THE LIFESTYLE MANUAL FOR THE MODERN MOM
HOLIDAY COOKIE SWAP FOUR MUST-HAVE RECIPES SAVVY’S HOW-TO GUIDE STOCKING STUFFERS
DECEMBER 2016 · THESAVVYMOMS.COM
MICHELLE HAYNES EARNS HER STRIPES ON PAGE 24.
High quality child care looks like
If your child comes home with playdough in his hair and sand in his shoes, he’s probably happy. He is also learning about science.
Will playdough roll like a ball? What if he mixes sand with his playdough? What happens if he adds water? This is science.
Mixing, mushing, shaping and rolling playdough is fun! These activities feed his natural curiosity.
Visit our website to find quality child care that lets your child mix it up.
tablespoon vegetable oil
cup cold water
drops food coloring
Step 1: In bowl, mix salt and flour. Step 2: Add food coloring to water to make a bright color. Step 3: Add water to dry ingredients. Step 4: Mix in oil and knead until smooth. Sprinkle on more flour if it is too sticky. Step 5: Remove from bowl and let the fun begin! Step 6: Store covered or in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator. Makes about a softball-sized dough ball.
*Recipe source: BestRecipes.com
Click here to visit our Resource Library. You’ll find activities and tips to help you prepare your child for life.
Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education
www.ARBetterBeginnings.com • 1-800-445-3316
Learn more at bit.ly/savscience
YOU CAN HELP KIDS like Jon David receive pediatric care close to home. Meet Jon David. He’s three years old and he’s fighting cancer for the second time. Please send your gift today so kids like Jon David can have a healthier tomorrow. Visit giving.archildrens.org or call 800-880-7491.
UNTIL NO CHILD NEEDS US, WE NEED YOU.
Join us for pictures with Santa, FREE carousel rides, a FREE lighted train ride to the North Pole, crafts for kids, special meet-n-greets with our penguins, live music, and food vendors at Holidays in the Wild!
Adults $ 10 Children $ 8 (ages 12 and under) • $2 discount for members • Price is all-inclusive except for food purchases.
www.littlerockzoo.com #1 Zoo Drive | Little Rock, Arkansas | 501.666.2406
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THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
DECEMBER 2016 MODERN MOM 13 MAMA SAID
SHOULD SANTA BE A SCROOGE?
14 MIND, BODY & SOUL
GLAD TIDINGS OF A SOUL-CENTERED SEASON
SAVVY FAMILY 15 SAVVY STYLE STOCKING STUFFERS
16 A COOKIE FOR YOU, A COOKIE FOR ME!
HOW TO HOST THE PERFECT HOLIDAY COOKIE EXCHANGE
20 HOLDING DOWN THE FORT
MILITARY SPOUSE KARISSA CLAUSEN UNIFIES HER HOME AND THE BASE
24 MILITARY MOM
MICHELLE HAYNES SERVES THE COUNTRY AND JUGGLES BEING A MOM TO THREE
SPECIAL SECTION 27 SAVVY HOW-TO GUIDE LOCAL EXPERTS ANSWER PARENTS’ BURNING QUESTIONS
IN EVERY ISSUE
WE'VE GOT ALL THE ANSWERS!
6 EDITOR’S NOTE 10 NEWS & NOTES
CALENDAR & FOOD REVIEW
12 ROAD TRIP
HOLIDAY LIGHT DISPLAYS
46 BAG CHECK KYMBERLYN LACY
DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
ON THE COVER: MICHELLE HAYNES AND BABY OLIVER. PHOTOGRAPHY BY LILY DARRAGH.
Beautiful Smiles, Happy Children... That is Our Goal. Services include: •ORTHODONTICS •CONSCIOUS SEDATION •HOSPITAL DENTISTRY
14114 Taylor Loop Rd., Little Rock kitchenspediatricdentistry.com
PUBLIC EDUCATION: PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES
Pulaski County Special School District
Choose PCSSD schools for– Certified teachers with advanced degrees Test scores higher than other local districts Millions awarded in college scholarships Talented and Gifted programs State-winning sports teams 1;1 tech program providing iPads, Chromebooks Facilities upgrades and new schools underway pcssd.org
501.234.2000 THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
December is a multitasking roller coaster that hopefully ends with you curled up on the couch enjoying some peace and quiet with no place to go, no work responsibilities looming, and enjoying the company of those you love. There is so much to do this month. Shopping, organizing family functions, decorating, wrapping presents—and those are just your bonus chores! Many of us still have to balance full-time jobs and being full-time parents on top of it all. That’s enough to make me want to dive into a self-induced eggnog coma. The good news is that Savvy is here to help! Is shopping the source of your holiday frustration? Jen Holman tackles the taboo topic of how much is too much when it comes to Santa Claus? She suggests ways to scale back for the greater good of the family in her column. Last Christmas, we took a test drive of the “Want, Need, Wear, Read” model she mentions, and I think it got thumbs up all around from the Gordy bunch. Our kids live in two blended families, which have blessed them with four groups of very generous grands, aunts, uncles and cousins. This model encouraged them to really consider their lists, be thoughtful about their choices, and eliminated some of the over-indulgent package-unwrapping-fatigue of previous years. The holiday felt much more about family and togetherness. Jen has the details on page 13, if your family is in need of a holiday overhaul. Don’t forget the food! Kerry Guice offers some excellent cookie swap recipes on page 16. Baked goods are an inexpensive, fun way to get the whole family involved in gift giving. Looking for things to fill your calendar during the holiday break? We have an extensive lineup of local kid-friendly holiday programming, places to stop in and make some DIY gifts, holiday light tours that are worth the drive and more starting on page 10. December is a month we all take stock and relish in all the ways we are hopefully blessed with family, good health and freedoms—many of which are fought for by brave moms in the military. Meet Michelle Haynes, wife, mother of three and proud to serve in the Air Force for more than 13 years, and Karissa Clausen, Key Spouse Mentor at the Little Rock Air Force Base. Read about how these two moms balance military life, deployments and family on page 20. We could all use some solid advice from time to time. In Savvy’s How-To Special Section, we get advice from local experts on an array of topics that are top-of-mind for parents. Learn how to create your own sensory toys using household items, choose the right school or church for your family, detect behavioral changes that may need the help of a professional and much more starting on page 27. We hope the December issue will make for some good holiday reading if you’re lucky enough to get moment or two away from the chaos of the season. Don’t forget to take some time for yourself and spread some good cheer!
Amy Gordy Editor, Savvy @SavvyAR
DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
PHOTOGRAPHY: LILY DARRAGH
’TIS THE SEASON TO REDUCE, RELAX AND RECHARGE
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DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
ARKANSAS TIMES PUBLISHING ALL MATERIALS ARE HANDLED WITH DUE CARE; HOWEVER, THE PUBLISHER ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR CARE AND SAFE RETURN OF UNSOLICITED MATERIALS. ALL LETTERS AND PHOTOS SENT TO SAVVY™ WILL BE TREATED AS INTENDED FOR PUBLICATION AND ARE SUBJECT TO SAVVY'S™ UNRESTRICTED RIGHT TO EDIT OR TO COMMENT EDITORIALLY. 201 E. MARKHAM ST. SUITE 200, LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985. ALL CONTENTS ©2016 SAVVY™
KERRY GUICE is a food blogger and photographer living in Little Rock with her husband, two kids and their dog. When she’s not sharing her latest meal on Instagram, Kerry is planning her family’s next Arkansas adventure or crafting with her creative tots.
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DWAIN HEBDA is a writer and editor living in Little Rock. He and his wife, Darlene, are the parents of four grown children. The empty nesters spend their time traveling, working out and spoiling their two dogs.
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THE HOLIDAYS ARE HERE…COME SEE US! WE WILL OPEN EARLY ON DAYS THAT SCHOOL IS OUT!
SANTA & MRS. CLAUS WILL BE AT BIG ROCK SAT., DEC. 10TH 11:00 A.M. to 1:30 P.M.
LILY DARRAGH is a photographer in Little Rock. She studied photography at Parsons the New School of Design in New York. Currently working out of a photography studio in downtown Little Rock, Lily loves to shoot people and places unique to Arkansas.
WE HAVE GIFT CARDS FOR SALE! www.bigrockfunpark.com 11411 Baseline Road, Little Rock (near Bass Pro Shops)
Call Us Today! 501-455-3750
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
news & notes
Kids will love this performance of “The Elves and the Shoemaker” at the Arkansas Arts Center’s Children’s Theater. It’s a holiday musical that tells the story of a poor cobbler with a good heart and a grateful spirit. arkarts.com.
