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This Months Feature Story

Early-elementary teachers use books, tablets, tests and more

By Tammy DiDomenico

When Christina Amodie begins teaching this fall, she will be spending an even larger chunk of the school day helping her students become better readers.

[More]

The National Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walk

The National Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walk takes place this year on Sunday, Sept. 24, at Long Branch Park, Longbranch Road, in Liverpool. Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. and the two-mile walk begins at 10:30. The walk is a chance to promote acceptance and advocacy for individuals with Down syndrome; a picnic lunch and festivities follow, with music by Skip Clark Entertainment. T-shirts will be available for sale. Early preregistration is recommended; call (315) 682-4289 or visit dsaofcny.org.

For more events in August, take a look at the calendar.

 

Fit After Baby

 

Five trends to shape your success

By Lisa Barnes Dolbear

Motherhood is a blissful time of getting to know your new baby, and a not-so-blissful time of coming to terms with your new body. Fortunately, in recent years it’s grown easier for women to find support for feeling good about their bodies in the moment, instead of at some distant point in the future. Here are five trends you can start leveraging today on your path to postpartum fitness.  Read more....

 



 

 

 

 








© Family Times: The Parenting Guide of Central New York

Leverage the new year with a refresh on fitness goals

By Lisa Barnes Dolbear

Back-to-school time is the perfect time to freshen up your fitness goals. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or a full-time employee in an office, the beginning of the school year offers a chance to regroup around a new schedule and updated goals.

[More]


Born at 28 weeks, our triplets needed intensive care

By Alexia Conrad

After enduring a high-risk pregnancy and the unexpected delivery of our triplets at 28 weeks, I and my husband, Rob, were faced with the next phase: the neonatal intensive care unit.

[More]


Early-elementary teachers use books, tablets, tests and more

By Tammy DiDomenico

When Christina Amodie begins teaching this fall, she will be spending an even larger chunk of the school day helping her students become better readers.

[More]


Optometry practice has a focus on developmental vision care

By  Tammy DiDomenico

For over 30 years, Dr. Leonard Savedoff has offered patients the latest advances in the field of optometry.

[More]


Adults can help troubled teens by starting a conversation

By Renée K. Gadoua

Cheryl Giarrusso is no fan of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, and she’s not happy a second season is planned for release in 2018.

[More]


Raising a child together means communicating, even if you’d rather not

By Neil Davis Jr.

A long time ago, after college graduation, two of my ex-roommates attempted joint ownership of a beloved armchair.

[More]


Two generations of teachers discuss the job and how it’s changed

By Tammy DiDomenico

When Amy Hysick was growing up in North Syracuse, she developed a passion for learning and adventure.

[More]


Back-to-school tips for parents of students with special needs

By Deborah Cavanagh

The start of a new school year is always filled with excitement and anticipation.

 

[More]


The Mommy + Me contest winner and her husband talk about becoming parents

By Tammy DiDomenico

Entering the Fitzgeralds’ cozy Syracuse home and seeing the energetic, smiling baby who lives there, it’s difficult to imagine the chaos that he and his parents—Samantha and Stephen—went through just five months earlier.

[More]


Our triplets story begins with bed rest

By Alexia Conrad

My high-risk triplet pregnancy, plagued by all-day morning sickness, hung in the balance at 24 weeks—and that’s when babies A, B and C decided it was a good day for a birthday.

[More]


When will a newborn let parents get some sleep?

By Aaron Gifford

Jessica Luisi makes it sound so easy: Her son, Lennon, now 14 months old, was a great sleeper from Day One, affording his parents plenty of rest as well.

 

[More]


Five trends to shape your success
By Lisa Barnes Dolbear

Motherhood is a blissful time of getting to know your new baby, and a not-so-blissful time of coming to terms with your new body. Fortunately, in recent years it’s grown easier for women to find support for feeling good about their bodies in the moment, instead of at some distant point in the future. Here are five trends you can start leveraging today on your path to postpartum fitness.

[More]


Expectant parents face another momentous decision | By Neil Davis Jr.

You thought of everything. You painted ducks in the nursery, mapped out a route to the hospital and downed prenatal vitamins like they were Tic Tacs. You researched pediatricians and became an expert in car seats. You even calculated what Harvard will cost in 2035.

[More]


Equipping that first room can be a challenge

By Tammy DiDomenico

Many college freshmen are living away from home for the first time, and they’re often sharing a room with another student. Deciding what to bring and how to make that new living space feel like home can be challenging.

[More]


Elders and their families have options for the next phase of life
By Laura Livingston Snyder

Many adults have become the ultimate caregivers. They are members of what is known as the “sandwich generation,” raising young children, financially backing grown children, and providing care for their own parents, who are living longer and need assistance.

[More]


Keep cool this July with some paper fans, an inexpensive craft that is not only fun but also functional.

By NATALIE DAVIS

[More]


Get a little of everything on a daytrip to Auburn

By Eileen Gilligan

 

How much do you know about Auburn? The city, which calls itself “History’s Hometown,” is about a 40-minute drive from Syracuse on Owasco Lake in Cayuga County, and one day is not enough to try all the possibilities Auburn holds, from museums to playing to restaurants

 

[More]


Finding ways to stay close to grandkids


By Diane Stirling

Are close relationships possible for grandparents and grandchildren who don’t live geographically close?

[More]


[More]


Kindie artist to play jingles at Leon Fest
By Christopher Malone

Children’s entertainer Riff Rockit (aka Evan Michael) and his band will be blasting into Central New York on June 22. He’ll take the stage at the free Leon Festival at Onondaga Lake Park at 7 p.m. (Leon—“Noel” spelled backward—celebrates the halfway-to-Christmas mark.)

[More]


Story by Charles McChesney
Photos by Michael Davis

Few things are cuter than children and pets. The pure joy each finds in the other makes getting a pet appealing to many. Yet getting a pet is about far more than cuteness. Adopting a pet brings rewards and risks for a family that bear serious consideration before the first visit to a shelter, breeder or pet store.

[More]


Helping raise four daughters

By Bill Brod as told to Diane Stirling

When Lisette and I first got married, we thought we wanted a bunch of kids. I didn’t know what a bunch was; I guess then it was more than one and less than 10.

[More]


Reflections on high school graduation
By Deborah Cavanagh

We just arrived home from my daughter’s first college interview. To say I wasn’t sure this moment would ever come would be an understatement. And yet Amanda has been sure of it forever: “When I graduate, I am going to college.”

[More]


One Muslim family talks about observing Ramadan
By Renée K. Gadoua

Anh Minh Verity was about 7 the first time she tried to fast for an entire day during Ramadan. “Everyone else in my house was doing it and I felt a little left out,” she said. “I felt a little guilty so I wanted to do it, too. I failed halfway through.”

[More]


Local group juggles success and growing pains

By Tammy DiDomenico

When the members of the Marcellus-based band Posted took the stage at the Jewish Community Center of Syracuse on Jan. 14 to compete in the annual Battle of the Bands, they had a clear goal in mind.

[More]


Painted rocks can be pretty and neat.

By Natalie Davis

I have always made it a point to spend time with my kids doing something creative. Not only does it give us time away from TVs and tablets, it gives us time together. Rock painting is one of my favorite inexpensive and easy crafts to do with kids, plus they make great gifts.

[More]


It’s the least you can do for the moms in your life

By Chris Xaver

If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! Well that’s the way it should be, at least on Mother’s Day. Twenty-four hours, or 1,440 minutes. That’s not too much to ask from a family, is it? For all that mothers do?

[More]


Women express their true Mother’s Day wishes

By Linda Lowen

Mother’s Day is a day of celebration, but there’s a ritual element as well. Most follow a similar pattern: breakfast in bed, cards store-bought or handmade, flowers, chocolates, and dinner out. If you’re a mom you probably smile and say “Thank you” even during moments that aren’t to your liking. It’s not about me, you tell yourself. Don’t complain. They mean well.

[More]


Tips and tricks for a successful celebration

By Laura Livingston Snyder

How do you celebrate a kid’s birthday? Whether you are an old-time minimalist like myself, or someone who goes all out, we all want a memorable get-together.

[More]


How can we keep teens in cars safe?

By Tammy DiDomenico

Over the past several months my husband and I, and many of our fellow parents raising teenagers, entered a new reality. This new phase involves a flammable, two-ton machine that our child—whom I swear was a kindergartener just five days ago—is in control of.

[More]


Programs can teach everything from how to juggle to how to grieve.

By Aaron Gifford

Hear the word “camp,” and you might think of kids roasting marshmallows over a campfire or spending a week practicing goal kicks at a local college. But beyond the familiar programs, Central New York boasts a variety of unusual camps.

[More]


What to do when your child wants to be a vegetarian

By Molly Morgan

Eating a diet centered on plants is linked to numerous health benefits, and working more meatless meals into a family’s eating can also benefit the planet. But is vegetarian eating right for children? Definitely! A vegetarian or vegan eating plan can be right for any age.

 

[More]


By Tammy DiDomenico

When it comes to addressing cases of child abuse, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. For Linda Cleary, executive director of the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse, there is only one constant: People are very uncomfortable talking about it.

[More]


Where dancing can lead your child

By Neil Davis Jr.

My daughter was barely 4 when she decided she wanted to be a dancer. When I say she decided, I mean that we fastened a pink tutu around her waist and she offered little objection. Dancing through the living room didn’t interfere with her agenda of watching Dora the Explorer or hosting doll tea parties. Plus, a pink tutu apparently goes with everything.

 

[More]


2017 Summer Camp Fair is April 1st!

[More]


Handling life with celiac disease has grown easier

By Aaron Gifford

So much has changed since Karen Dorazio’s daughter, Mary, was diagnosed with celiac disease 17 years ago. While grocers, restaurant workers and the general public appear to be aware of the increasing demand for gluten-free foods, there is still so much more they need to learn.

[More]


What autism spectrum disorder is like for families

By Charles McChesney

Isaiah Pierce, 14, wants to get a job and an apartment after he graduates from high school. His brother Ethan, 15, wants to get his driver’s license and is planning to go to college. In the meantime, their parents, Samantha and Jeremy Pierce, are deeply involved in making sure the boys get all the special services they need as students diagnosed with autism.

[More]


Planting seeds indoors extends your growing season

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Spring may be just around the corner but it will still be a while before we’ll be able to get outside and work the ground. However, getting ready for a summer garden is an activity that can be started now. Let the kids get dirty. Learning to care for what they’ve germinated indoors teaches responsibility, patience and accomplishment. It’s also a lesson in how seeds grow and change into plants that can supply their family with food.

[More]


The Syracuse schools’ director of special education discusses the district’s support services

By Tammy DiDomenico

Anyone who thinks of public education as impersonal and excessively bureaucratic probably hasn’t met Amy Evans, director of special education programs for the Syracuse City School District. With 22 years of education experience, and an amiable, steady demeanor, she approaches her role serving the city’s special education students as if she were born to do it.

[More]


By Deborah Cavanagh

Exactly one year ago I faced a dilemma. My daughter, Amanda, had participated in a community theater program for years but because she was turning 18, she was about to “graduate.” This graduation was going to leave a great, big hole in her life.

 

[More]


Maybe it’s time to put down the camera (or phone)

By Neil Davis Jr.

Picture this: Your child earns a new Scout badge, lands a triple Lutz or nails that tough violin solo—but you don’tphotograph it. No, really. You don’t record a video you can pretend you will someday watch. You don’t capture an image that surely would garner a bevy of online likes and comments. In fact, your phone stays in your pocket or purse the entire time. Instead, you sit there and soak in the moment, enjoying your child’s accomplishment in full-color, high-definition reality.

[More]


Turn up the heat and invite the whole gang

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Right about now you and your kids are probably a bit sick of winter. (I know I am.) What if your son wants to wear his favorite tank top? I’ve got the perfect occasion:

[More]


A professional baker mixes running a business with raising kids

By Tammy DiDomenico

When you walk into Mrs. Kelder’ s Cakes, a compact, tidy bakery located in the heart of the village of Manlius, the attention to detail is palpable. The cookies and cupcakes in the front case are exquisitely decorated and inviting. The bistro tables are hand-painted with designs by the owner’s neighbor. The building itself embodies the vintage charm that Manlius locals love.

[More]


Pediatric dentist Michael Quigley encourages early checkups—and, yes, flossing

By Tammy DiDomenico

 

Regular dental checkups are not commonly listed among most adults’ “favorite things,” but oral health is profoundly important. And it is best learned early. Michael Quigley, a dentist with Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics For All Ages in Fayetteville, is one of many local dentists who recommend establishing strong dental care routines for young children as early as possible.

[More]


Can we unpack our body-image baggage?

By Maggie Lamond Simone

We have three generations of some pretty amazing women in my family.

 

[More]


In search of an impossibly perfect gown

By Deborah Cavanagh

Every year for Halloween my teen daughter, Amanda, wants to dress as whatever character is her latest musical or movie obsession. She has been Tracy Turnblad from Hairspray, Giselle from Enchanted, Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Each costume is never the one you can buy off the rack. She always wants to be in a specific dress from a certain scene—that is impossible to find.

 

[More]


Skiing, snowshoeing, tubing and more in CNY

By Aaron Gifford

Cameron Gale learned how to ski in Switzerland, raced competitively at a New England prep school and at one point was internationally ranked. He also spent 10 years in Colorado. And yet Gale believes that Central New York’s own Toggenburg Mountain Winter Sports Center “hits all the right notes.”

 

[More]


Michael Tong devotes himself to treating patients from many countries

By Tammy DiDomenico

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center has been committed to serving the immigrant populations of Central New York since its inception in 1869. As the hospital has grown, that commitment has endured. Through St. Joseph’s Physicians Family Medicine, the hospital is able to offer primary care in neighborhood settings.

[More]


Syracuse Stage offers a sensory-friendly performance of Mary Poppins

By Reid Sullivan


Syracuse’s professional regional theater will break new ground this month with a performance of Mary Poppins geared toward the sensitivities of people with sensory, social and learning disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder.

[More]


How about a resolution to eat vegetables and other nutritious foods

By Molly Morgan

As you welcome the New Year, consider ditching the diet and instead focusing on changes you    
can stick with and sustain—with the key word being sustain! It is possible to meet your healthy eating goals without deprivation.

[More]


Your Guide to Holiday Shopping

By Julie Kertes

'Tis the season for shopping, but don’t let the pressure of finding that perfect gift take the “happy” out of your holidays.

 

[More]


A mindful family meal has many benefits

By Nicole Christina

Being a parent and trying to squeeze in time to teach your kids how to eat well is a real challenge. With both parents often working outside of the home, not by choice but because they have to, we all feel stretched too thin.

[More]


Gifts that unleash a kid’s unruly imagination

By Merrilee Witherell

I’m a librarian, so naturally I encourage people to use their public and school libraries. Some books, however, are meant to be purchased rather than borrowed, and what better time than the holiday gift-giving season to take a closer look at those.

 

[More]


How watching a show—or two—can be quality time with kids

By Linda Lowen

Em and I have been spending a lot more time together lately. Gone are the petty arguments, sneering tone, defensiveness and other emotional land mines I used to step on whenever I tried talking to my college-age daughter.

[More]


Nine ways to ease your holiday season

By Laura Livingston Snyder

When I think about the perfect holiday, it’s casual and involves fuzzy socks and pajamas, not pantyhose and Spanx. If you’re like me, then an important part of enjoying your season is figuring out how to maximize your fun and minimize your hassle. So consider these ideas for keeping your spirits high and your sanity intact throughout the month of December.

[More]


Why you should cook with carrotts sweeter cousin

Story and recipes by Chris Xaver

Photos by Michael Davis

Parsnips are so sweet, in Roman times they were used as currency. And in Europe they were used as a sweetener before sugar cane came along and took their crown.

[More]


A craft can keep kids busy while spurring reflection

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Photos by Laura Livingston Snyder

November sees restless children sandwiched between the sugar rush of Halloween and the anticipation of Christmas. Keep them busy with a simple but engaging craft that will have them focused on contributing to the big dinner and what it means to be thankful.

 

[More]


Parents can study up for conferences with teachers

By Merrilee Witherell

It’s almost time for parent-teacher conferences. Next to the tango, there is no dance more fraught with peril. How can parents make the best use of their brief time with their child’s teacher? Several scholars, educators and parents have put their minds to topics that come up during these conversations and have written books that can inform parents who have questions.

[More]


Why you should cook with carrotts sweeter cousin

Story and recipes by Chris Xaver

Photos by Michael Davis

Parsnips are so sweet, in Roman times they were used as currency. And in Europe they were used as a sweetener before sugar cane came along and took their crown.

[More]


Kids can enjoy some scares with fall reading

By Merilee Witherell

To me, Halloween is about not candy but suspense: the anticipation of a magical night, a transformative costume, and the thrill of being scared. This suspense can be heightened by reading books whose mood matches the season.

[More]


Head to Old Forge for a glimpse of the Adirondacks

By Linda Lowen

Just northeast of Central New York lies a natural wonderland of 6 million acres, 3,000 lakes, 30,000 miles of streams and rivers, and more than 2,000 miles of hiking trails. It’s the Adirondack Park, and our nearest gateway is the resort village of Old Forge, about a two-hour drive from Syracuse.

[More]


A perplexed pop copes with his child’s aversion to hot dogs

By Neil Davis Jr.

My daughter refuses to eat hot dogs. (Or vegetables. But first, the hot dogs.) I was aware she had some reservations about them, but a recent trip to Heid’s revealed her true colors.

[More]


Celebrating the Jewish High Holidays

By Renée K. Gadoua

Michael Davis photos

Rabbi Daniel Fellman once asked his son this question on Yom Kippur, the  
holiest day of the Jewish calendar: “Were you the best boy you could be this year?” His son responded: “Sometimes.”

 

[More]


Teach kids to be picky about their sweet treats

By Molly Morgan

Starting now, it’s candy season. But while a lot of candy is consumed on and around the time of Halloween, actually, Halloween day only accounts for about 4 percent of candy consumption in the United States.

[More]


Teachers focus on problem solving and hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering and math work

By Tammy DiDomenico

On a warm morning in mid-June, as the final hours of the school year were winding down at Cazenovia High School, engineering and technology instructor Chris Hurd was putting the finishing touches on his 27th year with the district. But it wasn’t the upcoming summer break that had him energized—it was the classes that he still had to teach that day.

[More]


City schools are trying a new way to achieve peace in the classroom

By Michael Gilbert

How should schools respond to behavioral infractions? What needs to happen when there is defiance, aggression or other destructive behavior? How is justice viewed and applied?

 

[More]


Principal at Dr. Weeks Elementary is ‘all in’

By Tammy DiDomenico

Michael Davis Photos

When Carin Reeve-Larham accepted the job as principal at Dr. Weeks Elementary School in Syracuse, it wasn’t just a challenging career move. It was personal.

[More]


Best bets for serving kids a yummy, nutritious meal

By Molly Morgan

When it comes to school lunch, deciding what to pack—or not to pack—or allow your child to buy—or not to buy—can quickly become a weekday dilemma. As a mom of two school-age boys and a registered dietitian, I can relate on many different levels.

[More]


Attention to a few details can ease the transition

By Laura Livingston Snyder

When children enter kindergarten, moms and dads must relinquish control to strangers, sometimes for the first time. And the people and atmosphere of school helps create brand-new versions of our children. For at least 13 more years they’ll be called students, and the expectations are different from when we parents were in their shoes. Here are some ideas for helping kids have a good kindergarten experience.

[More]


Parents should start looking before the baby is born

By Aaron Gifford

Photos by Michael Davis

The first thing parents should understand when searching for infant child care is the limited number of providers in Central New York compared to the huge demand. Parents are advised to get on a waiting list even before the baby is born.

 

[More]


Why not take our toddler and pets cross-country in an RV?

By Deborah Cavanagh

Who takes an almost-2-year-old toddler, an 85-pound golden retriever, and two indoor cats on a three-week vacation odyssey? Yep, we do.

 

[More]


Books can offer information, and even some humor

By Merrilee Witherell

After the initial shock, joy and other emotions expectant parents experience, they find that when it

comes to pregnancy and childbirth, they know pretty much nothing.

 

[More]


A doctor and a nutritionist weigh in


By Tammy DiDomenico

Pregnant women often find themselves second-guessing their food choices. It is crucial for women to get prenatal care early in their pregnancies and establish trusting relationships with doctors, midwives and nurses. Physicians have access to the most up-to-date clinical information and often work closely with nutritionists—taking patients’ individual health histories into account.

 

[More]


A spouse or partner can do a lot to help an expectant mother

By Danielle Montagne

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had no idea what I would want or need from my support team during labor. I did my research on how to create a positive birth environment, found a supportive medical provider and hired an experienced birth doula.

[More]


Skaneateles beckons with its family-friendly attractions

By Linda Lowen

Michael Davis photos

Skaneateles is so picture perfect, visitors stop mid-stride to admire this quaint storefront and that view of the lake.

[More]


A Crunchy Ingredient Makes this Parfait Perfect

By Chris Xaver

Round and ripe, blueberries are a ubiquitous treat in July.

