Birmingham Parent Magazine | July-August 2023

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Offering Level III NICU Care

Women’sCare. Better Together.
HealthCare is Better Together. For 50 years, our team of OB/GYN providers and delivery staff have helped families bring their babies into the world. We are proud to offer the following: ■ Board-certified lactation consultants and breastfeeding support ■ 24/7 OB emergency services ■ Cord blood donation Let’s partner in your obstetrics care. Find your birth team at

ed note


According to my calculations, this is my 19th back-to-school note to you. Many of you who have followed Birmingham Parent since 2004, when we started, may now have grown children! We appreciate your faithfulness to our publication, and we are grateful you still pick up and read the magazine.

In late 2019 we moved to seven issues a year rather than 12. Little did we know it would be somewhat prophetic, with Covid around the corner next year and a nearly two-year shutdown for many businesses, schools and services. Without that change, I don't know if we would have survived the shutdowns. We will always be grateful to our readers and advertisers who stuck it out with us, not to mention the valuable employees we have had that also stuck it out, as well. While it does seem we have some degree of “normalcy” again, we hope you and your family do, too, and that you are recovering.

This issue is dedicated to two big things: Our annual Birmingham Parent Family Favorites Awards, starting on page 10, and our Back-to-School Special Section, starting on page 25. This information will be valuable to you when choosing a product or service, and in helping you ease back into the new school year, afresh and ready to go.

Please note our Family Favorites Awards are all due to you, the readers. You do the nominating, and you choose the winners. Watch for the little yellow logo in their place of business that tells you the public thought highly enough of them to vote them a "family favorite."

Our back-to-school section has a lot of emphasis on extracurricular activities this year. Research shows how vital these extra activities are to children, and how they can bring out interests they may not have even known they had. Whether it's something simple like after school sports, a dance class, taekwondo, or even swimming, depending on your budget, an extracurricular activity is just the ticket to build confidence and bring out personality in your child.

We hope you enjoy this issue. Remember that you can also read it online (including back issues) at And make sure to attend the back-to-school event of the season, the Happy Healthy Kids Fair at McWane Science Center lobby on Aug. 19. Admission is FREE. There are great giveaways and even a cover kids search for babies this year! See the back cover of this issue for more information.

We still have some summer left! Please make the most of it, and Happy July 4!


Carol Muse Evans is the publisher/editor/owner of Birmingham Parent magazine, a publication she and her husband David began in 2004. The Birmingham, Alabama-based parenting publication attracts more than 60,000 readers monthly in a four-county area and receives 10,000 hits per month on its website. The magazine has a 20,000+ print circulation, plus several thousand in readership of the digital edition online. It is the only independently audited free publication in our area. Evans is an award-winning writer and editor who has also has written for several other publications as a freelance writer since the late 80s. She is a graduate of Auburn University in journalism and is a graduate of Scottsboro High School. She is married with two grown children and lives in Clanton. Birmingham Parent is a member of the Alabama Press Association.

David & Carol Evans editor

Carol Muse Evans

staff writer

Paige Townley contributors

Sarah Lyons

Rebecca Hastings

Tanni Hass, Ph.D.

Pam Moore

Cheri Gough

Dr. Amanda Bowden

Jill Morganstern

Tom Gonzales

sr marketing consultant

Kayla Fricks marketing consultant

Ashley Lottes print & web production

Digtial Doo-Wop distribution

T&P Deliveries

BIRMINGHAM PARENT IS A PUBLICATION OF EVANS PUBLISHING, LLC. Publishers: Carol Muse Evans, David K. Evans Sr. Birmingham Parent (EIN20-0694149) is published monthly by Evans Publishing LLC. or editor@ Birmingham Parent is © 2023 by Evans Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Editorial submissions are welcome. For back issues, please send a self-addressed 10” x 13” envelope with $4 for postage and handling.

4 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023
703 Logan Rd., Suite 150 Clanton, AL 35045 205-624-2405 205-624-2515 FAX
editorial publishers

more adventure

We’re not saying we invented summer. But our resorts ARE where summer goes on vacation. Book your getaway at Gaylord Opryland.

more exploration

more thrills | 5


6 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023 ON
THE COVER: Taliah, age 8, is ready for the 2023-2024 school year! She was our cover kids winner from the Happy Healthy Kids Fair Search in August 2022. Photo by Christy Pierce Photography,, 205-902-0385.
YOUR 2023 BIRMINGHAM PARENT’S FAMILY FAVORITES ..... 10 contents TIPS ON CHOOSING YOUR KIDS’ EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES ................................................................... 26 6 WAYS EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES HELP KIDS ..................... 28 THE ALLOWANCE DEBATE ............. 30 4 WAYS TO ENSURE A SUCCESSFUL START TO SCHOOL ............................ 32 DON’T BREAK THE BANK ON BACK TO SCHOOL .......................................... 34 HOME SCHOOL CORNER 36 EDITOR’S NOTE: ........................... 4 SHORT STUFF: .............................. 8 BIRTHDAY CLUB: HOST A STAR WARS-THEMED PARTY ............ 38 ASK THE SPECIALIST: TYPE 2 DIABETES ..................................... 40 FAMILY TRAVEL: THE NATIONAL PARKS SCAVENGER HUNT ... 41 FAMILY TRAVEL: SOUNDWAVES ........................................................... 42 JULY/AUGUST 2023 CALENDAR OF EVENTS HIGHLIGHTS ........ 44 AREA ATTRACTIONS: ............... 46 38 26 10 26 | 7

Local Music Artist Releases Children’s Book

Local gospel music artist Sanchez Tanniehill recently released a children’s version of his “God Did It” book, a biography that shares how his family’s faith helped him through the difficulties of childhood bullying to become an award-winning music artist, motivational speaker, youth evangelist and now an author.

As a gospel music artist, he is most notably known for his songs “God Did It,” “Keep Praying” and “Cheers to You.” He has released three albums and released his most recent single “You Can” in the fall of 2022.

"I believe God, put me on this earth to help others and spread his word and lead others to him," Tanniehill says.

At six weeks old, he had a stroke. His family was told he would never walk or talk and that he would be deaf and blind. His mother told the doctors, “You don't know my Jesus.”

Tanniehill’s story reaches out and connects with others who have also been through trials and tribulations of life and still walk strong in their faith with God. His testimony is also an encouragement to those who are struggling with their faith in God.

For booking information, please contact him through the website at

8 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023
8 | Birmingham Parent | May-June 2023 SHORT STUFF
Photos courtesy of
8 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023
Photos courtesy of Sanchez Tanniehill

Birmingham Public School System Purchases Black Sands Comic Books from Shark Tank Winner & Birmingham Native

Birmingham Public Schools recently purchased $37,000 worth of Comic Books by Shark Tank winner Black Sands Entertainment to help make reading more fun and inclusive for Birmingham public school students, and specifically Birmingham's sixth graders. Black Sands Entertainment is co-founded by local native Geiszel Godoy.

Geiszel Godoy recently visited South Hampton K - 8 School -- along with her husband, co-founder and author Manuel Godoy, for a book signing and talked to the students about how their books feature stories of strong Black kings and culture in Africa.They also talked to them about how they became creators, publishers and entrepreneurs, offering an example of a career the students could consider pursuing.

The Godoys created their comic books after not being able to find comic books with strong Black representation for their children. They appeared on Shark Tank last year and inspired Kevin Hart and Mark Cuban to invest in them.

Birmingham Public Schools purchased Black Sands Ultimate Edition 1, 2 & 3. Black Sands recently launched 15 new books, ideal for readers ages 10 and up, offering a variety of genres, ranging from historically based stories to ancient myths and heroes as well as modern fantasy, sci-fi and strong female leads.

Photos courtesy of Black Sands Entertainment.

Birmingham Parent Wins Two Alabama Press Association 2023 Magazine Awards

Winners in select categories of the 2023 Alabama Press Association (APA) Media Awards have been announced by Dee Ann Campbell, chairman of the AMA Contest Committee. This year, 16 publications submitted 330 entries in the annual magazine contest. The North Carolina Press Association membership judged the entries.

Birmingham Parent won first place for best event, the Birmingham Parent’s Special Needs Expo, and second place for the website,

First place awards were presented at the 2023 APA Summer Convention banquet awards program.

