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Pocono Family The Pocono Mountains' Magazines


• January/February 2021 •


LEADING SHOT Photo taken by Marlana Holsten

2 | Pocono Family Magazine January/February 2021




sluhn.org/COVID-19 January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine © | 3


Pocono Magazines, LLC PUBLISHING

Pocono Living Magazine© & Pocono Family Magazine© 1929 North 5th Street Stroudsburg, PA 18360 570-424-1000 pmags@ptd.net www.poconomagazines.com PUBLISHER/EDITOR Larry R. Sebring larry@poconomagazines.com ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVES larry@poconomagazines.com MAGAZINE & WEB DESIGN Smart Blonde Creative Food & Wine Editor Jamie Bowman

PHOTOGRAPHY & ART Veronica Murray Andrei Protsouk David Sandt Lisa Newberry James Chesnick Barbara Hornstra Marlana Holsten Matt Siptroth William McKee Barbara Lewis Linda Zak Nancy Tully Maritza McFaline Vinzon Lee CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Roseanne Bottone Kimberly Blaker Marty Wilson Suzanne McCool John C. Moore Jim Werkheiser

Jamie Bowman Kathy Dubin-Uhler Amy Leiser Amanda Kuhn William M. Williams Janet Mishkin

Allison Mowatt ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANTS Kristen Sebring Linda Spalluto


Pocono Living Magazine and Pocono Family Magazine, two regional publications filled with articles, features and photography exploring and capturing the real Pocono Mountains living experience. Our publications can be found at many locations throughout the Pocono Mountains region, and are available by subscription.

4 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021

The information published in this magazine is believed to be accurate, but in some instances, may represent opinion or judgment. The publication’s providers do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information and shall not be held liable for any loss or damage, directly or indirectly, by or from the information.© 2016 Pocono Magazines. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the expressed written permission of the publisher.




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• Indoor Veggie Garden • What to Look for in a Day Care


• Boost Your Spirits • Dental Hygiene Routine • A Productive 2021


• Tips for Pet Proofing


• Nutritional Inspiration


• Ice Fishing in the Poconos • Cool Weather Camping

AUTOMOTIVE • Safe Winter Driving


• Board Games that Teach Math Skills • Service Learning


• Protect Your Finances in 2021 • How to Prepare Your 2020 Taxes • Cutting Family Costs


• Improve Indoor Air Quality


• New Year Resolutions


• In & Around the Poconos January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine © | 5

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


6 | Pocono Family Magazine Š January/February 2021

Indoor Veggie Gardening for Family Fun, Health & Sustainable Living By: Kimberly Blaker

The move toward more sustainable living has gained traction in recent years with families looking to help the environment and their wallets. Gardening is a great hobby to support a more sustainable lifestyle. It's fun, saves money on groceries, and helps you and your kids feel accomplished by eating something you grew. It also promotes healthy living, cooking at home, and eating more nutritious foods. When you grow your own food at home, you also know exactly what's in it and how it was produced. Gardening can be difficult, especially outdoor gardening, because there are so many variables. This includes climate changes, unpredictable weather, and plants getting eaten by wildlife or pests. Indoor gardening allows you to grow veggies year-round in the comfort of your home, with a greater likelihood of success because you control the environment. This is also beneficial for families with little or no outdoor space to incorporate nature into their daily lives. Growing plants indoors is good for your family's health in other ways too. Plants remove carbon dioxide from the air and generate oxygen, making the air in your home cleaner. Exposure to nature and the accomplishment your family will feel from successfully starting a garden is also good for everyone's mental health.

What types of vegetables and herbs can be grown indoors? Herbs, leafy plants, and microgreens are the most common edible plants for indoor growing. They generally do well with shallow soil because they're smaller and don't need as much space inside. They also don't need as much sun and are easier to grow if you're just starting out. It's possible to grow fruits

indoors. But fruit generally needs a significant amount of sun and exposure to pollinating insects or animals and wind, which are more difficult to replicate indoors. Examples of edible vegetables and herbs that can be grown indoors include:


Y Leafy greens (spinach, kale, lettuce, arugula) Y Carrots Y Scallions Y Potatoes Y Mushrooms Y Microgreens

(vegetables like beets, radishes, and peas harvested as seedlings or sprouts)


Y Mint varieties Y Cilantro Y Parsley Y Basil

Y Rosemary Y Thyme Y Lavender Y Oregano

Before you begin Before starting your indoor herb and veggie garden, consider realistic expectations for your family's lifestyle. Plants need tending and care to grow successfully. If you're a newbie to gardening, you may want to start small and simple, like a grow kit that supports your family's growth process. On a basic level, plants need at least water, nutrients, and light - and of course, you'll need the plant seeds or seedlings. Also, think about what your space is like and what will grow best in that environment. Alternatively, if you have more flexibility, January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine Š | 7

you can think about which plants your family wants to grow and how to adapt your environment to meet the plants' needs. To give your plants the best chance of thriving, you'll want a specific place you can control. Decide if you'll use one room, spread them around the house, dedicate just a windowsill, or perhaps build a smaller controllable environment within your home. Also, be aware of your home's humidity, especially during dry winter months, since plants need a more moist environment. Plants do best in stable, consistent temperatures in the 60s to 70s with good air circulation to prevent mold or fungus growth. If you're planning to use mostly natural light from your windows, consider the amount of light they permit and at what

Tips for indoor gardening with kids. Gardening can be a fun and educational project for kids of all ages. It provides them the opportunity to learn about how plants grow and healthy eating and nutrition. It also helps them develop responsibility and so much more. You know your child and their abilities best in terms of how much support they'll need. Here are a few suggestions for growing an indoor garden with your child.

Y Use a chore chart or tracking chart to help keep

your child on track. Include what the plants need, how often, and what your child should look out for.

Y Have your child create a journal. To make it more

fun, they can take photos or draw pictures of what the plants look like as they grow.

Y When the plants are ready to harvest, work

together, so your child experiences the reward of their efforts.

Y Involve your child in finding or choosing delicious, healthy recipes to make with the plants. Y Work together to prepare the produce to be stored. 8 | Pocono Family Magazine Š January/February 2021

time of day they allow for more or less light. Generally, a south-facing window will give you the most sunlight. This will likely change throughout the seasons. So be aware of how light exposure varies and affects plants.

Supplies The supplies you'll need depends on your budget and how involved you want to be. Some products do nearly all the work for you. You can also find those that offer simple setups yet where you're more engaged with the process. If you have specific plants in mind, research what particular items you'll need to support the best-growing environment. Containers should be big enough for your plants' needs. Consider how big the plants will grow, the depth needed for roots, and how far seeds must be planted from each other. When growing plants indoors, you need to consider drainage, so excess water doesn't build up and cause problems like root rot or bacterial growth. You don't need fancy, expensive containers. Depending on the individual plant, you can even repurpose old plastic containers. The soil you use for growing indoors is different from ordinary garden soil. Use potting mix or soil made explicitly for seedlings and the indoors. These soil varieties are made to drain better than garden soil. They aren't likely to contain organisms like fungus or bacteria. If you're growing plants throughout the winter, you'll need a light source to make up for the lack of natural sunlight. Grow lamps are specifically designed to provide the right type of light to help plants grow. Common types of grow lamps are LED or fluorescent. Consider which plants will need more or less light exposure and place them at appropriate distances. Since your plants won't get rain, you're in charge of making sure they have enough but not too much water. Always check how dry the soil is before watering, ensure appropriate drainage, and be aware of the plants' needs. Self-watering containers, drip systems, and hydroponic kits that may use pumps or other methods to make the process easier can be helpful.

Planting your garden Before planting your indoor garden, prepare your environment. Have all the supplies you'll need so you don't have to stop and

run to the store mid-planting. If you're using a growing system, read all the instructions before starting. If your family is doing the whole process on your own, have a way to track everything and make sure you've researched what you're doing. Depending on the plant, you need to put it into the soil the correct way. Each type of plant needs to be planted within particular dimensions, at specific depths and distances apart.

Caring for your garden Edible plants generally take more effort than just putting seeds in the soil and forgetting them, especially indoors where you have to create the environment. Each plant has different needs: some may need pruning, adjustments to watering and soil, and various harvesting or replanting times. To keep track of your plants' needs, it might help to keep a journal or binder or some kind of tracking system. You can use your system to remind you to care for them and how to do so, and also track your successes or failures for next time. In terms of harvesting, some plants need to be completely picked and then replanted. Other plants, especially herbs and leafy greens, can be harvested as you need while the plant grows and regrows where it was cut. You might decide to use a growing system that does most of the work for you. Consider how much time and effort you and your family want to invest. If you do decide to use a growing system, you still want to check and track it to be involved in or aware of the process and make sure everything is working correctly. Be sure to always follow all directions for appropriate use. Finally, keep in mind your family can do everything right and still fail. This can be frustrating but indoor gardening is a learning process. You can try new things next time for better results and a garden that contributes to a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.