[More]


Ten Tips for a Less-Pricey Vacation

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Summer is synonymous with unwinding at the beach, relaxing by the campfire with family, and traveling. Make your next vacation one that’s as easy on the wallet as it is on the nerves with these 10 tips.

[More]


A daughter maps her own course

By Linda Lowen

Jaye only told me about the bears, the mountain lions, and the tragic deaths (“just seven in 30 years”) once she arrived home from the wilderness. And it was true wilderness—no electricity or running water, no toilets or cell phone service. During her six months away, she’d kept in touch through hand-written letters describing her work building trails in the California back country. Funny how she never mentioned wild animals, physical danger, or mountains so steep if you took two steps off the trail on a foggy day you’d fall hundreds of feet to your death.

[More]


Summer reading programs abound in CNY

By Merrilee Witherell

Local libraries pull out all the stops with summer programs and fun activities for readers. Librarians are trained to start conversations that will help even reluctant readers track down the books that will capture their attention. So parents should bring their kids as early as possible to check out what’s on offer.

[More]


Upstate’s recreation, water and amusement parks

[More]


The Galvezes honor family, faith and love

By  Renée K. Gadoua    Photography by Michael Davis

On a warmish late-April evening, Jason Galvez was home with his 5-year-old son, Luke, when a car pulled into his Manlius driveway.

[More]


My relationship with reading has evolved over the years

By Tammy DiDomenico

For much of my childhood and early adulthood, there was little I enjoyed more than reading. I learned to read very early, inspired by my parents’ nightly ritual of reading the newspaper.

[More]


County health chief Quoc Nguyen explains the local tick and mosquito situation

By Tammy DiDomenico

Quoc Nguyen, M.D., has professional and personal motivations for his diligence in tracking local trends in the spread of mosquito and tick-borne illnesses.

[More]


Passing on what I learned from my dad

By Maggie Lamond Simone

When I tell stories about my father from the old days, one of the most popular is about the time I broke a milk bottle in the sink and decided to stick my hand in to pull out the glass.

[More]


 

The 2016 Family Times Summer Fun and Camp was held in the State Fairgrounds Horticulture Building on Saturday, April 9. It gave more than two dozen performers and exhibitors a chance to inform parents, grandparents and kids about summer programs, camps and destinations. Hundreds of attendees left with a feel for opportunities for summer fun.

Michael Davis photos

[More]


When the older generation holds everyone together

Interviews by Aaron Gifford

Photos by Michael Davis

Grandparents today are coaching, teaching, helping with homework, providing daily child care, or even becoming the primary caregiver while continuing to work full time.  And they are also increasing in number. Family Times interviewed four local grandparents from different walks of life to illustrate various aspects 
of grandparenthood.

[More]


Acceptance through the generations

By Deborah Cavanagh

Excitement filled the day of my birth. I was the first grandchild on my father’s side and the first granddaughter on my mother’s.

[More]


Electronic pumps offer numerous advantages

by Laura Livingston Snyder

My daughter Allison has had type 1 diabetes since she was diagnosed at age 11.

[More]


Senior citizens adopt high-tech methods of staying in touch

By Maria T. Welych

Clara Gonzalez has lived most of her 88 years more than 2,600 miles away from her hometown in Bogota, Colombia. She still misses the sister she left behind. But with technology, it’s a lot easier to stay in touch.

[More]


Revive your stressed-out skin with an indulgent bath

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Your commitments are piling up. You have no time to relax.

[More]


2016 Summer Fun & Camp Fair Preview

Photos By Michael Davis

What is your family looking forward to this summer?

 

[More]


Books inspire excursions in nature

By Merrilee Witherell

Sharing nature with your child can be a way to bond, spend meaningful time together and pass your respect and love for the natural world on to the next generation.

 

[More]


Kids who garden reap all kinds of bounty beyond fruits and veggies

By Aaron Gifford

There’s so much more to gardening than seeds, soil and water, and for children, the rewards go beyond flowers, fruits and vegetables.

 

[More]


Encountering a bit of unexpected grace among teens

By Deborah Cavanagh

I have come to realize that there are individuals in this world who have a natural grace around people with disabilities.

 

[More]


Parents can successfully explain therapy to a child

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Explaining to your child why you want her to talk with a therapist can be worrisome for parents

 

[More]


Families can manage serious food aversions

By Aaron Gifford

Wendy McCue jokingly calls mealtime “chicken nuggets and fries hell.”

[More]


Tiny practices can help caregivers care for themselves

By Lee Mosseau

Taking time for myself saved my life. This may sound like a bold and crazy statement, but it is true.

[More]


The complications of medicating young people

By Tammy DiDomenico

While educators have been focused on the ever-changing academic demands of our high-tech society, psychiatrists and school health personnel have been busy with another challenge facing students: the increasing use of psychiatric medications.

[More]


The growth of independent-living options for adults with special needs

By Deborah Cavanagh

It’s astonishing how in one moment a lifetime of questions can flash through your mind.

[More]


Parents and young adults sometimes spar over body art

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Decades ago, fashions like dyed hair, Mohawks and body glitter were temporary ways for teens to express their individuality.

[More]


Showing that a girl can aspire to be president

By Linda Lowen

What kind of mother is Hillary Clinton? I don’t care, and neither should you. No man has ever made his mark as a great dad first . . . and, oh yeah, a world leader second.

[More]


An insidious illness and how to prevent it

By Tammy DiDomenico

Pertussis—or whooping cough—is one of those illnesses many Americans no longer take seriously. Once a vaccine became widely available in the 1940s, the highly contagious infection was rarely diagnosed in the United States; fewer than 1,000 cases were reported in 1976.

[More]


A couple’s mission is restoring the strength of others

By Deborah Cavanagh

I picked up the phone and heard, “Debbie, it’s your Uncle Lou. I wanted you to know I met the people who run David’s Refuge. You know them too, right? You and Brian should take a weekend and get away. This is for families like you!

[More]


Books can help kids grieve and heal

By Merrilee Witherell

As adults, we know that death and dying are an unavoidable part of life. Children, however, may struggle with both the concept of death and the grieving process.

[More]


Ex-spouses can ease the way for kids

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Divorce is stressful for both parents and children.

[More]


Eventually, our kids become responsible for their own safety

By Maggie Lamond Simone

It seems like we spend our kids’ childhoods preparing them for the dangers of the world.

[More]


Sometimes it’s hard growing older—even for kids

By Tammy Didomenico

From the time children are born until they are buying their own clothes, parents spend a lot of time thinking about their growth.

[More]


Give the gift of winter comfort

By Chris Xaver

Nothing is more wonderful in the midst of winter than a pot of soup simmering on the stove.

[More]


Gift shops at three Central New York cultural institutions offer items to delight those on your list

Photos by Michael Davis

[More]


What does “winter fun” mean to Central New York kids?

[More]


Lovely illustrations grace books about Christmas and more

By Merrilee Witherell

Shake up your holiday traditions this year with children’s books that greet the holidays in a style all their own.

[More]


Kids leave, they come home, they leave again

By Linda Lowen

Just before my older daughter, Jaye, left for college, we established an accidental, unspoken ritual: falling asleep together while watching late-night TV, Jaye on the loveseat, me on the couch.

[More]


A Collection of NAPPA winners

By Julie Kertes Deciding

Whether a toy, book, game or album will make a good holiday gift can be a daunting task involving a taxing list of questions. Is it made well? It is age appropriate? Will it last? Will the child like it? Most importantly, is it fun?

[More]


A family’s complex concoction

By Linda Lowen

My childhood Thanksgiving memories are practically nonexistent. That’s because my parents and I dined with strangers in places I never saw again. There were only three of us, so we took the easy way out. The Sunday before, my father bought the newspaper and looked at restaurant ads. He made Thanksgiving dinner reservations based on impulse and price.

[More]


WBXL gives student deejays a voice in the community

By Aaron Gifford

Even though the students who run WBXL-FM 90.5 at Charles W. Baker High School in Baldwinsville snicker when they see the hairstyles, clothing and record albums of their predecessors, they still hold those teenagers from the eight-track era of radio in the highest regard.

[More]


Plant bulbs now, get beautiful blooms in spring

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Autumn might mean cider, changing foliage and heavy sweaters, but it’s also the time of year to think about spring flowers. Yes, spring flowers! That’s because this is the season for buying and planting bulbs.

[More]


Cazenovia offers indoor, outdoor and historic fun

By Eileen Gilligan  |  Photos by Michael Davis

I can’t believe how many times I’ve driven through Cazenovia, usually on my way to Critz Farms at Halloween time, and not stopped to check out the other gems of this fair town.

 

[More]


Lure reluctant readers with enticing choices

By Marrilee Witherell

School-year busyness sometimes gets in the way of students’ interest in leisure reading (or daily reading required by teachers, which is not exactly the same thing).

[More]


A mom gets out what she puts into Halloween costumes

By Deborah Cavanagh

Like it was yesterday, I recall pulling out the hand-me-down bunny costume from Amanda’s older cousin Donna. Pink and white, with little fluffy tail and foam head piece, I had saved it in the guest room closet just in case I had a baby girl who could wear it someday.

[More]


Coming up with lunch ideas for kids every day can be a difficult task. Before tackling the job, grab a cup of coffee and peruse these helpful hints. They might just ease the process!

[More]


The game’s quiet power has drawn a following among local students

Story by Tammy DiDomenico

While many parents find themselves pleading with their children to step away from video games and other electronic distractions, Syracuse resident Anton Ninno and other local teachers, parents and business owners are fostering a love for chess—the low-tech board game of strategy that has origins dating back to the sixth century.

[More]


Teens must struggle to reach their own epiphanies

By Maggie Lamond Simone

“Remember when my school supplies consisted of some folders, pencils and crayons?” my daughter said, laughing, as we laid out our cart full of this year’s supplies. “I sure miss those days!”

[More]


Students with learning disabilities should practice independence

By Cary and Tonja Rector

High school seniors have a lot to think about, including college visits, applications, financial aid forms and, of course, graduation.

[More]


All students can benefit by learning computer science

By Pamela Puri

Times are definitely different from when I was a kid.

[More]


Protein-filled foods help keep kids’ moods mellow

By Chris Xaver

The first time I heard someone say they were “hangry” I was listening to NBC’s The Today Show, and Tamron Hall said she regularly gets hangry. I sat there thinking: You’re not alone!

[More]


Parents share wish lists for their kids’ teachers

By Deborah Cavanagh

I walked home after waving goodbye to my daughter, Amanda, on her first day of kindergarten.

[More]


Make toilet training easier by learning your child’s signals

By Emily Pollokoff

The pee-pee dance. There, I said it.

[More]


Food allergies can arise unexpectedly as children start eating new things

By Aaron Gifford

Kye’s first taste of peanut butter was terrifying.

[More]


Reading to an older child helps prepare for a new sibling

By Merrilee Witherell

Anticipating a new baby is one of the most enjoyable and exciting times in family life.

[More]


Tracking an infant’s size offers important information

By Vanessa Langdon

With a newborn baby come visits to the pediatrician’s office and the use of growth charts to track length and weight.

[More]


Help kids appreciate unadorned foods

By Chris Xaver

How do those little loves of ours go from being such good eaters to picky picky picky?

[More]


Sign language helped our baby communicate

By Deborah Cavanagh

My kindergarten report card stated, “I am not sure little Debbie is aware she is talking half the time she is talking.”

[More]


Solid strategies can help you turn your old stuff into money

By Laura Livingston Snyder

A baby’s journey through childhood leaves a lasting impression. He also leaves behind mounds of outgrown clothes and accessories.

[More]


The prospect of fireflies adds magic to summer nights

By Linda Lowen

Jaye and Em know where the fireflies live.

[More]


My daughter loved the water but could only go so far

By Deborah Cavanagh

My daughter was always drawn to the water, but for years and years she wasn’t allowed to get her head wet.

[More]


Use a summer favorite in this ice cream

By Chris Xaver

Summertime, summertime! Oh, what a glorious summer we’re going to celebrate after this past winter.

[More]


Oswego’s attractions include historic boats, a fort and a bookstore

By Eileen Gilligan

If you’re looking for a new spot to take the kids on a summer day trip, consider Oswego, our own port city, just an hour from Syracuse on Lake Ontario.

[More]


Whether your family enjoys music, festivals or outdoor activities, CNY is filled with summer fun

[More]


How to plan for the most wonderful family trip

By Eileen Gilligan

While Disney World has been laid out to give families a fun and happy vacation—filled with rides, shows, characters and more—devoting a bit of time to thoughtful planning can help make your adventure go more smoothly and cost less money.

[More]


Late-morning wake-ups make sense for adolescents

By Tammy DiDomenico

It was 11:40 a.m. on a Monday. A school break was under way, and 12 hours earlier, the house was bustling with activity—mostly from my 15-year-old son and his friends.

[More]


Strategies for handling a kid who can’t handle frustration

By Cary and Tonja Rector

An inflexible, easily frustrated and explosive child makes life very difficult for both the child and those around him.

[More]


Even pancakes can be a healthy breakfast

By Chris Xaver

Despite what we’ve been led to believe for way too long, eggs, in my opinion, are Mother Nature’s most perfect food.

[More]


A dance dad’s life in the auditorium

By Neil Davis Jr.

It’s a Saturday but I woke at 7 a.m. I arrive downtown with seconds to spare, holding a wig and a change of clothes.

[More]


Are your kids ready for overnight camp? More importantly, are you? Here are some great questions to ask Camp Directors to put your fears to rest.

[More]


Homemade flowers make delightful gifts

By Laura Livingston Snyder

After this brutal winter, I wasn’t sure if spring would ever arrive. But nothing stays the same for long.

[More]


Hundreds of people flocked to Family Times’ Summer Fun and Camp Fair at the State Fairgrounds on April 11, drawn by the chance to plan their families’ vacations in one day.

[More]


Don’t let dressing-room mirrors trigger a sinking feeling

By Linda Lowen

When you go shopping for a bathing suit, it’s like stepping in quicksand.

[More]


Quinoa can substitute for rice in this healthier stir-fry

By Chris Xaver

Busy, busy, busy. It’s the mantra of families with children, trying to get from place to place, on time and with everything and everyone.

[More]


A local music teacher makes a difference in kids’ lives

By Deborah Cavanagh

Great teachers come in many varieties. But a quality they all share is the ability to recognize and bring out the best in their students, even students whose strengths are hidden.

[More]


Looking for ideas to plan your family’s summer? Need details about day camps and other programs? That’s what Family Times’ Summer Fun and Camp Fair is for.

[More]


Adventures in the great outdoors

By Aaron Gifford

Sometimes kids need a shove to get them outdoors.

[More]


Remove mental illness’ stigma, and let the conversation begin

By Maggie Lamond Simone

When I first started having migraines, people were concerned. I was concerned.

[More]


Standardized exams don’t help students

By Michael Gilbert

In April, public school students in grades 3 through 8 will take Common Core ELA (English Language Arts) and mathematics tests required by the New York State Testing Program.

[More]


You can discuss the environment with your kids

By Diane Williamson

Earth Day, April 22, reminds us every year about the importance of the environment.

[More]


Estate planning can protect children with special needs

By Timothy Crisafulli

Every parent should have an estate plan. Without one, courts determine who will care for surviving children. Assets, no matter how significant, may pass to unintended people. Beneficiaries who inherit money at

[More]


Students with special needs also must map out their futures

By Deborah Cavanagh

Students with special needs may not have conventional college aspirations, but they, too, get a taste of the anticipation, elation and devastation at this time of year as their typical classmates consider the next phase of their lives.

 

[More]


Finding out about a child’s disability can be a blow

By Cary and Tonja Rector

When parents learn their child has a disability, life changes. Parents report a variety of emotions, including profound sadness, anxiety and uncertainty. Many say they were devastated by the news and remember little about the days following the diagnosis.

[More]


Estate planning can protect children with special needs

By Timothy Crisafulli

Every parent should have an estate plan. Without one, courts determine who will care for surviving children. Assets, no matter how significant, may pass to unintended people. Beneficiaries who inherit money at too young an age risk losing it because they are not yet emotionally or financially savvy enough to manage it.

[More]


Another special needs preschool is slated to close

Renée K. Gadoua

By midyear, most of Onondaga County’s 650 spots at on-site educational programs for preschoolers with special needs are full, and some programs have waiting lists. When Children’s Village, an Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES program at East Syracuse-Minoa’s Park Hill School, closes June 30, the waiting lists may get a little longer.

[More]


On the front lines of health care

By Linda Lowen

Karate builds character and increases self-esteem. That’s what they told me when I enrolled my timid 7-year-old at White Dragon Martial Arts. I dutifully took Jaye three times a week, believing it would help her become more assertive.

 

[More]


Cure your family’s cabin fever with 22 energy-burning indoor activities

By Laura Livingston Snyder

It’s February in Syracuse. What to do? Turn your house into a gym, with circuit training, calisthenics and games. Children of all ages can stay fit in their homes—even those with limited space—when the weather is bad.

[More]


Help your kids get into books

By Merrilee Witherell

While most parents agree that reading is important, many of us struggle with how to foster a love of reading at a time when electronic devices vie for the attention of our kids.

[More]


Certain stages mark a family’s growing closeness

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Stepfamilies are a common family structure yet information about what is typical and expected at different stages can be difficult to find. We often work with stepfamilies and find this lack of information contributes to feelings of confusion and discouragement for all family members.

[More]


Here’s a Toll House cookie variation that’ll win you over

By Chris Xaver

My love affair with cookies began decades ago. Didn’t yours? There’s nothing like a warm cookie from the oven to say “I love you.” And making them with kids is more than making a treat: It’s about making memories.

[More]


Encouraging fashion flair while discouraging barely there looks

By Deborah Cavanagh

My mom had it easy. I attended high school during the early 1980s. Remember fashion back then? The preppy look. Baggy jeans. Benetton sweaters. Prairie shirts. And Gunne Sax prom dresses that went up to your neck and down to the floor with lace.

[More]


Teach your kids how to live their values

By Michael Gilbert

Every day our children are confronted with moral dilemmas that require their hearts and minds work together to solve a problem. Bullying is one such challenge.

[More]


Get more fruits and vegetables into your diet and reap healthy rewards

By Laura Livingston Snyder

It’s a new year with a clean slate and the potential for 365 days of greatness. What better way to start fresh than with a whole food challenge.

[More]


Efforts to help my teen make her days predictable and purposeful

By Deborah Cavanagh

My 17-year-old daughter, Amanda, keeps me on track when it comes to our daily schedule. She knows when we should leave for school. She points out that it is noon if she is home for lunch.

[More]


A child’s rituals have an explanation

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Have you ever encountered a child with obsessive compulsive disorder?

[More]


Say ‘Si!’ to a Tex Mex casserole

By Chris Xaver

The best part of slow cooking is the smell. You place all the ingredients in the crock, set the temperature and start basking in the wonderful aromas

[More]


When adolescence and menopause collide

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Watching my teenage daughter and her friends as they navigate the world of changing bodies, fluctuating hormones, short tempers and self-esteem crises, I am suddenly met with an emotional reaction heretofore relegated to her age group:

[More]


Prepare your child for a calm doctor’s visit

By Marsha Kernan

A parent’s biggest job is to take care of his or her children. There are a lot of responsibilities: providing a warm home, healthy food and gentle parenting

[More]


Heading offline and off the beaten track can lead to unusual presents

How can you do a little good with some of your holiday shopping? Make a short trek (or a long one) to a gift shop run by a Central New York cultural, historical or conservation organization.

Photographs by Michael Davis

[More]


Some 350 students at J.T. Roberts Pre-K-8 School at 715 Glenwood Ave. in Syracuse submitted drawings to their art teachers, who selected the best for Family Times’ seventh annual drawing contest

[More]


When do you say enough is enough?
By Diane Williamson

Buying Christmas presents for my two kids stresses me out. Normally, I hate purchasing new things because of the environmental effects and the questionable labor conditions of factory-made items.

[More]


Finally finding the real meaning of Christmas

By Maggie Lamond Simone

It starts the day after Halloween now: 24/7 Christmas carols, holiday displays and decorations in the stores, toy and gift ads at every turn, catalogs in the mailbox, cookie recipes on Pinterest, and the holiday specials on television.

[More]


Cookies evoke candy cane colors

By Chris Xaver

There’s nothing more wonderful than a holiday cookie!

[More]


Stepfamilies can find new ways to celebrate

By Cary and Tonja Rector

When thinking about the holidays, most people focus on family. Family outings, gatherings and traditions are a large part of the holiday season for many people

[More]


A pediatric trauma nurse shows how families can prevent accidents.

By Tammy DiDomenico

Cathleen Caltabiano sees the world differently from most parents.

“You know that movie where Haley Joel Osment says, ‘I see dead people’?” she says during a break from her duties as a nurse practitioner at Upstate Medical University’s Pediatric Surgery Clinic. “Well, I see trauma.”

 

[More]


You can’t beat beets for healthful snacking.