Learn more about the APA at | 9 | 9 Visit and signup for a recurring monthly donation to BLESS A LOCAL FAMILY 205-607-2112 Businesses, local organizations & individuals all welcome! Did you know you can sponsor a baby's diaper need for as low as $10/month? SHORT STUFF Create Your Own Style Mon Ami, a children’s boutique in Crestline, offers fashionable clothes and accessories for sizes 4-16/18 in both boys and girls clothing. 40 Church St. Birmingham, AL 205-848-7800

Your 2023 Birmingham Parent’s Family Favorites Award Winners

What are YOUR local favorites? Whether it’s a place for a child’s haircut, a birthday cake, a beach destination, or even a medical specialist for someone in your family, everyone has favorites, and that is what this promotion is all about.

Our contest is truly READER-DRIVEN. You vote and select the winners by popular vote! It’s that simple. We have tallied the votes, and now we have your winners here.

We have the longest running contest like this in Central Alabama. This year the random prize – a thank you for participating – is a great trip to OWA ( in Foley Alabama for four people. It’s a great destination by itself, or a great place to visit on the way to the beach.

Keep our list all year or access it at . When you see our Family Favorites logo in a place of business, know they were loved enough to be voted a “family favorite” by our readers.

Special congrats to our OWA giveaway winner, Mary Lindsay, who won a terrific trip for 4 to OWA (!

And the winners are…
10 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023
Compiled by Carol Muse Evans | 11 It’s our pleasure to serve
community © 2023 CFA Properties, Inc. All trademarks shown are the property of their respective owners.
the Birmingham | 13 Scan the QR code to learn more! Birmingham Parent’s 2023 Winner of: Favorite Museum for Kids & Favorite Field Trip Thank you to everyone who voted for us! We love being able to spark wonder & curiousity about science in your lives. Free admission to McWane Science Center Free Parking Discounts on McWane Science Center camps & classes Free or discounted admission to over 300 science centers worldwide as part of the Association of Science-Technology Centers’ (ASTC) Passport Program. & so much more! Get more from McWane with a membership! To learn more about McWane Science Center, visit or follow us on social media @mcwanescience (205) 714-8414 200 19th St N, Birmingham, AL


Regions Bank


America First Credit Union

(See our ad on page 18.)


The Summit


Swaddle Baby & Kid


Pigtails & Crewcuts – locations in Trussville and Hoover


(See our ad on page 23.)


Homewood Toy and Hobby




Bendy’s Cookies & Cream


Yogurt Mountain




Edgar’s Bakery


FAVORITE KIDS’ MEAL Chick-fil-A www.chick-fil-a-com

(See our ad on page 11.)


Chelsea Morton


Riverview Animal Clinic

(See our ad on page 15.)


ABC 33/40



Riverview Animal Clinic

(See our ad on page 15.)



Mary Lindsay won a terrific trip for 4 to OWA, with two nights at OWA, food certificate, tickets and more.

We’ve gone tropical—and that means over-the-top fun! Enjoy all your favorite rides at Tropic Falls theme park. And, coming this summer, our all-new Tropic Falls indoor water park! Plus there’s more tropical fun to come in phase 2 later this summer—including a surf simulator and wave pool. Purchase Tropic Falls theme park tickets in-person or online at!


14 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023 2023 BIRMINGHAM PARENT FAMILY FAVORITES AWARDS
BUSINESSES & SERVICES | 15 RIVERVIEW ANIMAL CLINIC Providing medical and boarding services for cats, dogs, and exotic animals! • Routine/wellness appointments • Urgent care/same day appointments • Surgical procedures • Ultrasounds • Digital radiographs • Endoscopy • Laser therapy • Chemotherapy • Orthopedics • Full in-house lab • Boarding • Day-boarding • Bathing • And so much more! 4640 Hwy 280 Birmingham, AL 35242 (205) 991-9580 Services include: Childrens AL •org
the little moments and major milestones of childhood, we are here for our patients and their families – helping, healing, teaching and discovering.


Shelby Pediatric Dentistry


Dr. John Weaver, Weissman Family Dentistry


PT Orthodontics

(See our ad on page 19.)


(See our ad on page 19.)

FAVORITE ENT ENT Associates of Alabama


Dr. Sunena Argo, Children’s of Alabama

(See our ad on page 15.)


The Farm


Dr. William T. Hudson

After Ours OGYN & Urgent Care for Women




Dr. James Colvard / Ascension St. Vincent's

(See our ad on page 17.)


Alabama Fertility Specialists


Ascension St. Vincent's Birmingham

(See our ad on page 17.)


Grandview Medical Center


Ascension St. Vincent’s Birmingham

(See our ad on page 17.)


Children’s of Alabama

(See our ad on page 15.)



American Family Care


(See our ad on page 15.)


Shelby Psychological Services

16 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023
18 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023 Growing our children in knowledge and faith... Experience the Difference Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School Scan the code to visit our website at or call 205.879.3237 for more information Facebook: olsschoolhomewood Instagram: our_lady_of_sorrows_catholic Welcome to the only learning center that successfully blends cognitive and academic development. GradePower Learning goes WAY BEYOND TUTORING! Pelham (205) 620-2373 or Greystone (205) 980-5745 Visit our Retail& Services Directory Online

Dr. Rebecca Thompson practices at our Grandview location in Birmingham, AL. Dr. Thompson specializes in caring for children of all ages and she is honored to have parents entrust her with their child’s healthcare.

Schedule an appointment today! 3686 Grandview Pkwy., Ste. 710 Birmingham, AL 35243 205-723-0395 | Mon-Fri 2468 Moody Pkwy. Moody, AL 35004 205-640-1200 | Mon-Fri
Rebecca Thompson Purohit Pediatric Clinic

AmFirst, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, is a leading financial institution catering to the diverse needs of its valued members. Committed to delivering outstanding financial solutions, AmFirst offers an array of products and services


designed to empower individuals and enhance their financial well-being. Members benefit from competitive savings and checking accounts, tailored to their specific goals, ensuring their money works harder for them.

The credit union provides an extensive range of loan options, including mortgages, auto loans, and personal loans, featuring flexible terms and favorable interest rates. Emphasizing convenience and accessibility, AmFirst offers innovative online and mobile banking services, allowing members to conveniently manage their finances round the clock.

With a strong focus on member satisfaction,

AmFirst is dedicated to fostering long-term financial success and helping individuals realize their dreams through trusted guidance and unwavering support.

We offer 21 convenient locations to serve you. (Downtown Birmingham, Pell City, Calera, Vestavia, Lakeshore, Trussville, Gardendale, McCalla, Talladega, Roebuck, Pelham, Mobile, Leeds, Inverness, Hoover, Hueytown, Forestdale, Ensley, Cullman, Bessemer and Oxford.) Federally Insured by the NCUA.

For more information, visit


Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School (OLS) has an exceptional student family relationship. Our students, their families, and our staff are truly a close community. This family atmosphere sets the stage for us to individually foster the religious, academic, and social development of every child from 3K through 8th grades in a way other private schools may find challenging.

At OLS we provide a comprehensive academic Christ-centered curriculum


with a variety of enrichment opportunities for your child in a safe environment. Our enhancements include a number of helpful resources at every level. School counselors and resource teachers are also on our staff to help ensure a positive academic experience for everyone. We even offer before and after school care as well as other additional after school programs.

We are proudly accredited by Cognia, and our high academic standards allow


At PT Orthodontics we know that a smile can change a life! We have been providing affordable, state-of-the-art orthodontic care since 1990. We have 12 convenient locations in Hoover, Homewood/ Mountain Brook, Cahaba Heights, Leeds, Trussville, Pell City, Oxford, Hueytown, Gardendale, Jasper, Tuscaloosa, and Gadsden.

Because we want to make braces easy and affordable,


our services include: Free Initial Consultations, Choose Your Own Payment Plan, Same Day Braces, Before & After School Appointments, Friends Referral Program, Lifetime Smile Guarantee, and Smile Savings Program. We file your insurance, and there are No Hidden Fees! All records & first set of retainers are INCLUDED! Free retainer check up appointments for one year.


Homewood and Community In Motion Program that reaches children at several social service agencies, child care centers and schools throughout Birmingham.

our students to experience a number of high-profile opportunities.

You can learn more about OLS by visiting or by calling the school office at (205) 879-3237 for a personal tour. Tuition support is readily available. We are growing our children in knowledge and faith…find out how you can Experience the Difference!

The Dance Foundation teaches around 1,000 students each week through a Studio Program with tuition assistance in Downtown

Their studios are also home to dozens of artists and arts organizations for classes, workshops, rehearsals and performances.