The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock invites the community to a weeklong remembrance to honor the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Commemorative events include the formal Arkansas Pearl Harbor Day Ceremony on Dec. 7, at 11:55 a.m.; viewing of the tugboat Hoga; self-guided tours of the submarine Razorback; and events at many local museums. aimmuseum.org.
Bring the kids for a day of fun with mini golf, go karts, an arcade and more at Big Rock Fun Park. From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 10, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to meet kids! bigrockfunpark.com.
2-4 & 8-11
Take a walk through a wild holiday adventure at the Little Rock Zoo. Holidays in the Wild features an enchanted train ride to the South Pole, pictures with Santa, crafts, live music, food truck concessions and magical light displays. littlerockzoo.com.
10 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF VENDORS
One of the most memorable holiday films of a generation is now on stage! The whole family can enjoy Celebrity Attractions’ production of “Elf” at the newly renovated Robinson Center. Follow along as Buddy, an orphan who is mistakenly raised by Santa, discovers the world outside the North Pole. celebrityattracations.com.
UALR TROJANS BASKETBALL HOME SCHEDULE Men's & Women's Games: Dec. 3 vs. Tulsa, 3 p.m. Dec. 8 vs. UAPB, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10 vs. Central Arkansas, 3 p.m. Dec. 31 vs. ULM 3 p.m.
All games held at the Jack Stephens Center on the UALR campus.
NATIONAL FRUITCAKE DAY!
COZY UP TO A CUP OF HOT COCOA! THERE’S NO BETTER WAY TO WARM UP THAN WITH A CUP OF HOT CHOCOLATE. TOP IT WITH THE CLASSIC MARSHMALLOWS AND CANDY CANE, OR GET ADVENTUROUS! THERE ARE SEVERAL SPOTS IN CENTRAL ARKANSAS THAT ARE WHIPPING UP THESE CREATIVE, GOURMET, CHOCOLATY TREATS. WE ASKED 8-YEAROLD JAKE SOLOMON AND HIS MOM, CASSIE, TO SAMPLE THE GOODS AT A FEW LOCAL EATERIES. HERE’S WHAT HE HAD TO SAY!
GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY!
HERE’S 10-YEAR-OLD Enter to win a $30 gift card fromWHAT Loblolly Creamery! JACKSON (AND HIS Have your kid draw a family portraitCASE and email their MOM, KERRI)We’ll HAD TO SAYselect masterpiece to firstname.lastname@example.org. randomly ABOUT ALL15. ABOARD: two entries to win. Deadline is Dec. We’ll publish the winning portraits in the January issue of Savvy!
DON’T FORGET THE TREE!
Through Dec. 18 visit Motley’s Tree Farm for a full holiday tree-choosing experience. They’ll cut it, bag it and send it home with you. Little ones will love the pig races, visits with Santa, fresh fudge and more! motleystreefarm.com.
Central Arkansas Library’s Ron Robinson Theater hosts monthly classic film screenings, and December is filled with some memorable holiday classics. Admission is $5. cals.org/ ronrobinson/index.html. SAVVY: Tell us where you went and what you ordered. JAKE: At Kilwins, I had the plain chocolate; at LePops, I ordered the chocolate with a chocolate frozen lolly; and at Loblolly, I tried the chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate marshmallows. S: Which hot chocolate was your favorite and why? J: LePops was awesome because you could dip a Popsicle in to cool it off. S: Which restaurant did you feel most comfortable in? J: I felt most comfortable at LePops because they had lots of tables to sit at, and because I saw some of my friends there. S: Which restaurant had the best hot chocolate selection? J: Loblolly had a lot of things to put in your hot chocolate—even Nutella marshmallows! Kilwins also had interesting flavors like Mexican chocolate. S: What is your favorite thing to eat with hot chocolate? J: I like to eat ice cream with it because it helps cool the hot chocolate off if it’s too hot. S: If you could put anything in your hot chocolate, what would it be? J: I would put a surprise toy in the bottom of the cup so when I finished my drink I would have a new toy, like an action figure!
“A Christmas Story,” 1 p.m. on Dec. 3 and 10 “It’s a Wonderful Life,” 6 p.m. on Dec. 5 and 12 “Home Alone,” 6 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 14 "Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” 6 p.m. on Dec. 13
ON THE BOOKSHELF
Retired Northwest Arkansas teachers Paula Caten and Ann Averitt penned the children’s book, “Suzie Belle and the Dress Dilemma.” This colorful tale follows a young girl with a real passion for playing dress up. Look for it on amazon.com.
HOT COCOA & ICE CREAM ALL THE THINGS OF LITTLE ONES DREAMS.
1423 main st. - little rock loblollycreamery.com THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
HOLIDAY LIGHT DISPLAYS
Nothing adds to the wonder of the holiday season like an expertly arranged display of twinkling lights. There are several places to drive through or to get out and explore that will leave both kids and adults with a high wattage of holiday spirit!
Get into the holiday spirit on the Fayetteville Square. Take in the display of more than 500,000 lights each night through December along with nightly carriages and pony rides, fresh hot chocolate and festive holiday music. thelightsoftheozarks.com.
ARKANSAS STATE CAPITOL
Watch as the State Capitol is lit from top to bottom at the lighting ceremony on Dec. 3. The fun begins at 3 p.m., with the Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade, which begins at Second and Broadway streets, and ends at the State Capitol. The parade includes Santa and Mrs. Claus, marching bands, floats, cars, animals and more. holidaysinlittlerock.com.
12 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
SHERWOOD’S ENCHANTED FOREST TRAIL OF LIGHTS
Load up the family and experience this holiday light show from the comfort of your car. It’s a drive-through trail featuring more than a mile of light displays to delight. Admission is free, but the organization accepts nonperishable food donations. 1111 W. Maryland Ave., Sherwood; cityofsherwood.net.
GARVAN WOODLAND GARDENS HOLIDAY LIGHTS
This Hot Springs garden offers more than 4.5 million lights on display nightly froim 5 to 9 p.m., through Dec. 31. Meander through 17 acres of animated holiday displays with complimentary hot chocolate. Free for members; $15 adults; $5 ages 6-12; free 5 and under. garvangardens.org.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ARKANSAS PARKS & TOURISM/CITY OF SHERWOOD/FAYETTVILLE A&P
LIGHTS OF THE OZARKS ON THE FAYETTEVILLE SQUARE
SHOULD SANTA BE A SCROOGE?
an you believe it’s the holiday season already? It seems we were trick-or-treating just last week. But here we are. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and houses are swathed in lights and garland. The organized, early-bird types have already sent out cards and finished their holiday shopping. I am not one of the uber-organized. I do bits at a time, much of it online. I’m getting there slowly but surely, so the topic of gifts, or more specifically gift-giving, has been on my mind lately. As part of an effort to make Christmas mean more to our kids than just receiving presents, we volunteer to collect and organize gifts for The Angel Tree. Our oldest, 9 now, loves to help. But last year she began putting ideas together, and had questions we weren’t prepared to answer. As sweet donors brought in shoes and coats and bicycles for kids who “probably wouldn’t get anything for Christmas,” she asked why Santa brought some kids presents and not others. Uh-oh. How to answer that? Why doesn’t Santa distribute gifts equitably? Don’t all children on the Nice List get a stop from his sleigh? Isn’t that what we’ve always heard? After my daughter’s insightful questions, I wondered … are we perpetuating privilege and entitlement when we shower our kiddos in presents “from Santa?” What is this saying not just to kids to whom Santa gave generously, but to those whose parents couldn’t buy much this year? When they hear of the disparity, do those kids feel less worthy? Less special? How could they not? It was my husband who suggested Santa only bring modest, normal gifts—baby dolls, action figures, slippers and pajamas and the like. It makes sense. A child may go to school thrilled with the Legos Santa brought, and hopefully the classmates around him had similar experiences. Now, if parents have the means and desire to buy life-size robots and mini Ferraris, great. Lucky kids. But isn’t it better if such gifts are from parents—not Santa? Mom and Dad are heroes, no kid feels unduly inadequate; it’s a win-win situation. But to gifts in general, many parents (and kids) these days are overwhelmed by the mountain of presents each year Christmas
morning is like a sugar high that lasts 15 minutes before the ultimate crash and burn. Parents are exhausted and resentful of shopping malls and the mad rush to mark off lists. My own favorite childhood holiday memories have nothing to do with presents. What I remember most are twinkling lights and the smell of live trees. I recall carols sung a capella and building forts with out-of-town cousins. I would like to get back to that. I want to give my children those little memorable moments. I want to teach them what’s important: love and family, gratitude and peace and charity. To stop the holiday madness, to focus on the “reason for the season,” many families are putting limitations on gifts. Some do it for religious reasons. Others to fight commercialization, to save money, or to alleviate stress. There are many variations, but I think these two giftgiving philosophies are brilliant. The first is Want, Need, Wear, Read. This can go several ways. Some families task children with making a list of four things: one each of something they want, or need, and something they would like to wear and read. Other times—and this is useful among especially big families—family members are instructed to only buy one thing from one of those categories. If limited to only one meaningful thing, both thoughtful list-making and thoughtful gift-giving are encouraged. Another strategy many families use is the three-gift rule, which symbolizes the three gifts brought to Baby Jesus from the wise men. And if it’s good enough for Baby Jesus … Strategies like these can limit chaos, temper expectations and mitigate disappointment on Christmas morning. Are these limitations for everyone? No. Some may think them Scrooge-like. But if you’ve ever found yourself scrambling for one more present just so your kids will have more to open ... If your kid has thrown a tantrum because the one on the commercial was blue … If you find yourself resenting the holidays because it’s such a drain on your wallet and energy … maybe it’s time for a change. Maybe refining the giftgiving process would be better both for us, our kids and other kids who might not have been so fortunate this year.
