THE LIFESTYLE MANUAL FOR THE MODERN MOM
MEET STEPMOM KIM CARTER ON PAGE 24.
FEBRUARY 2017 · THESAVVYMOMS.COM
BLENDED IS THE NEW TRADITIONAL HOW 3 STEPFAMILIES MAKE IT WORK
VALENTINE’S DAY TREATS
why should I feed my kids more fresh fruits and veggies? because obesity results from learning poor eating habits good nutrition helps them study harder I can have fun exploring the farmers market with them junk food is not fit for future geniuses I know how hard it is to lose excess weight I want to help them grow up strong and confident because together weâ€™re healthier
As a parent, you want the best for your children. So do we. Thatâ€™s why we are offering a free Well-Fed Me guide that features healthy recipes, tips for healthy living, and inspiration for lifestyle change that you and your family can use all year. Sign up to receive the Well-Fed Me guide at chistvincent.com
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FEBRUARY 2017 AL SHOP LOC ’S NE TI N FOR VALE Y A D
MODERN MOM 14 MAMA SAID TRUE LOVE IS EVER-EVOLVING
16 MIND, BODY & SOUL MAKE TIME FOR YOUR MARRIAGE
SAVVY FAMILY 18 SAVVY STYLE FROM THE HEART
20 EDIBLE CREATIONS FOR YOUR SWEETS DIY VALENTINE’S DAY EDIBLE ARRANGEMENTS
24 BLENDED IS THE NEW TRADITIONAL A MOM AND STEPMOM SHARE HOW THEY MAKE IT WORK
28 SOLID AFTER A SHAKY START MALLORY VAN DOVER WORKS HARD TO CONNECT WITH HER STEPKIDS
30 CO-PARENTING IS A TEAM EFFORT JASON MILLER AND AYISHA CANANT PARENT AS A TEAM AFTER DIVORCE
32 SHAKE UP YOUR SPRING BREAK PLAN A SPRING BREAK GETAWAY
IN EVERY ISSUE 6 EDITOR’S NOTE 10 NEWS & NOTES CALENDAR, CRAFTS & MORE!
38 BAG CHECK
THE LIFESTYLE MANUAL FOR THE MODERN MOM
GANELLE BLAKE MEET STEPMOM KIM CARTER ON PAGE 24.
FEBRUARY 2017 · THESAVVYMOMS.COM
BLENDED IS THE NEW TRADITIONAL HOW 3 STEPFAMILIES MAKE IT WORK
ON THE COVER: (FOM LEFT) KIM, COLLIN, CHLOE AND LUKE CARTER. PHOTOGRAPHY BY LILY DARRAGH.
FEBRUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
SWEET VALENTINE'S DAY TREATS
PUBLIC EDUCATION: PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES
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501.234.2000 THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
The February issue is full of fun, love and great info on strengthening your family. The cover story takes a look at blended families, a topic that is little discussed but affects so many of us. The “traditional” family model of a household with two married parents is not as widespread as it once was. According to the Pew Center for Research, today only 46 percent of kids live in a household with two married parents, and one in six kids are part of a “blended family,” which is defined as living in a household with either stepsiblings or a stepparent. As a member of a blended family, I know it takes effort but it’s so rewarding when everyone can come together and make it work. A lot of coming together in a blended family is trying to see the other side. It’s a sentiment heard from each of the families interviewed in this piece. Whether it’s working through relationships between the adults, or stepparents and bio parents trying to connect with the kids—it all seems to be about patience, understanding and allowing for grace. Get an honest glimpse, beginning on page 24, inside the lives of five parents who are making their blended families work. The foundation of many families is a solid marriage. We sit down with therapist Rebecca Ward to talk about the importance of putting your spouse first, even when your life seems to be in complete kid-related chaos, on page 16. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and there’s no better time to make that extra effort for your loved ones. Kerry Guice has some creative ideas to make an edible, fruity arrangement in Good Eats on page 20. If you are still looking for that perfect gift, then you’re in luck! We hand-picked a few lovely trinkets from Central Arkansas boutiques in our Valentine’s Day style feature on page 18. Sometimes the best gift you can give your family is a quick getaway. Most nearby school districts begin spring break on March 20, so you have plenty of time to organize a family vacation. There are tons of exciting regional destinations that are accessible by car, plane or train. Check out our spring break vacation planner beginning on page 32! We hope this issue inspires you to put a little extra time and effort into the important relationships in your life, and, most importantly, don’t forget to celebrate them!
Amy Gordy Editor, Savvy @SavvyAR
FEBRUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
PHOTOGRAPHY: LILY DARRAGH
FUN, LOVE AND FAMILY
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PUBLISHER BLAKE HANNAHS | firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR AMY GORDY | email@example.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR MANDY KEENER | firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR AT LARGE REBEKAH LAWRENCE | email@example.com SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE LESA THOMAS | firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE SHERRIE BUTNER | email@example.com ADVERTISING TRAFFIC MANAGER ROLAND R. GLADDEN | firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING COORDINATOR JIM HUNNICUTT | email@example.com GRAPHIC DESIGNERS BRYAN MOATS | MIKE SPAIN | KATIE HASSELL PRODUCTION MANAGER | CONTROLLER WELDON WILSON
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Visit our website for information on services, upcoming events, and access to our resources! Kidsourcetherapy.com Services We Provide: •Early Intervention Services •Therapy Evaluations •Speech/Language Therapy •Occupational Therapy •Physical Therapy
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FEBRUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
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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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KD REEP is a writer and public relations practitioner in Little Rock. She owns Flywrite Communications, Inc., a public relations agency, and is the PR director for Mass Enthusiasm, a fullservice marketing communications firm in Little Rock.
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.
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.
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THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
news & notes
Go on a pirate adventure for all ages at the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre production of “The Laughable Legend of Fancybeard the Bully Pirate.” In this tale of adventure, three young buccaneers-in-training find themselves marooned on a jungle island with the ghost of their greatest hero, the legendary Captain Fancybeard. arkarts.com.
Explore some of the science and technology behind the characters and filmmaking of “Star Wars” with hands-on activities at the Museum of Discovery’s “Star Wars” Science from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. arkmod.com.
Super Bowl Sunday
14 Valentine’s Day
22March 5 See the musical version of the children’s literature classic, “The Secret Garden,” at the Argenta Community Theater. All ages will enjoy the story of sickly English orphan Mary Lennox, whose sour disposition begins to change once she discovers a hidden, mysterious garden on her uncle’s grounds. argentacommunitytheater.org.
Join in the fun at the SoMa Mardi Gras Celebration that includes a festive parade down Main Street with floats, beads, food, stilt-walkers and more! Parade begins at noon on 25th Street and ends at 12th Street. It’s fun for the whole family! Find SoMa Little Rock,s Southside Main Street Project on Facebook for more info.
10 FEBRUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
Celebrate the first full moon of the lunar New Year at Wildwood Park’s Lanterns! Winter Festival. Guests will enjoy a stroll through beautifully lit pathways at Wildwood’s gardens with stunning cultural vistas, live entertainment, food, drink, games and more. Admission: $10 adults, $5 ages 6-12, free for children 5 years and younger. wildwoodpark.org.
Bowl for a good cause at Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas’s second annual Bowling & Building at Professor Bowl. This fun, family-friendly tournament will help raise money for Habitat, and prizes will be awarded to winners, losers and bestdressed bowlers. Register as an individual or a team at habitatcentralar.org/bowling.
Get a sitter, dust off that black-tie attire and get ready for the paparazzi at Wolfe Street Foundation’s Red Carpet 2017 at the newly renovated Robinson Center. Enjoy an evening of food, drink, silent and live auctions and the stars at this Oscar watch party and fundraiser for the state’s largest nonprofit dedicated to recovery from alcoholism and addiction. wolfestreet.org.