The Dance Foundation has been a gathering place for

We offer a full range of braces to meet your individual needs and desires, including metal braces and clear ceramic braces. We also offer Invisalign® clear aligners and are an Invisalign® Diamond Provider! We would love to help you achieve a beautiful PT Ortho Smile! Call us today at 205-979-9480 to schedule a free consultation or visit www.PTortho. com to learn more.

learning with and through dance for nearly 50 years.

The Dance Foundation offers classes for ages one to adult in their studios in Downtown Homewood. Their teaching approach and curricula engage the imagination and nurture the journey of creative exploration.

20 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023


Beautiful Beginnings is back!

Free in-person event for parents-to-be every third Thursday, starting July 20

Are you expecting a new baby? Join us every third Thursday starting July 20 at Beautiful Beginnings, a friendly, informal get-together where you’ll have an opportunity to ask questions and talk with members of our care team you may encounter during your pregnancy and after giving birth.

Chick-fil-A® Favorite Kids’ Meal

For over 70 years, Chick-fil-A® has built a foundational commitment to service – service to our guests, our franchised Restaurant Operators and Team Members, and to our communities. This begins in the restaurant – one guest at a time. We firmly believe in treating every person who comes through our doors with honor, dignity, and respect. We teach it to everyone who comes to work at Chick-fil-A®, and it’s something that they take

Along with other parents-to-be, you’ll meet and greet pediatricians, obstetricians, lactation consultants, labor room nurses, nurse anesthetists, maternity nurse navigators and other pregnancy specialists at Ascension St. Vincent’s.

"Parents-to-be are able to talk one-on-one with our panel of providers and have all their questions answered before their big day," said Madonna Nichols, Ascension St. Vincent’s Director of Women and Children’s Services. "We wanted to bring our maternity and healthcare experts

with them throughout their careers. But to us, service goes beyond our restaurant doors through volunteerism and giving.

We are committed to taking care of the people who take care of our communities. For example, by giving sandwiches to first responders in times of crisis, we honor the commitment they make to serve all of us. And our philanthropic giving reinforces that commitment to service by helping children and families in need, which

together in one place for an event that's designed to be fun, relaxed and engaging.”

Beautiful Beginnings

Free event every third Thursday of every month from 6-7:30 pm Heavy hors d’oeuvres and fancy mocktails will be served

Bruno Conference Center Ascension St. Vincent's Birmingham 810 St. Vincent's Drive Birmingham, AL 35205

Registration is required to attend. Sign up at :

we provide with our partnership with Children’s of Alabama.

The Chick-fil-A® App gives guests the ability to customize their meal, order and pay in advance and skip the line at the register, speeding up the process of waiting at the counter or Drive-thru. Our Birmingham area Chick-fil-A® locations invite you to use our convenient, contactless payment on the mobile app on your next visit. Visit to find out how you can download the mobile app today

math, science and more, so that your child will possess a strong foundation for Kindergarten and beyond. Additionally, we guarantee teachers with four-year education degrees in all preschool classrooms and offer exceptional childto-teacher ratios.

parents to know what happens during their child’s day, and Odyssey is the only Over-the-Mountain daycare to offer this service.

Odyssey’s goal is to create a life-long love of learning.We have developed our own age-appropriate curriculum, specifically designed to introduce each age grouping to language, reading,



At our schools, you can watch your child’s entire day in live, streaming, HD video over the Internet, through an individual, secure connection linked directly to your child’s classroom. We want our


Riverview Animal Clinic is a privately owned, AAHA accredited, fullservice veterinary clinic serving the Birmingham area and surrounding communities. We have been in practice since 1984 (almost 40 years!), but Riverview originally started as the Motel for Pets in 1954. Currently we have six veterinarians and focus on patient-centered progressive care by offering a wide range of services and state of the art equipment.

We provide medical and boarding services for cats, dogs, and exotic animals! Services include:

• Routine/wellness appointments

• Urgent care/same

• day appointments

• Surgical procedures

• Ultrasounds

• Digital radiographs

• Endoscopy

• Laser therapy

Our team works tirelessly to earn its reputation as the best childcare option for Birmingham parents, and we invite you to visit today to witness for yourself what so many other families have known since 1995!


for more info.

• Chemotherapy

• Orthopedics

• Full in-house lab

• Boarding

• Day-boarding

• Bathing

4640 Hwy 280 Birmingham, AL 35242 (205)
We thank you for your vote and are excited to continue growing our relationship with you and your pets!  BOARD ING
Odyssey was created by educators who dreamed of opening an early learning center where children could be nurtured and taught by a highly trained and loving staff. That dream was realized when our Inverness school opened in 1995, and then again in 2001, with the opening of our second school in Trace Crossings.



As the founding pediatrician, Dr Purohit has a graduate degree in medicine from India. He completed


his pediatric residency at the University of South Alabama and has been practicing pediatrics in Alabama for over 25 years. Dr. Purohit is a fellow of the American Pediatrics and is Board Certified. He serves on the Board of Trustees for the International House of JSU, the Board of the Right Place that helps serve the homeless, and the State Pediatrics Board. He supports United Way, Big Brother, Big Sister Club, the Knox Concert Series, and the CP Center.

There are many things that make Purohit Pediatric Clinic, LLC a great place to bring your children. We truly care about your family, and you’ll know that when you visit. Being a valuable member of a community and living a meaningful life is giving back. That is why we make it a habit to generously give back to our community and to be involved in volunteer work. At Purohit Pediatric Clinic we care about your family and our community, and we are grateful you have chosen us!


Thank you for voting Tried-N-True Riverchase Consignment Sale the Best Consignment Sale in Birmingham! We are so honored to have won this award. TriedN-True is a consignment sale featuring children’s clothing, baby gear, books, toys, and more! With over 300 consignors from the Birmingham area, you will be sure to find great items for the children in your life. Proceeds from our sale benefit The Riverchase Day School,

Riverchase United Methodist Church Children’s Ministry, Oak Mountain Missions, Grace Klein, Riverchase Elementary School, Charlie Jean Foundation, and more wonderful local organizations. For more information on our shopping schedule, consigning & volunteering with our fall sale September 17th-22nd, 2023, please visit our website at


GradePower Learning teaches children how to learn! We help students catch-up and get ahead and develop critical thinking, selfconfidence, independence, and problem-solving skills. With this foundation, your child becomes an independent learner, better equipped to take in and retain new information. At GradePower Learning, we teach children how to mentally organize new information so that it makes sense. We focus on understanding your child and

providing academic coaching and support that includes:

» A comfortable environment for asking questions and learning - a space where students can learn at their own speed.

» A selection of different subject areas — from math to reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, and spelling, we cover it all.

» Study and organizational skills that keep students

efficient inside and outside the classroom.

» Support and help from our esteemed instructors and educators.

Contact us today to set up an appointment and see what GradePower Learning® can do for your child. Visit www. and call Pelham (205-620-2373) or Greystone (205-980-5745) to register today!

Four locations to serve you:

Grandview | Moody Anniston | Roanoke

1953 Old Montgomery Hwy S Hoover, AL 35244

Pelham (205) 620-2373

Greystone (205) 980-5745

Presented by:

22 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023 2023 BIRMINGHAM PARENT FAMILY FAVORITES AWARDS
SAVE THE DATE! Our 13th Annual Event will be held Saturday, March 16, 2024 10am to 2pm At The Exceptional Foundation 1616 Oxmoor Road, Birmingham, AL Booths & Sponsorships
- Call Your Account Executive or 205-624-2405
2022 WINNER OF BEST COMMUNITY EVENT by the Alabama Press Association!


The Dance Foundation is a non-profit organization with the mission to teach the art of dance to all, inspiring creativity, curiosity and confidence. We strive to create an inviting, non-competitive, inclusive environment to be, to move, to explore and to discover. Everyone is welcome. Classes begin September 6. Dance with us! a place of discovery.


find a class!

September 17th-22nd, 2023

Come shop, consign & volunteer with us! Visit for all shopping, consigning, and volunteering details.

