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Growing Up S O U T H W E S T & C E N T R A L V I R G I N I A’ S P R E M I E R FA M I LY R E S O U R C E

Generational Generosity Earning Money Online

Discover local charities that your whole family can support

Learn how to earn some extra dough this holiday season

Elf on the Shelf

Has the holiday tradition gone too far?

In the Valley Volume 5, Issue 4 | December 2016 | FREE


Brody, Proud Saver and HTB Kids’ Club Member

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Letter from the Editor

D

ecember marks the start of our favorite time of year! We work hard all year to help parents and businesses in the Southwest Virginia region connect and support our community. The holiday season is when it all comes together, during our random acts of kindness program, WREATHS.

The owners of Growing Up on vacation in Puerto Rico.

Facebook Facebook.com/ growingupinthevalley Follow Us on Instagram @Growingupmag Tweet Us on Twitter @GUPinthevalley Email The Editor andrea@ growingupinthevalley.com Story Ideas Share your story ideas with us by emailing info@growingupinthevalley.com

WREATHS stands for We Are Reaching Everyone And Treating Holidays Special. You might come across us buying coffee for the car behind us at Starbucks, handing out Christmas cards at local stores or singing carols at nursing homes. We do something different every day up until Christmas and we want your help! Head over to page 20 to see what we are up to and how you can become a part of the kindness this holiday season! You can also see what happens every day by following us on Facebook! We also are gearing up for perhaps the BIGGEST and MOST BOUNCY New Year’s Eve EVER! Our New Year’s at Noon event presented by Freedom First is set to bounce in the New Year with over 20,000 bouncy balls as they fall from the ceiling of the Salem Civic Center at noon on December 31st! For just $7 you can win prizes, play games, listen to live music, watch magic shows and so much more! Do not miss out on the event of the year! Stop by the Salem Civic Center or call 540-2511660 to get your tickets! As we end the last editor’s note of 2016, we want to say thanks to you, our loyal readers. We have many things in our lives to be happy for as we look back on a successful 2016. One of the things that we are most happy about is our relationship with our beautiful and wonderful region. Our family is honored to receive such wonderful support from the thousands of readers each month and dozens of advertisers. We look forward to another wonderful and prosperous year as part of the SWVA community.

Growing Up In The Valley PUBLI SHER Josh Eagan EDI TOR-IN- CHIEF Andrea Eagan CRE AT IVE DIRE C TOR Tracy Fisher ADVER T I SING A C C OUN T E X E CUT IVE S Dee Reynolds Cassy Childress C ON T RIBUTOR S Peg McGuire Katie Lewis Sandra Gordon Ava Rosa DeVries Kevin Hurley Clifford Jackson C ont ac t Us : Phone: 540-251-1660 Fax: 540-808-1568 Mail: PO BOX 12263 Roanoke, VA 24024 General Inquiries: Info@growingupinthevalley.com We welcome reader comments, submissions and the support of advertisers. We reserve the right to refuse or edit any materials submitted to us that we deem inappropriate for our audience. Please include a self addressed stamped envelope with any submission to be returned. We do not accept responsiblity for unsolicited materials. Growing Up In the Valley and Growingupinthevalley. com are published by MoFat Publishing. Growing Up In the Valley is published monthly. The views and the opinions expressed by the writers and advertisers do not necessarily represnt those of Growing Up In the Valley, it’s staff or contributors. The information presented here is for informational purposes only and although every effort has been made to present accurate information, we do not in any way accept responsibility for the accuracy of, or consequences from the use of this information or for the businesses and organizations presented herein. We urge all parents to confirm any information given herein and consult with a doctor or an appropriate professional concerning any information or question. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in part or in whole without the express written consent of the publisher.

To you and yours, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Andrea, Josh, Anika and Evelyn

© Copyright 2016 MoFat Media


In This Issue:

7 9 11 16 22 24 25 31 29 36 18

December 2016 Volume 5, Issue 4

Soothing Election Sorrows

Get past the election hate this holiday.

Dad of the Month - Todd Lynn Learn why Todd is our choice for December!

Generational Generosity

Discover local charities your family can support.

WREATHS

Help us spread joy around the region this December!

Paper Plate Yuletide Tree

This cute holiday craft is easy and fun to make!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Sticks Make this delicious holiday treat for your family.

It’s A Money Thing

Read how you can earn money online safely.

Wizarding World of Roanoke

Something magical is coming! Find out more!

Local Guide Calendar Kids Eat Free The Game Room

On the Cover: Andrew, Katherine, Timothy and Daniel Binns-Loveman.

Photos by Kevin Hurley Photography


Every parent wants to find a quality child care program for their child.

Do you know what to look for?

Every parent wants to find a quality child care program for their child.

Children in high quality child care settings are more successful in school and life,* so choosing a preschool or child care program is one of the most important decisions parents and families can make.

United Way of Roanoke Valley

Virginia’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (Virginia Quality) helps parents find high quality child care programs, so they can be confident their children are learning the skills they will need to enter kindergarten ready to succeed. Children in high quality child care settings are more

Do you know what to

*Source: Lifetime Effects: The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study Through Age 40.

successful in school and life,* so choosing a preschool For more information, contact: Beginnings or child careplease program is one ofSmart the most importantGreater Roanoke sbroanoke@uwrv.org | (540) decisions parents and283-2781 families can| smartbeginningsroanoke.org make. Virginia's Quality Rating and Improvement Sysytem (Virginia Quality) helps parents find high quality child care programs, so they can be confident their children are


Soothing Election Sorrows By Katie Lewis

Have you ever wondered why Election Day is on a Tuesday in November? Honestly, I have never thought much about it until this year. So I did some research and found out that it dates back to the 19th century. Most sources state that the decision catered to farmers, who made up much of the voting population at the time. November avoided the major harvesting months and Tuesday steered clear of market day, which was typically Wednesday, and didn’t disrupt the Sabbath. This year, I was quite thankful for the November selection. I’ll get to the reason in a moment. Regardless of the less than optimal choices, I did my duty and voted on Election Day. I based my decision on my life experiences, my family, and my beliefs. What other choice did I have? To not vote? In my mind, that isn’t an option. Yet, when I visited social media, I was backlashed with the idea that my choice, my opinion, my voice was wrong. I kept quiet. I refrained from posting anything political on social media for two reasons. Number 1: I am a public school teacher and I just felt it most appropriate. Number 2: I felt that posting my political opinion would most likely not change one’s mind and would potentially do more harm than good.