By Chris Xaver

And so begins the season of overindulging. Yet how do we not fall in love with all of the season’s bounty? The food is incredible! Heck, isn’t that why we celebrate Thanksgiving—to express gratitude for the harvest?

[More]


Exceeding the Common Core.

Students need opportunities to explore their passions

By Scott Wiggin

Our entire educational system has gone through such enormous change and turmoil in recent years that significant concerns abound for parents and teachers alike. And in a metropolitan environment like Syracuse, these concerns create their own set of special challenges.

[More]


A fund and TV program support young performers

Story by Aaron Gifford

Whenever Carrie Lazarus heard reports about yet another local ballplayer accepting a college scholarship, she couldn’t help but think of the young singers, dancers or musicians who would not be trumpeted by the newspapers, interviewed by reporters or raved about at office water coolers on Monday mornings.

[More]


More than a toy, Legos have become a gateway to engineering, robotics and more

Story By Aaron Gifford | Photos by Michael Davis

With a half-dozen two-by-four Lego bricks, a child literally has millions of different creations at his or her fingertips. A school today can become a rocket ship tomorrow.

 

[More]


Lessons from mean girls

By Linda Lowen

That shelf of books on mean girls and childhood friendships? I read them all and still screwed up.

For years, I’d been poised to identify and caution my two daughters against the potential bad apple. Yet the real threat—the nice girl—I overlooked. These kids are disarmingly polite, dress neatly, and speak like a network anchor, but watch out. They’re proof of why we sometimes have to trust our kids’ judgment.

 

[More]


A chicken-wing makeover removes fat but retains heat

By Chris Xaver

Anyone who has seen a teenage boy eat knows they are voracious. Inactive teen boys from ages 14 to 18 need 2,000 to 2,400 calories a day; active ones require 2,400 to 3,200 calories, and teen athletes can burn through up to 5,000 calories a day!

[More]


A Rochester jaunt offers many possibilities

Story By Eileen Gilligan  | Photos by Michael Davis

Most Central New York parents know about the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester. But the Flower City offers much more for children and parents to explore after a mere 70-minute drive from Syracuse.

[More]


Overscheduling kids stifles their development

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Children need to play—for social, physical and emotional development, and for mental health. As a matter of fact, play is so important for children it is listed as a right by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.

[More]


Teachers say homework matters

By Tammy DiDomenico

At the beginning of the 20th century, teachers didn’t assign much homework because parents didn’t want it to interfere with children’s chores. Today, students do twice as much homework as their counterparts did in the 1950s. Homework is virtually synonymous with school—even for kindergarteners. But what role does homework serve in today’s classroom?

Family Times asked five veteran teachers about the role of homework in their classrooms, and what parents can expect in light of today’s educational demands. The condensed and edited
interviews follow.

 

 

[More]


As I teen, I didn’t listen to my mom either

By Maggie Lamond Simone

When my kids were babies, I related to them as a mother; it was the only frame of reference I had. I didn’t remember being a baby, and so I couldn’t necessarily empathize with, say, the frustration of not being able to verbalize thoughts or change the channel. I was their mother, doing what I thought was best for them. And they always listened.

[More]


Important learning takes place outside school

By Michael Gilbert

What do you really want for your children? I have asked hundreds of parents that question over the years, and the answers have been consistent. What they want is for their kids to be happy, caring, independent, respectful and responsible. Parents hope their children discover their passion, their purpose and their creativity. And they worry how their children will be able to navigate the social world of their peers.

[More]


Good habits help kids deal with anxiety

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Stress is everywhere and affects everyone. Children are no exception. But unlike adults, kids are rarely mature enough to explain that they’re feeling anxious or figure out how to deal with it. And parents might have trouble recognizing when their child is having anxiety.

[More]


Remarks heard while out and about

By Deborah Cavanagh

No one ever said “She just loves children” to describe me in my youth.

Santa brought me Baby Alive for Christmas when I was 7 years old. It cried, pooped, peed and ran a fever. It scared me to death. Within hours of opening the much-desired gift, I demanded my parents remove the batteries. Baby Alive ended up in the basement.

[More]


Encourage children to pursue their passions

By Cary and Tonja Rector

A number of years ago we had the opportunity to visit an alternative school that individualized curriculum to meet specific interests of students and foster intrinsic motivation.

[More]


Samar Moseley and Tyrone Jackson are 1306

By Tammy DiDomenico

Hip-hop music doesn’t typically call to mind the description “kid friendly.” But Syracuse musicians Samar Moseley and Tyrone Jackson have found inspiration in their day gig as bus drivers for the Syracuse City School District. While other rappers may boast about street violence or ill-gotten riches, this duo—known as 1306—applies catchy beats to cautionary raps on bus safety and working toward graduation.

[More]


Wraps and carriers help keep your baby close

Text by Reid Sullivan, Photos by Gloria Wright

When her first child was 1 month old, Faith Rayland taught herself to carry a baby in a pouch sling by visiting the website TheBabywearer.com.

[More]


Things to avoid, things to embrace

By Chris Xaver

So let’s start at the beginning. You’re not “eating for two.” I know. You want that to be the case. But the truth is, just eating your normal amount will suffice for both you and the baby. What’s important is to make sure you avoid some of the unhealthy substances I wasn’t smart enough to stay away from when I was pregnant in 1987, such as nitrates.

[More]


Pregnancy changes your physique, sometimes in surprising ways


By Eileen Gilligan

Babies make many lasting contributions to our lives: greater empathy for others, a greater reservoir of love, more laugh lines. But pregnancy and childbirth also leave lasting marks on women’s bodies, and it’s not always easy to accept these changes.

[More]


New motherhood demands adjustment

By Fiona Griffin

When I first had my daughter, I was in shock about the experience of giving birth and completely overwhelmed about how I would take care of my baby and myself from there on out. I felt blindsided by the challenges I faced as a new mom. I was surprised by feelings of grief and loss surrounding the transition into motherhood, and I wondered why no one had told me it would be like this.

[More]


Children reach milestones on their own individual schedules

By Deborah Cavanagh

“My second child is so advanced cognitively and physically,” one parent said, “that it is hard to compare him to my first child with special needs.”

I listened suspiciously from my seat. I was attending an advocacy meeting for parents of children with special needs. My daughter, Amanda, was 4. She has Down syndrome and a host of medical issues that have affected her development. I was pregnant at the time with our second child, Jason.

[More]


First-time fathers have their own concerns

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Becoming a parent for the first time is amazing. Most parents will tell you it was a pivotal moment, changing them in unexpected ways. While there is lots of information available for expecting or new mothers, information for first-time fathers can be harder to find. This coupled with the fact that men typically are less likely than women to talk to their friends and seek outside support can leave first-time fathers with a lack of information and peer support.

[More]


Hemangiomas are a hiccup, not a hazard

By Tammy DiDomenico

When Sarah Schiffer gave birth to her son, Danny, six years ago, there was nothing amiss. A healthy, bright-eyed boy, Danny joined big sister Emily (now 7) and Sarah and her husband, Don, in the busy Schiffer home in Camillus. A few weeks later, Sarah noticed a strawberry-colored patch of skin forming on the right side of Danny’s face.

[More]


When a child feels conflicted about a stepparent

By Cary and Tonja Rector

In our work with stepfamilies we often hear about children’s behavior toward a stepparent: “My husband’s daughter doesn’t like me! She is rude and he does nothing about it,” says a woman who sits with her arms crossed during a therapy session.

[More]


A scavenger hunt can be super summer fun

By Laura Livingston Snyder

We’re into the dog days of summer and my kids are running out of new things to keep them busy. Here’s a productive activity for one child or a whole group that will encourage exploration and discovery, as well as work their brains: a scavenger hunt!

[More]


Grilling packs of food yields delicious results

By Chris Xaver

Whether your family likes camping or just cooking out in the backyard, chances are this summer you’ll be firing up the grill or campfire and making a meal. For me, these are the times that memories are made of.

[More]


Balancing scheduled and unscheduled summer weeks

By Deborah Cavanagh

“Can we do the Christian School of Performing Arts Summer Camp, Mom, please?!” both my children plead.

[More]


Why Mom shouldn’t do all the packing


By Linda Lowen

Most families come home from a summer vacation relaxed and tanned, with souvenirs and seashells. We return with stories of neglect and near disaster, carrying more emotional baggage than we left with. Empty suitcases go to the basement, but the emotional baggage—the stuff I don’t want to deal with—hides in the upstairs hall closet behind the sheets and towels.

[More]


A Big Apple weekend is just the ticket

By Eileen Gilligan

The Big Apple. New York City. It’s so big and imposing and filled with possibilities. It’s hard to winnow down what to do and where to go. Yet we are so close, many parents feel the desire to take their kids for a visit.

[More]


Things are heating up in CNY... Finally!
Here are some family-friendly happenings for July, August and September.

[More]


Your own spices make it healthy

By Chris Xaver

When the temps rise, the last thing I want to do is heat up the kitchen. In fact, hot food doesn’t appeal to me at all. But a cool, crisp salad does. And my little ones like salad, too, especially when it’s topped with taco fixings. But while most of the items in a taco salad can be “healthy,” the hidden sodium in most packets of taco seasoning makes this potential health food disastrous. Depending upon the brand, sodium in packets of taco seasoning range from 240 to 830 milligrams of sodium per serving. A serving is two teaspoons, which flavors two tacos.

[More]


Healthy routines and plenty of prep lead to sleep for all

By Cary And Tonja Rector

 

Ahh—sleep. It’s what every parent wants for her child and herself. Helping parents establish a good nighttime routine for their children is a regular topic in our work with families. Understanding why sleep is so important and what environment encourages sleep helps parents devise a good nighttime ritual for their kids. Although there’s still much to learn about sleep, we now understand it’s necessary for physical growth, healing and emotional health. Studies have shown deep sleep coincides with the release of growth hormone in children and young adults.

[More]


Four fathers reflect on parenting at different ages

Interviews by Aaron Gifford


Photography by Michael Davis

These days, it’s socially acceptable to remain unattached into the middle-age years, and adults may feel less pressure from family and friends to find the right spouse in their 20s or 30s and start having a family shortly into a marriage. Others, on the contrary, look forward to having children just a few years into their adult lives. Four Central New York fathers from different walks of life recently discussed their parenting experiences. Regardless of when they had children, these dads have faced the varied challenges and rewards that parenting brings.

[More]


A father considers his role in shaping his children

By Brian Cavanagh

My daughter, Amanda, and I have always been close. When she was born she knew me from the sound of my voice. She was part of me. Amanda was born with Down syndrome and other medical issues that made her first few years difficult but didn’t diminish our bond.

[More]


But it took me a while to figure it out

By Maggie Lamond Samone

[More]


By Tany Gesek

[More]


Make organizing your kids’ warm-weather clothes painless.

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Summer days will soon be here! Don’t forget to include your child’s drawers in your spring cleaning. I used to be intimidated by this chore. How do I organize everything so I’ll find it when I need it? What should be saved, donated or tossed? When do I give clothes away? Raising two girls and two boys in different age groups has made me aware of my limited space. I’ve become resourceful.

[More]


Books that put parenting into perspective

By Reid Sullivan

No other role has challenged me as much as being a parent, and for no other position have I been as poorly prepared. Because, really, how do you prepare for your child’s first public tantrum? Are you ever ready to meet children’s constantly changing needs or answer their unanswerable questions?

[More]


Offbeat presents can be the best ones of all

By Eileen Gilligan

Typical Mother’s Day gifts can sometimes have a downside, especially if there are young kids involved. There’s breakfast in bed, followed by lots of cleanup in the kitchen. Or dinner out, including cutting kids’ meat, shepherding little people to the bathroom, and feeling responsible if children shout or get silly and bother other diners.

[More]


I’ve learned birthdays can be fun for all

By Linda Lowen

I keenly remember the opening volley in the Birthday Party Battles in my town. It was years ago on a Friday when my older daughter, Jaye, then age 6, bounded off the school bus. “Jenna’s gonna have a bouncy castle at her party tomorrow!” All afternoon Jaye ricocheted off the furniture. Just watching her tired me out. It was just the beginning of more fatigue to come.

[More]


Kids will love these bean-filled treats, if you don’t tell

By Chris Xaver

Food is medicine. And—depending on what you’re trying to heal/cure/deal with—food can (either help or hurt.)

[More]


Wacky spring weather (including a whiteout or two) did not deter the more than 2,000 people who came to Family Times’ Summer Fun and Camp Fair on April 5. The event, held in the State Fairgrounds’ Center of Progress Building and sponsored by Driver’s Village, featured nearly 40 exhibitors with summer programs, camps, destinations and services. Parents enjoyed getting information to plan their summers, while kids got to meet residents—including a camel and some goats—of the Wild Animal Park in Chittenango and bounce in the two inflatables.

Michael Davis Photos

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Help your child address learning difficulties

By Cary and Tonja Rector

[More]


Young children with disabilities receive services for a good start

By Tammy DiDomenico

Every child deserves a good start in life. For parents and guardians of children with disabilities, it is particularly important to connect with the services and resources that enable their children to have just that. The New York State Early Intervention Program helps families find the services to foster children’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive development.

[More]


Graduation options for kids with special needs have changed

By Deborah Cavanagh

Spring finds families considering new graduation options for kids with special needs.

[More]


Deaf and hard of hearing students find a place in numerous school settings

By Aaron gifford

Gloria Wright Photos

After a full day of school, sports and socializing, Andrew likes to enjoy the silence for a little while. The 12-year-old Central Square resident, who was born deaf in both ears, uses a cochlear implant device that was surgically attached to his brain nine years ago. That has given him the ability to hear others within close proximity.

[More]


By Chris Xaver

Irish stew is perfect for this time of year

What’s your go-to March food? Is it green eggs and ham? Corned beef and cabbage? Lucky Charms? After all, that little leprechaun tells us they’re “magically delicious”!

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Family Times’ 10th annual Summer Fun and Camp Fair, sponsored by Driver’s Village, returns to the State Fairgrounds in Geddes on Saturday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Parents get a chance to plan their summer in just one day by talking with representatives from area day camps, summer programs, attractions and day-trip destinations

 

 

[More]


Moms and dads enjoy a little friendly competition

By Linda Lowen

My husband likes to burst my balloon. This frustrates me to no end. If I don’t deflect him, he usually shoots me down. This happens so often I’d be totally demoralized if I hadn’t already come to terms with one simple fact: It’s good for our relationship.

[More]


Do I want to spend my life driving my kids to activities?

By Deborah Cavanagh

As I spend my days driving my two children from Fayetteville-Manlius High School to the Montessori School of Syracuse, CNY Gym Centre to Sports Center 481, voice lessons to saxophone lessons—the same 20-odd miles of road over and over—I ask myself: “Is this our life?”

[More]


Parents can help sons and daughters in unhealthy relationships

By Cary and Tonja Rector

“Can I talk to you for a minute?” asks a worried-looking mother after her daughter’s therapy session. “Please wait for me in the car,” she says to her 17-year-old.

[More]


Athletics organizations make sportsmanship a goal.

By Aaron Gifford

Two 10-year-old soccer players were scrapping for a loose ball along the boards at the Central New York Family Sports Center in Baldwinsville on a freezing December Saturday afternoon. When the boy in the green jersey fell to the ground, the referee awarded a free kick to his team.

[More]


Indulge in chocolate cake 
in honor of Valentine’s Day

By Chris Xaver, Ph.D.

 

[More]


Sports spectators can try on new thinking at the local event

By Deborah Cavanagh

When I was a child, people with special needs were not seen regularly in society. There were institutions, or families kept the children in their homes. This made sightings, much less interaction, rare.

[More]


A henna party gives mothers, daughters and friends a chance to bond

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Michael Davis Photos

Winter is when I get creative and have my daughters or friends join me for a henna party. And it can be done any time of the year.
Mehndi is the art of painting designs on the body with henna. It has been practiced for thousands of years in India, parts of Africa such as Morocco, and Middle Eastern countries. Crushing the leaves of the henna plant into powder, a paste is made that temporarily stains the top layer of skin. In some countries it has been used medicinally for its cooling properties. Believed to bring luck, prosperity and love, mehndi is included in many rituals and ceremonies.

[More]


Mothers deserve a little self-love

By Maggie Lamond Simone

All of my adult life, when I’ve visited my parents, I’ve reverted to being  
 a kid. I expect to be fussed over, for my mom to continue to mother me as she has all these years. Recently, though, it seems the dynamic has been shifting; it’s as though I finally feel like an adult with them—maybe even an adult who wants to tend to her parents, rather than the other way around. And while it feels completely natural to me, if a tad overdue, I sense that my mother doesn’t quite believe she’s worthy of the fuss.

[More]


Developing empathy is an extended process

By Cary and Tonja Rector

When 3-year-old Emily sees her older brother has cut his finger, she grabs her own finger and winces. This “mirroring” effect, where we experience “secondhand” pain, is something we have all felt. Research is demonstrating there is a neurological link between our own experience of pain and our perception of pain in others. The parts of the brain active in personal experiences of pain are also active when observing pain in others. This ability also appears to be present in other animals. Brain scans and neurological research might make one wonder if empathy is an automatic process rather than something that is learned.

[More]


Rob Zettler coaches the Syracuse Crunch AHL team

By Tammy Di Domenico

Michael Davis Photography

 

The cold and snow of Central New York are of little concern to Rob Zettler. After all, Zettler, coach of the Syracuse Crunch hockey team, hails from Sept-Îles, Quebec, and has had skates on his feet for most of his 45 years.

[More]


When it’s your profession, fitness comes first

Interviews by Tammy Di Domenico

Photographs by Michael Davis

Parents who establish fitness habits early just may lead their children to a healthier adulthood.


“I think it’s important for parents to be good role models. Make fitness a priority in your own life,” says Tiffany Sisko, owner of O Yoga Studio, on West Fayette Street in Syracuse. “Make it part of family time. Make it fun. If you want to be healthier, make one little change at a time and find a balance.”

Family Times recently talked to four area fitness professionals about the importance of being active. (Interviews have been condensed and edited.)

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Looks like spaghetti, acts like a vegetable

By Chris Xavier, Ph.D

 

[More]


End power struggles with your child

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Billy you have 10 minutes to end your game. It’s Tuesday, your day to help clean up the kitchen.”

“In a minute.”

“I asked you 20 minutes ago to end
the game!”

“Just let me finish this level!”

“That’s it, get off the game!”

On and on it goes.

[More]


Forty percent of U.S. teen girls have not gotten the HPV vaccine

By Eileen Gilligan

If there were a vaccine for breast cancer, she wouldn’t be able to close the office doors ever, says Dr. Linda Imboden of Brighton Hill Pediatrics in Syracuse. Yet nearly half the teenagers in the United States remain without the vaccine known to prevent most cervical and throat cancers.

[More]


Learning to care for someone starts early

By Linda Lowen

When I was 3 years old, I learned my first lesson in caring for another person. I woke from an afternoon nap and found my mother sick in bed, eyes closed, face tight with pain.

[More]


Museums’ shops offer gifts for everyone

Whether you’re looking for a gift for your husband, wife, son or daughter, you can find an unusual item at a local museum gift shop.

[More]


Throw a rockin’ party for your family

By Laura Livingston Snyder

It is time for The Great Do-Over. We’re at the end of 2013 and on the cusp of 2014. What better way to observe the new year than with a family party.

[More]


A mother’s quest for gluten-free success

By Deborah Cavanagh

Cookies have always spoken to me. Chips and pretzels sit in my pantry for weeks and I ignore them. But the shouts coming from the cookie jar can be deafening.

[More]


Your family can create traditions of their own

By Emma Kress

When I was little, anytime we did anything fun, I begged for it to become a “tradition.” Naturally, as a parent, I love creating family traditions.

[More]


Guiding your teenager’s social media use

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Think you know your teen’s social media platforms? Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—right?

[More]


Giving’s meaning changes over time

By Linda Lowen

For me, the peak of Christmas giving is the heart-pounding moment when my children pick up that first wrapped package from the pile and tear away the paper, expectancy and excitement illuminating their faces.

[More]


Adoptions proved speedy for the O’Bryan family

By Tammy DiDomenico

Mike and Sue O’Bryan of Jamesville are the parents of two teenagers. Between sleepovers, homework, dance lessons, baseball, football and soccer games, and band concerts, one aspect of their lives is consistent: Family comes first.

[More]


Parents must teach kids about financial realities

By Cary and Tonja Rector

[More]


Soon they’ll be feeding you

By Chris Xaver

[More]


A daughter’s special needs made best friendship elusive

By Deborah Cavanagh

[More]



Climbing walls, ropes courses and other adventures beckon Central New Yorkers

By Eileen Gilligan

Cold and snowy weather doesn’t have to mean an end to climbing adventures for the year. Central New York offers both inside and outside climbing facilities to answer the call of the wild climber—even when two feet of snow has piled up outside.

[More]


Halloween is the perfect occasion for a party

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Does the prospect of Halloween strike fear into your heart? Don’t be afraid; be prepared—to have fun.