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• Indoor pool with 2 Jacuzzis and Sauna • Outdoor Pool • Swimming Beach • Lighted tennis, racquetball and basketball courts • Softball field • Game room, planned activities • Open all year • Woodall 5W rated

P.O. Box 850 • Marshalls Creek, PA 18301 570-223-0123 Reservations only: 800-345-1369 www.otterlake.com


AGENCY Because the world keeps turning Insurance since 1942


About the writer Kimberly Blaker is a parenting and lifestyle freelance writer. She also writes a blog, The Young Gma's Guide to Parenting at www.theyounggma.com

Theodore G. Butz, CPCU

551 Main Street, Stroudsburg, PA 18360 570-421-6141


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Photo courtesy of Family Features

What to Look for in an Infant Day Care It can be challenging to raise a baby even in the best of times, but many parents need additional support for the education and care of their young children amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, both parents work in nearly two-thirds of families with children. The number of working single parents is even higher. However, as long as teachers and staff follow rigorous health and safety practices, day care centers are among the safest places for children right now. “More than ever before, families are struggling with balancing the need to return to consistent routines with concerns about the possible health risks to their children,” said Dr. Elanna Yalow, 10 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021

chief academic officer of KinderCare Learning Centers. “Our rigorous safety protocols give families confidence they can count on our programs when traditional support systems may not be available.” Although the decision to place your baby in someone else’s care can be difficult, the benefits of day care can be significant, especially for children who start a program as babies. Consider these important factors when choosing an infant day care.

Exceeding Recommended Guidelines

Parents will want to make sure their day care center follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics and local health department guidelines.

These include masks and social distancing, restricted access to classrooms, consistent grouping of children, health screenings upon entry, handwashing throughout the day and frequent cleaning and sanitizing. In addition to knowing the steps teachers and staff are taking to keep children safe, ask about staff training and the checks and balances the center has in place to make sure written polices translate into best practices in classrooms.



Pocono Living Magazine

Teachers Who See Each Baby as an Individual

Responsive, caring teachers tend to each baby’s specific needs. From the moment you meet them, they’ll ask what your baby enjoys, what comforts him or her, what milestones your baby is working on and so forth. The best teachers see each baby as a unique person and work to meet your child wherever he or she is, whether that’s watching for signs of tiredness and holding him or her or responding to your baby’s babbling and coos as signs of early language development.

"For many parents, the most important thing is that their baby is safe, happy and flourishing in a loving, caring and engaging environment. "

and Pocono Family Magazine

Strong Communication

Trusting someone else to look after your bundle of joy is a tremendous leap of faith for many parents, particularly as safety-conscious providers are limiting access to their classrooms and parents may not be able to go any further than the front door. That leap is easier if you know you’ll receive updates about your child throughout the day. Whether you want videos and photos, phone calls or texts, or short notes about the things your child is doing while you’re at work, talk with your potential provider about how often you want updates and what kind of information is most meaningful to you. While it’s natural to feel a twinge of nervousness when you get a phone call from your child’s day care, you should also be contacted with good news and friendly reminders. For many parents, the most important thing is that their baby is safe, happy and flourishing in a loving, caring and engaging environment. Once they find this, they can rest assured they made the best decision for their family. Find more information and tips to find the right center at kindercare.com. Courtesy Family Features



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Photo courtesy of Pixabay


“We believe happy and healthy relationships start with happy and healthy individuals.”

12 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021

Boost Your

Spirits Through the Holidays & Beyond

Stress and anxiety are all too familiar to many Americans, this year especially, and the added pressure of the holiday season may provide a new set of challenges. Practicing self-care and nurturing your mental health can help you navigate these potentially isolating times, especially if you’re tackling this season single. With so many other demands in life, taking care of yourself, including your emotional and mental well-being, may not always be at the top of your list. However, putting more emphasis on yourself and your needs can be achieved in small, measurable ways and may not only help boost your spirits but can affect your approach to dating, too. “We believe happy and healthy relationships start with happy and healthy individuals,” said Stefan Harvalias, head of global marketing for Plenty of Fish, one of the largest global online dating companies. Harvalias points out there are a number of ways you can alleviate stress and anxiety. While there’s no one magic formula that fits all, many people find coping easier with activities like these.

Listen to music

Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of music in managing mental health. Slow, mellow music can help the mind shift into a lower gear and has even been shown to influence the body’s physical state such as reducing blood pressure, pulse and heart rates. For someone with anxiety, music can be a welcome distraction from the troublesome thoughts occupying the mind. For others, music is simply a way to escape from reality and focus on something enjoyable.

Talk with friends and family

Although COVID-19 may be creating physical distance, there’s one way it can bring people together: by acknowledging your shared stress to one another. While the impacts of the pandemic vary greatly, everyone has been navigating uncertainty and change that comes with such a widespread event. A weekly check-in call or video chat with friends and family members can help you feel less alone with your feelings and experiences. Topics like mental health and mindfulness have risen to the surface of everyday discussions, removing a lot of the stigma they once had.

Seek out tools to help you unwind

If you’ve never given much thought to managing your mental health, you may not know where to begin practicing better self-care, and that’s OK. That’s where you can benefit from resources like those available through Plenty of Fish. Knowing the toll the pandemic is taking on singles, the dating app partnered with Shine, a leading self-care app, to create two free dating-related meditations developed to help singles better manage anxiety and improve mental health and wellness. Navigating dating, work and your personal life can feel like an intense juggling act. To help find balance and feel less pressure, consider listening to the “Balance Dating While Busy” guided meditation and reflect on your energy and priorities so you can make space for dating in your life. Although dating may look and feel different right now, it’s still doable. Shift your mindset and reflect on ways to adapt with an option like the “Navigate Dating During COVID” guided meditation. January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine © | 13

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Recognize the role of physical wellness The mind and body are intrinsically connected, and how you take care of your body can have an impact on your mental state. This includes eating well to ensure you’re getting proper nutrition, which can positively impact your mood. Additionally, exercise releases feel-good hormones, so a quick walk around the block or a 10-minute exercise video can benefit you both physically and mentally.

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When life feels uncertain, being closely tied to an information source like your smartphone can give you a sense of security, but it can also add to your everyday stress. If you’re working from home, you may find you never fully shift out of work mode. However, it’s easy to become addicted to refreshing your newsfeed, allowing your devices to cut into time you could spend more productively. Limit your screen time to force yourself to focus on the present and activities that bring you pleasure while allowing your brain to rest, like spending time with loved ones or enjoying a good book or movie. Find more resources to support your mental health and dating experiences this holiday season at blog.pof.com.

Keep COVID from Crushing Your Dating Game

As if single life and dating didn’t bring enough uncertainty


Photo courtesy of Pixabay


on their own, a global health crisis has only heightened the anxiety many singles feel. Dating pressures and anxiety tied to COVID-19 were the subjects of a study by Plenty of Fish, which showed just how challenging dating has been for singles this year.

According to the survey of singles:

• 60% have experienced feelings of anxiety

before going on a date 29% have canceled a date due to anxiety 44% are anxious about their date not wearing a mask

• •

When it comes to the benefits of self-care, a majority of surveyed singles reported:

• 66% practice self-care regularly • 87% said self-care activities reduce stress • 78% said they feel less stressed after a self-care routine • 50% meditate • Alone time, exercise and pampering were listed as the top self-care activities

It’s not just a day of shopping here in the Pocono Mountains—it’s an experience. Wander our historic streets. Explore our art galleries. Find unique local goods. And stop for a bite at one of our top-rated neighborhood restaurants along the way. Discover all of our shopping and sights now at PoconoMountains.com.

“Prioritizing your mental health matters more than ever,” Harvalias said. “Self-care and wellness mean something different to everyone – all that matters is that you find an outlet to disconnect and do what makes you happy.” Courtesy Family Features January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine © | 15

16 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021

Photo Courtesy of: (c) AaronAmat / iStock via Getty Images Plus

Take Your Dental Hygiene Routine Patient volumes are hitting only 74 percent of prepandemic levels, according to the American Dental Association. With many people delaying dentist office visits, at-home oral care routines are more important than ever.

nighttime brushing habit is equally as important. It dislodges food debris accumulated throughout the day and reduces bacteria buildup overnight. It’s also a good idea to brush during the day if you eat or drink acidic foods and beverages, which can be harmful to enamel.