GET YOUR CHRISTMAS CHAOS IN CHECK!
Jen Holman is often irreverent and frequently imperfect. But she’s happy, by God, and that’s what matters. A former Congressional press secretary and executive director of Arkansas Literacy Councils, Jen has also published three fiction novels. She lives in Little Rock with her husband and three (im)perfect children. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
mind, body & soul You don't have to have a Pinterest-perfect holiday.
GLAD TIDINGS OF A SOUL-CENTERED SEASON
It’s been a crazy year. With Halloween, the election and Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to brace yourself for the season of trying to be all things to all people, exhausting yourself and stretching your family to their wits’ end. You’ll need a few tricks up your sleeve. Make an early resolution right now to be proactive about peace— for you and your loved ones. Central Arkansas is packed with holiday events to nurture your mind, body and spirit while entertaining your little ones. Most are free or low-cost, and all can provide you with a welcome distraction during the holidays.
ON THE CALENDAR
GET IN THE SPIRIT For those who like to be loud in public, consider caroling along the path of a holiday parade. The cities of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood, Benton and Bryant all have parades in December, and there is a tour of holiday lights in towns throughout the state. For info on free events in your area, visit arkansas.com/events/free-events. ATTEND Join tourists during the Winter Open House at the Witt Stephens Central Arkansas Nature Center to celebrate its eighth anniversary as well as the winter season with hot chocolate, cider and dessert from the Dutch oven. Enjoy nature crafts, activities and receive a free holiday ornament with the purchase of $50 or more from the gift shop. centralarkansasnaturecenter.com. GET CRACKIN’ Ballet Arkansas Presents “The Nutcracker,” its traditional holiday classic fairy tale ballet. Accompanied by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, tickets for Dec. 9, 10 and 11 are available at arkansassymphony.org. A CAPITAL CHRISTMAS At the Capital Hotel, that is. Pick from the Sundays with Santa on Dec. 4, 11, and 18 where you can visit with the big guy from 2-4 p.m. and get a selfie with St. Nick. You also can block out the afternoon of Dec. 17 to decorate a pre-assembled gingerbread house without all the fuss. The hotel provides the house and all the candy adornments, you provide the creativity. For reservations and pricing, call 501370-7068. TELL A CHRISTMAS STORY Enjoy Ralphie’s hilarious misadventures as his family struggles to enjoy an All-American Christmas on the brink of World War II. Bring your family or schedule a girls’ night out at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production through Dec. 25. therep.org.
14 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
ART SPACE Adults are encouraged to create ornaments at the Millie Brooks Library every Saturday in December at 11 a.m. All supplies are provided. cals.org. ROCK PAINTING Join the Argenta Branch of the William F. Laman Public Library in North Little Rock for an hour of rock art painting. It’s a fun, unique way to be creative and spread a little joy throughout the community. Starts at 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 6. lamanlibrary.org. MAKE SOMETHING Enjoy making a craft or food item, then take it home to give as a gift. Join the DIY Makers Fair at the Argenta Branch of the Laman Public Library in North Little Rock from 10-11:30 a.m. Dec. 7. Must have a reservation, so please call 501-687-1061.
GATHER TOGETHER The world’s first social hospital, the Watershed, provides food, clothes and toys to people in need. Volunteer or drop by an in-kind or monetary donation at the live radio Christmas broadcast Dec. 21-23. For information, call 501-378-0176. MAKE THE CONNECTION Sponsor gifts for a child member of the Thrasher Boys & Girls Club. The annual tradition for the junior board of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Arkansas, Christmas with the Connection, distributes gifts to children in need. arclubs.org. GIVE JOY Each year in October, The Salvation Army opens the application process for its Angel Tree program, which provides gifts of toys and clothing to more than 1,100 families in Central Arkansas. Open to any family living within Lonoke, Pulaski, Saline and White counties, secret Santas can purchase a gift for angels. For more information, visit salvationarmy.org.
A SPECIAL SAVVY ADVERTISING SECTION
Stockings are a great way to sneak in a few last little goodies to the ones you love. If Santa is still looking to mark a few items off his list, there are tons of great options that can come in tiny, stocking-sized packages. 1. Give all the grown-ups on your list a winning gift this holiday season with scratch-off tickets from the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery! Call 1-800-522-4700 for
problem gambling helpline. Lottery games are only for those ages 18 or older.
2. Bag it and tag it in style with these designer luggage tags by R. Nichols. Great for the frequent flyer in your family, or to claim ownership on any gym, grocery or golf bag. Available at Rhea Drug, Little Rock, 501-663-4131.
GOOD FOR THOSE ONTHE-GO!
SCRATCH & WIN!
3. This card game by Melissa & Doug is fun for the whole family, and a great way to get everyone interacting at the dinner table. Family Dinner Box of Questions prompts everyone around the table to open up, laugh and make some fun memories at mealtime. Available on amazon.com. 4. Take this classic childrenâ€™s tale by Dr. Seuss to bed every night in a pair of The Grinch and Max flannel pajamas. The story serves as a reminder that giving is the real reward during the holiday! Available at Pottery Barn Kids, potterybarnkids.com.
3 4 A DINNER GAME TO GET THE FAMILY TALKING.
WATCH THEIR HEARTS GROW THREE SIZES IN THESE!
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
*DON'T FORGET TO LEAVE SOME OUT FOR SANTA! 16 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
A COOKIE FOR YOU, A COOKIE FOR ME! HOW TO HOST THE PERFECT HOLIDAY COOKIE EXCHANGE STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY KERRY GUICE
’Tis the season for holiday parties! Whatever the setting, a cookie exchange theme is always a hit. All you have to do is bake a big batch of one kind of your favorite cookies and bring enough for partygoers to take a taste of your recipe home. Don’t forget to bring bags or boxes! What a great way to sample different recipes, and if the participants are nice enough, they’ll let you steal their recipes as well as their cookies! I have four great recipes to share. They are fun twists on classics. I grew up on snickerdoodles. My mom’s recipe card is faded, stained, tattered and torn. Aren’t those the best recipes? It’s unfortunate that everything is digital now. How will we know which recipes get used over and over again without butter stains on paper? Sure, there are ratings, but the best gauge is knowing how often your own mother made them. Snickerdoodles are chewy and buttery, with a slight spice from the cinnamon sugar. I think the reason this recipe stands out in my mind is that my job as a kid every single year was to roll the cookie dough balls in the cinnamon sugar mix. Being a part of the cooking process changes “a good time” into a memory that will stick around for the rest of our lives. Drag that stool into the kitchen and let your kids be the big helpers. No one will regret it. Peanut butter cookies are another classic. To make it my own, I added freeze-dried berries to the batter to make them taste like PB&J cookies! Fresh berries would add too much moisture to the batter, so try to find freeze-dried berries if you can. You can find them in most health food aisles or health food stores. Strawberries or raspberries taste the best. Peppermint popcorn cookies may not be a recipe your grandmother made, but it’s a fun twist on the traditional chocolate chip cookie. The base is similar, yet you add popcorn, white chocolate chips and chopped candy canes! I guarantee these will be a major hit with the kids, and they taste so festive! They’re thin, chewy and full of peppermint flavor. You can’t make them only once! Everyone has made a sugar cookie recipe before, but you need to remember and write down this recipe that I’ve adapted from The Kitchn Blog. I can’t count how many times I’ve made this recipe, and I can’t count how many times I get compliments on the cookies. I can’t teach you how to decorate them like an artist, but I’ll bet your child can! It’s such a paradox to feel stressed out while trying to enjoy the holiday season. My advice is to make your favorite batch of cookies, invite some friends to make a batch of their favorite cookies, and then meet together with some hot chocolate (Bailey’s optional!), and enjoy the holiday season for what it’s really good for: enjoying the company of the people you love (and eating cookies)! Happy holidays!