[More]


How to offer space and tools for imagination

By Emma Kress

In last month’s column, I made a case for saving our children’s imagination—the mother of creativity and essential academic skills. While imagination is innate, we must exercise it just as we do our muscles and intellect.

[More]


City parents and kids look sharp on their first day

By Alejandra Acuna

Whether they’re students in college, high school, or elementary school, everybody is trying to make a good impression, especially on the first few days.

 

[More]


When your kid thinks you’re weird

By maggie Lamond Simone

Picking my daughter up at cross-country today, I thought I’d get out of the car and say hello to a few of the girls. My daughter met me midway and, as I took her hand, she pulled it back and said—a little hysterically, I thought—“What are you doing?!”

[More]


Squash and apples make an enticing entree

By Chris Xaver

I love fall. I mean love it. It’s the time I fire up the oven and dig into both harvest and comfort foods. And this main dish takes two of my favorite fall foods—apples and squash—and combines them into a brand-new taste sensation.

[More]


Starting high school means more work, more independence

By Tammy DiDomenico

Students entering the final phase of secondary school face numerous academic, social and behavioral demands. Pressures mount, and more than at any time before, mistakes like missed homework, failed tests and texting in class can have serious consequences.

[More]


Mother’s intuition possibly saved my son’s life

By Laura Livingston Snyder

A mother’s intuition is a powerful feeling I’ve learned not to ignore. The moment that gut feeling became unbearable was when Evan was 11 months old.

[More]


A bread change can expand school-lunch options

By Chris Xaver

We’re at the start of the school year, when the kids are eager to go back, armed with their No. 2 pencils and new backpacks. And we’re packing school lunches, which, after the first week or so can become quite a chore.

[More]


Years’ worth of notebooks and binders is quite a collection

By Linda Lowen

Identifying the age of ancient artifacts involves scientific methods and carbon dating. Frequently, these artifacts are everyday objects that have turned to stone from sitting around so long. The items in my school supply stash aren’t stone just yet—but some have been sitting around for 15 years or more. I know this without the aid of carbon dating because I remember the various styles and trends in back-to-school supplies throughout the years.

[More]


She’s a ninth-grader now

By Deborah Cavanagh

“This year I am going to high school. I will be in nine grade!” my daughter, Amanda, tells anyone who asks. She feels confident taking the next step in her academic career

[More]


Females use different tactics but still hurt victims

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Bullying among kids has gained national attention and schools now have programs to recognize and address it right away. Parents are more aware of the issue, and what was once considered a rite of passage during childhood is getting a reappraisal.

[More]


School’s demands should not crowd out play

By Emma Kress

I grew up in a house that backed onto eight acres of bird sanctuary. An only child of hard-working parents, I often found myself alone in the woods climbing trees, building forts, or listening to the sounds of leaves crunching beneath my feet and strange birds chattering above my head. Or I got together with the neighborhood kids, creating complex games with elaborate rules that could last whole summers. I also read. A lot. As a result, I developed a pretty good imagination.

[More]



Representatives of some of Family Times’ Besties Readers’ Picks competition winners stopped by the office last month to collect their awards and get their photos shot by Michael Davis. We’d like to thank everyone who voted in the 2013 competition for showing their support for these local organizations.

 

[More]


Bonding with other new moms

By Wendy Loughlin

When Jessica Beach was pregnant with her first child, she had a vision of the ideal birth. Like many expectant mothers, she even made a birth plan. And also like many mothers, she had to abandon her birth plan when complications with her pregnancy resulted in her daughter being delivered by cesarean section.

[More]


By Wendy Loughlin

I am a working mother. It’s a mantle I assumed nearly six years ago, and yet sometimes it still surprises me. It may be that I always thought of a working mother as a woman who had it all figured out.

[More]


A mother sees her babies in her children’s faces

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Every time I see a baby these days, I can’t help thinking of my own.

[More]


With time at a premium, the salad bar is your friend

By Chris Xaver

We’ve all been there. Tired. Heck, not tired, exhausted. Babies demand so much from us. Rushed and ragged, we tend to let ourselves go while we take care of our little ones.

[More]


We decided to have another baby—and faced judgment

By Deborah Cavanagh

Our decision to have a second child was made before we were married. On a road trip to the Saratoga Springs Jazz Festival my fiancé, Brian, and I, with multiple hours to kill, tried to address life’s big issues. We discussed where we wanted to live. What our job ambitions were. And, of course, how many children we each wanted to have.

[More]


Central New York doctor treats the infertility of thousands

By Tammy DiDomenico

Robert Kiltz figures he has assisted in the conception of approximately 10,000 babies over the past 20 years. Some of those children and their parents gather at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse every summer for a reunion of sorts.

[More]


How women can cope with postpartum depression

By Cary and Tonja Rector

The birth of a baby is a joyous occasion for a family. When postpartum depression becomes part of the experience it can be confusing and frightening.

[More]





There’s something for every level of reader

By Margaret Portier

What are graphic novels and why should your children read them? A graphic novel is a book-length comic book; it uses words and sequential artwork to tell a story. (Manga is simply the Japanese word for “comic” and describes a style of art that originated in Japan.)

[More]


Librarian Erin Butler reads, recommends and writes stories

By Tammy DiDomenico

Erin Butler has always had an appreciation for good stories—especially those with a twist of spooky.

[More]


An exercise habit can alleviate anxiety and depression

By Cary and Tonja Rector

You just can’t go wrong with exercising and emotional health. Several times each week we talk with our clients about the importance of the habit of exercise.

[More]


Sort of outdoors, it’s a space made for magic

By Linda Lowen

When looking at a new home, most people focus on the kitchen. On HGTV, couples ooh and aah over granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Not us. My family would never make the cut for an HGTV show because we’re all about the back porch.

[More]


Fossils, gorges, ice cream, etc., mean multiple excursions

By Eileen Gilligan

Waterfalls, hands-on science and homemade ice cream: the perfect ingredients for a true summer vacation daytrip. And it’s all just about an hour away in Ithaca. For some reason, many Central New Yorkers, me included, don’t head to Ithaca often enough to experience all the child-friendly activities available.

[More]


A mix of meats makes everyone happy

By Chris Xaver

I took a very unscientific poll of the kids in my world to find out what foods they love on the grill. And guess what? Everyone liked something different. Allie, 13, prefers chicken. Charlotte, who’s 9, loves steak. Bryce, age 7, is a hamburger guy, and Ryan is 6 and loves hot dogs. So my recommendation for your summertime barbecue is a mixed grill! Make everyone happy.

[More]


Readers name award winners in 30 categories

By Reid Sullivan

For the third year, Family Times gave Central New York readers a chance to choose their favorite businesses, nonprofits, destinations and services to receive awards. This year, many hundreds visited the website to name the most deserving organizations and places in 30 categories.

[More]


Mark your calendar with these July, August and September happenings

 

[More]


Parents can guide their kids to a safe future behind the wheel

By Wendy Loughlin

“Sweet sixteen” isn’t always so sweet for parents. For many, the thought of their child learning to drive is frightening—and for good reason. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, claiming about 3,000 lives a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

[More]


Help teens avoid the pitfalls of consuming alcohol

By Cary and Tonja Rector

The summer season is here. It’s an exciting time for teens. Prom, senior ball, graduation—there’s a lot to celebrate. And while parents are happy to see their teen enjoy the activities of high school, they also worry about drinking, especially this time of year.

[More]


Kids need chances to figure stuff out

By Emma Kress

A friend told me she started saying “yes” to her kids more. She had noticed she almost always said “no” whenever her kids asked to do something, often without really thinking about the question.

[More]


Four-score and counting summers on Lake Ontario’s shore

By Deborah Cavanagh

In 1932 my great-uncle Sam bought what would become our family summer camp. The property fronts the Salmon River with a view of the Selkirk Light House. A walk out the back yard, through the sand, leads you to a semi-private beach on Lake Ontario.

[More]


A day in the life of a hormonally addled woman

By Maggie Lamond Simone

“So what’s it like,” asked a younger friend, “going through menopause while your kids are going through puberty?”

[More]


Sometimes vegetables just need a new look

By Chris Xaver

I love early summer! Warm days and cool nights. It’s either because we live in Central New York or because I’m part feline, but I love to linger a little longer when the sun is shining, extending the days into evening on the deck. And one of the best parts of summer in our region is our fresh produce. But like many of you, often the last thing I want to do is cook when the weather is warm.

[More]


Others are going through what you are

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Dear Kids:
I know this may come as a shock to you, but I was once a teenager.

[More]


Sweeteners can be found in surprising foods, in surprising quantities

By Chris Xaver

What we don’t know can hurt us. We know soda is “bad” for us and our kids. But what about those foods touted as “healthy”? So many parents think giving their kids yogurt and juice is giving them “healthy” food.

[More]


Protecting your child from sexual abuse starts with information

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Few situations make parents feel more vulnerable than thinking about how to protect their children from sexual abuse and sexual assault.

[More]


Self-directed learning is the best kind

By Emma Kress

The best way to get kids to be successful in school and life is to build up intrinsic motivation. This is the drive that comes entirely from the individual, as opposed to outside forces such as parents, grades or status.

[More]


Mothers of kids with special needs have needs, too

By Deborah Cavanagh

I have always loved tennis. I watched John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg as a kid. I roomed with tennis players at Le Moyne College and was their most vocal and consistent fan. I encouraged my children to learn the sport. So it made sense a few years ago when I told the pro at Drumlins Tennis Club I wanted to give lessons a try.

 

[More]


Is motherhood a beauty contest or isn’t it?

By Linda Lowen

”You look hot!” a woman said as she passed me on the hiking trail at Chittenango Falls. She eyed my tight tank top and even tighter shorts as I sat on a park bench taking a breather. I nodded gamely.

[More]


In the second year of the Summer Fun and Camp Fair at the State Fairgrounds Horticulture Building—and ninth year of the event itself—Family Times welcomed hundreds of visitors eager to check out the exhibitors’ tables. Dozens of summer programs, camps, destinations and other businesses captured the interest of parents gathering information about how they and their kids want to spend the warm-weather months.

 

[More]


Women musicians mix kids, (steady) jobs and bands

By Jessica Novak

No one ever said being a musician was easy. But when female band members become mothers, it becomes much harder to keep a place for music in their lives.

[More]


A teen with special needs, out and about

By Deborah Cavanagh

“Excuse me, I just want to say your daughter is beautiful,” the man says with a smile. “You are clearly doing a wonderful job raising her. You are doing God’s work.”

[More]


Service and therapy animals help disabled children master skills, communicate and navigate

By Aaron Gifford

No matter where Gracie goes, Frankie is always there.

[More]


Group helps parents learn about sensory processing disorder

By Tammy DiDomenico

When people look at Caryn Daher’s “going on 7-year-old” son, Jonathan, he seems much like any other little boy his age. They don’t realize that it sometimes takes a lot of effort for Jonathan to complete everyday tasks because he has a condition known as sensory processing disorder, or SPD.

[More]


Strategies can help with attention disorders

By Emma Kress

When parents learn their child has been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), they react in various ways. One parent might see himself in his child (attentional disorders are often hereditary), while the other might feel confused because organization comes naturally to her.

[More]


Family Times’ entries placed first (two awards), second (one) and third (one) in the most recent competition of the magazine’s national industry group, the Parenting Media Association.

[More]






My daughters’ camp experience didn’t have to repeat my own

By Linda Lowen

What’s more terrifying than a scary summer camp story told to wide-eyed kids around a bonfire? The stinging memories of an adult who had a bad camp experience as a kid and fears the same thing will happen to her child.

[More]


Young male dancers are taking chances and leaping into the future

By Tammy DiDomenico

Tevin Johnson wasn’t one of those guys who started dancing soon after walking and never stopped. It wasn’t until a spontaneous opportunity at a sixth-grade school dance that Johnson realized he had some natural talent.

[More]


Plagiarism hurts the perpetrator as much as anyone

By Emma Kress

Sometimes, my 6-year-old cheats. During a game of Qwirkle (an incredible game that I can’t praise enough), she sometimes peeks in the bag as she’s picking out her allotted number of tiles.

[More]


Parents can help improve their kids’ resiliency

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Resilient children are likely to be happy and successful. These children handle adversity, trauma and everyday disappointments more effectively. They solve problems with empathy and thoughtfulness.

[More]


Was I ready to give up my job to care for my child full time?

By Deborah Cavanagh

When I was pregnant with my first child, I thought I knew how my working life would change. I had a vision.

[More]


Start with cooked chicken, and the possibilities unfold

I am sharing with you my absolute bestest time-saving idea in the kitchen. Cook once and eat multiple times. It’s the way I get in and out of the kitchen on those busy days.

[More]



Celebrating the acceptance of same-sex valentines

By Maggie Lamond Simone

All you need is love. That song’s been in my head lately. February, the season of valentines, is either the most-loved or most-hated month of the year. . . depending how you feel about love at the moment. I’ve decided to embrace February and its associations this year, because I’ve seen—and continue to see—what love can do.

[More]


What’s the right way to mark this confusing holiday?

By Aaron Gifford

Valentine’s Day. When is it again?

[More]


Prepare your child for kindergarten

By Emma Kress

Sending a child off to kindergarten is one of those Big Parenting Moments that we remember forever. But before we outfit our kids with shiny shoes and bright backpacks, we need to be sure they’re ready for the important year to come. You have plenty of time before September to get your pre-schoolers ready for that all-important beginning to their school lives.

[More]


Find fun exercise, eat bean soup, be heart-healthy

By Chris Xaver

So, how’s that New Year’s resolution going? Losing weight? Less stress in your life? Are you dieting? If so, what kind of diet are you on?

[More]


Prepare your relationship to withstand the teen years

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Mark Twain once said, “When a boy turns 13, seal him in a barrel and feed him through a knot hole. When he turns 16, plug up the hole.”

[More]


Parents tread carefully as sons learn about girls

By Tammy DiDomenico

February 14th, the day to celebrate love in all its forms, is again approaching. With my youngest son in his final year of elementary school, the sweet rituals of elementary school will soon become a part of my family’s past. And I am bracing for less-innocent Valentine’s Days to come.

[More]


Being a mother doesn’t have to determine who your buddies are

By Linda Lowen

Some women tend their friendships like master gardeners tend award-winning roses, cultivating them with lavish care and constant nurturing. You see these women in Facebook photos with a slew of BFFs at GNO (girls night out), arms slung around each other, smiles broadened by glasses of wine.

[More]


Mental preparedness helps a parent withstand a toddler’s tantrums

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Any parent who has experienced grocery shopping with her toddler soon learns to appreciate the “No Candy” checkout lane.

[More]


Winter use of helmets can save kids’ skulls

By Tammy DiDomenico

Helmets are becoming commonplace in many sports; bikers, skateboarders and even soccer goalies now wear them far more often than just a generation ago. Winter sports have their own dangers, and wearing a properly fitted helmet can reduce the risk of catastrophic brain injury.

[More]


The nut spread can help you get healthy this year

By Chris Xaver

Have you made a New Year’s resolution yet? Forty percent of Americans do. But most of them don’t keep their resolutions.

[More]


Kids’ conflicting food and exercise needs cause headaches

By Deborah Cavanagh

Parents are bombarded with studies linking children’s lack of activity and overeating to obesity and diabetes. We are informed that our children do not exercise enough, that they sit in front of the television or computer too much, that they eat junk food.

[More]


Families struggle to get enough sleep

By Aaron Gifford

On a good night, Elizabeth Fern gets five or six hours of uninterrupted sleep. This only happens if she’s not behind on work or household tasks, and if none of her children have a hard time sleeping through the night.

[More]




This year the participants in Family Times’ fifth annual drawing contest came from third-, fourth- and sixth-grade art classes of Patricia Bonfe and Timothy Howard, who teach at H.W. Smith K-8 School at Levy, located at Fellows Avenue and Harvard Place in Syracuse.

 

[More]


A gift list full of gadgets signals missed connections

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Perusing my children’s Christmas list this year, I noticed an emerging theme: laptop computer, video games, cell phone apps, headphones, iPods. Electronics. I could probably do all of my shopping in one store. It could be the easiest Christmas of my parental life.

[More]


Hanging ornaments brings it all back

By Deborah Cavanagh

Decorating the Christmas tree marked the beginning of the holiday season when I was young. There are three children in my family: me, my younger brother and my younger sister. We lived in Baldwinsville at the time. Cutting down your own tree was the norm. My dad was a perfectionist when it came to the selection. (I am sure it had much to do with the modifications needed when a “Charlie Brown tree” was chosen.)

 

[More]


Syracuse Children’s Chorus leader expands group’s horizons

By Tammy DiDomenico

When Stephanie Mowery came to Syracuse from Pasadena, Calif., to become artistic director of the Syracuse Children’s Chorus—after a long, celebrated tenure by founder Barbara Tagg—she had a couple of goals. She wanted to continue the organization’s commitment to artistic quality, but she also wanted to expand the membership and audience of the chorus, and she wanted the group to better reflect the greater Syracuse community.

 

[More]


Kids need to know their holiday manners

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Here’s the scene: You’re hosting family for the holidays. Parents, siblings, in-laws, aunts and uncles, everyone within a 200-mile radius is gathered in your home. The kids have endured the meal and are eagerly opening gifts. Your son rips into the package from Aunt Louise and sees a paint-by-numbers kit of a clown. He declares in a loud, disapproving voice, “I don’t want this!” All conversation stops while attention turns to your frowning child holding the kit high in his hand.

 

[More]


Make treats filled with fond feelings—not sugar

By Chris Xaver

A whiff of cookies baking in the oven takes me back in time. Pure joy. Typically, it was Christmas and I was visiting my grandmother. While she wasn’t a very good cook, she sure knew how to bake! Cookies were a specialty and we kids did more than enough “taste testing.”

[More]




Have a little fun with your hors d’oeuvres

By Chris Xaver

I’d like to know when I went from sitting at the kids’ table to running the whole Thanksgiving show. I have the fondest memories of Thanksgiving, and all of them come complete with an aroma! Cinnamon and pumpkin are pervasive in my memories—as I’m guessing they might be in yours. I also remember hanging out in the kitchen helping to prepare the big meal.

[More]


Buying stuff is about more than the stuff

By Eileen Gilligan

I love to shop. There, I said it. I especially enjoy it when I have something to look for. Even with a family of four, at times no one needs anything, thank goodness. So if I want to shop, I need to cast my net wider, and this adds another level to the fun.

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Plan around your child’s needs to ensure a happy celebration

By Cary and Tonja Rector

You may recall the TV commercial where a young couple is seated in front of their laptop computer viewing possible vacation scenarios. At first glance the vacation possibilities seem wonderful, but as they think it through they have (funny) visions of what might go wrong—clearly not the vacation of a lifetime.

 

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Even bad stuff in life gives us reasons to be grateful

By Maggie Lamond Simone

This has long been my favorite time of year: changing seasons, sweater weather and Thanksgiving. I’ve always tried to teach my children to be grateful for the good in their lives, and while we try to appreciate it every day, Thanksgiving is the one time of year when we don’t need reminding.

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An election season is loaded with lessons

By Emma Kress

Whether your family discusses politics around the dinner table or changes the channel every time a campaign ad comes on, chances are your children have noticed that something big is brewing. Even if you don’t talk about politics much, the presidential election every four years is a good opportunity to make your child aware of what it is to be a member of a voting public.

 

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The Redhouse and Hillside together put on a show

By Tammy DiDomenico

Hillary Taylor, a junior at Henninger High School in Syracuse, has been surrounded by music all her life. But she didn’t think of music as a career until last year. That’s when she got involved with the Theater Experience Program, a partnership between the Redhouse Arts Center—a multifaceted performing arts and cultural education center in downtown Syracuse’s Armory Square—and the Work-Scholarship connection at Hillside Family of Agencies in Syracuse.

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Plan your attack by Halloween or suffer the consequences

By Linda Lowen

If Halloween were simply about dressing up and having fun, dentists, dermatologists and diet centers would see a lot less business. The truth is Halloween is a gateway holiday and Oct. 31 the opening day of candy season—the start of the annual six-month siege known in my household as the Candy Wars.

 

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Bake a healthier apple treat that takes less than an hour

By Chris Xaver

One of my favorite memories from the childhood of my son (who’s now 24) was wandering the apple orchards of LaFayette with our apple pickers in hand. We’d reach as high as we could to pick the most perfect fruit. My son “made” us go to the orchards every week during harvest time. We would wander, pick and plan. Each time we came home, we’d make something different with our prize.

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Can a single household rule cover all eventualities?

By Reid Sullivan

We have a rule in our house: “Don’t do dumb stuff.”

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Job loss can test a marriage

By Cary and Tonja Rector

“For richer or poorer” is a common marriage vow. Dealing with unemployment can put that vow to the test. The economic downturn over the past several years has resulted in many couples facing long-term unemployment for one or both partners.

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Adding household members helps kids grow in compassion and responsibility

By Eileen Gilligan

For Jill Doerger, the contribution made by her family’s dog comes down to one thing: love. “The unconditional love that he gives the whole family. He expects nothing from us except his food,” she says of the Baldwinsville family’s 5-year-old Labradoodle, Remy.