Take your at-home dental hygiene routine to a new level of clean with these tips from “America’s dentist,” Dr. Bill Dorfman:

 Be thorough, yet gentle.

 Use the best tools.

An electric toothbrush has the power needed for optimal brushing results and has been proven to be far more effective than a manual toothbrush. One new gamechanging option, the Oral-B iO, has reimagined the electric toothbrush. The result of six years of dedicated research with dental professionals, its advanced features, like AI recognition and micro-vibrating bristles, help ensure you reach all areas of your mouth to provide a deeper cleaning of teeth and gums, as proven in clinical tests. “I always recommend Oral-B because not only do they make top-of-the-line products, they’re actively making at-home oral care more accessible through their $1 million commitment to the Dental Lifeline Network, a non-profit that provides access to life-changing dental care to those in need,” says Dr. Dorfman. In fact, a new initiative is bringing this brush, which offers a professional-clean feeling with every use, to those who need it most. Oral-B is partnering with 50 dental professionals nationwide to surprise 200 deserving patients with an Oral-B iO power toothbrush.

 Brush at least two times daily.

Chasing away morning breath makes it easy for most people to remember to brush in the morning, but a

The outer surfaces of your teeth may be most visible when you flash a grin, but the inside and top surfaces need attention, too. While you focus on reaching every nook and cranny, avoid brushing too hard. Excess pressure can cause serious damage to your mouth and lead to gum recession. To ensure an all-around clean, brush for two full minutes, with an appropriate amount of pressure, methodically focusing on different regions.

 Combat contamination.

Store your brush away from others so you don’t share bacteria. Prevent mold and bacteria growth by air drying between uses. Inspect bristles for breakdown, which is a signal your brush is no longer effectively cleaning and you need a replacement head or new brush.

 Go beyond brushing.

On a daily basis, gently floss between each tooth individually and rub against each tooth at the gum line to loosen plaque and debris. Pay attention to signs you need to visit the dentist. Schedule a visit if you notice redness or tenderness in your gums, experience pain or sensitivity to temperature changes or have other unusual symptoms causing discomfort. For more dental health information and resources, visit oralb.com. At a time when health is top of mind, have the right knowledge and tools to optimally maintain your dental hygiene routine. Courtesy of StatePoint

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Photo Courtesy of: Family Features

to a New Level

4 Tips for a Productive

2021 T

his year has taught many workers a thing or two about being productive when offices and homes blend into one.

As the calendar turns to 2021, consider these key products and processes to stay productive next year.

Find a system (and stick to it): Creating an organizing

system is an easy way to ensure your at-home workspace is ready for optimal productivity. Designate space to house all your work items - a drawer, cabinet or box - and keep work items organized by type (pens, papers, computer gear, etc.) At the end of each day, transitioning to "offline hours" can be easier when you have a place to stow your work items.

Start your day clean: Studies have shown cleanliness

has a direct impact on productivity. Yet, many people struggle 18 | Pocono Family Magazine Š January/February 2021

to find the time and energy to clean, especially at the end of a busy day at home. An option like The DEEBOT T8 from Ecovacs provides a hands-free cleaning experience, complete with the time-saving benefits of an all-in-one robot vacuum and floor mop, along with TrueDetect technology to avoid tangling in small objects. Easily controlled via an app, just set it to clean before bed and wake up to a tidy workspace.

Break up your day: With so many hours at home in front

of a computer, workdays can get a little monotonous. Break up the day to make working from home feel as "normal" as possible - shower in the morning, take a walk or drive to coffee then make time for at least two breaks throughout the day. Some people have found success with the Pomodoro Technique, which is breaking your day up into 25-minute chunks of work, with 5-minute rest periods. If you continue to work until you

Dr. William Martin Photo courtesy of: Getty Images

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1015 Congdon ave. Stroudsburg, pa 18360 feel like taking a break, odds are you'll overwork yourself until it's too late to take the "big break" you had in mind.

Bookend your days with mindfulness:

At the beginning and end of each workday, do a 3-5-minute mindfulness meditation. Before signing on to work for the day, allow your mind to fully focus on the day's tasks at-hand. Signoff by doing another mediation to end the day and let go of any worries or stresses you might have. Incorporating this tactic into your daily routine can help create a natural boundary from work and home while also restoring peace of mind. Find more solutions to help maintain productivity at Ecovacs.com.

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay


20 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021


Tips for pet-proofing your home Welcoming a four-legged friend into your family is an exciting time for everyone, but puppies, kittens, dogs and cats can easily find themselves in serious trouble while exploring their new surroundings. It is important to remember that pets are naturally curious and explore their worlds with their mouths, so they will want to interact with or consume anything left out at their level. Because of this, your home is filled with potential risks, some obvious and others you might not expect. The good news is there are simple steps you can take to help keep your new pet safe. Purina behavior scientist Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan offers these timely tips to help pet-proof your home and give you peace of mind that it is a safe place for your dog or cat to live and thrive.

How to Keep Your New Pet Safe PUT AWAY THE TOXINS Many common household items are toxic for pets. Cleaning supplies, detergent, bleach, fertilizer, pest or rodent bait traps and paint can all cause serious harm if ingested. McGowan says, "Make sure to always store toxic items in a place where your pet cannot access them, either in a locked cabinet or on high shelves out of their reach. Even if you are vigilant about keeping these items out of reach, sometimes accidents happen. It is good to have the number for the Animal Poison Control Center handy or even saved in your phone, just in case: (888) 426-4435."

SECURE SMALL HARDWARE Pets are attracted to small items that they can mouth, chew or bat around in play. In the home, small hardware items - from buttons, pins, batteries and magnets, to nails, staples, tacks and paper clips - may look appealing to pets, but could cause serious cuts or even damage internal organs if swallowed. "Before your new friend comes home, do a sweep to ensure small hardware items, batteries and magnets are securely stored or kept out of reach," shares McGowan. "This means getting down to their level and retrieving any items that may have fallen under or behind the furniture. Tacks, pins and magnets should also be moved up from low hanging bulletin boards or the front of the refrigerator, where they could attract the attention of cats, especially."

BEWARE OF FOOD BAGS... AND PRACTICE PROPER FOOD STORAGE Almost every one of us is guilty of leaving a bag of chips or box of cereal open on the couch or kitchen table. This may seem harmless, but many food bags, including for pet food, are made from a strong material that helps keep food fresh. A curious pet can get stuck if it goes looking in the bag for leftover crumbs or an early dinner. "Food packaging can be quite attractive to pets. Not only does it smell like food, but it makes a crinkling noise that pets associate with food, treats or play," shares McGowan. "Make

January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine Š | 21

pet of any age, size or strength can quickly find themselves in a troubling, and potentially heartbreaking, situation when left unattended with a food bag. By using resealable containers, you limit the risk - and, as a bonus, your food will remain fresh." Similarly, remember to cut empty bags along the entire top, bottom and down at least one side before disposal, in case your curious pet rummages through the trash.


sure to store food or treat bags up high out of your pet's reach, or inside cabinets or closets. We also recommend rolling the pet food bag closed and storing the entire item in a resealable hard container, so you can keep the label information handy," advises McGowan. "A 22 | Pocono Family Magazine Š January/February 2021

Electronics are ubiquitous in most homes, but the many wires and cords they come with can look like a fun toy to your pet. To keep your pet from chewing them or getting tangled, bundle loose cords behind furniture and store extra chargers and cables in a place that cannot be reached or opened with a paw or nose. For cords that must remain visible, McGowan suggests camouflaging them with cable-coverings or tape, so they are less attractive to your pet. "It is also a good

practice to store remote controls and video game controllers in a bin or a drawer where your pet does not have access to them," she adds. "These items often smell like food or lotions from our fingers which can attract pets to chew on them, but their electrical components and batteries are harmful if consumed."

KEEP DANGEROUS INGREDIENTS OUT OF REACH In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are making more meals at home, including experimenting with new recipes. It's important to remember that some common ingredients can be harmful to your pets. "Before you make your grocery list, review recipes against a list of ingredients that could be toxic for dogs and cats," counsels McGowan. "Chocolate is well known, but you'll also want to avoid grapes, raisins and certain spices. Xylitol, a sugar alternative found in everything from cake mixes to yogurt, peanut butter and chewing gum, is another toxic ingredient." Best practice is to keep all food and ingredients stored in cupboards, pantries, drawers or on high shelves out of reach of your pet.



