Articles


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.

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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.

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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.

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2017 Summer Camp Fair is April 1st!

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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.

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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.

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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.”

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Revive your stressed-out skin with an indulgent bath

By Laura Livingston Snyder

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

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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.

 

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Families can manage serious food aversions

By Aaron Gifford

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

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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.

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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.

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

Photos by Michael Davis

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

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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Food allergies can arise unexpectedly as children start eating new things

By Aaron Gifford

Kye’s first taste of peanut butter was terrifying.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Adventures in the great outdoors

By Aaron Gifford

Sometimes kids need a shove to get them outdoors.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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

By Aaron Gifford

No matter where Gracie goes, Frankie is always there.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Kids are focusing on one sport at a younger age

By Aaron Gifford

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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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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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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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Find someone to care for the kids

By Amy Suardi

So, do you need a babysitter?

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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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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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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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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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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.

[More]


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 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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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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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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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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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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]


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]


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.

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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.

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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.

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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]


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.

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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.

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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]


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]


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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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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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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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.

[More]


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.

[More]


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.

[More]


Farms and festivals celebrate harvest with an abundance of attractions

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

The time of harvest is celebrated in nearly every culture as the culmination of the growing season, a time of sharing bounty and reveling in the spirit of fun and relaxation that follows. These days, of course, fewer families make their living off the land, but Central New York’s rural roots still run deep.

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Male elementary-level teachers face challenges and satisfactions of minority status

By Tammy DiDomenico

A funny thing happened at Enders Road Elementary in Manlius in June 2007. Classes were wrapping up for the year, and Vincent Pillari Jr. was saying goodbye to his fourth-grade students—his first class as an elementary school teacher. By the time the afternoon was over, he was in tears. “Actually, the whole class got crying,” Pillari recalls. “It was surreal.”

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What’s essential for a new baby depends on the infant, and the family

By Tammy DiDomenico

Rebecca Walch is standing in the middle of her garage, and she is not happy. Sure, she has a comfortable house and more than enough yard for her growing family to run and play on for many summers to come. But the garage … the garage has become impossible to navigate. It’s not the family van or her husband’s truck that’s taking up all the room—it’s the mountains of baby stuff. You name it, she’s got it: toys, strollers, an old bassinet, a couple of high chairs, boxes of clothes, and more toys. All of it is for one person: her daughter Emily, age 1 year.

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State Fair’s Youth Building showcases big projects—and little animals

By Kevin Corbett

At the New York State Fair you’re sure to sniff the finest roses, sip the classiest wines and gaze upon the most handsome livestock, but make sure to also tour the Youth Building, where you’re certain to be impressed by young people at their poised and polished best.

[More]


Teaching children the ways of the kitchen yields edible benefits.

By Eileen Gilligan

Q: How long does it take to make cookies with your kids?

A: About 20 minutes longer than it does to make them yourself.

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Stay-at-home fathers show one way to get more involved with children

By Josh Blair

For the four Glowaki kids, their daily routine is much like that of other children: wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, go to school, come home, do homework, play, eat dinner and go to bed. But one aspect of their routine differs from that of their peers: Every day, the four kids—Errol, 12, Tyler, 9, Grace, 7, and Essex, 5—come home to Dad. Their father, Rick, a 42-year-old Syracuse resident, handles all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, homework help and other chores associated with staying home all day.

[More]


CNY Little League Upholds high standards for sportsmanship

By Josh Blair

Forget the stories you might have seen on the nightly news about parents involved in bleacher brawls—Little League in Central New York is a class act sport.

[More]


Adding a dog to your family changes your life, so be prepared

By Merilee Witherell

I love dogs. My husband loves dogs. Yet we have had trouble convincing our many canine-less friends to add a dog to their families. Paramount among their concerns are time, money and integrating a dog into their children’s lives.

[More]


Is your child ready for a residential summer camp?

By Sami Arseculeratne Martinez

Summer camp may be one of the few experiences children have that take them back to nature and a simpler way of life, away from cell phones, Game Boys and Webkinz.


[More]


An Insider's Guide to the Strong Museum of Play

By Jackie Wiegand

If you live in Central New York and have children, a trip to the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester should land at the top of your must-do list, especially during these long, bleak winter months.


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Three CNY schools strive to serve healthful fare

By Jackie Wiegand

If your image of a typical school lunch includes pizza drowning in high-fat cheese or a leathery slice of mystery meat, think again. More and more school districts in Central New York are pushing fruits, vegetables and other healthy choices in hopes of stemming the rise in childhood obesity and improving lifelong eating habits.

