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I know that many families love the idea of a cuddly pet with a big red bow peeking out from under the Christmas tree. I wondered if bringing a pet home for the holidays is a really good idea.  Let us know if you brought one home. And see what an expert had to say.

When looking for advice I go to an expert. So I turned Veterinarian Paul Johnson  of Middletown to seek advice on getting a family pet.

“Biggest mistake people make is getting a pet during the winter holidays,” says Johnson. 

Puppies need training and they need to go out often. With cold weather and slippery driveways, according to Johnson, puppies spend most of their time just navigating their terrain rather than being trained.

And then there is the commotion at home with parties, and trees and lights. Puppies are teething and exploring constantly and they are likely to get into trouble.

It is important to note, that like young children, puppies thrive on a schedule and the consistency of that schedule. Holiday time is usually the time when we enjoy not sticking to a schedule.

So Dr. Johnson advises, that if you are looking for a pet, wait til spring. “Easter is a great time to bring a pet into your home,” suggests Dr Johnson.

Many thanks to Dr. Paul Johnson, veterinarian with the Animal Health Center in Middletown for sharing his expertise.

Other than the cold, I love winter. I think freshly fallen snow is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. Once I’m all bundled up I love to go outdoors. When I was a child I loved to go ice skating, sledding with my brothers and building forts out of snow. And, of course my brothers loved to start snow fights. As I got older, I still loved to spend time outdoors during the winter by snowboarding, I even enjoyed shoveling  snow (my parents requested it since I still live under their roof.) I know that some children prefer to stay indoors during the winter, but it is always important to try to encourage your children to stay active. Even though there are plenty of activities you can do indoors, we just wanted to remind of all the great activities you can enjoy outside.

There’s hockey, ice-skating, sledding, building snow men and if your children are really feeling adventurous there is snowboarding and skiing. If the last two options are too expensive for you, we have good news. New York State has recently announced the arrival of a new Frequent Skier Card that allows skiers/snowboarders to save 20 percent on lift tickets at the following resorts: Belleaye, Hunter, Windham, Plattekill and Holiday Mountain. There is also a deal for any children in the 4th grade. 4th graders from across the country can ski or ride for free at more than 25 participating New York State ski areas this winter when accompanied by a paying adult. Interested participants can visit here to fill out an application and send it in with a $19  processing fee to the address provided, along with a report card, progress report or letter from their school verifying that the child is in the 4th grade. Applicants will receive a seasonal 4th Grade Passport booklet of coupons including free all-day lift tickets, with the purchase of an adult lift ticket. This is a great way to introduce your child to a lifelong healthy habit.

If you are looking for a weekend trip with your family, there are deals for that too. For the weekends of January 9, February 6 and March 6, guest can book a weekend “ski and stay” package and get the third night’s lodging and a third day of skiing for free at participating properties, including Gore Mountain, Greek Peak Mountain, Holiday Valley and Hunter Mountain. For a complete listing of participating properties and to book this package, visit here. Pretty soon your whole family will be hitting the bunny slopes. Happy Holidays!


Everyday in our office we receive a number of interesting products that we are lucky enough to review. Now, we are by no means experts on some of the products we receive, but we try to find the products that we feel “help parents…parent.” Sometimes the products are just fun, like Wii console games. I love Wii, I remember the days of playing Super Mario Brothers with my brothers on the original Nintendo game console. Today, my brothers and I still love to play Nintendo games they are just more high-tech.

Recently, the staff received My Ballet Studio for Wii and Storybook Workshop for Wii. My Ballet Studio My Ballet Studio for Nintendo Wii allows players to practice authentic ballet moves. Young ballerinas are encouraged to study hard at ballet school and learn real techniques in movement and position lessons and performance modes. Gamers will be able to track their progress and measure how close they are to perfecting their dream routines. Very cool, if my niece was older this would be a great present for her. Since we are also big on writing a reading activities for children, I love the Storybook Workshop game concept. Storybook workshop is an interactive reading-based game involving classic folk tales from around the world. Recordable readings, voice alteration and a Singalong mode bring each tale to life. You’ll earn rewards, such as having your Mii (your Wii game player) appear in select stories, while introducing your children to the same beloved stories you heard as a child.

Isn’t it amazing how many games there are out there? Check out ago The National Parenting Center’s: “The Best Family Wii Games – Holiday 2009,” there are some good choices on there. I feel like playing some games right now, what about you? Do you have any funny memories of playing video games or even board games? Maybe your children have a Wii and you secretly (or not so secretly) love to play with it. Let us know below and the best comment will win either My Ballet Studio for Wii or Wii Storybook Workshop!


Have you had the talk with your children yet? Not the drug talk, not the “you better get your grades up” talk, I’m referring to the sex talk. Yes, that talk.  Well, if you haven’t yet you aren’t alone. A recent study organized by the University of California Los Angeles/Rand Center for Adolescent Health Promotion and overseen by Dr. Mark Schuster, Chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston, found that more than 40% of adolescents had intercourse before talking to their parents about safe sex, birth control or sexually transmitted diseases. Experts find this troubling because “teens who do talk to their parents about sex are more likely to delay their first sexual encounter and to practice safe sex when they do become sexually active. And, ironically, despite their apparent dread, kids really want to learn about sex from their parents, according to study after study on the topic.” Even though it can be an awkward topic to bring up, the study shows that the sex talk has to occur earlier for teens to practice safer sex methods.  In the upcoming year we will have a number of informative articles on sexuality and parenting that we hope you can turn to for advice. Keep on the lookout for those.

Do you remember the sex talk you had with your parents? I vaguely remember one, but I do know that I remembered the advice they gave me (I remember talking about it with my Mom.) Have you discussed this matter with your children yet? Do you have any advice for other parents? Let us know, leave a comment, we would love to hear from you.

This season we received dozens, maybe more, copies of new Nintendo Wii games. Many were included in our gift giveaways this year, but I kept one out for my grandson Robert: Toy Story Mania.

 According to my son Paul, he and the family attended the Orlando Disney Resort on the opening day of the newest Disney’s newest attraction 4D Toy Story Mania. “There was a four-hour wait just to get a ticket,” Paul told me. “But we all loved the ride.” According to my son, everything is in 3D, and you have to wear the 3D glasses during the ride. “It’s different from their other laser-shooting rides. Those are straight beams, where in Toy Story is all 3D…things you shoot at, what you shoot with and the ‘rooms’ you enter are all 3D.”

 Now Disney Interactive Studios has issued a Nintendo Wii version of the Disney park attraction called Toy Story Mania. If the game lives up to its promotion, then you should be in for hours of fun.

I have been a legal resident of the United States for many years now and considered this country as my home. Today I officially became an American citizen, and couldn’t be more proud to finally call myself an American. Immigrants such as myself come to the United States because of the opportunities available here. Most of which is either overlooked, taken for granted, or just plain ignored by many U.S. citizens who never had to think about or go through this process. You are free to be the person you choose to be, free to practice any religion or not practice a religion at all, whatever it may be you are in a country with endless possibilities. These are just a few of the reasons that I decided to take the oath and officially become an American. The process is long and tedious, expensive and time consuming but in the end, once completed, it is gratifying and well worth the effort. At the ceremony itself, there were 52 immigrants from 37 different countries from around the world all waiting and wanting one thing, to finally be apart of a country that has given us shelter and allowed us to call it our home. For me the most important thing of all becoming a U.S. citizen is that now I get to vote. I am a woman, I am a minority, and I am happy to use the right that so many before me have fought for. At the end of the ceremony, all 52 of us can now finally call ourselves Citizens of the United States of America and it’s something that will stay in my memory for the rest of my life.

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