THE NEW ‘SCIENCE GUY’
THE FUTURE OF MUSEUM OF DISCOVERY SCIENCE EXPERT KEVIN DELANEY IS BLOWING UP—LITERALLY—WITH A NEW SHOW ON THE SCIENCE CHANNEL. BY DWAIN HEBDA
he look on Jimmy Fallon’s face says it all. During the science segments of his late-night TV program, he never knows what awaits him at the hands of Kevin Delaney, director of visitor experience at the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock. Delaney, 36, has given Fallon a ride on a hoverboard, shot liquid nitrogen-filled water bottles all over the set, fired a ping pong ball through a wooden ping pong paddle, and exploded a thousand plastic canisters using nothing more than Alka-Seltzer. “We start with the science and try to figure out the most interesting way to display it, and also the safest way to do it,” Delaney said. “A lot of this stuff does involve some dangerous elements, whether it’s materials or height or fire. We have to make sure that everything’s safe.” To anyone who’s ever seen Delaney’s work at the Museum of Discovery, this is familiar fare. After all, the New Jersey-born personality has been pulling such stunts for the past five years where it’s all fun and games until somebody learns something. “Every experiment is performed to try to learn something,” he said. “That’s the difference between an experiment and a demonstration.” His spots on “The Tonight Show” and YouTube demonstrate a fun mashup of Bill Nye’s geeky cool and Mythbusters’ appetite for destruction. But Delaney brings another element that neither of these predecessors share—a sense of wonder that’s a holdover from an early fascination with science. This approachable, genuinely sweet disposition gets people past the heavy beard and long hair that make him look more biker than Beaker.
“I’ve always been interested in science,” he said. “My uncle was a palynologist [a scientist that studies pollen and spores], which I didn’t learn about specifically until much later. It was easier for us to think of him as a paleontologist; to us, he dug up dinosaur bones, which he occasionally did. My brother and I were both instilled with a love of science really early on. “But I’m also an artist. I’ve been a writer and performer forever, so I gravitated more towards that. But because I’ve always had this interest in science, it always kind of informed everything that I did creatively.” Little Rock has learned to share its star as the “Tonight Show” gig led to “Street Science” a 30-minute weekly program that debuted Jan. 11 on The Science Channel. The show finds Delaney recreating many of his Little Rock specialties on a grand scale, such as filling an automobile with “elephant toothpaste” and blowing up orange road construction barrels full of ping pong balls. Along the way, he uses high-speed cameras and thermal imaging to demonstrate the various forces at work. “Aside from the incredible visuals, getting to use thermal cameras and stuff like that, we’re able to really have fun with these audiences, because we’re engaging them in this live kind of demonstration,” he said. “Some of this is on a scale that I don’t know if it’s been done before. Elephant toothpaste is something you’ll see at the museum, at other museums and classrooms all over the place, but I believe we were the first people to use a Volkswagen bug, as far as I know. If there’s somebody else, let me know.” “Street Science” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Central Time on The Science Channel, sciencechannel.com.
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
DR. SEUSS DAY DIY
The National Education Association has declared March 2—Dr. Seuss’s birthday—as Read Across America Day! Schools and libraries across the country celebrate by reading the author’s classic work, enjoying Seuss-themed snacks and inviting kids to dress up for the occasion. Here are a few ideas you can create with your child:
Old pair of sunglasses 1 sheet of yellow felt or foam 1 yellow feather boa Yellow paint Hot glue Find an old pair of sunglasses and paint them yellow. Draw a big, bushy mustache that’s about 8 inches across on a sheet of yellow felt or foam, and cut it out with a pair of sharp scissors. At the top of the mustache be sure to leave an indention big enough for your nose to fit. If you plan to make the matching T-shirt, use the mustache to trace another one on your felt sheet. Snip off two 3-inch sections of the feather boa to make eyebrows. Hot-glue the mustache and eyebrows to the glasses and you’re done!
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12 FEBRUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
Orange T-shirt (find it in any craft store) Googly eyes Yellow feather boa 1 sheet yellow felt Fabric glue or needle and thread This shirt is fun, eye-catching and easy to make. Draw a big, bushy mustache that’s about 8 inches across on a sheet of felt and cut it out with sharp scissors. Snip two 3-inch sections of the feather boa. Lay the face out on the shirt first, then either use the fabric glue to adhere it all, or use a needle and thread on the mustache and eyebrows to make it a little more durable.
GREEN EGGS & HAM T-SHIRT Green T-shirt 1 sheet white felt 1 sheet green felt Cotton balls Needle and thread Fabric glue
Using sharp scissors, cut out a 3- or 4-inch diameter circle from the green felt— that will be your yolk. Cut out an asymmetrical 10-inch diameter shape with rounded edges from the white felt—that will be the egg white. Use the fabric glue or needle and thread to attach the egg white to the shirt. Use needle and thread to sew on half of the egg yolk. Stuff it with cotton balls, then finish sewing it.
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE... BALLOONS & CANDY, TOO!
11218 Rodney Parham Little Rock 501-223-4929
4822 North Hills Blvd. N. Little Rock 501-978-3154 THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
TRUE LOVE IS EVER-EVOLVING
... you’ll need to speak his Love Language to keep up.
hen it comes to keeping romance alive as a parent, the struggle is real. By the end of the day, we parents are exhausted, and often frustrated, and all we want to do is fall onto the nearest flat surface. These conditions aren’t conducive for good conversation, much less flirting and romance. Often we feel there is no other option—who has time to date a spouse with the mountain of laundry waiting in the next room? It’s so easy to fall into the sterile existence of schedules and schoolwork and simply making it through another day. But, if there is one thing I have learned in my time as a parent and a partner, it’s that true love is ever-evolving. People change with time; it’s as inevitable as aging. Life experiences affect our outlook, and life goals change. Aging itself often changes perspectives and priorities. In any relationship, supporting the other’s evolving interests is so important. But, if we never have meaningful conversations, how will we know that interests or outlooks or perspectives are changing? I miss the simple joys of dating my spouse—conversation, kisses, thoughtful little gestures and gifts. With kids in the house, we can’t exactly whisk away any time the mood arises on a romantic getaway—or to dinner at Brave New Restaurant (our favorite) for that matter. A sitter must be found, schedules consulted, after-school activities considered. By the time those tasks are complete, the event itself feels like another chore. But even if romantic getaways aren’t possible, it’s important to find time to talk, to understand a partner’s needs. To this end, many couples schedule recurring date nights, and even time to talk, to make sure their relationship doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of parenting and life. I had never heard of “Love Languages” until a friend administered a self-evaluation questionnaire during Sunday school a couple of years ago. My sweet husband and I, who are the classic example
of opposites attracting, took the quiz. I’m a bit young-at-heart, a dreamer who can’t stay within the confines of a recipe to save my life. He’s a finance guy with no tolerance for gray areas and a thoughtful streak six miles wide. It was no wonder, then, that the results of our quiz were completely at odds. It turns out we don’t speak the same Love Language. I know that sounds completely hokey. "Love Language" evokes images of yoga instructors or sex therapists wearing linen tunics beneath flowing gray hair. I admit (shamefully) we didn’t read the Gary Chapman books associated with the Love Language quiz, but the premise is fairly simple. Once I heard it, it was like putting on relationship spectacles for the first time—everything was so much clearer. People have their own ways of both showing and receiving love and affection. If a woman feels loved when her partner kisses her, but the partner shows love by doing the dishes or mowing the grass, well, there’s a disconnect. She may not comprehend the love he is showing, and his efforts will go unnoticed. The reverse is also true. However, once couples understand these discrepancies, they can look for ways their partner shows love, and they can work to give love in a way the other will understand. They can speak the other’s language. Why is it so important to know when a spouse or partner is showing love and affection? Why is it so important to make time for conversation? Because love, like people, is ever-evolving. I think romantic love is much more meaningful with maturity. So, intimate moments and getaways are no longer possible at the drop of a hat. It makes them that much more special when they do happen. Having, and being, a partner who supports the other’s changing needs and interests is deeply fulfilling. In the parenting struggle that so often feels like dog paddling in an ocean tempest, ever-evolving romantic love can be the life raft we most need.
