Fun Night at the Hills. Watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and enjoy other holiday fun and refreshments. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Willoughby Hills Public Library, 35400 Chardon Road, Willoughby Hills, 440942-3362,


Family Living At Its Best


Christmas Roller Skating Party. Bring your family and friends for this ho, ho, ho good time. $5 admission, $3 skate rental. 6:308:30 p.m. Mentor Skateland, 5615 Andrews Lane, Mentor-onthe-Lake,


Akron Pops Orchestra Holiday Concert. A variety of music is sure to please your family and friends. Free. 7:30 p.m. Quirk Cultural Center, 1201 Grant Ave., Cuyahoga Falls, 330-971-8225,


The Polar Express. Enjoy watching the movie while you have cookies and hot cocoa. 1-3 p.m. Highland Library, 4160 Ridge Road, Medina, 330-278-4271,


Olmsted Performing Arts’ “The Nutcracker.” Welcome the holidays with this familyfriendly, not-to-be missed gem of the season. 6941 Columbia Road, Olmsted Falls, 440-235-6722,


Elf Academy. Join in the reindeer games and train to become a “Certified Elf” by completing several elf-ercises. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Westlake Porter Public Library, 27333 Center Ridge Road, Westlake, 440-8712600,


Winter Solstice Candlelight Walk. Explore roots of our modern holiday celebrations derived from ancient traditions associated with the winter solstice. 7:30-9:30 p.m. The West Woods, 9160 Robinson Road, Chardon, 440-286-9516,


Kwanzaa Celebration. An entertaining and educational afternoon honoring family, community and culture. A Karamu (African feast) will follow. 2-4:15 p.m. Maple Hts. Branch Library, 5225 Library Lane, 216-475-5000, Celebrate Kwanzaa. It’s a family affair. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Warrensville Hts. Branch Library, 4415 Northfield Road, Warrensville Hts.,



Cleveland Playhouse Square Christmas Light Display 14th and Euclid at Playhouse Square

Boardman Park Holiday Lights 375 BoardmanPoland Road, Boardman

GE Light Display at Nela Park Nela Park, Cleveland

LAKE COUNTY Country Lights at Lake Metroparks Farmpark 8800 Euclid Chardon Road, Kirtland

LORAIN COUNTY Holiday Lights at the Carlisle Visitor Center 12882 Diagonal Road, LaGrange Light Up Lorain Display Lakeview Park, Lorain

For more Christmas Lighting Displays, visit



Drive-Thru Holiday Light Display at Stadium Park Stadium Park, Canton

Santa’s Christmas in Motion 1400 E. Milltown Road, Wooster,

Sponsored By

MEDINA COUNTY Drive Thru Holiday Lights at the Medina County Fairgrounds 710 W. Smith Road, Medina

PORTAGE COUNTY Candlelight Cove Light Show 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville candlelightwinery. com

SUMMIT COUNTY Deck the Hall at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens 714 N. Portage Path, Akron

December 2015 •




Bundle of

JOY By Marie Elium

There are stigmas, misconceptions and troubles that come with infertility. One mom shares her expectations and experiences with getting pregnant in hopes of inspiring others whose journey may be equally as difficult.


hen Heather Pollock and her husband Matt Neidert decided to start a family five years ago, they quickly learned the truth. The odds were firmly stacked against conceiving. Pollock went to her OB-GYN for a pre-conception checkup to assess her reproductive health a few months before their marriage. A blood test showed a slightly elevated follicle-stimulating hormone level. After more extensive testing, she was diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition she learned she had for years that can make conception difficult. The news was sobering. The condition, combined with Pollock’s age — at that time was 39 — and the lack of prior


Family Living At Its Best

pregnancies, meant that her fertility rate was a meager 3 to 5 percent. “When I heard that, I was comparing that as if normal fertility was 100 percent,” Pollock says of what she thought was a very bleak outlook. She adds that she then learned even under prime circumstances, fertility rates are about 25 percent — and that rate is for a healthy 22-year-old with a previous pregnancy. The challenge of infertility isn’t the monthly rollercoaster of disappointment or the invasive medical testing that comes with the condition, Pollock says. Nor is it the expense. Infertility remains a “pointless stigma,” she says — a stigma that needs to come out of the shadows.