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Losing a cat who was more than a pet

By Deborah Cavanagh

Eli was our 3-year-old black-and-white kitty. He was rescued with Marley, his sister, when they were a few weeks old. They were brought by Santa and immediately became part of our family. We felt complete. Father, mother, daughter, son, and brother and sister four-legged critters.

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Families balance after-school activities

By Aaron Gifford

Whether through sports, music or a variety of special-interest clubs, students have ample opportunity for fun and enrichment after the academic day is through. These days, kids should have no excuse for being bored by 4 p.m. But while parents may stress the importance of taking advantage of extracurricular activities, they also caution against taking on too much.

 

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Team sports can teach students a few things

By Emma Kress

More and more, I find myself using sports analogies with my students. Some of the most desirable traits in a student can be seen every day on the playing fields outside my classroom window.

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Schools need parental involvement more than ever

By Tammy DiDomenico

When kids head back to school, many parents also return to an important side project—participation in their children’s school parent-teacher organizations.

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Homemade ‘pizza’ is easy, and healthful

By Chris Xaver

Wow. School lunches are no longer simple. When I was a kid, school lunches in the cafeteria consisted of a scoop of something we couldn’t quite define: canned vegetables and fruit, a piece of bread and some sort of main dish, often macaroni and cheese or goulash. (I seem to remember a lot of goulash in my youth. Does anyone eat goulash anymore?) Today we hear about pink slime and fatty processed foods. And the first lady is tackling childhood obesity, starting with our kids’ school lunches.

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Parents can help kids manage their reactions to scary events

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Many households have the television tuned to the evening news on a regular basis. Adults like to catch up on local and world events as the day comes to a close. But what about the kids? Exposure to news events can be overwhelming to children.

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A professor fights to make school libraries a priority

By Tammy DiDomenico

R. David Lankes, professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, is spreading the word: We need to let go of outdated images of libraries and explore what they could be, what they should be. Perhaps the title of his latest book says it best: Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries for Today’s Complex World.

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Calculate when to give a kid a mobile

By Eileen Gilligan

At the end of fifth grade, my son MacIntyre informed me that he and maybe two other kids in his grade did not have cell phones. A few weeks later at a parents’ meeting for children moving to middle school, I chatted with the mother of one of his friends. She mentioned how her son wanted a cell phone. “Oh, he’s the other child without a phone!” I remarked.

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As her children grow up, a mother considers her next step

By Maggie Lamond Simone

“What do you want to do with your life?” It’s a question I ask my college students this time of year to help them define their goals, and I’m beginning to realize the silliness of the question. It’s almost like asking acquaintances seen at the grocery store what they did over summer break—expecting them to sum up 10 weeks of their lives in a sentence. Not an easy task.

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Teens with special needs want social lives, and so do their parents

By Deborah Cavanagh

Will my teenager choose the right friends? Will he get into a good crowd? Will my child be able to balance academic demands with social activities? Our children’s friendships help to define them as adults. But what if there are no friendships to be had?

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Doulas ease the way for a more comfortable labor and delivery

By Eileen Gilligan

Pregnancy carries many joys, aches, dreams, fears and concerns. One way to help reduce the uncertainty is to hire a doula to assist in the birth preparation and to provide added support—in person—during labor and childbirth. Doula translates from Greek as “a woman who serves.”

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Help your child welcome a new baby

By Cary and Tonja Rector

“Tommy loves his little sister so much he wants to hug her over and over, only sometimes he hugs her so tight she cries!”

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A newborn with Down syndrome is mostly like other infants—only prettier

By Deborah Cavanagh

I learned big lessons from a small person. Four pounds, 10 ounces to be exact.

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Preparing your baby’s first solid foods yourself offers benefits

By Chris Xaver

One of my favorite moments was when my dear friend, Karen, was preparing to have twins. I knew when she arrived home, she’d soon be overwhelmed with feeding, changing diapers, and simply trying to catch a few minutes of sleep. Who on earth would have time to cook? And once the twins were done breastfeeding, she would then spend a lot of her time making their meals. So, a freezer was a gift I knew would keep on giving.

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A nurse helps treat postpartum depression

By Tammy DiDomenico

The stigma surrounding postpartum depression (PPD) still prevents many mothers from receiving treatment and recovering from the disorder, says Christine Kowaleski.

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For incoming college students, learning begins with packing

By Tammy DiDomenico

Many college freshmen will be living away from home for the very first time this fall, away from the rules and routines set by their parents or guardians. This milestone poses a question: “What do I really need to bring?”

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An academic adviser tells students how to get comfortable on campus

By Eileen Gilligan

Besides being a writer, I’m also a journalism professor at SUNY Oswego, and I work as an academic adviser to freshmen. For students leaving for their first year of college, and their parents, I’ve put together a list of my favorite, time-tested tips.

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A child with special needs attracts favors and treats

By Deborah Cavanagh

No one wants to learn that life isn’t fair. As parents we encourage our children to “play nice,” to share, to try not to hurt other people’s feelings.

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Parting gets easier the more often you do it

By Linda Lowen

When asked about our most vivid memories, we often recall a first kiss, wedding day or birth of a child. Not me. For much of my life my sharpest memories centered not on unions and beginnings but on separations and endings.

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Parents and daughter make plans for staying close

By Emma Kress

Going away to college is a watershed moment. After all, everything changes: friends, living situations, expectations, rules, academics and independence. Most schools now offer orientations not only for incoming freshmen but for their parents as well since the adjustment can be so great. In particular, the relationship between the college-bound child and her parents can change significantly in these years.

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CNY readers chose winners in 30 categories

By Reid Sullivan

Central New Yorkers visited our website to cast their votes for their favorite area products, services and destinations in our second annual Besties competition. We’re pleased to report that the votes more than doubled compared with last year’s count, partly the result of some intense lobbying in several of the 30 categories. And we make no bones about it: This is a popularity contest.

We hope that you got a chance to visit www.familytimes.biz to vote before the deadline. Our aim is to support the people and businesses that help make the Syracuse area a great place for families.  Did your favorites make the list? If not, there’s always next year. And now, the winners!

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Get your money’s worth with a simple, family-friendly itinerary

By Eileen Gilligan

My first trip to Boston was in the midst of the American Revolution, as far as my seventh-grade social studies class was concerned. My sister had started college there and she led my mother and me along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long path that winds through the city, hitting 16 historic spots. The trail’s brightly colored footsteps and red brick path mark the way on the street and sidewalks, even into cemeteries and churches. Brochures and maps are available online and at visitor centers. I found the trail fun and fascinating, wrote my class paper on it and have loved Boston ever since.

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Wraps make perfect picnic food

By Chris Xaver

Nothing says summer like a pic-a-nic, Boo Boo! July is the perfect time to pack a meal and enjoy the outdoors with your children. While my little ones love peanut butter and jelly, we also like something a little bit more sophisticated.

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Set up your household for stimulating summer fun

By Emma Kress

Ahhh, the start of summer. I won’t have to grade papers and my life won’t be regimented by bells. I can catch up on my reading, plan leisurely for fall lessons, and spend oodles of time with my kids and husband.

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Moms must learn to retire from part of their jobs

By Linda Lowen

If motherhood had a job description, the hours would be 24/7, the pay nothing you could take to the bank, and the vacation/sick time nonexistent.

 

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What’s the right pet for your child?

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Kids and pets. Seems like a great combination. Most parents can remember either having or wanting a pet as a child and are eager to provide that experience for their own children. The sentimental idea of having a pet is often at odds with reality. Some pets are as much work as an infant. Realistic expectations and considering your child’s developmental stage will greatly reduce conflict.

 

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Events worth checking out in July, August and September.

 

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Kids of divorced parents need help moving from one household to another

By Cary and Tonja Rector

A recent session with an 8-year-old client highlighted a post-divorce reality for many kids: moving between two households. She talked about how difficult it was to remember to take her belongings with her as she went from one household to the other. She had left part of a school project at one parent’s house and had to duplicate the work at the other parent’s home.

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Local libraries combat the summer slide with fun and incentives

By Tammy DiDomenico

As classroom instruction winds down for the summer, local libraries are gearing up for an uptick in activity. Combining fun activities and literary awareness, libraries often become busy, multifaceted community centers during the summer months.

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Make-a-Wish chief creates hope in hard times

By Tammy DiDomenico

Diane Kuppermann has been making wishes come true for the past 20 years. As president and chief operating officer of the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Central New York, she has had a role in putting more than 1,200 children with serious health conditions in touch with the furthest reaches of their imaginations.

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Making it on stage

By Deborah Cavanagh

At 14 years old, my daughter Amanda has found her passion: She wants to be on stage. It started with the High School Musical movies. She then moved to Hannah Montana and Camp Rock. All those kids get to be on stage. They dance. They sing. People applaud. Fun is had by all. What kid wouldn’t want to be them?

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Another kid, another milestone

By Maggie Lamond Simone

A friend and I were standing outside recently when a neighbor’s son drove by. “No way!” I cried. “That can’t be him: He’s only 6!”

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What parents need to know about this social network

By Emma Kress

I am not a tech-savvy girl. I got a cell phone years after most of my friends. I opened a Facebook page only after being nagged to post pictures of my kids, but I rarely use it. But I knew loads of my students used and loved the social media service Twitter, probably because their parents had invaded Facebook.

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Skinned chicken drumsticks give you more flavor for your money

Finger licking good. There’s no doubt I loved fried chicken when I was a kid, because I could grab a leg and eat it with my fingers. Comes with a built-in handle, can’t get much easier for a kid to eat. But now that I no longer sit at the kids’ table, I still favor drumsticks—more for their economy than their ergonomics. In my neighborhood, I can typically find either fresh or frozen chicken legs for about .89 cents a pound. That compares with $1.35 for thighs, and $1.96 for chicken breasts.

 

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A writer’s life and work intertwine

By Tammy DiDomenico

Ten years ago, writing had taken a back seat in my life. My big-eyed toddler was pretty much the center of my universe, save for a few steady freelance writing assignments and sporadic work on a college degree. When I was asked by Tina Schwab Grenis, an editor of the Syracuse New Times, if I was interested in contributing to a new parenting magazine she was launching, I thought, “What could be better than combining my love of writing with my current interest with all things ‘Mommy’? I’m in!”

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An editor reflects on what it took to start a parenting magazine

By Tina Schwab Grenis

The story of Family Times’ birth sounds, at least in my telling, much like that of my children’s arrival in this world. Yes, I had a lot to do with it—I was definitely there—but a handful of other people loomed large, too, and they remained a lot calmer and looked a lot better throughout the process. None of us got much sleep.

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By Reid Sullivan and Briana Viel

What’s the most important thing we at Family Times decide each month? Without question, it’s what the magazine’s cover looks like.

 

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A new venue gave Family Times’ Summer Fun and Camp Fair a fresh look, more space and the opportunity to bring different kinds of exhibitors to the eighth annual event.

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What a difference a decade makes

By Maggie Lamond Simone

When I first began writing for Family Times, my son was a 3-year-old in preschool and my daughter, a 1-year-old on my hip. The photographer for one of my early features captured a picture of me standing in the family room of my new home, my two children running around me so fast that in the photo, they are a blur.

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Must birthday parties mean goodie bags, presents and more?

By Eileen Gilligan

My husband thinks parents are constantly escalating in providing ever-more-elaborate birthday-party favors, and he calls for détente.

 

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After 10 years, our pediatrician-writer bids his readers farewell

By Dr. Alan Freshman

In the medical business, until the clock strikes midnight on June 30 of the last day of school, the medical student remains at the bottom of the food chain. He is used mainly for scut work—tasks the attending (The Big Boss), the fellow (The Academic) or the resident (The Day-to-Day Boss) would not deign to do.

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Some parents find homeschooling best for a special needs child

By Aaron Gifford

Sheila del Toro’s daughter, Brittaney, attended public schools for four years before the daily grind became too much to bear.

 

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Coping with the disorder in myself, and my kids

By Alexis Smith as told to Tammy DiDomenico

When I was a child I always had concerns about my inability to stay focused. I didn’t have any learning disabilities. I could get my school work done, I was just a little disorganized. I had a messy room, things would just distract me.

 

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Children with intellectual disabilities face particular challenges

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Young people today are capable of sexual reproduction years before they become psychologically and socially ready to function as parents and adults in our society. For children with developmental disabilities the gap between biological reality and social maturity presents some additional challenges.

 

 

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: The more I read on the Web about immunizations, the more concerned I get about the assault of all of those chemicals on my 7-week-old baby’s system. I’m considering asking my pediatrician to adjust the schedule of shots so my child doesn’t get so many at a time. I realize you think vaccines are great, but can’t they work just fine on a more extended schedule, while my baby builds up his own natural immunities and gets many from my breast milk?

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Having OCD isn’t shameful

By Maggie Lamond Simone

In a recent episode of Glee, Will asked Emma’s parents for her hand in marriage. Emma struggles with OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder. Fearing germs and contamination, her quirks include washing fruit for a certain amount of time and wearing plastic gloves when handling food. Her parents would not give their blessing to the marriage because, as they put it, “As you know, life is messy. And Emma doesn’t do messy.”

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Whip up some mac and cheese for the gluten-intolerant

By Chris Xaver

Gluten free. It’s everywhere. Even foods that would never have had gluten in them are proclaiming themselves “gluten-free.” But for the folks who have a real gluten issue, this new “fad” doesn’t help their cause. However, all the new products in the stores have. Gluten is generally found in products containing wheat, barley and rye. And it’s something I’ve been dealing with in my household for a time now.

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Recognize the upsides to a learning disability

By Emma Kress

People with dyslexia have trouble reading, spelling, articulating, memorizing and retrieving words. Thanks to improvements in brain imaging, scientists are actually able to see the biological differences between dyslexic and typical readers.

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By Maggie Lamond Simone

I’m saying the same stuff my own parents did

While lamenting her daughter’s latest eye-roll over something or other, a friend said, “The problem is, I remember this. I remember having this attitude and talking back to my mom, and I remember what my mom used to say. I can’t quite reconcile that I’m now the mom saying the things I used to hate to hear as a child.”

 

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: I am a lifelong vegetarian and my husband is not. Our 4-year-old daughter eats meat, among other things, but I’d like to start switching her to a vegetarian diet at home. My husband is not convinced that it’s healthy for a growing child to not eat fish, chicken, etc. He might be more persuaded if a medical professional weighed in. What do you think?

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Students’ success means talking to the teacher

By Emma Kress

Asking for help is hard. Our society glorifies independence so much that we think asking for help is a sign of weakness. In truth, I think asking for help allows kids to become more independent, and as a result, more motivated, confident and self-sufficient.

 

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Getting a glimpse into an alternate reality

By Deborah Cavanagh

It may sound crazy, but most of the time I forget that my 14-year-old daughter, Amanda, has Down syndrome. She is just Amanda. Every now and then, though, I get hit with a moment—I call it a whammy—that makes me ponder what life would have been like if that extra chromosome had not occurred. This was one such time.

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Prepare St. Patrick’s-themed foods to get kids cooking

By Chris Xaver

Everyone’s Irish in March. There are many fun ways to make a St. Patrick’s Day-themed recipe with your child. And who says it has to be on the 17th? What I hate about a holiday is that it’s over in 24 hours. With so many ideas, you can make something every week this month.

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Nicole Miller teaches the signs of the times

By Tammy DiDomenico

For Nicole Miller, sign language is far more than a convenience or a novelty. For a time, it was an important part of daily life. A genetic condition gradually compromised her hearing ability, causing her to ultimately leave a career in higher education. Although surgery has since restored much of her hearing, she continues to use sign language to communicate with her twins, 3-year-olds Ashton and Jordyn. About a year ago, she decided to start sharing this skill with other families. She now offers Signing Times courses through Crouse Hospital in Syracuse and at the Fayetteville Free Library.

 

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You didn’t imagine that Family Times’ Camp Fair could possibly be even more fantastic, did you?

 

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The reasons kids don the gloves

By Tammy DiDomenico

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, seven boys congregated on a set of mats behind the boxing ring at the West Area Education and Athletic Center on Geddes Street in Syracuse. Some of them took a city bus to get there, some of them walked from nearby Fowler High School. Few of them are friends, or even know one another outside of their time together in the building.

 

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The perfect Winter Break activity puts dinner on the table

By Chris Xaver

I was the fat kid in school. Managing my weight is something I’ve worked on my entire life. I am the queen of doctoring traditional recipes to manage carbs, fats, sugars, etc. Better doesn’t mean bad. At least, not if you do it right. And this recipe is a great example of how I do it. Simple substitutions: Instead of white flour, I use half all purpose and half whole wheat. Instead of pork sausage, I use turkey sausage. These are small changes that add up to a big difference. And I promise, if you don’t kiss and tell, no one, not even the kids, will know the difference.

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With a Preschooler

By Reid Sullivan

My first criterion for a good preschooler activity is that it must tire the kid out. Because if you’ve got a 2-, 3- or 4-year-old at home with you, an active morning often leads to a decent afternoon nap—and a quiet break for you.

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A dress—or tux—doesn’t have to cost a lot

By Eileen Gilligan

I love to shop and hunt for bargains. It takes time, but it also can pay off in a big way, especially with a big purchase. Prom dresses these days certainly fall into the category of big purchase. But they don’t have to.

 

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Is your child having problems at school?

By Emma Kress

As a parent, I hate to see either of my children suffer. When a dose of time or medicine gets them back to their usual bouncy selves, I’m relieved. But what happens when you suspect that school, not a simple virus, is the cause?

 

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Braving an outdoor sport yields a hard-won reward

By Deborah Cavanagh

Going on family road trips is easy when the kids are little. You strap them into their car seats. Head off on your adventure. Make emergency adjustments if needed. Take lots of pictures. And retell your (heavily edited) version when they get older, since they cannot remember a thing.

 

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: At our last well-child visit, the pediatrician said he heard a heart murmur. The doctor said we didn’t need to worry about it, but now I wonder if I should get my 6-year-old daughter checked out by a specialist. What exactly is a heart murmur? Is it worth paying for a cardiologist to do more testing and examine her?

 

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When anticipation was part of the fun

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Love is never easy.

Anybody can tell you that, from the person wondering if he’ll ever find his soul mate, to the long-married couples still facing the daily challenges of living with someone who may or may not share their love of clutter. Technology has made it much easier in many cases, increasing the opportunities for communication. Gone are the days of kissing your spouse goodbye before heading off on a business trip and not speaking for possibly days at a time.

 

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A little perspective—and deep breathing—can help

By Cary and Tonja Rector

The way you think about the decision-making process will influence the way you experience it emotionally. Denial—a primitive defense against anxiety—is not helpful in making important decisions. We encourage our clients to take a breath, confront their fears and take the first step: gathering information.

 

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Find small chunks of time to make a big difference

By Eileen Gilligan

Like most of us, I don’t need one more thing to do. I prefer to spend my time eating dessert, drinking coffee and reading—or watching Law & Order reruns. And, of course, hanging out with my kids. Except for the last and most important one, opportunities for doing all my favorite things get squeezed to the side for more of the “have-tos.”

 

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Parents help one another fit in fitness

By Aaron Gifford

In the Corona household, almost every minute of the day is accounted for. That’s how it has to be if Mike and Jen are going to cross the finish line in 17 hours or less.

 

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What does it mean to be a half-century old?

By Maggie Lamond Simone

They say 50 is the new 40.

I’ve been hearing that more and more lately as my half-century mark approaches this month. Most of my friends are saying it with a kind of trepidation in their eyes, a hopeful “please don’t freak about this—you’re not going to freak about this, are you?” sense of panic lingering just behind their encouraging smiles. Most of my friends are younger than me.

 

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Successful students share their secrets

By Emma Kress

On a fall afternoon, I sat down with four Cicero-North Syracuse High School seniors to talk about strategies for school success: Anna Bruzgulis (ranked first out of our graduating class of 787), Edwina Kisanga (third), Julie Hauberg (fifth), and Brittany Paul (sixth).

 

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: My 6-month-old baby boy is 27 inches long and weighs 18 pounds, at least according to his most recent measurements at the pediatrician. (Actually, I’m not entirely certain about the length because he didn’t really cooperate to stretch out to be measured.) Are those numbers appropriate for his age? Is there anything I can do to help him reach a healthy size?

 

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A daughter and mother handle the diabetes diagnosis

By Deborah Cavanagh

My first thought was, “Are you kidding me?” My 12-year-old daughter had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. My second thought was, “How is this going to limit her independence?”

 

 

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When seeing is believing

By Deborah Cavanagh

My daughter is generous with her belief. To her, everyone is real: You are who you claim to be. So I am Mom. Brian is Dad. And also Cinderella is Cinderella, and Mary Poppins is Mary Poppins. I get into movies more than the average person. I cry even during cartoons. But in the back of my mind, no matter how wrapped up I am in the story, I know it isn’t real. For Amanda, it is. She believes the character is the person.

 

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40 More awesome gifts for kids!