I, however, witnessed people from millennials to weathered adults become flat out, hard core bullies on social media. Hiding behind their screens, people on both ends of the spectrum (for the most part indirectly) flung insults at their neighbors, pastors, teachers, coworkers, friends and family, possibly not even realizing the damage they were doing. Everywhere I turned there was nothing but hate. People were even fighting for tolerance with intolerance. It was more than people just sharing their opinions. People were targeting one another, name-calling, pointing fingers. And guess what? It solved nothing. Changed nothing. I tried to avoid social media during the weeks following the election, but it was hard to escape. I found myself scrolling, feeling unsettled, wondering if my social media friends realized that their words were hurtful and unkind. The Saturday after Election Day the negativity was still flowing strong in my newsfeed. I sat with my family that evening watching the Clemson vs. Pittsburg football game. A Clemson graduate and big football fan, I had been excited for the game. It was just what I needed. It got my mind of things. Cleared my head of the recent negativity. Until the end of the game when we lost. An unranked team

blemished our undefeated season. I went in my bedroom and sulked for a moment. I felt utterly depressed. Yes, the game was a part of it, but it was just a game after all. I realized that the feeling caused by the election aftermath was simply returning. This brings us to my gratefulness that Election Day is in November. I used this to my advantage. In order to get out of my funk and renew my hope in the world, I flipped to a Hallmark Christmas movie. Why? Because there is nothing more wholesome and humbling than the true spirit surrounding the holiday season. Not the commercialism, not the receiving of gifts, but the true spirit that is so simply displayed in these predictable, often cheesy movies. My newsfeed has gained positivity, but the election aftermath is definitely not gone. My hope is that the holidays will help stoke the fire of goodness in our world and remind us of the importance of spreading kindness and love rather than hate. It is such a simple fix, yet we, as a country, seem to be too stubborn to give it a try. Meanwhile, I load my DVR with these Hallmark movies, so when necessary, I can immerse myself in a better world.

Growing Up • December 2016

7


Parent of the

Month

Todd Lynn What are you passionate about? God is my focus in life; followed by time with my family. We’ve recently started a new church and it is a joy to see that my children look forward to Sunday mornings. How has fatherhood changed you? My priorities. Once I became a father, it was all about my children, not my personal wants or needs. My wife and I want to ensure that our children grow up in a household that is loving, nurturing, and encouraging. What Inspires you? There are many people in life who inspire me, too many to name. In saying that, there are some that come to the forefront when pondering this question. My mother has continuously been the anchor of our family. She is steadfast and offers unconditional love. My wife, a special educator and loving mother, finds ways to give to others on a daily basis. My daughter, constantly challenged by daily routines that we take for granted, demonstrates a determination; never giving up. Then, there is my spunky, red-headed son who is always one step ahead of the game; showing confidence throughout each day. Along with your job as a dad, what do you do? I am a stay at home dad-100%. One of our

children has special needs and our day revolves around school, therapy sessions, and doctors’ appointments. In between, I work around the house; trying to keep things maintained. There’s rarely a minute of downtime. However, I have found moments to be a personal masseuse as I rub my wife’s feet each night! What is on your wish list? My first wish would be that my daughter’s Epilepsy would no longer exist; giving her opportunities to be a regular 8 year old little girl. Second, I hope that my children will be successful in today’s society while being happy and proud of their choices. What are you most proud of? When I read this question, I think more of the word “thankful”. I am pleased that we have a humble home that we hope our children are proud of and although we have our moments, we are loving family who can be creative and fun-loving. What motivates you? Setting an example for our children is a daily motivator in the way I try to present myself; knowing that they will model my actions. Do you have any advice for other dads? Fatherhood is the hardest job that I’ve ever had which I hope means that I am doing something right. In saying that, it has been the most rewarding job I’ve ever carried out. In regard to advice, just recently, I have realized that each of my children needs individual time and I’ve started planning outings based on their interests. I’ve also learned to love them for who they are and know that I need to rejoice in their differences rather than trying to change their quirky ways. What is the biggest challenge in your life? As much as I love my children, having patience daily, throughout the day, can be a challenge; especially when working through a tantrum or cleaning up a mess after I’ve just cleaned. I often think about the times when we didn’t have children. Life was certainly easier, but not as rich-

making it all worth while. What is your parenting style? Finding humor in situations helps me get through the day and manage scenarios that may arise. Although we can be strict, my wife and I try to keep a mindset of “fighting the big battles” and using the little ones as life lessons. We want our children to be mannerly and respectful while showing kindness to others so in turn, they will make positive choices when we aren’t there to help them make tough decisions. What is your favorite quote? My little girl wakes up every morning inquisitive about the day’s events and once satisfied with that answer, will start questioning about the next day. I often say, “Live for today…..plan for tomorrow.” I want to enjoy the time we have together and the activities planned for that day before worrying about what the next day will bring.

Growing Up • December 2016

9


Are you a Pinball Wizard?

Come find out! For one admission price, you can play over 45 different pinball machines all day long. No quarters needed! Family memberships are available and make a great holiday gift!

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#roanokepinball


Generational Generosity As 2016 wraps up, many families look for a way to give back to their community. There are dozens of locally run and organized charities in the Roanoke and New River Valleys that can use help from everyone of all ages.

Bricks 4 The Brave How did you come up with the idea? When I was in elementary school, I overheard my mom (a teacher) talking about one of her former students’ son who had been diagnosed with cancer a few months before. I followed his story for months on Facebook. Sadly, he did not win his fight. But, during this process I learned that he loved LEGOs like I did. That’s how I learned about Bricks 4 the Brave. He was in UVA, and at that time, they were delivering LEGOs there. For my birthday in 5th grade, I had my friends bring LEGOs instead of gifts for me that we delivered to Bricks 4 the Brave, and they were sent to UVA. Shortly after that, I talked with my parents about starting this project in this area, working with a local hospital. My parents contacted the organization in Colorado and we were told what to do. We needed

a Children’s Hospital to work with. Because we have Carilion Children’s Hospital so close, this was a perfect fit. We were connected with Sarah, a Child Life Specialist. The process took longer than I wanted, but finally, it happened. We began collecting LEGOs in the fall of 2013. I made my first delivery that Christmas to Carilion Children’s Hospital in Roanoke. How is your involvement gratifying for you? I love knowing that the children are being helped through this process. It is also gratifying to that these children are receiving the gifts anonymously. I would love to meet the kids, but I don’t want to take credit for what I do. God is the one who provided this opportunity to me. Who has helped you get the charity started? My parents have been the biggest help with this by just getting me started. There have been community groups

that I have made presentations to that have helped as well. My church, Blacksburg United Methodist Church, gave me the opportunity for my first donation event. I’ve presented the project to the Blacksburg Junior Women’s Club and Good Shepherd Baptist Church. I have had a booth at Steppin’ Out in Blacksburg the last two years and one at the Eastern Montgomery High School Spring Fling last year. Nest Realty did an awesome promotion for the project, as well. Others that have contributed are the kid’s program at Blacksburg Country Club and lots of family and friends. How can people donate & help? We accept new sets of LEGOs (not too big) or gift cards to places I can purchase LEGOs. If they would like to make a donation, please e-mail me to work out the logistics. bricks4thebrave@comcast.net. And, help spread the word! Maybe have a birthday party or gathering where gifts are LEGOs that can be donated to this cause.