Heather & Matt's daughter Harper

SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT Though the news didn’t sound as grim after Pollock considered the overall odds of conception, her endometriosis, along with an issue with her husband’s own reproductive health, meant they were headed down a challenging road with no guarantee of success. Pollock said she and her husband remained upbeat during the next two years. “I didn’t actually feel hopeless—it might have been naiveté on my part,” she says. “I just knew I was going to be a mom. It never occurred to me that I’d live into old age with no kids. “I didn’t tailspin,” she adds. “I just had a really serious recognition for the first time of how misconstrued our ideas of getting pregnant are.” A handful of friends and acquaintances also were going through the

struggle. Like her, they were surprised to find that getting pregnant isn’t all that natural for many people. “We’re taught so seriously to work against getting pregnant for 30 years,” Pollock said, adding that doctors remind people to get mammograms and colonoscopies, but they rarely talk about assessing reproductive health. Pollock’s singular regret is that she and her husband underwent seven rounds of intrauterine insemination over two years. She said because of their situation, they should have jumped immediately to in vitro fertilization, which manually combines the egg and sperm in a laboratory dish and transplants the embryo into the uterus. For them, IVF took only one try. PARENTS AT LAST Pollock’s doctor harvested two em-

bryos. The couple learned April 24, 2012 that she was pregnant with twins. At 23 weeks, Pollock lost one. The pregnancy continued without complications under the guidance of specialist Dr. John Stewart. Their daughter, Harper, who turns 3 this month, was born two days after Christmas, making her the ultimate gift. She’s healthy and robust, easy and calm, Pollock says. “We went through such a hard time getting her here that now she’s easy.” Pollock’s outgoing personality helped her share her experience during that time with supportive friends and family. She quickly realized that the struggle she and her husband were experiencing was surprisingly common — that many people have trouble conceiving, but few people talk about it. Pollock is on an informal mission to

Set the Stage Early for a Successful Pregnancy Getting pregnant — and staying that way — can be difficult for many women. Preconception counseling can target fertility issues and help launch a successful pregnancy. Dr. Rima Bachuwa, of OB/GYN of Westlake, offers the following tips for couples that want to have a baby:

Depo-Provera users may not ovulate for up to nine months after their last injection, for example. • Take prenatal vitamins 6 to 12 weeks before you plan to get pregnant. The extra folic acid and DHA (omega-3 fats) have been shown to nurture healthy fetal development.

• Start early. Visit your OB-GYN either alone or with your partner to discuss your health history.

• Chart menstrual and ovulation cycles. Women generally can get pregnant only during a single 24-hour ovulation cycle each month. Try an app on your phone to help keep track.

• Smoking, drinking, weight and chronic health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure all can have an effect on fertility.

• Too much sex hamper conception. Every two or three days is a good frequency to allow time for sperm counts to build.

• Update vaccinations.

• Infertility is defined as one year of having frequent intercourse without conception (six months if the woman is 35 or older). Between 10 and 15 percent of couples are infertile. Don’t let a timetable keep you from seeking help.

• Stop or find substitutes for certain medications. Some forms of birth control can stay in your system for a long time.

December 2015 •


share her family’s story and to offer advice and encouragement. It’s not hard to find an audience. She says women reach their teens and 20s with the false idea that conception is easy.

To that end, Pollock encourages younger women to be tested early and to take steps to preserve their fertility. In some cases, it might mean harvesting eggs for future use or getting treatment for hid-

den conditions — like endometriosis — that can hamper conception. “With each failure, I realized…I will never ask anyone, ‘Hey, shouldn’t you have kids by now?’ You never know what they’re going through,” Pollock says.

