February 2022

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VOLUME 38, #12 FEBRUARY 2022


Cabin Fever Cures Ways To Enjoy Nature & Wildlife in Winter Children’s Dental Health Month

P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom

Valentine’s Day • Romantic Getaways • Kids’ Party Ideas

INSIDE: The Fit Family • Summer Camps • Wellness Choices

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February 2022 • Volume 38 • Issue 12

EDITOR & PUBLISHER Michele Miller GENERAL MANAGER Paul Kline SALES REPRESENTATIVES Jennifer Staebell Paul Kline GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Karen Wawszczyk Melanie Schroeder CONTRIBUTORS Barbara Blackburn • Donna Phillips Richard De Fino • Deborah Williams Kathy Lundquist • Myrna Beth Haskell Mike Daugherty



Where It’s At! Cabin Fever

ON THE COVER THIS MONTH: Matthew Baglini, 2, playing with snow on the Kenmore Village Green on January 2, 2022

Features: 6n

To Reach Us: Advertising Department advertising@wnyfamilymagazine.com Calendar Submissions calendar@wnyfamilymagazine.com Subscriptions subscriptions@wnyfamilymagazine.com Editorial Submissions michele@wnyfamilymagazine.com MAILING ADDRESS: 3147 Delaware Ave., Suite B Buffalo, NY 14217 Phone: (716) 836-3486 • Fax: (716) 836-3680 PRINTED BY: Commercial Printing Division The Post-Journal, Jamestown WE ARE AN AUDITED PUBLICATION CIRCULATION (copies printed): 20,000 © 2022 Western New York Family, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form without permission is strictly prohibited. Inclusion of an advertisement does not constitute an endorsement by the publisher. PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS: MAILED FIRST CLASS, IN AN ENVELOPE SAME DAY ISSUE IS DELIVERED FROM THE PRINTER: $28 one year, $52 two years, $75 three years. Phone & online orders accepted with credit cards. Gift subscriptions available. Single copies & back issues by mail, $2.50. IF YOU MOVE: Missed issues will not be replaced if we do not receive an address change before issue mailing date.



CABIN FEVER CURE: 5 More Fun Winter Activities by Sarah Yale


CABIN FEVER CURE: Sledding Safety Tips for Snowy Fun by Katy M. Clark


CABIN FEVER CURE: Enjoy the Benefits of Nature When You Can’t Get Outside by Sandi Schwartz


Visit Our Web Site www.wnyfamilymagazine.com

CABIN FEVER CURE: 15 Ideas for Indoor Fun on Cold Winter Days by Sarah Lyons

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CABIN FEVER CURE: Winter Wildlife Activities for Families by Kimberly Blaker

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CABIN FEVER CURE: Great Apps for Family Game Night by Tanni Haas, Ph.D.

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Valentine’s Day Parties for Kids At School or Home by Kimberly Blaker

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Learn How to Protect Your Children’s Teeth from Cavities

31 n

The Family Pet


13 n Choosing Childcare 26 n Summer Camps 35 n Wellness Choices

5 n Web Finds / What’s New In The Kid Biz 16 n Family Travel Close-to-Home Romantic Getaways by Deborah Williams 20 n Raising Digital Kids Creating Confidence Through Coding by Mike Daugherty 22 n Journey Into Fatherhood A Place to Call Our Own by Richard De Fino 23 n Parent Previews by Kirsten Hawkes 24 n Pick of the Literature by Dr. Donna Phillips 30 n Dear Teacher by Peggy Gisler & Marge Eberts 32 n Special Needs Become an Informed Advocate for Your Special Needs Child by Kelli Phillips 34 n Tweens and Teens Study Stresses Importance of Teen Connectedness by Cheryl Maguire 36 n Single Parenting Financial Tips for Single Parents by Kimberly Blaker 38 n The Kid Friendly Kitchen Fruit Salad and Grilled Grapefruit by Kathy Lundquist 39 n The Kiddie Gourmet Uncle Joe’s Diner by Barbara Blackburn

You’ll find FREE courtesy copies of WNY Family at all Buffalo area Wegmans and 300 locations including Public Libraries, Doctors’ Offices, Child Care Centers and many of our advertisers. (Look for us INSIDE Wegmans on the racks where newspapers are sold, even though we are still FREE, or in some stores, on the FREE rack in the store foyer.)

Find this entire issue online at www.wnyfamilymagazine.com February 2022 WNY Family 3

Winter Break2022


February 21 – 25, 2022

Monday - Friday OPEN at 11am • Fun for all ages • Controlled indoor climbing • Friendly instructors • No experience needed ~ Rocking WNY since 1998 ~

1333 Strad Avenue • North Tonawanda



4 WNY Family February 2022

web.finds February in Buffalo is synonymous with snow and Cabin Fever, even in a non-COVID winter! Here are a few fun crafts that should help keep everyone at your house busy while the storm rages outside your “cabin.”


What’s New... IN THE KIDBIZ


If it’s stormy outside, “build” a snowman indoors! Kristin, over at Mrs. Merry, is a mom of four children so she certainly knows how important it is to keep kids busy being creative and having fun. She offers this free printable in exchange for you joining her email list. https://www. mrsmerry.com/build-a-snowman-freeprintables-activity/


Shruti, at Artsy Craftsy Mom, lives in India and created these cuties. We thought they could be used in a variety of ways. They’d make adorable bookmarks or party favors. Or how about cupcake toppers for a special dessert to spice up Cabin Fever season in Western New York? Just be sure NOT to paint the sticks and use only ONE button, glued SECURELY, if inserting in food (obviously, this item is not a good choice for children 3 and under). You’ll find a materials list and complete instructions at: https://artsycraftsymom.com/make-apopsicle-stick-snowman-craft-this-christmas/


Alana, at Your Home, Made Healthy, came up with these simple yet adorable treats. The web site includes a complete ingredient list, alternative suggestions, and lots of photos. All you need is a round cookie or biscuit cutter. The trickiest part is knowing that the snowman’s ear muffs are made of a piece of shoestring licorice and the muffs (M&Ms) are “glued” down with some melted chocolate chips, as are all the other candies (which are “mini” size). Let cool to set. Great for packaging individually as a party treat or favor. Check it out at: https://www.yourhomemadehealthy.com/snowman-rice-krispie-treats/


Older kids (or grownups!) will have fun creating these snowmen found at Crafts by Amanda. Paint and decorate small clay pots, insert a block of green floral foam in the bottom in which to insert the spoon handle, wrap white tissue paper around the base of the spoon in the pot, and add white pompoms to look like a pile of snow, securing everything with your glue gun. Hats are made from felt — Amanda’s very detailed tutorial shows how to make the different styles. Optional: Paint names on the top edge of the pots if using as placecards or giving as a party favor. https://craftsbyamanda.com/plasticspoon-crafts-snowmen/

The 2022 Girl Scouts Cookie Season, the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world, is underway. Support local Girl Scout entrepreneurs by purchasing cookies for yourself, as well as through our Cookie Share Program to our local military and essential workers. Your donation to the Girl Scout Cookie Share program not only benefits local Girl Scouts, but it also helps to show your appreciation for our local community as well. Choose your favorites including the new Adventurefuls, an indulgent brownie-inspired cookie with caramel-flavored crème and a hint of sea salt. Adventurefuls joins the whole portfolio of iconic Girl Scout Cookies including favorites like Thin Mints®, Caramel deLites®, and Peanut Butter Patties®. Girls will have their paper order cards available for customers to place an order for delivery in early March. Ask your Girl Scout how she’s selling cookies via the Digital Cookie online platform for direct shipment or local delivery. Girl Scouts of Western New York will pay up to 50% of shipping costs at six or more packages. Customers order online for direct shipment, cookies are sent directly from the baker and will arrive sooner than waiting for girl delivery in March. Beginning February 18, consumers can enter their zip code to purchase cookies online from a local troop for direct shipment or donation to local causes. Don’t know a Girl Scout? Visit www.gswny.org/findcookies for tools to find Girl Scout cookies near you or text COOKIES to 59618. Every package of Girl Scout Cookies fuels local Girl Scouts’ adventures throughout the year: exploring what interests them, discovering their passions, and taking action on issues they care about. All proceeds stay in Western New York to support Girl Scout troops, GSWNY Program, camp properties and support volunteers, who in turn, help girls become Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, and Leaders. February 2022 WNY Family 5


15 Ideas

for Indoor Fun on Cold Winter Days — by Sarah Lyons


he cold winter days have settled in and some days, it’s just too cold to play outside. If your house is like mine, it doesn’t take long before the kids start climbing the walls. Here are some fun ways to use up that pent up energy while you are cooped up inside.

1) Movie Marathon - Let the kids enjoy a movie marathon in the comfort of the house. Make popcorn and enjoy relaxing and watching movies while snuggling up in a cozy spot. Or take the kids to the movie theater for an indoor treat. During COVID, many theaters are actually pretty empty, making social distancing easy. 2) Get Crafty - Paint, play with play dough, or make bead bracelets. Allow the kids to get creative by making their own scrapbook or finding items in your recycle bin they can make into sculptures. 3) Library Trip - Take the kids

istration, advance ticket purchases, and mask wearing during these times of COVID.

5) Warm Treats - Who doesn’t

love a warm treat when it’s freezing outside? Enjoy some hot cocoa or warm apple cider with the kids. If you have a wood burning fireplace, roast marshmallows indoors and tell campfire stories. Be sure to follow all safety procedures around the fireplace!

6) Put On A Show - Have the

kids work together to put on a play, puppet show, or make up a dance routine and perform for you.

7) Play An Outdoor Game Inside - Try playing Hide and Seek, Flashlight Tag, or Keep Away (with a soft foam ball) inside.

8) Picnic - Have an indoor picnic in the living room since it’s too cold to eat outside. You can take it one step further by going all out with a beach theme!

to your local library to find some great books and movies to check out. When you get home, spend some time relaxing and reading in the comfort of your home. Read an adventure story aloud to the kids while they sip on hot cocoa or have a special snack.

9) Home Science - Try a science experiment at home. Make your own volcano, mix food coloring, or make a balloon rocket to teach the kids about science and stay cool indoors. Just do a Google search to learn how.

4) Indoor Play - Check local listings, or the advertisements in WNY Family, for open gym, indoor playgrounds, or other fun indoor activities where the kids can run and play without being exposed to the cold temperatures. Remember to check the requirements for advance reg-

cookies, cakes, banana bread, or homemade bread. Having the oven on will warm up the house. Decorating cookies isn’t just for holiday time. Make some cutout cookies in snowflake shapes or Valentine hearts and decorate with colored icing, sprinkles, or colored sugar.

6 WNY Family February 2022

10) Bake Up A Storm - Bake

11) Build A Fort – This idea is a time-tested tradition! Have the kids make a fort with pillows and blankets for some indoor fun. Be sure to remove any breakables from the room first! 12) Race Track - Use masking tape or blue painter’s tape to make a race track on the floor and let the kids see whose car goes the fastest. Add any small toys or LEGO buildings, etc., along the “road” to make it seem more realistic. 13) Take A Bath - It’s too cold to swim but a nice warm bath with bubbles and bath toys always feels good. If you have a big soaking tub consider letting the kids put on swimsuits and enjoy the “indoor pool” for awhile. 14) Have A Dance Party -

Turn the music up and have a dance party in the living room to burn off that extra energy.

15) Have A “Restaurant Dinner” at Home – Plan a dinner menu

with a theme such as Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Valentine’s Day, or St. Patrick’s Day, and have the older kids create menus and place cards for each person in the family. Have them make decorations to suit the theme. Set the table with anything that adds to your theme and turn an ordinary meal into an experience! Sarah Lyons is a freelance writer whose work has been published in KC Parent, Georgia Family, Austin Family, Creative Child and over 140 other parenting publications.


i m e s spent together doing something at home are often the best times that kids and parents will remember years later. Here are some interesting activities for kids of all ages as well as adults, with no rigid rules or formatting. You can stimulate the mind and the body without going out in the cold.