1953 Old Montgomery Hwy S Hoover, AL 35244

Our goal is to be the best educational daycare and preschool program in the country

Since 1995, Odyssey has offered incredible child-to-teacher ratios, certified teachers and a curriculum that prepares our children for elementary school, all in safe, clean, beautiful facilities. | 23
Voted BHAM's BEST Consignment Sale!
$1,500 Quarterly Bonus for All Full-time Staff Preschool Teachers with Degrees in Early Childhood Education Exceeds All StateStudent Ratio Standards Professionally Developed Age-Appropriate Curriculum Free Internet Video Monitoring Music, Spanish, Computers and Youth Fitness/Sports programs Best Playgrounds in Birmingham WWW.ODYSSEYEARLYSCHOOL.COM LIMITED SPACE AVAILABLE NOW FOR CHILDREN 6 WEEKS THROUGH 2nd GRADE ADVERTISE HERE! Reach 60,000 parents in Central Alabama about your product or service! Call 205-624-2405 NOW! EVERYONE NEEDS A PAL DIABETES OWA BRINGS BIG FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT FAMILY FAVORITES 10 EASY WAYS KID AT SCHOOL

Is Your Child Our Next COVER KID?


We are looking for children UNDER 3 YEARS OF AGE & STILL IN DIAPERS to join us at Birmingham Parent’s Happy Healthy Kids Fair located at the Mcwane Science Center lobby from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 19, 2023.

Make a $10 or greater tax-deductible contribution to BUNDLES OF HOPE DIAPER BANK and get a photo of your baby made by Christy Pierce Photography and a chance for your child to be our winning cover model!

The winning baby’s photo will be used for the billboard, and a special holiday photo will be taken prior to October 15, 2023 for a Birmingham Parent magazine cover.

CHILD MUST BE UNDER 3 YEARS OLD and STILL IN DIAPERS, as well as able to sit alone.

Model will be chosen by BUNDLES OF HOPE and Birmingham Parent staff.

24 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023
the next BILLBOARD kid for
of Hope Diaper Bank?
Bundles | 25 BACK TO SCHOOL Let's Go Back-to-School! Tips on Choosing Your Kids’ Extracurricular Activities ……......... 26 6 Ways Extracurricular Activities Help Kids ……................................ 28 The Allowance Debate ……............ 30 4 Ways to Ensure a Successful Start to School .............................. 32 Don’t Break the Bank on Back to School ……………............... 34 Home School Corner ………............ 36 With
photo by Christy Pierce photography

Tips On Choosing Your Kids' Extracurricular Activities

Frombirth, children are ready to learn and explore, and getting them involved in activities and classes early on can be ideal for their social, emotional, and physical development. Luckily for parents, there are a variety of activities in which children can partake. But what time is the right time for children to begin extracurricular activities? We talked to the experts around Birmingham to discover the benefits of some of the most popular after-school activities and find out what parents need to consider before enrolling.

Tips for Choosing a Swim Class

Swim classes provide much more than the obvious health benefits. Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children aged one through four, and statistics show that participating in formal swim lessons can help reduce that risk by upwards of 88 percent. Noah Young, assistant general manager at Goldfish Swim School, shared what parents should think about when selecting a swim class for their child:

• Know what you want going into the class. Some parents may simply want their child to know just enough to keep from drowning if they fall into a pool, while others prefer their child to be a competent swimmer.

• Start early if possible. Any age is a good age for a child to start learning how to swim—the earlier, the better, Young shares. An excellent way to know if your child is ready is when they begin to exhibit some independence. "If the child is independent, that would be a good time to enroll in group lessons," Young says. "If the child is not independent, a parent/child class might be more appropriate to consider."

• Consider group versus private lessons. Group classes are fantastic for helping children understand how to learn in a group and act socially with other children, but for certain children, a group setting may be better. Private classes are better for children who need more personalized attention or can't handle larger class sizes.

• Visit a class. If unsure about a particular program or instructor for your child, ask to check out a class before enrolling. Many programs, such as Goldfish Swim School, offer free trials for parents for that very reason.

Tips for Choosing a Martial Arts Class

Discipline, respect, concentration and confidence are just a few benefits of martial arts for children. Depending on the program, classes start for children as young as four years old, and children can learn various martial arts styles. Jessica Scarsella, co-owner of Master Scarsella’s World Class Tae Kwon Do, shared what parents should know when considering a martial arts class for their child:

• Classes are available for all age groups. Children can get into martial arts at a young age. World Class Tae Kwon Do offers a Little Tiger class for children as young as four or five years old. “We have found this is a good age where their attention span can typically last about 30 minutes,” Scarsella explained.

26 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023
Photo courtesy of Goldfish Swim School Photo courtesy of Master Scarsella’s World Class Tae Kwon Do

• Consider the style that may work best for your child. There are a variety of martial arts styles, such as karate, taekwondo, jujitsu, and kung fu. Each has its emphasis, Scarsella notes, such as kicking for taekwondo, weapons for karate, and grappling for jujitsu. "Even more important than the style a child learns is the teaching methods used in the classroom," she says. “For students to gain skills from a program, they must fit into the right environment. Some schools focus on developing character like confidence and respect, while other schools primarily focus on developing students for competition.”

• Find the right fit. Visit a school before signing up, and take an introductory lesson, or lessons, first. "We always recommend visiting a school before signing up," Scarsella adds. “An introductory lesson shows you how their program works and if it’s a good fit for your family.”

Tips for Choosing a Dance/Gymnastics class

Dance is a popular extracurricular activity for children of all ages, and for good reason: in addition to promoting social solid skills, dance promotes physical activity and helps with a child’s cognitive abilities. Dance at any age is good for physical, social and emotional well-being. “Not only do classes in dance offer physical benefits like increased coordination, strength, flexibility and poise, research shows that dance classes also develop creativity, problem-solving, communication, high-ordered thinking and social awareness,” adds Shellie Chambers, a program director at The Dance Foundation.

Linda Dobbins of Linda Dobbins Dance in Mountain Brook, says it is important to ask good questions to ensure a positive and suitable experience for your child.

Chambers and Dobbins shared tips parents should know when considering a dance class for their child:

• Begin at any age. No age is too young when it comes to a dance class—as long as the curriculum is age and developmentally appropriate, Chambers adds.

• “Inquire about the instructor’s qualifications, experience and training background,” Dobbins says. “You want to make sure they have a degree and/or professional dance experience. A knowledgeable and experienced instructor can greatly impact your child’s dance education.”

• Think through the time and financial commitment you can make. Before committing to a dance class, consider what you feel is appropriate for your child when it comes to time and financial obligations. “Dance schools vary in their focus and class offerings,” Chambers explains. “Some dance schools participate in competitions, some dance schools' programs are recreational, and some are designed to prepare a student for a professional

dance career. The focus of the school will determine what styles of dance are offered and the investment of time and resources that are necessary.”

• Start with an observation before committing. Consider starting out by observing a performance or class, if possible, before signing up.

• Doing so should help ascertain which type of dance style would be best for your child. Determining the dance style that interests your child can then help you identify the school that would be best for the child.

• See if there is an opportunity for a “trial” class, Dobbins says. “This allows your child to experience the class firsthand and see if they enjoy the dance style and teaching methods.”

• Get social. When to the point of considering specific programs, check to see if they have a social media account and, if so, check out their videos and photos to get an idea of their movement, music, and costume choices to make sure they are in line with what you want for your child.

• Ask questions. When speaking with staff at a program, don’t be afraid to ask questions, Chambers stresses. Consider asking about the qualifications and training of the instructor(s) teaching your child. Ask about the higher-level classes offered to determine if your child has a place to grow in the program if dance becomes their passion. Lastly, make sure you find out the specifics about the financial investment required within the program, including if there are monthly fees per class or per hour and any other fees that would be required.

• “Ask about the studio’s communication policy,” Dobbins points out. “It’s important for parents to stay informed about their child’s upcoming events and any studio policies or changes, as well as one that has an open-door policy for questions and concerns about their dancer’s growth,” Dobbins adds. | 27 BACK TO SCHOOL
Paige Townley is a Birmingham-based freelance writer and now a staff writer with Birmingham Parent. Photo courtesy of The Dance Foundation

6 Ways Extracurricular Activities Help Kids

Weall know life changed drastically when the recent pandemic entered the picture. From online schooling to making decisions about how we spend our time, life as we knew it was turned upside down. Understanding what kids need is essential now that we are finding our way through these changes.

Why? The American Psychological Association reports a 24-31 percent increase in mental health-related emergency room visits in kids and teens in 2020. Kids are struggling and a great way to help is with extracurricular activities. While we do need to proceed carefully, choosing what is suitable for each child and family and resisting the urge to overschedule, extracurricular activities are more important now than ever.