Photo by Shane Wynn


Family Living At Its Best

December 2015 •




From big-city culture to small-town charm, Hudson has it all By Denise Koeth


ith its picturesque downtown area and idyllic green spaces, in addition to top-notch schools and all the amenities one could need, Hudson fills a unique space in the Northeast Ohio landscape. Its roughly 22,000 residents are proud to call the city home, and visitors flock to Hudson’s unique shopping, dining and entertainment options. PARKS, RECREATION AND EVENTS Hudson offers more than 1,000 acres among its 20 parks, which feature opportunities for a wide variety of amenities: fishing, boating, bocce, sand volleyball, disc golf, baseball fields, soccer fields, a community garden, skate park, playgrounds, hiking trails, grills, picnic tables and pavilions. The city also borders the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, which links parks throughout Ohio by way of the Buckeye Trail. Miles of biking and hiking trails, canoeing and kayaking, nature programs, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and Brandywine and Boston Mills ski resorts provide year-around outdoor entertainment. Aside from two local country clubs — Lake Forest Country Club and Country Club of Hudson — Hudson boasts Ellsworth Meadows Golf Club, an 18-hole public course. The Hudson Community Education & Recreation department coordinates adult sport leagues, youth and adult sports and enrichment programs, and the Ada Cooper Miller Natatorium, located at East Woods School. The city hosts more than 80 special events throughout the year, including the popular Home and Garden Tour, Bandstand Summer Music Festival, Taste of Hudson, Ice Cream Social, Art on the Green, Summer farmer’s market and traditional Memorial Day Parade. The holiday season officially kicks off the weekend after Thanksgiving with the annual Holiday Lighting event, during which more than 8,000 lights begin to twinkle in Hudson’s downtown greens. The holiday cheer continues this month, with Santa on the Green Dec. 5, and the Holiday Walk and Live Nativity Dec. 6.


Family Living At Its Best

Photo courtesy of the city of Hudson

SHOPPING, DINING & ENTERTAINMENT For residents looking to get out of the house for the day or visitors seeking a unique destination, Hudson offers plenty of options in the form of more than 50 retail and specialty shops and more than 40 restaurants and casual eateries (visit for a listing of all shops and restaurants, plus events). The city’s pedestrian-friendly First & Main ( and Historic Main Street shopping areas truly are a destination, with national retailers neighboring one-of-a-kind local shops like Epiphany gifts and home furnishings, The Learned Owl book store and women’s clothing and accessories retailers Gracylane and The Grey Colt. Gifts and clothing for children are plentiful at Nicky Nicole and Land of Make Believe. To satisfy a shopping-induced appetite, Hudson offers fare to please all palates. Try traditional pizza and other Italian specialties at 3 Palms, Mediterranean cuisine at Aladdin’s Eatery, or authentic Mexican cuisine at Luchita’s Mexican Grill and Tequila Bar. Other unique downtown dining options include Peachtree Southern Kitchen & Cocktails; Flip Side, which offers gourmet burgers and craft beers; the “chef driven tavern concept” of One Red Door; Tomato Grill, which mixes classic and contemporary cuisine; Downtown 140, which offers “adventurous” new American dishes; Jaipur Junction for authentic Indian cuisine; and Hudson’s family-friendly American eatery. Pick up an on-the-go treat — or order a dozen to take home — at Main Street Cupcakes, which offers more than 350 flavors of cupcakes, each topped with a generous dollop of homemade buttercream frosting. For big-city culture in a more convenient location, Hudson offers several options. Local theater troupe the Hudson Players performs yearround at the Barlow Community Center. Additional performances are available from the Young Actors Studio, which educates local children in the performing arts through classes and theater productions. For the best in local music, the city hosts the Hudson Bandstand Summer Music Festival, which includes a variety of music acts throughout the season. The adult, non-professional Western Reserve Community Band provides free musical entertainment and cultural enrichment. First & Main offers music, dancing and giveaways on Friday and Saturday nights during July and August. EDUCATION IN THE CLASSROOM & BEYOND The Hudson City School District ( provides education for about 4,900 children in grades pre-k through 12. The school system ranks among the top 2 percent of Ohio districts, with an 11-year track record of “excellent” and “excellent with distinction” ratings. Hudson High School’s AP programs rank in the top 3 percent in the nation, and 97 percent of its students go on to attend four-year colleges. In addition to Hudson’s public school system, the city is home to noteworthy private schools: Hudson Montessori, Seton Catholic, Western Reserve Academy and Heritage Classical Academy, which offers a twoand three-day Study Center option for home schooled students as well as a full-time, five-day classical Christian academy in 2016. The city also offers nearly a dozen preschool and daycare options. For children and adults, the Hudson Library & Historical Society offers resources, programs and the latest in technology. Located in the heart of downtown, the 54,000-square-foot facility serves more than 26,000 registered borrowers who check out more than one million items per year. The library’s educational and cultural events include musical performances, author visits, historical programs, various walking tours led by the Historical Society archivist, art history lectures, films, book clubs and cooking with local chefs. December 2015 •