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"Before your new friend comes home, do a sweep to ensure small hardware items, batteries and magnets are securely stored or kept out of reach" We all want to make the most of life with our new furry companions, and by following the above tips, we can do so safely. We also encourage you to have your veterinarian's contact information easily accessible, so you are ready in case of trouble. As you prepare to start life with your new pet on the right paw, you can read more tips from McGowan and other Purina experts at www.purina.com/articles. Courtesy of Brand Point

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24 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021

Nutritional Inspiration

for the New Year A new year brings new opportunities for personal changes and improvement from taking steps forward in a career to bettering personal relationships and perhaps most common - starting on a path toward better health. For many, the worthwhile challenge of enhancing physical health begins with the foods and beverages you eat and drink.

Step one is to leave behind the habit of turning to unhealthy meals and instead focus on dishes that call for fresh fruits and veggies like this Quinoa Salad with Orange Cilantro Salad Dressing. Simply start with cooked quinoa and mix together with your preferred produce like orange slices, grapefruit and diced avocado. Add feta cheese, lime juice and diced red onion to bring the flavor to life and drizzle with the light, zesty dressing.

These health-conscious recipes are made possible with the flavor enhancement of Zevia beverages, which are naturally sweetened with stevia and include no artificial ingredients, colors or preservatives. Ranging from sodas to organic teas, energy drinks, sparkling water and mixers for cocktails and mocktails, the zero-sugar beverages fit nearly any lifestyle including eating patterns like paleo, keto, intermittent fasting and gluten-free. Visit zevia.com/recipes to find more nutritious food and drink solutions.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Making nutritious choices goes beyond just your meals, however. Take your commitment to the next level with beverages that don't cancel out your effort to eat healthy. This Spiced Citrus Ginger Mocktail combines a concentrate made of orange juice, orange peel, lime juice and lime peel with zero-sugar, zerocalorie ginger ale.

Quinoa Salad

w/ Orange Cilantro Salad Dressing Yield: 2 cups


• 1/2 cup Zevia Orange Soda • 1/4 cup lime juice • 1/2 cup olive oil • 1 cup fresh cilantro • 1/2 avocado • 1 teaspoon garlic

Quinoa Salad:

• 1 cup quinoa • leafy greens (optional) • 1 orange, cut into pieces (optional) • 1 grapefruit, cut into pieces (optional) • 1 lime, juice only • 1/2 avocado, diced (optional) • 1/4 cup feta cheese (optional) • 1/4 cup diced red onion (optional)

To make dressing: In food processor, pulse orange soda, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, avocado and garlic until consistency is smooth. To make quinoa salad: Cook quinoa according to package directions and let cool. Once quinoa is cool, add to bowl with orange pieces, if desired; grapefruit pieces, if desired; lime juice; avocado, if desired; feta cheese, if desired; and diced onion, if desired. Top with orange cilantro salad dressing.

26 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021

Spiced Citrus Ginger


Yield: 1 mocktail


• 1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice • 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice • 1 orange peel • 1 lime peel • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, lightly crushed • 5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed • 2 cinnamon sticks, lightly crushed


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• 1/3 cup concentrate • 1 can Zevia Ginger Ale • lime wedge, for garnish (optional) • orange wedge, for garnish (optional) • ice

To make concentrate: In small saucepan, combine orange juice, lime juice, orange peel, lime peel, black peppercorns, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks. Bring to boil over high heat then turn to low; simmer until liquid has reduced by half, 3-4 minutes. Let cool and strain out solids. Transfer to glass jar and store until ready to use. To make mocktail: Combine concentrate with ginger ale over ice. Garnish with lime wedge or orange wedge, if desired. Courtesy Family Features

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Ice Fishing IN THE POCONOS By: Amanda Kuhn

28 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021


f snow covered terrain and freezing temps aren’t enough to keep you and your family indoors, there’s plenty of low cost family fun to be found. While skiing, snowboarding, skating, and snowshoeing are all winter favorites, the price tag for tickets and equipment can get steeper than the slopes. Ice fishing requires minimal equipment, little experience and lots of warm layers. But aside from having the proper attire, there are some important things you need to know to ensure the safety of you and your fellow anglers.

Before deciding on your favorite fishing spot, it’s crucial that you educate yourself on proper safety measures. Ice fishing should never be done alone and life jackets should always be worn regardless of the ice thickness. It is also important that you are equipped with the proper tools including rope, ice picks and dry clothes. Most importantly, you’ll need to accurately determine the thickness of the ice. Determining the thickness of the ice should be done while standing on the shore by drilling or spudding the ice. Thickness will vary across the body of water so be sure to check different spots. Generally, you should never fish on ice that is less than 4 inches thick. According to the PA Fish and Boat Commission, 4 inches is enough for 1 angler, 5 inches for one snowmobile and 7 inches for a small group. Once you have determined that the ice is safe, use the tool of your choice to drill a hole no bigger than 10 inches in diameter. Augers, spud bars, pipes or poles with chisel-like blades on the end are typically used. In addition to your gear and safety items, you’ll also need the proper bait and tackle. Depending on what you’re fishing, your equipment may vary. Panfish anglers generally prefer a short jigging rod and your choices for bait are vast. Worms, minnows, and grubs are always productive but other grocery store baits like cheese, corn or marshmallows can also be used. Bluegills, Trout, Crappies, Perch, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Muskies and Walleyes can all be found in the various bodies of water that cover the Poconos. One of the area’s most popular ice fishing locations is Lake Wallenpaupack. This 5,700 acre lake located in Pike and Wayne counties, is great for fishing Bass, Walleye, Pickerel, Yellow Perch, Trout and a variety of panfish. For an interactive map of the best ice fishing locations visit the PA Fish and Boat Commission website. For information about ice fishing in the Poconos, proper safety measures, angling techniques and more, visit the PA Fish and Boat Commission website at www.fishandboat. com. Also, be sure to check their calendar for upcoming seasonal fishing programs where you and your family can learn the basics of ice fishing. *PA Fishing License required.

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Cool Weather Camping

30 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021

It’s almost never too cold to head outdoors when you’re well-prepared. On your next cool-weather hike or camping trip, keep these considerations in mind for a safe and comfortable experience:

• Between a rock and a cold place: Not only will

the addition of a sleeping pad under your sleeping bag make your tent a comfier place to get some quality shuteye after a long day of hiking, rappelling or fishing, it will also provide an important additional layer between you and the cold ground, helping keep you warm. Lightweight and compact, many models are inflatable and pack up neatly between uses.

• Sure-footing: When trail conditions will potentially

be slick, it’s always a good idea to bring along the equipment needed to stay sure-footed. Be sure to wear waterproof hiking shoes or boots with solid traction and consider using trekking poles for further stability.

• Tech zone: Staying aware of shifting conditions is

• Health and wellness: In chilly weather, sun

protection and hydration remain just as critical as they do on hot days. Be sure to wear sunscreen on any exposed skin, along with lip balm containing SPF and sunglasses offering UV protection. If drinking cold water outdoors doesn’t appeal to you this time of year, heat beverages before hikes and stow them in an insulated thermos. The temperatures may be falling, but there is no need to rule out an outdoor-oriented trip. Proper gear can help ensure a successful adventure.

Courtesy of StatePoint

January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine © | 31

Photo Courtesy of: (c) AlexBrylov / iStock via Getty Images Plus

especially important when adventuring in the cooler months. Wearable tech, like Pro Trek watches from Casio, can help. Rugged and water-resistant up to 100 meters, these watches provide crucial information such as altitude, location, barometric pressure, as well as sunrise and sunset times. These features can help you with navigation, planning and staying on top of weather conditions. Ranging in price between about $200-$500, it’s easy to find a model that meets your needs, whether you’re an angler or a whitewater rafter.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


"Being safe on the road begins before you even slide into the driver's seat."

Safe Winter Driving Even the most experienced drivers can encounter challenges when driving on slick roads caused by ice and snow or dealing with the impact of colder temperatures during the winter months. In fact, inclement weather and sloppy road conditions are a factor in nearly half a million crashes each winter, according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Being safe on the road begins before you even slide into the driver's seat. When the temperature drops, it's important to pay special attention to your vehicle's well-being, including checking the battery, wipers, coolant and other systems. One of your vehicle's most important safety and performance features that should not be overlooked as winter weather sets in is its 32 | Pocono Family Magazine Š January/February 2021

4 tire tips for cold weather

tires, which are the only direct link to the road below. Consider these tips from the experts at Discount Tire to help ensure your tires are ready for winter.