6 Ways Extracurricular Activities Help Kids Today

Extracurricular activities are an outlet. Whether playing a team sport or learning a new form of art, these activities allow for a chance to have less structured experiences from typical school/home life. The ability to create or interact helps kids get their feelings, frustrations and fears out in a productive, safe way.

Extracurricular activities promote interaction. Taking a creative class or joining a team helps kids interact with peers in a fun way, promoting positive relationships. In a world where time with other people all but came to a halt, kids need to learn how to connect with others again. Shared interests and goals provide a safe, lightly structured format for these interactions.

Extracurricular activities provide direction. It has been two years of unknowns for all of us, including kids. While they have been incredibly resilient and proven to roll with so many changes, reentry can be challenging for some children. An enrichment club or a recreational sport can give them some direction and stability in a world that has lacked both. Even a simple once-a-week activity on the calendar is something kids can look forward to as proof that their world isn’t turned upside down.

Extracurricular activities give an escape. While it is essential to talk about our problems, sometimes we need a break from our daily struggles. Even as adults, we know the value of a good walk or a cup of coffee with

a friend. Extracurricular activities give kids a break from thinking about how different school is or how something has changed at home since the pandemic started. A healthy outlet can be a mental escape from the things that feel hard in daily life.

Extracurricular activities offer fun. We can all agree that many things could characterize the last few years, but the fun hasn't been at the top of the list. A weekly chess club or a run around the bases with the baseball team goes a long way to reinstating fun in our everyday lives. Kids need to remember that it's not only okay to smile, laugh, and have fun with friends, but it’s essential.

Extracurricular activities help them become. Part of life is learning about who we are, what we like, and the activities that make us come alive. Exploring extracurricular activities give kids a broader framework for discovering about themselves. When we encourage this in our kids, we have a front-row seat to them becoming more fully who they are. Rebecca Hastings is a freelance writer.

28 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023

The Allowance Debate

The average allowance for children in the United States comes to about $30 per week. That’s a lot of spending money!

Can offering an allowance help teach critical financial lessons? Many parents believe so. Others, and even some experts, are more skeptical. Whether to provide a child an allowance is a personal choice; even parents in the same family may disagree. How can you tell if an allowance is a good fit for your family? Here are some factors to consider:

Why Give an Allowance?

• It can teach kids about money management.

Giving children an allowance can be a great way to teach them about money management. Receiving a small amount of money regularly can help them learn to budget, save and spend responsibly. Saving up for items they want can teach them organization and planning skills they will use throughout their lives.

It can help them learn the value of money.

Children can begin to understand how much things cost by receiving a regular amount of money. This may help them be more appreciative of their possessions and help them make informed decisions about their spending.

• It can help them learn the relationship between work and pay.

Earning an allowance helps teach children about the relationship between work and pay. When children receive money as a gift, they may need help understanding the effort required to earn it. However, parents often expect children to do chores for their allowance. When they have made money by doing chores, they can learn that money is earned through work and that they must put in effort to receive it.

• It makes them aware of what it means to have responsibility.

Whether they spend or save their allowance, children will learn responsibility as they work with money. If they earn money by doing chores, they will quickly see the relationship between their actions and the consequences.

• It can be an incentive to get work done.

Children often resist doing chores, and having an allowance contingent upon their completion may help motivate some children.

Why not give an allowance?

• It gives parents less control.

Some parents feel that having excess spending money might not be a good thing in and of itself. They feel that if their children have extra spending money, they may buy things the parents are not yet ready for them to have, such as make-up or video games they deem inappropriate.

• It can undermine the importance of contributing to the family.

When children are paid for doing chores, it can send the message that they are only expected to help out around the house if they are compensated for it. However, contributing to the family is an important responsibility that should be undertaken without the expectation of payment.

• Motivation to do chores may be absent if they do not lack money.

As children grow, they will have other sources of income, such as working or babysitting. This may decrease their willingness to do chores if they are only doing the chores to be paid.

• Giving money on an “as-needed” basis encourages parent/ child interaction.

According to Dr. Lewis Mandell, professor of finance and managerial economics and dean emeritus, State University of New York at Buffalo, in an interview published in USA Today, talking about money with your child can be just as helpful to their financial literacy as giving an allowance. According to a 2001 survey of high school seniors, children who were given a weekly allowance with no strings attached did worse on a financial literacy test than those who did not receive any allowance. This could be because more frequent conversations about money are necessary when children interact with their parents to receive money.

Giving a child an allowance can be a great way to teach them about money management and responsibility. However, it is important to consider the potential downsides. Ultimately, the decision to give an allowance should be based on each family's individual needs and values.

Jill Morgenstern is a mother to four. She has over 20 years of teaching experience in various settings and a Master's Degree in Teaching Reading.Learn more at

30 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023
30 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023
The Parenting Assistance Line (PAL) is a free service available to anyone who wants information and support in becoming a more confident parent or caregiver. If you have a parenting question or just need a sympathetic ear, give us a call, text or visit our website to chat online. 866-962-3030
The Resource Every Parent Needs

4 Ways to Ensure a Successful Start to School (for

Parents and Kids)

Starting school for the first time can be anxiety-provoking (for both kids and parents)—but it doesn’t have to be. We talked to the pros to find out how parents can set their kids up for a successful start to preschool or kindergarten.

1. Make Learning Fun

As parents, we are our children’s first teachers. Although this might seem like a lot of pressure, it’s also an amazing opportunity to present learning as something that can (and should) be fun. According to Lisa Stratton, the Educational Services Manager at TLC Learning Center in Longmont, Colorado, we can do this by encouraging our kids’ natural curiosity. “For example, if your child asks you, ‘How do bats fly in dark caves without bumping into each other?’, help them find the answer online or at the library.” By encouraging your kids to go where their interests take them, says Stratton, “You will be teaching them that learning is fun without them realizing [it].”

2. Encourage Independence at Home

Parents can support the learning process by fostering our kids’ independence with daily tasks. When kids can handle some of these basics, teachers have more time to focus on helping them develop academic and social skills. Stratton suggests teaching kids practical skills, like tying shoes, buttoning and unbuttoning clothing, and getting their own drink of water. “These day-to-day life skills and learning how to get along with others are more important at this stage than knowing how to write their ABC’s.”

3. Talk to Your Child

Shari Karmen, Therapeutic Services Manager at TLC, recommends parents let their kids know what to expect before school starts. “Let them know they will be making new friends, playing with different toys, having new snacks.” She suggests parents tell their kids what a typical day might look like or even visit the school in advance. “Telling children several

times helps them to learn that a change and new routine will be happening. Include who will be picking them up from school so they know that they will see you again.” Above all, she reminds parents: “Keep the ‘story’ positive and fun!”

4. Be Informed

As all parents know, kids are masters at picking up on their parents’ emotions; if we’re anxious, they’ll know it, and they may feel it, too. Parents can allay some anxiety by educating themselves. Shela Blankenship, the Early Childhood Coordinator at St. Vrain Valley Schools in Colorado, encourages parents to visit the school’s website to learn about program information, hours, and drop-off and pick-up expectations. She also says parents can schedule a meeting with the teacher during Parent Orientation to forge a relationship with the teacher from the start. Blankenship emphasizes, “The more parents know in advance, the more comfortable everyone will feel on the first day.”

This article originally appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera

Pam Moore is an award-winning freelance writer, intuitive eating coach, and host of the Real Fit podcast. Get her free guide to improving your body image at

32 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023

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• Intervention for Adults with reading difficulties

• High functioning autism reading remediation (limited space) | 33 A medical center for Academic Resilience & Success Failure is not an option! 205-364-2347 Fax: 205-364-2341 2111 Parkway Office Circle, Suite 150 Hoover AL. 35244

Don’t Break the Bank on Back to School


is winding down, and kids are preparing to start a new school year. This signifies an exciting new start for kids, but for parents, it can mean spending a lot of money on school supplies and new clothing for fall. Families with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend an average of $696.70 this year on back-to-school shopping, according to the National Retail Federation. That's a lot of money, especially for parents of multiple children. How can you buy the items your kids need without breaking the bank on back-to-school shopping? Here are some ways to save.

Take Inventory

Purchasing items you already have around the house doesn't make sense. "We reuse items like notebooks, binders, and pencil boxes," says Carrie Miller, a mom of three. "I also save all the pencils from class parties, birthday parties, and other giveaways to use the following year."