THE BEGINNING STAGES OF AN EVOLVING LOVE!
Jen Holman is determined to be a voice of reason in the cacophony of reality TV and mom-judgment-gone-wild. She is often irreverent and frequently imperfect. But she’s happy, by God, and that’s what matters. She lives in Little Rock with her husband and three (im) perfect children.
14 FEBRUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
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THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
mind, body & soul
MAKE TIME FOR YOUR MARRIAGE
KIDS ARE A MAJOR STRESSOR ON MATRIMONY. IF YOU FIND YOUR SPOUSE OFTEN TAKES THE BACKSEAT TO THEIR NEEDS, THEN IT MAY BE TIME TO STRENGTHEN YOUR FAMILY’S FOUNDATION.
hildren do not strengthen a marriage. In fact, they are a serious threat to it. In our culture of child worship and helicopter parenting, this is almost heretical to think, much less say. But the fact is children are one of the greatest stressors a marriage can experience. The long and short of it: The more time you focus on your children is less time you spend on your partner and marriage. “Think of marriage as the foundation of your family life,” said Rebecca F. Ward, licensed clinical social worker. “If the foundation—your relationship with your partner—is sound, your kids will be, too.” If you think having one child takes all your time and energy, having a second will make you wonder how you ever had time to breathe, much less dress or eat. Making time to pay attention to your spouse and your relationship can seem insurmountable, but it is vital to maintaining
16 FEBRUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
your relationship and reinforcing the love that brought you together as a couple in the first place. “Children absorb all of a couple’s time, attention and devotion,” Ward said. “This is exactly why it is critical that a couple make time for each other. Neglect of the relationship will not only erode your partnership, it will wear away the foundation of your family. For the sake of everyone involved, you have to care for your relationship first.” But how to do that? The first thing you have to do is make your spouse your priority. “That may seem counterintuitive when our culture tells us children are our most important pursuits,” Ward said. “However exhausted you are, however many chores go undone, make time to be with your spouse—just the two of you. Don’t talk about the kids or the house or anything other than the two of you.”
“IF THE FOUNDATION—YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR PARTNER— IS SOUND, YOUR KIDS WILL BE, TOO.” To reconnect and stay that way, start small. First, commit to sending your spouse off for the day with a hug, kiss and kind word, then welcome him home the same way. “Everyone wants to know they are loved and wanted, and acting happy to see the person you love will go a long way to making them feel like a priority,” Ward said. “Seems simple, but it’s an easy and significant first step.” Next, set early bedtimes and stick to them. This doesn’t mean the kids have to be asleep at this time, but it does mean they have to be in their rooms. Kids must learn to entertain themselves, and giving them the opportunity to do so on a regular basis will benefit everyone. “If your kids are in their rooms by 8:30 p.m., that gives you and your partner a chance to unwind and be together,” Ward said. “No matter how tired you are or how much you think you have to do before the next day, commit to taking at least 20 minutes to focus on your spouse. It will be something you both look forward to sharing.” In fact, these 20-minute times can be anytime during the day. You can both take your kids to daycare, school or activities and use the time when you don’t have kids in the car to talk. You also can feed the kids separately, which gives you a chance to eat something besides chicken nuggets and mac and cheese.
“If you both work outside the home, schedule lunches together during the week,” Ward said. “This is a great time to talk about things other than your children, the house or duties. In fact, you can use it to remind each other why you fell in love in the first place.” In addition to lunches, plan for extended time without your kids on a regular basis. Recruit family or friends to keep your kids and return the favor, or find a babysitter you trust and pay them fairly. Time to do things the two of you enjoy—even if it’s being alone in the house together—will make you feel special, appreciated and valued. “Which brings us to sex,” Ward said. “Schedule time to have sex on a regular basis and stick to it. Give up the notion that sex has to be spontaneous. If you don’t make time for it, it won’t happen because you are exhausted or have other things to do. Talk about it with your spouse, set a time—even if that is setting the alarm early one morning—and keep it. You’ll both look forward to it.” Finally, do what is right for you, your spouse and your family. “Remember that this time in your relationship is temporary,” Ward said. “Your kids will grow up and move on, and if you take care of your relationship throughout all of its stages, it will pay off in dividends.”
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FROM THE HEART
With Valentine’s Day comes pressure to find the perfect gift for your special someone, but you don’t have to drain your bank account to find something special that’s from the heart!
THIS HEART OF GOLD REALLY SHINES!
18 FEBRUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
GOLD GOES WITH EVERYTHING!
THIS GIVING KEY GIVES BACK, TOO!
1. Drop love notes throughout the year with this 150-sheet notepad by Sugarboo Designs. Each page is creatively illustrated with punny sayings, insightful quotes, lovely proverbs and general sweet sentiments. Available at Box Turtle, Little Rock, shopboxturtle.com. 2. Pay it forward and give a lovely sentiment with a necklace by Giving Key. This company based out of Los Angeles employs those transitioning out of homelessness. The shiny goldtoned key is stamped with the word “Love” and hangs low on a 27-inch chain. Available at E. Leigh’s, Little Rock, eleighs.com. 3. The King’s Pad by Jon Hart Design is the perfect masculine place to keep notes or leave notes for your loved ones. The super thick notepad is tied into its leather binding, and easy to refill once you run out of paper. The leather sheath comes in many colors with optional monogramming. Available at The Full Moon, Little Rock, thefullmoonlittlerock.com. 4. This hanging wall vase is the perfect spot to display a lovely dried arrangement from the garden. It’s handmade by artist Lisa Crews, and features a heart in an earthy shade of red topped with a fiery crown. There’s space to fill the heart with a handful of your favorite flora. Available at Gallery 26, Little Rock, gallery26.com. 5. You’ve got a heart of gold and this beautiful heart-shaped tray is the perfect place to set your trinkets. The hollowed-out interior features a stunning gold leaf that really shines. Available at Box Turtle, Little Rock, shopboxturtle.com. 6. That special someone will want to translate your Love Language with this lovely card that reads, “Con cada beso que me das, yo te amo más y más,” which means “With every kiss you give me, I love you more and more.” It features a hand-drawn illustration by Little Rock artist Erin Lorenzen. It’s sweet, colorful and from the heart. Available at Gallery 26, Little Rock, gallery26.com. 7. The best chocolate comes in small batches! This box of assorted chocolate-coated caramels is perfect for the chocoholic in your life. They are made using organic, high-quality and fineflavor cacao here in Little Rock, and are absolutely indulgent! Available at Izard Chocolate, Little Rock, izardchocolate.com.
DATE NIGHT HIKES, HEARTS AND HUGS WEEKEND Couples can enjoy a weekend of romantic activities on Petit Jean Mountain including hikes, tours of Mather Lodge and the romantic story of how the mountain got its name. Feb. 10-12, petitjeanstatepark.com. BLACK HEARTS BALL Experience a lovely evening at Crystal Bridges filled with food, drinks, live music and off-the-wall encounters with art and performance. Feb. 11, crystalbridges.org. “CASABLANCA” Spend the afternoon watching one of the all-time great romantic films at the Ron Robinson Theater. “Casablanca” is a classic World War II story starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Feb. 11 at 1 p.m., cals.org.