DON'T BE AFRAID TO GET CRAFTY AND DECORATE YOUR COOKIE GOODIE BAGS. A CUT-OUT SNOWMAN AND FESTIVE RIBBON CAN GIVE IT JUST THE RIGHT HOLIDAY TOUCH!
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
PEPPERMINT POPCORN COOKIES Makes about 2 dozen Adapted from Deb Perelman’s Popcorn Cookie recipe 1 stick butter, room temperature ½ cup packed brown sugar ₁ ⁄₃ cup white sugar 1 large egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1¼ cup flour ½ teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt 3 cups popped popcorn ½ cup white chocolate chips ¼ cup crushed candy canes or peppermints Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugars for a few minutes until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt, then add to wet mixture slowly, until just combined. By hand, fold in popcorn, crushed candy canes and white chocolate chips (popcorn will seem like too much, but it will be crushed and will blend in eventually). Drop by spoonfuls onto lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or just until edges start browning. Let cool before storing.
PB&J COOKIES Makes about 18 1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy) 1 cup sugar 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon sea salt ½ cup freeze-dried berries Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all ingredients. Drop by spoonful onto lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool before storing.
SUGAR COOKIE SHAPES Makes 2-3 dozen Adapted from thekitchn.com
2 sticks softened butter 2 ounces softened cream cheese 1 cup sugar 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ½ teaspoon almond extract 1 teaspoon orange zest 3 cups flour 1½ teaspoons baking powder ¾ teaspoon sea salt Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and almond extracts along with the orange zest. Slowly incorporate the flour, baking powder and salt until dough forms. Roll into 2 equal discs, cover with plastic wrap and store in freezer for one hour. On floured surface, roll out to ¼-inch thick, then cut with festive cookie cutters. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 8-12 minutes depending on size. Don’t wait until the edges of the cookies are browned—check the bottom of the cookie. Take out of the oven when the bottoms start to brown. The tops should stay light. Let cool completely before frosting.
18 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
CLASSIC SNICKERDOODLES Makes about 3 dozen 2 sticks softened butter 1½ cups sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ½ teaspoon almond extract 2 eggs 2½ cups flour ¾ teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons cream of tartar 1 teaspoon baking soda Cinnamon Sugar ¼ cup sugar 2 teaspoons cinnamon Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and almond extracts, and egg. In another bowl, sift together the flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda. Slowly incorporate the dry into the wet ingredients. Let chill in refrigerator at least one hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough into balls (about 2 teaspoons each) then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture to coat. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Let sit on cookie sheet a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
*RECREATE A FAVORITE CHILDHOOD COOKIE!
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Save the Date! Science with Santa Saturday, December 10; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
HOLDING DOWN THE FORT
The life of a military family is unpredictable. Itâ€™s not only the active duty family member that sacrifices for his or her country, but also the family members that stay behind and keep things together on the home front. By Amy Gordy Photography by Kylie Farmer Photography 20 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
THE MILITARY FAMILY IS ONE WHO MUST ALWAYS BE READY TO MOVE, START A NEW SCHOOL, MAKE NEW FRIENDS, DECORATE ANOTHER HOUSE SO THAT IT FEELS LIKE HOME AND JUMP INTO THE ROLE OF SINGLE PARENT WITH LITTLE NOTICE.
Jon, Emery, Knox and Karissa Clausen.
Karissa Clausen has been part of a military family all her life. Her father was a marine, so she knows a thing or two about what being part of a military family means. She met her husband, Capt. Jon Clausen, in Pittsburgh in 2010, and after a short engagement the two were married the following year. It’s been a whirlwind of moves, babies, new friends, deployments and all the emotions that come along with it. “Jon was commissioned into the Air Force a month before we married. Basic training was in Alabama. That March, pilot training was in Oklahoma. I got a part-time job and finished my degree at Oklahoma State,” Clausen said. At six months pregnant, the Clausens got orders to pack up and move to Little Rock in 2012. “The day after we arrived at the Little Rock Air Force Base, Jon got orders to report to survival training, which is basically a month in the woods. So at six months pregnant, I had to receive all of our things and move them into our new home,” Clausen said. The couple had their daughter, Emery, in November 2012, and shortly after Jon started C-130 training. It was at the Little Rock Air Force Base that Karissa found her niche after becoming involved in the Key Spouse Program, which is an Air Forcewide initiative led by spouses that helps encourage community within the base. “Through this program we bring meals for and organize potlucks, we go through training, we plan the holiday parties for the base, organize fundraisers, we call in to check on deployed members and make sure their families are OK. Sometimes it goes deeper than that, though,” she said. Clausen has her finger on the pulse of base life as Key Spouse Mentor. “Usually the commander’s wife has this position to lead the key spouses, but this year we got a female commander, so I was promoted into that role.” In addition to parties, potlucks and fundraisers, Clausen’s group of spouses tackles all kinds of issues that are wrapped up in the ever-moving lives of military families. “We get calls from families having financial issues and having readjustment problems post-deployment,” Clausen said. Most frequently, she encounters wives just looking for somewhere to belong. “Some women are just 19 or 20 years old and have never left their home before. It can be very intimidating—like joining a new school. Just imagine having to look for a new best friend and then knowing you have to leave that friend in only a couple of years.” THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
Karissa and Knox on homecoming day in September.
“THE DEPLOYMENTS DON’T EVER GET EASIER, JUST DIFFERENT.”
22 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
In addition to hosting ladies nights, Clausen and the Key Spouses also organize playgroups to help kids ease into these transitions. She feels lucky to have been stationed in Little Rock for four years, and because of that extended time she’s been able to really tap into the base community. “Typically in the Air Force, you can expect to be moved every two years, and it took me two years before I really felt like I was 'in' here. They are hard transitions for the whole family,” she said. Deployment is another military family struggle Clausen is no stranger to. Her husband has been deployed twice, and she acts as a mentor to others as she’s experienced all the unexpected hardships that come along with these extended periods of separation. “Pilots are blessed to only have four-month deployments; other branches of the military can be gone much longer. The deployments don’t ever get easier, just different. I had just had our son, Knox, when Jon had his first deployment. It was hard, but you get in a rhythm when they are gone.” Part of the military spouse life, according to Clausen, is being able to adapt when your partner is gone, and also being able to adapt when he or she returns. “The hardest thing about deployment is them coming home. Every homecoming is hard. You set up a life for yourself and your kids, and you basically become a single parent for a while and you get into a groove, and he comes home and has to work back in. It’s a change and the kids are bickering and not listening to him, and everyone is frustrated. There are all these expectations on what a homecoming should be like, but it’s messy. And it’s OK, and it’s normal. We try to reach out to spouses and guide them through this complicated time.” Karissa is a full-time stay-at-home mom to Emery, 4, and Knox, 2, with a master’s degree in education. While she may see a future going back to teaching, for the time being she’s put her professional career on hold to raise her family and give back to her squadron. “My Key Spouse work has really morphed into this massive volunteer thing that I’m doing. Its really fun and I like it. At the end of the day it’s really that I love my squadron, and in the military your squadron is your family. You have to stay connected. The squadron gave me so much when I was new here. You’ll have people step out of the woodwork to volunteer. I had a guy get emotional telling me how much he appreciated when his wife had surgery that the spouses stepped up and brought all these meals, and the next thing you know that family is involved and bringing meals to our programs. It brings everyone closer and has such an impact on so many airmen in our squadron.” Unfortunately Clausen’s time at the Little Rock Air Force Base is coming to an end soon. Her family has received “soft orders” to move on to Texas in April. They’ve lived in three different houses in their four years in Little Rock, made it through two deployments, and built some unforgettable relationships. One piece of advice Clausen has for new military spouses: Get involved in anything. Meet people. Put yourself out there. Community and camaraderie on the base goes a long way.
