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Coping with Kids: Cake pops, keeping teens drug-free

| Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, 9:18 p.m.
The Cake Pop Maker – which has a bright, colorful, kid-friendly design – lets users make no-bake cake pops.
The Cake Pop Maker – which has a bright, colorful, kid-friendly design – lets users make no-bake cake pops. Umagine
The Cake Pop Maker lets users make no-bake cake pops.
The Cake Pop Maker lets users make no-bake cake pops.

Kid-friendly cake pops don't need to be baked

Here's a possible Christmas gift idea for aspiring young chefs: the Cool Baker Cake Pop Maker, made by Spin Master's Umagine company.

The Cake Pop Maker — which has a bright, colorful, kid-friendly design — lets users make no-bake cake pops. Add water, mix the batter and place the pops in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

You then can decorate the pops with sprinkles and icing that are included in the kit. Batter refills are sold separately. The Cool Baker Cake Pop Maker, which sells for about $24.99, is sold at Walmart, Toys R Us, Target, Kmart and


Poll asks parents about family meals

In an Olive Garden poll of Pittsburgh-area parents, 97 percent said they feel closer to their family when they share a meal together.

Of the parents polled, 83 percent said they would like to eat together as a family more than four nights per week, but only 47 percent of people actually do this. Of the Pittsburgh parents polled, 19 percent said they eat with their families every night, compared to 25 percent nationally.

About one-fifth (21 percent) of local parents said they eat together two or fewer nights a week. When they do prepare dinner, 65 percent of parents said they spent 31 minutes or more cooking; and 37 percent of parents said they are more likely to buy fast food for their families after a stressful day.

Olive Garden To Go is offering Weeknight Family-Style Meal Deals through Dec. 2, on Sundays through Thursdays after 4 p.m. Details:

County project helps children in need

The Allegheny County Department of Human Services Holiday Project gift-collection drive for children and youth receiving services through the DHS Office of Children, Youth & Families runs through Dec. 3.

This year, the department seeks help with direct sponsorship of individual children to provide each child with at least one meaningful gift. The age, gender and wish list for the sponsored child/children will be provided.

Donors also have an option of making a purchase through the DHS Holiday Project Wish List. Purchases will be shipped directly to the Holiday Project.

In addition, drop-off sites are located throughout Allegheny County for new, unwrapped multicultural toys, including baby dolls and a diverse selection of books for all reading levels.

To sponsor individual children, contact the Event and Donations Team at 412-350-3428 or; gifts and books through DHS Wish List; drop-off site details,

Tips for keeping your teens drug-free

Is your child abusing prescription drugs? Hopefully, not, but Dr. Nicholas Kardaras — clinical director at The Dunes East Hampton, an addiction-recovery center in New York — offers eight warning signals that your kid is abusing pills.

• Change in sleep habits

• Change in energy level

• Change in personal hygiene

• Change in mood/personality

• Sudden change in grades

• Change of friends

• Loss of appetite

• Constricted eye pupils

Kardaras suggests these steps to maintain a healthy watch over children:

• Keep teens busy with positive activities: “Through my experience with teens, I have found that children who are meaningfully engaged in sports and/or academic or social activities are less prone to get involved with drug use,” Kardaras.

• Monitor your teens' friends: “Knowing who their kids are spending time with and getting to know their parents helps parents know with whom their teens are socializing and associated.”

• Foster an open dialog: “Keeping an open dialog with teachers and children helps nurture a relationship in which teens feel safe talking about anything that is bothering them. While all children have secrets, parents should take interest in their teens and encourage them to discuss what is going on in their lives,” Kardaras concludes.

For more information, visit

— Staff and wire reports

Send parenting news to Coping With Kids in care of Rebecca Killian, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, D.L. Clark Building, 503 Martindale St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212, or e-mail

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