Take Up Jumping Rope Considered a low impact exercise, jumping rope burns more calories than running, exercises the whole body, and gets the heart pumping. Jump ropes that can be used indoors without marking floors are great, or head for the garage to play jump rope games or just skip rope. Each person can have their own jump rope or two people can twirl the rope while someone jumps in the middle. Check out these books and websites about jumping rope: Anna Banana: 101 Jump Rope Rhymes by Joanna Cole Double Cutch by Veronica Chambers www.theactivefamily.org/ jump-rope-exercise www.playworks.org/resource/jump-in

Adopt an Animal Cause to Learn About Have the children brainstorm causes that your family would like to become more aware of. Are you interested in saving the whales, turtles, or wild horses? Search the Internet for an organization working on the cause, sign up to receive their email newsletter, and read it together as a family. The children will naturally want to share what they learn with others, thereby


5 MORE Fun Winter Activities — by Sarah Yale

raising awareness and becoming kids who can change the world. Once you’ve decided on a cause, the kids can watch YouTube videos about the animal you’ve chosen and draw pictures of them. Older kids can create a poster with animal facts.

Grow a Plant from the Seeds of Fruit You Ate This is a great family activity to see what comes up. It might be a pretty house plant even though it won’t bear fruit. Save the seeds from oranges or apples, or the pit from a peach. Use recycled containers or leftover flower pots. Pick up some potting soil or find some outside in the garden or in a leftover plant pot. Poke a drainage hole in bottom of the container so the roots will not rot. Put your seedling pot in a sunny window to see what happens and talk about it with each other.

Find Out about the Towns in Your County or State Print a map of your state or county. Circle each of the towns that one or more family members have been to or driven through. Highlight the main highways located near your home that your family travels on. Look up at least five new towns that you haven’t been to yet and make plans to drive through them

this year to see the scenery and pass a landmark that the town is known for. Make a list of more towns that interest you and set a goal to visit them in the coming year.

Learn About Maple Sugaring Check out a book at the library about maple sugaring or watch a YouTube video. Everyone in the family will enjoy learning a little about harvesting maple sugar, along with choosing a recipe for maple cookies from a cookbook or online. Kids can make drop cookies, shaped cookies, and cut out varieties. Draw leaf shapes on round cookies before baking or use squirt decorating icing after baking to make beautiful maple leaves or trees on the cookies. In New York State, Maple Weekends take place March 19-20 and March 26-27. Visit https://nysmaple.com to learn about maple sugaring locations that will be open to the public with tours, tastings and other features like pancake breakfasts. In the “For Kids” section of the site, you can watch a video about the maple sugaring process as well as download free coloring pages and an activity book. There are also printable educational worksheets for kids in grades K-6. Ask for these books about maple sugaring at your local library: Bear Goes Sugaring by Maxwell Eaton III Curious George Makes Maple Syrup by H. A. Rey A Kid’s Guide to Maple Tapping: Let’s Make Maple Syrup by Julie Freyer Sarah Yale is a mom who writes articles about kid’s activities, family fun, wellness, nutrition, hobbies and nature, to inspire, inform and encourage. February 2022 WNY Family 7


sledding while standing up or going face first. The latter method greatly increases the risk of head or neck injury. The safest type of sled can be steered by hand and includes brakes to come to a safe stop. Try to avoid substitute sleds like lunch trays or cardboard boxes. Kids should be coached in how to fall off the sled to avoid a crash. If the sled is going too fast or a collision seems imminent, teach children to roll off the sled and let it go.

— by Katy M. Clark

Sledding Safety Tips for Snowy Fun


here is no better way to spend a winter’s day than swooshing down a sledding hill with your family. While sledding may be a fun rite of winter, it does send thousands of children and teens to emergency rooms every year. Injuries range from the serious, like head injuries, to the more common cuts, bumps, and bruises. Check out the following tips to make your next sledding adventure as safe as it is fun.

Location, Location, Location

Choose a hill that does not end in a parking lot, to avoid colliding with cars or light poles, or a pond, which may not be solidly frozen enough. Likewise, make sure the sledding hill is free of rocks, trees, or poles that could injure riders. Ride during daylight or else choose a slope that is well-illuminated at night. Again, you want to make sure any potential obstacles or dangers are visible.

What To Wear

Dress for the weather. If it is cold enough to sled, then it is cold enough for winter coats, snow pants, hats, boots, and gloves. If your kids are older and more serious about their sledding fun, dressing in layers is advisable so they can be removed as the kids work up a sweat. 8 WNY Family February 2022

Head protection is important, especially for children ages 12 and under. If you don’t have specialized winter head gear, even a bike helmet offers some protection. Avoid scarves, if possible, since they can get caught or tangled and increase the chance of injury.

How To Sled

Teach your kids to ride down the middle of the hill and return to the top by walking up the sides. This avoids collisions between those riding down the hill and those walking back up. Ride one at a time, unless your kids are younger than 5 years or so. In that case, it is best for the littlest riders to be accompanied by a parent. Sit feet first and discourage any

Reminders For The Adults

Always supervise your kids. In case someone does get injured, you will be there to give first aid or take the injured party to a doctor. Never pull a sled behind a motorized vehicle such as a car or ATV. Speed and being on a trail or roadway are dangerous combinations. Finally, don’t forget to have fun. Sledding is a terrific way to celebrate winter and enjoy the outdoors. Plus, most sledding parties like to conclude the outing with hot chocolate — yum! If you keep these sledding safety tips in mind, then you and your family will have a frosty good time. Katy M. Clark is an award-winning author who has appeared on Scary Mommy, Your Teen, and Mamalode as well as in numerous regional parenting magazines including Atlanta Parent, Pittsburgh Parent, and ParentMap. Her blog, which celebrates her imperfections as a mom, can be found at Experienced Bad Mom.

CABIN FEVER CURE — by Sandi Schwartz

Enjoy the Benefits of Nature

When You Can’t Get Outside


pending time in nature is so beneficial to our health and well-being. It calms us — reducing feelings of stress, anxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to improve focus and attention, as well as reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It even makes us friendlier and more apt to reach out to others in our community. Playing outside is one of the best activities for our kids, but what if it’s cold or too stormy to go outside? Is it possible to experience the benefits of nature from indoors? Nothing beats actually immersing ourselves in the natural environment outside, but science proves that we can capture the essence of what nature has to offer through images, sounds, and plants inside our home.

Nature Imagery Amazingly, just looking at pictures of nature scenes can make us feel similar to actually spending time outdoors. A recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that you can reduce stress by simply looking at images of nature. When participants viewed pictures of natural scenes, their stress level decreased because their parasympathetic nervous system (which helps us to calm down) was activated. Spending time in nature can also make us feel more compassionate — connected to others and our environment. Scientists proved this by observing brain activity using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In the experiment, they discovered that when participants viewed

scenes from the natural environment, the parts of their brain associated with empathy and love lit up. On the other hand, when they looked at urban scenes, the parts of the brain associated with fear and anxiety were activated. Finally, Dr. Marc Berman and researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a study in which participants took 10 minute breaks in a quiet room to look at pictures of a nature scene or city street. Cognitive performance improved after the nature break. Although the boost was not as large as when participants actually took a walk outside among trees, it was more effective than taking a walk in the city.

Nature Sounds Listening to nature can help relax us and improve our mood. A research team at the University of Florida looked at how nature sounds affect people’s mental and physical health. They measured pulse rate, muscle tension, and self-reported stress of a group of people and then had them listen to one of three sounds: silence, music by Mozart, or ocean waves. Then the researchers gave the participants another medical exam and asked how stressed they felt. There was no significant change for people who listened to silence or classical music, but those who listened to ocean waves had considerably lower muscle tension, heart rates, and stress. These positive changes occurred quite rapidly — within five to seven minutes of listening to the sounds of nature. Imagine how quickly we can calm our children down by playing some soothing nature sounds!

Experts found, however, that not all nature sounds have the same calming effect. The best sounds are those that give a sense of natural space and mimic the biorhythms of an ecosystem like a forest. Loud chirping and croaking is just not going to cause the same calming feelings as sounds of water, which are very soothing because of their slow, rhythmic whooshing noises.

Plants Plants and flowers have long been known to cheer people up. Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has consistently found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on reducing stress and anxiety. Plants actually boost healing, according to a study at Kansas State University. Researchers learned that viewing plants during recovery from surgery can lead to a significant improvement in physiological responses. Patients had lower blood pressure and less pain, anxiety, and fatigue compared to patients who did not have plants in their rooms.

How To Bring More Nature Inside According to Netta Weinstein, professor at University of Rochester, we can maximize our connections with nature even if we are unable to get outside. She explains, “Because of the hidden benefits of connecting with nature, people should take advantage of opportunities to get away from built environments and, when inside, they should surround themselves with plants, natural objects, and images of the natural world.” How can we give our children experiences of nature on the days that we just can’t fit in outdoor play? Here are some ideas to expose your children to the amazing aspects of nature from inside: ✿ Visit indoor sanctuaries of nature such as an arboretum, butterfly garden, botanical garden, greenhouse, science museum, or aquarium. continued on page 14 February 2022 WNY Family 9


Winter Wildlife Activities for Families

Animal Scavenger Hunt Make a list of the animals in your area. Then go on a nature walk and track how many of each you see. Leave room on your list to add any surprises you spot while you’re out. For more fun, turn it into a photo scavenger hunt and snap a picture of each animal. Even if there are fewer active animals near you during winter, there may be insects around to hunt for. Grab a magnifying glass and crouch down low in the dirt and plant growth to hunt for some creepy crawlers to observe.


— by Kimberly Blaker

uring the cold winter months, life slows down as both people and animals take shelter to stay warm. While some wildlife hides away and hibernates, other animals continue to roam, leaving signs of activity behind them. If your family is willing to brave the chill, winter is a great time to explore and observe a different side of nature. Here are some fascinating and fun ways for your family to engage with wildlife, even in frosty weather.

Search for Animal Tracks During the winter, the weather change makes it easier to find the footprints that animals leave behind. Look for a patch of open ground, especially where there’s mud, sand, or snow, and see if you can spot any tracks that have been left behind. Notice patterns and where the tracks go to make guesses about the animal and its habits. Are the tracks spread far apart? Do they go in a straight line or wander around? Is there one set or multiple? If you follow the tracks and they’re fresh enough, you might even catch a glimpse of the animal that made them. Turn your trek into an extension activity by drawing a sketch of the tracks or taking a picture of the tracks you find. Then look up the tracks at home to 10 WNY Family February 2022

see what animals live or have traveled through your neighborhood. If you’re really ambitious, you could even bring materials with you to make a cast of the footprints you find.

Feeding Animals With Caution Food for animals tends to be more scarce in the winter, particularly berries and seeds, which birds and small animals rely on. Winter food shortages are especially likely for animals like squirrels that hide food for later. Animals often lose their stockpiles in parks or backyards because of changes influenced by humans, such as fall cleanup. It can help wildlife if you have healthy food in your yard, such as seeds, nuts, and fruit. But be careful about how you do this so animals don’t become dependent on being provided food by humans, which hurts wildlife in the long run. Don’t put food out regularly. Instead, put it out on an occasional basis. Also, be careful about the kind of food you offer. Some foods may be better or worse than others for the animals in your area. Also, don’t attempt to feed animals by hand because it isn’t safe for you or them. When wildlife gets too comfortable around humans, it can become a nuisance, ultimately requiring it to be removed or destroyed.

Birds are also fascinating with the broad range of species. They’re also easier to spot in the winter as leaves have fallen from the trees, and the outdoors are quieter. Stand quietly near bare trees and listen for birds calling out, watch them flying around, and spot their nests tucked up in the trees.

Make Your Yard Safe for Local Wildlife Winter can be hard for animals and insects. But there are some simple things you can do at home to make your outdoor spaces more animal-friendly.  Leave out fresh water for animals to drink from or bathe in.  Have some “wild” natural spaces animals can use to burrow in or create habitat spaces from. You can also provide shelter spaces such as bird boxes or compost piles. Ensure that any feeders, baths, or habitats are sanitary and free of mold or other potentially harmful buildups.  Plant fruit trees and shrubs to share with local wildlife. Cover anything that you want to keep for yourself. But consider planting extra for birds and animals.  Before lighting fires with natural debris like leaves, twigs, and brush, check for any signs of animals or insects hiding inside or indications they may be using it for shelter. Do the same before cutting down trees or other growth.