Before you start back-to-school shopping, take inventory of what office and school supplies you already have that are new or gently used. Go through the kids' closets and remove items that are too small and make a list of what needs to be replaced. Can any items be passed down to younger siblings? Consider shopping at second-hand stores or consignment sales for gently used items to save on clothes, shoes, and coats. Backpacks and lunchboxes that are in good condition can be reused. Once you know what you need, list what needs to be purchased and stick to it.

Do your Research

It’s hard to know if you are getting a good deal on back-to-school supplies and clothing if you do know how much they cost, to begin with. Once you know the average cost of an item, it is easier to do your research and make sure you are getting a good deal. It can be easy to get caught up on saving on small items like glue and pencils, but it is wiser to focus on big-ticket items, which can mean more money saved. Saving $50-100 on a tablet is

worth driving across town to shop compared to saving 10 cents on glue. "Shop around!" says Emily Rodriguez. "Last year, I added all the items needed to my online cart at Walmart, Amazon and Target. I was surprised Target came out well under the other two. I was glad to save the money.”

Take Advantage of Discounts

The back-to-school season is the biggest money maker for retailers, second only to the Christmas shopping season. To bring in customers, they are willing to offer discounts, free shipping for online orders, price matching, in-store coupons, and other deals to get you to shop in their stores. Take some time to shop around and find the best deals, sign up for email coupons and deals, and most importantly, don’t forget to use the coupons when you make your purchase. Many states, including Missouri, offer a tax-free weekend in late summer. This is an excellent time for families to take advantage of a discount on clothing, shoes, and other items needed for school.

34 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023 BACK TO SCHOOL

Buy later

When looking at the long list of supplies that schools hand out, determine what they need right away and what can be purchased later. You will be able to get school supplies at clearance prices if you wait until September. This is also a great time to stock up on commonly needed items for the following school year. "Purchase items in advance when possible.” says Olathe mom Fia Swartwood. "Clearance sales after school starts are a great time to stock up on paper, spiral notebooks, folders, and writing utensils." Many families feel the need to buy their children a new fall wardrobe when school returns. However, it's perfectly reasonable to delay purchasing new clothing as temperatures are still too warm for fall and winter clothing when kids start school. This allows parents to buy items over time or as needed instead of purchasing everything at once. “I shop clearance items after every season and guess on sizing for the following year.” says Katlyn Purkapile, Edgerton's mom of three.

Leave the Kids Home

As a mom of six, my biggest money-saving tip for back-to-school shopping is to simply leave the kids at home. I arrive at the store with a list of school supplies needed. If my daughter were with me, she would ask for the sparkliest unicorn notebook, which costs twice as much as the plain pink one I would pick. It's faster and more efficient if I shop for the supplies alone. When picking out clothes, backpacks, and lunchboxes, it's reasonable to bring kids along so they can pick out something to fit their tastes. Before shopping, give your kids a budget and let them pick something they like that fits within it.

To save money, you may have to put in some extra effort in research, get organized, drive to more than one store, and forgo a few items to stay within a budget. It will be worth the cost savings in the long run, especially for families shopping for multiple children. | 35 BACK TO SCHOOL Explore one of the nation's premier independent schools for students in grades 5-12! www altamontschool org Where all the dental needs of your child can be met under one roof! Dr. Olga Sanchez Hernandez is dual trained and board certified as a pediatric dentist and orthodontist. 4814 Bell Hill Road, Bessemer, AL 35022 205-477-8004 WE FILE ALL INSURANCE AS A COURTESY. WE ARE PROVIDERS FOR MOST INSURANCE COMPANIES. like us on facebook Follow us on Instagram @mopdsmiles
Sarah Lyons is a freelance writer and mom of six. Photo by Christy Pierce Photography

Great CreativityBoosting Apps for Kids

Summertime is a great time to inspire your kids to become more creative. While you may be taking a break from homeschooling for summer, you want to keep your kids creating and learning all year. So here are some of the very best creativity-boosting apps for kids. They’re all completely free, so encourage your kids to download an app – or three!

Color Band

(Available at Apple Appstore; Age range: 5-8)

Color Band introduces young kids to the fun of making music while at the same time encourages them to draw. It has 80 pre-recorded instruments and sound effects represented by different colors. Some colors contain multiple sound effects, while others include entire scales or chords. Using different colors to draw a picture, they create unique musical compositions, which they can play back by waving their hands in front of the screen.

Let’s Create: Pottery

(Available at Apple Appstore, Google Play; Age range: 9-18)

Let’s Create: Pottery teaches kids to sculpt pottery and make beautiful pieces of artwork without the messiness of natural clay. They can copy pre-existing pieces from different cultures or create their pottery from scratch. While the virtual clay is spinning on the pottery wheel, kids mold it by tapping or pressing lightly on the screen. Once they’re done, they get to fire their pottery in the kiln and then decorate their creations with colors and patterns.


Available at Apple Appstore; Age range: 13-18)

Paper is great for kids who love to draw. It resembles a digital notebook with various tools for outlining, sketching and coloring drawings. The app makes it easy to rearrange objects on the page. Kids can also import photos and incorporate them into their pictures.

Plum's Creaturizer

(Available at Apple Appstore; Age range: 5-8)

Plum’s Creaturizer will get your kids interested in photography. Developed by PBS Kids, this award-winning app lets kids create colorful creatures by combining different body parts and then encourages them to photograph them in four different "habitats.” The photos can be combined into slideshows depicting a day in the life of their creations.

Story Dice – Story Telling

(Available at Apple Appstore; Age range: 5-18)

Story Dice – Story Telling is sure to get the creative juices flowing. This app has 40 virtual dice, each with six images from different categories, for 240 images. Kids shake their devices to roll the dice and create stories that connect all the photos. Encourage your kids to use this app with their friends to see who comes up with the most suspenseful or fun stories.

Toontastic 3D

(Available at Google Play; Age range: 5-12)

Few things are more fun than making your cartoons. Toontastic 3D is an app that lets you do just that. It includes various story outlines, scenes, and dozens of colorful characters. Kids can either use those characters or create their own with simple drawing tools, press “record" and then move characters around and narrate the story with their own voice recording. Finally, they can add a musical score and put all the pieces together in a single 3D cartoon.

Video Star

(Available at Apple Appstore, Google Play; Age range: 13-18)

Video Star teaches kids how to create and star in their own music videos. After selecting a favorite song, they shoot a video that shows them lip-synching and /or dancing to the music. The app has hundreds of built-in visual and sound effects that they can use in their videos.

Tanni Haas, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences and Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College.

36 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023

Host a Star Wars-Themed Party

Team up with budding Star Wars fans to create festive family fun, whether it is a birthday or any fun chance to throw a party. Transform your home into a Star Wars galaxy with these fun ideas.

Jedi Attire

» Form a family alliance by dressing in Star Wars gear, whether it's pajamas, favorite t-shirts, or full costumes.

» Ask classmates to wear Star Wars character masks or shirts to make the school day special.

Bring Outer Space to Your Place

» Create a party atmosphere by decorating with red and blue or black and silver. Get creative and use whatever you have on hand. Supplement with Star Wars-themed napkins and plates (available at party and discount stores).

» Make a playlist of iconic Star Wars music and turn it up full throttle to bring the galactic mood to life.

» Place pre-built Star Wars LEGO masterpieces around the house.

» Anyone working online can choose a Star Wars Zoom background at So yes, you can join the virtual company meeting from the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon (and others)!

Mealtime Fun – Even Beyond the Party

» Awaken the force with Chewbacca-shaped hash browns or maple bars for breakfast.

» Add a smile to the kids’ lunchboxes with a Star Wars note or riddle. Find free, downloadable notes online.

» Cook some “Chewie” chicken nuggets and Darth “Tater” tots for a fun, easy dinner.

» Check local retailers for Star Wars-themed treats such as fruit snacks, crackers, popsicles, cereal and mac & cheese.

» Kids can help make healthy lightsaber snacks: Sith kebabs with cherry tomatoes and red pepper chunks or a fruit version with red strawberries and green grapes.

» Top cupcakes with stormtrooper-decorated marshmallows (use a food-safe pen to draw faces).

» Make gingerbread or chocolate chip Wookie Cookies with the kids.

» Just for parents: End the evening with Cantina cocktails— Make them Imperial blue (using Curacao) or Rebel red (with grenadine).

Get Crafty

» Construct “lightsabers” from pool noodles. Find easy-tofollow directions at crafts-for-kids/pool-noodle-light-saber-craft.