Contact Bricks 4 the Brave: Clay Jennings SWVA Bricks 4 the Brave Director bricks4thebrave@comcast.net

Join Growing Up in the Valley’s WREATHS program this December: We’ll be performing a random act of kindness daily throughout the valley. #RkeWREATHS Growing Up • December 2016

11


$

Gifts that Give Back

As you shop this holiday season check out these companies that pledge to donate portions of their profits or items to the needy for each purchase.

Alex + Ani Bracelets Charity by Design bracelets gives 20% of profits to several national charities. Love Your Melon Hats 50% of proceeds are donated to pediatric cancer charities. LifeStraw Water Bottles Lifestraw donates one year of clean water to a student in a developing country per purchase. State MINI Kane Backpack For every bag purchased, State donates a pre-filled backpack to a needy USA student Kidbox Clothing Subscription Box Kidbox sends a box of clothes to a child in need for each subscription purchased.

Habitat For Humanity What is the purpose of your charity? Seeking to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope. How did the organization begin? Habitat for Humanity International was started in 1976 by Millard Fuller in Americus, GA, and was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a simple, durable place to live in dignity and safety, and that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all. How is your involvement gratifying for you? All aspects of Habitat, from the ReStore to the construction sites, provide an avenue for homeownership to local families that desire a safe and affordable place to live. The change in the lives of these families is immediate on so many levels, and the effect of having strong and responsible homeowners helps to strengthen their communities. The mortgage pay-back program also gives a way for the Habitat home-owners to “pay it forward” to the next family. What was one experience with the charity that you will remember forever?

12

Our volunteers will tell you that attending a Habitat Growing Up • December 2016

home dedication and seeing the tearful family accept the key to their new home and hear their touching testimony will completely answer all questions as to why you volunteer or partner with Habitat.

How many families have you benefitted so far? In the Roanoke Valley over the past 30 years, 209 homes have been built. Habitat International has sheltered more than 3 million people. Who were key members that helped get the charity started? Locally, Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley was brought into existence by John and Olivia Lamont of First Presbyterian Church. It was literally run from their kitchen table in the beginning. How can people donate & help? Financial donations can be made through our website or mailed to Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley, PO Box 6627, Roanoke, VA 24017

People can help out by: • Volunteer in the ReStore or on construction sites (must be at least 16 years old) • Donate home goods and Shop the Habitat ReStore at 3435 Melrose Avenue, Roanoke, 24017 • Organize a financial giving event or fundraiser with your church group, civic group, work place or neighborhood group • Take lunch for 20-25 to one of our construction sites to thank the volunteers • Make care packages with cleaning supplies, towels, blankets, paper goods, etc for current homeowners; packages can be delivered to the Habitat office Mon-Fri from 9:00-4:00; gifts will be distributed to the families • Purchase gift cards for the Habitat families – grocery store or department stores such as Walmart – to buy food, home supplies or provide Christmas to their children. • Create a Kid Basket – have your child think of things in his or her room that are important and special and buy those items and create a basket; label the appropriate sex and age of receiving child; deliver to Habitat office and staff will deliver to fitting child in the Habitat program

For more information, contact Volunteer Coordinator, Gina Dunnavant, gina@habitat-roanoke.org


Conflict Resolution Center: 244 families negotiated for custody, visitation and child support. Who were key members that helped get the charity started? Members of the Junior League founded the Task Force on Child Abuse and Prevention. Judge Philip Trompeter founded the CASA program in Virginia and Roanoke. How can people donate & help?

Children’s Trust What is the purpose of your charity? Children’s Trust strives to prevent child abuse and neglect and provide continuous support for children through investigation and court proceedings. We help to make kids safer and adults’ better parents through education. How did the organization begin? The 2008 merger of the Roanoke Valley CASA Foundation and the Children’s Advocacy Center has allowed us to provide seamless services to children and families; from child abuse prevention efforts, to intervention when a child has alleged abuse, and finally, to advocating for abused children in the court system. Are there other locations? Children’s Trust offers five programs, each serving multiple jurisdictions: Children First Child Abuse Prevention: Serves Roanoke City, Roanoke County and City of Salem. We teach children in grades K – 5 how to speak up and be safe and adults how to be stewards of children. Children’s Advocacy Center provides forensic interviews for child abuse victims. The Children’s Advocacy Center has two locations, one in Roanoke and one in Christiansburg

serving children in Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Salem, Montgomery County, Floyd County, Radford and Pulaski County. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a volunteer rich experience providing a voice for a child in foster care. CASAs are sworn in after eight weeks of training and will be assigned to be the voice for children. Conflict Resolution Center – Provides mediation services, helps families negotiate for custody, visitation and child support. Healthy Families – is a nationally recognized evidence-based home visiting program model designed to work with overburdened families who are at-risk for adverse childhood experiences, including child maltreatment.  How many children have you benefitted so far? In 2016, by program: Children First Child Abuse Prevention: we taught 3,348 children to “Speak Up Be Safe”. 90 Adults learned how to protect their children from sexual abuse. Children’s Advocacy Center: 376 children were able to talk about their abuse. 670 families received support and guidance through our Family Advocate Program. CASA: 118 children found safe, permanent home.

People can donate by mailing a check to Children’s Trust, 541 Luck Avenue, Suite 308, Roanoke VA 24016 or electronic donations can be made by visiting our website: roact.org. Along with financial donations, we accept toys and books for our Children’s Advocacy Center waiting rooms. Consider becoming a CASA, CASAs are special volunteers who truly affect the lives of children in foster care.

Local Organizations Ronald McDonald House Ronald McDonald House provides low-cost or free housing for families with children being treated at our local children’s hospital. They accept monetary donations, as well as donations such as cleaning supplies, food, toys, DVDs and books. Learn more at www.rmhc-swva.org.

Angels of Assisi Help the four legged friends in our lives by donating to this local animal charity. You can also volunteer to help care for the animals and apply to be a foster pet-parent. Learn more at their website www.angelsofassisi.org.