Support Wildlife Rehabilitators Another way to help local wildlife is by supporting your local wildlife rehabilitation center. These organizations are often very busy during the winter months, with animals struggling too much to be released safely into the wild.

Elmwood Village Charter Schools “It Takes a Village” Apply by April 1st to be included in the lotteries for 2022-2023 Learn More at EVCSBUFFALO.ORG and our Virtual Open House at bit.ly/EVCSOH or scan: Lotteries will be held April 5th, 2022

You can donate canned food, blankets, other soft items, or your time to help care for the animals. Contact your local center and ask about their current needs. • Erie County SPCA Wildlife Department provides medical treatment to more than 176 species of wildlife. They are one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation facilities in New York State, dedicated to rehabilitation, release, and education of wildlife. With a staff that includes licensed rehabilitators, a wildlife veterinarian, and 150 volunteers, approximately 3,930 sick, orphaned, and injured wild animals are cared for annually.

Small School Community • Arts Integration Emphasis on Social Responsibility After School Care Available for Ages 5 and Up Services for Students with Special Education Needs and Limited English Proficiency EVCS Days Park

EVCS Hertel

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Visit https://yourspca.org/what-wedo/wildlife/ for details or call 7 days a week, including holidays, 716-875-7360 ext. 247 (8am to 6pm) or for EMERGENCIES ONLY, 716-875-7360 ext. 214 (6pm to 8pm). They are CLOSED from 8pm to 8am. • Wild Kritters of Niagara County (https://www.wildkritters.com) is a non-profit organization run by licensed volunteers who rescue and rehabilitate wildlife who are injured, orphaned, or in distress. Visit their website for a list of contacts in your area in Niagara County. • Visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website at https://www.dec.ny.gov/ cfmx/extapps/sls_searches/index. cfm?p=live_rehab to find a searchable database of wildlife rehabilitators, by county and type of animal. You may have to contact more than one rehabilitator. Not all rehabilitators may be able to accept every injured or orphaned animal due to limited space or resources. February 2022 WNY Family 11



For Family Game Night

— by Tanni Haas, Ph.D.


f you’re looking for something you can do together with the kids for some relaxing fun during the long winter, how about designating a family game night each week? Here’s a list of some great family game apps that’ll keep you entertained for hours at a time. The best thing is that they’re all completely free, so download an app — or three!

game version lying around, no problem, download the app. You can play with your family members or, if your spelling skills are a little rusty, you can practice a bit beforehand against the app.


(Apple Appstore; Google Play)

hairy, from door to door. I’m the pet that always stays on the floor. What am I”? You can ask for hints if you get stuck and need a gentle push (Answer: a carpet).

What Would You Choose?

(Apple Appstore; Google Play) This game will inspire lots of interesting conversations. Players are introduced to thought-provoking scenarios like “would you rather 1) be able to fly anywhere you want, or 2) stop time whenever you want for 10 seconds.” You vote for your favorite option and get to see statistics on how most other people vote. No Wi-Fi is required once the app is downloaded, so you can play the game even when Wi-Fi is unavailable.

Yes Or No?

(Apple Appstore; Google Play)

This game requires you to work together rather than to compete. Players are members of a team who have to maneuver a spaceship. Each person has a control panel with buttons, dials, knobs, and switches, and receives commands that must be executed to save the spaceship from crashing. Some of the commands require instruments that are on the other players’ control panels, so you end up shouting commands at each other. No need to explain how much fun that can be!

Similar to What Would You Choose? this game will inspire conversations and great stories. It has lots of questions, including “Have you ever been lost in the woods? “Have you ever tried to cut your own hair?” and “Have you ever eaten toothpaste”? This app also tells you how other people vote, so you can decide for yourself whether your family really is as crazy as you think.

Glow Hockey

Truth or Dare Kids

(Apple Appstore; Google Play)

(Apple App Store; Google Play)

(Apple Appstore; Google Play)

If your head is spinning from all the crazy questions in Cramble and you need a break, download Glow Hockey. This easy-to-use hockey app has colorful glow graphics (hence the name) and great sound effects. You can customize the sticks and pucks, and the phone vibrates every time someone scores a goal. You can also practice your skills by playing against the app before you challenge one of your family members to a game.

The kids’ version of the classic game has hundreds of fun questions that’ll make you look at each other in a completely new way, like “What music are you embarrassed to admit you listen to when you’re alone” or “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?” Fun dares include “Attempt to break dance for 30 seconds” and “Wrap a player of your choice in toilet paper.”

Millions of people are playing this addictive brain teaser game. Four pictures appear on the screen and you have to guess which word describes all four of them. Sounds easy? Not so fast! The first levels are simple and straightforward, but the game gets increasingly harder and more fun as you progress. The letters that you need to form the correct answer are scrambled with other letters, so the game also has elements of Word Search.


(Apple App Store; Google Play) This quiz game uses wacky comparisons between different objects to create intriguing questions. For example, “To match the height of 1 Hubble Telescope how many coconuts would you need to stack up?” Or, “How many chickens would you have to pile up to be as tall as one Great Pyramid?”

Scrabble GO

What Am I? Riddles and Answers

If you’re itching to play a game of Scrabble but don’t have the board

Who doesn’t like a good riddle? This app has lots of them, such as “Soft,

(Apple App Store; Google Play)

12 WNY Family February 2022

(Apple App Store; Google Play)

4 Pics 1 Word

Tanni Haas, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences and Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College.


Registration Day

Your Guide to

Choosing Childcare

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ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF NATURE continued... ✿ Decorate your house with awe-inspiring images of nature. Collect gorgeous pieces from famous photographers like Ansel Adams and Philip Hyde or start a family hobby of taking pictures of nature that you love to display throughout your house. ✿ Display plants throughout your house. ✿ Start an indoor garden of herbs and flowers. ✿ Watch nature shows, movies, and documentaries as a family.

Support Our Advertisers… Tell them you saw their ad in

14 WNY Family February 2022

✿ Include pictures and objects of nature that are green and blue in your house, colors known to calm us down. ✿ Play nature sounds in your home, especially at bedtime. The beauty of nature is that it has the power to impact us no matter where we experience it. By giving our children a multitude of ways to observe nature through their senses, they can enjoy the many benefits it has to offer on any day of the year. Sandi Schwartz is a freelance journalist and editor specializing in parenting, wellness, and the environment. Her new book “Finding Echohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer” is soon to be published.

— by Kimberly Blaker

Valentine’s Day Parties for Kids


hether you’re helping with your child’s Valentine’s Day party at school or planning one at home, there are so many fun, creative ways to keep kids busy and make their party a blast. Try some of these ideas kids are sure to love.


Heart Suncatcher

Lay a sheet of wax paper in front of each child. Then have the kids cut red, pink, and white tissue paper into squares or other shapes. Next, lay a tissue square on the wax paper and brush it with liquid starch. Continue by overlapping the pieces of tissue to create an 8” x 8” collage. When the collage is dry, carefully peel the tissue away from the wax paper. Cut the collage into a big heart. Then put a single hole punch in the heart, and thread a piece of yarn or ribbon through it to hang it.

Heart Structures

Provide each child a supply of gummy hearts and toothpicks, and let their creativity take over. They can build a house, sphere, rocket, airplane, or whatever their imagination desires.

Fingerpaint Valentine

Fold a piece of paper in half, and cut out a large heart. Next, place the paper with the big heart-shaped hole on top of another piece of paper. Dip a thumb or finger into the paint, and make a finger impression within the heart-shaped area. Alternate colors and fingers until the whole area is filled with colorful fingerprints. When done, remove the top sheet,

– at School or Home and you’ll have a colorful heart image underneath.

Valentine Candle Holder

Give each child a glass jar. Have them start by cutting red, white, and pink tissue paper into small hearts or other shapes. Using a mixture of one part flour to two parts water and a paintbrush, paste the tissue shapes onto the outside of the jar, overlapping each other until the jar is completely covered. Let dry.


Musical Hearts

This game is played similar to musical chairs. Cut out enough hearts for the number of players. On each heart, write an action such as “rub your belly,” “dance,” and “pretend you’re an elephant.” When the music stops, everyone must act out the heart they landed on.

Pin the Heart on the Tin Man

In the “Wizard of Oz,” the Tin Man’s fondest wish was to have a heart — and your kids can give him one! Draw the Tin Man on a large sheet of poster board, then cut it out. Have each kid cut out a heart from construction paper. Then blindfold and spin each child around, and have them try to place the heart on the Tin Man’s chest.

Candy Heart Bingo

Buy a Valentine’s Day bingo game available through many online retailers or search for a printable on Google. Then use candy hearts for the markers.

Valentine’s Day Word Find

Have each kid write “Valentine’s

Day Cupid” on a sheet of paper. Then have them write down as many words as they can make from it. Offer prizes for the most words, longest word, and the most rhyming words.


What would Valentine’s Day be without a special Valentine’s story or two? Read aloud to younger kids. If they’re readers, have each kid take a turn reading a page. Here are some suggestions: ❤ Happy Valentine’s Day, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz, Ages 5-7 ❤ Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine, by Herman Parish and Lynne Avril, Ages 4 - 8 ❤ Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentime, by Barbara Park and Denise Brunkas, Ages 6 – 9 ❤ Happy Love Day, Daniel Tiger! by Becky Friedman and Jason Fruchter, Ages 3 – 7 ❤ Thomas in Town: Valentine’s Day in Vicarstown by Rev. W. Awdry, Ages 3 – 7 ❤ Dumpy’s Valentine by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton, Ages 4 – 7 ❤ Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond, Ages 4 - 8 ❤ Ruby Valentine and the Sweet Surprise by Laurie B. Friedman and Lynne Avril, Ages 5 - 9 ❤ Valentine Hearts: Holiday Poetry by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Ages 4 - 8 February 2022 WNY Family 15


c i t n a Rom s y a w a Get


— by Deborah Williams

Without the Kids


t is February and our shortest month has long been associated with romance. Stores are full of hearts and chocolates. Looking for a special Valentine’s Day gift for your partner? How about a close to home winter getaway without the children? Prices are usually the lowest of the year and rooms are more available.

a close-up immersive falls experience without needing to go outside in the cold. When you venture outside it will likely be a no crowd experience, especially in the winter.

Even if your getaway is just overnight it can be remarkably refreshing. It always feels like I have been away longer when I return the next day. The on-going pandemic makes getaways even more important as a fun stress reliever and a chance for couples to enjoy alone time.

The Mansion on Delaware was built in 1869 as a private residence for Charles Sternberg, a grain elevator owner. Alas, he died before it was completed. It changed hands several times before Samuel Curtis Trubee purchased the house and turned it into a hotel. It hosted guests of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, and its rates were the most expensive in the city at $3 per night.