THE INSIDE SCOOP with KARISSA Where were you born? Fort Wayne, Indiana. Who is your role model? My inlaws, they've raised their kids with such attentiveness and grace.
Karissa and kids with her in-laws, Dave and Candy Clausen.
What is the hardest thing about being a parent? How much you have to THINK about being a good parent. Every second of every day. What is the best thing about being a parent? Not ever having to think about the unconditional love you have for your kids. What is your fantasy career? A college professor. What do you admire most about your husband? His calm demeanor and level head. What are three words that best describe you? Spastic, chaotic, generous. What are three things still on your bucket list? Visit Salem in the fall, New York City at Christmas, and skydive. Which three people would you invite to a fantasy dinner party? Harry Potter, Evgeni Malkin and George Washington. What do you do to relax? Read a book! What is one good piece of advice you've picked up along the way? Grant yourself grace. What is one thing most people don't know about you? I look organized, but really I'm unorganized and only I can understand myself!
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
Michelle Haynes earns her stripes for Uncle Sam and as a mother to three. By Dwain Hebda Photography by Lily Darragh
Michelle Haynes balances a military career and raising Keira, Timothee and baby Oliver.
24 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
MICHELLE HAYNES WOULDN’T TRADE ANY OF HER MILITARY LIFE— NOT THE DEPLOYMENTS, THE MISSED MILESTONES, NONE OF IT. Ask, and the Air Force
E-6 Tech Sergeant and Airman Leadership Corps Instructor’s answer comes back fast and resolute as a crisp salute. “Would I take it all back? No, not at all,” she said. “I think it helped us grow stronger as a family and appreciate the time we have together. They understand that I have to serve this country.” “They” are Haynes’ three children ages 11 years to 2 months, whose memories of Mom always had her in uniform and often in a scary corner of the world. Haynes isn’t oblivious to the pain that comes with her line of work, but after 13 years of service it’s just another fact of the life she’s chosen. “I’ve had that tangle with me a lot, but knowing that I’m serving my country, it kind of trumps it, knowing that I’m doing something to better the world, you know?” she said. “But every emotion runs through you. Missing your family, gosh, that is probably the hardest thing. It’s like a little piece of your heart is breaking. Especially seeing them and how much they grow in the time you’re gone and then to come home and them look at you like you’re a stranger.” She didn’t have this in her own childhood, although she had plenty of military role models—her stepfather was a Marine, her grandfather in the Army, her father in the Air Force. After quickly discovering college wasn’t for her (“Definitely wasted my time,” she fumed) she signed on with Uncle Sam. The military agreed with Haynes, but it wasn’t until the arrival of daughter Keira and son Timothee that her ambition and resolve kicked in. Women were still an anomaly in the maintenance division to which she was assigned, and if it wasn’t exactly a chip on her shoulder, it was something pretty close that drove her to excel. “My biggest thing was realizing I was a mother and also serving my country and I had to do something in my career to provide,” she said. “I was a female coming into the maintenance world when it was the new age of females working right alongside men. Naturally, I always felt the need to crush the guys, make them see that I was a force to be reckoned with.” Promotions and accomplishments fell like dominos—Staff Sergeant, Tech Sergeant and today, Master Sergeant looms. She’s completed two associate’s degrees, one bachelor’s degree and is looking into master’s programs. “The military offered so many goals. Basically you push to make a rank and you get that rank, but guess what? There’s always another rank to chase,” she said. “I’m a goal chaser. I don’t like to be lazy. I don’t sit around. “I also wanted to show my kids there’s always something out there to chase. Don’t ever become complacent, don’t be lazy. If you’re comfortable in something, you need to get out of it.” Her service took her to some of the most dangerous places on earth including Qatar, Kuwait, Kandahar, Afghanistan and Mosul, Iraq.
THE INSIDE SCOOP with MICHELLE Where were you born? West Point, New York. Who is your role model? My role models consistently change! Currently I would have to choose my boss, MSgt. Amber Person. She displays characteristics of someone I admire. She carries herself very well. Her selfless nature and dedication to her team teaches me what a great leader should be. What is the hardest thing about being a parent? To see my children hurting and not being able to take their pain away. From being physically hurt, but more so emotionally. Seeing them work hard at something and not succeed. It's growing up, but as a parent it's hard to watch. What is the best thing about being a parent? Seeing them put in work at something and succeed because of it. Life will not just hand you things. Hard work is a must and seeing them succeed is the best. Oh, and of course their kisses and hugs. Everyday, when I pull into the driveway, they meet me at my car door! What's the hardest thing about your job? Growth. The Air Force is continuously changing, and if you want to succeed, being a part of that change is a must. I never want to get comfortable in a job—that's when you start to hate it! My saying is always be confident but not comfortable. What do you admire most about your husband? My husband is one of a kind, for sure! In life you will meet lots of people. It's the ones who build you up to be a better person who should continue to be in your life. I like to call him my rock, not just because he is huge, but because he gives me that extra push when I want to quit. From watching him in the gym, to raising our children, to being a husband, he truly is AMAZING. What are three words that best describe you? Loyal, hardworking and selfless. What are three things still on your bucket list? I want to go to Ireland; I want to work out with Dana Linn Bailey; and become the first female chief master sergeant of the Air Force. What do you do to relax? The gym is my therapy. What is one good piece of advice you've picked up along the way? Do not stress about things that are out of your control! Oh, and also to always have baby wipes! Kids, haha! What is one thing most people don't know about you? If people don't know it, then there is a reason! I'm not as tough as I look, I do have a soft side!
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
Haynes and husband, Melvin Jackson, both serve in the Air Force and still make time to make family life fun with their three kids.
“I THINK IT HELPED US GROW STRONGER AS A FAMILY AND APPRECIATE THE TIME WE HAVE TOGETHER. THEY UNDERSTAND THAT I HAVE TO SERVE THIS COUNTRY.” “My first real deployment was Kandahar, Afghanistan, and it was when the Air Force was first laying foot down, so we were the ones to set things up,” she said. “It was terrifying. To say it wasn’t would be a lie. The first few weeks are definitely something to get adjusted to.” Haynes remembers Kuwait as the best homecoming; the one where her January arrival got pushed to right before Christmas. She touched down in Jacksonville and hopped a plane to New York where her kids stayed when she was overseas. “They were with my mother at the time, but my mother didn’t know I was coming home. Nobody did,” she said. “Christmas morning I had my friend show up with gifts and I surprised all of them. They were just jaw-dropped. My kids were weird at first, they said they thought I rode on Santa’s sleigh. To this day they swear I flew on Santa’s sleigh home.” Haynes’ deployment prospects are on hold but her husband, E-3 Senior Airman Melvin Jackson, is still in the rotation—in fact, he missed witnessing the arrival of baby Oliver by two days due to deployment. The prospect of future orders doesn’t rattle her; the military marches on after all, and it’s a life that’s given them a lot. “My kids are very resilient; they grew up with an independent streak,” she said. “After a day or two it’s usually just back to business, you know? You’re grounded. You need to fold your clothes, make your bed and it just all kind of falls back into place, at least for my family. “Basically my husband and my thing is ‘Know who you are before you step foot outside the house.’ Know who you are because you are going to deal with so many different things, and being in the military helps them experience that. We try to let them know that anything is possible, anything. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s not.”
26 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
Every day it seems new questions arise when navigating parenthood. We turn to our friends, our family and the internet for solutions on everything from birthday party planning to choosing the right school for your child or identifying behavioral red flags that may need a professionalâ€™s care. Savvy reached out to local experts to weigh in on some of our readersâ€™ burning questions. See what advice they offer in the Savvy How-To Guide.
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
HOW TO: Encourage Age-Appropriate Language Skills in Young Children
THERE’S PLENTY OF CLINICAL EVIDENCE TO SHOW THE DEVELOPMENTAL BENEFITS OF PARENTS INTERACTING WITH THEIR CHILDREN, EVEN AT THE BABY STAGE.