Rescue Mission The Rescue Mission is dedicated to helping the homeless in our area. They provide shelter, food, job training, education and medical services. You and your family can volunteer in many different ways. Learn how on their website www.rescuemission.net. Growing Up • December 2016

13


unattended and 27 percent leave them within reach of a child. Make sure lit candles are in stable holders out of the reach of children and pets and placed where they cannot be easily knocked over. Cooking caution Never leave pans unattended. Be sure to turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so children can’t reach them. The Shriners Hospitals survey found 25 percent of adults fail to position pot handles for safety.

Important safety steps to keep kids’ holidays bright, happy and burn-free

Keep safety items, like a working fire extinguisher, on hand in your kitchen. Have a lid or cookie sheet nearby to cover a pan and snuff out the flames if the contents catch fire. Year-round precautions

In December 2015, 415 people died and 1,650 were injured as a result of home fires, according to data from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). In fact, home fires increase dramatically between October and November, and do not taper off again until warmer temperatures arrive in spring, USFA statistics show.

fires associated with decorations or candles,” says Kenneth Guidera, M.D., chief medical officer at Shriners Hospitals for Children. “These injuries can result in years of extensive rehabilitation and ongoing treatments to a child’s growing skin.”

Make sure smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are in place and in working order. The holidays are a great time to change the batteries in all smoke alarms and check fire extinguishers.

Decoration safety

Have a family escape plan and practice it.

A recent survey conducted by Shriners Hospitals for Children found that while most Americans are aware of the steps they should take to stay safe during the holidays, they are not putting that knowledge into action. For example, while 70 percent are aware that live Christmas trees should be watered daily, more than half of those surveyed said they do not, even though it is one of the most dangerous fire hazards in homes during this time of the year.

Place trees at least 3 feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces, candles and heat vents. Keep freshcut trees well-watered and promptly dispose of trees after the holidays.

“Some of the survey findings are alarming, and each year our hospitals that provide burn care see the results - children who’ve been injured in cooking related accidents or in

Inspect holiday lights before putting them up. Discard strands that have frayed wires, bare spots or excessive kinking. When using an extension cord or power strip, plug the light strands into the cord before plugging the cord into the electrical outlet. Extinguish candles when you have to leave them unattended. The Shriners Hospitals survey found 25 percent of people admit to leaving lit candles

Shriners Hospitals for Children is changing lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. Their 22 locations in the United States, Canada and Mexico provide advanced care for children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate. Visit shrinershospitalsforchildren.org to learn more. For more fire safety information, Be Burn Aware activity books for kids, tip cards and additional online tools for families, visit beburnaware.org.

Homestead Creamery’s Home Delivery Service is MORE than you expected! •Over 100 local & high quality products •Delivered to your door •Easy online ordering •From a local company you can trust Weekly routes in the Roanoke Valley and Forest areas Email matt@homesteadcreameryinc.com or call 540-719-1020 to register today!

540-719-1020 14

Growing Up • December 2016


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MEMBERONEFCU.COM • 800-666-8811 Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration


Teacher of the Month Nomination Nominate a worthy teacher to be featured in Growing Up in the Valley’s Teacher of the Month by emailing info@growingupinthevalley.com or mailing the following questionairre to PO BOX 12263, Roanoke, VA 24024. Winners receive a gift card to Abuelo’s for a well deserved night out! Your Name:________________________________

WINS

Wednesdays Follow Growing Up in the Valley on Facebook for a chance to win a great prize EVERY wednesday!

You could win:

Playmobil Toys Tickets to the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs New Year’s at Noon Tickets Gift Certificates to local businesses & More!

Your Email Address:__________________________ Nominee’s Name:___________________________ Nominee’s Email Address:_____________________ Why Should Nominee Be GUITV’s Teacher of the Month? __________________________________________ __________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________

Newsletter Exclusives

Need ideas on entertaining the family this weekend? Planning a birthday party or maybe you just want to know which park is having a festival soon? Sign up for Growing Up in the Valley’s weekly newsletter to get the details about the best family friendly events in the valley! Subscribers to our newsletter are the first to see our newest issues, receive special deals & coupons from advertisers, and hear all the news from the Roanoke, Lynchburg and New River Valley areas.


The Game Room Activities presented by

Fill in the puzzle with the names of the object!

Connect the dots to complete the picture of Homer! 18

Growing Up • December 2016


The Game Room Activities presented by

Start

Finish

J L R Y N X P C

X O K N S G O J

S F L T Y O F K

A Y F L K J A L

G G I F O E I T Y K U Q M I I M

S A N T A L L H

E V O L D V Y T

Christmas Word Search

1. Jolly

5. Toys

2. Santa

6. Gifts

3. Cookie

7. Family

4. Milk

8. Love Growing Up • December 2016

19


WREATHS

Planned Activities Sign up for any of the below group WREATHS activities by emailing josh@growingupinthevalley.com December 3 Lunch for Habitat for Humanity Family Donate Day (lunch provided) December 10 Donuts/Coffee for Bell Ringers (snacks provided) December 17 & 18 Caroling at Nursing Homes (lunch provided) December 21 Deliver Meals to Families in Need (Supplies and Donations Needed) Be a part of helping our community. Join us in these or any activities to spread random acts of kindness around our region.

Summer may be over...

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Growing Up • December 2016

thrive.

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Paper Plate Yuletide Tree Instructions Supplies:

1. Color the paper plates green and cut into thirds. 2. Decorate each third with ribbon, sequins, felt shapes, and glitter. 3. Arrange the three pieces into a tree shape and staple together.

• Paper Plates • Paint & Markers • Ribbon, Sequins & Holiday Decorations • Hole Punch • Stapler • White Glue

Share your holiday creations with GUITV on Instagram @growingupmag

22

Growing Up • December 2016


SATURDAY, December 10th

FOOD

RACE CARS

LIVE MUSIC

PRIZES

HONDA WORKSHoPS

e c a l p E N O y l There is on to get a WOODSON HONDA Peters Creek Rd (Right off 581) | WoodsonHonda.com


Peppermint Hot Chocolate Sticks

Supplies:

• Marshmallows • Candy Canes • Chocolate Candy

Instructions

1. Pierce marshmallows with candy canes. 2. Crush extra candy canes into a coarse powder and place in a bowl. 3. Melt chocolate candy in microwave safe bowl. 4. Dip half of marshmallows in melted chocolate then top with crushed candy cane. 5. Serve with hot chocolate and enjoy!

Follow Growing Up in the Valley on Pinterest for more Holiday craft project ideas.