The Year’s Best Books, Music, Apps, Software, Video Games and More

In Part 2 of our 2011 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Winners’ coverage, we bring you more of the year’s top children’s products. Our expert judges and child testers have selected the most engaging books, magazines, apps, software, video games, websites and more—all to help you find the right gifts for kids and adolescents this holiday season and throughout the year.

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Surely St. Nick can put the hot flashes on ice

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Dear Santa:
It’s that time of year again already, huh? Time sure flies when you’re having . . . well, menopause, spelling bees and student council meetings. You’ll have to take my word on all counts, I’m guessing, but trust me. The times—and the moms—they are a-changin’. Heck, I could light up a Christmas tree without even plugging myself in! But that’s not why we’re here, is it? Let’s get down to business.

 

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Change comes when family members move, divorce or die

By Eileen Gilligan

Traditions can be one of our favorite parts of holidays: going to Grandma’s house for Christmas Eve, eating turkey at Uncle Charlie’s house and banging pots and pans at midnight on New Year’s outside with neighbors. When a major life change interrupts those traditions, families adjust, although it’s not always easy.

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Family Times and its sister publication, the Syracuse New Times, support many charitable organizations through donations of cash and advertising. One nonprofit organization, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, recognized the company’s efforts on Oct. 26 by giving Family Times and the Syracuse New Times a certificate for their role as a Media Champion.


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For the fourth time, Family Times: The Parenting Guide of Central New York held a drawing contest on the theme of winter fun for the December issue. Every year a different Central New York school or school system is chosen to submit artworks for the contest. This year Kyle Mort, Camillus Middle School art teacher, presented the contest to his sixth-grade students. Sixty-six students submitted entries. Staffers from Family Times’ Creative Services Department selected a winner, whose drawing appears on the cover, and five honorable mentions, pictured here. We thank Kyle Mort and the Camillus Middle School students who took part in the contest. It was our great pleasure to see these students’ imaginations at work.

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More holiday magic, less holiday greed

By Cary and Tonja Rector

The holidays are here! Many households are a flurry of preparation. While the parents are decorating, baking and planning, kids are working on their wish lists. Those lists can make a parent cringe. The wish list can grow and change daily, turning your nice, thoughtful kids into materialistic, consuming machines. If you find yourself worrying about how to combat this ravenous desire in your child while still providing a joyous holiday, take heart! It’s probably not as bad as it seems.

 

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35 Gifts you and your kids will love

The year's best toys,
games, DVDs and
story CDs for all ages

 

 

 

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Every fall brings a new crop of photogenic faces to the Family Times offices as we review entrants in the annual Cover Kid Contest.

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Kathleen Miller Murphy teaches about the surgical birth option

By Tammy DiDomenico

Families these days have many options to assist them in making the childbirth experience as personal as possible. Kathleen Miller Murphy, coordinator of the First Steps Education Program at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, has made it her professional mission to make sure Crouse offers patients a variety of educational options, no matter what kind of birth they envision.

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Believing in yourself starts in fifth grade

By Maggie Lamond Simone

As I listened to my daughter singing with a friend in her room the other day, I couldn’t help popping my head in and smiling. Of course I got the eye roll and the “Mom! Please!” but as I ducked out, I suddenly flashed back to one of my own such moments.

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: My 2-year-old is such a picky eater. She subsists on macaroni and cheese, yogurt, milk (see a theme here?) and, for some reason, broccoli. I introduce her to new vegetables and fruits, but it gets frustrating to have her refuse to eat anything unfamiliar over and over and over. Do I need to worry about whether she’s getting enough of the right things to eat?

 

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When your kid stops short of the truth

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Lying: In a nutshell, it’s to be expected but it shouldn’t be disregarded.

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Audio books offer new ways to appreciate reading

By Emma Kress

Maahhmmmeee,”—the whiny pronunciation of Mommy—“I wanna watch TV!”

Here’s the problem: I know the research. I know that TV watching isn’t great.

But sometimes we all need a break. My 5-year-old has not taken a nap since she was 2 1/2 and even then not very reliably. Yet that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t get tired. Or cranky. (Or that I don’t.)

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Blood—and other kinds of—lust

By Maggie Lamond Simone

When my kids were younger, Halloween brought out their desires. Whether the costumes represented a superhero, a butterfly, or a Star Wars character, they typically chose embodiments that might not be quite possible in real life . . . and which made them all the more desirable.

 

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny:
How can I tell when my child’s cold has become a bacterial infection and might require antibiotics? I tend to think a little sniffling and coughing is nothing to worry about, but the last time I ignored my kid’s cold it didn’t go away and he left the doctor’s office with a prescription. And I felt guilty for not realizing he was “really” sick.

 

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Young adult books tackle grown-up realities

By Emma Kress

In recent months, a debate’s been heating up the Internet: Are books for young adults too dark? Too explicit? Too sexual?

 

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Jell-O facts and other fun sights on Routes 5 and 20

By Lewes Kunda

Editor’s note: We received a delightful letter and essay from Lewes Kundas in July, describing a day trip his family made inspired by an August 2010 Family Times article.

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Make seasonal purchases thoughtful—not wasteful

By Eileen Gilligan

I asked my kids how we could reduce our consumption this Halloween season. They said: Buy bigger candy bars to give out. Then we wouldn’t have to buy as many candy bars; it would also mean fewer, but bigger, leftovers. (That wasn’t really what I had in mind, but consider the source.)

 

 

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When your child has a problem friend

By Cary and Tonja Rector

What do you do if you don’t think your tween or teen child has picked a “good” friend? Once your kids leave elementary school, you can no longer make or avoid playdates at certain friends’ houses.

 

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A bad kindergarten year shaped my expectations

By Deborah Cavanagh

My first introduction to the teacher dance was when my daughter was about to enter kindergarten. Prior to that Amanda had been in the nurturing environment of a “Mommy and Me” preschool, where the teacher had actually sought us out on the playground and asked if we would be interested in attending.

 

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A new T.A. reflects on her lessons

By Tammy DiDomenico

 

 

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Central New York organizations step up to meet families' educational needs

By Tammy DiDomenico

Homeschooling has evolved to embrace as many forms and techniques as there are families. Forget the image of a quiet, makeshift home classroom; many homeschooling families supplement their curriculums by using resources and agencies outside the home.

 

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New kindergartners need TLC, and sleep

By Eileen Gilligan

As the youngest of four children, I couldn’t wait to go to school. I wanted to be like my older siblings, of course, and jump into the fun and adventures I heard them discuss. But my mother said I had to wait until I was 5. So I waited.

 

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Have better conversations with your kids

By Emma Kress

The same conversation unfolds at dinner tables across the country every September:
“How was school?”
“Fine.”
“What did you do?”
“Nothing.”

 

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A child needs an explanation for an absent parent

By cary and Tonja Rector

We often hear from single parents asking how to help children cope with an absent or mostly absent parent. For instance, “My daughter is asking a lot of questions about her father, who is in and out of her life. She wants to know why he doesn’t see her more, why other kids live with their fathers” or “Doesn’t he want to be my dad?” and other difficult questions.

 

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Back-to-school advice that will save your sanity

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Another school year has arrived, with the attendant drama of new
teachers, friends scattered across teams, new schedules that need to be committed to memory, and parents who feel they just need to be committed. Every grade is a new challenge, and it seems that as soon as you have some sense of what to expect, a new one begins.

 

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Parents of multiples have their hands full

By Eileen Gilligan

One mother of three says going from one child to two children doubles the amount of work; adding a third child increases the work exponentially. But having twins or triplets? Surprisingly, the advice experienced moms give for new parents of multiples can easily be applied to parents of “singletons,” as they call them.

 

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Some new parents must move beyond a dysfunctional childhood

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Anticipating the birth of your child is an exciting time. There are many things to think about and prepare. New parents have events and experiences from their own childhood they want to repeat for their children—and often some they want to avoid. For those who experienced a difficult childhood, the list of what to avoid far outweighs what to replicate. As we talk with these parents in our practices, we hear their determination to provide a better environment for their children, along with a strong fear: “What if I can’t pull it off?”

 

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Forgive the advice givers, we can’t help ourselves

By Maggie Lamond Simone

A good friend and her family recently adopted a dog, their first. When she came over to introduce us, I was so happy for her I could burst. I love dogs. I’ve had dogs for many years. As we stood there watching the “baby” frolic in the yard, I said, “If you need anything, let me know. I don’t know much, but I know dogs.”

 

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Having a baby in a birth center

By Amy Suardi

If I could give birth a thousand times, I’d be pregnant right now. However, when I found out I was expecting our fourth child at age 40, I knew it was probably my last.

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Parents can help kids value themselves and others

By Maggie Lamond Simone

I remember watching my daughter and her friends interact on the playground when she was 2, 3 and 4 years old. Boys or girls, quiet or rambunctious, it didn’t matter; everyone was a possible new friend. Everyone had potential. After she started school, a shift began to evolve that was so subtle, it could have been missed. It was a power shift, of sorts. When I subbed in the elementary schools during those years, I saw it almost everywhere, the divisions forming. The playground cliques. The pitting of one child against another: “If you include her, I won’t play.”

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Avoid kids’ footwear freakout, if possible

By Eileen Gilligan

Pencils, notebooks, backpacks—I can handle shopping for those at back-to-school time. But new shoes? It’s never easy. At least once kids can talk, they can tell you that the shoes are too tight. But then they can also complain about the color or ugly style.

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Central New York attractions pair beautifully with books

By Emma Kress

Field trips are a great way to make abstract facts more accessible. They expose children to worlds they might never otherwise see. They build the informational knowledge base so that when students encounter a new topic in school or a difficult passage on a standardized test, they have a richer sense of meaning from which to draw. Yet, in this economy, it’s harder than ever for schools to take students to the latest exhibit at the zoo or museum. But that doesn’t have to stop you. Create your own educational excursions while the kids are on vacation.

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Performer Vanessa Johnson gets the words out any way she can

By Tammy DiDomenico

Anything you can do Vanessa Johnson can probably do better. Spend a little time with her and you quickly learn that her resume is as diverse as it is long, packed with projects that are inspired by her passions and offer inspiration to others.

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Kids are focusing on one sport at a younger age

By Aaron Gifford

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny:
I am highly allergic to bee stings. I don’t know if my children are, too. And I’m worried about how to prepare if they get stung at some point. What do I need to do to be ready?

 

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Pack your snacks, toys and upbeat mindset

By Amy Suardi

I have been flying with my four children since before they sprouted teeth. Because my parents live in Ohio and my husband’s in Italy, long trips are a part of life. We usually fly as a family, but when my husband has had to work, I’ve flown solo with the munchkins—and I’m not sure if I say this laughing or crying—while super-pregnant, during whirling Northeasters, and when I was so sick I was green.

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We can’t tell them what we don’t know

By Maggie Lamond Simone

I got my first “smart phone” last month. Let me start by clearing up a common misperception about such a phone: It really is the phone that is smart. It is not just for smart people, as evidenced by the fact that I own one. However, it certainly does help to be smart to be able to use one. Or to turn it on.

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Explore the life of your child’s mind

By Emma Kress

When I first toured the Syracuse University Early Education and Child Care Center, the director, Joan Supiro, walked us around the kid-sized school. Anytime Supiro turned away from us, I mouthed “I LOVE THIS PLACE” to my husband. I actually cried during one moment in the pre-school room when I saw the arrangement of the space and the way the kids were free to play and learn as they wished.

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Parents can—gently—help kids with weight issues

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Several months ago we discovered the wallpaper on the family computer had been changed. What now greeted the user was a picture of an obese giraffe standing on the Serengeti Plain with the caption, “McDonald’s Hits Africa.” Our 12-year-old son found the picture on the Internet. It’s a funny-looking picture that told us he made the connection between fast food and obesity, which was encouraging.

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Raising an infant locavore has its hurdles

By Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows

Long before my nearly 5-month-old son first lunged at a spoonful of rice cereal, I had been anticipating and fretting over his transition to solid food. As a home cook, food writer and locavore—a local food enthusiast—I spend lots of time in the kitchen. This means that Timothy also spends lots of time in the kitchen. Watching him feed on formula meal after meal, I wondered if he was tiring of his unvaried diet. The day his hand found its way into my dish of grilled fish and sautéed arugula I knew it was time to begin the food adventure.

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Kids can sample the festive foods of summer

By Aaron Gifford

Central New Yorkers love to party outdoors. The region boasts an impressive lineup of celebration weekends, firemen field days and ethnic food festivals leading up to the summer’s grand finale, the New York State Fair. Just about every weekend from May until October, there’s an opportunity to try new kinds of foods and enjoy live entertainment for less money than what it would cost to take the family out to dinner.

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Summer finally arrives in CNY


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Growing up knowing too much about too much

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Typically when things change, I grudgingly keep up. Yes, it took me five years to purchase a DVD player. And I only recently began texting. I’m on Facebook, and I contemplate Twitter occasionally. I know how to use the coffee pot that makes one cup at a time, but we did finally figure out how to make the husband’s iPhone ring.

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Paying for special needs expenses demands time and know-how

By Tammy DiDomenico

Parents of a child with a disability have many concerns to juggle, and one of the most worrisome is tracking down money to pay for specialists, equipment, home renovations and other expenses.

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My kid did the homework

By Deborah Cavanagh

I open up Amanda’s sixth-grade school planner and find a yellow sheet of paper with three famous historical quotes. The directions say that each student is required to choose one of the quotes, stand in front of the class and recite it. Attached to this yellow sheet is a pink sticky note saying, “We are not sure if Amanda will do this but thought it was worth a try.”

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Supporting typically developing brothers and sisters

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Typically developing brothers and sisters are intertwined in the lives of their siblings with special needs longer than anyone else including parents, teachers and helping professionals.

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Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny:

What do you think of the “autism diet”? I’ve heard some children benefit a lot from eliminating gluten and casein from their meals. I’ve also read that diet doesn’t affect children on the autism spectrum one way or the other. What do you think?

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Find someone to care for the kids

By Amy Suardi

So, do you need a babysitter?

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Family Times won three awards in the annual Parenting Publications of America 2011 competition.

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Meditation and yoga can help kids concentrate

By Emma Kress

As a teacher, I love incorporating breathing and yoga into my classes. I don’t attempt anything too complex. (Who wants to do low plank on a high school floor?) But I have found that teaching a few strategies can help students (and me) relax, refocus and re-energize.

 

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How do you react to a child’s rude gesture?

By Tammy DiDomenico

Many less-than-wonderful things find their way home from our children’s schools each day: We have the onslaught of cold and flu germs, homework and notes from the teachers, and nasty habits passed on from “other” children.

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Author Laurie Halse Anderson heads back to the woods

By Tammy DiDomenico

Laurie Halse Anderson’s has written all kinds of books  for kids. She has published everything from fun, clever picture books (1998’s Turkey Pox) to intense, young adult novels such as Speak (1999), a look at the emotional aftermath of date rape.

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Used clothes and goods can lessen the cost of kids

By Eileen Gilligan

Pregnancy brings joy, nausea sometimes, and plenty of reasons to go shopping. For many parents and parents-to-be, the secondhand or consignment shop becomes a regular source for their shopping list.

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What children need to know about death

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Few topics are more anxiety-provoking than death and dying. Paradoxically, helping children talk and learn about death will significantly defuse their anxiety.

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Area camps offer opportunities to focus

By Aaron Gifford

At Jim Boeheim’s Big Orange Basketball Camp, participants meet Syracuse University stars and compete in the Carrier Dome. The kids get an inside look at one of the top Division I programs in the country.

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny:
My 7-year-old had mononucleosis a few months back, and I had to keep her home for over a week. It took her a few weeks beyond that to recover her normal boundless energy levels. What can you tell me about mono? How does a little kid get what’s known as “the kissing disease”?

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Denying a child’s requests has benefits

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Are there any benefits to your child hearing the word “no”?

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Scandalous songs, then and now

By Maggie Lamond Simone

I was sitting at my desk, reasonably patiently, downloading songs from iTunes for my daughter. As she sampled the songs, I couldn’t help wondering what the heck she was listening to these days and why it was even allowed on the radio. Things have changed so much since I was a kid, it seems. After one particular song, I could hold my tongue no longer.

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Encouraging instrument practice, avoiding sour notes

By Eileen Gilligan

Getting children to practice their musical instruments seems as difficult as getting them to try a new vegetable. In my experience, they want to play an instrument, they just don’t want to practice with the instrument.

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Dr. Alan Freshman

Q: My child just turned 5 and I’m not sure when I should take him for an exam with an ophthalmologist. Is there a set suggested time for this? And does it matter if he sees an ophthalmologist or an optometrist? (And what’s the difference, by the way?)

 

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The highs and lows of elementary infatuation

By Tammy DiDomenico

With two teenage boys in the house, it’s natural for talk of “girlfriends” to creep into Polhamus family discussions. But it’s usually not the teens at the center of the discussions—because 8-year-old Carter is the household Romeo.

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Thoughts inspired by Valentine’s Day

By Maggie Lamond Simone

My editor reminded me that my February column was due, and anticipating my blank stare, said, “Maybe you could write about love or something.”

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Teaching is way more than a job

By Emma Kress

In this age of job cuts and economic uncertainty, I feel lucky to have a job. But I don’t have just any job. I get to teach. As Valentine’s Day approaches this year, I decided to express my love for . . . teaching.

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Getting kids to wash, brush and dress

By Eileen Gilligan

When our children are babies, we’re in charge of everything. We decide what to feed them, when to bathe them, what they should wear and whether a large bow would look good in their scraps of hair.

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A to-do list for a fresh decade

By Maggie Lamond Simone

I have not always loved beginnings. They used to fill me with fear and sadness, because they usually represented an end to a part of my life that, while not often very happy, was very comfortable. Yet even in my dark days I always seemed to know when I needed to change in order to grow, and was fortunate enough to surround myself with people who supported that need.

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The meaning of developmental milestones

By Tammy DiDomenico

Michele Stadder and her husband Ian thought they had beaten the rap. For the majority of Michele’s pregnancy—her first—they had resisted the urge to obsess over every little thing that could go wrong. The Syracuse couple listened to the obstetrician and followed his advice, but they decided to stay away from parenting blogs, forums, and the array of guides that seem to do little more than foster anxiety in new mothers and fathers.

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Dr. Maritza Alvarado directs Syracuse schools’ medical services

By Tammy DiDomenico

Educators know that there is a connection between children’s health and their ability to do well at school. With the hiring of Dr. Maritza Alvarado as director of medical services last fall, the Syracuse City School District has made a strong commitment to balancing these factors in its 36 schools—no small task.


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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny:
My 3-year-old godson just received a diagnosis of ringworm. I am pregnant with my first child. Do I need to avoid my godson? Is ringworm a worm? How do you catch it? Can you tell me how keep all the various rashes straight when my baby is born; I want to know what to watch out for.

 

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How bad are sweets, really?

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

Most parents think too much sugar is not good for their children, but no one really knows how much is too much. Despite popular opinion that sugar is generally bad for you, sugar itself isn’t a poison that should be banned from your household. Finding ways to moderate sweet treats within a balanced diet will leave the sweet tooth satisfied and healthy.

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Parental guidance is a must for video games

By Cary and Tonja Rector

In our practice not a day goes by without kids or parents talking about video games, although typically for very different reasons. The kids are excited about the action and challenges of the game while parents are concerned about the depiction of violence and first-person shooting.

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Let’s enjoy a holiday tail—or two, or more

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a … ” Oops. Hold up. That’s not quite right this year. This year a mouse was actually stirring. And it changed my views a tad on the circle of life.

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The Year’s Best Books, Music, Software, Video Games and More

In Part 2 of our 2010 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold award winners’ coverage, we proudly bring you more top children’s products for fun and learning. Our expert judges, parents and child testers have again selected the most innovative and engaging products to help you find just the right gifts for this holiday season and throughout the year.

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Kids learn to give by seeing their parents do it

By Eileen Gilligan

At this major gift-giving time of year, it’s difficult to get children to think about anything else except the new toys, bicycles and Wii games they may soon receive. But this emphasis on giving actually offers an excellent opportunity to encourage your kids to think about others.

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Teachers value thoughtful—not pricey—presents

By Emma Kress

As the holidays approach, I often struggle to come up with the right gift for everyone on my list. And since there are always so many people I want to thank and appreciate this time of year, I get a bit overwhelmed by the amount of money involved. But remembering the teachers on your list doesn’t have to add to your holiday financial burden.

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By Tammy DiDomenico

The DeWitt Police Department has made technology-related crimes a key aspect of its youth education program.

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By Reid Sullivan

Family Times Cover Kid Contest judges once again faced a challenge to come up with four winners out of dozens of entries in the seventh annual contest.

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Bullying is timeless—and unacceptable

By Maggie Lamond Simone

The holidays are upon us once again, the season of family, of gatherings, of traditions. The season, in most people’s lives, of hope.

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Baking with kids yields many treats

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

Fall is prime time for heating up the oven and taking on a deliciously rewarding baking project with
the kids.