FACT: Vaccines save lives. Learn more at archildrens.org/vaccines
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
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Edible Creations For Your Sweets WHO NEEDS FLOWERS WHEN YOU CAN HAVE FRUIT? HAVE SOME VALENTINE’S DAY FUN WITH THESE EDIBLE ARRANGEMENTS! IT ’S A PROJECT THE WHOLE FAMILY CAN ENJOY CREATING, EATING AND GIFTING TO THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY KERRY GUICE
alentine’s Day is a holiday that has drastically changed for me since my husband and I have had kids. It’s rarely about flowers, chocolate and a romantic getaway anymore. Not that I don’t adore all three of those things (and we still squeeze in a good night out), but it’s now more about showing love and affection to the whole family—littles included! I love the idea of hand-making gifts, and these edible arrangements are the perfect way to share some love and quality time with your kids. You can either snack on them together afterward, give them to a grandparent, or surprise their teacher at school with a colorful bouquet of sweet fruit! The best part? It’s (mostly) good for you, and ridiculously easy! I wanted to add a few Rice Krispie Treat “leaves,” using a football cookie cutter, to add a little green and a little indulgence to an already sweet treat. What a fun idea for a Valentine’s Day play date with your kids and their friends! All you need is a variety of cut fruits, Rice Krispie Treats, a vase, wooden skewers and some uncooked rice to secure the skewers inside the vase. Use cookie cutters to cut little heart or flower shapes out of fresh pineapple or melon, and add a few of the Rice Krispie Treats around for the leaves. This is one of those jackpot ideas that are so fun no matter how young or old you are! It’s so much less expensive than ordering pre-made edible arrangements, and much more meaningful and from the heart. Switch it up and add any fruit you want, or any other sweet additions like chocolate-covered strawberries, marshmallows or chocolate-covered Oreos. There’s no wrong way to make them!
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
THESE EDIBLE ARRANGEMENTS ARE THE PERFECT WAY TO SHARE SOME LOVE AND QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR KIDS. Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treat Leaves ½ stick salted butter 1 10-ounce bag marshmallows 6½ cups puffed rice cereal 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Drops of green food coloring Leaf- or football-shaped cookie cutter (or sharp knife to cut the shapes) In a large pot, heat the butter over medium heat until it’s slightly browned and melted. Lower heat to low, add the marshmallows and cook, stirring often, until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and the food coloring (make it a slightly darker green than you think you’ll need because it will lighten when you add the cereal). Add the cereal and stir together until completely incorporated (it will be STICKY!). Using a spatula sprayed with cooking spray, pour the mixture into a 9-by-12-inch pan that is also sprayed with cooking spray. Press down to compact the treats, and let cool to harden, 1-2 hours. Once finished, remove from the pan and cut into leaf shapes. Poke a skewer about halfway into the “leaf,” and add skewers of assorted fruit to create your arrangements!
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(From left) Piper Holden, Madeline Circle and Hadley Holden enjoy fruity edible arrangements. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
Blended Is the New Traditional
ONE IN SIX KIDS ARE PART OF A BLENDED FAMILY. IT’S HARD WORK, BUT PARENTS AND STEPPARENTS CAN COME TOGETHER FOR THE SAKE OF THE KIDS. MEET TWO MOMS WHO MAKE IT WORK. BY AMY GORDY PHOTOGRAPHY BY LILY DARRAGH AND COURTESY OF CARTER & HERNDON
Kim Carter has been stepmom to Luke, 14, and Chloe, 13, since she married their father, Carl, five years ago. She’s been a part of their lives, though, since the teens were toddlers. “As far back as
they can remember, whenever they’ve gone to stay with their dad, Kim was there. It’s always been Kim and Dad, and we’ve never really had any issues. They are both really great kids,” Carter said. Not to say that her role in their lives doesn’t come with its unique trials, but she’s found that a willingness to be open, admit to her own faults, and to be able to just let things go sometimes has been helpful in her journey. “I have a stepmom, and I talk to her all the time now. I have a new found respect for the title,” she said. Carter describes herself as a “back seat driver” when it comes to parenting the two. “They have parents. I try to intentionally be the ’cool one.’ I’d like to be the one they can joke with or come to if they have an issue and not be scolded,” she said. While she may not take charge when it comes to making decisions for the kids, Carter definitely pulls her weight in parental duties around their house, especially now that she and Carl are also raising their 2-year-old son, Collin. “Sometimes, for me, being a stepmom can be an endless, thankless job. I struggle because my Love Language is words of affirmation. For example, for Christmas I bought all the gifts, wrapped it all, and on Christmas morning it was all ’Thanks, Daddy!’ It’s sometimes a thankless job, and you have to really love them. They are truly such good kids, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes I just have to look at myself and say, ’Kim, why do you need thanks for this?’ And I probably did the same thing to my stepmom. I call her all the time now and tell her ’thank you.’” The relationship between the adults in a blended family can often be a source of tension, but the Carters get along well with the kids’ biological mom, Alicia Herndon. Kim even goes as far as to liken their relationship to a friendship—with boundaries, of course. “Alicia and I have always gotten along. I feel like in the beginning she was glad I was there, to have a female presence. And I’ve always respected the fact that she’s their mom. She’s the ultimate decision-maker. She and Carl have always had good communication. They were able to put everything aside and make the kids the No. 1 concern.” Since having a child of her own, Carter has been able to gain some
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insight into Herndon’s role with Luke and Chloe. “I think I have a better understanding now for Alicia’s need to nest and keep her kids close. She’s always been a mother hen, and I get it now because I’ve become that way, too, with Collin.” While the two households don’t do things exactly the same way, Carter has learned to let go of the things she can’t control. “We don’t keep junk food at our house. I don’t want it around, because if it’s here, I’ll eat it. The kids are used to having it at their mom’s and I just have to say ’Well, we don’t do that at our house.’ I’m not saying our way is better, it’s just our way and we don’t try to influence what happens at the other house, and they do the same for us.” When asked what others may not understand about what it’s like to be a stepmom, Carter reflected for a minute and responded with: Nobody wants to go through a divorce. We [stepmoms] didn’t expect to fall in love with someone with children. It’s not our ’princess scenario.’ But, if all parties can come in with respect—if everyone can decide to get along—it can work.”
(From left) Kim Carter and Alicia Herndon
THE INSIDE SCOOP with KIM What is the hardest thing about being a stepmom? Parenting, as a whole, can be a thankless job, but being a stepparent is a bigger step in that direction. A lot of work goes into making the kids feel comfortable and welcomed in their other home, but most of that recognition tends to go solely to their dad.
Recall an instance your husband really supported you as a stepmom. I can’t recall any certain instance, but I think he supports me everyday as a stepmom by just being a family. We go about our days as a family and don’t point out what our “normal” is versus other families.
What about being a stepmom brings you the most joy? Seeing Luke and Chloe interacting with Collin (their stepbrother). They love each other very much and show it.
How long did it take you to get to a place of amiability with the other household? It happened pretty early on. We all came to the table and made the decision to all be involved and co-parent the best way for the kids.
escribe your relationship with the kids’ bio mom in three D words. Admiration. Respect. Love. What are the three most common feelings you experience as a stepmom? Comfortable—I’ve known Luke and Chloe since they were 4 and 3 years old, and have never felt out of place or like I couldn’t be myself around them. Respected—they are very mindful and respectful to what I say. Blessed—they are such great kids. They are so kind, understanding and loving.
What is a common misconception about stepmoms? "Evil," obviously, is the first choice, but maybe also insecure and controlling. The idea that stepmomswant to come in and take over—for me, that has never been the case. I just want to be there to help and be someone they know they can always come to for good news and support during bad times. What is one piece of advice that’s gotten you through?I think it takes being a great stepmom, by having a great stepmom. Donna (my stepmom) has been in my life for 35 years, and honestly, I just try to follow her example. What tools do you recommend as a co-parenting guide? CALENDAR. I live by calendars. I have a paper one on the fridge, a planner and constant phone calendar updates. What advice would you give other stepmoms? Be patient. Be kind. Remember they are always watching and listening, so be the example you want them to represent. Being a stepparent is a very important role, in such an unassuming way.It tends to be overshadowed most of the time, but it is rewarding knowing you’ve had a small part in the person they a re becoming.