Maintain Proper Pressure The air inside your tires supports the weight of your car, and as the outdoor temperature drops, so does your tire pressure. For every 10-degree drop in ambient temperature, your tires can lose about 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle and check your tires at least once a month to ensure they are filled to the vehicle manufacturer's recommended inflation level, which can be

found in the instruction manual or inside the driver's door. Also, if your vehicle has a spare tire, remember to check its inflation level as well, as it may be different. Many cars may have been sitting idle due to the pandemic. Activities being cancelled, working from home and more frequent dining in have kept more cars off the roads than usual. However, just because you haven't been driving doesn't mean your tires have stayed the same. Tires can still lose air pressure, around 1-2 PSI per month, even if they aren't being used. Some tires may also vibrate after sitting for a while. These concerns can be solved with a quick tire checkup.

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Check Your Tread Tread depth helps determine a vehicle's safe stopping distance. You can check your tires' tread depth by sticking a penny upside-down in one of the grooves. If President Lincoln's entire head is visible, it's time to replace your tires to ensure you're able to stop in time in conditions that typically accompany the winter months.

Invest in Winter Tires In extreme cold, the tread rubber of all-season or summer tires can stiffen and lose the ability to provide sufficient traction. Winter tires are made from softer rubber to maintain pliability, and the tread design features thousands of extra traction edges for added grip. If you regularly drive in temperatures of 45 F the same temperature at which you can begin to see your breath - or below, replacing all four tires with winter tires can help provide more control and deliver as much as a 25-50% increase in traction over all-season tires, which could be the margin you need to stop in time or turn to avoid trouble.




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Rotate Often To increase tread life, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles, or earlier if irregular or uneven wear develops. One easy way to remember is to have your tires rotated every other time you have your oil changed.

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As you prepare your vehicle for safe winter travel, visit DiscountTire.com for more tips, a personalized tire guide and to find a location near you. Courtesy Family Features


9080 Franklin Hill Road East Stroudsburg, Pa www.psgaragepa.com January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine © | 33

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


15 Board Games That Teach Kids Math & Money Skills By: Kimberly Blaker


ids need to learn and master so many different concepts throughout childhood in preparation for the adult world. When adults think of learning, it is often thought of as an unpleasant experience of boring lessons, memorization, and testing that doesn't have a real-life purpose. These methods are not always conducive to learning authentic information and understanding important concepts. Math is one of kids' leastloved subjects for this very reason. But it doesn't have to be that way.

34 | Pocono Family Magazine Š January/February 2021

Children learn the most in both quality and quantity when done naturally through play. This is where board games come in, which take the pressure and frustration out of learning essential topics like math and money by presenting them in a more enjoyable and purposeful format. Kids of all ages can benefit from a broad number of board games available that allow them to learn through play. The following board game selection makes learning math and money concepts more fun from preschool to high school.

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” -Diane Ackerman 1. Hi Ho! Cherry-o is an excellent game for young children to naturally practice counting, addition, and subtraction skills. The concept is simple as each player spins to see how many fruit pieces to pick or remove from their basket. Ages 3-6 2. Feed the Woozle is a game for practicing preschool skills,

including counting up to twelve during silly and cooperative play. It offers three different play levels to challenge growing children as they work together to feed the Woozle. Ages 3+

3. Sum Swamp helps players become more fluent in addition

and subtraction as they try to safely cross the swamp. Special spaces like evens, odds, and numbers add an extra challenge. Ages 5+

4. Cloud Hoppers works on subtraction practice, starting at 50

then counting down, as players embark on a quest to help their alien get down to the ground. Ages 6+

5. Buy it Right is a shopping game where players buy, sell, and

set prices for items using fake money that mimics real coins and cash. Players practice counting out change and learn the value of money during play, with different levels of difficulty possible. Ages 6+

9. Monopoly is a classic game dealing with money and

economic concepts. You buy properties, pay rent, and manage your money as each player tries to take control. There are countless versions of this game to match a range of ages and interests. The original version is recommended for ages 8+

10. The Game of Life teaches how the choices we make affect our finances and life, while surprises can affect even the most well-thought-out plans. Players use practical math skills while learning about life-long economic impacts, helping kids think about their financial futures. Ages 8+

11. Managing My Allowance teaches players about money management and budgeting. Players make choices about how to spend or save the money they earn. The game uses play cash for players to handle as they count out changes to their total and try to save money for college. Ages 8+ 12. Zeus on the Loose is a fast-paced math game using number cards to climb Mount Olympus and catch Zeus by getting the number total to a multiple of 10. Players use strategy, addition, and subtraction while managing other gods and goddesses' effects along the way. Ages 8+

mysteries using math. Each player gets a suspect card and must determine if the math in their alibi is correct, meaning innocence, or incorrect, meaning guilty. There are boxes for each grade level from 2-6. Ages 6+.

13. Proof! is a game that works for a wide range of ages and abilities, depending on the players, to support mental math practice. The dealer lays down nine cards while players look at the cards to create an equation out of at least three available cards. It can be made more or less challenging with variations on the basic game and can even be played solo. Ages 9+

7. Three Sticks is a geometry game that operates in a similar

14. The Stock Exchange Game teaches players about the stock

6. Mathological Liar is a detective game where players solve

way to Scrabble. Players take turns trying to create shapes on a board while using only two sticks of various lengths during each turn. Ages 8+

8. Monster Sock Factory is a game to introduce and practice multiplication and division concepts. Players try to determine how many socks to pack and ship from the factory for monsters with different numbers of legs. Ages 8+ but can be adapted to younger players.

market and related concepts during strategy-based play with three play levels for varying difficulty. The game uses play money and stock coins along with extras like world event cards that affect results. Ages 10+

15. Prime Climb uses prime numbers, factorization,

multiplication, and division along with strategy. Players roll the dice, move, and draw cards while navigating around other players to get both of their pawns to exactly 101. Ages 10+ January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine © | 35

36 | Pocono Family Magazine Š January/February 2021

Photo Courtesy of: (c) SpeedKingz, insta_photos, Rido, KorArkaR, fizkes / Shutterstock

Service Learning Gives Students

Purpose and Connection The typical routine a school year brings has been lost this year, as students adjust to hybrid or fully remote learning models and ever-changing reopening plans. According to McKinsey, 75% of the 50 largest school districts in the country have decided to start remotely, and the UN estimates that 94% of the world’s student population has been impacted. While the disruption the coronavirus has caused the educational system is clear, the long-term impact on students’ mental health is even greater cause for concern. Research recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that young people who are lonely are up to three times more likely to develop depression, creating mental health issues that could last nearly a decade. The study found that more than one-third of adolescents reported a high level of loneliness during lockdown. While these findings are alarming, utilizing service-learning to supplement traditional curriculum can give students a sense of purpose and connection, helping mitigate loneliness in a digital environment.

“What I want people to take away from our project is that even through isolation, you can still find ways to help out in your community”

One program that has shown success in fostering social and emotional learning is the Lead4Change Student Leadership Program, which encompasses digital lessons in leadership, as well as creating and implementing team projects to meet a need in the community. “What I want people to take away from our project is that even through isolation, you can still find ways to help out in your community,” says Genesis Morgane, a student from Garner, N.C. who created the “Corona Relief Crew” through the program, distributing kits with essential food and supplies to the

homeless and those in nursing homes who have been severely impacted by the pandemic. While the pandemic meant that students had to rapidly adjust to physical distancing guidelines, they were successful in completing their project and building meaningful relationships in a remote environment. “The most amazing part of their efforts was that everything was done virtually,” says Dr. Cleopatra Lacewell, the teacher overseeing the Corona Relief Crew. “The youth had to engage one another through emails, texts and a computer screen, which is often a challenge for me as an adult.” The Corona Relief Crew was honored by Lead4Change with a $10,000 grant for the nonprofit of their choice, but an equally rewarding outcome of the project was instilling in its participants a sense of meaning in connection in their community. “We decided that everyone is at home, alone, having to stay in quarantine and distance themselves from everyone else,” says Morgane. “We said, ‘Why don’t we think about them and let them know that we have not forgotten about them.’” For more information about the Lead4Change Student Leadership Program and accompanying Challenge, visit lead4change.org. The disruption students face due to the pandemic is widespread, but not evenly distributed. The UN’s research found that groups that are already vulnerable when it comes to receiving education—those living in poor or rural areas, girls, refugees, and persons with disabilities—experience the greatest impact. The good news is that many digital programs like Lead4Change, which is a free program for all participants, only require enthusiasm and investment of time from students and their teachers. Courtesy of StatePoint January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine © | 37

Photo courtesy of Brand Point


4 ways to protect your finances and investments in 2021 38 | Pocono Family Magazine Š January/February 2021

Finances are consistently a top concern for many Americans, with "saving money" a top-10 most common New Year's resolution. This year, Americans are more concerned than ever before due to the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. USE Credit Union reported that more than 75% of non-transactional calls received since the start of the pandemic were from members concerned about their financial future, citing economic hardship as the primary reason for concern. The economy and job market remain in a state of constant flux, which is causing many families to worry about their ability to pay an unexpected bill, continue to pay off student loans, mortgages or credit card debt, or save money for the future.