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Q: My 10-year-old son plays football. I’ve been reading a lot in the past year about head injuries in sports, especially football, and I’ve become concerned. What do I need to do to make sure my boy is as safe as possible while pursuing this sport? What should I watch out for and how should I respond if he does get a hard knock to the head?

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The Year’s Best Toys, Games, DVDs and Story CDs for All Ages

As the season of giving approaches, the 2010 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) shares its best gift ideas for children. From 20 years of experience setting the Gold standard for children’s products, NAPPA’s team of expert judges, parents and child testers proudly present their top picks of products for children’s learning and entertainment.

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A wrong turn at the grocery store

Grocery shopping has always vexed me. No matter how well or how poorly I do it, I have to do it again next week. Week in, week out, I push my cart on the right, I check for traffic at intersecting aisles, I take a number for the deli, and I weigh the fruit. The routine, at least, is vaguely calming.

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A family heads to the orchards in fall

By Tammy DiDomenico

When I was growing up, we had a pear tree in the back yard. It was nice and tall, and produced a lot of fruit. But I never cared much for it—because it wasn’t an apple tree.

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The simplicity movement is a way to focus on essentials

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

Why all the fuss about simple living? Some people simplify their households because of uncertain finances and rising costs, while others aim to lessen their environmental impact.

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Balance limits and fantasy for a fun Halloween

By Eileen Gilligan

Halloween may seem like just one day a year, but for children and many of its grown-up fans, the holiday’s spirit runs through much of the calendar. In my house the discussion of what to be for Halloween is never closed—that is, until the costumes for this year have been bought, borrowed or somehow cobbled together.

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Organize your household for school

By Emma Kress

Let’s face it: Some kids are born with secretaries in their heads and some aren’t. Besides, the part of the brain that organizes, prioritizes and plans doesn’t fully develop until we’re in our 20s. When your child grows up, he’ll be rich enough to hire his own organizational help. In the meantime, you need to teach him how to compensate.

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Why not teach my son golf?

By Maggie Lamond Simone

If ever there was a sporting analogy for parenthood, golf is it. There are traps and hazards and obstacles and bad lies, misplaced shots and errors in judgment and bad bounces. Even the professionals have bad days and miss putts. It looks so darn easy on television, yet simply breaking even is a good thing.

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Make friends with the SAT

By Emma Kress

I hate the SAT. Yet I teach a class to prepare students for this test.

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A SAHM returns to work

By Kelly Taylor

Have you ever experienced a nervous twitch in your eye, usually cropping up at the most inconvenient times? Say, as you are about to teach your first class of 70 students after being a stay-at-home mom for 12 years? That actually happened to me when I returned to work. I was so embarrassed and concerned about the twitch that I went to visit my doctor. He asked me if I was under any unusual stress. I had the urge to laugh hysterically. Stress had become my ever-present shadow for the last several weeks.

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You can help your child learn social skills

By Cary and Tonja Rector

The autumn return to school is an emotional time for kids. Most feel sad to leave summer behind and also excited about connecting with old friends and meeting new ones. Some children navigate the social scene with relative ease, incorporating new friendships with little trouble. Other kids, however, seem to struggle. They have difficulty making and keeping friends.

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CNY centers restrict use of devices

By Aaron Gifford

Last year, Cazenovia Children’s House teachers asked the parents of school-age children to vote on whether the use of hand-held electronic gaming devices, cell phones and MP3 players should be restricted. After reviewing various opinions, administrators banned the devices.

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: It seems like my daughter just began sleeping through the night and she started getting nightmares. She’s 3. She screams and yells and sometimes wakes up upset. I, selfishly, would like to be sound asleep at 2 a.m. myself, but lately that doesn’t seem possible. Is there anything I can do?

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Individuals and teams vie for honors

By Tammy DiDomenico

Student athletes can find many ways to pursue the thrill of competition. But those looking for a challenge of the more cerebral nature are also finding ways to compete, and let their academic achievements shine.

 

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Sights abound along Routes 5 and 20

By Lorraine Smorol


Families looking for a day’s getaway have a lot of choices not far from Central New York. The New York State Thruway is the most obvious route for speed. Large sections of the toll roadway were opened throughout 1954 and made traveling from New York City to Buffalo and places in between much quicker.

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Noises do prey on one's mind, don't they?

By Maggie Lamond Simone


Ah yes, I can hear it now, the fading sound of summer vacation—a few precious weeks left of those lovely times spent at the beach, at the playground, on bike rides through the neighborhood, or on creative rainy-day activities. And I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed all of these activities, because I truly have.

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Jets training camp is fun for fans and non-fans, too

By Aaron Gifford


Upward of 50,000 people are expected to descend on the SUNY Cortland campus soon for the New York Jets’ preseason training camp, and many of them won’t be serious football fans.

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Get your kids’ back-to-school lists filled

By Eileen Gilligan

Shopping for back-to-school has much in common with doing homework: The sooner you start, the better it will go.

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Everyone wins when kids pitch in

By Cary and Tonja Rector


I don’t want to clean the cat’s litter box! It stinks and I have to hold my nose the whole time!” “Fold the laundry? You guys always say I should take care of my stuff. I’ll fold my own laundry, but not the whole basket.”

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When renovating, one thing leads to another

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Well, hon, looks like we need to find a roofer!” my husband said, phone book in hand. I couldn’t help feeling he was just a little too perky about it; in my mind, it’s just wrong to spend that much money on something I can neither wear nor drive. But he is a Project Man, and Project Men are simply not happy unless there is major construction happening in or around their home on a regular basis.

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So much about depression doesn’t make sense

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Why do they call depression “the blues”? Blue is such a beautiful color. My husband’s eyes are an ethereal light blue. The ocean, one of my favorite places to be near, comes in too many shades to be counted. And of course there’s the sky in summertime—a deep blue that promises a perfect day of unscheduled bliss. Blue is the very color of happy.

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Upstate water parks are just a short drive away

By Eileen Gilligan


Nothing beats a day at the beach—except maybe a day at a water park, especially if you’re a kid.

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You have ways of making kids shop with you

By Eileen Gilligan

A mainstay in my daughter’s stuffed animal collection is “Blue Elephant,” so named for the blue “fur” that sticks out around his clothing. Blue Elephant was waiting for her in the crib when she came home from the hospital because our then-16-month-old son had picked it out for her. Well, that wasn’t his intention, but that was the result.

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: I am a busy mother of two children, a 7-month-old baby girl and a 3-year-old boy. It seems as if not a week goes by that I don’t get an alarmed e-mail from a caring friend, urging me to avoid some kind of plastic, whether for bottles or sippy cups (bisphenol-A, or BPA, for example), or even containers labeled “microwave safe” for heating food for my kids. I never know how seriously to take all of this concern. I did toss out bottles and cups that I suspected contained BPA. On the other hand, I’ve read many cans are lined with possibly harmful plastics, and I can’t afford to toss out all of our food. What do you suggest?

[More]


By James MacKillop

It all starts here,” said presenter David Lowenstein, now of Cazenovia SummerStage. Lowenstein was one of the most experienced voices at the fifth annual Syracuse Area Live Theatre Youth (SALTY) Awards, on May 23. Once a mainstay of Syracuse community theater companies, Lowenstein rose to become a successful Broadway performer, and recently he has returned to the area to work for the Syracuse University Drama Department and for Cazenovia College.

[More]


CNY families have ways of celebrating the season

Compiled by Reid Sullivan

[More]


Prepare for the impact of a newborn

By Cary abd Tonja Rector

When sentiment and reality clash, the result is stress. The birth of a baby is often such an occasion. Having a baby is a life-changing event. It’s not unusual for a couple to romanticize the idea of a newborn. The larger the gap between sentiment and reality, the greater the stress.

[More]


By Dr. Alan Freshman

Q: Dear Dr. Lanny: Can you talk about child proofing? My little guy is almost ready to crawl, and I wonder what a reasonable approach is to making our small, cluttered house as safe as possible. I want my son to be able to explore, but I don’t want him to have a terrible fall.

[More]


Get ready for a family picnic!

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

Summertime is the best time for a picnic, but the essentials of this casual, usually outdoors, meal can bring magic to any old day. Start with easy-to-eat treats you’ve prepared ahead and throw down a blanket or quilt. Spend time sitting cross-legged and nibbling healthy foods with your kids and let the fun begin!

[More]


Sneak in some warm-weather brain work

By Emma Kress


Most students lose more than two months of math skills and some students lose the same in reading skills over the summer. But you can’t expect your child to do worksheets on a July afternoon. So how can you enjoy summer and help your child keep his brain busy?

[More]


Dealing with kids’ handouts, homework and art

By Eileen Gilligan

Papers from school arrive nearly every day, and someone’s got to do something with them. But what?

[More]


Overcoming our discomfort with difference

By Maggie Lamond Simone

When I was a kid, there were no “special needs” kids. There were “handicapped” kids and “retarded” kids, and they were separated from the rest of us in every way possible. They went to different classes in a different part of the school. I felt sorry for them, and when other kids made fun of them on the bus, it broke my heart.

[More]


Children with special needs find ways to connect

By Tammy DiDomenico

When Beth Wagner learned that her son Jaden would be born with spina bifida, a developmental problem of the spine, she and her husband wrestled with many questions about challenges he could face—including how Jaden would make friends.

[More]


An autistic son finds his own way

By Kelly Taylor

Our son, Holden, just celebrated his 13th birthday. Unlike typical boys his age, sports, girls and the latest music downloads are not on his radar. Holden is autistic. He still loves Disney characters, going camping with Dad, and getting chicken nuggets and french fries at his favorite fast-food restaurant. Our son, Holden, just celebrated his 13th birthday. Unlike typical boys his age, sports, girls and the latest music downloads are not on his radar. Holden is autistic. He still loves Disney characters, going camping with Dad, and getting chicken nuggets and french fries at his favorite fast-food restaurant.

[More]


Carroll Grant helps untangle developmental disorders

By Tammy DiDomencio

For a parent, there is perhaps nothing worse than the feeling that something just isn’t right with your child. When the problem is a developmental disability, it can be especially tough to diagnose and treat.

[More]


Understand, don’t label, kids with special needs

By Emma Kress

Health problems forced me to use a wheelchair for a few months and crutches and canes for years. While I am able to walk without assistance now, I do not take walking for granted. My experience awakened me to prejudice toward people with varied abilities. Later, I became a learning specialist, working mainly with students labeled with learning disabilities. Perhaps the most disheartening piece of my job was realizing how these labels gnawed at self-esteem, making kids feel stupid.

[More]


What you need to know about children’s hearing


By Dr. Alan Freshman

Screening of newborn babies for hearing loss did not exist two decades ago. Today, two to four of every 1,000 newborns have some hearing problem and half of those have no identifiable risk factors at birth, such as family history of deafness or viral infection during pregnancy.

[More]


Who’s too old for another baby?

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Mom,” the girl asked recently, “why did you marry someone so much older than you?”

[More]


Finding female friends gets harder all the time

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Women have always kind of scared me. Not like mice scare me, really, but in a more “I am completely inadequate and therefore unworthy of your friendship” way. I’ve been like this since I was a child, and whatever the reason (cough *BROTHERS* cough), it must be addressed. I recently read that by their 40s, women either meet or have already become friends with the friends they will have the rest of their lives. The pressure is on.

[More]


This mom insists her sons wear bike helmets

By Tammy DiDomenico

Yes, it’s true. It’s time for the kids to dust off their bikes—and their bike helmets.

[More]


By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: My baby girl is due for a blood draw to test for lead at her 12-month doctor’s visit. I am not looking forward to this. Why do they have to take blood? I’m also little concerned about the results because we live in an old house. (Our daughter seems to be developing normally, according to her pediatrician.) Can you tell me about the lead test?

[More]


Teens invest serious time and money in a prom dress

By Eileen Gilligan

Hours spent planning, shopping, dressing and prepping result in a glamorous evening, which lasts just a few hours. Is it a wedding? No, it’s the high school prom.

[More]


How to cope with pregnancy nausea

By Eileen Gilligan

Mayonnaise on white bread, doughnuts from the vending machine, and good old saltine crackers: Nearly every mom has a solution, complaint or story to tell about morning sickness.

[More]


Story time can be even better with some tweaks

By Emma Kress

Reading aloud with your child is one of the best ways to nurture future reading and school success. Yet reading aloud shouldn’t stop when your child enters that kindergarten classroom.

[More]


A new mother tries, and tries again, to breastfeed

By Eileen Gilligan

I  have always believed I have a high tolerance for pain. My husband came to agree after watching me give birth to our son. It was a great labor and delivery, with no pain medications, and then a 9-pound, 12-ounce MacIntyre appeared.

[More]


Technology has created new ways for kids to hurt each other

By Cary and Tonja Rector

As parents of adolescents can attest, teens use technology to socialize more than ever. Most have access to the Internet and e-mail through multiple devices such as computers, cell phones and smartphones. They use social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Texts and instant messages are common ways to communicate. Unfortunately their communication isn’t always positive. As adolescent use of technology has increased, so has cyberbullying.

[More]


Nurture your child’s language skills

By Emma Kress

As parents, we eagerly await our child’s first words. My father lobbied extensively for “Grandpa” and was devastated when “puppy” won out. But language expression is not a competition. It’s how we begin to know our child’s thoughts and dreams. We use language to make sense of and interact with our world. But your child begins to understand language long before the first fully formed word leaves his lips. In fact, your baby began responding to language when he was still in the womb. He is ready to learn from you the moment he is born. How can you help him learn?

[More]


Parenting with consistency is a worthy goal

By Cary and Tonja Rector

If you walk into any large bookstore and go to the parenting section, you will likely encounter rows of books on parenting— a great deal of information representing many different approaches. It’s a safe bet that most authors of such books consider consistent parenting essential for building a child’s sense of security and trust, and for effective discipline.

[More]


Dojos mix values with physical training

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

When parents seek an organized sport for their child, they may overlook one of the oldest forms of physical and mental conditioning: the martial arts. Developed to increase fighting skills, the martial arts also promote self-discipline and self-confidence. Other benefits include improved concentration and respect for elders, which carry through to all aspects of life.

[More]


A husband and wife realize they need to talk

By Maggie Lamond Simone

It was a weird kind of quiet.

[More]


Use safer products to clean and “green” your home

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

No one loves to do housecleaning, yet we all have to anyway. How can you set reasonable standards for cleanliness, get it done efficiently and use products that aren’t dangerous to your health and the environment at the same time?

[More]


How three couples sustain their relationships

By Tammy DiDomenico

We’ve all heard the advice: Parents need to make time for their relationship. But so often the rigor, stress and, yes, boredom of daily life conspire to extinguish marital romance.

[More]


How to discuss skin color with your child

By Emma Kress

February is Black History Month, which many schools celebrate with a “heroes and holidays” approach. Although this approach guarantees that white children will have heard of Kwanzaa and Martin Luther King Jr., it doesn’t send much of a message about racial equality and integration. If we limit our children’s racial education to a particular month, then we teach them that the black experience is not integral to their white experience. As a mom, I want to raise my daughter to understand and appreciate the value of everyone. As a white mom, I need to be sure “everyone” includes people with different skin color from my white daughter.

[More]


By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: I have two kids, one in school and one in daycare, and in the winter, especially, they’re always getting colds or flu. You seem pretty skeptical about alternative medicine—but what am I supposed to do when I’m not supposed to give cough medicines to my children and there seem to be a lot of other over-the-counter medicines that doctors frown on? How can I treat coughs, congestion, aches and other common symptoms? (And, yes, we try to wash hands and use hand sanitizer as often as is practical, given the children’s ages, but they still get sick.)

[More]


Meditation helps rest the mind, body and spirit

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

Stacey Smith offers a journey toward achieving inner calm with four simple words: stop, calm, rest and heal.

[More]


When is a step forward just a step too far?

By Maggie Lamond Simone

I try to be a modern woman, to roll with the changes. If it’s new and improved and makes my life easier, I’m typically all over it. My generation has had more than its share of innovations and progress, and I’ve always been quite pleased to be a part—and a recipient—of that progress.

[More]


Breast is best, but artificial milk isn’t so bad either

By DR. Alan Freshman

WARNING: This column is loaded with discussion about baby formula … and it’s not all bad!

[More]


Forging a blended family is demanding

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Both adults had tears in their eyes as they explained, “We love each other, but the parenting problems are tearing us apart.” In our practice we see many different combinations of stepfamilies. Each member of a stepfamily has his or her own unique perspective, experiences and challenges. The number of children living with both biological parents has declined in recent years; however, the number of children living in a stepfamily has increased. This means many adults find themselves in the position of raising children who are not biologically their own. This article is a look at the challenges from the stepparent’s point of view.

[More]


What to make of grades, from A to F

By Emma Kress

Soon, you’ll get hard evidence of how well your child is performing in school: a report card. How do you make sense of the numbers or letters? How will you react? If it’s “good,” will you pin it on the fridge? If it’s “bad,” will you deny him TV privileges? Most importantly, which reactions will most benefit your child’s growth?

[More]


Meditation helps rest the mind, body and spirit

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

Stacey Smith offers a journey toward achieving inner calm with four simple words: stop, calm, rest and heal.

[More]


CNY’s Dr. Richard Waldman gains a voice in the nation’s largest ob-gyn group

By Tammy DiDomenico

Dr. Richard Waldman isn’t one to romanticize his reasons for becoming a doctor. “My mother gave me three choices: I could be a doctor, a lawyer or a dentist,” he explains. “I had two older brothers, one was an endodontist and the other was a surgeon.”

[More]


Has the real Christmas gone missing?

By Maggie Lamond Simone

I dreamed that I forgot Christmas.

[More]


Top Books, Music, Software, Video Games and More

Pull out your holiday shopping lists! In Part 2 of our 2009 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Award-Winners’ coverage, we proudly present our judges’, parent testers’ and children’s top picks for books, music, Web sites and video games. Our experts have selected the best from more than 1,000 products to help you find the right gifts for holiday fun and throughout the year.

[More]


Making the most of a parent-teacher conference

By Emma Kress

Parent-teacher conferences may be your first opportunity to meet your child’s teacher. Having coached parents and teachers, and been on both sides myself, I know how apprehensive everyone can get. Each person carries a lifetime of assumptions that can cloud that all-too-short meeting. And yet, for many of you, this is your only time to have a meaningful conversation with your child’s teacher. So how can parents make the best of their minutes?

[More]


A mother and child balance nutrition and personal ethics

By Mikaela and Annemarie Neary as told to Tammy DiDomenico

For many families, the approaching holiday season conjures visions of hearty feasts, tables full of culinary delights enjoyed while surrounded by friends and family. But for increasing numbers of American families, dietary concerns and preferences have changed the holiday dinner table and the everyday one, too.

[More]


By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: High cholesterol and heart disease run in my family. My father died of a heart attack at age 52. I’m 37 and taking statins on doctor’s orders. What is your opinion of cholesterol-lowering drugs for kids? My son is 10—and active and healthy. I’d like him to stay that way.

[More]


Outsmarting calories is easier than you imagine

By Maggie Lamond Simone

The holiday season is upon us once again—Halloween just past, Thanksgiving and the December holidays, and of course my birthday, looming—and already the queries have begun.

[More]


By Reid Sullivan

Parents submitted 94 charming photos of their children to the sixth annual Family Times Cover Kid Contest, and the judges had a difficult series of choices to pick a single winner in each of the four categories for young people ages 2 to 16.

[More]


Top Toys, Games, DVDs and Story CDs for All Ages

Jump-start your holiday shopping with these winners from the 2009 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) competition. With 19 years of experience selecting the top children’s products, NAPPA’s team of expert judges—with help from parent and child testers—present you with their top picks, setting the gold standard in children’s learning and entertainment.

[More]


Holiday’s reach expands as popularity grows

By Eileen Gilligan

How could ringing doorbells and nabbing free candy get any better? But over the years, Halloween and trick-or-treating have grown into a multi-event annual institution with all kinds of associated traditions.

[More]


Use Halloween’s treats to work on school skills—painlessly

By Emma Kress

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. First of all, people just give you chocolate. And I loved becoming someone or something else for a single night. And did I mention the chocolate?

[More]


Apples are the core of family life at Beak and Skiff

By Tammy DiDomenico

Each autumn, thousands of Central New York families take the scenic drive on Route 20 to LaFayette. Their destination? Beak and Skiff Apple Farms, one of the area’s most enduring family-owned businesses.

[More]


Dogs, cats and other pets strengthen family ties

By Eileen Gilligan

My kids and I would like to get a dog. My husband is the holdout—for now. He thinks he’ll end up as the go-to guy for all the “dirty” jobs. The kids have worked out a schedule for walking a dog, using the pooper-scooper and feeding the dog. Our job now is to persuade him they really will do it.

[More]


Of sleep lost, minivans driven and sporting events attended

By Maggie Lamond Simone

It was a Saturday night after an exciting day of Pop Warner football and Chinese takeout. Neither child went to sleep easily or early, and after taking a few minutes to read, I fell asleep sometime after midnight. Shortly after drifting off, I was awakened by a child with a bad dream. Soon thereafter it was the cats engaged in a game of tag, followed by the dog joining in. Finally all was quiet . . . until I felt a hand on my shoulder.