SWIM LESSONS

MEMBER PACKAGES

YOUTH PROGRAMS

GIVE EXPERIENCES RATHER THAN STUFF 24

Growing Up • December 2016

Toys...Clothes...Electronics Having a hard time deciding what to get the child or teen on your list? Consider a YMCA of Roanoke Valley Gift Certificate. A year later, they’ll still be talking about their experience at the Y. Learn more: ymcaroanoke.org/holidaygift


Provided by Laurissa Grubb from Blue Eagle® Credit Union What’s Your Time Worth? It’s hard to ignore the appeal of making real money online—after all, we live in a world where bloggers land book and movie deals, where top YouTubers are multimillionaires and where celebrities collect thousands of dollars in exchange for a single sponsored tweet. While some of us dream of a wildly successful Internet career, the rest of us are happy to settle for online earnings that are a little more modest. Thousands of money-making opportunities are just a web search away. Whether you’re selling your old stuff, scoping out freelance opportunities or running your own digital storefront, there are tools and resources to help you along every step of the way. In recent years, a new approach to making a quick buck online has been gaining traction: online rewards programs where you can earn money by performing a variety of online activities. Some sites are based on consumer activities (e.g., online shopping, submitting product reviews, watching video promotions), while others are geared towards data-related activities (taking surveys, image tagging, transcribing information). Though the sites vary in nature, they share some commonalities: they are built around “microtasks”—online activities that do not require much time or experience to complete. Microtask and shopping rewards websites are appealing because of their perceived easiness. Most of their paid activities can be completed in mere minutes and almost anyone can do it— it doesn’t get much better than that, right? Other ways of making money online suddenly seem slow and laborintensive by comparison. Why spend time and energy getting a freelance gig when you can sit around filling out surveys instead? Well, before you go signing up for every free trial and installing every search bar plug-in, consider that the selling points (Easy! Fast! No experience

necessary!) on these websites also serve as red flags that this type of money-making may not be worth your while. The following questions can help you weed out the underpaid clickbait from the better-paid gigs: 1) What’s the “hourly wage”? This might seem like an obvious first step, but comparing the real hours you’re spending to the real money you’re earning is an incredibly helpful tool in determining whether or not an online pursuit is worth your time. Many rewards sites use point systems in which points need to be accumulated before they can be redeemed. Point systems are really great at obscuring how much you’re actually earning, so take the time to figure out the approximate cash value of a single

fewest barriers have the most people competing for them and therefore tend to pay less. A little know-how can go a long way, so look for opportunities to complete slightly higher-paying activities: for example, submitting a video product review will likely earn you more credits than watching a 30-second ad. 3) What are you willing to compromise? Sometimes the ease and convenience of microtask and rewards sites comes at the price of your personal data and online identity. How much is your personal information worth to you? Would you be okay with a fuller inbox (and mailbox!) as a result of filling out surveys and promotional offers? Are you comfortable linking your social media accounts to the product reviews you submit? Are you willing to sell out your ‘likes’ and ‘faves’? Taking stock of your web presence and browsing habits can help you figure out how much you’re willing to compromise for some extra spending cash. ________________

point. If it takes 500 points to redeem a $5 gift card, for example, a point is worth roughly $0.01. Completing a survey for 25 points sounds decent, but (following this example) if the survey takes 10 minutes to complete, the reality is that you’re working at a rate of $1.50 per hour, which sounds a lot less decent. 2) How much talent or expertise does the gig require? When considering joining a microtask or shopping rewards website, evaluate the sort of activities you’d be engaging in. Do any conditions or restrictions apply, or can anyone with an Internet connection do the task? As a rule of thumb, online gigs with the

Microtask and shopping rewards sites, although increasingly popular, generally aren’t practical options for any substantial level of online income. That doesn’t mean they have to be avoided completely—if you’re happy clicking around and then redeeming a gift card every couple of months, then all power to you! As with all sources of online income, it’s important to have realistic expectations and to treat your time as a valuable resource. Laurissa resides in Roanoke with her family and is the Director of Marketing for Blue Eagle© Credit Union. She has worked in credit unions for more than 20 years, has a passion for financial education, and believes stronger individuals make a stronger community. Growing Up • December 2016

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Event Calendar Dickens of Christmas

Fantasyland

Jingle Bell Run

Be a part of the memories for the Roanoke Valley’s premiere holiday celebration, The Roanoke Times Dickens of a Christmas! Celebrating its 34th anniversary, Dickens occurs on the first three Fridays in December.

In a warm, comfortable setting in the History Museum’s Library, Santa, dressed in his green shirt, suspenders, and lace up boots, with his coat hanging on the rack by the fireplace mantle, welcomes visitors into an inviting atmosphere. The children sit on the floor getting to know Santa at their own pace. Santa teaches important lessons of love, sharing, history, and more as he tells stories, sings, plays guitar, and interacts with the children through fun activities. Visitors also get to see Santa’s very own 200-year old sleigh. And there are other exciting surprises awaiting.

The Arthritis Foundation’s long-running Jingle Bell Run is a festive race that helps champion arthritis research and brings people from all walks of life together to say yes to furthering a great cause. Whether you prefer to walk or run, wear your tacky holiday sweater or tie jingle bells to your shoes, this 5K is sure to spread smiles and holiday cheer.

Downtown Roanoke Friday Nights, December 2, 9 and 16 6PM

History Museum of Western VA Saturday December 3, 10 and 17 Tuesday Dec. 20 and Wednesday 21

This free, family-friendly event happens annually in Downtown Roanoke and includes favorites like roasted chestnuts, carriage rides, street performers, and more! Stop by Growing Up In the Valley’s Santa Land and meet Santa and Mrs. Claus!

December 10 • 7:30 AM Patrick Henry Hotel, Roanoke

Birthday Parties • Group Events • Glow in the Dark Parties • Fundraisers

Trampolines & So Much More!

Basketball • Dodgeball • Jousting Pit • Fidget Ladder Pit • Airbag Pit Launch Tower • Arcade With Redemption Prizes • Bumper Cars Snack Bar • Lounge With Free Wifi • Electronic Lockers • 5 Party Rooms

540-404-9235 L J Launchingpadsalem.com I 1300 Intervale Drive, Salem VA, 24153

Growing Up • December 2016

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see full calendar online at growingupinthevalley.com/calendar

Calendar of Events

event happens annually in Downtown Roanoke and includes favorites like roasted chestnuts, carriage rides, street performers, and more! FREE

Vote for GUITV’s Bouncy Ball NYE Tree at the Hotel Roanoke!