Parents’ Night Out in Hudson


s parents to 5-year-old triplets, eating out without Crayolas scattered across the table and the inevitable spilled chocolate milk is a rarity. One of the things my husband and I look forward to most when heading out without kids is the opportunity to take our time eating and have an actual conversation without interruption. Our recent date night at Hudson’s Restaurant provided just the respite from kids that we’ve needed, as well as a delicious meal. Located on historic Main Street in Hudson, the family-owned restaurant is cozy and warm. Our server, Brittany, was patient with us as we took our time perusing both the regular and seasonal menus filled with everything from lemon basil chicken to the best-selling grilled meatloaf. We peppered Brittany with questions about many of the appealing appetizers and she steered us toward the crispy Buffalo chicken pierogies made by Hudson’s very own “The Pierogi Lady” (yes, she exists). If you’re from Northeast Ohio, like us, you’ve most likely never ventured away from traditional potato pierogies and might be skeptical of veering from this standard. We were so glad we did, as they were one of the highlights of our meal. The chill in the air the night of our date had us in the mood for some fall comfort food and Hudson’s seasonal menu didn’t disappoint. My husband Greg immediately gravitated to the pork tenderloin option with caramelized onions and a spiced apple glaze. Paired with a Christmas Ale and a side of smashed potatoes,

36 36

Family Living Living At At Its Its Best Best Family

By Kristina Dooley

he was one happy customer. After leaning toward the maple bourbon salmon, I opted instead to follow Greg’s lead and go with another comfort food staple: homemade chicken pot pie. While we waited for our food to arrive, we noticed J.J. Altomare, one of the owners, walking from table to table, chatting with customers as if they were old friends. In fact, as he made his way around the restaurant, it was obvious that many folks dining at Hudson’s that night were regulars. When our food arrived, it looked, smelled and tasted just as we’d hoped it would — delicious. With this rare opportunity to eat at our own pace and not feel flustered or rushed by our children’s presence, we took our time and enjoyed our meals. I can’t remember the last time we spent more than an hour in a restaurant! As we finished off nearly everything from our entrees, Brittany returned to ask if we’d saved room for dessert. She rattled off a few of her favorites including pumpkin cheesecake, caramel apple walnut crisp and a warm chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. We decided to get a jump start on our holiday weight gain by choosing the brownie, but just one to share. Our date night at Hudson’s, coupled with a walk down historic Main Street, was perfect. Good food, a welcoming atmosphere and an opportunity to have a conversation that didn’t involve My Little Pony or Ninja Turtles was just what we needed.

December 2015 •


tion that fosters the development of happy, joyful students who know how to learn. Critical thinking, plus the abilities to collaborate, find creative solutions to challenges and communicate powerfully, are developed through a Montessori curriculum for toddlers through grade 8.

ESTRELA CONSULTING Selecting a school or college isn’t a decision to be taken lightly; this is why Estrela Consulting guides families through the search and application process. The certified educational planners offer individualized assistance based on the needs of each student and family. Estrela also offers one-on-onetest preparation programs. HEATHER’S HEAT & FLAVOR A foodie’s delight, Heather’s Heat & Flavor wows shoppers with an incredible assortment of hot sauces, salsas, BBQ sauces, snacks, gourmet condiments, sea salts, peppercorns, loose teas, herbs, spices and blends. The store also carries pottery, mills and shakers, tea pots and infusers, plus fun and functional gifts and accessories. HUDSON MONTESSORI SCHOOL A Hudson Montessori School education builds a founda-