"Saving money is more than just putting spare change into a coffee can, or simply ordering takeout less often"

"Saving money is more than just putting spare change into a coffee can, or simply ordering takeout less often," said Jeff Schroeder, vice president and chief product officer at Mercury Insurance. "Sure, those things can add up over time, but people may find that their greatest savings can come from taking a look at the necessary expenses they pay for every month, such as insurance." Schroeder recommends these four tips to help protect your finances in the coming year:

1) Check your auto insurance coverages. There's no

reason to pay for more coverage than you need, but being underinsured can leave you exposed. "The cost of repairs after a collision has grown in recent years, both as a result of more crossovers and SUVs on the road, and more technologically advanced vehicles," said Schroeder. "Beyond paying for more expensive repairs if your insurance doesn't cover it, if you're underinsured, you may also be responsible for paying out of pocket for medical bills, which could potentially devastate savings for a down payment on a house, your child's college tuition or a future vacation. It's vitally important to make sure you have the right amount of auto insurance coverage to protect against unforeseen events."

2) Know what your homeowners insurance covers. First and

foremost, be sure to read your homeowners insurance policy so you're clear about what it does and doesn't cover. It's a good idea to check in with your insurance agent each year to ensure you have adequate coverage, especially if you've made renovations, own collectible or valuable items, or live in an area that's prone to flooding or earthquakes, as standard homeowners insurance policies typically don't cover these situations. Also, maintain a home inventory to make sure to have an accurate record of your belongings and property.

3) Be aware of potential gaps in coverage. A standard

homeowners insurance policy often doesn't cover mechanical failures to your home's appliances, HVAC or other essential systems, nor does it cover a break to service lines on your property that supply your home with electricity, gas or sewer functions. In either of these scenarios, this means you would be responsible for writing a big check to a repair company or having to purchase a pricy replacement. However, adding home systems protection and service line protection endorsements can help provide coverage for costly repairs and replacements, saving money and your peace of mind. Pennies spent now can save you thousands of dollars later.

4) Regularly shop for the best coverage and price. Insurance

prices can vary significantly from company to company, so it's a good idea to take a few minutes to see if you're getting a good deal. Shop around at least once a year - making sure to look for the exact same coverage limits - to see if you can find a more affordable rate. "Often, regional insurers like Mercury Insurance are more attuned to their policyholders' needs and can offer better rates," Schroeder added. "For example, the California Department of Insurance found that Mercury auto insurance policyholders save an average of $670, which can go a long way in feeling more secure in your savings." The most effective way to make sure your finances are minimally impacted by insurance costs in 2021 is to speak to an independent insurance agent. They can help make sure you have the proper amount and type of coverage to keep yourself, your family and property protected. Courtesy of Brand Point January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine Š | 39



t's no secret that 2020 has been a tumultuous year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans found themselves out of work - at least temporarily - and received unemployment benefits. Others may have experienced employment changes, like working from home or taking on multiple jobs. All of these factors will have even more of an impact come time to file income taxes on tax day, April 15, 2021.

Unemployment benefits are taxable and must be reported to the IRS on your tax return. Taxable benefits also include any special compensation authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act earlier this year. That means if you did not withhold enough taxes from your unemployment benefits, you could see a big tax bill or a much smaller tax refund than you normally receive.

"For many, the 2020 tax season will likely look different," says Mark Steber, Chief Tax Information Officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Services. "The pandemic brought unexpected, overwhelming changes."

Unemployment benefits can affect tax credits. Unemployment is considered unearned income, so it won't count toward certain credits. For example, you must have earned income to qualify for the Child Tax Credit or the Earned Income Tax Credit. Additionally, your adjusted gross income must be below certain levels to get certain credits.

To help you prepare and get the maximum tax refund you deserve, Steber offers the following tax tips.

Understand how unemployment benefits work If you received unemployment benefits this year, it may have been for the first time. Make sure you're aware of how they affect your taxes. 40 | Pocono Family Magazine Š January/February 2021

Set money aside to cover unexpected taxes If you received unemployment benefits and did not withhold any federal or state income tax, you'll need to pay tax on that money. To prepare, consider setting money aside now to cover those taxes on your 2020 return and brace yourself for a much smaller refund or no refund at all this tax season.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Take advantage of possible deductions Every taxpayer will get a charitable donation deduction for 2020. Make a list of any IRS-approved donations you made this year and locate any receipts. Whether itemizing or taking the standard deduction, under the CARES Act, all taxpayers are eligible to deduct up to $300 worth of monetary donations to qualified organizations. And while many Americans have been working at home for months, a home office deduction is not guaranteed. The home office deduction is only available to those who are selfemployed.

Consider major life changes Life goes on, even during a pandemic, and life changes can bring sizeable tax implications. Some changes that cause the biggest impact include getting married or divorced, having a baby or adopting a child, buying or selling property, retiring, or starting a business. If you experienced any of these events in 2020, know that your return will look different.

Keep track of important documents Even if your taxes won't be affected by unemployment, make sure you gather all your documents, such as W-2 forms and 1099s for interest dividends and even retirement distributions. Remember to include the Notice 1444 you received with your stimulus check for your 2020 tax records. Collect your charitable contribution totals, mortgage interest, property taxes you've paid, and any additional state and local income taxes paid for the year. If you were furloughed and able to pick up a temporary job, gather your W-2s for each job you worked. If you worked a side gig, make sure to keep a record of your income, the miles you drove, and any additional expenses. And if you're not filing single, be on the lookout for family members that may have been impacted to make your tax return more complicated. No matter your 2020 situation, follow these tips to prepare for any unexpected tax implications. For more information and help during the 2020 tax season, visit jacksonhewitt.com. Courtesy of Brand Point January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine Š | 41

Cutting Family Costs: Ways to save without sacrifice By: Kimberly Blaker

By: Kimberly Blaker 42 | Pocono Family Magazine Š January/February 2021

The cost to raise kids today is between $12,350 to $14,000 a year per child, according to a January 9, 2017, CNN Money report by Kathryn Vasel. Multiply that by 2 or more children, and it's a substantial chunk of change. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep family costs down without sacrificing your family's quality of life. Just follow these costcutting tips and watch your savings grow.

Feeding the Crew With the rising cost of food, feeding your family is perhaps one of the most significant expenses you'll incur. But with careful planning, it's also one of the easier places to cut costs. Coupon clipping can net substantial savings—as long as you only buy items you'd purchase anyway. For the best savings, look for grocery stores that offer double coupons. But do your math at these stores to make sure they don't have a higher markup, or else your savings will go down the drain, or potentially cost you more. Also, set guidelines so you don't use coupons for unnecessary purchases or when it's a better deal to buy another brand. Another strategy, which can cut your grocery bill by at least a third is buying only what's on sale. Flip through your store flier each week, then stock up with a 4 to 6 week supply of the sale items. After the first month, you should have plenty of stock to eliminate most non-sale purchases. Although you'll invest a little more upfront, within a few weeks, you'll recoup your investment and begin to see your grocery bill drop.

"Another strategy, which can cut your grocery bill by at least a third is buying only what's on sale." Avoid wholesale food clubs as well. When comparing prices, the savings are usually minimal and rarely compare to grocery store sale prices. Food clubs may be good for just a few staple items you've researched and know are always a better deal and that your family really needs and uses. When grocery shopping, always compare the price per ounce on various size packaging. Contrary to popular belief, smaller packages are sometimes the better deal. Manufacturers have learned people go for the larger bulk size items because they're often a better price per ounce. As a result, some manufacturers switch the pricing around knowing consumers will assume the larger package is a better deal. Also, don't let unanticipated fast food runs eat up your spare cash. Keep plenty of simple or frozen meals on hand to toss in the oven for emergency eat-and-run suppers. Better yet, make

large batches of soups, casseroles, and other dishes and freeze them for simple meals.