There’s no better bonding time than during the bedtime story, but if you think all those renditions of “Goodnight Moon” or “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” were just building happy memories, think again. “When children are born, their brains are wired to learn language, but it doesn’t happen automatically,” said Melissa Thomas, clinical director at ACCESS in Little Rock. “They learn it through interactions with the people who care for them.” While interactions are the basic building blocks of communication, reading to a child is particularly effective for language development. When you read to your child, you help her learn new words and concepts, as well as the relationship between illustrations and their verbal meanings. “Books are key,” she said. “Toddlers can comprehend concepts and themes within a story, even if they may not yet be using a wide variety of words or phrases themselves. By preschool age, children who have been consistently exposed to literature demonstrate a greater vocabulary and the ability to participate in interactive reading.” Like other physical or cognitive skills, language skills develop at different rates and vary from child to child. For a child who appears to have difficulty understanding what is being said to her or expressing herself to others, additional steps to encourage language development should be explored, such as enlisting the help of a speech pathologist. “The best way to catch up is with speech therapy,” Thomas said. “A speech pathologist knows at what age children should hit their speech and language milestones. Even children who are severely delayed will usually follow a typical pattern of development; a speech pathologist works through that progression with them. Speech therapy often is only needed for a short period of time. One notable exception is when children have co-occurring cognitive or physiological challenges; these children may require more intensive therapy for longer periods of time. Thomas’s advice for parents on how to help encourage their child’s language development includes: 1. Interactivity is Key There’s plenty of clinical evidence that shows the benefit of parents interacting with their children, even at the infant stage. “With babies, it’s using rhymes, simple word games, and songs,” Thomas said. “Toddlers love to see pictures in books and pictures of family members. Talk with your child about what you are doing, where you are going, and describe what you see, both in books and in the environment around you.”
2. Get on Their Level Improve the effect of the interaction by getting at eye level with your child so they can see your face and your expressions. “The best way to facilitate language development is by talking with your kids and getting on their physical level while you do so,” Thomas said. “It’s much more effective to get down on the floor with your child than to stand over them and talk from above.”
3. Pay Attention to Reaction and Interaction
accessgroupinc.org | 501-217-8600
28 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
Being a little behind one’s peers in language development isn’t automatically a cause for concern, but a lack of engagement during interaction time could signal an underlying issue. “There ought to be communication back and forth,” Thomas said. “Even if they don’t have words, you should be able to see in your child a desire to interact and communicate.”3
Why isn’t my child talking yet? Q&A with ACCESS® SpeechLanguage Pathologist Stephanie Chester My child does not talk as much as other children of the same age. Is she just a late talker? Developmental stages for speech and language follow a consistent pattern; however, the ages at which a child reaches these milestones can vary. Biological and environmental factors can affect that development. A child of normal intelligence can definitely be delayed in developing speech and language; however, a child’s vocabulary by age three is one of the strongest predictors of future reading, writing and mathematic abilities. It is important to be aware of your child’s progress toward age-appropriate milestones. My child has a lot to say, but no one can understand her. Will she grow out of sounding like this? While speech and language are interconnected, they are two different sets of skills. Speech is related to articulation of sounds and the combination of sounds into words. Language is described as communication a child is able to both express and understand. It is not uncommon for a child to make mistakes in producing sounds as they learn new words. A child’s ability to produce sounds develops over a large range of ages. Typically-developing children will usually outgrow age-appropriate articulation errors; however, if by age two the majority of your child’s speech is not easily understood by others, it could be indicative of an articulation disorder. If I am concerned about my child’s language development, when should I seek professional intervention? Scientific research shows that the most critical window for speech and language development is from birth to three years old. This stage of brain development presents the most potential for acquiring new speech and language skills. After this window closes, it becomes more difficult and effortful to develop these skills. If you have concerns about your child’s development, it is important to seek a comprehensive evaluation from a licensed speech-language pathologist.
“A child’s vocabulary by age three is one of the strongest predictors of future reading, writing and mathematic ability.”
About ACCESS Therapy Clinics
For more than 20 years, ACCESS® has offered high-quality speech, physical, occupational, academic and pragmatic therapies for children ages six weeks through high school. Our licensed and highly-trained therapists offer comprehensive evaluations to help parents pinpoint exactly where their child needs extra attention. Once we understand the need, we can begin to help meet it. Through individualized treatment plans, specialized approaches and family support and training in our state-of-the-art treatment facilities, the ACCESS Therapy Clinics can bridge developmental delays to help individuals reach their full potential. ACCESS Therapy Clinics serve Little Rock and the surrounding areas.
We’re here to help! Learn more about ACCESS Therapy Evaluations and Services. Call (501) 217-8600 or visit www.accessgroupinc.org.
Recognize When Your Child Would Benefit From Professional Counseling Counseling isn’t the taboo subject it once was, and techniques have improved to accommodate a wider range of ages and issues. However, knowing when to seek help is still as much a matter of parental intuition as it ever was. “I wouldn’t necessarily say that there’s automatically something that sort of triggers this,” said Mark Bryant, program manager, outpatient/day treatment services for Centers for Youth and Families. “Parents typically know their children and so look for things that have changed— changes in mood, changes in daily habits, changes in the ability to cope with stress—those kinds of things as well as understanding there’s something different are some of the red flags.” Bryant said while identifying such changes is an inexact science, such observations can actually provide a lot of information if one knows what to look for. “Look at the severity of symptoms; is a kid depressed every day versus a kid that’s depressed occasionally,” he said. “In those situations, the more severe the issues are or the more severe the symptoms would be, the more need for help.” Parents should also consider recent events in the home that could be a trigger for behavior that could benefit from a professional counselor. “Look at areas of functioning,” Bryant said. “Is this a problem at home? Is this a problem at school? Are there other areas that these symptoms are affecting like academics, peer relationships and family relationships? The overall degree of functioning and how that has been altered or changed is important.”
PARENTS SHOULD ALSO CONSIDER RECENT EVENTS IN THE HOME THAT COULD BE A TRIGGER FOR BEHAVIOR THAT COULD BENEFIT FROM A PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR.
Bryant offered additional suggestions, such as: 1. Take It From the Child’s Perspective While abuse, crime or a natural disaster are obviously difficult for children to handle emotionally, parents shouldn’t discount more subtle disruptors to a child’s sense of security. “What we’re finding out more and more about are what are called adverse childhood experiences,” Bryant said. “Traumas could be something severe, but could also be something like a divorce. Picking up and moving to a different state could be traumatic. All those things could be trauma.”
2. Assessment Doesn’t Mean Treatment Counseling and therapy are much more socially acceptable than in past generations, but aren’t necessarily the same thing. Sometimes it helps just to get a professional opinion of what, if anything, is going on. “We do a lot of assessments and at the end of that, we talk to the family,” Bryant said. “Often, we say ‘You know what? I really don’t think you need treatment, but here’s some things that you can go home and work on.’”
3. If You Think There’s an Issue, Act
30 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
Erring on the side of caution helps identify if there’s a problem to begin with, and doing it in the moment helps everyone involved deal with issues as they happen. “Our same-day assess model is a national trend, we just happen to be one of the few places that have started it locally,” Bryant said. “Basically, we have therapists available when people call or when they just show up for assessments and we get that assessment done today. That way we’re engaging the parents or the children immediately when they’re having problems.”
YOUR HOPES. YOUR STORY. OUR FOCUS. For over 130 years, Centers for Youth and Families has remained true to our mission to build healthy children, families, and communities. The Centers provides Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment programs for children, teens, and young adults ages 0-26 and their families. The Centersâ€™ Outpatient Clinic provides same day access for treatment to help address emotional needs today, when you need it most. Our trauma-focused care throughout our programs helps children and families find hope, learn resilience, and rediscover possible.
CALL TODAY 501.666.8686 or 888.868.0023 Little Rock â€˘ Monticello www.cfyf.org @TheCentersAR
Keep Your Children Safe from Aerosol, Secondhand and Thirdhand Smoke Eliminating exposure of aerosols from vape pens, secondhand and thirdhand smoke is essential for creating a safe and healthy environment that allows children to flourish. Secondhand smoke can contribute to serious health problems in infants and children including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), middle ear infections, and also hurts their lung growth and damages lung functions. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke or secondhand aerosol. More than 7,000 chemicals have been found in secondhand smoke with over 69 of those chemicals known to cause cancer.
More than 7,000 chemicals have been found in secondhand smoke with over 69 of those chemicals known to cause cancer.
Thirdhand smoke is smoke that stays in homes and cars in the air, dust, carpets, and other surfaces. When walking around and touching these surfaces, the chemicals are re-suspended into the air. As parents or guardians, protecting your family is a priority. Maintaining a smokefree home and car is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your child. Here are a couple of tips:
Keep your home smoke free and aerosol free. Smoking or vaping in a single room, near an open window, or near a vent does not keep it out of your home.
Let all visitors know your home and car are smoke free and aerosol free. Act 811 was passed to protect children from being exposed to the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke. It is illegal to smoke in the car with children 14 year old or younger. Violators can be pulled over and ticketed.