On-Going Events: City Market Saturdays. Every Saturday at 11 AM through 2:30 PM at the City Market Building in Roanoke. Head to historic downtown city market for fun each weekend with live entertainment, street performers, “how-tos”, and more. FREE Kid Yoga. 11 AM on every first and third Saturday at the Life in Balance Counseling & Wellness Center in Christiansburg. Join us for a relaxing yoga class aimed at children ages 5-9. Classes are $8 each. Pscyhadelic Saturdays. 8 PM through 10 PM at the Launching Pad in Salem. Jump in lasers and black lights and turn up the beat! All ages are welcome, $17 per person. ROA Elmwood on Ice. November through February at Elmwood Park in Roanoke. The new outdoor ice skating rink, ROA’s Elmwood on Ice, is back for its second year, continuing an exciting new

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Growing Up • December 2016

entertainment option to Downtown Roanoke. Open November 23rd through February 14th, for 12 weeks of Downtown ice skating! Hours of operation: Monday through Thursday: 4 PM- 9 PM Fridays: 4 PM - 10 PM Saturdays: 11 AM - 10 PM Sundays: 12 PM - 7 PM Limited hours on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. $6 per skater and $2 skate rentals. The 34th annual Roanoke Times Dickens of a Christmas. First three Fridays in December. Be a part of the memories for the Roanoke Valley’s premiere holiday celebration, The Roanoke Times Dickens of a Christmas! This year’s schedule is: December 2nd from 5:30 PM to 10 PM featuring the City of Roanoke Christmas Tree Lighting at 6:15 PM. December 9th from 6 PM to 10 PM featuring the City of Roanoke Christmas Parade at 7 PM. December 16th, from 6 PM to 10 PM featuring the Coca Cola Snow Zone and RVSPCA Pet Costume Contest at 6:30 PM. This free, family-friendly

Fashions for Evergreens. Thursday, November 24 through Sunday, January 1 at the Hotel Roanoke. All proceeds benefit the United Way of the Roanoke Valley. From whimsical and outlandish displays to elegant and traditional designs, visitors of the 2016 Fashions for Evergreens will be inspired by the glamorous trees and gather ideas from professional decorators for a truly memorable holiday season. FREE Southwest Virginia Ballet presents The Nutcracker. 2 PM & 7 PM on Saturday, Dec. 10th, 3 PM on Sunday, Dec. 11th at the Berglund Performing Arts Theatre The Nutcracker’s beautiful music, lush scenery, and lavish costumes perfectly complement E.T.A. Hoffmann’s timeless story. Patrons of all ages will have their imaginations sparked as a Christmas tree grows to huge proportions, mice and soldiers battle, and snowflakes whirl through falling snow. Children will especially enjoy seeing candies and sweets from exotic lands come to life, and they will adore the gigantic Mother Ginger as she plays with her many gingerbread children. Tickets are $20-$46. Seussical the Musical. Tuesday, December 20 through Friday, December 23 at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke. “Oh, the thinks you can think” when Dr. Seuss’s magical, musical extravaganza hits the RCT stage in time for the

holidays. Your favorite Dr. Seuss characters including Horton the Elephant, the Cat in the Hat, JoJo, Gertrude McFuzz, Mayzie La Bird and other colorful characters collide and cavort in this fantastical story that provides fun and laughter for the whole family. $15 per person. The 12 Plays of Christmas. 8 PM on December 9-11, 16-17 at Community High in Roanoke. These 12 short plays were written and gathered by playwrights from around the nation, but primarily are based in the Roanoke area. This family-friendly show is full of laughter, tears, and even some carols! $10 per person. Ages 10 and under are free. Fantasyland. November 25 through December 20 at the History Museum of Western Virginia. In a warm, comfortable setting in the History Museum’s Library, Santa, dressed in his green shirt, suspenders, and lace up boots, with his coat hanging on the rack by the fireplace mantle, welcomes visitors into an inviting atmosphere. The children sit on the floor getting to know Santa at their own pace. Santa teaches important lessons of love, sharing, history, and more as he tells stories, sings, plays guitar or piano, and interacts with the children through fun activities. Visitors also get to see Santa’s very own 200year old sleigh. And there are other exciting surprises awaiting. Tickets can be purchased through Center in the Square’s box office or online.


Calendar of Events Please check online for times and availability as we do SELL OUT. $6.50 for adults, $4.50 for children (4-17) and $2.50 for children 3 and under.

Friday • December 2 Christmas Dance. 7 PM - 9 PM at the Christiansburg Recreational Center. Join us for our annual Christmas dance and visit from Santa. For ages 13 and up, pre-registration required. $2 per person.

Saturday • December 3 Gingerbread Festival. 11 AM - 4 PM at the Salem Library. Join us for our annual Christmas festival. Gingerbread house competition, kids activities and much more. Candy Cane Express. 10 AM - 5PM See December 4th for more info!

There are over

1,333 children

in foster care in our area alone.

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells. 10 AM and 2 PM at the Pridemore Playhouse in Radford. Junie B. Jones is psyched about the Christmas sing-along! Come with your classmates and find out how she does in this year’s Theatre for Young Audiences production based on the popular book series by Barbara Park. General admission is $8, Children’s admission is $4.

Sunday • December 4 Candy Cane Express. 1 PM through 5 PM at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke. Come and enjoy train rides, model trains, special holiday activities, and of course SANTA! Regular admission applies and $3 train rides available.

step in becoming a foster parent?

Call us today! 540-376-3967

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Growing Up • December 2016

CHIP Breakfast with Santa. 8:30 AM and 11:30 AM at the Hotel Roanoke. Enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast and a picture with Santa! Plus crafts and activities. $50 per adult, $24 per child ages 3-12, children 2 and under are free.

A Christmas Story. 10 AM at the Grandin Theatre. Enjoy this holiday classic with the whole family for FREE.

Sunday • December 11

Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir: “Songs Of The Season”. 1:30 PM and 4 PM at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke. Treat yourself to the angelic sounds of the Roanoke Annual Charlie Brown Valley Children’s Choir Christmas Concert. 6 this holiday season! PM at Roanoke City Main The RVCC concerts are Library. Join us for the celebrated for their annual Charlie Brown purity in tone, artistic Christmas concert performances, and featuring Lenny A holida y traditi on you won’t varied repertoire. Marcus! Enjoy a night want to miss! Let the sounds of of Holiday music, well-trained fresh food, and fellowship. voices usher in your holiday season! FREE Ticket pricing is $15-$21 with a $3 discount for children 12 and under.