THE LEARNED OWL An independent bookstore since 1968 featuring an oldfashioned atmosphere, up-to-the-minute book selection, and unparalleled service. LE CHAPERON ROUGE This innovative preschool for children whose parents want to instill an appreciation and enjoyment of learning offers a well-rounded curriculum of phonics, math, art, music, social studies, science, French, Spanish and computers, along with plenty of active and enriching sports. MAIN STREET CUPCAKES Choose from more than 350 flavors of cupcakes, each topped with a generous dollop of homemade buttercream frosting, or take home a special order cake from Main Street Cupcakes, founded in 2006. Flavor details can be found on the bakery’s website, while daily offerings are posted on its Facebook page. Also offered are in-store decorating classes and special events. SETON CATHOLIC SCHOOL Designated as a 2009 Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, the independent Seton Catholic School offers K-8 instruction on a nine-acre campus. Equipped with the latest technology to enhance learning and offering a winning sports program, the school’s mission is to foster spiritual development, academic excellence, responsibility to self and service to others. WESTERN RESERVE ACADEMY A co-ed boarding and day school for grades 9 through 12, Western Reserve Academy offers 155 academic courses with a 7:1 student to teacher ratio. The school, located on a 190-acre campus in Hudson, offers state-of-the-art technology and resources, as well as robust athletics and arts programs. YOGA LOUNGE & BARRE Yoga Lounge & Barre is a full-service yoga and barre studio with more than 55 classes. Choose from a wide range of class times and drop-in or membership rates for the ultimate in flexibility. The on-site boutique offers a variety of men’s and women’s yoga clothing, as well as books, mats and towels, and a selection of non-yoga items and accessories.


Family Living At Its Best

December 2015 •




Pick Your Battles Stop playing tug-of-war with your teen’s mood swings by Sara Booth


emember what it was like to be a teenager — including those raging hormones and mood swings? One moment, you were happy and excited and then the next, irritable and/or depressed. We have all experienced this first-hand and now are witnessing it in our children. A mood swing can be defined as an abrupt and apparently unaccountable change of mood. As a parent, it can be difficult to figure out what is considered normal behavior for our teens and what may be seen as a red flag.

Pay Attention It’s important to take note of your teen’s range of affect (an observable expression of emotion). Is she frequently angry and/or sad? Pay attention to the severity of your teen’s mood to help determine if she may be experiencing actual depression versus just a teenage “mood swing.” Watch for a sad or flat affect, suicidal thoughts, preoccupation with the subject of death, irritability, isolating one’s self from family and/or peers, a drop in grades, low energy, poor eye contact, a change in appetite


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(significantly increased or decreased), increased or decreased need for sleep, difficulty focusing, and feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or inappropriate guilt. Also, take note of how long the behavior change lasts. If it appears to last for two consecutive weeks or longer, it may be a sign of major depression, not just a teenage mood swing. Complicating matters at this age, many teens may try to exert their independence, challenge their parents, explore their sexuality, and possibly even experiment with alcohol and/or drugs. Parents should pay attention to whether or not their teen is engag-

ing frequently in risky sexual behavior, repeatedly using drugs or alcohol, rebelling against cultural norms, or at times, even becoming violent. It’s important to monitor your teen’s mood to see if it is affecting him in more than one area of functioning, such as home, school and with friends.

Wait or Act? Many parents question what to do when their child exhibits these ranges of emotions. Keep in mind, it’s important to choose your battles. If your

It’s important that teens are given the chance to be heard. Whether or not you agree with them, they still have the right to their feelings.

tunity to talk out his frustration with you. Do not allow yourself to lose your cool, or it will be difficult for your teen to calm down his own emotions. It’s important that teens are given the chance to be heard. Whether or not you agree with them, they still have the right to their feelings. Learn to validate these feelings by saying, “I hear that you are very angry with me,” or “I hear that you are very angry.” Validating their feelings, however, does not mean you are excusing their

behavior. It just means you are listening. As a parent, it’s also crucial to model patience and understanding. Remember, life can be full of ups and downs for everyone — and for a teenager, these moments often appear overly exaggerated. We all survived our teenage years and we are living proof that these difficult times will pass. Sara Booth is a Licensed Independent Social Worker at the Humanistic Counseling Center in Stow.

teen appears irritated, assess whether or not the irritation is directed toward you, toward a specific set of circumstances, or if it is just a case of being in a bad mood in general. If it’s directed toward you and the teen is being belligerent and generally disrespectful, let her know that you are not going to engage in the conversation while she is speaking to you in that manner. If your child changes his tone to a kinder one, then allow him the oppor-

December 2015 •



calendar Warm up with these cool events


Weasley’s Wizardly Wintery Ugly Sweater Party. Teens break out their ugliest winter sweater for the competition, have some hot cocoa and see a Harry Potter movie. Lee Road Branch Library, 2345 Lee Road, Cleveland Hts., 216-932-3600,


