February 2023

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FREE! VOLUME 39, #12 FEBRUARY 2023 INSIDE: The Fit Family • Choosing Childcare • Summer Camps Let’s Party!
2 WNY Family February 2023


Paul M. Kline


Paul M. Kline


Michele Miller


Karen Wawszczyk


Melanie Schroeder Designs


Barbara Blackburn • Donna Phillips

Richard De Fino • Deborah Williams

Kathy Lundquist • Mike Daugherty

Where It’s At! Let’s Party & Cabin Fever


6 n Fun Birthday Parties for Busy Parents: Party Places Your Kids Will Love by Kimberly Blaker

8 n Your Guide to Hosting the Ultimate At-Home Birthday Party by Sandra Gordon


5 n

by Dr. Donna Phillips

26 n Family Travel

Rejuvenate with a Close-to-Home

Sans Kids by Deborah Williams

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14 n 12 Activity Kits to Keep Kids Busy by


by Rebecca Hastings 20

29 n Dear Teacher by Peggy Gisler & Marge Eberts

30 n Raising Digital Kids

Surviving the Winter Slump by Mike Daugherty

32 n Journey Into Fatherhood

A New Year for New Beginnings… and Saying Goodbye by Richard De Fino

33 n Parent Previews by Kirsten Hawkes

34 n Single Parenting

Dating Yourself as a Single Parent by Meagan Ruffing

36 n Tweens and Teens

Creativity & Your Teen: 5 Experiences that will Allow for Growth by Krystyann Krywko, Ed.D.

40 n Special Needs

Why Your Child with ADHD has Such a Messy Room …and What Parents Can Do About It by Rae Jacobson

46 n The Kid Friendly Kitchen Play Clay & Finger Paint by Kathy Lundquist

47 n The Kiddie Gourmet

Raphael’s Italian American Dining by Barbara Blackburn

February 2023 WNY Family 3 February 2023 • Volume 39 • Issue 12
n How to Survive a Snow Day
Rebecca Hastings
Winter Self-Care for the Whole Family
n Speak Your Child’s Love Language
n The Family Pet
18 n
by Jill
Web Finds / What’s New In The Kid Biz
24 n Pick of the Literature
Directories: 10 n Party Profiles 17 n The Fit Family 22 n Choosing Childcare 38 n Summer Camps 44 n Wellness Choices Find this entire issue online at www.wnyfamilymagazine.com
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.
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.)
4 WNY Family February 2023 5520 M ain S treet at C ayuga W illia MS ville , ny 14221 632-2246 Experts in Fine Children’s Clothing An elegant, tasteful selection of special occasion attire. c Spring Holidays c Special Occasions c Christening and First Communion Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 11am - 5pm Thursday • 11am - 7pm

The holidays are long over and the mid-winter “blahs” have set in, along with cases of cabin fever. Here are some items we think can add a little extra fun to your family’s remaining winter days.


This little machine makes 7 mini donuts at a time and comes in 5 different colors. It has a non-stick interior, although one mom who posted a video suggested using a Teflon brush to coat the donut forms with some butter or oil to make removing the donuts and cleaning easier. Recipes are included. It has 8,665 ratings with an average of 4.5 stars. (Amazon, $29.99)


There’s nothing more comforting on a cold winter’s day than a cup of hot cocoa. For an extra special treat, and an activity that will fascinate the kids, use this silicone mold kit to make Hot Chocolate Bombs. (by Miadei, Amazon, $8.99)


We were intrigued by the design of this sled which seems perfect for toddlers as beginner sledders. The handle is a unique feature not found on other sleds, giving little ones something to hang on to, while learning about steering. It comes with a rope so a grownup can pull the sled when necessary. It comes in 3 colors – yellow, red, and blue. Yellow was on sale for only $29.99; the other colors sell for $59.99. (by Ganzton, Amazon)


Planning on having a child in 2023? Would-be parents in the U.S. may want to consider the implications on their career. A new nationwide survey (https://cosmeticamedspa.com/blog/paid-parental-leave/) highlights the work/life balance dilemma new parents face when having a child. In a new survey of more than 1,000 Americans, 85% support paid parental leave and think the U.S. should require it.

 73% of parents feel they don’t get enough family leave

 64% of Americans get 2 weeks or less of paid parental leave

 56% have taken unpaid legal time off for family

 1 in 5 new parents think they’ve lost out on promotions & raises after taking leave

So, how much time do Americans want for family leave? The survey found that 65% of Americans think new mothers should get at least 12 weeks of paid leave, but only 44% feel fathers should get the same.

The U.S. is the wealthiest country in the world that does not require paid parental leave. The only other countries that do not require it are mainly small island nations in the Pacific Ocean and Papua New Guinea. Along with already having better vacation policies, European nations all have paid parental leave policies. The best is in Estonia, where parents get as much as 86 weeks of paid leave.

If Americans got to choose, about 1 in 3 would give parents 20 weeks off or more for maternity leave (33%). Around 1 in 5 would give 20 weeks off or more for paternity (21%), adoption (22%), or fostering (17%).


When you send the kids out to play in the snow, don’t send them out empty handed! With this snow toys kit, they’ll have hours of fun with its 25 pieces — snowball maker, snowman and penguin molds, snow brick mold to build igloos or forts, and much more. A drawstring bag is included for storage when it’s time to come indoors! (by Max Fun, Amazon, $26.99)

Fortunately, New York State’s Paid Family Leave Policy provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of job protected, paid time off to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service. In 2023 coverage was expanded to include siblings with a serious health condition, whether biological, adopted, step-siblings, and half-siblings. To learn the specifics, visit https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/2023.

February 2023 WNY Family 5 What’s New... IN THE KIDBIZ web.finds

Fun Birthday Parties for Busy Parents

Party Places Your Kids Will Love

So, your child’s birthday is just around the corner, and you don’t have time to plan and prepare the perfect party? Don’t despair. There are plenty of fun places to hold kids’ parties that’ll save you time in planning, preparation, and cleanup. Most importantly, your birthday child and guests will have a blast.

Try some of these party places for kids of all different ages. When you call, ask what amenities are available and included. Many sites provide invitations, food and cake, balloons and decorations, a private party area, a gift for the birthday child, and other special birthday services.

Skates & Blades - Roller skating rinks are again gain ing popularity, and most offer a choice of inline or roller skate rentals for today’s kids. Also, consider ice-skating and ice or a roller hockey party as fun alternative.

Water, Water Everywhere –

Head to a wave pool or water park where big kids can ride the waves, swish down water slides, take a plunge, and go on tubing adventures. What better way to cool off and party on a hot summer day? Indoor water parks are a fun alternative for the colder months.

Pizza and Play – Preschool and early elementary children thrill at invitations to these par ties. They can play kiddie arcade-style games, win tickets for prizes, hop on coin-operated rides, and romp in soft play areas.

Craft Magic – Young kids love to create. So, schedule a craft party at a fabric shop, craft store, or scrap-recycling center where kids’ activities are offered.

Old MacDonald Had a Farm – Check with your nearby farm, ranch, or apple orchard to find out what activities are offered. Many include hayrides, petting zoos, corn mazes, apple picking, and more. These are perfect for fall birthdays.

Recreational Romp – Recreation and fitness centers offer a wide variety of activities for birthdays, including gymnastics, swimming, basketball, and arts and crafts.

Strike it Big – Bowling parties are a fun form of recreation for kids of all ages. Preschoolers can score every time with bumper bowling, while teens can go cosmic for glow-in-the-dark fun. Add to the amusement by offering small prizes for low and high scores and the most and fewest gutters.

Music Marvel – Big kids will be in awe to see one of their favorite performers in concert. For young children, look for a kiddie musical adventure offered by an area musician or music center.

You Should Be


–Check with your local dance studio for birthday party packages. Some offer professional dance instruction and allow food and party treats to be brought in, so the whole shebang is done right there.

Cops and Robbers – Kids will thrill at testing their skills and cunningness in a game of laser tag. These centers often offer on-site party areas and birthday packages.

Fast Food Fun – For a simple and inexpensive toddler or preschool party, McDonald’s, Burger King, and other fast-food joints are excellent choices. Children can crawl through a playscape and dive into a pool of balls while enjoying their favorites: hamburgers and French fries. Call ahead to make your reservation.

Putt-Putt & More - Family fun centers offer a variety of entertainment, including batting cages, miniature golf, video games, bumper boats, and go-carts.

Rock Climbing

Adventures –Daredevils won’t want to miss one of these exciting quests. Look for a rock-climbing gym in your area where party guests can do rock climbing with a professional instructor.

Hands-on Science –


of all ages will be thoroughly engrossed and entertained at handson science museums. The partygoers can try out gadgets, watch or participate in experiments, play instruments, construct, and much more.

6 WNY Family February 2023

Beach Party –

your teen some fun in the sun with a beach bash. Contact the park for information on volleyball equipment and to make a reservation for a covered picnic area. Look for a spot with horseshoes and plenty of sand, and don’t forget the beach balls, pizza, and cooler of pop.

Amusement Mini-Party –

Theme parks make for big-time fun for older kids who are content to take only one or two guests. When planning the guest list, don’t forget to budget meals, snacks, and drinks, which add up quickly in theme parks.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat –

An afternoon canoe excursion for teens is the ultimate outdoor fun. Contact canoe or kayak rental facilities for details. Bring along pop and a picnic lunch, and make sure the food stays in the chaperone’s boat where it will be safe from tips. Don’t forget balloons for water balloon fights during rest stops.

Z is for Zoo – Zoos are an excellent source for birthday entertainment. Many offer party packages that include meals, cake, invitations, live animal presentations, and more.

Awesome Birthday Party Theme Ideas

A Day at the Carnival

Turn your backyard into a carnival! Set up classic carnival games. Hire a face painter. Serve typical carnival foods like corn dogs. An added bonus? A bag of cotton candy can double as a party favor!

Island Luau

Turn your party into a tropical paradise. Have your guests wear Hawaiian shirts. Play music, games and serve foods like kebabs and tropical fruits. Send guests home with a plastic pail and shovel for their next beach trip.

Dress-Up Tea Party

Monkeyin’ Around –

Parties away from home don’t have to be costly. Reserve a shelter at a nearby park with a large, fenced-in, frontier-style playscape. Little ones can run, climb, and play to their heart’s content. Bring along your party supplies and set up under a pavilion. To keep things simple, call ahead for pizza delivery.

Kimberly Blaker is a mother of two and grandmother. She is also a published author, award-winning research writer, professional freelance writer, and former columnist. Her articles, editorials, and content have appeared in more than 300 magazines, newspapers, and websites.


When planning your child’s party, keep in mind what’s important is not how perfectly the party goes. Instead, it’s that your birthday child and guests have fun. To ensure success, follow these tips:

 Keep the guest list manageable to avoid chaos, confusion, and conflict. The number of guests should correspond with the child’s age or slightly over.

 Request an RSVP with a specific deadline, so there is time to invite others should the guest list fall short. Be sure to include your phone number and email address.

 Offer your child choices for the party, ask for input, and allow them to assist in planning.

 Send out written invitations. Verbal invitations are easily forgotten and make the invitee feel that he or she was an afterthought. Also, it can leave the parents of the invited child wondering whether the invitation was approved by the birthday child’s parents.

 Include all details on the invitation, including a start and end time, address and directions, phone number, and what guests need to bring, such as a bathing suit and towel.

 Play it safe, and set a rain date for outdoor parties.

 Keep the length of the party within reason. Unless it’s a sleepover or special event, preschool parties should be limited to one hour, and two to three hours for older children.

Little kids love to dress up! Clean out your closet and let your guests go to town. Set your table with a tea set, and serve finger sandwiches and cookies. Each child can paint their own teacup — and that can double as the favor!

Sports Mania

Sports-lovers will love a party centered around their favorite team! Have a friendly game in the backyard, serve hot dogs and cracker jacks. Send each sports fan home with a water bottle to keep them hydrated.

Cookie-Making Party

What’s sweeter than a party revolving around cookies? Have the kids decorate their own apron. Spend a few hours whipping up cookies, and send everyone home with a few, along with their apron as a party favor.

Children’s Book Theme

A party centered around a popular children’s book character is sure to be a hit! A fun activity can include having the kids color and decorate their own bookmark to bring home as a favor.

Backyard Camping

Set tents up in the backyard. Tell spooky ghost stories, go on a scavenger hunt, and roast s’mores. Send guests home with an outdoorsthemed favor, like a compass or mini flashlight.

Dance Party

Set up some strobe lights, black lights, and a stereo system. Play some music-themed games and have a dance off complete with judges and prizes for the winner.

February 2023 WNY Family 7

Your Guide to Hosting the Ultimate At-Home Birthday Party

Achildren’s museum, Chuck E. Cheese, a petting zoo, or a kid’s fitness center are fun venues for a birthday party. But why not give the coffee table a shove or scope out the back yard, and turn your home into celebration central?

Compared to renting a party space, “Home birthday parties are more personal,” says Aviva Samuels, owner of Kiss the Planner, a wedding and party planning service. If your child’s birthday party will include adults, throwing a party is a chance to build your tribe on a richer level beyond just “hi” and “bye” at daycare, preschool or school drop-off.

“When you open up your home, you’ll develop a deeper bond with your guests. When they’re invited into your space, they get to know you better,” Samuels says. Another home party perk: You can be as creative as you want. If you want to transform your backyard into a circus, there’s no one saying: “Sorry. We don’t allow actual circuses.” You can attach birthday decorations to the walls, the ceiling, and set up whenever you want.

“In your home, you make your own rules,” Samuels says. Your child may be more comfortable there too. And since you don’t have to rent a space, a DIY birthday party can be easier on your budget.

Still, there will be countless details

to attend to. “A host is responsible for the experience, which is everything from how your house is decorated to making sure the buns come before the hot dogs on the buffet line,” says Holly Stiel, the owner of Thank You Very Much, Inc, a hospitality consultancy. But the personal payoff can be priceless, especially when you see your child and everyone having fun as a result of your creativity, time, resourcefulness.