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CNY artisans make gifts from the heart

By Eileen Gilligan

Joy. That’s what the artists interviewed for this article on holiday gifts express in their words, and even more importantly, in their creations.

[More]


Expectant parents take classes to get ready for labor, delivery and beyond

By Tammy DiDomenico

Today's expectant parents are undoubtedly the most informed of any generation. Doctors provide packets of facts and figures; books offer details about labor and delivery; magazines for pregnant women abound; baby-themed television shows depict the big event; and now there are numerous online sources for parents-to-be.

[More]


Students must tackle harder challenges as they leave elementary school

By Tammy DiDomenico  

Thousands of parents across Onondaga County will watch their kids head to a different school this fall: middle school.

[More]


Well-baby visit sets a standard for health

By Gina Roberts-Grey

The cornerstone in the foundation of your baby's health is the well-child visit. This regular checkup gives you a chance to discuss your child's physical, emotional, social and developmental health with her physician.

[More]


Letterboxing gets families out and about

By Gina Roberts-Grey

Imagine an alternative to a summer filled with video games and cries of “I’m bored.” Picture a hobby that uses secret messages to spark exploration of some of Central New York’s most scenic locations. Now imagine this activity gets your family to stretch their legs and their minds at the same time.

[More]


Teen jazz musicians are revitalizing the Central New York scene

By Nathan Turk

The plane wouldn’t arrive for hours. Jim Spadafore had plenty of time to reflect as he waited in the Los Angeles airport for the connecting flight home. Four of his junior and senior Liverpool High School students had just taken second place at the March 28 Monterey Jazz Festival. It was an awesome accomplishment for kids 2,000 miles away from their home turf, competing against big-name programs. (They lost to the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, but narrowly.) Soon they’d come home to some local press and walk through the school hallways with heads held a little higher.

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Area clubs encourage children to discover the joy of running

By Jackie Wiegand

Two years ago, an 8-year-old boy from Manlius maneuvered through the crowds at the Philadelphia Marathon and proudly watched his father complete the 26.2-mile race.

[More]


Teens can jump-start their careers with summer camp counselor jobs

By Gina Roberts-Grey

Many teens would like to find a summer job, but they don’t know what’s out there for them.

[More]


Celebrate Black History Month by making stops on the Underground Railroad

By Eileen Gilligan

Children and parents can explore many of the nearly 30 sites identified as part of the Underground Railroad in Central New York during Black History Month and throughout the year. Visitors who retrace the steps of runaway slaves and tour the homes where ordinary citizens kept the slaves hidden learn how important Central New York was to the Underground Railroad.

[More]


Girls who get a new vaccine could be protected against cervical cancer

By Tammy DiDomenico

When Michelle took her 8-year-old daughter for the girl’s annual physical in November, she expected all the usual procedures: a review of vaccinations, measurements of height and weight, and, of course, instructions to come back for a flu shot. She wasn’t prepared to talk to the doctor about a vaccine for a sexually transmitted virus.

[More]


Local entrepreneurs make and sell distinctive items for those on your list

By Eileen Gilligan

Creative, handmade gifts for the holidays can be found among some of our Central New York neighbors—not at their yard sales, but at their shops, studios and craft fairs. Check out creations and wares from the following locally owned businesses—just in time to avoid the crowds of shoppers at the malls while supporting some out-of-the-ordinary CNY enterprises.

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Enjoy outdoor adventures in your own back yard

By Sami Martinez Arseculeratne

Imagine you’re out under the stars, crickets chirping softly while you roast hot dogs over an open fire. A cozy tent is already made up with warm sleeping bags, and your gear is stowed away from the dewy night air. After dinner, the kids gather ’round to toast marshmallows and enjoy a cup of cocoa. Suddenly, you hear a noise and point your flashlight in that direction.

[More]


New trend in prenatal care is support-group setting


By Gina Roberts-Grey

Moms-to-be in Syracuse now have the opportunity to take part in a new prenatal care trend. Headed by nurse educator and facilitator Genie Rotundo, Syracuse’s Dr. Cathy J. Berry and Associates offers expectant mothers the opportunity to receive traditional individualized prenatal care as well the chance to participate in a “centering” pregnancy group.

[More]


Children work body and mind with local classes


By Cara O’Brien

They sprawl across the floor; one child rests his head on the next child’s stomach, the next child’s head on the next stomach. They agreeably build a chain of little sweatpants-clad bodies.

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