THE CARTER AND HERNDON KIDS LOVE TO PLAY!
(From left) Chloe, Caleb, Luke and Collin THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
From Alicia Alicia Herndon is very familiar with stepmoms. She has one; she became one when she remarried eight years ago; and her two oldest children have one, on whom she depends to help watch over her flock.
While her own stepmom didn’t come into the picture until after Herndon, 34, had left home, she does gain some insight from that relationship in navigating the blended families in her life—and making them work. “My stepdaughter is 29 and has lived with us at different times. Some of the time my stepmom and I didn’t see eye to eye, and that’s helped me now to work through some of the issues that arise in our family. With me being close to my stepkids’ ages—29 and 30—it’s probably more awkward to step into that role. I’m a big ’mother hen,’ so I have to find the balance when she’s living with us and respect her privacy and her age. I’m not her mother, but I need to be there when she needs me.” Herndon and her husband, Jimmy, work on the blended family under their own roof that includes their 6-year-old son, Caleb, while also co-parenting with ex-husband Carl Carter, and his wife, Kim, in the raising of Luke, 14, and Chloe, 13. Herndon wanted to immediately form a partnership with Kim. She attributes their successful co-parenting to the ability to set feelings aside for the sake of the kids, and invite an open line of communication with the other household. “Sometimes I think our nature as people is natural emotion. I’ve found that if ever there were a time things got
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(From left) Chloe, Jimmy, Caleb, Alicia and Luke.
uncomfortable between us it’s because I didn’t step back and take my emotions out of it and say ’Wait a second, let me figure out what’s going on with me.’ To be able to step back and reflect before any response is given is a huge benefit to everyone,” Herndon said. She and Kim have gotten along from the beginning. “Kim is an open book, she’s not one to hide her feelings. When I met her it didn’t take me long to see that she’s real, and she showed me respect, and there was comfort in that.” Herndon echoes Kim’s thoughts on the necessities of boundaries between the households. While blended families can become close, there is always a line that’s not to be crossed in order to keep the harmony. “Boundaries are necessary. We know where not to go. None of us are ignorant of that. There are times you can feel tension in the atmosphere and we can all recognize it and change the subject. If it’s something that can’t be maneuvered away from, then we are mature enough to work through it.” Maturity and selflessness are sentiments Herndon uses as a guide to co-parent in the best way possible for her children. “The last thing I would want is for Carl to marry someone who hates my children. Kim loves my kids and they love her, and that’s what is best for them. If you have the natural feelings of being a mom, then you can reach past any petty or jealous feelings and see that it’s all about your children. You want them to have the same love and nurture when they are away from you as when they are with you.”
THE INSIDE SCOOP with ALICIA Do you and your ex generally agree on fundamental elements to raising your children? Yes and no.
welcoming for the children. The guilt and fear that comes as your child grows in a co-parenting home.
If not, how do you navigate making decisions for the kids? We do agree on education and discipline. We work together to reinforce the standards we expect from our children. If the standards aren’t kept, we equally uphold the disciplinary decisions. We do have a religious difference, but we respect each other and each other’s boundaries.
How long did it take you to get to a place of amiability/ trust with the other household? I really don’t remember when I arrived at this point, and maybe I wouldn’t say that there is a certain time frame that you reach this amiability. I feel that it’s a daily walk of trust and respect (as in every relationship) and it is vulnerable to the support that it is given.
Do the kids’ stepparents play an active role in parenting, or do mom and dad handle all the decisions? Kim and Jimmy do play an active role in the children’s lives. I feel that they have equal authority as Carl and I if need be. Kim and Jimmy respect the role that Carl and I have and let us take the lead accordingly.
What tools do you recommend as a co-parenting guide? The Bible—it teaches us how to love one another. It doesn’t say if they are perfect, it just says forgive, love, work together. Move past the circumstances and find the hope that’s in the midst.
What is the hardest thing about co-parenting? Trust and communication. Depending upon you and your ex’s background, these two subjects may already have been an issue in the past. Moving forward in a co-parenting situation, these can be magnified or misplaced if there isn’t positive affirmation. Describe your relationship with the kids’ stepmom in three words. Loving, determined, worthwhile. What are the three most common feelings you experience as a mom who shares her kids? Determination, hesitation and fear/guilt. Determined that your children’s lives will be best, despite the uncontrollable circumstances. Hesitation in daily living to make sure the co-parenting relationship is positive and
What advice would you give other moms who are about to become co-parents? Love! Love them like your own. I’ve seen situations where after a biological child is born of the new family, that the co-parenting children become second to the biological child. If both co-parenting families now have their new family unit and we can’t see past the subtle differences, where does that leave the co-parented child? What advice would you give moms on how to get along with stepmoms? Moms, put yourself in their place. Role reversal has always helped me see a new perspective. Treat them with the respect that you want your children to show you. Don’t get angry and think they want to take away your motherly role. Be thankful and feel blessed that your child feels so loved that they would want to put them in that place. That’s what you really wanted, right?
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
Solid After a Shaky Start MALLORY VAN DOVER AND BRIAN CATO MET THROUGH THEIR SONS, BOTH NAMED MASON. THEY BROUGHT TWO CHILDREN EACH (INCLUDING THE TWO MASONS) TO ALL BLEND (ALMOST) SEAMLESSLY UNDER ONE ROOF. BY AMY GORDY PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF VAN DOVER
(Standing from left) Mason Cato, Nic Cato, Mason Jewell. (Front from left) Mallory Van Dover, Brian Cato, Emma Jewell.
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e can’t all be "The Brady Bunch,” and honestly, who would want to? Blended families bring together many different personalities to all suddenly reside together under one roof. Add some teenage emotions and complicated adult relationships into the mix, and you are almost sure to have a kink or two to work out along the way. Six years ago, Mallory Van Dover with her son, Mason, now almost 20, and daughter, Emma, 16, joined Brian Cato with his sons, Mason, 20, and Nic, 16, in what all members of the family hoped to be a harmonious union. “At first everyone got along and everyone was excited. Mason and Mason shared a bedroom and quickly found that they didn’t get along quite as well as we had hoped they would as siblings. It took them a while to find their groove as roommates, plus my stepsons’ lives were kind of turned upside down for other reasons at that point. Looking back, they probably just needed their own space.” At times, Van Dover said she felt the blame for the unrest, more often than not, was directed toward her, and she struggled at first to find her path as a stepparent. “I think it’s normal for parents in a newly blended family to want everything to be OK right away—especially moms or stepmoms. I was guilty of that, and I probably tried too hard in the beginning. My advice would be to go slowly, and give everyone in the family time to adapt to all the newness,” she said. Van Dover has been able to draw from her experiences with her own stepmother and stepfather to source the understanding and patience that are essential to making a blended family work. “I love my biological parents deeply, but my stepparents have their own special places in my life. At 46, I can’t imagine my life without the influence of all four of my parents. Getting stepchildren to understand that they can benefit from the positive influence of other figures in their life, without feeling like they are being disloyal to their biological parent, takes time, but it should be one of the goals of all of the parents involved.” Though any relationship is always a work-in-progress, six years later Van Dover feels that the bumpy part of her journey with her stepsons is largely in the past. “It’s safe to say it’s been a bumpy ride, but it’s also safe to say we are definitely through the toughest spots, and I think my relationships with my stepsons are stronger than they’ve ever been.”