“When I plan my own parties and I hear guests say, ‘Wow, did you see that?’ or ‘Oh my gosh. That was delicious,’ I get goosebumps,” Samuels says.

To pull-off the ultimate event, being organized is key. “A well-thought-out task list at the beginning of the process will save your sanity,” Samuels says. This master schedule can help you stay on track to hosting a kid’s home birthday party that’s anything but ho-hum.




Select a theme. A theme gives you something to anchor decoration selection and activities to. “You won’t be stabbing in the dark, doing exhaustive internet searches looking for something ‘fun’ or ‘interesting,’ which is too ambiguous,” Samuels says.

Not sure where to start? Ask your child for birthday party theme ideas. “Even if your child is just a toddler, don’t

be surprised if your little one knows exactly what he or she wants from the getgo,” Samuels says.

If your little one has a blank face, feel free to make suggestions and see what gets your child excited, such as trains, safari, unicorns, bulldozers, woodland animals or the circus.

Pick a date and make a guest list. Before setting a birthday party date, check with extra special guests to make sure they’re available. Your child won’t be happy if his/her best friend will be out of town that weekend. After selecting a date, decide with your child whether to invite the entire daycare, preschool or school class, or just a handful of his or her best buds.

“While including everyone on the guest list might be a nice thing to do, if your child is timid or happiest in a small group, then your child’s needs ultimately should come first,” Samuels says.

Book the entertainment. If you want to bring in outside entertainment, such as a storyteller, singer, balloon animal expert, storybook character, professional scavenger hunt creator (for older kids), the we-bring-the-pettingzoo-to-you folks or a face painter, get them while you can.

“Ask for references from people who have used those entertainers recently or check their online reputation to make sure they’re reliable, professional

8 WNY Family February 2023

and personable,” Samuels says. Be sure to ask the entertainers about any setup requirements they may need so you’re fully prepared.


Send invitations. Whether hand-written, ordered professionally, or computer generated through Evite, an invitation should fit the party theme. For kids age 7 or older, indicate on the invitations whether parents are invited, too, so they won’t have to ask if the party is a drop-off.

Include an RSVP date, as well as both a start time and end time, so parents know when to pick up their kids or how to plan the rest of their day.

Line up help. Enlist friends, parents, teens, or relatives to help supervise activities. Consider hiring a few high school students, your baby-sitter, or a professional service to help with preparty or post-party clean up, or to super vise games, deliver, serve and replenish food, and generally take some the weight off your shoulders. If you’ll be having a pool party, hire certified lifeguards.

Order par ty supplies, favors and a bakery cake you won’t be bak ing your own).

inventory of what you al ready have on hand and note what you’ll need to purchase or borrow, then stock up on party supplies on line or at your local party store. In clude game and craft essentials, sports equipment, existing or portable tables for food and gifts, coolers for drinks, serving pieces, tablecloths, plates, cups, and utensils.

You’ll also need party favors that fit the theme and goody bags to put them in, as well as prizes for the games. “It’s a nice idea to include at least one prize for everyone, so everyone gets to feel like a winner and sensitive feelings don’t get bruised,” Samuels says.


Confirm the final head count. Follow up with anyone who hasn’t RSVPed so you have time to make sure you have everything you need. Make a schedule of party day activities. Plan to fill two to three hours with a mix of energetic games and calmer activities, such as crafts or storytelling. For babies and toddlers, you can’t go wrong with a ball pit that matches the age of your child and his/her guests. Factor in time for snacks and general playtime.

If the presents will be opened at the party, save it for the end. If you run out of time, you can always skip it. Keep in mind that an out door party may become an indoor party in case of rain, so be prepared with alternate, rainy-day

Get your decora

fun like balloons,” says certified bal loon artist, Sandi Masori, author of “The DIY Balloon Bible for All Seasons.” Air-filled balloon columns are an easy way to liven up any space and turn a (frugal) DIY kid’s birthday party into an event. Safety note: If any balloons pop, pick up the pieces immediately (radar: choking haz-

Plan the menu. “Finger foods such as chicken fingers, fries, and pizza are not only super easy for you, they are also sure to please,” Samuels says. For the adults who attend, a few add-on treats would be nice, such as fresh guacamole and chips.

Skip common allergic foods, such as tree nuts or shellfish. For younger kids 4 years of age and younger, don’t serve common choking hazards, such as hotdogs, chunks of cheese and whole grapes or marshmallows.

Spiff up the yard. For an outdoor party, do any major yard cleanup or planting and give the patio furniture a scrub or refresh.


Clean the house. Don’t wait until the day of the party to do a thorough house cleaning. This way, you’ll need only a quick once-over before the party, like spritzing the kitchen counters and giving the guest bathroom a final check.

Tackle kitchen prep.

If you’re doing the cooking, Samuels recommends making any foods you can in advance that can be frozen and defrosted. On the event day, set out foods early that won’t spoil, such as crudité and dip. Wrap them tightly to ensure freshness and tear off the plastic wrap when the first doorbell rings.

Line up the music. a party essential, even if it’s just a playlist on your iPhone.

Do a sound and camera check. Charge your smartphone and make sure you’ve got plenty of storage for the photo memories you’ll be creating; stock up on extra film, batteries or memory cards, if applicable.

Make your home into a safety zone. Do a quick run through to make sure there are no dangers lurking, such as slippery floors, uncovered electrical outlets, unlocked windows and choking hazards on the floor that small children might put in their mouth, such as paper clips, small batteries or hard candy.

Lock up cleaning solutions and other dangerous chemicals; cover sharpedged corners on furniture. Remove fragile objects around the house or yard and stow them away. Rearrange the furniture if necessary.

continued on page 43

February 2023 WNY Family 9


Aquarium of Niagara

701 Whirlpool St., Niagara Falls • 716-285-3575


Celebrate your child’s big day under the sea! Voted one of WNY’s best places to host a child’s birthday party, the Aquarium of Niagara offers all-inclusive packages that start at just $225. Enjoy VIP viewing for a sea lion presentation, exclusive access to our private event room and deck space, a dedicated birthday host, decorations, goody bags, and more! The birthday child and two adults celebrate for FREE. Add-on a group penguin encounter or an animal enrichment session to make the day even more memorable. Visit aquariumofniagara. org/birthdays to book your party today.

Clayton’s Toys

5225 Main St., Williamsville • 716-633-1966

1396 Hertel Ave., Buffalo • 716-939-3000


Clayton’s Toys is WNY’s one-stop toy shopping experience! An independently-owned toy store celebrating over 100 years. Stop by one of Clayton’s two locations where you’ll find toys, games, novelties, and nostalgia for children of all ages! We have a vast selection of baby items, books, dolls, stuffed animals and puppets, science kits, art supplies, crafts, puzzles, building toys, trucks, and more! The incredible staff is here to help you find that perfect birthday gift and offers complimentary gift wrapping and shipping. There is something for everyone at Clayton’s Toys, so come on in and experience it for yourself!

Dance Spectrum

4705 Transit Road, Depew • 716-668-1954


Host your child’s birthday party with Dance Spectrum! Dance Spectrum’s mission is to provide exceptional dance education for students while instilling inspiration and motivation to last a lifetime. The Dance Spectrum offers a 1.5 hour Birthday Party with a Fun, Private Dance Class taught by Dance Spectrum Faculty (30 min), Organized Game or Craft, Birthday Cake & Presents (20min) & Free Time (10 min).  The Dance Spectrum provides teacher & helper, napkins, plates & utensils, table & chairs, clean up duty & invitations. Times available are Saturdays 6:00-7:30pm & Sundays 11:00-12:30pm. For more information visit www.dancespectrum.net/birthday-party.

Designing Dish

138 Grey St., East Aurora • 716-655-4456


Design your PERFECT party at Designing Dish, a Paint Your Own Pottery Studio. It is the perfect place for your child’s next birthday party or a ladies night! Maybe a Corporate team builder, Scouting, 4-H, or a shower… just to name a few. We will customize any party from 4 to 40 to suit your needs. Just choose your date and time, join us in our bright, beautiful atmosphere and our trained staff will do the rest. From painting to glass fusing, we have the projects that will make your party the one that everyone will remember!

10 WNY Family February 2023
www.ClaytonsToystore.com Creating Smiles for over 100 years! Find us on FacebookClayton’s Toys 1396 Hertel Avenue • Buffalo, NY (716) 939-3000 5225 Main St. • Williamsville, NY (716) 633-1966 Obstacle course,
We even help with the gifts! 70 Weiss Avenue • Orchard Park/West Seneca (Near Duff’s & Leisure Rinks) 677-0338 • www.gymnastics-unlimited.net For Birthday Fun Unlimited! OUR BIRTHDAY PARTIES ARE ALL THE RAGE FOR EVERY AGE!! Gymnastics Unlimited
games, parachute, rope, tumble tramp, trampoline and foam pit play

Enchanting Birthdays of WNY



Bring your child’s dreams to life with our Princesses and Superheros. Enchanting Birthdays offers a world of wonder, excitement and enchantment that cannot be matched in the eyes of a child. Our special parties are filled with fun and excitement and create the atmosphere of a real storybook fairy tale! Imagine their delight when they open the door to find their favorite character on the doorstep asking to attend her birthday party or play date! No matter what, you can rest assured that Enchanting Birthdays will be a magnificent, memorable experience from beginning to end. Visit enchantingbirthdays.com today to begin planning your child’s enchanting experience.

Gymnastics Unlimited

70 Weiss Ave., Orchard Park



Ages 2-22 have GREAT fun at gymnastics parties!! Our staff does ALL the work!! A connected obstacle course gets them balancing, running, climbing over and under soft barrels, wedges and blocks and tunnels. Then it’s game time! Choose from parachute games, relay races, tag games…. or any combination!! After games it’s onto tumble trampoline, rope swinging, mini ninjas, foam pit, trampoline and bars!!! Kids are tired when done so be sure to bring in water bottles for them to drink while happy birthday is being sung and gifts are opened. We will also record & pack gifts and clean up! No mess for mom! Call to schedule your party today!

Choose your favorite fairytale character to come celebrate with you!

We bring the FUN... the LAUGHTER... & the HAPPILY EVER AFTER! facebook.com/enchantingbirthdays

May all your

dreams come true! www.enchantingbirthdays.com


February 2023 WNY Family 11
| godmother@enchantingbirthdays.com


Herschell Carrousel

Factory Museum

180 Thompson St., North Tonawanda



Ride a carrousel at your next party! The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum provides a colorful backdrop for your event. All guests can enjoy carrousel rides on our 107 year old carrousel, and kids can ride our vintage “Kiddie Carrousel” too! Your guests have access to the entire museum and can view our exhibits throughout the complex. All parties for children include carrousel rides, one craft, and a goodie bag for each child to take home. The museum hosts birthday parties, showers, or any other celebration. Make sure your party is one of a kind and book with the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum today.

Jewish Community Center

2640 North Forest Rd., Getzville

787 Delaware Ave., Buffalo 716-688-4033


JCC Buffalo offers an array of reasonably priced, welcoming rental spaces ideal for parties, conferences, and much more. Whether you’re hosting a book club meeting in a single classroom or a large, multi-room event, our staff and facilities can help you host a memorable event that makes the most of your time and money. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, organizing a philanthropic event, or planning a corporate event, The J has a wide range of spaces to help you deliver an exceptional event.

12 WNY Family February 2023
HERSCHELL CARROUSEL FACTORY MUSEUM (716) 693-1885 180 Thompson St. • North Tonawanda visit us online at www.carrouselmuseum.org
Plan your BIRTHDAY PARTY at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum
Kids can ride our 2 carrousels, make crafts and get a goodie bag to take home!

Michael Phelps Swimming

1590 Hopkins Rd., Amherst • 716-689-6777


Make a splash and come to Michael Phelps Swimming for your child’s next birthday bash – where it’s summer all year long and the water is always warm! Our two-hour parties can accommodate up to 24 party guests and are priced at only $450! Enjoy a full hour of free time in our 90 degree pool and then celebrate with food, cake, and presents in our lobby area. Dates fill up quickly, so call us today to schedule your child’s ultimate pool party!

Shear Madness Haircuts for Kids

3316 Sheridan Dr., Amherst • 716-248-1455

3467 Amelia Dr., Orchard Park • 716-322-5332

100 Marketplace Dr., Rochester • 585-491-6555


Our awesome birthday parties are 90 minutes long & hosted in our private & colorful party room, accessorized with a karaoke machine for kids to sing along with their favorite songs. All parties are led by our “Pink Starlets” so parents can focus on enjoying their children having fun & taking pictures if you choose. Girl DIVA Birthday Parties include your special little diva & her closest friends wearing our LA-DE-DA Spa robes, while being pampered with a Pretty Princess or Rock Star Rebel up-do, painted nails, glittery makeup & topped with a tiara. After their makeover, each girl gets to shop for their very own headband off our “black headband” rack to keep. Last but not least we finish the party with a group photo on a special keepsake scrapbook page for your Birthday Diva!

Urban Air Adventure Park

Walden Galleria, 1 Galleria Drive, Buffalo • 716-568-7083 www.UrbanAirBuffalo.com

At Urban Air Adventure Park Buffalo, we specialize in themed indoor birthday celebrations and open play for all ages, so parents can capture their child’s most memorable moments and share the laughter and love in a unique play space. Experience our award-winning trampolines and innovative attractions that will enhance your child’s overall well-being through interactive play, all in a comfortable guarded space. Basically, the best birthday party venue around! From easy to plan themed birthday parties to hassle-free booking and everything in between, Urban Air Buffalo is the perfect place for your next big celebration. Contact us at info@urbanairbuffalo.com.

Private Pool Party - $450.00 for 2 Hours

Up to 24 Guests!


Pottery Painting, Glass Fusing and Speciality Classes!