If you are interested in quitting, the Arkansas Tobacco Quitline has services available to help you. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to enroll in a five-call program to speak to a quit counselor. The quit counselor will coach you and help you make a quit plan. Nicotine replacement therapy, such as gum, patches, or lozenges are also available at no cost. Pregnant women can enroll in a ten-call program with a dedicated counselor. Quit for them. Quit for you. Quit now. Quit together.
32 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
“I have my
first cigarette of the day when I get up.”
When you smoke, it’s like they are smoking. Secondhand smoke can hurt their lung growth and permanently damage lung functions. Quit now. Quit together.
STAMP OUT SMOKING 1-800-QUIT-NOW
Throw the Easiest Birthday Party For Your Child With the introduction of Pinterest the pressure to throw the perfect, handcrafted birthday party for our children has grown in leaps and bounds. Today’s parents have a lot on their plates with work, afterschool activities, PTA commitments and more. Sometimes it’s a miracle to just get dinner on the table! The bottom line when planning a birthday party is “What would make my child happy?” The answer is probably not painstakingly handcrafted bunting or an artfully staged photo booth. The answer is likely good old-fashioned fun. There are many venues throughout Little Rock that specialize in children’s birthday parties. They are run by professionals who know what kids like and how to make sure everyone, even parents, have a good time! Annie Wright, owner of Jump!Zone in North Little Rock, knows the recipe for a successful, easy birthday party like the back of her hand—it’s what they do best at the indoor inflatables park. They even offer complete party packages in varying sizes so all you and the birthday child have to do on the big day is show up with cake! The best part is that the kids entertain themselves in a fun, safe and active environment. “What’s great about Jump!Zone is that it’s active and fun for the kids, which provides time for the rest of the family to interact, and for parents to meet each other and socialize,” Wright said. There are party rooms decorated in lively themes like “Ocean,” “Jungle” and “Beach” for the big day. Kids get two hours of playtime on the inflatables, which accommodate skill levels from ages 2-12. “There are so many different inflatables,” Wright said. “Some are flat and easy to bounce around in, and some facilitate team play or challenging obstacles. The Dinosaur is usually the hardest to get through and can take some kids a couple of visits to conquer.”
THE BOTTOM LINE WHEN PLANNING A BIRTHDAY PARTY IS “WHAT WOULD MAKE MY CHILD HAPPY?” THE ANSWER IS LIKELY GOOD OLD-FASHIONED FUN.
Here are some other key amenities an all-inclusive birthday party should have: 1. Food You don’t want to be empty handed when a herd of hungry kids arrives to the party. Food is an essential part of a birthday party and any all-inclusive package should provide food or snacks to keep hungry children happy. Jump!Zone’s birthday packages include drinks and pizza to accommodate any group size.
2. Activity Kids seem to have an endless supply of energy, and there’s nothing better than giving them a safe place to burn some of it off. Jump!Zone offers a wide range of inflatables for kids to climb, slide, bounce and play on. “We even deliver inflatables to you if you prefer to have the party at your home,” Wright said. Weather permitting, it’s a year round service that can add some spice to your home party!
jumpzoneparty.com | 501-907-5867
34 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
A good all-inclusive package provides help from staff members to make sure your party goes off without a hitch. The facility team members should help greet and direct guests, aid in serving food and drinks, and make sure everything stays on schedule and that partygoers are happy. Jump!Zone provides a private party coordinator to help with your event. “It’s important for the parent throwing the party to have a face on staff that they recognize to direct any questions and to help guide you through the process.” Coordinators at Jump!Zone do anything from getting more drinks if you run out to helping cut and distribute the cake.
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HOW TO: Choose the Right School for Your Children There are many factors to consider when shopping around for an elementary, middle or high school for your young person, not the least of which is the learning environment itself. Matt Pulley, assistant head of enrollment of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock said small class size and inclusiveness are important factors to look for. “One of the biggest selling points of our school is that we’re a nurturing community and we want to include everybody,” he said. “Our vision is to be the innovative leader in education, so we blend that with a heavy emphasis on technology and infuse everything we do with innovation.” Another component of the learning environment is the availability of extra-curricular activities that accentuate classroom learning. These activites promote social skills and give students the opportunity to develop interests in the arts, athletics or community service, or in ideal situations a little of everything. “Our mission is to inspire students to explore, create, contribute and achieve,” Pulley said. “One of the great things I’ve found about PA is the volleyball student can also be the smart kid, and we have football students that play in the band. It’s a small enough community that you can do a lot of different things.” As children’s learning styles and capacities vary, students often require additional help, particularly within the challenging curriculum such as Pulaski Academy’s. Parents should be sure to explore what kind of academic assistance, such as PA’s learning labs, is available to assist the student’s current and future needs.
Other suggestions for choosing the right school include:
“OUR MISSION IS TO INSPIRE STUDENTS TO EXPLORE, CREATE, CONTRIBUTE AND ACHIEVE.” —Matt Pulley, Assistant Head of Enrollment
pulaskiacademy.org | 501-604-1910
36 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
1. Take a Tour or Preview School Day Reputation goes a long way, but you really can’t assess the quality of the school environment until you experience it firsthand. Most schools provide some sort of open house along with other opportunities to get a “street level” view of the school day. “We have preview days where you come in with a group to see the school and talk to other parents,” Pulley said. “We also have shadow days for older students where they can attend the school for a day.” 2. Ask About Financial Aid Many private schools also offer various levels of help when it comes to tuition, from payment plans to discounts or capping costs for multiple children. A few have even begun to offer scholarships for deserving students. “Two years ago we qualified for a grant through the Malone Family Foundation,” Pulley said. “This $2 million endowment funds scholarships for students coming into middle school based on financial need and achievement. We use this grant to enable deserving children to come to our school.” 3. Evaluate the School’s Academics The primary function of any school is to produce academic excellence, and in the ongoing competition for top students schools need to demonstrate results. Don’t be shy about asking for academic success stories, forward-thinking programs and innovative resources. “We’re one of the only private schools that has a Chinese language program,” Pulley said. “We have eight national merit scholars and two commended scholars this year. Plus we have one senior who has made a perfect score on the PSAT, ACT and SAT.”
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Pulaski Academyâ€™s 2016 National Merit Semifinalists include Skylar Golleher, Caroline Hatley, Maya Hatley, Grant Kirtley, Olivia Overton, Haya Safar, Arthur Teed, and Stephanie Zhao. Commended Scholars are Connor Crow
and Turner Sawyer
501.604.1910 â€˘ www.pulaskiacademy.org
Inspiring students to explore, create, contribute and achieve
HOW TO: Choose the Right Church for Your Family People have any number of reasons for gravitating to one church over another, said Andrea Wymes, director of communications for Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church. Choosing a new church is as much about what stirs the soul as what meets the eye. “We have many people who have just moved into the area come to us looking for a church,” she said. “We also reach people because of our community involvement.” Wymes said Pulaski Heights has attracted members through a variety of means. The church’s music program, for example, is often a magnet for new members who may have attended a concert as a guest and were moved by the performance. “We have people that say they found us through our services and music,” Wymes said. “Every year at Christmas we have about eight services and each one is filled. A lot of people are looking for a place to worship on Christmas Eve and often times they make a decision to join.” Other people have come into the fold after the experience of their children in Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church’s expansive children and youth ministries. PH Kids includes Sunday School and youth programs available for infant children through high school and are open to members and non-members alike. “Many members come through our children’s program,” Wymes said. “Children are great influencers on their parents regarding church.”
“IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN, LOOK FOR A PLACE WHERE YOU AND YOUR WHOLE FAMILY CAN BECOME INVOLVED.” —Andrea Wymes Director of Communications
Other things to look for when choosing a new church include: 1. GET WITH THE PROGRAM Scheduling a visit with the pastor to discuss the overall direction and vision for the community can help you get an idea if the church is in line with your own beliefs and worship habits. Ask about other opportunities to meet with everyday church members about their experiences there. “We have a Membership Matters class throughout the year for people before they join our church,” Wymes said. “They have lunch with the pastors and other leaders in the church to discuss the things that happen here and let people see what PH is all about before they make a decision to join.”
2. FAITH IN ACTION Many people feel their spiritual lives more intimately when they put their faith into action on the part of others. Most churches have a long roster of volunteer and service opportunities; be sure to check those out to see if there is something that speaks to you. “Church is, of course, a place where you feel comfortable first,” Wymes said. “It is a place that should equip you to grow in your faith and that feels more like you are part of a family.”