THE INSIDE SCOOP WITH MALLORY Would you describe yourself as an active stepmom? Yes. What is the hardest thing about being a stepmom? Knowing the boundaries between being a responsible and nurturing parent figure and overstepping those “invisible” boundaries. What about being a stepmom brings you the most joy? Seeing my stepsons grow up and exhibit the behaviors and traits we have tried to instill in them. Also, watching the relationships between my biological children and stepchildren deepen. Those relationships have become much more organic, and that’s been very rewarding. And I think my stepsons trust me more, and to me, that is everything. How would you describe your relationship with your stepsons? Better. Better than it was, and always improving. Six years in, we have a good relationship, but there are still times it’s hard to know how far I can “parent” them. I love them, provide for them, and want the best for them, but I still know I’m not their mom. What lessons did you learn about how to strengthen your bond with your stepkids? Spend time with them while you are not trying to parent them. Whether in a group or one on one, this allows the relationship and trust to develop.
What is one piece of advice that’s gotten you through? Be patient. Go slowly. Back away when you feel resistance, and try to understand where your whole family is coming from. It’s very natural to approach stepparenting as if it’s all about you and how YOU feel, but it works better if you can stop and realize that every member of your family is going through an adjustment period. What tools do you recommend as a co-parenting guide? Brian and I attended Ron Deal’s seminar on building stronger blended families just after we married. Ron offered incredibly valuable advice and I still think about and incorporate his messaging, even now. I highly recommend it! smartstepfamilies.com. What advice would you give other women about to become stepmoms? Make sure you and your husband discuss how you will handle parenting your kids. Be open to learn from your spouse and try to see the logic behind their approach. My husband and I have learned a ton from one another. Brian is a LOT more fun than I am, but I’m the one who makes sure clothes are washed (with soap) and put away, chores are shared, and that our children learn to operate in their first community—their family.
What are the three most common feelings you experience as a stepmom? Confusion. Uncertainty, and, finally, some satisfaction. Recall an instance your husband really supported you as a stepmom. There are several times my husband has reminded his boys that the decisions we make about their lives are made “together.” If I ask any of our children to do something, he expects them to respond accordingly. If he disagrees with a decision I make (which sometimes happens), he and I discuss it privately and try to understand where our parenting methods and choices are coming from. How long did it take you to get to a place of amiability within your blended family? We were always amiable, but honestly, it took about three years for things to start to feel more natural. In January, we celebrated six years of being a family. Our family has continued to grow closer as we have spent time together and found our own “groove.” What is a common misconception about stepmoms? That they cannot have a positive impact on their stepchildren. By having all of our kids together, all four have benefitted from both mine and my husband’s examples. Everyone benefits from having as many sources of love as we can get, including kids who gain extra parents. I was lucky to have a stepmother and stepfather in my own life that I now refer to as my “parents.” Stepparents can be a huge influence, just as a great coach or teacher can be. Your impact can be enormously positive, but it takes a tremendous amount of patience, communication and time.
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
Co-Parenting Is a Team Effort JASON MILLER AND AYISHA CANANT WORK TO LEAVE THE PAST BEHIND THEM AND PUT THEIR DAUGHTER FIRST. BY AMY GORDY Jason Miller and daughter, Emmarey, at school.
obody wants to go through a divorce. It’s messy, feelings get hurt, and if there are children involved, it’s impossible to sever ties with an ex-spouse and co-parent successfully. Adults have to find a way to put their feelings aside and do what’s best for the kids. Jason Miller and Ayisha Canant have been divorced for two years and are co-parenting their 9-year-old-daughter, Emmarey, using guidance they’ve picked up along the way in their careers in behavioral health. Miller is the CEO of The Bridgeway, an emotional, behavioral and addictive treatment facility in North Little Rock; and Canant is a therapist and owner of Conway Counseling & Wellness Center. Through their training, years of experience counseling other families, and their own personal journey, the two have gained some insight on how to move forward after a divorce, get along and coparent in a way that is best for the child. “I work with a lot of parents who are going through a divorce. I see lots of custody battles, and I try to get people to remember that the child is the most important thing. Parents can have a hard time seeing that when they are so angry and focused on ’winning the battle.’ If you really look at what’s best for the child, you’ll see that they don’t need to be away from one of the parents as long as that parent is safe. Raising kids is so hard, why would you want to do it all by yourself? I can’t imagine raising Emmarey without Jason,” Canant said. Miller emphasized the need to connect with your child to help you understand what is best for him or her. “You have to have a love for your kids. If you are connected to your kids, you do what you need to do as parents to make it work. Often the issues people are making big are not issues about the children. There’s a quote, ’hurt people, hurt people,’ and we see a lot of people make their issues about each other and that resonates with the kids,” he said. The two admit that it’s not easy to move on after a divorce. Asking for help whether it’s through parenting classes or therapy is a great idea to get your reconfigured family on a track that’s positive for everyone, especially the kids. “There are lots of issues in a divorce. You still have relationship issues. People move on, and there are still problematic things. The key is to separate that from the child. And I think that’s what Ayisha and I have been able to do. There are times I don’t like her, and times she doesn’t like me—we are divorced, but our kid didn’t ask for that,” Miller said.
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They both stress the need to check in with yourself and check in with a professional if you need some guidance. “Do some self-reflection and see where you are, and that’s not easy to do. If you go at it alone, sometimes it’s good to check in with a professional. Therapy is a great opportunity for guidance, and if you can’t do that, talk to your pastor or someone you trust to voice your concerns,” Miller said. Canant added, “People have a misperception that when you go to therapy you have to be there forever. You can go for a visit or two. It’s private. It’s away from everyone else. It’s a safe place,” Canant said. To connect with a therapist for co-parenting guidance, log on to thebridgeway.com or conwaycwc.com.
TIPS FROM JASON
• Don’t compete. You can give kids a lot of things, but at some point there’s a ceiling to that. In the end, kids just want to know you love them. • Be careful how adamant you are in your stances. There may have been decisions made that I didn’t like, but I have to think, “What happens down the road if I want to do the same thing, and Ayisha takes a firm stance against me?” • Pause before you send that text or make that phone call. Talk to your therapist first, or vent to a friend and calm down before you respond. • Communicate with the other parent if you have concerns. • Check in with your child. Don’t forget to ask your child how they are doing. Just simple things like if the schedule is working for them? • Don’t be co-dependent on the child. • Don’t be afraid to try therapy. It’s good just to talk things out. • Not being compatible with your husband or wife doesn’t mean they are a bad parent.
TIPS FROM AYISHA
• Don’t talk bad about the other parent—even on the phone. Kids are always listening. • Keep the scheduling between the adults. • Be flexible. Things will come up, and the schedule may need to change a bit. • Parents don’t need to lean on kids for emotional support. I see that a lot with single moms and older sons who get elevated to “man of the house”—that is not their job. • You don’t have to wait until you are in crisis to come in for therapy. • Don’t nickel-and-dime about money. If money is an issue, sit down and have a conversation with your ex about it.
TIME TO MAKE SOME MEMORIES! NEW ORLEANS
94 MINUTES NON-STOP FROM LITTLE ROCK GLO flies to New Orleans year around.
108 MINUTES NON-STOP FROM LITTLE ROCK Spring Break flights to Destin begin March 17th.
GO TO FLYGLO.COM FOR RATES AND SCHEDULES. SPEND SPRING BREAK ON THE BEACH, NOT IN THE BACK SEAT!
All GLO flights are non-stop, allowing GLO passengers to avoid inconvenient, time-consuming airline connections at busy, out-of-the-way hub airports.