Your best place for Birthday parties, private parties, scouts groups, fieldtrips, baby or bridal showers and so much more.

138 Grey Street, East Aurora, NY 716-655-4456 • www.designingdish.com

February 2023 WNY Family 13
Hopkins Square Plaza 1590 Hopkins Road • Amherst, NY 716-689-6777

Activity Kits to Keep Kids Busy

PlushCraft Puppy Pack

Kids create their own stuffed puppy friends with this no-sew kit. By following the visual instructions, kids push pieces of fabric into the model to create their fluffy puppy friends.

(Amazon, $19.99)

There are few things more irritating for parents than two simple words uttered from their kids. You know the ones. They say them when they can’t find something to do. They say them when they’re hungry. They say them when they’re mad and lonely and even tired.

“I’m bored.”

When we hear these words, a litany of responses goes through a parent’s mind. But the truth is, sometimes kids need a little help figuring out something to do. If we want to avoid the dreaded “I’m bored” declaration, we need a little help. Activity kits are the perfect solution.

Activity kits are a great way to help kids explore and find something to do, offering a little structure and a lot of fun. With these 12 kits, kids will get to play, learn and be creative with independence, offering fun for them. Plus, they will only need minimal adult help, making it easy on parents!

KiwiCo Mini Cake Decorating Kit

Let your kids have the fun of cake decorating without the hassle of baking. This play cake comes with a special clay that feels just like real frosting. With a piping kit, decorations, and more, kids love creating their unique masterpieces. (Kiwico.com, $9.95 on sale)

KiwiCo Solar System Project

Paint, build, and play while learning with this creative kit. Kids design a solar system, complete with a lightup sun and fun games in this activity kit from KiwiCrate. Extras like a learning magazine, bonus game, and free video are included for hours of learning fun. (Kiwico.com, $27.95)

Airplane Design Studio Kit

Imagine building an airplane! Kids can design and build multiple airplanes with this kit, complete with balsa wood, propellers, and all the pieces you need to take flight. Providing hours of building and flying fun, it’s time for liftoff!

(Imaginechildhood.com, $27.50)

Make Your Own Soap

Create ten different soaps using the funshaped molds and extras like colors, scents, and glitter. There is even packaging for kids to wrap their creations to give as special gifts. Minimal supervision is needed as kids melt the soap base in the microwave using stepby-step instructions.

(Amazon, by Klutz, $15.97)

Rebecca is a former elementary teacher who traded the classroom for writing when she stayed home with her three children. Passionate about authenticity, faith, and family, you can find her at RebeccaHastings.net and on Amazon. In real life, she can often be found typing words, driving her kids places, or wherever there is chocolate.

14 WNY Family February 2023
— by Rebecca Hastings

Lulu Jr. IlluStory Book Making Kit & Lulu Jr. My Comic Book Making Kit

Get those ideas flowing as kids create their very own real book or comic book. The kit is complete with a book template and markers to use as it guides them through the process of writing and illustrating their very own book. When complete, you mail it back in the prepaid envelope and will receive a professionally printed version of their book in just a few weeks.

(Amazon, by Lulu, Jr. $25-$29)

Ivy Kids A Rainbow of My Own

Kids start with a great book to read, and explore from there. With this story of a boy looking for a rainbow, kids can paint their own ceramic bank, complete science experiments with prisms and walking rainbows, and even play games. Plus, Ivy Kids has more book-based kits that kids will love. (Ivy-kids. com, out of stock at press time)

Craft + Boogie

This Busy Box gives kids the chance to imagine, create, and play. With 18 mess-free crafts and activities, your child can discover creative new ways to keep busy and have fun. Plus, they offer theme kits to use on road trips, while you’re camping, at a wedding, and more. (Craftandboogie.com, $29.97)

Grow ‘N Glow Terrarium Kit

Kids have everything they need to create a unique terrarium complete with glow sand and glowin-the-dark stickers. As they layer the different components, they will grow their own little plant habitat. (Amazon, by Creativity for Kids, $12.97)

DIY Kids

Bird Feeders

Obuby Kids Fort Building Kit

Keep kids active even on rainy days with this fort building kit. Complete with different size rods and connecting balls, the fort possibilities for your young engineers are endless. Grab a sheet to put over their creation giving them the perfect hideout. (Amazon, by Obuby, $49.99)

Paint by Sticker Books

These books take the mess out of paint by number by replacing the paint with stickers. Kids watch their images come to life as they find and place the stickers on the design. From zoo animals and holiday themes to outer space and under the sea, there’s a perfect book for every kid. Plus, these make great, worry-free travel activities. (Amazon, $8.49)

Get creative and interact with wildlife by creating unique bird feeders. Complete with birdseed, molds, twine, and easy-to-follow instructions, kids will create multiple feeders in different shapes. (Etsy, by SeedsandLoveLLC, $17.99)

February 2023 WNY Family 15

There is a rumbling that occurs with certain weather patterns. This one does not come from the sky. This one starts with our kids. It’s the sounds of kids sharing the possibility of snow. Often, you can hear it start with the rumors at school that make it impossible for teachers to get through a lesson.

“Did you hear it’s going to snow?”

“Yeah, we’re going to get, like, a foot.”

“I heard two feet.”

“I heard FOUR feet! I bet they’ll close school for a whole week!”

When we start measuring snow in feet rather than inches, parents know they’re in for it. One snow day may even become two. And it’s never what you think. Let’s look at some of the myths about snow days and set the record straight.

Beautiful white landscapes to look at while sitting next to a roaring fire.

Reality: The same things we always look at are covered in snow. And sand. And salt. And the footprints are all over the place, not in nice neat paths. Don’t kids understand the beauty of a pristine path of footprints in newly fallen snow? Apparently not. And that roaring fire, well, it’s roaring, but not as loud as the kids that are fighting.

The kids will look adorable in their matching puffy snow pants, coat, boots, gloves, and hats.

Reality: If you can even find all the pieces required for such weather it will be a miracle. More likely than not you’ll

How to Survive a

end up at a superstore the night before the storm trying to get snow pants because you just discovered the kids outgrew their pants from last year. Or you’re searching for real gloves, waterproof ones that keep little fingers warm and dry. Those always seem to disappear. Even the amazing Amazon can’t deliver what you need in time. Ask me how I know.

The reality is you put on whatever you can find. Gloves don’t need to match, they can wear the boots from last year, and the snow pants will never be perfect. Just bundle them up and send ‘em out.

Plus, getting that gear on is a project that often outlasts the time playing in the snow. It is a blessed day when the kids are old enough to put on their snow gear. It means you can stay in the warm house by that fire when they head outside. You’ll need that time to get ready for hanging up all that snow gear to dry before the next round.

We’ll sit drinking hot cocoa with big puffy marshmallows, smiling with rosy cheeks.

Reality: Ok, this one is probably closest to reality. There’s always hot cocoa. At least for us. There may be tears because their fingers are cold or snot running down their face, but at least there’s cocoa.

We’ll play games and do crafts. It will be delightful.

Reality: Maybe some families do this. You might even do some of this. But it’s never quite like you think it will be. The slime gets stuck on the couch cushion or there is a fight because so-and-so always wins that game.

That doesn’t mean you should stop playing, you should just be prepared.

Honestly, the kids are going to beg for TV and electronics. And you’re probably going to cave more than you want to. Why? Because it’s a snow day and all of you are holed up in your house with a lot of togetherness, and mommy and daddy need a few minutes without anyone fighting or making a mess or pulling on them.

The truth is snow days are magical. But they are not perfect. If you know that going in, you have room for the day to be wonderful.

You can sleep in and spend the day in PJs.

You can watch a movie together and make time to play that game that lasts forever.

You can clean rooms and celebrate with homemade (or home-baked) cookies.

You can build a snowman with an uneven head and no eyes.

You can be together unexpectedly in the middle of the week and enjoy it.

How do I know this? Well, there’s currently a blizzard swirling outside my door and my kids are in PJs playing on devices and listening to Adventures in Odyssey stories. I’m getting a little work done and looking forward to lunch and watching an episode of the latest family favorite together on a Thursday afternoon. Something we never seem to do unless the weather forces us to.

The secret to surviving snow days is being okay with less-than-perfect and enjoying the unexpected blessing of time. Even if it doesn’t look the way you think it will.

16 WNY Family February 2023
by Rebecca Hastings
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Winter Self-Care for the Whole Family

Self-care seems a bit easier when the weather is nice. Walking outside, time with family and friends, and even what we think about can be tricky to navigate when temperatures drop and snow piles up. Still, self-care is important for you and your kids year-round. So, how can you be sure to give your body and soul what you need in the winter months?

The National Institute of Mental Health explains, “Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health. When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.”

This is good news. Lowering the risk of illness and increasing energy are even more important in winter when illness runs rampant and less daylight makes energy levels drop. Working on self-care as a family can help everyone stay healthy this winter. Here are three simple things that make a big difference.


Building movement into the day can help your body physically, but perhaps even more importantly, it helps mentally. A National Library of Medicine Article

explains, movement “improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.”

(Sharma, Madaan, and Petty)

Weather can make increased movement tricky. When the streets are covered in snow or the temperature is below freezing, it can be difficult to make room for movement in your day. This is when you should consider alternatives to traditional forms of exercise like running or hiking.

Movement Ideas for Everyone

Little Kids: Try things that they already enjoy doing but make them less sedentary. Challenge them to race the cars down the hallway when they are playing cars. If they are watching a show, see if they can copy the moves of their favorite character. Even short bursts of movement add up. And as cold and snowy as it may be, you can’t forget the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. Bundle them up and spend a little time outside playing.

Big Kids: Big kids are more likely to make time for movement when there is snow on the ground. Plus, they can bundle up on their own! Encourage outdoor play when the weather permits, challenging them to build snow forts,

play games, and make snowmen to stay active and warm. For inside movement, have a dance party with your big kids. They may find it silly at first, but if you put on music they love, they will have fun in no time.

Adults: Cold and snowy days are the perfect time to try something new. This could be a new piece of equipment at the gym, taking a new exercise class, or just moving your body in a new way. The new activity will engage your brain and your body. A simple way to do this is by trying a YouTube video workout. If the sidewalks are covered in snow or it’s too much work to take the kids outside again, you can try things like indoor walking videos, HIIT workouts, dance workouts, and yoga. This is a great way to include the kids, too.


Winter can be lonely for everyone. After months of holiday celebrations, people can feel a bit isolated in the winter months. Health Assured shares, “As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, more and more people spend prolonged periods alone. As a result, feelings of loneliness and social isolation become more common. According to recent statistics, 1-in-4 adults feel lonely some or all of the time.”

These feelings indicate the importance of connection. Since that can be harder in the winter, it is essential that you are intentional about connecting with others, both for you and your children.

Little Kids: Keep little kids connected with friends by pursuing ageappropriate programs at local recreation centers and libraries. If there is a cancellation because of weather issues, consider how to fill that missed social opportunity. Invite a neighborhood child over to play or see if another child will have a virtual playdate. Even if the kids aren’t in the same space, they can interact and combat loneliness.

Big Kids: Older children may have an easier time staying connected with their friends during the winter, however, it is still important to think about how you can encourage them. If the weather doesn’t permit getting together with friends, big kids can benefit from

18 WNY Family February 2023

connecting via apps like FaceTime. You can also help them connect with extended family like grandparents. They can do activities together via FaceTime or Zoom or even have a grandparent guide them through baking a family recipe.

Adults: It is tempting to hunker down and stay home when the weather is bad and the days are short. While having time to yourself is good, it is important to make sure you are still connecting with people. This could be through your work, but social connections offer more. You can try a virtual book club or invite a few friends over if the weather cooperates. Be intentional about staying connected to the people in your life.


This is not just something to consider at Thanksgiving. “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” (Harvard Medical School)

To reap these benefits, consider how you can foster gratitude in your home and your life for yourself and your children.

Little Kids: Use gratitude terms like “thank you,” “I’m thankful,” and “I’m grateful” frequently around your children. As you model this behavior, they will begin to incorporate the same into their day. You can also ask them what they are grateful for.

Big Kids: Have a regular time to talk about things you are grateful for. This could be at dinner, on the way to school, or at bedtime. Make gratitude part of your family’s expectations so it becomes natural for them. You can also make a family gratitude list, journal, or a jar where everyone contributes things they are grateful for.

Adults: Consider ways you can focus on what you are grateful for. This could mean starting or ending your day by listing three things, using a journal, praying, meditating, or thanking someone every day.

Self-care doesn’t have to be hard, even in the winter. Consider how you can foster better health and well-being in the cold, snowy months to keep you and your family healthy.

February 2023 WNY Family 19
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Growing up feeling loved helps children overcome many obstacles. It contributes to a feeling of well-being that will help them excel in school, friendships, and all other areas of their lives. It even helps when it comes to being disciplined.

Speak Your Child’s Love Language

“Often, parents assume that their kids just ‘know’ they love them, or that saying ‘I love you’ will be enough,” say Gary Chapman and Ross Campell in their book “The 5 Love Languages of Children.” But in order to feel truly loved, children need the adults in their lives to put those feelings into action. By learning to speak a child’s love languages, a parent can ensure the child feels loved.

Many parents are familiar with the love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. Like adults, children each have a primary love language that they respond to best, but speaking all five love languages is even more beneficial, since children will respond to the other love languages as well as their primary one. In addition, children’s love languages may change over time as they mature.

If your child is younger than five years old, Chapman and Campbell recommend treating all five love languages equally. An older child’s love language can be discovered in several ways. One way is by paying careful attention to how they express their love and affection to you and to others.

Is your child always drawing pictures for you? Maybe his love language is receiving gifts. A particularly snuggly child’s primary love language may be physical touch, while a child who is generous with compliments may have words of affirmation as their primary love language.