Here are two very different choices: one in downtown Buffalo offering the opportunity to submerge yourselves in another era, with elegant hand carved woodwork, fireplaces, and even butlers, and the other in Niagara Falls, offering

In 1947 the legendary Victor Hugo’s Wine Cellar opened in the lower level of the building. During the res-

16 WNY Family February 2022

taurant’s era, which continued into the 1970s, the building was transformed into apartments. It attracted an artsy crowd that included several newspaper reporters and critics. Then everything went dark and the building sat abandoned until Gino and Diana Principe bought the building and spent nearly $3 million and several years transforming the building into the gem that it is today. It opened as a 28-room hotel in April 2001 and last year it celebrated its 20th anniversary. In 2004, The Mansion received the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award, making it the first Four Diamond hotel in the Buffalo/Niagara region. The owners were pioneers leading the way and showing how once abandoned buildings can be preserved and restored to their former grandeur. Since The Mansion’s opening, other area developers have climbed aboard the preservation bandwagon and brought many more buildings back to life. “People thought we were crazy when we opened,” Principe said as he demonstrated the workings of a beautifully carved black walnut pocket door in the bar/billiard room. The transformation is quite breathtaking. The windows are a distinctive feature of the building. There are more than 175 windows, 14 of them are large bay windows. The windows and

18-foot-high ceilings were an indication of great wealth due to the enormous expense of heating with coal. The house was built in the Second Empire Style, which combines features from various styles. Mid 19th century architects reasoned that no age produced the perfect architectural expression and that they could benefit from all the best of the past. Enjoy a drink in the bar (the first one is complimentary) while playing a game of billiards, or take your drink across the hall and sit in front of fireplace. Complimentary breakfast is also served in this light-filled room. Free parking is available in the lot across the street and if you want to explore downtown, a butler stands ready to drive you wherever you want within a three-mile radius. Sheraton Fallsview Hotel, a member of the Marriott family, just underwent a more than $50 million renovation to the 22-story hotel and its 641 rooms and 28 suites. The location and the view of the American, Bridal Veil and Horseshoe Falls is its biggest attraction. The hotel bills itself as “close enough to feel the mist.” When the wind is right the saying is true. Just about every moment during my

stay I felt enveloped in the Falls. Everywhere I looked there they were — the “incredible Cataract or Waterfall, which has no equal.” Those were the words of the first tourist to write about his experience upon seeing the Falls for the first time. It was a cold December day in 1678 when Father Louis Hennepin experienced the Falls as a missionary under French explorer Robert LaSalle. Nearly two centuries later novelist Charles Dickens wrote, “I seemed to be lifted from the earth and to be looking into Heaven. Niagara was at once stamped upon my heart, an image of beauty, to remain there changeless and indelible.” Driving along the Niagara Parkway into Niagara Falls, the Falls were on my right. The hotel is almost at the foot of the Rainbow Bridge and directly across from the American Falls. The best view was from my room with its expansive floor to ceiling windows, while sitting next to the electric fireplace. Tip: Stop at the Duty Free Store for wine or whatever is your favorite drink to enjoy while taking in the Falls from the warmth and comfort of your room. There has never been a time when I haven’t been awestruck by the sight of the Falls. It truly is breathtaking. The Fallsview offers the Falls in all their glory at sunrise, during the day, at sunset, and lit up with multi-colored lights after dark.

Best of all, there were no crowds anywhere so it was easy to take in the full experience of this majestic wonder that people travel from around the world to see. I finished my evening with a walk along the falls and the next day repeated the walk at sunrise. The hotel has a spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and restaurants with more sweeping views of the Falls. Both dinner and breakfast in the hotel were delicious and even more memorable with the view. The hotel is connected to Casino Niagara and an indoor water park. It is also close to other area attractions. Here are some additional choices for romantic getaways: The Lake House on Canandaigua opened in 2020 and has already established itself as one of the top hotels in the Finger Lakes region, the state, and the country. It has won numerous awards and accolades. It could not have a better location at the north end of the lake, overlooking the City Pier with its picturesque historic boathouses. The lobby, library bar, and the 124 rooms are filled with hand carved furniture designed by the family-owned company. Enjoy a drink sitting by the lakeside fire pits, take soak in the outside hot tubs, and book a massage in the hotel’s spa. Visit lakehouseoncanandaigua.com or call 585-394-7800. continued on page 25 February 2022 WNY Family 17

cavities are preventable. You can protect and maintain your child’s teeth by following these wise simple steps below:

Learn How to

Protect Your Children’s Teeth


from Cavities

P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom

rotect tiny teeth by caring for your mouth when you’re pregnant. Your child’s future oral health starts with you. nsure to wipe your baby’s gums after each meal.


Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

ebruary is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Cavities, also known as caries or tooth decay, are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood, yet cavities are preventable. Children who have poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t. Learn how you can protect your child’s teeth from cavi-

ties with these resources. Untreated cavities can cause pain, infections, and can lead to problems eating, speaking, and learning. More than 1 in 5 children aged 2 to 5 years has at least one cavity in their baby teeth. Children from low-income families are more than twice as likely to have untreated cavities, compared with children from higher-income households. However,

Gentle and Caring Dentistry


emember to brush your child’s teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. For children younger than 2 years, consult with your dentist or doctor about when to start using fluoride toothpaste.

imit drinks and food with added sugars for children. Encourage your child to eat more fruits and vegetables and have fewer fruit drinks, cookies, and candies. This gives your child the best possible start to good oral health.


for Children & Youth Ages 1-21

void putting babies to bed with a bottle.

chedule your child’s first dental visit by their first birthday or after their first tooth appears. Their tiny teeth matter!

Root of It All: Are You Watching What Your Child Eats and Drinks?

Pediatric Dentistry 160 Elmwood Ave. Buffalo, NY

716-436-2130 1660 Hopkins Rd. Getzville, NY

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Your child’s diet is very important for developing and maintaining strong and healthy teeth. It is helpful to include good sources of calcium (yogurt, broccoli, and milk) to your child’s diet to help build strong teeth. Teaching your child about healthy eating habits is one of the best practices for a lifetime of good health. Here are some helpful tips: •

Eat fruits and vegetables for snacks rather than candies and cookies.

Brush your child’s teeth twice daily.

Serve water at mealtime rather than juice or soda.

Did You Know That Community Water Fluoridation Saves Money and Teeth? Fluoride is a naturally occurring element in water. Community water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the amount of fluoride found in water to achieve the best prevention of tooth decay. •

Bacteria in the mouth produce acid when a person eats sugary foods. This acid eats away minerals from the tooth’s surface, making the tooth weaker and increasing the chance of developing cavities.

Drinking tap water with fluoride rebuilds the surface of the tooth. By keeping the tooth strong and solid, fluoride protects teeth from decay.

Community water fluoridation has been shown to save money, both for families and the health care system.

Check if your water has fluoride by visiting My Water’s Fluoride.

Dental Sealants Dental Sealants are a quick, easy, and painless way to prevent most cavities children get in the permanent back teeth where 9 in 10 cavities occur. Children aged 6 to 11 years without sealants have almost 3 times more first-molar cavities than children with sealants.

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Much of this decay could be prevented with the application of dental sealants. Sealants are plastic coatings applied to the pits and fissures in tooth surfaces to prevent decay-causing bacteria and food particles from collecting in these hard-to-clean surfaces. Studies on sealant effectiveness indicate that sealants delivered in clinical or school settings prevent about 81% of decay at 2 years after placement, 50% at 4 years and can continue to be effective for up to 9 years through adolescence; no clinically significant adverse effects have been associated with receipt of sealants. Sealants are underused, especially among low-income children who have the highest risk for decay. National data from 1999–2004 indicated the prevalence of sealant use among children aged 6–11 years living in poverty was 21% compared with 40% among children from families with incomes >200% of the federal poverty level. Increasing sealant use prevalence is a national health goal and the National Quality Forum has endorsed dental care performance measures aimed at increasing sealant use prevalence in children at elevated risk for tooth decay. As a parent, ask your child’s dentist to apply sealants when appropriate. If your child’s school has a sealant program, sign your child up to participate. If they don’t, ask your child’s school to start one. You can find detailed information about how to start a school sealant program at https://www.mchoralhealth. org/seal/. February 2022 WNY Family 19

RAISING DIGITAL KIDS — by Mike Daugherty


Creating Confidence Through Coding

dvances in technology along with affordable access to intelligent internetconnected devices are the driving force behind a revolution across the globe. Some academics refer to this as the start of the fourth industrial revolution or the second machine age. The digital revolution is disrupting financial systems (cryptocurrency), manufacturing systems (3D printing), entertainment (Netflix), and basically every aspect of modern living.

more generic term, coding, is a fantastic place to start. Understanding how to write code involves creativity, critical thinking, visual design, and problemsolving, many of the skills considered essential to be successful in the future. The best part is that learning to code is surprisingly fun. Most sites and apps take a gaming approach to learning that keeps kids engaged. As a result, getting started is incredibly easy, even if you or your child have no experience whatsoever.

that are similar to games they might play at home. Kids put the code blocks in the correct order to complete a task, such as grabbing a coin or dodging a bad guy. The “pick up and play” element of the game makes it more powerful and appealing to younger learners. CodeSpark is a great introductory site for students ages 5-8. Parents can visit the website or download the app on smartphones or tablets. Also try: Kodable

The employment outlook must adjust to keep pace with our ever-changing, technology-rich world. Research suggests that between 25-40% of existing jobs today will be automated by the mid-2030s. Those jobs that involve highly repetitive tasks have the most significant risk of being replaced by automated processes.

Sites like the ones below take a block approach to programming. Concepts are broken down into small chunks that are easy to digest. It allows children to learn individual ideas first, then encourages them to solve problems by making connections between singular skills. I ordered the sites below, starting with the youngest learner first and moving up through high school.


Positions of the future, the jobs school-age children of today will be seeking, will require employees to be collaborative, critical thinking problem solvers. As a parent, how can you help prepare your children for jobs and careers in fields that have not been invented yet? Computer programming, or the 20 WNY Family February 2022

CodeSpark (https://codespark.com) Learning can be pretty fun with the “Foos” characters from CodeSpark. The cute little “Foos” take a kid-friendly way to learn coding lessons. Students learn concepts through three different games

Hopscotch Hopscotch has been recognized by several parenting organizations for its creativity, ease of use, and educational value. Similar to CodeSpark, Hopscotch is block based. It does a fantastic job explaining concepts to young minds. There are also over 40 challenges for learners to complete once they’ve gotten through the basics. Kids can share their creations with the larger Hopscotch community so their peers can enjoy what they’ve made. The app is free, and it doesn’t ever show ads to its users. Recently, Hopscotch has been offering live classes for kids who want to take their learning up a notch. The courses run for an hour in the evening or

on the weekends and are taught by a live instructor. Students are given homework assignments to complete during the week and then the class reviews when they meet. There is a cost to enroll, but with the current state of the pandemic, this might be a great learning opportunity for interested kids. HopScotch is best for children ages 10-15. It only works on Apple iPads or iPods at the moment. Also try: Box Island, LightBox

Scratch & Scratch Jr. (https://scratch.mit.edu) Scratch was designed by students at MIT in 2003 as a tool for anyone who wants to learn to code. The university continues to update and maintain the application almost 20 years later. Similar to the options above, Scratch uses block coding that allows students to snap pieces of code together like a puzzle. Other sites keep students locked into predetermined lessons and limits. Scratch is different. It allows kids to expand their knowledge by removing those limits. This dynamic programming language enables kids to create just about anything they like. Kids will find the site is filled with examples from other creators. There’s also an active online community of Scratch programmers when they need answers or inspiration. Scratch is suitable for children ages 8 to 16. Younger coders should check out Scratch Jr. which uses a similar model but focuses on students ages 5-7.

Hour of Code

cludes hundreds of programming activities sorted by age and experience. Hour of Code partnered with companies like Disney and Nickelodeon so your little coders will see familiar faces in some of the lessons. Younger students will learn block-based coding while older students can work with higher level languages like JavaScript and Python. The only downside to this collection is that high school students may find the content a bit childish.

Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org) Khan Academy is a unique online learning platform that covers topics ranging from world history to advanced chemistry. A quick search on the site reveals an entire computer programming curriculum. Most of the options covered so far teach concepts and basic programming. The courses on Khan Academy are similar to what a student would see in high school or college, so the content is more rigorous and quite a bit more challenging. The courses should be considered the next step for those students who have mastered sites like Scratch and Hour of Code. Coding can empower your child to be a creator, a designer, and a problemsolver. Many people believe computer programming is a skill reserved for tech nerds and basement geeks. Take a few minutes to explore the resources listed in this column. I think you’ll be surprised at the world of amazement you’ll uncover.

(https://hourofcode.com) Hour of Code is easily my favorite site on this list. Created in 2014, the Hour of Code “is a global movement introducing students worldwide to computer science, inspiring kids to learn more, breaking stereotypes, and leaving them feeling empowered.” Hour of Code is an event celebrated annually during Computer Science Education Week in December. The intent is to show children that they can be creators. They learn the tools to build the same types of games and apps they love to use. The site in-

Mike Daugherty is a husband, father of three young children, author, speaker, Google Innovator, and possible Starbucks addict. He is a certified educational technology leader who has served in a variety of roles through his twenty-year career in public education. Currently, Mike is the Director of Technology for the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School district in Northeast Ohio. As an IT director he has developed creative, well thought out solutions that positively impact teaching and learning.