Energy Efficiency There are plenty of ways to cut overall energy use without sacrifice. Best of all, it's better for the planet. So make the following part of your energy-saving strategy. Run your dishwasher only when full, and use the no-heat or airdry setting. Keep your refrigerator out of the sun. Turn off the oven a few minutes before your meal is done cooking. The heat already built up in the oven will finish the job. Wash all laundry in cold water, except for sheets and towels, which need hot water to kill bacteria and odors. As an added bonus, it will reduce shrinkage and fading of colors. Clean the lint filter on your dryer before each use, and don't overdry clothes. Better yet, hang your clothes to dry. Evaluate your lighting needs. Use the lowest watt bulb possible that provides ample lighting. Better yet, use LED light bulbs for maximum energy savings. Keep your hot water heater between 115 to 120 degrees, as recommended by The Department of Energy. Warmer temperatures are wasteful, unnecessary, and can lead to scolding. When purchasing new appliances, compare energy efficiency. Paying a little more for the more energy-efficient appliances can save a lot of money in the end. Turn your computer off overnight and during lengthy interruptions.

Family Fun Keeping the family entertained doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg – or anything at all. Make visiting your library a regular family activity. Libraries offer a wide variety of free entertainment, including books and January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine Š | 43

magazines (print and digital editions), DVDs, music CDs, video games, and even computer games and software. If your library doesn't carry the item you're looking for, ask about its interlibrary loan program. Local, county, and state parks offer a variety of scheduled activities and programs from bird viewing and nature hikes to concerts and festivals. Parks also provide paved biking and roller blade trails, hiking and nature trails, fishing, swimming, wildlife viewing, and more.

"Also, look into the many banks offering a $300 or $600 bonus for opening a new account." Instead of taking your family out to dinner or for fast food, pack a picnic, and head to the park. You'll not only save money, but you'll eat healthier, too.


THE MOUNTAINS FOR THE HOLIDAYS. Celebrate the holidays surrounded by great company and even better cuisine in the Pocono Mountains. From romantic dinners by candlelight to farm-to-table experiences, our local chefs are serving up something for every palate. Visit PoconoMountains.com to see all of our mouth-watering dining options and make your reservation.

44 | Pocono Family Magazine Š January/February 2021

Contact science, natural history, and children's museums in your area and ask if they're one the more than 350 members of the Association of Science-Technology Centers in the US. If so, buy an annual family membership. These generally range between $120 and $160 for the entire family and offer unlimited visits to all ASTC member museums. Then plan several day trips throughout the year for lots of science fun. Visit http:// www.astc.org/passport/ for details. Passports must be purchased directly through one of the participating science-technology museums. Don't buy new computers and cell phones. Recent models can often be found in newspapers or online for a fraction of the cost.

Finance Savvy The following suggestions can yield significant savings and make banking and loans work for you rather than against you. If possible, double up on mortgage and loan payments. If that isn't in your budget, you can still save by breaking each monthly payment into two. Pay half of your monthly loan and mortgage payments a couple of weeks early. Just contact your lender to make sure both early and partial payments apply to your regular monthly installments, and that interest will be adjusted accordingly.

Open your checking account at a credit union or bank that offers free accounts with no maintenance or check fees. Also, look into the many banks offering a $300 or $600 bonus for opening a new account.

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Store your credit card rather than carrying it with you, which can lead to impulse buying. Unless you're disciplined enough to pay off your balance monthly, credit card interest eats up a lot of spare cash.

Auto Economizing There are many ways to keep your driving expenses down. Try these for starters.

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Increase the deductible on your collision to $1000, unless you're accident-prone, or have teen drivers. The cost difference can be significant. Also, carefully review all the other charges on your policy. Insurance agents often prepackage or tack-on unnecessary coverages or higher coverage than you need. Avoid purchasing a brand new vehicle. Opt for a low mileage model, one to four years old. You'll save a fortune on depreciation.

Dress for Less Save on household and clothing expenses by trying these money-saving ideas. You'll be helping to protect the environment, too. Hit the end of the season sales and save 60 to 80% on kids' clothing for the following school year. A one-size difference is usually a safe bet. Visit resale shops for super savings on like-new children’s clothing. You can find these stores locally as well as online resale shops. Reel in savings the way families in all income brackets are doing today. Hit garage and estate sales for clothing and other family and household needs. You can find top-quality, topcondition items, including toys, baby equipment, kid's clothing, household furnishings, and more, for next to nothing.

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January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine © | 45

Photo courtesy of: Interior by Lisa Tharp. Photo by Michael J. Lee


Tips to Improve

Indoor Air Quality and

Breathe better at Home

With more of life centered at home due to cool weather and social distancing, it’s time to ensure the space where your family spends the majority of its time is healthy and safe. What many people don’t know is that concentrations of air pollutants can typically be up to five times higher inside one’s home than out, and sometimes far more, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. However, there are many simple actions you can take to breathe better in your home:

} Monitor carbon monoxide: This potentially deadly gas can

be emitted by a faulty gas-burning home appliance. Monitor for carbon monoxide using detectors placed in major areas of the home, especially the bedrooms.

} Make the switch to VOC-free: Most paints and stains,

46 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021

along with aerosol sprays, air fresheners and other household products, contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which emit gases that can result in respiratory problems, headaches

and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, among other health problems. Take a cue from forward-thinking institutions like the Getty Museum and Google and swap out conventional paints in your home interiors for an eco-friendly, non-toxic alternative such as ECOS Paints. The brand, which has a 35-year history of offering VOC- and odor-free paints and stains in virtually any color, uses sustainable ingredients and can deliver directly to a home or business. To learn more, visit ecospaints.net.

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} Keep airborne dust to a minimum: Dust carries a variety of

contaminants, including bacteria and allergens. Mop and dust often using a wet mop and dust cloth. Vacuum often as well using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which traps small particles.

} Eliminate moisture from the air: Moisture promotes mold,

which can cause serious health problems when left unabated. Reduce moisture by eliminating sources of water leaks, installing exhaust fans in kitchens, using air conditioning, and positioning dehumidifiers in high-moisture rooms such as bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements.

} Reduce airborne particles: Install an air purifier to trap

irritating particles, including mold, pollen and pet dander, which are particularly bad for people with respiratory problems like asthma. Brush pets often -- outdoors if possible -- and give pets regular baths.

} Decrease dirty air: Replace HVAC filters regularly. While the optimal frequency that you perform this task depends on the type of filter, the number of pets at home and other factors, a good reference point is the manufacturer’s guidelines.

When it comes to creating a healthy home sanctuary, taking steps to manage the most common indoor air pollutants should be a top priority. Courtesy of StatePoint

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570-421-7700 www.StroudTVandAppliances.com January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine © | 47


New Year Resolutions? FUGGEDABOUTIT! By: Roseanne Bottone


e are earnest creatures. Every January 1, we make a list of how we will improve our lives in the coming year. We discuss them with our partners and friends, write down our goals in fancy journals, or keep informal ideas in our heads. Each year we strive to become better versions of ourselves with a sincere and intense conviction that usually lasts only until February. Let’s nip the inevitable sense of failure in the butt. (I know that’s supposed to be “bud,” but I like my version better.) Does Einstein’s witticism apply to you? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” I’m imagining the resolutions you may have considered as we clawed our way out of 2020. The Grateful Dead’s lyrics from 1970 are certainly apropos for today’s world: “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” This year I will:


Wear real clothes. Why? If you’re unemployed or working from home, you have earned the right to be uber comfortable. You’ve paid the price for this luxurious freedom with all those years of choking ties or sweaty pantyhose. Go ahead and wear the yoga and sweatpants! I have three suggestions for you: DO change out of your pajamas into fresh comfort-wear. Make your bed (it has a powerful psychological effect on setting up the day for success), and wear pants when you’re on a video call. When 48 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021

you’re 100% sure there will be no reason to stand up, that’s exactly when the toaster will catch on fire.


Not drink wine before 10 am. Probably a good idea. You might want to substitute with a mimosa or Bloody Mary.

3. Stop arguing with strangers on Facebook. Oh, the futility!

The frustration. The “I-want-to-pull-my-hair-out” moments. Since it seems no one (including me) has the wherewithal of self-restraint to resist that temptation, go ahead and unfriend or unfollow those crazies!

4. De-clutter my home. We’ve all seen “Tidying Up with

Marie Kondo” on Netflix. Really? Are you going to empty every closet and drawer of every stitch of your clothing, pile it all up on your bed, and sort through it at one time? You are special, indeed! Or you can play the “Minimalism Game” with a friend for 30 days. On day one you donate, sell or trash one excess item such as collectibles, kitchenware, decorations, books, clothes, etc. On day two, it’s two items. On day three, three items, and so on. (See www.theminimalists.com/game/). Or you could take care of the junk drawer and consider that a win for the year.

5. Be a better homeschooler. I thought I did a fantastic job

with my logical explanations of why one answer was better than another on my granddaughter’s math test. Then we scored a 30% on the exam. You should have seen her face. I lost all credibility. I feared she wouldn’t love me anymore. I had to think quickly. “Just kidding!” (Thank goodness they allow a do-over!) She did much better with her own logic. We’ve got to accept our shortcomings. Some things can’t be fixed.