Another good way to find out more about your child’s love language is to listen to what your child requests and what they complain about. Do they often ask your opinion on how they are doing in their work or play? They might be showing a preference for words of affirmation. Likewise, complaints about you being too busy can be considered a request for quality time. Be careful to look for patterns and to remember that a preference for quality time at age five may have changed by the time your child is ten or fifteen.

One last way to search for your child’s love language is to give him or her choices. Says Dr. Suzanne Barchers, Education Advisor at Lingokids, “If your child is old enough, it’s fine to say, ‘I noticed you weren’t interested in that gift I brought you. If you had a choice, what would it be? Going to din-

ner together, just you and me? Going with me to work and helping me out for a few hours?…’ Probe until you get some clues.”

Quality Time

Quality time is important to all children but particularly so if this is your child’s primary love language. If you already have activities that you know both you and your children enjoy, try to examine how often you’re doing them and see if you can increase the time spent together. Of course, it doesn’t have to be an activity you both enjoy. Your child will sense if you’re doing an activity solely for his or her pleasure and might even appreciate it more. Even activities such as cleaning and chores can have the desired effect of making a family feel closer. Quality time should be as free from distractions as possible so, although you will typically want to take pictures of special events, try and spend as little time with your phone as possible.

Physical Touch

If your child’s love language is physical touch, you are in luck! It can be the easiest love language to use because of the constant opportunities to give a hug or cozy up and get snuggly. Helping your child feel loved can be as easy as choosing a spot next to your child on the couch for movie night. Or maybe you give extra hugs when leaving for school in the morning. Even physical activities such as wrestling together or a tickle fight can help your child feel loved. If you are not physically affectionate by nature, you may want to consciously set an achievable goal

20 WNY Family February 2023

for yourself to do something simple each day, like stroke your child’s hair or even give a high five.

Words Of Affirmation

For a child whose love language is words of affirmation, prioritize encouraging words, words of affection, and specific praise. Say, “I love you” often. Showcasing their artwork can send an affirmative message to a creative child. Try sending an older child an encouraging text message.

Acts Of Service

This love language can be a delicate balance. Of course, we want our children to mature and become more independent as they grow. But children can feel particularly loved when their parents perform acts of service, doing things for their children that they may or may not be able to do independently. An act of service might be carrying your child to bed even though you’re sure they’re only pretending to be asleep, making a special surprise meal for your child, or doing their chores for them when you know they’ve had a hard day.

Receiving Gifts

Receiving gifts can be one of the more complicated love languages. Children will sense if a parent is trying to bribe them with a gift or if a parent is just buying gifts to make up for the fact that they don’t have time to spend with the child. Says Dr. Barchers, “Gifts don’t have to be big and extravagant. They should, however, be thoughtful. Finding that perfect color of a barrette or a memorable trinket, can be just right.” Don’t make the gift contingent on certain behavior and make sure that the gifts reflect the interests of your child.

To find out more about the love languages of children, read “The 5 Love Languages of Children” by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.

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Jill Morgenstern is a Houston-based freelance writer who has written for many regional parenting magazines as well as various websites.

February 2023 WNY Family 21
“It Takes a Village”
Hertel Ave.
40 Days Park, Buffalo, NY 14201 EVCS Hertel 665
Buffalo, NY 14207

Choosing Childcare

Choosing A Childcare Program For Your Child

If you are a first-time parent, choosing the right childcare situation for your child is an extremely important yet daunting task. There are many questions to ask about any child care program, whether center-based or in a family daycare provider’s home. So, where do you begin?

The most comprehensive information and most thorough list of questions to ask a provider before making your choice can be found at Child Care Aware of America (www.childcareaware.org). Our local Child Care Resource Network (https://wnychildren.org) is also affiliated with this organization and is an excellent place to begin narrowing down your search.

But, what types of questions should you be asking about each child care program? There are many more than we can print here, but you can check out the complete list (if you have an infant or toddler, there is a complete set of questions specific to their care) on the Child Care Aware of America site before taking a tour of any program.

General Questions

• Is the program licensed?

• If the program provides transportation, are drivers licensed and insured? Are children properly restrained in safety seats approved for their age and weight?

• Are there clear check-in and check-out procedures?

Class Size

• What is the adult to child ratio?

• What is the class size for your child’s age group?

Staff Qualifications

• Does the lead caregiver/teacher have a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field?

• Does the director have a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field?

• Are the caregivers/teachers and director involved in ongoing training or continuing education programs?


• Are children supervised at all times, both indoors and outdoors, even when they are sleeping?

• Can caregivers be seen by others at all times so that a child is never alone with one caregiver?

• Have all caregivers undergone comprehensive background checks?

Program Structure

• Is there a daily balance of play time, story time, activity time, and nap time?

• Do children play for a significant part of their day?

• Do children get to choose who they want to play with?

Caregiver Interaction

• Are children warmly greeted when they arrive?

• Do caregivers talk to children and seem genuinely interested in what the children are doing?

• Do caregivers get down on children’s level and speak with them?

• Do caregivers play with children to help facilitate learning?

22 WNY Family February 2023
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The Environment

• Are there different areas for resting, quiet play, and active play?

• Is the atmosphere pleasant?

• Is the environment clean?

• Are there enough toys and learning materials for the number of children?

• Does the program use TV, computers, or other types of technology with the children? If so, how often are these materials used?

• Is there a space for outdoor play?

• Is the outdoor play area fenced in? Is it clean?

• Is the outdoor play area regularly inspected?

• Is the equipment the right size and type for the age of children who use it?

• Are children taken outside on a regular basis?

• Do caregivers actively supervise (play with) children outdoors?

Health & Safety

• Are the indoor and outdoor environments clear of safety hazards, such as cleaning supplies and tripping hazards?

• Does the child care program have records proving that the other children enrolled are up-to-date on all of the required immunizations?

• Is handwashing a regular part of the program’s practices for both staff and children, especially before eating and after using the bathroom?

• If the program serves food, does it meet nutritional standards?

• How are food allergies or dietary restrictions handled?

• Have caregivers been trained on CPR and First Aid, and are those certifications current?

• Does the program have first aid kits?

• Are medications kept out of the reach of children?

• Are the caregivers trained on medication administration, and are medications labeled to make sure the right child receives the right amount of medication?

• Does the program have a plan in place in case of a disaster, like a fire, tornado, flood, blizzard, earthquake or active shooter?

• Does the program have an emergency plan in case a child is injured, sick, or lost?

• Does the program have information about whom to contact in an emergency?

February 2023 WNY Family 23
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We don’t often think of winter as a sensory experience. The quiet and stillness barely has a sound; cold air barely hardly has a smell; the glare of the gloom of cloudy skies can be depressing; the sting of the cold can be unwelcomed, and what is there to taste? Yet these in themselves are sensory experiences.

If we take the time to be more aware, we will find that winter offers man y ways to use our senses to appreciate the quiet, still time of year. Winter is viewed in many cultures as a time for quiet reflection and going deep into stillness and hibernation of the season. It is a time to restore and recover from the activities of the busy summer and fall, and to get ready for the explosion of the spring to come. Books are a way to help us explore our senses during this time and these winter books are perfect to use as we wait for storms to stop and roads to clear.

Look at life through the eyes of a child and see what was old as new. Maisy’s Snowy Day (Candlewick Press, Somerville, 2022, $14.99) by Lucy Cousins is just the book to help us do that. As Maisy and her friends venture outside on a snow day to explore, we can see just how using the senses can expand

and intensify the experience. Woolen socks and a cozy coat help to keep Maisy warm, cold air stings the nose, snow crunches, hungry birds chirp and tweet at the seed she spreads for them, boots leave footprints in freshly fallen snow, the voices of her friends echo as they throw snowballs, snowflakes gently land on waiting tongues, whooshing down a snowy hill, building an igloo helps to keep warm in the frosty air, and hot chocolate awaits when they return home. Each page provides an opportunity to reflect on the experience and the senses. This book for young children is also meant for those who are still children at heart.

Poor Nightingale. She is a spring bird but broke her wing and could not fly south, so in The Winter Bird (Candlewick Press, Somerville, 2022, $18.99), written by Kate Banks and wonderfully illustrated by Suzie Mason, we learn how she came to know winter. All the animals around her helped her come to know the magic and challenges of the season. The quiet, the cold, finding food, the ways to keep warm, the beauty of the freshly fallen snow, and the patience and the prom-

ise of spring are explored and celebrated in this special book. Nightingale has much to teach all of us as we use our senses to explore her experience.

Ten Ways to Hear Snow (Kokila/ Penguin/Random House, New York, 2022, $17.99), written by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Kenard Pak, and translated by Rossy Evelin Lima, is offered in both English and in Spanish versions (Diez Maneras De Escuchar La Nieve). Even in the city there are wonderful ways to explore winter. Through use of mindful listening, Lina discovers things she never knew as she walks to her grandmother’s house to help her cook her favorite thing — warek enab (Lebanese stuffed grape leaves). As a snowstorm silences the city, other sounds begin to emerge. Snow shovels scrape the sidewalk, boots crunch the snow, swishes dust off cars, snow falls off pine trees with a “ploomph,” cross country skiing and building a snowman have their own sounds. The sound of landing snowballs, the stamping of feet, the drip of warming mittens makes nine sounds. But what is the tenth? The quiet of winter. The stillness of the wintry illustration and Camper’s clever use of onomatopoeia make this book even more engaging. This will give us a whole new way to experience and appreciate winter.

The awe of the northern lights is said to be a life-changing experience. In The Lights that Dance in the Night

24 WNY Family February 2023

(Doubleday Books for Young Readers, New York, 2022, $18.99), written and illustrated by Yuval Ƶommer, we learn how the animals of land, sea, and air (including humans) are moved by the miracle and the enchantment of their dance. The poetry of Ƶommer’s words bring the light to life as they tell their story. The colors and their dance bring joy and happiness to the artic dwellers. Animals move and sing to them. People celebrate together as they keep warm. This book is as magical as the northern lights themselves.

Anyone who has experienced a quiet forest on a snowy evening will immediately think of the words of Robert Frost and his poem Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening (Candlewick Press, Somerville, 2022, $18.99), enchantingly illustrated by P.J. Lynch. For newcomers to his haunting and cherished work, this book is the perfect way to introduce and recreate the experience portrayed in his poem. The simplicity and quiet stillness that are conveyed as he pauses to listen to and experience the magic of the moment can never be forgotten. This is a poem to take with you in your heart and mind as you walk thought a silent forest in the depth of winter. Listen to the silence inside and outside of you. Relax, reflect, and release into the depth, quiet, and stillness of the magic of the woods in winter.

Walks in the winter woods are the perfect place to develop our senses and an appreciation for what winter has to offer us. This season will not last long, so take the time to explore and appreciate what it has to offer. These books and others like them can turn a cold dreary winter into a time of magic, reflection, and appreciation. Give yourself permission and show your children how to be still and silent and listen deeply to what is around and inside you.

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.

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Rejuvenate with a Close-to-Home Getaway, SansKids

It’s February and it has been one of the most memorable winters in our lifetimes. We are all more than ready for a break.

This year, how about arranging a close-to-home winter getaway without the children? Such a getaway just might be the perfect stress reliever.

Though it might not seem possible, a quick overnight can be remarkably rejuvenating. Even if it can’t be arranged this month, consider a gift certificate and a reservation for the near future. The anticipation of travel, a getaway, or a fun event can be almost as enjoyable as the event itself.

Prices are often the lowest of the year and rooms are usually easily available in the winter.

This month’s picks may be in different countries and are quite unlike in terms of size, but they both are in historic districts within walking distance of shops and restaurants, have memorable and quirky names, local ownership

and, most importantly, offer warm and friendly hospitality. Many guests are return visitors, and I look forward to joining the returnees.

The big news last October in many border communities was that Canada had at long last ended ALL Covid border mandates and life has returned to normal for Americans crossing the border. (The U.S. still has not reciprocated as of press time, but Americans can always return home with no issues.)

What better way to celebrate than to visit my long-time favorite Canadian town of Niagara-on-theLake? My choice proved to be full of wonderful surprises even though I have made regular visits for years. The drive to this historic spot at the mouth of the Niagara River and on the south shore of Lake Ontario has it all.

The Niagara Region has become in-

ternationally celebrated for its vineyards and wineries and they remain open in the winter for tastings and tours. Many are located along the parkway.

Two Sisters Vineyards, founded in 2007, is less than 10 minutes from the center of town, and is a winery like no other in the region. It has won numerous awards including Best Small Winery in Canada. Many experts rate it the finest in the Niagara Region.

The family hails from Italy and the winery resembles a Tuscan villa. Walking through the massive doors it is immediately apparent that no detail is overlooked. Kitchen76 is the remarkable restaurant offering a perfect stop-off for lunch or dinner.

My tasting was in the barrel room amid French oak barrels from an Italian company in business since 1775. Unlike most other wine tastings, a new wine glass is provided for every different wine and the tasting is a most special experience, even for non-wine connoisseurs like me.

124 on Queen Hotel & Spa, 124 Queen St., Niagaraon-the-Lake, 905-4684552 or 855-988-4552 (tollfree), 124queen. com.

The 72-room 124 on Queen Hotel and Spa completed its major expansion last year and is the new jewel in the heart of the town. One of the surprising features of this greatly expanded hotel is that by maintaining the historic facades, it is hard to tell that anything has changed along Queen Street, the town’s main street.

26 WNY Family February 2023
Two Sisters Vineyards

The hotel encompasses six buildings and was built on the site of what was once called Victorian Villas. The stately Gate House which includes hotel rooms, event space, and a restaurant is part of the hotel. There is even free underground parking.

The centerpiece of the expansion is the Signature Collection at Q, 30 new luxury guestrooms and suites. My onebedroom suite included a full kitchen, living room, fireplace, two bathrooms, two smart TVs, a separate bedroom with a king bed and a rainfall shower. An outdoor yoga area with cabanas and reflecting ponds are planned.