All flights are 14 CFR Part 380 public charters marketed by FlyGlo LLC d/b/a GLO and operated by Corporate Flight Management, Inc. d/b/a GLO. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
Shake Up Your Spring Break
THERE’S NO BETTER CURE FOR CABIN FEVER THAN GETTING A HEAD START ON PLANNING A SPRING BREAK GETAWAY. THERE ARE MANY NEARBY OPTIONS THAT OFFER A TOTAL CHANGE OF SCENERY, NONSTOP ADVENTURE, ART AND CULTURE OR BEAUTIFUL WHITE SAND AND RELAXATION. BY DWAIN HEBDA With spring break looming, Central Arkansas families are planning their traditional trips to shake off the winter doldrums and indulge their bouts of spring fever. Many families return to the same location year after year, some for generations. But if this is your first time planning a spring break getaway—or you’re just looking to break from routine—we’ve collected a few family-friendly destinations to consider.
One of the most popular destinations for Central Arkansas families is the seashore of the Gulf Coast and Florida panhandle. Destin and Pensacola Beach, Florida, as well as Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, are all popular destinations within a day’s drive of Little Rock,or a 108-minute flight on GLO Airlines. For entertainment, the beach generally takes center stage on any spring break trip to the coast, and they are beautiful in this part of the world—when they say sugar-white beaches and clear emerald water, they mean it. Most Arkansas spring break periods fall in March, however, making the air and water temps still on the cool side. But if you just want to hear the soothing sounds of the surf and dig your toes into the sand, any one of the area’s many public beaches is the ticket. These communities also feature plenty of non-beach entertainment options for families, from zipline parks to miniature golf to go-karts along with various community events and local festivals. Dining options include seafood fresher than anything you can get farther inland, and while most beach communities feature kid-friendly restaurants specifically targeting the tourist dollar (Lulu’s, Pink Pony and McGuire’s Irish Pub among them) ask around for an off-the-beaten-path spot—you won’t be disappointed and your vacation budget will go further.
RUSSELL CARLTON, KEYSTONE RESORT
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The ski slopes of Colorado rival the Gulf Coast in terms of popularity among Arkansas spring breakers. Kathy Primm of Sue Smith Vacations in North Little Rock recommends Steamboat and Keystone ski resorts for families, both of which offer special packages that allow you to customize your vacation. Jetsetter named Steamboat "Premier Family Ski Resort" while Ski magazine and Forbes magazine ranked it in the top 10 family ski resorts for the past three years. The resort offers a wide variety of terrain to accommodate all ages and skill levels, including some runs that are for kids only. There’s also an on-premises ski and snowboard school for beginners. You can also tube down the mountain, take a snowshoe hike or ride horses through the breathtaking scenery. Keystone’s Kidtopia offers a variety of kid-friendly activities, including the Kidtopia Headquarters, where families can bond with their children over a variety of board games and craft activities. Or, pick up a Kidtopia Scavanger Hunt Map and spend the day collecting stamps to complete the hunt. On the slopes, skiing, snowboarding and tubing are all available for family fun. The resort’s signature sleigh ride (with or without dinner) is a treat they’re sure to remember.
Memphis bills itself the “Home of the Blues and Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and it’s got the musical pedigree to back it up. Tour Sun Studios, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum or the ultimate, Elvis’ Graceland Mansion, to discover the role Memphis played in these American musical art forms. Families will also want to check out Overton Park, home to the Memphis Zoo and the Brooks Museum of Art, surrounded by the huge relaxing greenspace growing in the center of the midtown historic district. The Pink Palace is a wonderfully eccentric collection of exhibits and artifacts including a replica Piggly Wiggly grocery store and a T-rex under the same roof. Other museums of note include the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, the Slave Haven Undergound Railroad Museum and Center for Southern Folklore. Springtime is also baseball season for the Memphis Redbirds, Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Take in a game in downtown’s beautiful AutoZone Park, just a short walk from the original Peabody Hotel, where you can see the famous Peabody ducks make their nightly march from the lobby fountain. The Peabody Memphis
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF THE VENUES
The St. Louis Cardinals baseball team is a headliner attraction for many Little Rock families, but St. Louis provides a range of other attractions for a relaxing and fun spring break. Check out City Museum, a must-see experience for kids and families. Occupying 600,000 square feet in the former home of the International Shoe Company, City Museum is part playground, part funhouse and part surrealistic work of art. With its maze of stairs, ladders, slides and other oddities, the award-winning structure never disappoints. A more traditional architectural experience is the Gateway Arch, part of downtown’s Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. At 630 feet, it’s the largest man-made monument in the nation. A tram ride takes visitors to the top of the Arch; however, it’s recently been closed due to improvements, so be sure to check the status at gatewayarch.com. Other recommended attractions include the Fabulous Fox Theatre, St. Louis Science Center and Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House. If you don’t want to make the 6-hour drive to St. Louis, check out Amtrak’s direct service and ride the rails to the Gateway City.
People don’t generally think of New Orleans for family vacations, which is a shame because nowhere in the United States can you find the blend of art, food, culture and history that you can here. Take a ride on the St. Charles line, the world’s oldest continuously operating street railway, to get a view of the Garden District and Audubon Park. The Audubon Nature Institute, comprised of an aquarium, 2,000-animal zoo and butterfly and insectarium, provides hours of entertainment for children and families. Or, take in the attractions of the 30,000-square-foot Louisiana Children’s Museum. If the French Quarter’s reputation gives you pause, check out the convention and visitors bureau’s family-friendly tour of the famous neighborhood. For older kids, consider a tour of the city’s fascinating and historically significant above-ground cemeteries— you might even experience a traditional New Orleans jazz funeral proceeding by. At night, music fills the air, as do the aromas from the city’s many restaurants and cafes. The muffaletta was invented here (at Central Grocery), the po’boy sandwich was perfected here (excellent options abound throughout the city) and Café du Monde has been cranking out delicious beignets for 155 years. New Orleans is an easy seven-hour drive from Little Rock, or you can take advantage of the affordable 94-minute direct flight by Little Rock’s newest air carrier, GLO Airlines.
Audubon Nature Institute
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
How to Disney PLAN YOUR WAY TO THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH (Like an Expert) STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY KERRY GUICE
y family and I went on our first trip to Walt Disney World in November. When sitting at my computer to start planning, I quickly realized that I had no idea where to start! Which parks should we visit? Which restaurants and shows? What on earth is a “Magic Band?” What if I forget something that I don’t even know we need? That’s when I called my friend Jessica Lord of Small World Big Fun. My family got the most out of every second we were there, thanks to her. She has Disney planning down to a science, and has access to planning tools that you and I just don’t have. Her services were so helpful that I’ve asked her to sit down for a Q&A so she can give you a few of her best tips. My best tip is to give her a call before you book a thing—her services are paid for by Disney, so it’s free for you! (Disney thinks of everything!) SAVVY: WHAT IS YOUR FIRST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR A CLIENT WHEN THEY BOOK YOUR SERVICES? JESSICA: Book as early as possible (9-12 months ideally). Disney has changed so much over the years, it’s really difficult to just buy tickets and show up. From dining reservations to Fast Passes, it’s important to be prepared to make the most of your time there. Without a plan, you can feel like you spent all your time waiting and walking in circles. WHAT’S THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GO? September, October, January and February are the best times to go, taking crowd levels and temperature into consideration. DO YOU SUGGEST STAYING IN A DISNEY RESORT OR OFF PROPERTY? Disney Resort, for many reasons. Disney offers complimentary airport transportation, they retrieve your luggage from baggage claim and deliver it to your room. Your Magic Bands are free. Transportation is free to and from the parks, or if you have a car, parking is free. The Disney Dining Plan and the park’s Magic Hours are only available to Resort Guests. Purchases in the parks can be delivered to your room at no charge, and you are able to reserve your Fast Passes and your dining reservations much sooner, which is important because the popular rides and restaurants become impossible to get into very quickly! DO YOU SUGGEST BUYING THE DISNEY DINING PLAN? Disney’s Dining Plan is a great feature and while it works for several families, it doesn’t necessarily benefit all families. I can help you decide whether or not the purchase is right for your family.