Snowballs Story and Art Program. Hear the book “Snowballs” and make an art project inspired by the story. 2-3 p.m. Avon Branch Library, 37485 Harvest Drive, Avon, 440-934-4743,


Indoor Snowball Fight. Make a pom pom launcher and defend your snow fort against aerial attacks! Ages 7-12. 2-2:45 p.m. Elyria Central Library, 320 Washington Ave., Elyria, 440-322-0287,

More events at

ONGOING THROUGH 1/2 2theXtreme: MathAlive This exciting exhibition brings to life the real math behind what kids love most — video games, sports, fashion, music and robotics. Great Lakes Science Center, 601 Erieside Ave., Cleveland, 216-694-2000

THROUGH 1/3 Violins of Hope. Played before and during the Holocaust and painstakingly restored, these violins serve as testaments to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of music. Maltz Museum


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of Jewish Heritage, 2929 Richmond Road, Beachwood, 216-593-0575, Glow. Enjoy the garden’s winter spectacular and one of Cleveland’s most celebrated holiday traditions. Check website for times. Cleveland Botanical Garden, 11030 East Blvd., Cleveland, 216-721-1600,

THROUGH 3/13 Children’s Corner. Exhibition features a vast collection of vintage toys, as well as a special section of dollhouses borrowed from miniature enthusiasts from the community. McKinley Museum, 800 McKinley Monument Drive NW, Canton, 330-455-7043,

DAY-BY-DAY 12/1-6 The Wizard of Oz. Click your heels together! Tickets start at $10. State Theatre at Playhouse Square, 1519 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 216-2416000,


Women’s Winterfest & Holiday Food Tasting. United Way of Lake County hosts a fun-filled evening all about women helping women in Lake County. 5:30-9 p.m. NOAH’S, 8200 Norton Pkwy., Mentor, 440639-1131,

Creative Playdate: Snowy Days Brrrrr...It’s cold out there! Warm up and make some snowy art activities. Registration is required. 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Akron Art Museum, One South High, Akron, 330-376-9186,


Oliver! Based on the novel “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens, it’s the ever-popular story of the boy who asks for more. Playmakers Youth Theatre, Mandel JCC, 26001 S. Woodland Road, Beachwood, 216-831-0700,


The Spelling Bee. An eclectic group of six mid-pubescents vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime. Weathervane Playhouse, 1301 Weathervane Lane, Akron, 330-836-2626,

Super Saturday @ Beck Center. Free, interactive art experiences for children ages 1-7, with age 10 and under taking part. 9:30-11:30 a.m. Beck Center for the Arts, 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-5215240,

Adoption Open House for Save Ohio Strays. They are all ready for their fur-ever homes, altered and up to date on shots. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wadsworth Petco, 1052 Williams Reserve Blvd., Wadsworth, 440567-3585,

12/4 Artist’s Reception. The event features the work of James McNamara, a Northeast Ohio artist and educator known for his vibrantly colorful, expressive, exuberant still lifes, landscapes and sensuous woodblock. 5-7 p.m. The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, 2600 S. Park Blvd., 216-231-5935, Holiday Gift Making Workshop. A fun workshop and dinner for children ages 6-10. Materials and pizza included in $34 fee. 5:30-7:45 p.m. The Fine Arts Association, 38660 Mentor Ave., Willoughby, 440-951-7500,

12/4-20 Cinderella. This holiday production has all the moments you love — the glass slipper, pumpkin coach, wicked step sisters, fairy godmother, prince charming and more. Magical Theatre Company, 565 W. Tuscarawas Ave., Barberton, 330-848-3708

Holiday Ceramics Workshop. Children can create a variety of fun, holiday-themed projects. Supplies included in $36 fee. 9:30-10:30 a.m. ages 4-8; 10:30-11:30 a.m. ages 9-12; noon-1 p.m. ages 12-18. The Fine Arts Association, 38660 Mentor Ave., Willoughby, 440-951-7500,


Flower Clown. Flower will perform a magic show. Willoughby Public Library, 30 Public Square, Willoughby, 440-942-3200,

12/7 & 14

Monday Fun Days! Children birth to age 4 come for a variety of activities including music and story time. 10-11 a.m. Gross Schechter Day School, 27601 Fairmount Blvd., Pepper Pike, 216-763-1400,