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outside on the weekends, just having fun, getting into a little bit of trouble, and making their own memories to last a lifetime. It’s what being a kid is all about. Of course, that’s me hoping kids will still be playing outside when she’s older.

A Place to Call Our Own


ince my wife and I started dating back in 2005, we have moved a total of eight times together. And with every new move, always into an apartment, we’ve accrued more belongings over the years — furniture, pets, Tupperware, wall pictures, and the usual junk. So, when Andrea became pregnant with Violet in 2019, we started to panic about only having a limited amount of space and how long it would take for us to grow out of it once the baby was here. Well, it didn’t take long. For years we talked about buying our first home together, but the time never felt right. We worried about where we would want to settle down, we worried about finances, and of course there was a general fear of becoming firsttime home buyers. But shortly after Violet’s first birthday, which brought at least another room’s worth of stuff into our apartment, we knew we had to get serious. Between all her toys, bouncers, and books, we were starting to feel like sardines in a can. The time was finally right to move.

When we first started looking for a home, most of the horror stories we heard about buying one all lived up to the hype. But we were very lucky when 22 WNY Family February 2022

we ended up buying the first house we looked at. We also worked with an amazing realtor who made the whole process effortless for us. We feared that we might have been searching for years, but from start to finish, the whole process only took about two months.

Once we finally moved in, it took us a couple of weeks to get completely settled, unpacking all the boxes, changing the locks, baby proofing everything. I was curious to see how Violet would take to her new surroundings, especially during the first few days when the place looked like a tornado had passed through it, but it didn’t seem to faze her at all. After a couple of laps around the kitchen, then into the hallway and down to her bedroom, it was like we had been living there all along. Plus, we brought all our same furniture over, and for the most part set up her room exactly how it was at our old apartment, which I think helped her feel more comfortable. I’m happy with the neighborhood we chose, too. There’s a large lake and public beach right across the street for swimming in summer and plenty of winding sidewalks for trick-or-treating in the autumn. It’s what I always imagined for my children when I was growing up. Somewhere where they can be

I must admit, as happy as we were to move into our new home, it was a little bittersweet leaving our apartment behind. And I say that not because we’re going to miss renting, but because that apartment is where we brought Violet home. It’s where she spent the first year and a half of her life. It’s where she learned to crawl and walk in our living room. It’s where she first said “Mama” and “Dada” and it’s where we spent countless hours rocking her to sleep in the middle of the night when she was sick or just couldn’t get comfortable. It’s the place where we became a bigger family. A place to call our own is all I ever really wanted for us; a place where we can make our own memories and start our own family traditions — Chinese takeout on Sundays and movie night on Saturdays. I want to sit in the backyard and watch Violet play on the swing set. I want to watch Andrea teach Violet how to brush her hair and pick out silly outfits together. I feel as if I have many expectations out of life, but in the end, all I really want is for my family to be happy and safe. I guess sometimes life seems so uncertain and unpredictable, so anytime something works out now, I just want it to last forever, especially after these past few years with the loss of our son Louis and the pandemic. I can’t wait to see what adventures the future brings here. I’ll tell you all about it soon. Richard De Fino, a freelance writer by night, first became a father at age 34. After losing his first-born son Louis, at birth, he was determined to keep his memory alive the best way he knew how; through words. Now, with the birth of his daughter Violet, he plans on continuing to share his fatherhood journey each month with WNY Family readers.

Family Movie Options: In Theaters and Streaming Online Sing 2


Rating PG

Overall B-

Violence B

Sex A

Profanity A

Alcohol/Drugs A

After their initial success, theater owner Buster Moon and his crew set their sights on performing in Redshore City (a Las Vegas clone). A major producer gives them a chance on the condition that they convince a reclusive rock star to come out of retirement and join them. This sequel lacks the offbeat charm of the original film, being burdened by too many characters and an overlong runtime. It also lacks a compelling storyline, apparently existing solely as a vehicle for the excellent soundtrack. Worst of all, even kids don’t laugh at the tired jokes. Photo ©Universal Pictures

Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania


Rating PG

Overall B-

Violence B

Sex A-

Profanity A

Alcohol/Drugs A

Feeling unaccepted by his father-in-law, Johnny wishes to become a monster – and says so in the presence of Van Helsing, who makes the wish come true and unexpectedly turns Drac and his friends into humans. Now the whole clan heads off to South America in search of a cure that will transform them back to normal. This film lacks the wit and heart of previous instalments in the franchise, substituting frenetic action for entertainment and flat characters for clever writing. Young viewers might enjoy it, but this has nothing to offer their parents. Photo © Amazon

Riverdance: The Animated Adventure














In this Irish tale, young Keegan lives with his grandfather in a lighthouse which keeps the world safe from the dangerous and destructive Huntsman. When tragedy strikes, Keegan enters a magical land where he discovers the nature of Riverdance and learns to face the darkness. Mediocre animation is a drawback of this film, hampering enjoyment of the many dancing scenes. The script also suffers from bloat, with extended scenes and pointless side plots. That said, the movie conjures up some charm and enough magic to keep young viewers entranced. Photo ©Netflix

Seal Team














Quin is tired of being prey for cunning sharks. Determined to give his fellow seals the freedom of the seas, Quin assembles a motley crew of seals, dolphins, seagulls and other maritime creatures who believe they can defeat the sharp-toothed predators. This serviceable film delivers messages about teamwork, admitting mistakes, and making plans. It also has a predictable plot, waterlogged jokes, and subpar animation and is far too violent for preschoolers. Photo ©Netflix Detailed reviews available at www.parentpreviews.com February 2022 WNY Family 23

PICK OF THE LITERATURE — by Dr. Donna Phillips


inter weather has finally arrived and with it books that are perfect to celebrate it! As much as we moan, complain, and shiver, we have to keep in mind that it is because of winter we have spring. Winter is the resting time; the time for introspection and inner growth. It is a planning time and a readying time, so that when spring comes we can burst forth to plant and grow our stored plans and potential. So what do we do while we plan and wait? We read!! Here are some great books to keep everyone warm, cozy, and entertained. The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s First Winter (Penguin/Random House, New York, $8.99, 2021) by Eric Carle is a delightful board book for young children and their parents. It seems almost everyone has been brought up knowing this hungry little guy, but he is also curious and winter does not stop him! Experience those special moments during winter when we cuddle up inside or play outdoors. Sitting by a fire, looking out the window on a snowy day, making forts and throwing snowballs or sledding, then returning indoors again for warm apple pie, sugar cookies, and hot chocolate… only to go outside afterwards and start all over again! Simple descriptive rhymes add to the story and trying to find our little 24 WNY Family February 2022

friend on each page makes this book a perfect winter celebration. Fox and Hare were born in the spring and grew up together in the summer. When autumn came, the forest was abuzz with talk about something called “snow.” A Thing Called Snow (Double Day Books for Young Readers, New York, 2021, $17.99), written and illustrated by Yuval Zommer, is a beautiful adventure story of exploration and friendship. Fox and Hare ask their forest friends to describe snow for them, and, of course, each has a different answer. It was not until they fell asleep one evening while they were on their quest that they woke up to find the answer they had been looking for. Snow was everywhere, and everything their friends had told them it was… but more! Snow is something you have to experience! The illustrations, characters, and conversations make this book a delight to read and see. It seems Jan Brett has the most magical way of writing and illustrating books that make even the coldest of days feel warm and inviting and Cozy (P. G. Putnam’s Sons, New York 2021, $18.99)

is the perfect example. You get that feeling just by looking at the cover of the book. On it you will find all kinds of arctic animals peeking out from under the warm luxurious fur of a musk ox. Brett’s detailed illustrations and clever use of borders to foreshadow what is coming makes this another one of her books that is perfect for young and old readers alike. The story hints of the Ukrainian folktale called The Mitten (which she published in 1989) but not so fast… This story takes place in the Artic when Cozy becomes separated from her family. She may have started out lonely but it did not take long before she has many new and not so cold any more friends. One by one, animals of the Arctic quietly came out to cuddle under her silky robe. Animals that might never get along like lemmings, the snow-shoe hare, snowy owl, arctic fox, a sea otter, wolverine, and even some Husky dogs agree to cooperate to get through the harsh winter. Little by little the temperatures warmed and the snow began to melt. Soon it is time to go out into spring, but not before they agree to meet again next winter! Snow Angel, Sand Angel (Make Me a World, New York, 2021, $17.99), written by Lois-Ann Yamanaka and illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky, introduces us to some of the many marvels of Hawaii and the magnificent and unexpected things you will find there. Did you know it sometimes snows in Hawaii? It is up on the top of Mount Mauna Kea. But it is not the kind of cold, fluffy, sparkly snow that Claire is hoping for and she is disappointed when her father takes the family up to see it. While she makes the best of it, she still longs for all of the fun of sliding and sledding, snowball throwing, and making snowmen and snow angels that she has heard about. The high altitude and thin air of the mountain makes her

FAMILY TRAVEL continued...

lightheaded and dizzy. To make things worse she has to wear a pair of her father’s old socks for mittens and an old beach towel for a scarf. She wants a real snow adventure! She dreams of becoming a snow angel and flying away to where the real snow is. Days later, her family travels to the beach to celebrate the weather and the New Year but she is still dreaming of snow adventures until… Her father begins making a big ball out of sand. Before she knows it, she has her own snowman compete with shell eyes and driftwood for a pipe, seaweed for hair and coral for a smile and arms. Making sand angels convinces her that snow may be an adventure but the ocean, the waves, the beaches, surfing and swimming, the jungles and the mountains, and the flora and fauna there make it her home and she can still have the best of both worlds! She is content to be a sand angel. While some of us dream of snow in winter and others dream of tropical beaches and breezes, the best way to celebrate our winter season is to enjoy the magic of each day. Dreary skies may be just what some wish for as the sun shines day after day. The magic and silence of falling snow and the tracks of animals remind us that life goes on around us even after dark. Bitter winds will give way to the warm whispers of spring. However, for now, let nature rest to be ready for all that is promised to follow. Dr. Donna Phillips is an associate professor in the College of Education at Niagara University where her specialty is literacy and children’s literature. She lives on Grand Island, NY and is the mother of two adult children and the grandmother of one.

Aloft Buffalo Downtown (500 Pearl St., Buffalo, 716-849-7280, Marriott.com) has quickly become an important addition to the thriving downtown Buffalo hotel scene. It boasts the highest rooftop bar outside New York City with breathtaking views of the city and the lake. It features restaurants, a salt water pool, and fitness center. It has a big-city, hip vibe and is the creation of Ellicott Development. It is also a member of the Marriott group of hotels. Travel Tip of the Month: For The Mansion on Delaware, 414 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, 716-886-3300 or visit mansionondelaware.com. For the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel, 5875 Falls Ave., Niagara Falls, Ontario, 905-374-445, visit sheratononthefalls.com. It is directly across from the Rainbow Bridge. Special couples packages are available. Check Before You Go: Border

rules are in flux as of this writing (early January) due to the Omicron variant. Check the most current rules for Americans entering Canada and returning to the U.S. before you make any plans. The standard rule has been that adults must be fully vaccinated, have a negative PCR (or ID NOW or NAAT) test within 72 hours of crossing and download the ArriveCan app. Testing is generally free in the Buffalo area and results are available within less than 24 hours from Walgreens and CVS. Make appointments online. Deborah Williams lives in Holland, NY and is a veteran travel writer whose work has appeared in national and international publications. She is the recipient of the Society of American Travel Writers’ Lowell Thomas Gold Travel Writing Award.

