Where to flush the plush

Think of that ton of plush animals gathering dust in your young one’s room. There’s too many to count, and they’re just too cute to trash. Besides, Grandma and Grandpa spent a lot of money on those.

When Junior’s finally ready to let some go, there’s a perfect place to donate them and help someone in need.

Family Promise (a fabulous Monroe County organization that helps homeless families get back on their feet) is having a donation drive on Thursday, June 6. The list includes (in all sizes, for all ages): clothing, belts, handbags, ties, hats, gloves, coats, towels, sheets, blankets and stuffed animals. Donated shoes need to be bagged separately. Items should be clean and in usable condition and securely tied in strong plastic bags.

Bring your plushes (and whatever else you can donate) to Faith United Methodist Church at 1160 Clause Drive, Stroudsburg (that’s in the neighborhood behind Hughes Library, off Route 611). Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day.

For information, contact Family Promise at 570-420-8589 or email director@ptd.net.

Posted in Family Promise, gifts, spring cleaning, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mother’s Day idea for considerate yet somewhat lazy fathers

Mother’s Day is coming May 12. Ooh, you forgot, didn’t you?

It’s OK, you’ve got some time to help the kids make a gift.

What? You don’t do that kind of thing?


Lucky for you, the West End Park & Open Space Commission DOES do that kind of thing.

From 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 4, the commission will host a free Mother’s Day craft event at Van Buskirk/Haney Park on Anchorage Road, Saylorsburg.

Kids can decorate a flower pot (indiscriminate paint blobs welcome here), fill it with potting soil and a plant. She’ll love it, trust me.

Call 570-992-9733 or see weposc.org for information.

Posted in crafts, gifts, Mother's Day, Uncategorized, West End Park & Open Space Commission | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

This summer, make your own shrunken potato chip head

Spring has finally arrived (no, really!) which means Pocono parents have to start thinking about summer. As in: “What the heck will we do with the kids once school’s out?”

We’re lucky to have two higher-education institutions nearby that offer summer courses for the younger crowd.

Northampton Community College’s Horizons For Youth program in Tannersville is for kindergarteners through high schoolers. Programs start June 24 and run Aug. 30, 2013. Get signup information here.

Among the more unique offerings:

  • Duct Tape Crafts
  • Build Your Own Virtual World
  • Zumbatomic
  • How to Get Your First Job
  • and (my personal favorite) Potato Chip Science — “with over 30 experiments to choose from, you can make things like a shrunken potato chip head.” (The question is: Can you eat just one?)

At East Stroudsburg University, there is esu4kids, for children ages 6-16. Programs run weekdays July 8-26. Classes are an hour long, held throughout the day. Sign up for as many as seven per day. Get the details here.

Many, many course offerings are there, among them:

  • Create Your Own Comic Book
  • Kids Karma: Actions for a Peaceful Planet
  • Star Wars Role Play (interested, you are)

Yoda is ready for summer. Are you?



Posted in East Stroudsburg University, Northampton Community College, pocono family fun, summer activities, summer classes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Funday outdoor free-for-all

Making winter bearable

This is the weekend to put aside your cabin fever, for two reasons: 1) Forecasters say Pocono weather will be partly sunny, with a high in the 50s (insert sigh of relief here); and 2) it’s time for Sunday Funday!

Camp Speers-Eljabar, a YMCA camp on Nichecronk Road in Dingmans Ferry, is hosting five hours of family fun in its “great outdoors paradise.” From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., spend Sunday doing a variety of things, as conditions allow: hiking, fishing, mountain biking, boating, ice skating, snowtubing and cross-country skiing. Also try the climbing tower, archery, rifle range and the obstacle course.

That’s an awful lot of fun for only $5 per person or $10 per family. It’s free to YMCA members, but I’ll let you in on a secret: It can be free for any first-time visitor who prints out the pass found here. You can also click that link for more information and directions.

Note that you must register by the Friday before you plan to go. Call 570-828-2329 or email campers@campspeersymca.org to register.

Can’t make it this weekend? Sunday Fundays will continue through June 9, 2013.

Posted in cabin fever, pocono family fun, Uncategorized, winter activities | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Knit a kiss for kids in need

Make two of these, please!

Continuing our theme of  “do unto others,” while your kids are making Valentines for Vets (see last week’s blog), please put your own knitting skills to work for the children of Newtown, Conn.

Creators of the Kissing Hand Mitten Project are collecting handmade mittens with hearts sewn or knitted into the palm, inspired by the children’s book “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn. In the story, a little raccoon is afraid to start school, so his mother gives him a kiss in his palm. If he feels scared or lonely, he can put his hand to his cheek and feel his mother’s love.

The special mittens will be given to children in elementary schools in Newtown, Conn., during a reading of “The Kissing Hand” by the author. Each elementary school student in Newtown will also receive a copy of the book, donated by the publisher.

The goal for the project is to collect about 2,000 pairs of mittens by the end of February. Knitters from all across the country have been donating mittens. “Kissing hand” mittens can be sent to: The Kissing Hand Mitten Project, 93 E. High St., East Hampton, CT 06424. Check the project’s Facebook site for updates about what’s needed, and photos of donated mittens: facebook.com/TheKissingHandMittenProject.

Posted in The Kissing Hand, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Heartwarming show of gratitude for veterans

It can be difficult to teach little kids about gratitude. They are naturally wired to think “mine, mine, mine!” and accept as a given all the things they are given.

Community-service projects for older kids are abundant, but parents of little ones might have a harder time finding age-appropriate ways to show them the importance of a “thank you.”