The award-winning Treadwell Cuisine restaurant is next door and has partnered with the hotel. It features farm-totable cuisine and an open kitchen where chefs are happy to answer questions. Guests can choose from a prix-fixe, four course dinner menu. The restaurant is not just for foodies and is as well known for its signature fish and chips as its four course menus.

Back for breakfast the next morning the French toast brioche with blackberries, raspberries and local maple syrup was delicious.

The hotel owners are David Jones, who grew up in the town, and Nick Capasso. They are committed to preserving the heritage of the property and adding to the vibrancy of the region.

“We live here, and we care deeply about our town,” Jones said. “We set out to create a place where people can make

memories. We are proud to open our doors and welcome the world to 124 on Queen and Niagara-on-the-Lake.”

The 12,000 square foot spa was designed to attract guests year-round and features an extensive water therapy circuit and massage and other treatment options. There are hot and cold pools, saunas, steam rooms, sensory experience showers and even a snow room. Since I am not a fan of cold, I mostly confined myself to the hot experiences, but I did spend a few moments in one of the Snow Rooms. Step in and push a switch and snow magically comes down from the ceiling.

Be sure to visit the Budapest Bakery (famous for its sweet chimney cakes), Pistachio’s Gelato and Pastries

and Maple Leaf Fudge — all part of the hotel complex and the place to go if you have a sweet tooth.

InnBuffalo, 619 Lafayette Ave., Buffalo, 716-303-4403, innbuffalo.com. Buffalo was one of the wealthiest cities in the country when inventor and businessman Herbert Hewitt and his wife moved from Chicago to Buffalo in 1893. He had been general manager of the Pullman Company and already had patents on various devices used by railroads. He founded the Union Car Company, the Hewitt Rubber Company, and the Buffalo Brass Company. He even had a horse that won the Kentucky Derby.

continued on page 28

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124 On Queen Hotel & Spa

In 1898 Hewitt commissioned local architects Lansing and Beierl to build what became known as the Hewitt Mansion, and eight years ago it became InnBuffalo at 619 Lafayette Avenue. The architects also designed and built Lafayette Presbyterian Church just down the street at Elmwood and Lafayette Avenues.

Cost was not a consideration, and the mansion was one of the city’s most impressive and expensive. It was filled with the modern amenities including electric lighting and central heat. Dual lighting fixtures were installed in the rooms utilizing electricity generated in Niagara Falls. The lights had gas backups in case the electricity should fail. (Just think if we had such innovative devices during the Christmas storm.) The central heating system had at least nine separate thermostats, one of the latest technologies at the time.

The house later became a boarding house for veterans. In 2012 Joseph and Ellen Lettieri purchased the home through public auction and opened the boutique hotel in 2015 after extensive restoration. Many of the original elements of the house remain — stained glass windows, gold leaf ceiling, carved wood everywhere, hand painted stencil work, marble fireplaces, and silk damask on walls. It has 13 bedrooms including a two-bedroom suite. Each room is unique, but all are most comfortable and even include heated floors in the bathrooms.

My favorite public room on the first floor is the library and in the warmer weather I can imagine myself enjoying the huge covered front porch. Breakfast is included and don’t miss the delicious scones baked by Ellen Lettieri. Famed Canadian author Margaret Atwood stayed at the inn while in town for a lecture at the University at Buffalo. She wrote in the guest book that she especially enjoyed the scones.

Joe Lettieri enjoys regaling his guests with the history of Hewitt and the house that is part of the historic Elmwood

Village East district.

It did not take long for hundreds of five-star ratings on TripAdvisor to catapult InnBuffalo to the number one Buffalo hotel based on reviews.

While the innkeepers are delightful, as a Labrador retriever lover my heart always melts when I meet another Lab. Nina Simone Lettieri, Nina for short, is a super mellow black lab who lives at InnBuffalo. Reading through the hundreds of five-star reviews of the spectacular inn Nina received almost as many favorable mentions as Joe and Ellen, the owners.

“It’s been both crazy and a magical ride —2020 was a most difficult year when we had to close but we have rebounded,” Lettieri said. “We have welcomed guests from around the world and as far away as Australia and New Zealand. We have many return guests.”

Christmas 2022 at the inn typifies the warm hospitality that marks the establishment.

“We were sold out and then the weather forecast caused most guests to cancel,” he explained. “Then we filled up again with area residents who lost their power. I had a brisket of beef we were planning to bring to a family dinner, and we had enough other food. We had gour-

met meals here for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and guests helped with the dinners.”

A variety of restaurants along Elmwood Avenue are within walking distance. There is something extra special for people who live in suburbs or country to spend the night in the city and enjoy a leisurely dinner, a Sabres game, a concert at Kleinhans, or a show at Shea’s Buffalo without the long drive home late on a winter night.

Travel Tip of the Month: Americans visiting Canada enjoy an advantageous exchange rate. At press time $1 U.S. equals $1.36 Canadian so hotels, dining and shopping can be a bargain. Breakfast (and snacks) are included at InnBuffalo, and breakfast and other hotel packages are available at 124 on Queen Hotel.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is about 12 miles from Niagara Falls. The Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights, Canada’s largest free outdoor light festival continues through February 20 with three million lights and more than 75 larger than life displays. Walk or drive the festival route.

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.

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FAMILY TRAVEL continued...


Resolving Difficult Bullying Situations

Question: My fourth-grade daughter is being bullied at her school by another child in her class. The bullying has been going on since this child transferred to my daughter’s school this past November. She pulls her hair and has isolated her from all her other friends.

We have talked to the principal, and he always talks to both girls and now has them sitting at a small table together. This has made the situation worse. This girl takes my daughter’s lunch and money. The last straw came when another child in the class told the teacher that the girl was bullying my daughter. The teacher replied: “You are being a tattletale and should not get involved because it is not your problem!” — Frustrated and Mad

Answer: We are guessing that you have also talked to the teacher. If not, this should have been your first step. However, it does not appear that either the principal or teacher have an interest in or know how to stop the bullying. Another person at the school who might be able to stop the bullying is a school counselor if one is available at the school or district level.

In this situation, it is important that you become conversant with your state’s specific laws against bullying. All states, except Montana, have them. They usually spell out the specific behaviors that constitute bullying such as teasing, physical violence, and theft. They may also require schools to develop policies to prohibit bullying and enforce that

prohibition. There are no federal laws that apply to bullying unless it overlaps with discriminatory harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion.

Since neither the teacher or principal have resolved this situation, your next step is to contact the superintendent. Beyond this there is the school board and the State Department of Education. If the bullying is extremely severe, you may wish to contact an education attorney who will know what steps need to be taken legally to stop this bullying. This is a last-ditch step. We have known families who have resolved their child being bullied by transferring the child to another school. There is also the possibility of discussing the bullying with the bully’s family if it can be done in a non-confrontational manner. Right now, you need to request that the bully no longer sit by your daughter as a way to stop some of the bullying.

It is up to you to help your child deal with this bullying until it stops. There are excellent books and a website that are especially for children who are being bullied. We suggest that you have your daughter read “How to Handle Bullies, Teasers and Other Meanies,” by Rainbow Books, Inc. and “Simon’s Hook,” by GR Publishing. She should also view the activities at pacerkidsagainstbullying. org. Both will show her solid and effective ways to react to bullying.

Do arrange play dates for your daughter with other children in her class to reconnect her with other children in her class. Having friends makes a bullied child feel better. And having friends around her will discourage bullying.

Silencing the Overly Talkative Student

Question: Her teachers complain that my 5th grader tends to visit or talk in class rather than listening to what is going on. This not new habit is resulting in lower grades this year. How is it possible to break this bad habit? — Intervention Needed

Answer: Teachers do become frustrated when students are not listening in class. Listening is a real information provider. Did you realize that from 50 percent to 75 percent of students’ time in the classroom is spent listening to the teacher, other students, and audio media presentations. Now that your daughter’s grades are being affected it is time to work with her about curbing her talking in class.

Try to find the reason she talks so much in class. Is it boredom, sitting by a talkative friend, or to get attention? By finding out why, you can begin to prevent and address her behavior. The next step is to ask her how this problem can be solved. If she can’t come up with any solutions, you can suggest some: changing her seat, writing down what she is going to say instead of talking, and clasping her hands together. The most satisfactory solution, of course, is for her to come up with ways she can curb her excessive talking in class.

Do observe how your child handles conversations. If she is an interrupter, practice having back-and-forth conversations with her.

Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher.com, and visit the dearteacher.com website to learn more about helping their children succeed in school.

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

Surviving the Winter Slump Surviving the Winter Slump


Now that the holiday season has come and gone, it can be difficult to come up with engaging activities to keep the kids entertained during the cold, snowy days of February. As a parent of three, I know firsthand how easy it is to turn to screens for entertainment, but if you’re looking for something a little more interactive, the sites listed below offer a mix of digital and real-world activities that both kids and parents can enjoy.

Art Hub for Kids is a YouTube channel that teaches kids how to draw in a fun and engaging way. Each video features the artist, Rob, drawing alongside one of his four children, with both drawings shown side by side so viewers can easily follow along. Rob does a great job of emphasizing that every artist is different, and it’s perfectly okay if your child’s drawing doesn’t look exactly like his. The channel has a huge selection of drawing options to choose from, and the finished artwork is always something your child can be proud of. The most challenging part may be deciding what to draw from the thousands of options available. If you prefer an adfree, subscription-based option, check out ArtForKidsHub.tv for the same great content. The site is run by the same family as the YouTube channel and offers access to all the Art For Kids Hub videos for a fee of $5.99 per month.

Highlights Kids is a digital version of the popular magazine that has entertained generations of children with features like “Hidden Pictures.” The website is geared towards kids ages six to twelve and includes jokes, online games, puzzles, crafts, recipes, and more. The “adults” section indicates when kids will need adult supervision for certain activities. The site also includes an area where kids can submit the things they’ve made to be featured online or ask questions to the Highlights’ staff. Highlights has a separate subscription-based website dedicated to Hidden Pictures, with a free trial available.

tisements. The ads are generally familyfriendly, but they can become cumbersome at times. One of the great things about Funbrain is that the content is leveled, so your fourth grader won’t see problems designed for a kindergarten student.

Funbrain is a treasure trove of educational games, videos, and books for kids in preschool through eighth grade. The site offers games to practice language arts and math skills, as well as a reading section with digital copies of popular books like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Judy Moody.” Funbrain is free to use, but it is supported by adver-

Braingle is a website that features a variety of brain teasers and puzzles, including riddles, trivia, optical illusions, and more. The site has been around since 2001 and offers a wide range of challenges for users of all ages. One of the standout features of Braingle is the “Brain Teaser of the Day,” which provides a new puzzle for users to solve every day. The site also has a section specifically for kids, with age-appropriate brain teasers and puzzles. In addition to brain teasers, Braingle also offers a range of other resources and tools, including a “Brain Gym” with exercises to help improve mental agility, and a “Thinking Games” section with games and challenges to test problem-solving skills. Overall, Braingle is a great resource for anyone looking to challenge their brain and have some fun. It’s easy to use and offers a wide range of brain teasers and puzzles to keep kids entertained and engaged.

Scholastic Learn at Home is a resource provided by Scholastic that offers a variety of free online learning experiences for kids in pre-K through ninth grade. The daily lessons cover a wide range of subjects and include vid-

30 WNY Family February 2023

eos, games, and activities to keep kids engaged. The lessons are designed to be self-guided, so kids can work independently or with a little help from a parent.

offers a range of options for customizing the sounds, including the ability to change the tempo and pitch.

sites a try. You and your kids just might discover a new favorite activity.

Chrome Music Lab is a free, interactive website developed by Google that allows users to experiment with music and create their own compositions. The site features a variety of tools and resources that can be used by anyone, regardless of their music experience or technical skills. One of the standout features of Chrome Music Lab is the “Song Maker” tool, which allows users to create their own compositions by combining loops and sounds from a variety of instruments. The tool is easy to use and

In addition to the Song Maker, Chrome Music Lab also offers a range of other resources and tools, including a Spectrogram, which visualizes sound frequencies, and a Rhythm program, which allows users to create and manipulate rhythmic patterns. Whether you’re a musician looking to experiment with new sounds or a music enthusiast looking to learn more about the technical aspects of music, Chrome Music Lab has something to offer. The site’s interactive, user-friendly interface makes it accessible to people of all ages and skill levels.

Overall, these sites offer a great mix of interactive, educational, and entertaining activities to keep the whole family entertained on those long, cold winter days. Whether you’re looking for art projects, puzzles, games, or reading material, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So, the next time you’re faced with the dreaded “What can we do?” question, consider giving one of these

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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A New Year for New Beginnings… and Saying Goodbye

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I’ve always had trouble initiating and committing to one. I might have said in 2017 that I’d cut back on sweets and maybe in 2020 I vowed to work out more, and just like clockwork, about a month in I call it quits. But this year I want things to be different. I’m thinking 2023 will be the year I make a resolution and stick with it. And my resolution really isn’t anything I’m looking to change. It’s something I feel I’m already on top of, but I just want to make sure I’m staying consistent with.

I know it’s cheesy, but my resolution is just making sure I’m always being a present, in-the-moment kind of father for Violet. Whether that means putting my phone away during dinner, so I’m not distracted, or listening carefully to Violet’s illegible ramblings about her friends at daycare, I want to be there for her. Always.

I’ve mentioned before that whenever the holidays come around, I tend to get a little sappy, and this past year was no exception. About a week before Thanksgiving, the greater-Buffalo area was hit with a record-breaking snowstorm, eight years to the day from our 2014 snowstorm of similar proportions. My town in particular this year was brought to a standstill with 82 inches of snow, leaving us unable to leave our house for five days, not to mention the travel ban that prohibited us from leaving even if we wanted to.