Tuesday • December 6

Friday • December 9 Are you ready to take the next

Saturday • December 10

Harry Potter Magical Holiday Ball. 7 PM at local Barnes & Noble stores. Dress like your favorite Harry Potter character, wear your holiday best or come as you are and join us for dancing, music, activities and giveaways. FREE

Monday • December 12 WWE Live: Holiday Tour. 7:30 PM at the Berglund Colliseum. See all your favorite WWE superstars in action including: Intercontinental champion Dolph Ziggler, WWE tag team champions Rhyno and Heath Slater, The USOs, WWE women’s champion Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and many more! Tickets start at $17. $5 Parking fee.


Thursday • December 15 Night Howls. 5:15 PM through 7 PM at the Mill Mountain Zoo. Bundle up and bring your friends to the zoo to hear the wolves howl, the owls hoot and the big cats call! Participants will begin the night indoors enjoying hot cider and cookies while a zookeeper speaks about nocturnal animals and the noises they make. Guests will then proceed outdoors for a guided tour of the zoo in the dark to observe the creatures and enjoy the spectacular views of the city at night! Reservations suggested to save your spot Member Children $9, Member Adults $12, Non-Member Children $12, NonMember Adults $15.

Friday • December 16 Prestige Christmas Spectacular. 4 PM through 8 PM at Prestige Gymnastics in Troutville.We have something here for EVERYONE, so come alone, come

with friends, or come with the family. Vendors will be set up for shopping. The kids will be enjoying Christmas cookie decorating, free hot cocoa and popcorn, and FREE PICTURES WITH SANTA! Other activities will inlcude letters to Santa, Christmas card making, and so much more! $3 per Adult, $1 per child, 2 years and younger are free.

Saturday • December 17 Holiday Tinkerfest. 11 AM through 3 PM at the Science Musuem of Western Virginia. Join us for some fun engineering challenges for the whole family! Work out your designs at home, then test them on our courses. Please see the website for complete challenge details: www.smwv.org. Free for museum members, included in regular admission for non-members.

Sunday • December 25 Merry Christmas from the Growing Up in the Valley Family!

Saturday • December 31 Growing Up in the Valley’s New Years at Noon. 10 AM through 2 PM at the Salem Civic Center. Join us for a family friendly New Year’s celebration! Activities will include: Bouncy Ball Drop at Noon - 20,000 balls! Inflatable Jump Houses, Obstacle Course, Laser Tag Arena by Laser Tag Source, Live Performance by Einstein’s Monkey, Balloon Animals by Balloon Dude Travis, Face Painting by Wild Child Face Painting, Caricatures by Kyle Edgell Magic Show by Vertical Kids Entertainment, Casino Games, Silent Auction Items and more! $7 per person or buy a family 4-pack of tickets for $25 online!

Growing Up • December 2016

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'Tis the season to set sail. Ready for some holiday magic? Disney Cruise Line is decking

the hulls with festive fun for everyone—including a tree-lighting

celebration, the Winter Wonderland Ball, a visit from Santa and more.

Very Merrytime Cruises Early Nov.–Dec. 25

DCL-16-49765 ©Disney Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas

Sail away for this limited-time celebration! Contact us today.

Just A Dream Away Travel LLC Jennifer Harris, Owner & Travel Planner www.JustADreamAwayTravel.com jenn@justadreamawaytravel.com 540-293-5132


DEC 20-23 Tickets: 540-345-2550, or go online!

iCaL SeU sMSusical

roanokechildrenstheatre.org

Seussical

SHOW SPONSORS

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SEASON SPONSORS

The


(540) 389-5074 • Macado’s 4 PM - 9 PM • 12 & under, $1 child meal per paid adult All Locations in Roanoke & Salem (540) 776-9884 • Town Center Tap House All Day • 12 & under, 2 children per paid adult 90 Town Center St., Daleville (540) 591-9991 • The Barbecue Grill All Day • 10 & under, 1 child per paid adult 126 E Lee Ave., Vinton (540) 857-0030

Kids Eat Free Roanoke

kidseatfreeroanoke.com

Kids Eat Free Choose from over 35 restaurants for an affordable family night out on the town! kidseatfreeroanoke.com

Every Day

Monday

• Mama Maria’s 11 AM - 2 PM • 3 & under free buffet with paid adult W. Main St., Salem (540) 389-2848

• Country Cookin’ 4 PM - Close • 10 & under, 2 children per paid adult All Locations in Roanoke (540) 774-0199

• Golden Corral All Day • 3 & under free buffet with paid adult 1441 Towne Square Blvd., Roanoke (540) 563-8826

• Famous Anthony’s 3 PM - Close • 1 child per paid adult All Locations in Roanoke, Salem, & Vinton (540) 362-1400

• Shoney’s All Day • 4 & under, free kids meal with adult entree purchase. Drink not included 2673 Lee Highway, Troutville (540) 992-6400

• McAlister’s Deli 5 PM - Close • 2 children per paid adult 2063 Colonial Ave., Roanoke (540) 204-4407

• Lil Cucci’s All Day (Closed Sunday & Monday) • 10 & under, 1 child per adult meal 1396 Roanoke Rd., Daleville (540) 966-5923

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Growing Up • December 2016

• Firehouse Subs All Day • 12 & under, 1 child per paid adult Colonial Ave, Town Square & Salem only (540) 345-3131

• Buffalo Wild Wings 4 PM - 9 PM • 12 & under, 1 child per paid adult All Locations (540) 725-9464 • IHOP 4 PM - 8 PM • 12 & under, 1 child per paid adult

• Pizza Hut 5 PM - Close • 10 & under, free buffet per paid adult 1016 Hershberger Rd., Roanoke (540) 362-3834

Valley View Location only, Roanoke (540) 265-4289 • El Rio Mexican Grill All Day • 10 & under, 1 child per paid adult 4208 Electric Rd., Roanoke (540) 685-4343

• Ruby Tuesday 5 PM - Close • 11 & under, 1 child per paid adult Electric Rd., Roanoke (540) 265-9301 Please

Take Note:

• Firehouse Subs • K&W Restaurant deals All Day • 11 & All Day • 12 & change quickly and under, 2 children under, 1 child often without notice. per paid adult per paid adult Growing Up in the Valley combo,dine in Hershberger strongly reccommends only Rd. Roanoke calling ahead to confirm 800 University any deal listed. This listing (540) 563-4977 City Blvd, is for informational Blacksburg purposes only and does (540) 961-0371

not guarantee a discount.