Some day, you’ll be taking care of your parents as well as your kids.



in our March issue

ELDERCARE GUIDE: Caring for Your Aging Parents To advertise your Elder Care services, call 716-836-3486 ext. 104 or your sales representative. February 2022 WNY Family 25

Time To Start Planning for Camp!


hile we may still be stuck inside with a case of Cabin Fever, it’s not too early to begin thinking about available options to keep your kids busy

four seasons Camp @ 9 mile island 1 Orbit Drive Nine Mile Island • Amherst

• Swimming • Hiking • Arts & Crafts • In-house visitors • Great Outdoor Fun and much more! Call 0 CHILDCARE CENTER & PRESCHOOL ENROEALLRLY 4 1639 N. French Rd., Getzville, NY 14068 SPECI MENT 568-11 AL S



26 WNY Family February 2022

this summer. While camp may be a necessity for working parents who need to make sure their child is cared for when school is no longer in session, it’s actually a wonderful opportunity for children to learn life skills, expand their world, make new discoveries, and establish new friendships. It also helps kids develop a sense of independence and self-confidence, as well as the ability to work with others as a team. When children go to camp, they’ll likely come home gushing about the lifelong friends they’ve made, and the exciting adventures they had. What they probably won’t tell you about are the life lessons camp has given them — those skills that, if nurtured at home after camp, translate into a lasting selfconfidence, an awareness of the importance of kindness, and a greater comfort in voicing their opinions. Camp is a natural extension of the classroom — today’s camps offer many traditional activities such as swimming and arts and crafts, but there are many creative and exciting opportunities to explore specific areas such as performing in a theater production, riding a horse, or learning to dance. In today’s techno-oriented world, summer camp gets them away from the screen and outdoors to interact with the natural world. More and more experts are advocating the value of time spent in nature for children — and camp is a perfect place to do that. Sports and physical activities found at camp get kids moving — literally — toward increased fitness. Camp provides experiences that promote self-confidence and future academic growth. American Camp Association® (ACA) independent research shows that parents and camp staff, as well as the campers themselves, report significant growth in several areas, including leadership, independence, social comfort, and values and decisions. First and foremost, when choosing a camp, take your child’s needs and interests into account. Just as no two children are alike, camp environments, activities, and personnel can differ widely, so be sure to ask plenty of questions when seeking the ideal camp situation for your child this summer. Some important questions to ask are: 1) How does the camp recruit its staff? What type of training do the counselors have? How old are they? Are background checks done? Do they have first aid training? 2) What is the ratio of counselors to campers? Day camp guidelines call for 1:8 for children ages 6-8; 1:10 for children ages 9-14; and 1:12 for ages 15-18. 3) Are campers grouped by age, activity, or both? 4) What does a typical daily schedule look like? 5) Is transportation available? What is the cost? 6) Is there extended care before and after camp? What is the cost? 7) Does the camp provide lunch or must campers bring their lunch? 8) Does camp tuition include the full range of activities or are their extra fees for field trips? 9) Ask about return rates. How many staff members return each year? How many campers return? Ask for references — talk to some parents who have recently sent their children to the camp.

Re a d y, Set


Boost your enrollment in 2022 through WNY Family’s


Lear nin Crafts

s Competition

Advertising Space Reservation Deadlines:

March ...... Wednesday, Feb. 9 April ... Wednesday, March 9 May .................. Friday, April 8

For more info call 836-3486 Ext. 104

Award Winning Academy of Theatre Arts 2022 Summer Programs at the ATA Theatre


Turn your next school break into something special! As part of our NEW Break Camps, you’ll spend your week off acting, singing, and dancing your way into a new show, culminating with a live performance onstage!

Broadway Babies ($150)

August 15th-19th - 9:00-12:00pm - Ages 2-4

Students work on public speaking and confidence on stage through dramatic play and story telling. At the end of the week students put on a dramatic reading of a story book!

Broadway at ATA $450

($425 If paid In full by MARCH 1st)

July 11th - 22nd - 9:00-4:00pm - Ages 12 & up

You don’t want to miss this fun and exciting program here at ATA! This camp, strictly for older theatre performers, will consist of intensive voice, theatre and dance workshops. We also put a focus on public speaking, team building and problem solving during this camp; skills the students can use throughout their lives! Students will learn what it takes to put on a musical not only on stage but off stage as well. Students will audition and be cast in the full musical production of “SpongeBob The Musical”!

4231 Transit Road, Williamsville, NY 14221

Reg ister by March 1st & Save!

Onstage at ATA $450

($425 If paid In full by MARCH 1st)

July 25th - August 5th - 9:00-4:00pm - Ages 9 & up

This camp, for middle school students, will consist of voice, theatre and dance workshops. We also put a focus on public speaking, team building and problem solving! Throughout the two weeks students will create their own musical as a team from the set, costumes, and musical numbers. Then they will audition and be cast in the full musical production of “Tarzan”

Catch a Rising Star $225

($200 If Paid In Full by MARCH 1st)

4 different week options available - 9:00-3:00pm - Ages 5-9

This popular one-week camp will allow you to be part of a fun-filled production of “Disney’s Jungle Book Kids.”. Join us for a week of singing, dancing and making new friends! In just one short week, students will learn lines, musical numbers and important team building skills, public speaking and being comfortable stepping out of their comfort zone!

Summer on the Silver Screen $300 ($275 If Paid In Full by MARCH 1st)

August 1st - 12th - 3:00-7:00pm - Ages 9 & up

Our “Summer on the Silver Screen” camp takes students behind the scenes of their very own film! During this two-week intensive campers will learn the basics of screenwriting, cinematography, and film editing, all while starring in their own movie scenes on the big screen.

Behind the Scenes SUMMER WORKSHOP $175

August 15th-19th - 9:00-1:00pm - Ages 7 & up

Learn about the magic that happens onstage long before the curtain goes up! In this one week intensive summer camp, students will learn the art of backstage production design. From creating props to designing sets to learning the ins and outs of sound and light production, campers learn new skills daily over the course of this exciting camp workshop.

To Register or for more information call 716-810-0551 or Visit www.accademyoftheatrearts.com/summer-at-ata/ February 2022 WNY Family 27

How To Get Your Preschooler Excited For Day Camp — by Cheryl Maguire

“Who’s excited about camp?”

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y twin toddlers looked up at me with a perplexed expression on their faces. They had no idea what I was talking about. Since they were already signed up, I wanted to make sure they had fun. Here’s how I got them excited about their first day at camp:

Go To The Library Go to the local library with your aspiring camper and check out every video and picture book regarding the topic. You can also look on YouTube for camp videos or songs or stream the videos online through your library. The idea behind this is to create excitement and help them to understand what to expect. You can also talk about your own camp experiences.

Hit The Stores With the camp list in hand, we went to the local mall and shopped for the items. They loved picking out their favorite towel, bathing suit, and sunglasses. I even let them buy a new backpack just for camp. While we shopped, we discussed the different activities they will participate in at camp like swimming and sports.

Learning About Friendship When you are at home playing games like Candyland with your kids, talk about things like taking turns and how to have conservations with new kids. You can ask your kid questions like, “What are some things you can talk about with kids your age?” Or ask them, “What are some ways to make new friends?” You can also read books or watch movies about friendship.

Play Camp Games You can play some camp games at home to get them excited and prepared. One common camp game is mini Olympics. You can set up some different types 28 WNY Family February 2022

of races like relay races. Another suggestion is to create a scavenger hunt with camp-related items like a backpack and sunglasses. After you are done you can cook up some s’mores.

Go Swimming Most camps offer swimming lessons and free swim. You will want to take your child swimming beforehand to discuss water safety and to help reinforce that swimming is fun. A lot of kids fear going into the water when they first take swimming lessons, especially when there are tons of kids splashing around. By taking your child swimming before camp starts you will ease some of these anxieties.

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Schedule A Visit Most camps will offer an open house or orientation to help your child understand what camp will be like. This is a perfect time for your kids to ask questions and meet counselors or other campers. If possible, before camp starts set up a play date with some kids that are going to be at the camp. It will make it easier to drop off if they recognize some familiar faces.

Create A Countdown My kids love countdowns for holidays like Christmas and vacation. You can keep track of the number of days until camp starts by using a countdown calendar, countdown app or create paper chain links for the number of days until camp starts that you tear off every day. This helps to build excitement and prepare them for when the big day will occur.

Who’s excited about camp? After I did all the above suggestions with my twins, when I asked the question again, they both jumped up and down with excitement. And when they attended camp they loved it. Cheryl Maguire holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. She is married and is the mother of twins and a daughter. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, Parents Magazine, AARP, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessing and Your Teen Magazine. February 2022 WNY Family 29

DEAR TEACHER – by Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts

Helping all parents make their children’s educational experience as successful as possible

Math Challenged!


uestion: My son hates math with a passion. Right now, he is taking algebra for the second time and getting terrible grades. I thought math would be easier for him now that students have returned to school in-person and are no longer virtual students. However, my son still struggles with math. He has a tutor at school twice a week so it is difficult to understand why he is not doing better. Do you have any ideas about things that could be done to improve his math grades? — Weak in Math Answer: Math is definitely a sequential subject and if your son does not have a solid foundation, it will definitely be difficult to construct the building. Obviously, the tutor has not been working on filling in earlier gaps in his algebra learning. If your son does not see how the pieces fit together, he will not be able to process the new information that he needs to learn. The tutor is probably only helping him with the current problems he is being assigned. More than likely, there is one or more key math concepts that he has not mastered that are causing a good part of his difficulty with algebra. This is the reason why tutoring may not help many students in any grade having trouble with math. What needs to be done is for your son to be given an assessment test in math that will pinpoint any weak areas (concepts) that are likely to be causing him to have problems with algebra. By addressing them, your son should be able to handle algebra better. 30 WNY Family February 2022

In addition, you should look into the possibility of a learning disability, as your son may be eligible for different support and some accommodations. Finally, you might want to look for a new tutor with a different approach to math. Also, watch your attitude toward math. If you also hated it with a passion, some of your attitude may be passing off to your son. Point out to your son that the more he works on math, the better he is likely to become. Some students really improve when they go beyond the assigned work to do additional similar problems.

Comprehending Fictional Stories Question: My child in third grade does not always understand the fictional stories that she reads. She frequently does not see what the plot is or the motivation of the characters. Earlier she seems to have had a better idea of what was happening because the books had a lot of illustrations. Is there any easy technique that might help her? — Seeking Help Answer: There is something that you can do as a parent to help your daughter get a better picture of what is happening in a story. What your daughter needs to do is to learn to form a mental picture of what is happening when she is reading a story. Start by reading a story to her. Do not show her any of the illustrations. Stop after a few descriptive sentences or a paragraph and tell her what you see in your mind about what is happening in the story. You can share a mental picture of what a character or setting looks like to you or describe what

action is occurring. Do explain that your mental pictures help you understand the story. Continue sharing your mental pictures as you read through the story. Then tell what you see and ask her to share what she sees. You will need to do this for some time before seeing mental images becomes a solid and helpful skill for your child.

Lacking Sleep Parents: You may be surprised to learn that your children could be sleep deprived. Elementary school children should have from nine to ten hours of sleep per night. Furthermore, the effects of not getting enough sleep night after night accumulate and can even cause children to have problems in school. Teachers see this as a problem when children doze off in class. The Association of Elementary School Principals reports that sleepdeprived children can’t concentrate on their schoolwork, have trouble remembering things, may become irritable and fidgety, and may be vulnerable to colds and flu. Today, a major reason for children staying up too late is increased demands on their time. Your children may be involved in too many activities. Also, you should determine if they are being assigned too much homework. Children in elementary school should usually have about ten minutes of homework for every year in school. There is also the possibility of spending too much time on electronic media. Parents need to realize that part of the reason your children are staying up later may be physiological. As children move through elementary school, they will naturally fall asleep later even if they have the same bedtimes. This is especially true when they enter puberty. Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher. com and to learn more about helping their children succeed in school visit the dearteacher website.