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WHAT ABOUT THE MEMORY MAKER? IS IT WORTH IT? Disney’s Memory Maker includes unlimited digital photos and some videos captured by Disney’s photographers throughout the parks and on your rides. It’s truly worth every penny! CAN YOU BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS AND DRINKS INTO THE PARKS? Yes, you can bring your own snacks and drinks into the parks, and I highly recommend it! You will do so much walking, it’s important to stay hydrated. The snacks are great for kids. It helps keep them occupied in line or can hold them over until your next meal. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE RIDES? Soarin’ in Epcot is a family favorite, as is Splash Mountain, Expedition Everest, Seven Dwarves Mine Train, Toy Story and Space Mountain. Most rides are family friendly, but there are a few thrill rides, too. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS AND MUSTHAVE DISNEY TREATS? My favorite restaurant is California Grill at the Contemporary Resort. The food is amazing and the view is one-of-a-kind. I have two young girls, so Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom is a must-do for us as well. We also love the Dole Whips in Adventureland, the cinnamon rolls at Gaston’s and the Nutella Waffle at Sleepy Hollow—all found in Magic Kingdom. Other favorites include the Gran Marnier Orange Slushie at the France kiosk in Epcot (for grown-ups only!).
DISNEY GLOSSARY My Disney Experience: Personal online Disney account (and interactive app with map) that allows you to consolidate all of your trip information (flights, hotels, Fast Passes, photos, reservations, etc.). Free.
Magic Band: A rubber bracelet that looks like a Fitbit that can be used as your room key, credit card, park ticket, Fast Pass and Memory Maker (and GPS if someone gets lost!). Free for Disney Resort guests. Fast Pass: Gives you access to shorter or no-wait times for rides. Limit three per day. Free. Memory Maker: Option to purchase all of your photos taken by Disney photographers. Professional quality (no need for that Selfie Stick, they’re not allowed in the parks, anyway). Instantly uploads to your Disney Magic Hours: Extended or early admission to parks on certain days, for Disney Resort guests only.
WHAT ARE A FEW ITEMS THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW TO PACK IN THEIR SUITCASE? A poncho for the possibility of rain (they are expensive at the park, and short rain showers are common), reusable water bottles, a cordless phone charger as there are very few places to charge your phone throughout the day, snacks from home and a backpack to carry it all! WHAT ARE SOME MUST-SEE SHOWS? Disney World has unbelievable shows and parades; watch as many as you can! Favorites include: IllumiNations in Epcot, the Festival of Fantasy Parade in Magic Kingdom, Wishes Nighttime Spectacular in Magic Kingdom and, my personal favorite, Fantasmic in Hollywood Studios.
Start planning your own Disney vacation at smallworldbigfun.com. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
A SPECIAL SAVVY ADVERTISING SECTION
SUMMERTIME IS FOR COOKOUTS, SWIMMING AND RELAXING OUTDOORS, AND NOW IS THE TIME TO START PLANNING TO GET YOUR BACKYARD OASIS IN ORDER FOR THE SEASON!
Luxury Pool & Spa
ools are a big investment not only for your home, but also for your family’s quality of life. You can easily transform your own backyard into a place the whole family will want to soak up the sun and make memories all summer long! There are tons of options when it comes to pools. Inground or above ground? Concrete or vinyl? Salt water or chlorine? February is a great time to get started on building your backyard oasis, but before you do, take a moment to weigh your options and decide on a design that fits your family’s needs and budget. We caught up with two Central Arkansas pool designers to get the skinny on how to get the most out of your home swimming pool.
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CONCRETE OR VINYL LINER?
Deciding whether to install a pool that uses a vinyl liner or a concrete pool, also known as gunite, comes down to finances. While both styles are attractive, concrete pools lend to more design options where the sky is the limit. Scott Girner of Elite Pools by Aloha has designed concrete pools with a swim-up bar, beach entry, vanishing edges and spillover spas. "You are only limited by your imagination," he said. Which is more budget-friendly? Vinyl is more budget-friendly. Which requires more maintenance? We can do more maintenance-free items on our concrete pools with a Smart Pool™ system that is self-cleaning. Vinyl liners need maintenance as you will have to change the liner every 10 years or so. Is one easier to install than the other? Vinyl is easier to install, and it takes 6-8 weeks. A concrete pool will take 3-4 months or more depending on how elaborate the design is. “Deciding on a vinyl or concrete pool is really a budget decision. Vinyl pools have come a long way over the years and they can last a long time, but I like to say, ’The water is just as wet and laughter is just as loud in either one,’” Girner said.
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Elite Pools by Aloha
SALT OR CHLORINE?
.5230 5 3 The key to getting the most out of your saltwater .5230pool 5 3 is understanding the chemistry. “Salt pools use salt and a current to produce chlorine, unlike a traditional chlorine tablet swimming pool,” said Jeremy Lawson of Luxury Pool & Spa. “Saltwater pools need more than .5230 5 3 just salt. They still have to be tested and balanced with other chemicals to function properly.” .5230 5 3 .5230 5 3 .5230 5 3 Which is more budget-friendly? If you look at a five-year picALOHA ture, they are extremely similar. After three to five years, you will have ALOHA to buy a new salt cell, so I don’t see much savings there.
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Which requires more maintenance? They are similar in maintenance as well. You still have to treat a saltwater pool and keep chemicals right, but the salt generators do make it a little easier to keep a steady amount of chlorine in the pool. “About two-thirds of the pools we sell have salt generators on them. Customers need to understand that they still need to test and balance the water weekly with other chemicals so their pool isn’t damaged. As long as you understand what you’re getting, you’ll be happy with it,” Lawson said.
In Business for Over
Luxury Pool & Spa
119 EAST MAIN • RUSSELLVILLE • 479.968.7772 2665 DONAGHEY AVE. STE. 103 • CONWAY • 501.327.1772 LUXURYPOOLARKANSAS.COM THESAVVYMOMS.COM | FEBRUARY 2017
I USE LEMON, LAVENDER AND PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OILS EVERYDAY. I DIFFUSE THEM IN BRONX’S ROOM AND SHE’S NOT BEEN SICK ONCE.
THESE SOPHIE AND KIKI TEETHING TOYS ARE GREAT! THEY SQUEAK AND ARE ERGONOMICALLY DESIGNED SO SHE CAN HOLD THEM EASILY.
I HAD TO STOP WEARING MAKEUP [IT WAS IRRITATING BRONX’S SKIN] EXCEPT FOR LIP GLOSS, EYELINER AND MASCARA. THESE ARE MY FAVORITES FROM BOBBI BROWN!
GANELLE BLAKE IS THE NEW MOTHER OF 4-MONTH-OLD BRONX GIOVANNA BLAKE. SHE’S RECENTLY STARTED A PERSONAL BUSINESS AS A STRATEGIC CONSULTANT, FOCUSING ON NONPROFIT DEVELOPMENT AND FUNDRAISING. BEFORE BRONX, GANELLE RAISED MORE THAN A MILLION DOLLARS FOR NONPROFIT AGENCIES IN CENTRAL AND NORTHWEST ARKANSAS. SHE HOLDS A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN THEATER AND MASTER’S IN SECONDARY EDUCATION FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT LITTLE ROCK. SHE IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF FUNDRAISING PROFESSIONALS, AND AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE JUNIOR LEAGUE OF LITTLE ROCK.
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GOT THESE CHEWBEADS AT MY BABY SHOWER AND SHE’S JUST NOW STARTED USING THEM. I LOVE THE COLOR!
THIS BAG WAS A GIFT FROM THE JUNIOR LEAGUE CHAIR COMMITTEE.
PHOTOGRAPHY: LILY DARRAGH/STYLING: MANDY KEENER
I READ A DAILY DEVOTIONAL EACH MORNING ON MY KINDLE, AND THERE ARE ALWAYS A COUPLE OF BOOKS I’M READING.
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