• The Green Goat All Day • 12 & under, 1 child per paid adult 802 Wiley Dr. SW, Roanoke (540) 904-6091

Tuesday

• Brambleton Deli 11 AM - 9 PM • 12 & under, 1 child per paid adult 3655 Brambleton Ave., Roanoke (540) 774-4554 • Denny’s 4 PM - 10 PM • 12 & under, 1 child per paid adult All Locations Roanoke & Salem

Wednesday

• Dogwood 4 PM - Close • 10 & under, per paid adult 106 E. Lee Ave., Vinton (540) 343-6549 • The Quarter All Day • 12 & under, 1 child per paid adult 19 Salem Ave., Roanoke (540) 342-2990


• Pizza Pasta Pit 4 PM - 9 PM • 1 child per paid adult. Drink not included. 1713 Riverview Dr., Salem (540) 387-2885

• Jerry’s Family Restaurant 4 PM - Close • 6 & under, 1 child per adult meal purchase 1340 E. Washington Ave., Vinton (540) 343-4400

• IHOP 4 PM - 8 PM • 12 & under, 1 child per paid adult Valley View Location only, Roanoke (540) 265-4289

Friday

• T.G.I.Fridays All Day • 12 & under 1 with paying adult 4869 Valley View Blvd., Roanoke (540) 362-1475

• Steak n’ Shake All Day • 12 & under 1 free per paid $10.00 adult 1309 Hershberger Rd., Roanoke (540) 400-8825

Thursday

• CiCi’s Pizza All Day • 10 & under .99 cents child buffet per adult buffet All Locations, Roanoke (540) 344-7711 • The Roanoker 4:30 PM - Close • 12 & under, 2 children per paid adult 2522 Colonial Ave., Roanoke (540) 344-7746

• Famous Anthony’s 12 PM - Close • 1 child per adult meal All Locations Roanoke, Salem, Vinton (540) 362-1400

Sunday

See Everyday Deals!

Saturday

• Tokyo Express 11 AM - 3 PM • 4 & under free buffet per paid adult 1940 W Main St., Salem (540) 389-6303 • IHOP 4 PM - 8 PM • 12 & under, 1 child per paid adult Valley View Location only, Roanoke (540) 265-4289

• Pizza Den 5 PM - 8:30 PM • 10 & under free buffet per paid adult buffet and drink purchase All locations Roanoke, Salem (540) 389-1111 • Local Roots 5 PM -7 PM • 5 & under eat for free, discount for ages 5-7 per paid adult 1314 Grandin Rd., Roanoke (540) 206-2610 • Ragazzi’s 11 AM - 4 PM • 10 & under with paid adult 3843 Electric Rd., Roanoke (540) 989-9022

• Jimmy V’s Restaurant All Day • 4 & under kids meal only $2.50 3403 Brandon Ave., Roanoke (540) 345-7311 • Steak n’ Shake All Day • 12 & under 1 free with paying $10.00 adult 1309 Hershberger Rd., Roanoke (540) 400-8825 • Moe’s Southwestern Grill All Day • 1 free per paid adult All Roanoke & Blacksburg locations • Firehouse Subs All Day • 12 and Under 1 free per paid adult Keagy Road, Roanoke 540-204-4471 • O’Charley’s All Day • 10 and Under 1 free per paid adult Valley View, Roanoke 540-563-9870

• T.G.I.Fridays All Day • 12 & under 1 with paying adult 4869 Valley View Blvd., Roanoke (540) 362-1475

To explore and develop at their own pace To be able to respond to teachable moments and student interest To engage in off campus learning and community enrichment For parents to be part of the educational process To play and be a child

www.communityschool.net Growing Up • December 2016

37


Elf on the Shelf

“The fact that I was panicking over Sparky meant that maybe, just maybe, this elf-on-the-shelf thing was too much for me.”

Keeps kids nice; Makes parents crazy

I’ll admit it. I’m gullible. I fell for the Elf on a Shelf craze. The premise: The elf — we named him Sparky — sits on a shelf and watches my boys from the moment they wake until they fall to sleep. Each night, Sparky flies off to the North Pole to reports all the nice and naughty things the kids did throughout the day. Sparky returns to our home every morning and parks his cute elf-self in a different spot. The kids shoot out of bed like they are shot out of a cannon to look for the pesky elf. What fun has he gotten himself into now?! Is he in the sugar bowl? Wrapping presents? Eating the candy canes? Oh, you silly elf! You are such fun! This is going to be awesome and magical, and the kids will tell stories about Sparky to their kids and grandkids, I told my husband. “We’ll make memories!” I gushed. “Oh we’ll make memories,” he replied. “But I don’t think we’re talking about the same kind of memories.”

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Growing Up • December 2016

This reality: I was three days into the program before I swore Sparky was an international spy watching for my worst parenting moments. Not only was I supposed to move Sparky every night, but I had to find something for him to do! And unless he was willing to scrub my kitchen floor or clean the boys’ bathroom, I was out of ideas. Sparky didn’t move for a week. At first, I told the boys he was happy in his spot and didn’t want to move. Then, I told them that Sparky wasn’t feeling well and needed a few days off. A few days later, our youngest, asked if Sparky was dead. I moved him that night and included a note. “I’m so sorry I didn’t move from my spot,” he wrote. “Instead of going to the North Pole every night, I’ve been going on dates with the Tooth Fairy! I promise to do better!” The boys, bless their hearts, bought it. Like every good mother, I promised to do better. Sparky moved the next two nights. Then he sat for another week, not moving, not going to the North Pole.

Every morning, a panic pulsed through me. Sparky! I forgot to move Sparky! I don’t panic when I send my kid to school wearing two separate shoes. The fact that I was panicking over Sparky meant that maybe — just maybe — this elf-on-the-shelf thing was too much for me. I gave up. Sparky went back in his box and put out of sight. He left a note for the boys. “Santa called me back to the North Pole for the rest of the Christmas season,” the note read. “He says that you’re on the Nice List and will receive a lot of presents this year!” Thankfully, Sparky didn’t tell the boys that their mother is a dingbat and fails miserably at cute-and-fun holiday traditions. Peg McGuire lives in Roanoke with her patient husband, Joe. Timothy and Charlie are their boys. For unknown reasons, they refuse to wear pants. Peg blogs at CrankyPantsCaravan.com.


Growing Up In the Valley’s

Virginia

Family Expo Saturday, February 11 10 AM - 4 PM Sheraton Roanoke Over 70 Booths of Fun and Information for Families of All Ages. Live Entertainment, Giveaways, Prizes & More!

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CUrioUs Kids.

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From our hospitals to our pediatric offices to the educational programs we offer throughout the region, Carilion Children’s is dedicated to the brave kids, the strong kids, the big and small kids—all kids.

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Growing Up In the Valley December 2016