[More]


Homemade costumes and treats stoke the Halloween spirit

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

Halloween marks a busy time of year, with students just settling into a new school year, and families preparing for a change of seasons and the holidays ahead. Grown-ups might moan and wail like ghosts at the thought of buying costumes and managing trick-or-treat mayhem, but who can blame kids for wanting to dress up, knock on neighbors’ doors, and beg for candy and treats?

[More]


Yes, you can eat together as a family

By Eileen Gilligan

One thing the experts don’t tell you when you have a child is to start a day planner just for them. As most parents will agree, their children have better social lives than we do; the kids get way more party invitations than we do. As they get older, add in homework assignments and project due dates. Then there may be piano lessons, some religious ed and of course, sports practices.

[More]


Education advocate strives to gives Syracuse parents a voice

By Tammy DiDomenico

Michele Abdul Sabur got involved in education advocacy as a volunteer 12 years ago to make sure her own voice—and those of her children—would be heard. Now Sabur is a facilitator of the Parent Partner Network, an organization that seeks to improve achievement for all students. The network is integral to the Syracuse City School District’s efforts to connect with parents.

[More]


Get back into the school-year groove

By Emma Kress

If you’ve ever been to London, you’ll recognize the phrase “Mind the gap.” It’s what a woman’s voice with a serene accent warns as you leave the subway car and step onto the platform. It’s the restrained British way of screaming “Watch out!” But I like to think that the use of “mind” also encourages us to be mindful. As parents, we need to be particularly mindful at this time of year as our child leaps from summer to school.

[More]


Staying in touch, but not too much

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

Parents often find it hard to let go of a child who’s heading to college. They realize there is a fine line between helpful and hovering, but after all, they are investing big money into their child’s future. So why not have some influence?

[More]


These are the times that try Mom’s mind

By Maggie Lamond Simone

I saw a young mother with a new baby in the frame store and stopped to admire both.

[More]


Tailoring the classroom to how children learn best

By Tammy DiDomenico

As September looms, 5- and 6-year-olds are picking out backpacks and looking forward to their first days in elementary school. Their parents, if this is their first child in kindergarten, may be wrestling with a variety of emotions and expectations.

[More]


Parent and child must adjust to the new reality

By Cary and Tonja Rector

It’s hard to believe we are heading into the fall “back to school” season already. For a select group of parents and teens, this year brings a different transition to navigate. These families are facing a child’s freshman year at college. The bags are packed, dorm assignments are in hand and moving day is scheduled.

[More]


Volunteering in the schools helps you and your kids

By Kelly Taylor

This is the season when teachers pass around their lists asking for room parents and the parent teacher organization pulls out all the stops to up its enrollment.

[More]


State Fair showcases ‘mini’ performers

By Kevin Corbett

On a warm, sunny August morning, the grassy yard in front of the Youth Building on the grounds of the New York State Fair had been transformed into a tent city. Young performers and their families arrived early to pitch the makeshift dressing rooms to allow the kids to don their costumes and apply makeup to their faces. Nearby dance students limbered up, singers tested their vocal cords and parents offered last-minute advice.

[More]


By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: My daughter is 12 and has to get yet another physical, this time for a sports team. What’s the purpose of all of these doctor’s visits when a child is clearly healthy?

[More]


Teaching children about jobs and earning a living

By Eileen Gilligan

I’ll never forget what my nephew said about jobs when he was 5 years old. 

[More]


The rewards of letting your kids defy expectations

By Maggie Lamond Simone 

I assume I know my children pretty well. I know their likes, dislikes, fears and dreams. I believe my son to be a relatively shy individual, and I know that my daughter, who enjoys her personal space, will never be an overly affectionate child. No real surprises there.

I used to know these things, anyway. Now, I’m not so sure.

[More]


Can new college students eat healthily?

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

Each fall, we send our young adults off to college to gain an education, expand their circle of friends, and grow their life experiences. But the first thing many of them gain is weight—about 15 pounds, on average.

[More]


Get your kid into reading

It’s August. Your child has been swimming, biking, and playing video games. But has she been reading?

[More]


Decide how many activities kids can pursue

By Kelly Taylor

For our family, summer is a much welcome hiatus filled with movie marathons and days spent at the beach. Everything slows down—unlike the hectic pace of the school year, including many of the children’s extracurricular activities.

[More]


Try some inexpensive ideas to stretch the family’s summertime fun budget

By Eileen Gilligan

Summertime, and the living is easy, as the song goes. Unless you have one to six kids at home, nicely taking turns asking: “Mom! What can we do?” (With more than six kids, who has time to answer?)

[More]


Getting involved in my child’s classroom placement

By Tammy DiDomenico

Last summer, I did something I once thought I would never do during my children’s journeys through the local public school system: I requested a specific teacher.

[More]


Keeping kids occupied can be tricky during summer’s too-short season

By Kelly Taylor

I’m thinking ahead to July and I have to admit I look at the big, red circle on the calendar indicating the last day of school with mixed emotions.

[More]


A spouse’s reunion can be an opportunity or a chore

By Maggie Lamond Simone

My husband’s college reunion is looming and I’m trying to be supportive, but I have to admit he’s really beginning to bug me. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

[More]


Think about simple hiking essentials before hitting the trails

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

Hiking can be an adventure for kids of all ages. The earlier you expose your children to the great outdoors, the more likely they’ll grow up to enjoy it. Because it can be done in nearly any natural setting, and requires simple gear, hiking makes a wonderful family outing that can become more challenging as your children get older.

[More]


Sensible precautions diminish warm-weather hazards

By Dr. Alan Freshman

It’s summertime. Be afraid. Be very afraid!

[More]


By James MacKillop

A hearty, boisterous crowd turned out at Cicero-North Syracuse High School Auditorium on June 6 for the presentation of the SALTY (Syracuse Area Live Theatre Youth) Awards and a series of scenes from shows that rivaled the best that any company put up all year.

[More]


Frozen treats lure families to Central New York shops

By Tammy DiDomenico

Ice cream may not exactly be the fountain of youth, but don’t tell Vic Johnson, the affable co-owner of Skanellus Drive-In in Skaneateles. Johnson is often seen behind the grill during the spring and summer months, slinging burgers. But when the evening rush is over, he often treats himself to another one of the house staples: a classic hot fudge sundae.

[More]


Does your child have the signs?

By Cary and Tonja Rector

There has been a striking increase in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children over the past several years. Pediatric bipolar disorder is being diagnosed at a rate 40 times greater than the recent past!

[More]


Nursing a baby demands commitment and preparation

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

Deciding whether to breastfeed or bottle feed is a personal choice primarily made by two intimate participants: mother and baby. For breastfeeding to work, both mother and child need to be committed to continuing for as long as that remains the best arrangement for the two of them. And whatever feeding method the two arrive at, family, friends and other supporters should offer encouragement.

[More]


Telling your kids another’s on the way

By Kelly D. Taylor

I had a funny experience in church a few weeks ago. I was volunteering in the children’s room, and we were teaching the little ones about how important families are to God’s plan. The leader asked who had brothers and sisters. One darling curly-haired girl, about 4 years old, raised her hand and said, “I have a brother that’s 2 and now my mommy is having another baby.” The leaders gave surprised gasps, and one teacher laughed out loud because this was news to everyone in the room. Out of the mouths of babes.

[More]


What’s so hard about selecting a Father’s Day gift?

By Maggie Lamond Simone

My husband and I are pretty predictable when it comes to gifts. Anniversaries and birthdays will usually produce a watch, for instance, or a spa treatment. We’re always creative when it comes to the kids, but between ourselves, we tend toward the familiar. The expected, if you will. We’ve been together long enough to find comfort in this. This year, however, I decided to shake things up a little.

[More]


By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: I get really freaked out when I read about antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections like MRSA in the newspaper. What can I do to make sure that my kids don’t pick up a resistant bug? I know antibacterial soaps can help breed “superbugs,” and overuse of antibiotics is bad. But sometimes we really need antibiotics, right? Like for strep or a bad ear infection? I’d be interested in your advice because the recommendations I read can be really confusing.

[More]


My quest for a physiological birth after cesarean

By Reid Sullivan
I was in my 37th week of pregnancy with my second child, and my obstetrician was examining my bulging abdomen.

[More]


Vote on this year's SALTY People's Choice Awards.

[More]


We started noticing something about him

By Jean Leiker as told to Tammy DiDomenico

Bradley was our second child. Right around that 18- to 24-month-old period, we started noticing something about him. Looking back, I think my mother’s intuition told me that something was off.

[More]


All children deserve praise for honest effort

By Kelly Taylor

Expectations for our children start early, often while they are still in the womb, and most parents have common goals for their children. We want them to be considerate of others, we hope they will grow to be independent of Mom and Dad, and we dream that they will do well, first in school and then a career.

[More]


Parents of special needs children find help, hope and support

By Tammy DiDomenico

Roberta Abreu did everything by the book when it came to her pregnancy—which made the sonogram images of her son, Lucas, that much more difficult to bear.

[More]


By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny:
I have been told my younger son, age 2, has autism spectrum disorder. I wonder if I should seek out a new pediatrician, someone who treats a lot of autistic kids, or stick with our current doctor, who has been seeing my little boy and my older boy, age 6 (and “neurotypical”), since they were babies. What do you think?

[More]


The Mother’s Day conundrum

By Eileen Gilligan

I still remember the joy I felt as Mother’s Day approached the year my son was born. Now I was a mother, too, and wasn’t this the most terrific thing! The next year I didn’t have to think about a Father’s Day gift: We brought our daughter home from the hospital on Father’s Day; she truly was the best gift possible.

[More]


Fit self-renewal into your schedule

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

The average woman spends 17 years of her life caring for her children and 18 years caring for her aging parents. The family with a special needs child has additional challenges on top of that. Parents who are caregivers may need to put themselves in “time out” once in a while. Even when faced with the demands of constant caregiving, taking the time to care for yourself helps you to be a better parent.


[More]


By Debbie Pearson

Over the past three years, the Syracuse Area Live Theatre Youth (SALTY) Awards have grown and evolved. We have changed the awards to enable more people to participate in selection of winners.

[More]


A mother confronts the three-letter f-word

By Maggie Lamond Simone

My daughter came home from school recently and said, “Mom, we did an experiment at school today with a scale, and I weigh 58 pounds. Is that OK?”

[More]


Dear Dr. Lanny:

Q: I buy expensive, special toddler toothpaste for my 18-month-old because he hasn’t learned how to spit yet (and he loves the berry-flavored one), and fluoride, I thought, is bad for kids to ingest in large quantities. When can I start giving my child a regular fluoride toothpaste that I don’t have to pay through the nose for?

[More]


Fiddler mixes a music career and family

By Tammy DiDomenico

Anyone who follows the local music scene has probably heard Davoli’s fiddle, augmenting the traditional sounds of Delaney Brothers Bluegrass, anchoring a partnership with guitarist Harvey Nusbaum or lending Celtic styling to the Irish rock of Ceili Rain. The winner of two Syracuse New Times Syracuse Area Music Awards (Sammys), Davoli also teaches violin and mandolin at his home studio in Syracuse, and cherishes his family time with wife Darbie and their three children: Nicholas, 19, and twins Joseph III and Olivia, 10.

[More]


Camp Fair 2009 gave some 50 summer programs, and residential and day camps a chance to talk to families and potential participants and help them make plans for the long vacation.

[More]


Successful marriages include four stages

By Cary and Tonja Rector
Most people are familiar with the stages of child development, but what about the developmental stages of marriage? Not as widely known, but familiarity with typical stages of marriage can be as helpful as understanding your child’s development. Michele Weiner Davis notes stages of marriage in her book The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage (Simon & Schuster, 2002).

[More]


Save some effort with a handy appliance

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez
As families look for ways to cut expenses, the food budget is often the first place to find savings. Going out to restaurants or eating fast food is neither cheap nor healthy. But cooking weeknight meals at home is often challenging for busy families. Look no further than a lowly appliance that 83 percent of American families already own: the slow cooker.

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Young CNY musicians plunge 
into the classical world

By Tammy DiDomenico
The halls at Eagle Hill Middle School in Manlius are mostly quiet on Sunday afternoons. But for a few hours each week, a walk toward the auditorium yields the sweetly unexpected: swelling strings, pulsing horns, snapping snare drums. 

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Think before giving unsolicited advice to expectant moms

By Maggie Lamond Simone
I attended a recent business function and sat down next to a young woman who was very pregnant. I suddenly recalled my son’s first sonogram, and how that one little heartbeat changed my life.

“First one?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied, hesitantly. It took me a second, but then I realized she expected me to bombard her—with stupid questions and stories of my own labors and deliveries and vomit and poopy diapers.

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny:

I’m pregnant with my first child and have heard that a newborn in the hospital needs to get all kinds of shots and things within hours of being born. I’ve been following a very careful diet, avoiding additives in my food, and I’m hoping to have a natural childbirth with no medications. So I wonder how necessary all these injections are and if they pose risks to my infant. Why do new babies need vitamin K, eye drops and a hepatitis B inoculation right after birth? Are there any other standard care measures that I should know about?

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Teach your kids to tend a garden

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

At least since Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote The Secret Garden in 1911, gardens and young people have enjoyed a mystical connection. In 2007, St. Louis University researchers found children were more likely to eat vegetables and fruits when they were grown in a home garden.

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Kids can figure out the mysteries of friendships and personal conflicts

By Cary and Tonja Rector

Children rank time with their friends as a top priority. In fact, many children say social interaction is the most important part of their school day. Parents often want a better understanding of their child’s social choices and how to help when the going gets rough.

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New moms can find ways to care for themselves

By Eileen Gilligan

When I used to ask my eldest sister, a mother of three children born within four years, what she did for her free time, she would always say: “Going to work is your free time. When you get home, that’s when your real job starts. . . and don’t forget to put in a load of wash before you go!”

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Relishing N.C., missing N.Y.

By Kelly Taylor

The other day a neighbor asked me tongue in cheek if I missed the weather in Syracuse. At the time it was a balmy 60 degrees here in North Carolina.

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Sports camps stress fun, skills and exercise in a safe environment

By Merrilee Witherell

What can parents expect when they choose a sports camp for their child? It depends on the camp.

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This mother’s no pushover

By Maggie Lamond Simone

I’m not the competitive sort. I don’t need to win to enjoy a game. I never even played sports as a kid, although there was probably a little competition between my siblings and me in terms of who was smarter. All I know is more than one family Scrabble game came to a crashing halt when someone’s tiles became projectiles. For the record, I’m sure the culprit was my younger brother, and my family’s stubborn insistence that it was me simply demonstrates the lengths to which they will all go to win.

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Food labels provide facts, and lots of them

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

You’ve seen me in the grocery store aisle: I’m the one staring at the fine print on food labels with a puzzled look. I see nutrient listings and a breakdown of ingredients, but how do I make the final decision to purchase this item or the one next to it? Or neither?

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Find fun both indoors and out

By Eileen Gilligan

I’ll only do this ‘til spring!” my son shouts as he whizzes by on the scooter we gave him for Christmas. “Annie got to ride hers in the house last year, remember?” No, we had forgotten that bit of family history until the new scooter was unwrapped on Christmas morning.

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A mother’s dictionary of parental idiom

By Maggie Lamond Simone

My daughter was nagging—er, persistently requesting something recently, and in a fit of exasperation I said, “We’ll see.” She walked away doing the little fist-pump “Yes!” thing. And I thought, Oh, isn’t that cute? She still thinks that means “you might have a shot,” rather than “I know if I say this you will leave me in peace.” How sweet!

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Get ready to discuss the S-word

By Kelly Taylor

Certain parenting moments are burned into my memory. I recall Dr. Hansen’s wide smile as he delivered my first baby. “You have a little football player here. It’s a boy,” he said. Or the time I got the call from a frantic babysitter telling me that our 5-year-old daughter, Camryn, had launched off the backyard swing, breaking her arm in two places. I remember that phone call like it was yesterday.

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Parents of some newborn sons decide to go ‘natural’

By Eileen Gilligan

We parents hear lots of advice about how to raise our children. Breastfeeding good, formula OK. Cloth diapers vs. disposables? To circumcise a newborn boy or not?

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: How do I know when it is necessary to keep my child home sick from school? I know she should stay home if she has a fever, but what about sniffles or stomachache?

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Power struggles come to a boil at the dinner table

By Cary and Tonja Rector

A pediatrician, also a good friend of ours, called to refer a 4-year-old who had refused to eat anything but Fudgy Bars and chicken McNuggets for the past two months. Indeed, any therapist working with families soon encounters problems involving some type of disturbance in the feeding relationship between parents and their children.

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A mom says it's time to battle her bulges

By Maggie Lamond Simone

I have what you might call a tenuous relationship with exercise. Every 10 years or so, it occurs to me that I might need some, and so I do something dramatic. I buy new fitness equipment, I map out a running trail in the neighborhood, I pull out the Tae Bo tape. It’s like clockwork. I told my husband I wanted a gym membership for Christmas, and without lifting his eyes from his book he replied, “Oh, has a decade gone by already?”

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Sleepless nights plague parents, but experts suggest coping strategies

By Josh Blair

Last July, Amy Tetta was living the dream of every parent of a newborn: Her 3-month-old daughter was finally sleeping, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. every night.

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Stick to this month’s goals all year long

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

New Year’s resolutions seem destined to be broken. Think back to years past, when you’ve resolved to lose weight, spend more time with family, or get out of debt. Chances are good that you gave up during the first few months, sliding back into the “old routine” and feeling guilty and unsuccessful to boot!

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67 More Award-Winners Kids Will Love

In Part 2 of the 2008 NAPPA Gold Award-winners’ coverage, we highlight outstanding books, music, and software and video games for kids. Our expert judges and kid testers have made it easy for you to find the right gifts for the children in your life this holiday season and all year-round.

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By Josh Blair

Looking for a special gift for a child? Area independent toy stores offer unusual items and personal service not available at your typical big-box store.

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An interfaith family navigates the winter holidays

By Tammy DiDomenico

The DeMari family attends weekly services at Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas in DeWitt. But the strong faith they share as a family has actually grown from a union of Jewish and Roman Catholic cultures. At no time of the year is this more apparent than during the winter holiday season.

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Parenthood brings one mom fresh perspective on her own childhood

By Maggie Lamond Simone

Well, when I was a kid…” I was in physical therapy one day, trapped on my cot with a hot pack on my back, when I heard those dreaded words from an older patient outside my door.

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Trim more than the tree this year

By Kelly Taylor

The economy’s downward turn couldn’t have come at a worse time of year. With the holidays approaching, Christmas lists and holiday requests have started to emerge around the dinner table, and Al and I just look at one another across the table and think, “Where are we going to find the money this year?”

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Think ahead to avoid major meltdowns on the road to holiday happiness

By Cary and Tonja Rector

This time of year is filled with excitement and anticipation, especially for children. Adults go to great lengths to create memorable moments for kids during the holiday season. And if those efforts end with a child in tears or a tantrum, it can be exasperating for parents. A few guidelines may help holiday plans remain a pleasant experience for parents and children.

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Open your home for an adults-only affair

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez
When your child’s social calendar, filled with play dates and birthday parties, is more interesting and varied than your own, it might be time to throw an adult party at your place. Many people see entertaining as a daunting task but just a few straightforward steps can lead to creating the right atmosphere for an event that is relaxed, festive and fun—even for the person throwing the party.

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Focus on the people who help your family all year

By Eileen Gillagan

For some, the advent of the holiday season brings dread from the unhappy anticipation of more gifts one feels compelled to buy for family, in-laws, close friends, and then who else?

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By Tammy DiDomenico

League of Women Voters adapts its family-focused agenda to the information age

The League of Women Voters (LWV), an organization founded in 1920 to call attention to issues pertinent to women, children and families, may not have obvious appeal to the 25-and-younger crowd. But members of the Syracuse Metro chapter of the LWV took their nonpartisan agenda, which includes educating the greater community on policy issues and political choice, to the Syracuse University campus last month as part of a program to educate new voters.

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By Maggie Lamond Simone

A wedding weekend with siblings kindles mom’s memories

My family and I recently traveled to the Midwest to attend the wedding of my youngest brother. The other brothers and I rented a big house in the woods so that all of the young cousins could be together and make noise and have some fun. There were no major meltdowns by either grownups or children and, aside from the occasional “Mom, he’s bugging me,” the weekend was lovely.

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By Dr. Alan Freshman

Dear Dr. Lanny: I’m scheduled for a visit with a new pediatrician for my son, age 4, and daughter, age 8. I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. What are some of your pet peeves that we ought to avoid? What are some things we ought to do to lay groundwork for a good relationship with the new doctor?

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50 Award-Winners Kids Will Love

Just in time for holiday giving, the National Parenting Publications Awards bring you the best gift ideas for children. For the past 18 years, NAPPA has set the gold standard in evaluating children’s products, with its team of expert judges and family testers highlighting the cream of the crop in children’s entertainment and learning.