THROUGH 1/3/2016 Winter Exhibit


On a life-sized indoor game board, discover the many flavors that nature gives us as you play along in the all-new winter wonderland. Noon-5 p.m. Penitentiary Glen Reservation, 8668 Kirtland Chardon Road, Willoughby, 440-256-1404,

Mario Brothers Theme Night. Learning and having fun with Lego bricks triggers lively and creative imaginations and builds self confidence. $15. 6-7:30 p.m. Bricks 4 Kids Creativity Center, 961 N. Court St., Medina, 330-722-2223,

12/10 Hebrew Story Time. Ages 2-8 hear stories, songs and fingerplays in Hebrew and English. 4-4:30 p.m. Beachwood Branch Library, 25501 Shaker Blvd., Beachwood, 216-831-6868,

Scrooge the Musical. Dec. 4. 11 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 2 p.m. $25 adults, $23 seniors and students ages 11 and older, $15 children ages 10 and younger. Corning Auditorium at The Fine Arts Association, 38660 Mentor Ave., Willoughby, 440-9517500,

12/11 Kids and Holiday Grief Support. For children ages 5-11 who have experienced a significant loss. 5-7 p.m. Hospice of Visiting Nurse Service Justin T. Rogers Care Center, 3358 Ridgewood Road, Copley, 330-668-4662,

12/5 Identifying Family Photographs. Unlock the stories of unidentified historic photographs with some sleuthing. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Akron Public Library, Room 2AB, 60 High St., 330-643-9030,

12/5, 12 & 19

THROUGH 3/6/2016 The Rink at Wade Oval: Enjoy skating (rentals available), fire pit, refreshments and special offers at nearby museums. Scheduled activities include Skate with Santa, skating lessons, movie and live music nights, ice hockey and figure skating demos.

Parents’ Night Out. Ages 4-12 can stay and play from 6-9 p.m. $25 for the first child, $15 for siblings. Bricks 4 Kids Creativity Center, 961 N. Court St., Medina, 330-722-2223,

December 2015 •



Blast From The Past. Come travel through time on a lifesized board game and test your knowledge of Medina County parks and cultural trivia from 1965 to the present. Noon-5 p.m. Wolf Creek Environmental Center, 6100 Ridge Road, Wadsworth, 330-722-9364,


Sunday Circle. Children ages 5-13 with special needs come for an enriching social experience while providing respite for parents. $20. Friendship Circle, 27900 Gates Mills Blvd., Pepper Pike, 216-377-3000,

12/14 Soul Stories. Families with children grades 5 and under enjoy milk and cookies as books by African American writers, illustrators and characters are featured. 4-5 p.m. Noble Neighborhood Branch Library, 2800 Noble Road, Cleveland, 216-291-5665,


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Introduction to Cross Country Skiing. Free for all ages to learn the joys of cross country skiing. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Exploration Gateway, 5710-5712 12th St., Canton, 330-4098096,

Brass Band of the Western Reserve Holiday Pops Concert. This vibrant brass band presents a wonderful array of holiday music that will delight the entire family. $20 all tickets. 7:30 p.m. Corning Auditorium at The Fine Arts Association, 38660 Mentor Ave., Willoughby, 440-9517500,

Toddler Parachute Play. Use music and movement to play parachute games. 11 a.m. Nordonia Hills Branch Library, 9458 Olde Eight Road, Northfield, 330-467-8595,

12/18 Russian Story Time. Fun, interactive story time in Russian for children of all ages. First and third Fridays of each month. 4:30-5 p.m. Twinsburg Public Library, 10050 Ravenna Road, 330-425-4268,

12/20 Almost-Winter Hike. Welcome winter back to Northeast Ohio on this leisurely stroll along the beautiful Ledges Trail. 2-3:30 p.m. Twinsburg Ledges, 9999 Liberty Road, Twinsburg,

12/28 Magic With Nick Eaton. Nick will delight and amuse you with this charming performance. 11-11:45 a.m. Brook Park Branch Library, 6155 Engle Road, 216-2675250,

December 2015 •




12/29 Winter Break — Art Connection. Students K-5th grade create a unique piece of art to take home and show off to family and friends. 11 a.m.-noon. Lakewood Main Library, 15425 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-8275,