Anyone can imagine that after five days of seclusion, how easily we could

get on each other’s nerves. So, to help combat our boredom and ease the tension, we made sure to stay busy. We read plenty of books, colored the tips off crayons, and invented some new games to play, including Violet’s favorite new game, Zombie Dogs. And I don’t know if it was the cabin fever or having to pay someone $150 to plow the driveway after I already spent two days shoveling it, but there were a few stressful moments and maybe even a few tears shed, but we made the best of it.

After county officials declared it was safe to leave our homes, there was a part of me that felt sad it had come to an end. Of course, I was happy we could return to the supermarket and down to Tim Horton’s for a bagel and a coffee, but I couldn’t help feeling that something special had taken place between the three of us during isolation. I think we all somehow became a little closer, if that was at all even possible.

A few days later after Thanksgiving came and went, Christmas suddenly became my next focus point and after what we had just been through, I didn’t want the stresses of the holiday to overwhelm me as they usually do. Shopping lists, casseroles, garland, and everything nice; I put it all on the backburner of my mind, this way I could focus on what was really important, like spending quality time with family and readying myself for my big New Year’s resolution.

When I started planning out this month’s column I originally wasn’t going to talk about resolutions. I wasn’t

sure what I wanted to talk about, and the truth behind that is, is that this month will be my last column I’ll write for Western New York Family Magazine. My true stress over these past few months, more than the holidays, was trying to figure out how I was going to say goodbye. So, I thought I would start by saying, thank you.

When I accepted this position, I was at a real crossroads in my life. My wife and I were grieving our son, Louis, who had died only a few months prior, and we just found out that Andrea was pregnant with Violet. I wanted to use this platform to tell my story as a father who was dealing with loss, while at the same time celebrating new life, and you have allowed me to do just that. Since my first column in April 2020, you’ve let me share my journey into fatherhood one story at a time. You were there for Violet’s birth, her first steps and even her first cold. You watched me grieve, vent and maybe even complain a little. It’s been a real privilege sharing my family’s story with you. Thank you for following along.

— Richard, Andrea, Violet and as always, with Louis in our hearts

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. With the birth of his daughter Violet, he continued to share his fatherhood journey with WNY Family readers.

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Credit: One Fine Day Photography by Reen

Family Movie Options: In Theaters and Streaming Online

Having used up eight of his nine lives, Puss in Boots is on a quest to find the magical Wishing Star to grant him more lives. With a bounty hunter on his tail, time is of the essence. Like the rest of the Shrek franchise, this film offers plenty of action and laughs for kids while providing adults with different jokes and musings on mortality. Add in positive messages about friendship, trust and gratitude, and this sequel is a hit for viewers of all ages. Photo ©Universal Pictures Avatar:

The Way of Water

Jake and Neytiri have started a family but they are endangered by the return of the Resource Development Administration, which is determined to plunder Pandora’s resources. For safety’s sake, the family hides out with the aquatic Metkayina tribe, which moves the action to the water. The special effects are dazzling but the story is bland and pedestrian. If you want to watch, try not to think too hard: just sit back and enjoy the view. Photo © 20th Century Studios

Desperate to help her orphaned niece recover from the loss of her parents, toy designer Gemma completes work on M3GAN, an android designed to befriend and protect her owner. What she doesn’t expect – but audiences will – is that M3GAN will develop ideas of her own. The “rogue robot” story is familiar but here it’s told with wit and polish. There’s some blood and gore but less than normal for a horror flick, making it suitable for teens. Photo ©Universal Pictures

His wife’s death has left him achingly lonely, so Otto Anderson methodically plans his own suicide – but every time he tries to kill himself one of his neighbors needs his help. Suicide attempts on the big screen will deter some viewers but this movie’s themes focus on love, kindness, neighborliness, and emotional resilience. It’s a heartwarming, inspiring story that showcases Tom Hanks at his best and he’s well matched by the other appealing characters in the story . Photo ©Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group

Unwanted by her parents, Matilda is sent off to school where the fearsome headmistress, Ms. Trunchbull, does her best to make her miserable. Luckily, Matilda’s mind has been fortified by years of reading and she also benefits from the support of her new teacher, Ms. Honey. This adaptation of the classic novel enjoys a stellar cast and a distinctive soundtrack. It’s too scary for little kids but fans of the book will likely enjoy it. Photo ©Netflix

Detailed reviews available at www.parentpreviews.com

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in Boots: The Last Wish Theaters Rating Overall Violence Sex Profanity Alcohol/Drugs PG B+ B - A A - B
Theaters Rating Overall Violence Sex Profanity Alcohol/Drugs PG - 13 C C B - C - A
M3GAN Theaters Rating Overall Violence Sex Profanity Alcohol/Drugs PG - 13 C C - A C - B
Theaters Rating Overall Violence Sex Profanity Alcohol/Drugs PG - 13 B+ C A - C+ B+
A Man Called Otto
Dahl’s Matilda the Musical Netflix Rating Overall Violence Sex Profanity Alcohol/Drugs PG A B A A - B

Welcome to my Single Parenting Column! I’m so happy you landed here and are taking the first step to investing in yourself. That’s what this column will be; a 5-minute pick-me-up for your day to remind you that you can do it.

Becoming a single parent can certainly be hard but, it can also be extremely freeing. My hope is that this column will provide some laughs, tips and tricks, and maybe even some good ole tears to remind you that we’re all in this together… one meltdown and one tween story at a time.

I’m a single mom of three kids. Dylan, Hannah, and Ellie keep me on my toes and are nothing short of inspiring. I spend my days as a mental health therapist and my nights as a mom. I have found it to be the perfect balance for me and something I am quite proud of.

Join me every month, as I share some personal insights into what has (and hasn’t) helped me along the way. Let’s do this!

Dating Yourself as a Single Parent

Ihaven’t decided if I like the month of February anymore. It was something of a given when I was married and I expected the flowers and chocolates from my then husband, but I’m not sure I really like it anymore. Now that I’m divorced, it’s just me and the kids.

Every year that I’ve been single, I’ve taken the kids to Chick-fil-A and ordered a heart-shaped tray of chicken nuggets with fries. It’s been one of the best post-divorce traditions I have started with my kiddos and one I look forward to every February.

So, maybe there are things about this month that I like? I can tell you some do’s and don’ts that I have figured out along the way of singledom that I’d like to share with you.

1) DO take yourself out to dinner with your friends.

As a mental health therapist, I am big on self-care. If I tell my clients to make it a priority, I better be making it a priority, too. At least once a month, if not once a week, I try to get together with my therapist friends and hit our favorite restaurant spot. The belly laughs, endless bowls of chips and salsa, and table-side guacamole always make everything better.

2) DON’T isolate yourself.

Holidays, like Valentine’s Day, can be a trigger for divorced people. It’s okay to be by yourself and in fact, I recommend this to my clients so they can

learn how to sit in discomfort, which helps with healing but it’s also important to surround yourself with hobbies, people, and work. It can be natural to want to withdraw and maybe even hide when you are lonely but remember, it’s really important not to get in the isolation rut.

3) DO treat yourself to something you like.

One of the first things I did when I got divorced was to throw myself back into yoga. I knew it would be good for my body but I knew it would do wonders for my mind. It was really hard to sit in silence at times because my brain just couldn’t stop thinking. I often found myself wiping tears away that I just could not stop from coming. The stillness and quietness of my body gave me all sorts of feelings about the trauma of a 20-year relationship with my college sweetheart coming to an end. I knew the warm, salty tears were just my body’s way of releasing pent up pain. So, I let them fall and I allowed myself to feel the scariness of this new world as a single woman.

4) DON’T beat yourself up over what could have been.

The past is the past for a reason. Let yourself grieve; especially when hard days come up (think anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, etc.). Acknowledge the thought and let it pass. Negative thoughts that stay inside of us do not serve a healthy purpose.

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5) DO buy yourself those chocolates.

I buy myself a big box of chocolates and flowers on Valentine’s Day because I want to and I can. I usually eat the chocolates in my bed and divide the flowers into two vases to get bang for my buck. I put one vase in the living room and another in my bedroom. Doing things like this makes me feel special and loved. Divorce can do a number on your self-esteem and so it’s important to continually build that back up.

6) DON’T go to the store more than you need to.

I made this mistake the first Valentine’s Day after my divorce and I was bombarded with “I love you” balloons, sappy cards, and couples that could not keep their hands off each other. I just wasn’t in a place to deal with any of that and it ended up making me feel worse about myself. I learned that the month of February would be my ‘eat from the pantry’ month. Not only did I save money on groceries, but I set a boundary for myself that was really important.

7) DO tackle new projects.

You know those projects your spouse used to do? Yeah, do those. You’ll be amazed at what you can do when you have to. Get yourself a toolbox.

8) DON’T compare yourself to others.

There’s no good that can come from this. It’s an easy trap to fall into but trust me, your path is unique to you and will become your fight song.

DO look at the month of February as an opportunity to make new traditions, catch up with old friends, and rest. Make this month be whatever you need it to be. Try not to get hung up on Valentine’s Day being a day where you are reminded that you’re alone. Instead, look at it as a day when you can love yourself just a little bit more. There are so many great things that can come from being alone; like learning more about who you are.

Meagan Ruffing is a parenting journalist, mental health therapist, and single mom who tries to do her best each day. She doesn’t always get it right but she sure has fun trying.

February 2023 WNY Family 35
Saint Benedict School Accepting Applications for PK3 - 8th grade Call for your private tour 716-835-2518 3980 Main Street, Amherst, NY 14226 www.StBenSchool.org @stbenedictamherst Advertising Space Reservation Deadlines: For more information call 836-3486 March .......... Friday, Feb. 10 April ........ Friday, March 10 May ......... Monday, April 10 June ... Wednesday, May 10 July ................ Friday, June 9 Learning Re a d y, Set C A M P ! Boost your enrollment in 2023 through WNY Family’s Competitions Crafts



5 Experiences That Will Allow for Growth


The toddler and preschool years are filled with discovery and exploration. We want our children to have creative experiences and we expose them to new materials. We take our toddlers to art classes, dance classes, and mommy and me music lessons. We take our preschoolers to hands on museums; bring out finger paint and glitter and make Valentines for class parties; buy coloring books, and chubby markers for little fingers.

But what happens when our children reach those pre-teen and teen years? When they are too old to go to the toy store and when they’re no longer asking for LEGOS or art kits? When they’re too old for children’s museums, and mommy and me music classes are a thing of the past? Many of us don’t know what to do, and we simply resort to the default and relegate our children’s free time to scheduled activities, sports, homework or screen time. And as our children get older, they begin to have more “high-tech” experiences instead of “hightouch” ones.

Lucia Capacchione, talks about the importance of “hightouch” experiences in her book, The Creative Journal: The Art of Finding Yourself. She states that humans need high-touch media, such as simple, hands-on art materials. These experiences allow for emotional expression, creative spontaneity, discovery, and personal insight. While “hightech” devices have their place, they also

limit physical movements and these experiences provide an entirely different kind of mind-body connection.

Teenagers need these high-touch experiences to grow. Creative outlets become important in their lives as they have some way to express themselves when they become anxious or depressed. Many teens hardly ever get to hold a pen and hear the sound it makes as it scratches across the surface of the paper, as many schools rely on computers or tablets that students use to complete and submit homework. And by the time high school hits, most art and music classes become optional and are abandoned for AP classes or other options that will look good on a college resumé.

Not sure how to make creative space in the life of your teen? Try one, or more, of these suggestions below:

Look for drop-in programs: Art centers, community centers, and local libraries often have drop-in programs that engage teens and create a space where they are able to explore. Programs should be open ended, meaning they’re more focused on the process, than on creating any sort of product. Teens especially need a place where they can try out their own ideas in a safe place. So much of their life is dictated to them, but exploring and creating with art supplies or musical instruments, is a great way for them to try new things and experience failure in a supportive environment.

Films on creativity: Movies can be a great way to start conversations about creativity and can work to inspire the teen in your life. Some documentaries that explore the artistic life are Exit Through the Gift Shop (about street art), Between the Folds (about the incredible things artists are doing with paper), Imba Means Sing (about the African Children’s Choir and their North American Tour) or Most Valuable Players (follows three PA and NJ high school musical productions). Depending on your comfort level and the maturity of

36 WNY Family February 2023

your child, some language and/or scenes might not be suitable. It’s a good idea to always preview any movie in its entirety before sharing.

Create your own “drop-in” program: This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Invite some of your teen’s friends over and set up some simple art materials for them to use. I like to use the acrylic paints from Michaels or the paints at Target which are relatively inexpensive. I leave these out in a bin in my dining room (which has the longest table in the house that is always covered with a disposable tablecloth) and sketchbooks are often on sale at craft stores. Leave these supplies around and see what happens. There are numerous tutorials on YouTube that can help get you started.

Take regular creativity trips: Julia Cameron, in her book, The Artist’s Way, introduces the idea of Artist Dates. A date consists of “a block of time especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.” If cost is an issue, many museums have free weekends for local residents or special nights during the year where admission is waived; outdoor concerts are a big thing during summer months and many of them are free and in local parks.

Kickstart your own creative life: Maybe there’s something creative you used to do or that you haven’t done in a while. So, break out that saxophone and brush up on your scales or dust off your art supplies and set up that easel in the corner and let the sparks fly. Or it could be the perfect time to take that watercolor or scrapbooking class that you’ve always wanted to take, but haven’t got up the nerve yet. It’s never too late to start and you would be a great role model to show your children that creativity is important no matter what stage of life you’re in. And who knows, maybe your teen will even ask to take a class with you!

Teen Dating Violence Is Rising in The U.S.

Do you know the average age of a U.S. teen’s first relationship? If you guessed under the age of 14, you’re right! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, girls start dating around 12 with boys following a year later at 13.

Dating can have different meanings at this age, but it’s generally around mid to late adolescence that young people begin to explore romantic partnerships and establish their sexual identity. Approximately 55% of teens have had sexual intercourse by age 18. For the majority, it was with a dating partner (74 percent for females and 51 percent for males).