3. FAMILY AFFAIR Church can be a place of family bonding as well as individual spiritual growth. Look into the church’s list of ministries to make sure there is something for every member of the family, as well as things that you can experience together. “If you have children, look for a place where you and your whole family can become involved,” Wymes said. “The more involved you get, the more encouraged you will be to come to church and be more faithful.”
phumc.com | 501-664-3600
38 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
HOW TO: Use Household Items to Create Developmental Toys You don’t need to spend tons of money on the latest and greatest gadgets and toys to keep young kids entertained. Cecilia Creasman, speech language pathologist at Pediatrics Plus, has created a few simple toys made from household items that are a big hit with the kids at her clinic, and her own 18-month-old daughter. Creasman works mostly with children up to age 5, though Pediatrics Plus serves clients up to age 21. Her job entails anything from teaching kids how to make sounds correctly to social skills and early language acquisition, which is her specialty. “Children learn best through play. It’s great for their brain development. I like to find toys that are interesting to the child. The more a child has to use his or her own mind and body, the more they benefit,” Creasman said. For really young kids, she recommends parents play and interact with the child. The older they get, the more you should encourage independent play, and letting them choose activites on their own. “Society pushes us to focus on learning through academics. I believe letting kids play and have sensory experiences at an early age is much more important,” she said. You don’t need high-tech toys to be entertained, and after the age of 10 months, Creasman recommends avoiding any toys that use batteries. “Battery-powered toys usually perform one function. After the 10-month mark, it’s best to look for toys that can do a variety of things, spark the imagination and encourage kids to think outside the box. Creasman has created a few toys that play to the imagination and aid in sensory development using household items you can easily find and recreate in your own home!
1. STRAW BOTTLE Creasman’s favorite toy in therapy is this 2-liter plastic bottle filled with straws. This toy allows for a variety of diverse skill development activities. “We can work on saying words like ‘open’ and ‘close.’ The bottle encourages communication—most of the kids are too young to twist off the cap so they have to learn to ask for help to open the bottle.” After dropping the straws from the bottle, kids can work on pinch-and-grab skills as they retrieve the straws and place them back inside. The straws can also be used in color- and size-matching games, and to create letters to sound out or shapes to identify.
2. BEAN BOX This is a simple Rubbermaid box with a lid filled with dry beans or pasta—whatever you have onhand will work. Add a small cup—such as an empty 4-ounce applesauce or fruit cup container—to use as a scooper. The bean box allows kids to push around, pick up and count the beans. And, the cup can be used to learn scooping and dumping skills. “This provides a rich sensory experience and is great for hand-eye coordination,” Creasman said. Add a mini-hand broom for fun clean up time!
3. TOKEN BANK Take an empty can of formula and cut a slit in the lid. Fill the can halfway with poker chips, empty it and let kids drop them in the can one at a time. This toy provides another great way to develop pinchand-grab skills and hand-eye coordination, and they’ll feel like a big kid with a piggy bank!
40 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
HOW TO: Choose the Right College Prospective college-goers are often surprised at what they find when they explore their options at the state’s two-year or community colleges. “People have complicated lives,” said Tim Jones, associate vice president of public relations and marketing at Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock. “Finding the right fit in higher education is a matter of matching your aspirations, interests and goals with the right college. More and more, folks find that the ease of access, the lower cost and the career-focused curriculum at two-year colleges are a perfect fit.” Jones said many two-year colleges have developed programs and facilities that rival any four-year college or university, and at a substantially lower cost. Pulaski Tech’s state-of-the- art culinary school and world-class humanities program are two good examples. Another advantage of the two-year institution is the ease with which credits transfer to four-year schools. This allows a student to stay on track for graduation with a baccalaureate. “Pulaski Tech offers university transfer curriculum designed for transfer to a four-year college or university. Our affiliation with the University of Arkansas System will make that transition even easier. Plus, we also have a host of terminal degrees that are careeroriented to provide a credential that’s widely recognized, and a skill set that will make you employable.”
Other suggestions for choosing a college include: 1. Start Early
TWO-YEAR COLLEGES ARE IDEAL FOR STUDENTS FRESH OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL, OR FOR WORKING ADULTS LOOKING TO FINISH A DEGREE OR GAIN ADDITIONAL EDUCATION TO INCREASE EMPLOYABILITY AND EARNING POTENTIAL.
pulaskitech.edu | 501-812-2200
42 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
There’s nothing new about this piece of advice, but it’s more important than ever. Financial aid is harder to get than it used to be, so respect deadlines and be sure to get necessary paperwork in early enough to deal with any issues. “Ideally, a student comes to us focused and organized,” Jones said. “But more often they don’t really know how the process works and so we have a lot of help available to those students.”
2. Consider Your Goals Not every traditional student is ready to go away to college immediately after high school graduation. Some students could use a little more maturity, while others might need to begin taking the basics while they figure out a long-term plan. Attending a twoyear college is an accessible and affordable way to get started with college coursework. “Students are challenged at Pulaski Tech,” Jones said. “Given the opportunity to dig deeper and accomplish more, students often find talents and potential they didn’t know they possess.”
3. It’s Not Just for Kids Anymore Two-year colleges are ideal for non-traditional students, particularly working adults looking to finish a degree or gain additional education to make themselves more marketable. “Our average student is a woman in her late 20s; a lot of folks are coming to two-year colleges because we’re providing flexible options that work around their busy lives,” Jones said. “We’re the shortest distance—as few as two to as many as six full semesters— between where you are and improved employment prospects and earning potential.”
Discover the diamond that is you at Pulaski Tech.
New Student Early Appointment Registration Now through Friday, December 16
New Student Late Walk In Registration
Thursday, January 5 - Friday, January 6
To enroll or for more information, visit www.pulaskitech.edu THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2016
HOW TO: Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Kids This holiday may be hands-down the hardest night of the year to find a babysitter. Everyone wants to go out and have a good time and ring in the New Year—even kids! So, if your plans for the evening—which is centered around letting loose and reveling in new beginnings—involves a night in with the family, then rest easy knowing there are many ways to still throw the party of the year and incorporate the whole family. New Year’s Eve is a great opportunity to help mark the passage of another year with your kids. Take some time to reflect on accomplishments and ways the family has grown and changed, then set goals for the year ahead. Even kids can make resolutions! Most importantly though, ring in the New Year with a bang by throwing your own family-oriented celebration. Kids love any reason to party and with events like the traditional countdown and ball drop, this night is sure to be one for the family photo album! Ted Mitchell, owner of Party City, looks to the party supply store’s ample shelves for his family’s New Year’s Eve events. “Kids at any age love to celebrate, and it’s great to be a part of that experience with them. Parents find themselves having just as much fun! Party City has a very large selection of New Year’s decorations, tableware, noisemakers and more. There’s something for any age,” he said. As an expert on how to plan the perfect party, Mitchell has tons of tips on how to keep the kids engaged and excited throughout the evening.
Here are a few ideas on how to ring in the New Year in kid-friendly style: 1. Decorations This holiday is filled with bright colors, fireworks displays and tons of glitter and shine. Nothing transforms a room like bold banners, streamers and balloons. Party City has 2017 decor all ready to go. The more bold colors you choose, the more your kids will love it. Let them help with the decorating process to really make the event their own! For an evening the kids will talk about for weeks to come, pick up a Pull String Disco Ball Piñata. Fill it with candy and as the countdown concludes, turn the kids loose on it!
2. Snacks and Drinks There’s nothing like a table of treats and drinks to keep kids busy through the night. Grab some themed New Year’s paper plates, cups and napkins from Party City for easy cleanup when the night is over. Think about simple finger foods like fruit, small sandwiches and chips and dip. And don’t forget the midnight toast! Snag a few plastic champagne flutes from Party City and fill them with a delicious mocktail. Try sparkling grape juice with a raspberry garnish!
3. Fun and Games
partycity.com | 501-223-4929
44 DECEMBER 2016 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
Don’t forget to sprinkle in the fun and games! Kids love confetti, noisemakers and party poppers. Load them up and let them go wild. It’s just one night! Everyone likes to wear festive gear for the occasion. Party City has tons of hats, tiaras, masks, silly glasses and more to keep everyone giggling and reveling in the New Year’s spirit until the ball drops—or the kids pass out!
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A SCHOOL AND AN OUTPATIENT PEDIATRIC THERAPY CLINIC A place where children with developmental disabilities and learning differences can grow and develop in an environment tailored to meet their unique needs.
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