12/29 Tween STEAM. Create some fun projects at the library using science, technology, engineering, art and math. 2-2:45 p.m. Medina Library, 210 S. Broadway St., 330-725-0588, Upcycling — Rags to Riches. Grades 3-8 take an item that is no longer wanted or needed and give it a whole new life. 11 a.m.-noon. Lakewood Main Library, 15425 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-8275,

12/31 Sign up for weekly Northeast Ohio Parent newsletters to find out about more family-fun events at


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Winter Break Movie Matinee: Inside Out. A modern masterpiece to behold, with free popcorn. 2-3:30 p.m. Lee Road Branch Library, 2345 Lee Road, Cleveland Hts., 216-932-3600,

December 2015 •


Party Planning, Tutoring an d After Scho ol Activities


ion & Educat nt, nme i a t r e t En n and u F y l i m Fa phy a r g o t o Ph

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Get Christmas-Ready

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year for so many. This time of year brings back so many wonderful memories for me, from counting down the days until Christmas to baking cookies with my grandma to sewing the popcorn strings with my mom for decoration on the Christmas tree. Creating special traditions gives your family something to look forward to every year and evokes memories they’ll never forget. Here are few fun ways to start a family tradition in your home this season.

SARA CARNES • Facebook = Sara Carnes • Twitter = @SaraCarnes

6 family tradition ideas to inspire your holiday season


Christmas Cards. Open Christmas cards at the table at dinnertime. Show encouragement for those families by sending out good thoughts to them and share your gratitude for others in our lives.


Christmas Music. Crank up the Christmas music and sing along. Kids love to sing along to all the favorites, from Rudolph to Frosty. Once I get my kids started, they don’t want to stop — and I love that. Want the best Christmas music variety? Tune into 95.5 The Fish for our Fish Family Christmas; we’re all Christmas, all the time, through Christmas day.


Read “The Christmas Story.” Every year on Christmas Eve before opening presents, our family gathers around and we read “The Christmas Story” together. My grandfather starts the story and then we share the reading together as a family.


Send a video from Santa. A few years ago, I found the coolest site called Portable North Pole ( You can send a free, customized video to your kids from Santa

himself at the North Pole. The kids will love it.


Letters to Santa. Kids love making their list for Santa. Have them write Santa a letter, but before sending, make a photo copy to keep. Save the copies each year and create a keepsake for them. They can read the lists years from now and remember when all they wanted was that Barbie car or Star Wars action figure.


Matching PJs. My kids loved this — and my husband was a great sport for picking the Santa PJs last year. Our PJ-clad family photo even managed to make our annual Christmas card. We started this tradition last year and plan to keep it. It was so much fun to wear our matching PJs and spend the evening watching Christmas movies together. There are so many wonderful ideas out there and it’s great to hear what others do so we all can add new ideas throughout the years. What family traditions do you have in your home? I’d love hear them! (Share on Facebook at or on Twitter @saracarnes)

December 2015 •



You Can Give the Gift of Love As you know, this is the season of giving. At One Health Organization, we believe in giving the gift of love through a charitable gift. You may be considering how you can give to those who don’t have the essentials, including access to veterinary care for their pets that improve and maintain their quality of life. This year, please consider making a gift to One Health Organization and make a difference in the life of a family who needs veterinary care for their pet. This is one story of a pet that has been helped by a generous donor like you, a One Health Hero. Lisa’s life was falling apart. Her life partner left her with their special needs child Karen, their cats and their arthritic dog Ruby. Lisa’s expenses were


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piling up and she couldn’t afford the expensive pain medication Ruby needed ($100 per month!). Karen was so dependent on Ruby for emotional support. Lisa knew she needed to find the money for Ruby’s arthritis medication. Thanks to generous donors to One Health Organization, Ruby can get the medication she needs to be pain-free, and Lisa can keep her family intact during this most difficult time. She is so grateful to each One Health Hero like you. If you want to make a difference, consider volunteering and donating to One Health Organization. Contact us at for more information. Thank you!

• Annual veterinary care for a healthy adult pet can cost $250. • Chronic ear infections are common in pets that don’t get adequate veterinary care. It can cost $100 per visit with treatment.

December 2015 •


December 2015 •


Northeast Ohio Parent - December 2015  

Family Living at its Best in Greater Cleveland!

Northeast Ohio Parent - December 2015  

Family Living at its Best in Greater Cleveland!