For some parents, the idea of their teen having a boyfriend or girlfriend is scary enough — but now factor in dating violence, a type of intimate partner violence that can occur in person or online, and many parents may find the prospect even scarier. Approximately one in 12 high schoolers have experienced physical dating violence, with one in 12 having experienced sexual dating violence in the last year, according to a 2019 report by the CDC.

The four main types of dating violence are:

 Physical violence: When someone uses physical force to hurt or attempt to hurt a partner.

 Psychological abuse: Verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to emotionally harm and exert control over a partner.

 Stalking: A pattern of repeated and unwanted attention by a current or former partner that causes safety concerns for you or your loved ones.

Dr. Caroline Fenkel LCSW, chief clinical officer of CharlieHealth.com provides information on how to talk to your teen about setting healthy boundaries in relationships, how to look for signs that your child might be in an abusive or concerning situation, and how to help them safely end an unhealthy relationship. According to Fenkel it is critically important to:


Consent is the foundation of any healthy relationship, and it’s a parent’s job to set that foundation early in life. Remind your child of the importance of consent in any situation, but especially in intimate partnerships.


Teaching your teen about self-compassion and self-care can help reduce the symptoms of depression, build their self-esteem, and empower them to find partners who treat them with respect.


 Sexual violence: Forcing or attempting to force a partner to engage in a sex act when they don’t consent, are unable to consent, or refuse. This also includes non-physical sexual behaviors like sharing sexual messages or photos from a partner without their consent.

One of the simplest ways to teach your child a lesson is to show them how it’s done. Demonstrate the importance of a healthy relationship by practicing respect in your own partnerships. Healthy relationships are based on trust, honesty, and mutual respect. Showing a genuine interest in your child’s crush or partner might allow them to feel more comfortable sharing with you as the relationship progresses.

February 2023 WNY Family 37

Camp Can Help You Raise An Independent, Confident, Resilient Kid!

Kids learn first and foremost from their parents — they learn how to speak, dress themselves, play games, help with household chores and, as they grow, absorb traits modeled by their parents such as kindness, gratitude, and generosity.

But there are other traits best learned through experience, outside the home and beyond the watchful eyes of parents. Summer camp is the perfect place for a child to develop a sense of independence, confidence, and resilience.

Camp offers the opportunity for kids to see how much they are capable of without their parents hovering nearby. In the digital age, parents are hyperconnected to their kids, swooping in at a moment’s notice — via text, of course — to save the day. At camp, kids take more responsibility for themselves and their belongings, make their own decisions, and feel a sense of autonomy. For many kids, camp is the first opportunity they’ve had to experience these things.

As parents, we’re always telling our kids that they’re great. But when another respected adult, such as a camp counselor, recognizes a positive trait in your child and points it out, it can have a major impact.

At camp, kids are encouraged to set goals, challenge themselves, and overcome failure like struggling to climb a rock wall or completing a ropes course. Camp instills “grit” — the power of perseverance — in learning a new skill.

Camp is a place where everyone is trying new things, making it easier to deal with a challenging task, especially when non-family member mentors are there to encourage and coach, and fellow campers are there to cheer you on because they’ve been challenged in the same way.

There are so many different types of camps available today that every child should be able to find one that interests him or her. Perhaps more importantly in today’s digital world, camp gets kids outdoors and away from too much time spent in front of a screen. They have the opportunity to socialize, face to face, and make new friends in addition to acquiring new skills.

Investing in summer camp is the same as making an investment in your child’s future. The experience gained will last a lifetime.

38 WNY Family February 2023
Special Advertising Section

Award Winning Academy of Theatre Arts


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 at ATA: July 10th – 21st

Monday – Friday - 9:00am – 4:00pm

$450 *$425 If Paid In Full by March 1st

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 “ROCK OF AGES”!

Onstage at ATA: July 24th – August 4th

Monday – Friday - 9:00am – 4:00pm

$450 *$425 If Paid In Full by March 1st

This camp, for our middle school students, will consist of 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! Throughout the two weeks students will also create their own musical as a team from the set, costumes, and musical numbers. 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 “ROCK OF AGES YOUTH EDITION

Catch A Rising Star: July 24th – 28th - August

7th – 11th - August 14th – 18th - August 21st – 25th

Monday-Friday - 9:00am-3:00pm

$250 *$225 If Paid In Full by March 1st

This popular one-week camp will allow you to be part of a fun-filled production of “SCHOOL HOUSE ROCK LIVE”. 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. During this one week, we place an emphasis on public speaking and being comfortable stepping out of your comfort zone!

Broadway Babies: August 7th – 11th

Monday-Friday - 9:00am-12:00pm (snack provided)


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

Summer on the Silver Screen: July 24th – August 3rd

Monday-Thursday - 3:00pm-7:00pm


Our “Summer on the Silver Screen” camp takes students behind the scenes of their very own film! During this two-week intensive camp, 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: July 17th – 21st

Monday-Friday - 9:00am-1:00pm


Learn about the magic that happens onstage long before the curtain goes up as part of our Behind-The-Scenes Summer Workshop! 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.

February 2023 WNY Family 39 Be sure to tell them you found them in Enrolling your child with one of our Camp Advertisers? Enrolling your child with one of our Camp Advertisers? 4231 Transit Road, Williamsville, NY 14221
Summer Programs at the ATA Theatre To Register or for more information call 716-810-0551 or Visit www.accademyoftheatrearts.com/summer-at-ata/
Register by March 1st & Save!

Specia l N eeds

P otential Growth

Why Your Child with ADHD Has Such A Messy Room … and What Parents Can Do About It

Mess and ADHD go hand in hand, and with them comes chaos, lateness — Where is my coat?! — and frustration. Parents often find themselves at wit’s end, looking at their child and wondering: Why can’t you just clean your room??

The short answer?

Because for kids with ADHD, it’s not quite that simple. People with ADHD have a difficult time with many of the executive functioning skills most of us unconsciously use every day. These invisible skills are what enable us to plan, prioritize, manage our time, and get things done.

A person without ADHD might look at a messy room and think, “Okay. I’ve got an hour to get things done. First, make the bed, then pick up the laundry, then…” But for a child with ADHD, that breakdown of what to do, when to do it, and how long it will take, isn’t automatic. Understanding how executive functioning issues affect kids with ADHD can help parents know what a child’s trouble spots are and how to help. Common issues include:

Prioritizing tasks: Deciding what needs to get done and in what order. For example, a child with ADHD might not understand that putting dirty laundry in the hamper takes priority over organizing all of their books by color.

Managing time: Figuring out how long smaller tasks will take, and how much time they’ll need to complete the whole job. For example, a child who has two hours to get their room cleaned up before friends come for a sleepover spends so much time on one small job, like clearing off their desk, they don’t have time to do the rest.

Staying focused: Getting off track or distracted. For example, they get caught up in reading a book instead of putting it back on the shelf.

Task initiation: Difficulty getting started, especially when the task at hand seems overwhelming, complicated, or boring (like, say, cleaning up a messy room).

Transitions: Trouble shifting from one task to the next. For example, they might get stalled instead of moving from one cleaning job, like making the bed, to another, like putting their shoes away.

Self-regulation and impulse control: Sticking with a task, especially a boring one, is challenging for anyone. But for kids with ADHD, who often lack the skills to regulate their behavior and control impulses, it can feel impossible. This can look like frustration, giving up, or getting off track— I was cleaning up, I just decided to take a quick video game break! And often ends in a rushed, messy job, like just shoving all their clutter under the bed, or just failing to finish at all.

Th ri 


What Can Parents Do To Help?

Break it down: Instead of issuing a blanket order to “clean your room,” it helps to break the job into more manageable tasks. For example, let’s say your child needs to make the bed, put their laundry in the hamper, and bring dirty dishes to the kitchen sink. You could say, “Start by making your bed.” Then, when that’s done, you move on to the next task: “Ok, now pick up the laundry.” And so on. Doing one thing at a time can help kids feel less overwhelmed and make it easier for them to get a sense of how much time each task will take.

Avoid multi-step directions: Try not to give strings of directions or commands — “Pick up your socks, then do the bed, then hang up the clothes…” Keep instructions clear and short, “Start by making your bed.” Then when one task is done, you can move on to the next, “Great job. Okay, now put the shoes away.”

Use a chart: If you don’t (and let’s be real, who does) have time to stage-manage your child as they clean, try making a task chart together. Write each job on a white board or piece of paper, and leave space for your child to check it off when they’re done. If having some incentive helps your child stay motivated, you could offer a reward for finishing all the tasks on the list, like extra gaming time or a special treat for dessert.

Keep It Simple

Make your child’s room as easy to clean, and keep clean, as possible.

• Declutter. Clutter is the enemy of clean. Get rid of old papers. Put papers or pictures you’d like to save

40 WNY Family February 2023
Insp ire
Abilit y

into scrap books instead of piles. Donate old toys, books, clothes, and anything else your child no longer uses. Putting a to-be-donated box in the house can help encourage kids to participate, and is a good way to teach them about giving back.

• Make putting things away as easy as possible by creating extra space. Store seasonal items, like winter coats and boots away when they’re not being used. Try to make sure kids’ closets and dressers are uncrowded and easy to use.

• When it comes to storage, focus on finding solutions that fit your child’s needs. For example, younger kids will be more likely to put things away if storage is easy to reach and use, like low-down cubes with sliding baskets for putting toys away.

Get Creative

Kids with ADHD often benefit from nontraditional solutions. Remember, what does work is more important than what should work. For example, if your child has a hard time putting clothes in a dresser, get easy-to-use bins instead. One for clean clothes, one for will-wearagain items, and one for dirty laundry. Because… you guessed it. The easier a system is to use, the more likely your child will be to use it.

Build Routines

Kids with ADHD benefit from clear routines and repetition. Knowing what’s expected of them, and having a clear understanding of how to meet those expectations, helps kids build confidence and executive functioning skills. Establishing routines can help kids get into a groove and become more independent when it comes to tidying up. For example, making their bed every day, or putting their shoes in the same place every time they come home.

For bigger jobs, stick to a schedule. For example, you could agree that your child will clean their room every Tuesday and Friday after school, instead of randomly suggesting they clean up when things get too messy. When kids know what to expect, and when they’re expected to do it, they feel more prepared and less overwhelmed. If your child benefits from ADHD medication when it’s time to clean, try to choose times when their meds will be working, for example weekend mornings, instead of weekday nights.

Be Patient

Finally, and this is easier said than done, remember to be patient with your child as they learn these new skills. Building habits takes time, and children with ADHD are starting from a deficit. If your child was learning a second language, you wouldn’t expect them to be fluent overnight.

When your child does clean up, offer positive, specific feedback, for example, “Thanks for putting your clothes away — that was a big help.” And let your child know that it’s okay not to be perfect right away. You’ll get there together.

It’s About More Than A Messy Room

The benefits of helping your child learn the skills they need to get organized go far beyond a (finally) clean room. The messiness and disorganization that comes with ADHD can have a big impact on children’s self-esteem. Kids may feel embarrassed or ashamed by their struggles, and these negative feelings are often confirmed by outsiders — a friend who points out how messy they are, a fed-up

teacher asking them why they don’t have their homework assignment again

The cost of being messy can be even higher for girls, who are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, but more likely to be subjected to negative social feedback for being disorganized, or looking less-than put together.

Focusing on building your child’s executive functioning skills — and supporting their self-esteem — will help them feel more competent and confident both now and as they grow up. Not to mention that, hopefully, they’ll be doing that growing in a nice, clean room.

Rae Jacobson is a Senior Writer for the Child Mind Institute, which is dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders by giving them the help they need. They’ve become the leading independent nonprofit in children’s mental health by providing gold-standard evidence-based care, delivering educational resources to millions of families each year, training educators in underserved communities, and developing tomorrow’s breakthrough treatments. Learn more at https://childmind.org.


February 2023 WNY Family 41
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How often do you brush your teeth?

While you brush your teeth every day, it’s likely you don’t do the same for your dog or cat. You know you should be doing it, but if you’re like most pet parents, you probably don’t.

You probably also see your dentist once a year, and hopefully twice, for

teeth cleaning and check-ups. Your pet needs to have professional dental care and often a cleaning once a year, too.

Why is it so important?

About 80% of smaller dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3 that don’t have regular dental care suffer from significant oral disease that requires treatment. Dental cleanings are especially important for dog breeds with genetic predispositions for dental disease, including small breeds, Greyhounds, and dogs that eat wet food.

Did you know dogs have 42 teeth and cats have 30? In a smaller mouth, there’s competition for bone space, and that can lead to disease. Sometimes baby teeth do not fall out creating potential for additional dental problems such as gum irritation and tartar buildup. If left untreated, periodontal diseases can lead to bacteria that promote heart disease, kidney disease, and liver failure. These can be life threatening and often expensive. By including daily home dental care, with regular professional cleanings, you are saving money over the cost of treating unanticipated issues later in life.

How do I know if my pet has dental issues?

When should I see my vet?

Your pet often hides discomfort or pain. You may not recognize there is an

issue until it is advanced. Pets do provide some warning signs including:

 Yellow or brown tartar buildup

 Inflamed, red, swollen, bleeding, receding, or tender gums

 Change in eating or chewing habits

 Persistent bad breath

 Broken teeth

 Pawing at their mouth

 Excessive drooling

 Not grooming

 Dropping food/ difficulty chewing

So how can you help maintain a pet’s dental health?

1) Ask your vet for recommended food brands/types – kibble and foods that help eliminate tartar.

2) Offer beneficial dental treats (though be aware they are high in calories).

 Look for ones that promote cleaning teeth and help with oral hygiene and have earned the Veterinary Oral Health Counsel (VOHC) seal of approval.

 Check treat content - many have excessive amounts of sugars and carbohydrates that convert to organic acids causing gum disease.

 Avoid extra hard toys/treats, like animal bones or antlers, as these can lead to dental fractures.