Are You Vaccinated?


t seems to be the question of the year. COVID has taken over our lives, but what about other vaccines, and what about our pets? Veterinarians are increasingly being asked if there is a COVID vaccine for our pets and about spreading COVID-19 to our pets. Is it possible? Yes, but not probable. An infected person can transmit it to a pet. And no, there is no vaccine yet for pets. However, there are many vaccines that are absolutely essential for your pet. Like people, pets need vaccines for a long, healthy life. In general, like people, pets require what are called “core” vaccines, sometimes requiring a booster. Additional other vaccinations referred to as “non-core” are based on your pet’s age, lifestyle, and environment, such as if your pet is involved in outdoor activities or is frequently boarded or attends doggy daycare. So why are vaccines needed? Core vaccines are considered vital to all pets based on risk of exposure, severity of disease, or transmissibility to humans. Vaccines help a pet’s immune system to fight disease-causing organisms. Many prevent illness. It’s one of the easiest ways to protect your pet. Vaccines are generally for specific diseases and there are various types and combinations. As with human vaccinations, there are some risks, but benefits provide the safest and best way to protect your pet. Veterinarians can advise the most appropriate vaccination regime for

your specific pet. So when should pets get vaccinations and which are needed? Kittens and puppies receive many antibodies in their mother’s milk while nursing. At about six weeks dogs and cats need to begin receiving a series of specific combined vaccinations. These are administered a minimum of three vaccinations at three to four-week intervals, with the last dosage at about 16 weeks of age. For dogs the “core” vaccines are for canine parvovirus, distemper, rabies, and canine hepatitis. “Non-core” vaccines depend on the environmental risks your dog faces. The most common include Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Leptospira (lepto) bacteria. Western New York is seeing a marked increase in lepto cases, which is transmitted through infected animal urine. For anyone who walks their dog you know how much dogs sniff at marked areas, which can be a source for this disease. Cats need vaccines for feline distemper (panleukopenia), calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis), and rabies. Non-core vaccines needed are based on your cat’s lifestyle including vaccines for feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chlamydophila felis, and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). For both dogs and cats, boosters are needed at various intervals depending on protection needed to keep them healthy and safe.

You wouldn’t let your child or family go unprotected so make sure your four-footed, winged, scaled, or other pet receives the vaccinations they need and deserve. The Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society consists of more than 75 small animal hospitals and 200 veterinarians in Erie and Niagara counties. Learn more at www.nfveterinarysociety.org.

February 2022 WNY Family 31


Ability Inspire Advocate

Special Needs Potential Thri

Growth Strategies — by Kelli Phillips

Become an Informed Advocate for Your Special Needs Child


was an educator for 17 years; in the final years I found myself drawn to children with special needs. I worked with students who struggled with learning disabilities, autism, and behavior disorders. IEP’s — Individual Education Plans — built unique experiences in learning and assessing skills and knowledge for each student. Many students, not only those with behavioral issues, required Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) as a component of their IEP. These plans not only addressed undesirable behavior in the sense of your typical oppositional defiant student, but also the profound social aspect of students found on the spectrum, from those with low IQ’s to those struggling with Asperger’s syndrome. Though some students did not require BIPs, I found the majority of my students benefited from a unique plan tailored to help them be successful in a regular educational setting. Parents should be sought out by teachers to help build the behavior plan. If your child with special needs, such as a learning disabled student refusing to complete activities or an autistic child who needs coaching in order to success32 WNY Family February 2022

ing with your child’s teacher(s) in order to establish a relationship that will bring positive interactions and results. Do this at the beginning of the school year. Most school districts require at least one yearly IEP meeting anyway, so hopefully you already have some knowledge of how your child’s teachers approach making him or her successful in reaching the goals established in the IEP.

fully socialize with his or her peers, does not have a BIP in the IEP, your duty is to set up a meeting with his or her regular and special education teachers in order to jumpstart the process of assessing the behavioral issues which are impeding the student from achieving the academic and behavioral goals found in the IEP.

In the meeting, you should be provided a copy of your rights as a parent of a child with special needs. Read it! Know what opportunities with which you are provided in order advocate for your child. Don’t be afraid to ask for explanations of rights that are confusing.

You and your child’s teacher(s) need to meet to build a plan that will influence behavior which will lead to positive consequences and which provides immediate feedback to bolster retention of a new or replaced behavior. Your child deserves, and is required by law, to be provided with goals that can be progressed, monitored, and assessed to show growth or regression.

Remember that teachers are regular people, and in their humanity, they may make mistakes. Approach these situations with understanding if you are meeting to resolve an issue such as failing to follow through with something that you find important. In return for your calm, humble confrontation, you will find that teachers will not only be more willing to hear your concerns, but to put into action a strategy to alleviate your worries. Do not be afraid to seek out the school’s counselor to be a mediator during such a meeting, especially if you and the educator fail to come to an understanding or agreement of how to handle the situation at hand.

If you’re not sure or feel ill equipped to contribute to the BIP, I hope that some of the following tips from a special education teacher who struggles with disabilities herself will help you in getting involved in helping the committee sourced with developing the IEP goals for your student:

Teachers Are Human

Request A Meeting

Discover Your Child’s Passion

My first piece of advice is to contact your child’s school and request a meet-

If you have a student who refuses to complete classwork, whether he or she

is making the choice not to participate in daily activities because of the work being too difficult, lack of understanding the activity, or he or she is simply being oppositional defiant, I found the following to be a very successful strategy you could suggest to your child’s teacher as a strategy to be included in the IEP’s BIP: Discover the child’s passion or desired activity. It may be computer time or artwork. Decide on an appropriate amount of time for the student to work on his or her undesirable classwork as related to age and ability. Provide the student with his or her very own timer. If you and the teacher agree that it’s reasonable for your child to work on the activity for 10 minutes and he or she does so, then they may set the timer for 10 minutes and are required to work until “the timer buzzes.” Now that they have cooperated in attempting to work on the assignment, he or she is given 5 minutes to work on a desired activity. The timer should be set to 5 minutes. When the timer buzzes, the student must return to the undesired classwork and again work for 10 minutes. Swapping activities with the timer being the source of transition rather than the teacher, the student will feel he or she has some power in the decision making process. If the student is older, say 3rd grade and above, they may like helping to decide how long they will be expected to work on the undesirable assignment, with the understanding that they also get to help in choosing the “take a break, desirable work.” As the student becomes comfortable with this process, the time allotted for undesirable activity may be lengthened slowly with time. This strategy should be included in your child’s BIP as a means of achieving the goal of completion or participation in classroom assignments.

Partner with A Peer Mentor

Now, if your child is struggling to understand classwork directions or to

keep up with the pace of a lesson, ask that he or she be provided with a peer mentor. He or she should be allowed to sit beside their partner so that they can be prompted by their classmate in order to be successful with the given classwork. You may want to suggest that their partner quietly read directions or even help your child stay organized to increase efficiency. I have found this strategy to be very helpful for autistic students, especially if they are allowed to choose their peer mentor, as approved by the teacher. This is a great suggestion for a strategy to reach academic and social goals of a BIP.

Opportunities to Be Successful

Some students, especially oppositional defiant children, need opportunities to be successful rather than constantly failing at attempts to complete classwork successfully and correctly. Ask your child’s teacher if he or she can have scheduled time during the day or week to partner with a younger student

in a lower grade in order to read with them or help them with classwork. I’ve seen this strategy bolster self-esteem in children who struggle behaviorally, therefore eliminating their need to refuse to comply with teachers’ requests because they now feel a sense of accomplishment or are able to contribute to positivity in their environment. There are many other strategies that can be used in order to help your child be successful. The strategies I shared above are a few of hundreds of ways to get your child moving in the right direction, as mandated by the behavior intervention plan found in his or her IEP. They are my favorite remedies to some very common issues for students. I hope that you find them helpful and provide you some hope concerning your child with special needs. Kelli Phillips lives in Georgia and is an experienced educator whose teaching career included working with children with special needs.


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· Evaluations · Early Autism Program (Preschool) · Summit Academy (Ages 3-21) · Respite Programs · Pediatric Feeding Clinic

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We are WNY’s largest provider of evidence-based programs and services for autism. Our programs use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methodology – identified by hundreds of scientific studies as the most effective method to teach individuals with autism. Our goal is to help your child lead the most independent and fulfilling life possible.

Call 716-629-3400 | Visit TheSummitCenter.org February 2022 WNY Family 33


o you feel connected to your teen? My teens are always wearing noisecanceling headphones, which makes it a struggle just to communicate. And it can be hard to connect with someone who seems to be shutting you out.

TWEENS & TEENS — by Cheryl Maguire

But even though it may be challenging, it is important for parents to find ways to create and sustain connections with their teens. According to a CDC study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are noticeable benefits for teens who feel connected to their family and school. In addition to experiencing better mental health, teens with strong connections are also less likely to have experiences with risky or violent behaviors as adults. “When kids hit the teen years parents often feel like they say the wrong thing or their teens rebel so they back off or they get over-controlling — none of that works,” says Dr. Laura Markham, clinical psychologist and author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids. “What works is to realize that teens still need your guidance, but you can’t control them. The only way you are going to have any influence is through your relationship with your teen.”

Learn to Connect with Your Teen Dr. Markham stresses the importance of building a relationship with your teen through empathy and understanding. Parents can take a different approach and create a connection with their teen while setting limits at the same time. For example, if a teen has not emptied the dishwasher because he is playing his guitar, a parent might be inclined to yell across the room, “Get in here and empty the dishwasher.” Meanwhile, the kid is thinking, My parents don’t understand. I’m almost done practicing this song. He might then respond, “Just a minute, Mom,” which turns the situation into an unhappy interaction with both people feeling like the other person is wrong. Dr. Markham suggests taking a more empathetic and understanding approach. 34 WNY Family February 2022

Study Stresses Importance of Teen Connectedness For the parent, emptying the dishwasher is a priority, but the teen doesn’t understand why his parent is so upset about it. Yes, he is supposed to do the chore, but he thinks what he is doing is important. He would also like his parent to notice how much better his guitar playing has become. Dr. Markham suggests that instead of yelling at the kid, the parent could sit next to them on the couch and say, “I love to hear you playing the guitar, but I need to get dinner started, so the dishwasher needs to be emptied. I would love to hear you play some more after you empty the dishwasher.” “In this scenario the parent is not fighting with their teen,” she explains. “Rather, the parent is telling their teen what they need to do, in an understanding manner, so the parent has protected the relationship even while they have enforced a limit.”

Create Connectedness Through Routines and Rituals “Parents know they are supposed to have date night with their significant

other in order to have a healthy relationship,” says Dr. Markham. “But what about date night, or some version of it, with your teenager?” Using her own experience as an example, she explains how her husband and daughter would go to brunch once a month. During their time together they would play cards, read the newspaper, and talk about topics that mattered to them. She says that the routine or ritual we choose to share with our kids can be any activity, as long as we do it on a regular basis. It can even be a chore, such as doing the dishes together. By doing this activity together, we create a connection that becomes the foundation for a healthy relationship.

Make Sure You’re Available Dr. Markahm points out that teens often open up on car rides. “You are not looking in their eyes and so they feel more open,” she says. But your conversations don’t have to be confined to the car. She mentions a father who would wait up until midnight for his older teenagers to get home

and then have a snack with them. This ritual, and making himself available, encouraged his teens to open up about their friends and interests. If your teen asks to talk to you, make sure you’re available, or schedule a time when you can give them your full attention.

Be A Good Listener “Most parents are terrible listeners,” says Dr. Markham. “Parents get anxious when their teen tells them about a problem.”

benefits of connectedness in the teen years carry over into adulthood. Teens who feel connected to their family and school are less likely to experience violence, be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, or abuse controlled and illegal substances as adults. “There is zero doubt in my mind that when kids feel connected to their parents, they are healthier and happier,” Dr. Markham says. “A connected teen is going to become an adult that feels the world is a good place and they are cared

She explains that most parents’ initial reaction to a problem their child might be having is to try to solve it. But she recommends resisting the urge to figure out a solution. Our job is not to solve every problem, it’s to listen and offer validation.

about. It is an emotional safety net — someone cares.” Cheryl Maguire holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. She is married and is the mother of twins and a daughter. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, Washington Post, Parents Magazine, AARP, Healthline, Your Teen Magazine, and many other publications. This article was originally published on Your Teen.

s s e n l l e W Choices

“If the parent listens and validates the issue by saying things like, ‘That must have hurt your feelings. Sounds like you are upset. And then what happened?’ You validate what is going on,” says Dr. Markham. Validating a teen’s feelings helps them develop good judgment. Rather than fixing the problem for them, our validation empowers them to believe they can do something to make the situation better themselves.

