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Finding fun in the Winter

When cold weather moves in families often search for a something new to do. They look for ways to utilize the weather together or burrow inside with movie and game nights.

"We have family game nights," said Larissa Graham of Mount Airy. "It's a good way to bring everyone together when they are all so busy and competitive with their sports."

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Graham said her children — ages 12, 15 and 17 — are frequently busy with their friends so she invites those friends and sometimes a boyfriend to join them on game night.

"You get a chance to see who your kids are hanging out with," she said. "My older two kids are pretty introverted, too, and it's fun to see them be extroverted."

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Graham said they play games like Scattegories, Pictionary and Crazy 8s as well as two games on the iPad called Heads Up and Phrase Party.

Graham spoke of how those playing often have to act out a phrase or category.

"We are always busting out laughing," she said. "It's just fun watching people being silly."

Maria Meyer of Manchester said they do family game nights and family movie nights. She and her husband have four children ages 10, 9, 7 and 2.

"We play probably play games about two or three times a month and about the same for movie nights, especially if there's a snow day or I'm off work," Meyer said. "The game nights always end up in someone arguing and sometimes we don't finish the game. They are always so gung ho in the beginning but then someone always ends up wanting to go first or someone knocks the table on Jenga or the 2-year old is crying. Movie nights are more relaxing."

Meyer said on movie nights they bring an air mattress into the living room and make popcorn and the kids usually end up falling asleep in the living room.

"Then we have a big breakfast in the morning," Meyer said. "They like the 'Lego Movie' or 'Mr. Peabody and Sherman.' They've been talking about the SpongeBob [SquarePants] movie but that's not out yet."

Meyer said time spent with family at home is important.

"Everybody is so busy now that they don't get to spend time with family. We like to lay low and stay home," she said.

According to Hampstead fire company member J.J. Lynott the fire company understands those winter "blahs" and they have a movie night planned for Feb. 21 from 6 to 9 p.m.

"We'll show the movie, "Born Free", Lynott said. "We did this the summer before with outdoor movie nights and then we did one about a month ago. It seemed to be a hit with the community."

The movie is free but donations are accepted and appreciated. They will also have lots of goodies available for purchase, including popcorn, pizza, hot dogs, candy and drinks. The movie will start at 6:30 p.m.

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"We want to give families something fun to do in the winter," Lynott said. "There's not a lot going on after the holidays. This will help get rid of the winter blues."

Many fire companies also offer breakfasts, including Union Bridge, New Windsor and Mount Airy fire companies, and bingo is a staple with county fire departments including, Gamber, New Windsor, Pleasant Valley, Lineboro, Reese and Manchester. The Westminster Moose Lodge also opens its doors to the public for bingo every Monday evening, welcoming kids age 9 and up to play along with their families.

The Carroll County Public Library offers activities of all sorts for kids and adults year round, and most of their programs are free. Look for story times and craft sessions for all ages, art classes, pajama parties, puppet shows, knitting sessions, belly dancing, movie and game nights, science sessions, "Frozen" themed parties, "Minecraft" programs, yoga and more. Review their list of programs at each branch by visiting them online at library.carr.org. Some programs require preregistration.

Lisa Picker, spokeswoman for the library, said interactive media has become a big part of family activities today and mentioned an initiative they've started that is geared toward the 21st century parent and how to work with preschoolers using the latest technology.

"We have partnered with PBS for the Quality Digital Media Partnership series. This is at our Finksburg branch," Picker said. "We started it back in December but it is continuing through the rest of the winter series. It's a workshop that is looking at how to be an iParent and what is the right mix of media to use when interacting with preschoolers."

Two upcoming sessions in the program include "Are you an empowered iParent,' on Feb. 9, and on Feb. 13 they'll have a PBS World Premier [movie] and Scavenger hunt with a premier of "Sesame Streets' Cookie Monster Special."

According to Picker, the library's focus is on families.

"At the library we often see families and we like to develop programs specific to their needs. We are developing a lot of technology programs geared toward families. We have something for every age group," she said. "The library is a great place to spend time together as a family."

Carroll County Recreation and Parks also offers plenty to do for all ages with varying fees. Their programs take place at Bear Branch Nature Center, Piney Run Park and numerous schools and businesses across the county.

The large variety of activities offered by Carroll County Recreation and Parks include dance and gymnastics, martial arts, nature workshops and walks, bus trips, needlework, art and sculpting, beadwork, team sports and more. Review all their programs at http://ccgovernment.carr.org/ccg/recpark/prog-14wg/guide.pdf.

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