» Make droids from cardboard boxes.

» Paint rocks to look like R2-D2, Chewbacca or a Jawa, or paint/draw your favorite Star Wars phrase or symbol. Place the rocks around a local park for neighbors to find.

» Learn how to make a Baby Yoda portrait at www. paint and an egg carton.

Jedi Training Games

» Backyard games are perfect for young Jedis and keep festivities outdoors.

» Have a galactic egg race. Adapt this popular game by decorating eggs to look like stormtroopers.

» Bounce a balloon on the pool noodle lightsabers you made. Count how many bounces before it hits the ground.

» Create a Jedi obstacle course with items you already have (cones, hula hoops, pool noodles, crawling tunnels, balls, ramps, trampoline, etc.).

Indoor Fun

» Play a Star Wars version of a classic board game.

» Have a family video game battle playing LEGO Star Wars or Battlefront.

» Binge-watch your favorite Star Wars movies or episodes of the Mandalorian TV series.

Cherie Gough is a writer who loves celebrating life’s simple pleasures. Find her on IG @cgoughwrites. Your local birthday party resource Birthdays in Birmingham Places to Go  Entertainment Party Supplies & Rentals  Facilities  Coupons
Visit our Kids Camp Directory Online kids-camps/ | 39 Sign Up and Begin Receiving FREE Special Birthday Offers from Our Sponsors Beginning May 1st! Interested in becoming a Birthday Club Sponsor? Contact us at 205-624-2405 or

Type 2 Diabetes

It's Not Just for Adults

Being overweight is a significant contributor to developing type 2 diabetes. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately one-third of American youth are overweight. Families can work together to take charge of health and avoid getting type 2 diabetes. When everyone is focused on a healthier lifestyle, it’s easier and creates a new normal.

Insulin Resistance and Children

When an adult or child is overweight from eating too much without a lot of activity, the pancreas has to make more insulin to get cells to use blood sugar for energy. Over time, the pancreas can't keep up with the need for additional insulin, and blood sugar levels rise, creating a risk for type 2 diabetes. Physical activity is important because it helps the body better use insulin and reduces the opportunity for insulin resistance.

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes in Children

If your child is at least 10 years old or has started puberty, is overweight and has any two of the following risk factors, talk with your doctor about getting a blood sugar test and depending on the results, follow your doctor's recommendations for any follow-up tests:

• Family member with type 2 diabetes

• Mother had gestational diabetes while pregnant

• One or more conditions associated with insulin resistance – high blood pressure, high cholesterol or polycystic ovary syndrome

• African American, Hispanic, Native American, Alaska Native, Asian American, Pacific Islander

Six Ways to Increase Activity

Increasing activity in the day is a change of habit. If your child is used to spending free time as screen time, you may need to help your child discover other activities that he or she will enjoy. Physical fitness isn’t just a short-term exercise, it’s a lifestyle that pays off with better health. Here are six ideas to get started:

1. Start slowly and build up, with a goal of at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Exercise doesn’t have to happen all at once; 10-15 minute sessions count.

2. Encourage your child to join a sports team.

3. Take fitness classes together, or create active outings such as bike riding, walking the dog or hiking.

4. Consider taking care of the house as a two-for-one by pitching in for chores. Vacuum, rake leaves, have a weed-pulling contest, sweep the porch or driveway.

5. Give holiday gifts that keep you moving and away from screens – ping pong, jump rope, sidewalk chalk or corn hole can be fun activities.

6. Limit screen time to 2 hours a day.

Ten Healthy Eating Habits

Like exercise, healthy eating habits don’t happen all at once. Give yourself a break and get started in the right direction. Success will encourage more success.

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed food and sugar.

2. Drink fewer sodas and sugary drinks and drink more water instead.

3. Plan and/or shop for meal prep together. Teach your kids to understand food labels.

4. Make healthy meals ahead of time and freeze them for nights that you know will be time-crunched.

5. Serve smaller portion sizes.

6. Eat dinner together as a family, not in front of the TV or computer.

7. Slow the eating pace so that kids have time to feel full (about 20 minutes).

8. Don’t make food a reward. Consider nonfood-centered ways to celebrate.

9. Take a class on nutrition or healthy meal planning from a diabetes educator.

10. Set a good example for them by making healthy choices yourself.

40 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023 ASK THE SPECIALIST sponsored by

The National Parks Scavenger Hunt:

A Family-Friendly Way to Explore All 63 Parks

Covid drove more families to go camping and explore the outdoors. Maybe that is actually a good thing! If you and your family are going to check out any of the national parks this summer, THE NATIONAL PARKS S SCAVENGER HUNT might be a fun book for you and your children to take along.

Family adventure awaits! National Outdoor Book Awards winning author Stacy Tornio’s new title, THE NATIONAL PARKS SCAVENGER HUNT, is an activity book, travel guide and keepsake all rolled into one that helps the whole family enjoy the sights as they learn about America’s most majestic landscapes.

Whether finding sea stars in Acadia National Park or searching for a petrified tree in Yellowstone, this delightful new guide features a unique adventure for each of America’s 63 National Parks. Every scavenger hunt features fun park facts, 5-12 hidden objects, and a tally system that allows kids to get points for every found item. To keep it challenging, some of the parks’ iconic features are listed alongside lesser-known gems—like off-the-beaten-path waterfalls, harlequin ducks, and regional wildflowers.

The National Parks Scavenger Hunt provides hands-on, simple activities that help families be present in the moment while making lasting memories. | 41
Stacy Tornio is the author of more than 15 books for families and kids, including 101 Outdoor Adventures to Have Before You Grow Up and The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book, both of which are recipients of National Outdoor Book Awards. She is a former editor of Birds & Blooms magazine and currently runs the website Hashtag Outside, which is aimed at getting more kids and families outside.

Family Time, Amplified at SoundWaves

Get more out of your summer vacation! Discover more excitement, adventure and thrills this season and make more memories together at the nation’s first truly upscale resort water attraction, SoundWaves at Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn.

This upscale, four-acre, three-level aquatic experience unites extraordinary environments, exclusive amenities, and relaxing water features with energetic rides and immersive music to create a modern oasis the entire family will enjoy. Indoor experiences are open year-round, and seasonal outdoor attractions are open mid-May through the summer.

Everyone in the family will find fun at SoundWaves, no matter their speed- thrill or chill. The two-acre outdoor attraction features a 45-foot slide tower with adrenaline-inducing rides including:

• Beat Drop, a near-vertical tunnel that drops into a looping waterslide

• Bass Drop, an open-flume, a six-story, free-fall waterslide

• Rock’N Racer, an interactive, four-lane mat slide.

In addition, guests can enjoy music videos on a giant LED movie screen while riding the waves at the Tidal Track Wave Pool. The outdoor experience includes the Rising Stars Stage kid's pool and multi-level play structure, the adults-only Diamond Pool and bars, private cabana rentals, food trucks, and more.

Inside, SoundWaves has something for everyone, whether they want to relax or play, from the double FlowRider® wave rider and 36” rapid river with waterfalls to the serpentine water slide, double body slide, and lazy river. Young guests will delight in the Groovin’ Lagoon activity pool, Quarter Note Cove, Half Note Cove’s slides, splash pad, and rock wall.

The only guaranteed access to SoundWaves is by reserving the SoundWaves Experience overnight package, which includes room accommodations, passes to the water experience, and exclusive early arrival to SoundWaves. Overnight SoundWaves Experience package guests with a confirmed reservation may also upgrade their visit with a private

cabana where they can unwind in comfort with extra shade, comfortable loungers, refrigerators and more.

Beyond SoundWaves, guests can experience everything Gaylord Opryland Resort has to offer. With nine acres of indoor garden atriums – complete with a winding, quarter-mile river – plus seasonal, familyfriendly activities, a world-class spa, a variety of dining and more, the whole family can enjoy more of everything they love during their stay.

For more information and to reserve your SoundWaves Experience Package, visit

42 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023 FAMILY TRAVEL
Sponsored by Gaylord Opryland Resort & Conference Center All photos courtesy of Gaylord Opryland Resort. Amplify your summer vacation with a visit to SoundWaves at Gaylord Opryland Resort! | 43 251-861-2141 102 Bienville Blvd. Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528 Field Classes available for all grades. Field Classes available for all grades. FAMILY TRAVEL IN STUDIO OR OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY AVAILABLE 205-902-0385 FAMILY CHILDREN NEWBORN SENIORS COUPLES MATERNITY WEDDING BOUDOIR PHOTOGENIC MODELING EVENTS ENGAGEMENT No Sitting or Session Fees!