Helping Your Teen Feel Connected at School “Encourage your teen to see teachers at the school as a resource,” says Dr. Markham. Feeling connected to their school is not only good for teens, the CDC study found it can also have positive results for them when they are adults. We can support our kids’ connectedness to school by encouraging them to attend school-sponsored activities, like sporting events or performances.

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“Cheering as a group for a team makes us feel close to the people around us,” explains Dr. Markham.

Connected Teens Become Healthy Adults As the CDC study highlights, the

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aving children can be a rewarding experience. But it also comes with its own set of challenges. The cost of raising kids is steadily increasing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The cost to raise kids is approximately $12,980 per year for each child. Managing the costs of raising a family can be especially difficult for single parents who don’t benefit from shared housing costs, among many other shared expenses. Even single parents who do co-parent or receive child support, or support from others, can find it a struggle to make ends meet on a single income. If you previously parented in a two-parent household and are new to single parenthood, this financial change can be a shock. Fortunately, there are several ways to make your money stretch further through careful budgeting, cutting costs, and seeking opportunities for financial assistance.

by Kimberly Blaker

Childcare is another high cost for single parents of young children. But there may be less expensive childcare options available. You could:  trade childcare with other parents who work on opposite schedules

Financial Tips for Single Parents How to Stretch Your Dollars to Make Ends Meet & Get Ahead

Start a Budget

The starting point to achieving financial security is creating a budget so you can see where all of your money is going. There are many budget apps available online and for phones that track and help in planning how much to spend on different things based on your income and goals. Or you can just keep track with paper and a pen or on a computer spreadsheet. To begin budgeting, calculate your total income for the month based on 4.3 weeks in a month. This may be more difficult if you have inconsistent income, in which case, just do your best to find the average, or better yet, budget for the low side. Write down your monthly net income, which is your total income after taxes and other costs, such as medical insurance, are deducted. Be sure to include child support payments as part of your total income if you are receiving child support as well. Next, write down all of your regular expenses. Separate essentials like hous36 WNY Family February 2022

of money. As a single parent, finding the time and energy to grocery shop and cook meals at home can be challenging. But eating out, even fast food adds up quickly. So homeprepared meals are the most effective way to save money. Look for resources online for how to plan budget-friendly meals and prepare them ahead of time to make cooking quicker and easier.


ing, utilities, health care, and groceries from non-essentials like subscription services. Don’t forget to account for irregular costs for extras like gifts or vacations, as well as emergencies such as medical costs or car repairs. Now subtract your expenses from your income. If there is any income left over, congratulations! That means you’re currently living within your means and can put the extra into savings. If the result is negative, however, you’ll need to make adjustments to your budget to avoid going into debt or always living from paycheck to paycheck. As a single parent, your income is what supports your family. If you don’t earn enough to cover your expenses, you have three options to balance your budget. Cut your costs, increase your income, or get financial assistance (or a combination of all three).

Cut Costs

Food costs are a large part of most budgets. Although eating is a necessity, it’s also a place where you can save a lot

 find a trustworthy, stay-at-home parent open to watching your children for a lower cost  do a nanny share with other families  ask trusted family members or friends to help out, even if only part of the time to reduce daycare costs

Also, don’t forget to deduct those childcare costs on your annual federal tax return with the Child Care Tax Credit. Another way to cut costs is to call your phone, cable, Internet, or car insurance companies and try to negotiate a lower rate. Also, ask about cheaper options. You may be paying for options you don’t really want or need. Be sure to comparison shop with other companies as well to see if they offer a betterpriced plan. To cut cable costs, consider subscribing to one or two streaming services instead.

Increase Your Income

A quick way to increase your income is to start a side gig from home. Some ideas include turning a hobby into a paying job, teaching a specialized skill from home, tutoring, or watching another person’s children. Also, consider asking for a raise, job promotion, or look for a better paying job. If you’re not sure whether you’re being paid what you’re worth, research the

typical salary for your position or talk to others in the same role. Ask your boss or HR department about ways you can increase your salary by taking on additional roles or furthering your education. Many certifications or classes can be completed online and count as job training. If you don’t have a college or technical degree, going back to school could lead to a higher-paying job in the long run. There are many scholarships and grants available, including ones specifically for single parents. Pell Grants are available to anyone in need, but they offer additional assistance to help support single moms. You can apply for Pell Grants through FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or at a college financial aid office. The financial aid office at the school you want to attend can also help you to find other resources for your individual situation. Other organizations to check out are Raise the Nation and Soroptimist.

Get Financial Assistance

In addition to educational assistance, there are many programs and resources to help single parents trying to get by on smaller incomes. Benefits.gov shares resources, information, and links for financial assistance from the government in several areas. WIC is a government program to help low-income women who are pregnant or nursing and children under the age of five get adequate nutrition and healthcare. Sole providers, including single fathers, are also considered. Services include nutritious food provided either directly or through food vouchers, breastfeeding education and support, nutritional education and support, and referrals to other health and welfare services.

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SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) are two other programs available to help with food insecurity as well. Some other federal programs for families with low income include Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) for housing assistance, Medicaid for health care, Child Care Assistance Program and Head Start, and the National School Lunch Program. Also, be sure to contact your state social services department for more local programs. Another useful resource is Single Mothers Grants (singlemothersgrants.org). This website has a compiled list of grants available to help single parents, including financial support for housing, utilities, child care, medical costs, and more. You can search by state or by your specific needs. Single Parents Alliance of America (https://help.spaoa.org) has information, programs, and resources available tailored specifically for single parents. It’s free to become a member as long as you’re a single parent and live in the US. It’s also an excellent place to find current support for single parents, including an online community of other single-parent families. Despite the unique challenges for single parents, the tips above can help reduce financial stress. This can improve your frame of mind so you can better enjoy the time spent with your kids and the many rewards of parenthood. Kimberly Blaker is a freelance writer based in Michigan. Her articles have appeared in more than 250 newspapers, parenting and women›s magazines and other publications throughout the U.S. February 2022 WNY Family 37

Fresh Fruit Salad If you have any questions about our column, e-mail Kathy at allergy@roadrunner.com. For further information about food allergies, contact FARE www. foodallergy.org, or call 1-800-929-4040. Kathy Lundquist is a Western New York parent whose son, now an adult, was born with severe food allergies. Over the last two decades, she has worked tirelessly, in a variety of capacities, to increase community awareness about food allergies.

Free of: DAIRY, EGGS, SOY, PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, FISH, SHELLFISH, WHEAT, GLUTEN, VEGAN Yield: 2 servings Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes 1 orange, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces 1 large banana, cut into bite sized pieces Handful of grapes, cut in half for younger kids Place cut pieces of fruit into sundae dishes or other bowl. Serve with a cocktail fork or toothpicks.

Lemon Dressing


inter blues? Brighten up with a healthy dose of citrus. Citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemons, limes, and oranges) are abundant in the winter, offering a burst of tart brightness. In addition to lending a spark of color and variety to our diets, they are low calorie, a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and so much more. The best way to reap the nutritional benefits from citrus is to eat it rather than

drink it. Slice an orange rather than drinking orange juice, grill grapefruit halves or enjoy the juice of lemon or lime in salad dressings. One of my son’s favorite snacks is fresh fruit salad made with oranges, banana and grapes, naturally sweet and simple. To make it more fun, we use a cocktail fork or toothpicks to spear the bite sized pieces of fruit. Following are three simple, kid pleasing recipes sure to perk up your day.

Grilled Grapefruit Free of: DAIRY, EGGS, SOY, PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, FISH, SHELLFISH, WHEAT, GLUTEN, VEGAN Yield: 2 servings Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes 1 grapefruit 1 Tablespoon maple syrup, brown sugar, sugar, or agave Cinnamon, optional Preheat oven to broil. Slice grapefruit in half. Drizzle with maple syrup or sugar. Optionally, sprinkle with cinnamon. Place under broiler for about 5 minutes, until sugar is melted and grapefruit starts to lightly brown on top. Cool slightly and serve. 38 WNY Family February 2022

Free of: DAIRY, EGGS, SOY, PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, FISH, SHELLFISH, WHEAT, GLUTEN, VEGAN Yield: 4 servings Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes 1/4 cup fresh lemon* juice (juice of about 1 lemon) 1/4 cup oil (olive, canola, or other) 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 Tablespoon agave or honey Salt and pepper to taste Mix together all ingredients. Serve over salad. Refrigerate leftover dressing for up to 2 weeks. * Alternate with fresh lime or orange juice



— by Barbara Blackburn

ncle Joe’s Diner is 50’s dining with a pulse, established in 1974. Much of the menu here is what would have been on the menu of yesteryear, and that is a positive for us. Yet, the menu has been also taken into the present.

Dad ordered from the Home - Cooked Dinners, 4869 Southwestern Blvd. served from 2 pm to 10 pm daily; however, they so kindly Hamburg, NY 14075 let him order a half hour 716-648-7154 before that time. We both unclejoesdiner.com agreed that Joe’s Homemade ~ SPOONS ~ Meatloaf with homemade gravy ($15.99) was among the FOOD 4.5/5 best we’ve ever tasted. The vegetable of the day turned Kids can enjoy an out to be asparagus, a more SERVICE 4.5/5 excellent fun page that is elite veggie than the usual the placemat, with games side. Enjoyable it was, even and good choices for both though the bottoms were less FAMILY breakfast and dinner. Our FRIENDLY 5/5 tender than the tops. His soup kids’ menu wished us a happy preceding the entree (instead New Year 2022. All items are of salad) was cabbage soup, served with pop, juice, or milk. composed of corned Our winsome waitress beef and carrots. The said that seniors may flavors of this and the order from the kids’ rest of our selections menu. So many choices were not imperiled by range from $4.99 for too much salt, as is often the lunch and dinner the case in a restaurant. selections and $4.29 to When you view $5.79 on the breakfast the menu, you’ll be selections. A cute impressed with the item on the breakfast numerous choices, old and new. Classic selection is the Smiling Angel ($5.29), Combos, Sunrise Sandwiches, Original one pancake, one egg and choice of bacon, Omelets, French Toast, Breakfast Wraps, sausage or ham. On the flip side of the Super Wraps, Italian Seafood, and the list menu the following choices were available: goes on. We’d call most of this Grandma’s Cheezy, Tiny Burner, Hot Doggie, Mr. Gourmet Comfort food. However, as Chicken, Zoo Animals, Little Turkey, Jr., time moves forward, we might say GreatSoup & Sandwich, Kids Pasta, Kids BLT, Grandma’s gourmet comfort. Sticky Fingers, Kids Pizza Logs, Peppe’s Pizza, and Small Fry. Small Fry ($7.99) is Quite a selection highlighted the dessert offered from Sunday through Thursday — menu. As for our choice of Banana Cream Battered fish, French fries and vegetable Pie, prepared with an honest to goodness of the day. On Friday and Saturday it’s pastry crust — good thing — it was as good battered fish, French fries, and a scoop of if not better than any we’ve tasted since macaroni salad. One more selection is Zoo the 50’s. Other interesting choices were Animals ($5.29) — Three breaded chicken the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, fruit pie, and animals with French fries and choice of Banana Split, all reasonably priced. dipping sauce. The dictionary definition of a diner My choice came from the Burger comes from eating on a train, with a long category. The 3 Grain Burger ($11.49) counter. This was a deluxe one, with was a winner with roasted corn, black seating for all. Counter, booths. and tables beans, and roaster peppers. Well, maybe with chairs, and, of course, boosters and the black beans could have been cooked high chairs were all available. somewhat longer to be as tender as the The Gargano Family does a corn. Then again, they provided a crunch. praiseworthy job, and Grandma certainly My partnering choice was cinnamon has left her culinary mark, especially with applesauce. Uncle Joe.

Uncle Joe’s Diner

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40 WNY Family February 2022