3) Brush teeth daily.

 Can be a challenge but worth the effort. Ask your vet for recommendations – check good “how-to” tutorials on YouTube and veterinary info websites.

42 WNY Family February 2023

Use pet toothbrush or child soft brush.

 Only use pet toothpaste or water. Some canine-friendly flavors such as chicken and peanut butter are a hit with pets. DO NOT use human toothpastes! Many contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.

 Tooth wipes – when you and your pet need to supplement brushing

4) Schedule a professional cleaning.

 Unlike human dental cleanings pets require anesthesia. It is safer and less stressful for your pet in providing dental evaluations and cleanings. It also is one of the reasons that a vet dental cleaning may cost more than for your own teeth.

 The procedure is more than cleaning your pet’s teeth. Your veterinarian also does a full exam and takes X-rays as many dogs have disease underneath the gum line. A pet dental exam also requires more equipment, manpower, medication, and time for cleaning.

5) Wash your pet’s water and food dish with soap regularly. You wouldn’t use the same dishes without cleaning – do the same for your pet to avoid bacteria growth.

6) Provide safe chew materials such as rubber toys or flat rawhide strips. Ask your vet for suggestions.

7) Beware of water additives. These may not help, and if your pet doesn’t like the taste they could affect the amount of water they drink which affects their health. Overall, neglecting annual professional cleaning could put your dog or cat at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, pain, tooth decay, and tooth loss. Be sure to protect both your and your pet’s smile so you can look forward to those nuzzles and kisses for many years to come.

The Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society is comprised of more than 75 small animal hospitals and more than 225 practitioners in Erie and Niagara Counties. It exists to advance public awareness and understanding of appropriate and compassionate pet health care, veterinary services and the veterinary profession.



Refresh the guest bathroom. Give it a welcoming feel with a fresh set of hand towels, scented soap and soap dispenser.

Set the stage. Lay out your serving dishes, glasses, cups and utensils on a table so everything is in one place. That’ll save you from running around during the party, hunting for serving spoons.

Role play greetings and goodbyes. Coach your child on handing out the goody bags and saying thank you at the same time. If opening gifts is on the agenda, practice po lite “thank you’s” with your child ahead of time.


Watch for cute moments with your camera. “Pictures can help you remember the little moments you might easily forget,” says Karen I. Hirsch, a professional photographer. “Be on the lookout for the cute things that happen. You have to watch and be ready.” If you suspect you’ll be too busy to be in the moment, designate someone to be the party photographer, such as your spouse, or a friend or family member with a good eye for magical moments.

Make adult guests feel welcome. If adults will be staying for the party, consider how you can make them feel comfortable. These tricks can help:

 Create a welcome message. Set up a chalk board in the kitchen or the main area guests will congregate, with a friendly message, such as: “Welcome to Jackson’s 2nd birthday party! We’re so glad you’re here!”

 Help your guests make connections. As the host, you’ll have

a lot on your plate. Still, “You have an obligation to circulate,” Stiel says. Don’t leave guests to fend for themselves. Introduce guests to each other, such as “Hi, Brennan, meet Sam. Sam is Adam’s dad.

Adam and Jackson (the birthday boy) go to story time at the library every week.” Parenthood is the great equalizer and kids are a natural conversation starter.

Stay calm when things don’t go exactly as planned. “Make it easy on yourself so that stress doesn’t take over and put a damper on your day,” Samuels says. “Hosting is challenging, but it shouldn’t make you miserable.”

Af- ter The Party

Stay organized. While your child is opening gifts, make an on-thespot list of who gave what. You won’t remember later.

Help your child send thankyou notes. They’re the right thing to do, no matter what your child’s age. They’re a tangible act of good manners and teach children gratitude.

Reflect on the experience. Talk with your child about what the birthday party was like. Also, make a mental note about what you personally gained from the experience and what you would do differently next time.

Whatever happens, know that the party was perfect just the way it was. “If your child had fun, it was a huge success,” Samuels says.

Sandra Gordon is an award-winning freelance writer who delivers expert advice and the latest developments in health, nutrition, parenting, travel and consumer issues.

February 2023 WNY Family 43 


Soggy Sheets, Embarrassed


Tips for Overcoming Bed-wetting

Mom, dad? I’m wet.”

Parents quickly spring into action when they hear these words. Changing wet sheets and comforting an upset or embarrassed child isn’t fun for anyone in the middle of the night.

Many families struggle with bed-wetting. It’s a normal part of child development. It isn’t anyone’s fault, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be stressful, especially for older kids. Here’s what you need to know about this common condition.

Types of Bed-wetting

Bed-wetting, also known as nocturnal incontinence or nocturnal enuresis, is the involuntary release of urine while asleep. It happens after the age at which staying dry at night is reasonably expected. Bed-wetting up to age 7 is common and not a concern. Most kids outgrow bed-wetting on their own by the time they are 12.

There are two general types of bed-wetting:

 Primary bed-wetting: This is when a child has not been able to stay dry through the night. This usually happens in younger children. For example, the child may be able to remain dry during the day, but needs to wear a pull-up while asleep.

 Secondary bed-wetting: This is a reoccurrence of bed-wetting. The child has been able to stay dry at night for a long period, six months or longer, but then starts having trouble again at an older age. For example, a child that has been dry at night since age 4, but then starts wetting the bed again at age 6.

Causes of Bed-wetting

When a child starts to experience bed-wetting, especially secondary bed-wetting, we work with parents to figure out why it is happening. There is a strong family connection with bedwetting. About 40% to 50% of kids with nocturnal bed-wetting had a parent who struggled with bed-wetting as a child.

Other possible causes include:

• Diabetes

• Urinary tract infection

• Vaginitis

• Deep sleeper

44 WNY Family February

Tips for Helping a Child Stay Dry

Treatment usually isn’t necessary for primary bed-wetting or children under 7. A watch-and-see approach is usually the best option, as we can expect an 8% to 10% improvement every year the child grows. Most children outgrow bed-wetting on their own.

There are things that parents can do to help a child with secondary bed-wetting or who is older than 7, including:

 Restrict fluids in the evening. Encourage the child to drink plenty of fluids during the day to remain hydrated and reduce thirst in the evening. Avoid high-sugar or caffeinated drinks during the evening. Restrict drinks within two hours of bedtime.

 Build voiding into the bedtime routine. Start the bedtime routine by urinating and then encourage the child to go again before falling asleep.

 Set alarm for overnight voiding. Some children can stay dry by voiding in the middle of the night. For example, a parent can set the alarm to wake the child at midnight, the child uses the bathroom and then returns to bed.

 Use a moisture alarm. These overthe-counter pads, also called bedwetting alarms, are connected to a battery-operated alarm. This approach takes time, motivation and patience. It can take one to three months to see results, but this option is low-risk and may be a better longterm solution than medications.

 Try prescription medications. Occasionally, a child could be prescribed desmopressin as a short-term solution for bed-wetting. This medication retains water in the body, so the child’s bladder does not get too full overnight. There are a few possible side effects with medication, which should be discussed with your child’s health care team. The medication is more effective in older children, and the overall success rate is about 30%. Usually, other strategies, including time, are tried before medications.

What Not To Do

Bed-wetting can be frustrating and embarrassing for children. It can cause anxiety, especially for children planning sleepovers with friends. Children look to their parents for their response to the situation and for acceptance regardless of their struggles.

If your child is experiencing secondary bed-wetting, here are four things you should not do:

 Reprimand or scold. Children don’t wet the bed because of laziness or spite. Yelling or expressing your disappointment does not help children’s bed-wetting and can hurt their confidence.

 Withhold liquids all day. Depending on age, children need between 4 and 8 cups of water each day to remain hydrated. This improves mood, memory, energy and attention while decreasing the risk of constipation. Consider restricting liquids in the evenings, but encourage fluids during the day.

 Purposely embarrass your child. Discussing children’s bed-wetting with

peers or family can increase anxiety and embarrassment. It doesn’t motivate and can create lasting emotional scars.

 Compare children. All children are different and develop at their own rates. They can’t control how quickly the nerves in their bladders mature or their bladder sizes. Don’t compare children to siblings or peers, as this will only increase stress and lower self-esteem.

 Expect instant results. Sometimes, all a child needs is time and a supportive parent. There are no quick fixes for solving bed-wetting. Be patient, kind and compassionate.

Remember, bed-wetting isn’t anyone’s fault. Your child isn’t lazy and isn’t doing it on purpose. Most likely, it’s a familial gift passed down by one of the parents.

Talk with your child’s health care team about weight loss, burning or cloudy urine, daytime incontinence, or increased thirst, as they could be a sign of a different, treatable condition.

— Source: Mayo Clinic News Network 2023

February 2023 WNY Family 45 • Small bladder or bladder nerves slow to mature •
Chronic constipation
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The long and often dark winter months can be challenging to enjoy, even for the most “sunny” of us. It can create restlessness with feeling cooped up and looking for different activities. That’s when we can turn to the kitchen for some homemade fun. In my case, necessity was the mother of invention.

We wanted to use play dough, but my son was allergic to wheat, so we could not use regular Play-Doh, which contains wheat. I tried various gluten free recipes, including one that used rice flour instead of wheat flour, and it worked great. If you want to use something less expensive and readily available, cornstarch is a good option.

We also loved playing with finger paints. So much so that I was spending a small fortune on finger paints until we found out how to make them cheaply at home. It is super easy and so much more fun to make your own finger paint. For vibrant colors, use food color gels or pastes rather than watery food coloring.

Another great craft find? White butcher paper, sometimes called freezer paper. You can purchase big rolls of this heavy duty paper at craft stores or online. It is inexpensive, lasts a long time, and is a fantastic medium for creativity. It can stand up to the mushy, sensory delight of our recipe finger paints. Use it for painting, coloring, markers; it can also be used to make homemade wrapping paper. It’s ideal for making posters, signs, timelines for history class, or a family tree scroll. Happy crafting!

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.

Play Clay (Dough)


Yield: 2 pounds

Prep Time: 5 minutes • Cook Time: 3-5 minutes

1 cup cornstarch

1 pound (2 cups) baking soda

1 1/4 cups water

1 tablespoon oil

Food coloring (gel or paste make deeper colors)

In a large pot, combine all ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring continually, until it’s the consistency of slightly dry mashed potatoes. Put on a plate, cover with a damp cloth, and allow to cool. Knead, and it’s ready for fun. Store in a tightly covered container.

Argo Starch has tips and a video showing how to make play clay with cornstarch on their website at https://www.argostarch.com/Recipe/Play_Clay



Yield: 3 cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5-8 minutes

2 1/2 cups warm water

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup cornstarch

Food coloring (gel or paste make deeper colors)

In a medium pan, over medium heat, start to bring warm water to a boil. In a small bowl, stir together the cold water and cornstarch until smooth. Slowly stir into the hot water, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat. Let cool completely. Pour into small bowls, add food coloring to each. Can be stored in jars, should last 2-3 weeks.

46 WNY Family February 2023


hy settle for less when you can have the best,” sings Raphael, touting his Italian American dining. When I heard that Raphael’s had a kids’ menu (10 and under), we made it our destination for the monthly review. For $7.00, kids have a choice of Spaghetti and Meatball, Penne with Sauce or Butter, Mac N Cheese, or Pan Pizza. For $8.00, the choice is Chicken Fingers or Pizza Logs. Three boosters and two high chairs accommodate the kids. A drink of a large apple juice or milk is provided.

The Pizza Menu is highlighted by Raphael’s Specialty Pizza

WRaphael’s Italian American Dining

4572 Clark Street Hamburg, NY 14075






hair pasta with sauteed garlic and onions in olive oil. Specialty items abound here. Signature dish Sicilian Spaghetti combines sauteed onions and garlic in a chicken broth topped with tender chopped breast of chicken served over spaghetti with Parmesan cheese.

(large $19.00). The choice for that is Veggie Pizza or Traditional White Pizza. The Chopped Clam Pizza ($16.00) excited us, with olive oil, parm and mozzarella cheese, garlic, onions and clams. The White Sicilian with Shrimp ($25) sounded especially appealing.

Any Italian restaurant with tripe on the menu gets my vote. The Tripe in Red Sauce ($18.00) was available on our visit. The price depends on the availability. Another specialty dish that depends on availability is Pork Brasciole ($20.00). The tripe was accentuated with green peppers and onions and served with ziti. I realize tripe is not always a winner on food hit parades, but we enjoy it.

Also on our table that night was Raphael’s Seafood Dish ($16.50). We savored shrimp and scallops over angel

Raphael makes his own pasta which includes Gnocchi, Fettuccine, Spaghetti, Penne, Ziti, Ravioli and Linguini — all available with varied partners and settings. Pasta entrees come with soup or salad. His homemade sauces are available to go. We loved the Pasta Fagioli (cup $5.00, bowl $6.00), with its happy culinary companionship of beans and pasta. Probably Momma Anna’s Old Italian Chicken Soup ($4.50) would offer competition.

For dessert we selected Lemon Cake over Cannoli, for the perfect ending. We were not disappointed with a top-notch version of this lemony treat. From start to finish, these old country recipes carried us through a good dinner. As the man says, “Why settle for less when you can have the best!”

Editor’s Note: Raphael’s does not have a website but they do have a Facebook page.

Check out Barbara Blackburn’s blogs at frontierfare.wordpress.com and culinarrations.wordpress.com. Community News Kitchen Wizard.

“Caring for Our Aging Parents”

This informative, award-winning pull-out section provides important information to the “Sandwich Generation” – adults who are caring for their parents while still raising their own children. WNY Family’s readers will be helping their parents make the important decisions involved in how they’ll

live out their later years. This annual guide answers important questions, encourages advance planning, and provides resources for aging well and happily – in an upbeat format that stresses the positives of living a long life. Space Reservation Deadline: Friday, February 10th

February 2023 WNY Family 47
WNY Family Magazine’s 20th Annual
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