Calendar - July-August 2023

Welcome to the July/August Highlights Calendar! This issue is a jam-packed two months with lots of fun for the kids who are out of school. There was so much, we couldn’t include all the movies, library events, ballgames, shows, free activities and so much more here, but they ARE in our online calendar @ And don’t miss all the Fourth of July celebrations, starting as early as July 1. Be sure to check ahead for any activities for dates, times, pricing and the weather, if it is outdoors. Happy Summer!.



Hoover Honors America

9pm, the Hoover Met. FREE


The Market at Pepper Place

The Big Kaboom



Thunder On the Mountain

9pm, in and around Vulcan Park & Museum. FREE


Trussville Freedom Celebration

5:30pm, Fireworks begin at 9pm, The Mall in downtown Trussville. FREE


7am-Noon, Pepper Place. The outdoor market has three areas of tents with farmers, makers and food vendors, live music and Chef Demos at 9am. FREE


Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit

10am-4pm, Southern Museum of Flight. The exhibit features a number of World War II-era trainers including a North American AT-6 Texan, a Vultee BT-13B Valiant and a Fairchild PT-19 Cornell., $7



Alabaster Fireworks Show

9pm, Thompson High School, Alabaster, Alabama. FREE


9pm, Chelsea Corners Way behind Dairy Queen, Chelsea, AL. FREE


4th of July Celebration

8:45pm, Bessemer City High School, Bessemer, AL. FREE


4th of July Celebration

8:45pm, Bessemer City High School, Bessemer, AL. FREE

Independence Day Fireworks

9pm, Clay-Chalkville High School, Clay, AL. FREE

Fire On the Water

Independence Day 1776

9pm, The American Village, Montevallo, AL.


West Homewood Farmers Market

5- pm. Located in the heart of West Homewood, the market is a beloved community event that brings together farmers, artisans and neighbors to celebrate local food and culture. FREE



Homewood Library Ghost Tours with S.C.A.R.E.

5-10pm, Oak Mountain State Park. Admission to park charged.


6:30-9:30pm, Homewood Public Library. S.C.A.R.E. will bring their team of investigators, as well as their specialized equipment, to conduct a real paranormal

PLEASE NOTE: Calendar information should be uploaded to our website at and may appear in print if uploaded by deadline. You may also go to and simply click on the calendar icon. Information cannot be accepted over the phone, by mail or fax. Birmingham Parent publishes a calendar 6 times a year. January events are included in the November/December issue. Deadline for the Sept./Oct. 2023 PRINT calendar is Aug. 10, 2023. Guidelines: Birmingham Parent’s calendar is intended to be a resource and service to the community and our readers. Events which are open to the public, fundraisers, free classes, etc., are events that may be included in our monthly calendar. We reserve the right to reject any event or listing due to rules or space restrictions. For questions regarding calendar entries, call 205-624-2405 or e-mail Be sure to check ahead with the actual venue as events are subject to change.


investigation with their guests. Guests are encouraged to bring voice recorders, cameras, and flashlights. Ages 12 and up. All minors must be accompanied by an adult. $35 per person, which benefits the Library. Register online at,



Pop-up Farmers Market

1:30-3:30pm, Memorial Park at 524 6th Ave. S. FREE



Teen Dungeons & Dragons

3-5pm, Homewood Public Library, Beginners as well as experienced players are encouraged to attend this event for teens. Register online.,




Disney's Descendents

7 p.m.Virginia Samford Theatre, Imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost - home of the most infamous villains who ever lived - the teenaged children of Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Jafar, and Cruella De Vil have never ventured off the island… until now. When the four troublemakers are sent to attend prep school alongside the children of beloved Disney heroes, they have a difficult choice to make: should they follow in their parents' wicked footsteps or learn to be good?, www. $24 - $29



Summer Film Series: Disney's Cinderella (1950)

2pm, The Alabama Theatre. Tickets are general admission and $10 each.



21st Annual Heart of the House Gala

6-10pm, The 21st Heart of the House Gala for the Ronald McDonald House. Attendees enjoy a Silent Auction with mobile bidding, a seated dinner, exciting Live Auction and Mission Impact presentation.




Birmingham Parent’s Annual Happy Healthy Kids Fair

10am-3pm, McWane Science Center lobby. Visit with vendors for back to school and your child’s health: tutors, extra-curricular activities, dentists, health care, insurance and much more! Great giveaways. Swag bags to the first 100 people at the Birmingham Parent booth. Joe Lockett will have his school supply giveaway, while they last, starting at 10am. Make a $10 or more tax-deductible contribution to Bundles of Hope Diaper Bank and get your infant entered to win a spot on a billboard AND a Birmingham Parent cover! Discount cards for the McWane that day. FREE ADMISSION TO EVENT.


3rd Annual Dragon Boat Race & Festival

8am-3pm, East Lake Park. Mitchell's Place Dragon Boat Festival brings the most fun and unforgettable experience to the Birmingham area! See how well your team can compete against other local, corporate, and community teams to raise awareness for early intervention and autism spectrum disorder.



Teen Anime Club

4-5pm, Homewood Public Library. Love anime, manga or anything Japanese-related? Then join us for a Teen Anime Club. Watch anime. Discuss manga. Eat yummy snacks. Open to 6th-12th graders only., homewood.


TO VIEW MORE EVENTS ONLINE Visit Our Online Directories
Expecting/Newborn/ Toddler
Celebrations and Family Fun
Education & Enrichment Guide
Health & Wellness
Kids’ Camps
Retail & Services
Special Needs Resources Add Your Events to Our Online Calendar View all our online events or ADD YOUR OWN - and you just might see it show up here in print! Deadline for the Sept./Oct. 2023 PRINT calendar is Aug. 10, 2023. SCAN CODE TO VIEW MORE EVENTS ONLINE

Area Attractions/Events

n Aldridge Botanical Gardens 3530 Lorna Road, Hoover. 205-682-8019.

n Alabama Sports Hall of Fame 2150 Richard Arrington Blvd. N., Birmingham. 323-6665.

n Alabama Wildlife Center 100 Terrace Dr., Pelham. 205-663-7930.

n American Village Highway 119, Montevallo. 205-665-3535.

n Barber Motorsports Park

n Birmingham Museum of Art Ways of Seeing: Sports and Games. 10am-5pm, Birmingham Museum of Art. An exhibition drawn from across the Museum's permanent collection that shows the influence of sports and games on art. (205) 254-2565, Through May 21. 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd., Birmingham. 205-254-2565.

n Birmingham Public Libraries

Find a library near you for all kinds of fun events and enrichment!

n Birmingham Zoo

n Oak Mountain State Park 200 Terrace Drive, Pelham. 205-620-2520.

n Ruffner Mountain Nature Center 1214 81st St. S., Birmingham. 205-833-8264,

n Shelby County Public Libraries Find a library near you for all kinds of fun events and enrichment!

n Southern Museum of Flight

6040 Barber Motorsports Parkway, Leeds. 205-298-9040. www.barbermotorsports. com

n Birmingham Botanical Gardens treasuremapforweb.pdf 2612 Lane Park Rd., Birmingham. 205-414-3900.

n Birmingham Children’s Theatre 1001 19th St. North, Birmingham, AL, 35203, 205-458-8181.

n Birmingham Civil Rights Institute 16th St. N., Birmingham. 205-328-9696.

2630 Cahaba Rd., Birmingham. 205-8790409.

n Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum 1919 Ninth St., Calera. 205-668-3435.

n Jefferson County Library Cooperative

Find a library close to you for all kinds of fun events and enrichment!

n McWane Science Center • IMAX Films 200 19th St. N., Birmingham. 205-714-8300,

n Moss Rock Preserve Preserve Parkway, Hoover. 205-739-7141.

4343 73rd St. N., Birmingham. 205-833-8226.

n Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park 12632 Confederate Parkway, McCalla. 205477-5711.

n Vulcan Park 1701 Valley View Drive, Birmingham. 205-933-1409.

As always check ahead for hours and dates of operation, ticket pricing and more.

46 | Birmingham Parent | July-August 2023
out Birmingham’s Area Attractions For Fun Around the City

Free backpacks and supplies giveaway starting at 10 am with the Joe Lockett Show and snacks from the Community Care Development Network, while they last!

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