6. Get in shape. This one is a perennial staple. It’s been on my

list for about 40 years. And yet, at the end of every year I weigh just a little more than I did at the beginning. Maybe you’re like me; you get out for a walk all bundled up on New Year’s Day, then return home and bake a loaf of sour dough bread. You deserve a reward, so you slather it with butter when it’s hot out of the oven. We’re only human. I’ve made one resolution for 2021. This year I will be kinder. I’ll let a car merge in front of me and I won’t honk if someone does something stupid on the road (because, you know, I’ve never smacked my own forehead for a close call.) I will hold the door open and say good day. I will notice if the person in the checkout lane behind me has only one or two items and let them go ahead of me. I will pay a toll for the person behind me. (A stranger did that for me, and you can’t imagine how that $1 put a smile on my face all day.) I will send greeting cards for no reason and hide notes in unexpected places for my family. (If you leave a love note on a windshield for your significant other, make sure it’s the right car.) This is going to be my year of random acts of kindness. It will be easier and a lot more fun than keeping the Tupperware cabinet organized and losing 20 lbs. (Neither was going to happen anyway!) Happy New Year. Roseanne Bottone is a regulatory compliance training instructor, former Peace Corps Volunteer, cancer survivor, grandmother, MBA, and freelance writer. She travels the country teaching business people about environmental and transportation safety regulations, and is a newspaper columnist. She’s a homeowner in East Stroudsburg and lives with her daughter, grandchildren, two cats and a Rottweiler.

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January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine © | 49 March/April 2019


Bridge the Gap: Intro to Snowshoeing Sunday, January 10, 17, 2021, 10:00am - 12:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center

Learn the basics of snowshoeing and enjoy a winter walk through the woods. No experience necessary – we provide the equipment and teach you everything you need to know.  Register early to reserve a pair of snowshoes & guarantee a spot. Animal Tracking will be an alternative program in the event of no snow.  *Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation.*  peec.org

Bridge the Gap: Winter Ecology Hike

Sunday, January 10, 23, 2021, 01:00pm - 03:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center

Photo courtesy of Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Learn how different plants and animals survive the winter. Join us on a hike and experience PEEC in the wintertime.  All ages welcome.  *Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation.* peec.org

Bridge the Gap: Cross Country Skiing Saturday, January 16, 2021, 09:00am - 12:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center

Enjoy the winter woods with beginner ski lessons. Learn the basics of cross country skiing and practice on our campus. Skis, poles & boots provided - register w/shoe size to guarantee a spot.  Winter Ecology will be an alternative program in the event of no snow.  *Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation.*  peec.org

Bridge the Gap: Bird Bonanza

In & Around the Poconos Snowmen of Stroudsburg Now - March 1, 2021 Stroudsburg Borough

The Snowmen of Stroudsburg is a display of life size snowmen, painted by local artists, placed throughout Stroudsburg Borough from November 27th through March 1st. The Snowmen relocate themselves every few weeks! Visit Downtown Stroudsburg and join the adventure in finding your favorite snowmen! gocollaborativestbg.com

50 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021

Sunday, January 17, 2021, 01:00am - 03:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center Spend the morning watching our feeders and putting together your own unique, custom-made bird feeder from a variety of recycled materials just in time for spring.  We’ll provide everything you need, but you are welcome to bring your own supplies.  Great craft for children!  *Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation.* peec.org

Cross Country Skiing

Saturday, January 23, 2021, 09:00am - 12:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center Enjoy the winter woods with beginner ski lessons.  Learn the basics of cross country skiing and practice on our campus. Skis, poles & boots provided - register w/shoe size to guarantee a spot.  Winter Ecology will be an alternative program in the event of no snow. peec.org

Intro to Snowshoeing

Sunday, January 24, 31, 2021, 10:00am - 12:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center Learn the basics of snowshoeing and enjoy a winter walk through the woods.  No experience necessary – we provide the equipment and teach you everything you need to know.  Register early to reserve a pair of snowshoes & guarantee a spot. Animal Tracking will be an alternative program in the event of no snow. peec.org

Eagle Watch

Saturday, January 30, 2021, 09:00am - 03:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center Join us on a trip north in search of eagles and other rare wintering birds.  Visit the Mongaup Reservoir, the Delaware River, & the Delaware Highlands Conservancy to look for winter residents and nesting pairs. Bring a lunch, camera & warm clothes. Call to reserve a seat in the van – Maximum of 10 spaces. peec.org

Ecozone Discovery Room!

Sunday, January 31, 2021, 01:00pm - 04:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center Climb into a bald eagle’s nest, crawl into a bat cave, explore a beaver lodge, and dig in a fossil pit!  Explore this indoor discovery room and enjoy hands-on exhibits on natural history, sustainability and the local environment. No registration required.  *Limited to 15 people at a time* peec.org

Bridge the Gap: Intro to Snowshoeing Saturday, February 06, 2021, 10:00am - 12:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center

Learn the basics of snowshoeing and enjoy a winter walk through the woods. No experience necessary – we provide the equipment and teach you everything you need to know.  Register early to reserve a pair of snowshoes & guarantee a spot. Animal Tracking will be an alternative program in the event of no snow.  *Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation.*  peec.org

Bridge the Gap: Bird Bonanza

Saturday, February 06, 2021, 01:00pm - 03:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center

everything you need, but you are welcome to bring your own supplies. Great craft for children!  *Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation.* peec.org

Bridge the Gap: Cross Country Skiing Sunday, February 07, 2021, 09:00am - 12:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center

Enjoy the winter woods with beginner ski lessons. Learn the basics of cross country skiing and practice on our campus. Skis, poles & boots provided - register w/shoe size to guarantee a spot.  Winter Ecology will be an alternative program in the event of no snow.  *Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation.* peec.org

Bridge the Gap: Winter Ecology Hike Sunday, February 07, 2021, 01:00pm - 03:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center

Learn how different plants and animals survive the winter. Join us on a hike and experience PEEC in the wintertime.  All ages welcome.  *Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation.* peec.org

Ecozone Discovery Room!

Saturday, February 27, 2021, 01:00pm - 04:00pm Pocono Environmental Education Center Climb into a bald eagle’s nest, crawl into a bat cave, explore a beaver lodge, and dig in a fossil pit!  Explore this indoor discovery room and enjoy hands-on exhibits on natural history, sustainability and the local environment. No registration required.  *Limited to 15 people at a time* peec.org     

Vegan Board Game Dinner

Saturday, February 27, 2021, 05:00pm - 08:00pm, 5:00pm Games Start – 6:00pm Dinner Pocono Environmental Education Center                                                 PEEC is pleased to announce our 3rd annual Vegan Board Game Dinner!  Play board games and unleash your competitive spirit as you enjoy a fantastic meal with all plant-based ingredients.  Not a vegan?  Not a problem!  Start the New Year off right with healthy, fresh, scratch-made, mouthwatering deliciousness!  Bring the whole family for a fun and exciting evening.  Payment required at registration.  Call early to reserve your seats. peec.org

Spend the morning watching our feeders and putting together your own unique, custom-made bird feeder from a variety of recycled materials just in time for spring. We’ll provide January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine © | 51

PARTING SHOT Beltzville Covered Bridge Photo courtesy of Dave Sandt

52 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021

January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine Š | 53



Pocono Living Magazine

and Pocono Family Magazine

ANY DEVICE, ANYTIME, ANY PLACE go to: Barrett Paradise Friendly Library Cresco, PA 570-595-7171 www.barrettlibrary.org

Pocono Mountain Public Library Tobyhanna, PA 570-894-8860 www.poconomountpl.org

Clymer Library Pocono Pines, PA 570-646-0826 www.clymerlibrary.org

Western Pocono Community Library Brodheadsville, PA 570-992-7934 www.wpcl.lib.pa.us

Eastern Monroe Public Library Branches Hughes Library (main branch) Stroudsburg, PA 570-421-0800 www.monroepl.org Pocono Township Branch Tannersville, PA 570-629-5858 Smithfield Branch Marshalls Creek, PA 570-223-1881 Bookmobile 570-421-0880 x49

54 | Pocono Family Magazine © January/February 2021


January/February 2021 Pocono Family Magazine Š | 55


Two hearts, one choice. Nancy and Edinson never expected they’d both need open-heart surgery - let alone in the same week. Luckily they trusted the only hospital in Monroe County equipped to handle open-heart surgery and complex, high-risk heart attacks. To learn more, visit LVHN.org/Pocono.


Pocono Family Magazine Jan/Feb 2021