Here’s our chance: the national Valentines for Vets program.
Men and women who have defended our country are stuck in hospital beds nationwide, and they each deserve an adorably lopsided construction-paper heart, don’t they? Have your children or your class make a few “sweet nothings” that will mean everything to a lonely veteran. Pocono-area parents can send them to:

Valentines for Vets
c/o VA Medical Center Voluntary Services
1111 East End Blvd.
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711-0026

You can find addresses for other VA medical centers here, and here is information about visiting and volunteering.
Here’s our chance, parents. Let us be grateful for it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

And a Malibu Barbie in a pear tree

I’ve done it again. Every year, I vow in the autumn that I will NOT buy too many Christmas gifts for my girls. “Just a few things they REALLY want,” I say, “and no overindulgence.”

Then it comes time, right about now, to take out of the Secret Hiding Place the toys I’ve collected for them, and  … oops. That’s really quite a lot.

Add to that a loving father who tends to buy last-minute treats, and four we-live-to-spoil-the-girls grandparents, and you’ve got Christmas overload.

A First World problem, I know. And one that many unemployed parents wish they had right now.

But it can also be a legitimate danger: Setting up entitlement and high expectations in children can seriously damage them — now and later.

Friday’s “Parenting” article in the Pocono Record, titled “Wants go wild,” has interesting thoughts on the subject.

One parenting tactic that struck me was a simple poem that a Wisconsin mom uses to keep her three children’s Christmas lists sane. Each child can make four requests: “one want, one need, one wear, one read.” Easy and reasonable.

Some parents might feel that’s too stringent, unless money is tight. A father from Illinois says that if a child’s dearest wish is affordable, it’s appropriate to fulfill it.

“He recalled a time when his own father purposely deprived him of a much-desired electric train set,” states the Chicago Tribune article. “His father chose to buy him a less exciting, slightly less expensive train set when he could have ‘easily afforded’ the nicer one.”

The man, a clinical psychologist, still remembers this with some hurt.

He’s 65.

“You don’t have to always keep your children hungry and wanting more — it can hurt your relationship,” the man said.

Keeping Christmas reasonable, but still putting that delighted sparkle in your child’s eye: It’s a gift.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Santa gets technical

No blog lately because 1) I’m a mom; and 2) It’s December. While those two things preclude me being on time for anything, they also make me really excited about stuff like this: The Portable North Pole — Santa letters for the 21st century.

Go to www.portablenorthpole.com and personalize a video message from Santa, to be emailed to your child. Santa will insert your child’s name and other characteristics into his monolog while taking the viewer on a tour of his toy factory. His big, white beard covers his lips so the dubbed-in voice seems believable. There is even an option for placing photos of your child in Santa’s book, which shows events from the past year and determines if your little one is on the nice or naughty side.

The basic message is free. You can pay a fee for a more elaborate package, but I don’t see the need for that. The effect of the freebie is amazing enough.

I personalized messages for my two girls and my niece, ages 5 through 7. My daughters talked to the screen, yelling, “Hi, Santa!” and waving. Munchkin #2 was wriggling with happiness at confirmation of being on the “nice” list. (Munchkin #1 expected nothing less. Ahem.) My niece, who is *almost* to the age where Santa Claus is in question, showed big eyes, a bigger smile, and a hushed whisper: “I didn’t know Santa Claus had a cell phone!”

Christmas joy, all wrapped up — for me, too.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Where the Christmas spirit feels free

By now the turkey leftovers are finished, a few decorations are up and the kids are completing their lists for Santa.

And you’re thinking, “This is getting expensive.”

So you look, as you often do throughout the year, for fun, cheap/free things to do with the kiddies. But when you get there, the festival/show/concert is not really as promised. Instead of the “fun for the whole family!” event advertised, sometimes it turns out to be a few quiet people milling about. And the band left early.

Not this one.

Each year, I’m amazed at the festival Stroudsmoor puts on for its annual Tree Lighting Celebration. Pony rides, chats with Santa, a gingerbread village, lighting displays, singing, carriage rides, petting zoo, live Nativity and fireworks. Free!
Pocono parents, if you haven’t tried this yet, please do. Did I mention it’s free?

IF YOU GO: 24th annual Tree Lighting Celebration
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2
WHERE: Stroudsmoor Country Inn, 231 Stroudsmoor Road, Stroudsburg
COST: Free parking and event, food available for purchase
INFORMATION: 570-421-6431, stroudsmoor.com

Posted in Christmas, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Serving up a healthy meal of misgivings

Here it is, your next meal of parental guilt. Eat it up, dear ones. You can have seconds.

Thanks to marketing, convenience and the sometimes outright lies of manufacturers, it’s harder than ever to feed children nutritious food. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the cupboard, you learn that peanut butter is no good for them.

Oh, what would we do without PB&Js? And fluffernutters? Ha! This ain’t your childhood anymore.

Some foods you thought were fairly healthy are deemed disgustingly fattening now. Parents shy away, determined to feed Junior only the very best. And it’s a major source of guilt when that’s just not possible.

I know a mother of 20-something twins who STILL feels awful that she gave her little ones dried fruit for school snacks two decades ago, and they soon after got their first cavities.
Yup, dried fruit. You just can’t trust anything anymore.
Now add to the list granola bars, muffins and juice. What’s left?
Portion control.

My twin girls, age 5, love McDonald’s. Yes, I know, I know… but when you’re driving through Maine, there aren’t many options. And so began their obsession with french fries. What do we do — forbid them the fries in favor of only those apple slices? Nah. That would make the fries yummier and the whining louder. They ate a few, then decided the playplace was way more fun. Whew.

If you forbid your young ones from a temptation, the allure only grows. Let them eat a few gummies every now and then, stow the guilt and go play. Please?

Posted in children's nutrition, nutrition | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment