a product message image
{' '} {' '}
Limited time offer
SAVE % on your upgrade

Page 1



April 2020 • Volume 8 • Issue 8






My Adoption Story

a local family’s experience with adoption

Social Distancing how to maintain relationships from a distance

s, e m a G s e l z z u P e & Mor

May 4 – 8

Teacher Appreciation Week The Virginia Lottery invites Virginians to send thank-you notes to as many Virginia public school teachers as possible! Visit thankateacherva.com through May 8 to send a thank-you note and learn how two lucky teachers will each win a Virginia-themed trip.

Make memories in your dream home. Trust me to help you find it.




leading off: publisher’s note Dear friends, Things sure have gotten weird all of a sudden, haven’t they? We can’t hang out with our friends anymore, there’s no toilet paper to be found, and our kids have all become homeschoolers. As we all figure out how to navigate this new world of virtual learning, working from home, and social distancing, there are bound to be huge frustrations. I mean, cabin fever is about to get real. But join us, your RVFM family, in refusing to let those frustrating moments define our existence. There are so many things to love about life right now: pretty days and ample time for family walks or bike rides, opportunities to sit around the table and play board games or do puzzles, a forced slow-down of our normally over-scheduled days, time to read books and talk with each other, and the overwhelming good pouring out of people in our community.

I’m talking sidewalk-chalk “thank-yous,” teachers volunteering their time to personally deliver learning packets to their students, tens of thousands of meals being delivered to kids all over the Valley by staff in multiple school districts, regular people sewing face masks at home for our medical heroes to use, and more. I know things are rough now, but they will get better. Just be sure to take care of yourself and your loved ones (you’ll find some great tips in this issue for staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic), keep your head up, and remember that we as a community will get through this. If there is anything we at Roanoke Valley Family can do for you and your family, reach out to us on Facebook or email us at info@ virginiafamily.com.

The Eagan Family

Stay well!

Andrea, Josh, Anika and Evelyn

Proud Members of the Parenting Media Association since 2013! Learn more at www.parentmedia.org. 7

C o n t a c t Us: P.O. Box 4484, Roanoke, VA 24015 540-251-1660 www.roanoke.family


Josh & Andrea Eagan

josh@virginiafamily.com • Anika and Evelyn’s Parents

Creative Director Tracy Fisher

Anika and Evelyn Taking Selfies on Dad’s Phone

Read Our Other Publications




Kimberly Emory • Sandi Schwartz Susan Baldani • Lesley Butterfield-Harrop Rachel Levine • Jacqueline Moon

Connect With Us /growingupinthevalley

tracy@virginiafamily.com • Charlotte and Evelyn’s Mom

Community Relations Director

We welcome reader comments, submissions, and the support of advertisers.

jeanne@virginiafamily.com • Parker and Connor’s Mom

We reserve the right to refuse or edit any materials submitted to us as we deem inappropriate for our audience. Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with any submission to be returned. We do not accept responsibility for unsolicited materials.

Jeanne Lawrence


Jacqueline Moon

jackie@virginiafamily.com • Elijah’s Mom, and Luke and Blair’s Stepmom

Sales Assistants Ani & Evie Eagan

sales@virginiafamily.com • Bauer and Chloe’s Owners


John Morris • COV Designs john@covdesigns.com

Roanoke Valley Family and www.roanoke.family are published by MoFat Publishing. Roanoke Valley Family is published monthly. The views and the opinions expressed by the writers and advertisers do not necessarily represent those of Roanoke Valley Family, its staff, or its contributors. While multiple businesses, schools, and organizations are represented in our pages, and magazines are often distributed to students according to the policies and procedures of each school district, this is not a publication coordinated or endorsed by any public or private school district, nor is it a publication with any religious or political objectives. As a mass media outlet, it is our oath and responsibility to communicate with due diligence, through our content, the plurality of views and opinions reflected in our audience of Central and Southwest Virginia. Readers are strongly encouraged to verify information with programs and businesses directly. Parents are urged to thoroughly research any decisions involving their children. Copyright 2019 by MoFat Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. All material, including artwork, advertisements, and editorials, may not be reproduced without the expressed written consent of the publisher.




Submit Your Ideas Share your story ideas with us by emailing jackie@virginiafamily.com

© Copyright 2020 Mofat Publishing

Inside April 8 At Home Entertainment

Stuck inside? Find out how you can join in your favorite activities digitally!

16 Meet Your Neighbor

Meet the family behind Roanoke’s new favorite burger spot- FarmBurguesa!

34 Social Distancing and Your Family

Spending your time at home can be isolating and upsetting! Find a great new app to keep in touch with friends or discover a new game, video or book to entertain your family while we all strive to do what we can to flatten the curve.

26 My Adoption Story Read about a local family’s experience with adoption.

40 Rachel’s Reads

Spring has sprung and these books will help you and your family celebrate the new greenery!

14 Staying Safe & Supporting Local Restaurants

Need a break from cooking dinner? Many of our local restaurants are offering pick-up or delivery options during this crisis. Some have even expanded their menu to include family-sized portions.

24 Outdoor Living in 2020 42 Activity Pages

Try your hand at our spring-themed puzzles and games!

Coronavirus and Your Family Learn the details of this new pandemic

Read on page 34

Introducing Emilio Carrasco our April Cover Kid! He enjoys playing Fall of Cybertron on the Xbox, collecting Transformers, and assembling Legos. He loves playing outside with his dogs, Donut and Cupcake. Emilio is currently illustrating his book entitled “My Dog Blu,” which will be published early this summer.

Y AT HOME Here for our community during the most difficult of times. Stay active with our free virtual classes. www.ymcavbr.org

MORE THAN 85% OF BRAIN DEVELOPMENT HAPPENS BEFORE THE AGE OF 5. Prepare your child for success in school and in life. Fill out a Smart2Start application for your child, from birth to age 5, to secure affordable, high-quality childcare for the upcoming school year. Signing up is easy and free!

Visit smart2start.org or call (540) 283-2785 for more information or to enroll your child today!

the valley.

news. meet your neighbor. social distancing

At The Grandin... We Know How To Make You Smile! Our Kids Deal comes with popcorn, a drink, and candy for just $5.25!

Thank You For Watching Local! The Grandin Theatre • 1310 Grandin Road • Roanoke, VA 24015 • 540-345-6377 • grandintheatre.com

At-Home Entertainment

Dozens of local and national artists, businesses, libraries, and museums are providing tons of entertainment and educational videos for families to use during this pandemic and time of social distancing. We’ve gathered some of our favorites to share with you. Morning Story Time with Roanoke Public Library

Join our local librarians as they read children’s books aloud on their YouTube channel, Roanoke Public Libaries, every morning at 10 AM EST!

Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems

kennedy-center.org | Daily, 1 PM EST Draw with one of our favorite children’s authors - of Elephant and Piggie fame! You can send your family’s questions and art to LUNCHDOODLES@kennedy-center. org

Beginner Virtual Karate Class with Super Kicks Karate Join our local masters as they lead your family through a beginner karate class at home! These classes are a great way for the entire family to get some physical movement during the day. Join them on Facebook Live every weekday at 4:30 PM EST.


Family • April 2020

Dinner with Jim Gaffigan Nightly on YouTube and Instagram @jimgaffigan

We love Jim Gaffigan for his comedy, which often features his large and exciting family! They’ve invited fans to join them for dinner conversation and charades.

Boredom Busters with Kids Square Children’s Museum One of Roanoke Valley Family’s FAVORITE local museums is going on Facebook Live DAILY (times vary, follow their Facebook page for details) and giving families great play-along ideas! Science experiments, pretend-play, story times, puppet shows and more! Not only that, they are giving away boredom buster kits, doing live shout outs to local kids and tons of fun surprises to keep every local family entertained while the museum is closed.

Virtual Zoo Visits Across America Zoos across the country have closed to the public, but the animals are still having lots of fun! The following zoos and aquariums have live stream videos of animal exhibits, up-close animal investigations and even silly videos of penguins touring the zoos themselves! We’ve listed their social media handles and most common hashtags they use to share their videos. Dallas Zoo | @DallasZoo | #BringTheZooToYou Shedd Aquarium | @Shed_Aquarium Cincinnati Zoo | @CincinnatiZoo | #ZooHomeSafari Oregon Zoo | @OregonZoo San Diego Zoo | @SanDiegoZoo |#AnimalCams As of printing, our local zoo - Mill Mountain Zoo - was continuing their regular feed of animal photos and behind-the-scenes videos of their exhibit expansions and animal care!

Virtual Draw Along with BeckaDoodles Love kitties? local artist BeckaDoodles will be livestreaming as she draws her adorable signature kittens! Your family can draw along and share your art with others! Join her on her Facebook page, BeckaDoodles The Art of Cute.

Family • April 2020


Teacher of the Month Melanie Potter

Nominated by Breiton Hackworth

around trying to stay away from him so we didn’t get ‘stuck’ together! The other students joined in quickly to help me not get stuck to him or to help us get unstuck when he got too close. I love how easily they can make up a game and have fun. And it was a wonderful break from being an adult for a few minutes!”

FUN FACTS Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a kindergarten teacher? A: I’d probably be assisting my husband with his ministry job as a chaplain to local police officers and their families.

Q: What would your students be surprised to know about you? A: I used to be very quiet and shy when I was a child. I had such a soft voice that it was hard for people to hear and understand me.

Congrats to the Roanoke Valley Family teacher of the month, Melanie Potter! Mrs. Potter is a kindergarten teacher at Grandin Court Elementary, and was nominated by one of her students, Breiton Hackworth! She’s been teaching kindergarten for fifteen years, ten of which have been at Grandin Court. And she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. “My favorite part about teaching kindergarten,” Mrs. Potter said, is seeing the look of wonder and excitement in students’ eyes when they learn something new. I love how enthusiastic they are about learning!” A balance of high expectations and a loving, fun nature is what Mrs. Potter says helps make her classroom run smoothly. “If they’re having fun


Family • April 2020

learning,” she said, “they don’t have time to focus on misbehaving. I also work hard to create a culture that is encouraging and positive.” And that’s so important, because, as studies have shown, the earlyeducation classroom environment is key in cultivating positive behavior in kids. Warm teacher-student relationships build that positive foundation in their lives, and that’s what makes Mrs. Potter such an excellent educator. It’s like Breiton said when he nominated her, “She is the best teacher because she is nice to me and loves me.” One of the greatest things about teaching this age group, Mrs. Potter said, is the kids’ imaginations. “One of my students made up a game the other week while we were on the playground. If he got too close to me, we stuck together. I ended up running

Q: What do you like to do in your free time? A: I love reading, playing with my dogs, and doing ministry with my husband.

Q: At the end of the school year, what do you want your students to take with them? A: I want them to remember how important — and fun — it is to be a “bucket filler.” Essentially, that means being nice and loving toward others, even when it’s hard.

her t o m y to m ster i s y m to ter h g u a d to my tner ar to my p nd ie to my fr re utu to the f to me

I MADE A PROMISE. her t o m y to m er t s i s y to m hter g u a d y to m er h t r o e n m t r y a to m to my p nd e r e A t g/rac r V s i , o . s e e e i k r y g to my f re to m enuugeht|erRoanmoenvabluerid utu eyAdva 020 | ko to the f plex | Retsoervm 12th, 2r tner r e b s Ceom ay, Septemto my pa rtm o o t p S aturd dge

p r u o y s t’ a h W

end i r f y m to e r u t u f e to th to me

’s E E! S River VENT DAT E NEW


? e s i rom


Social Distancing and Your Family

Zoom www.zoom.us Video Conferencing Free & Paid Plan options

Marco Polo www.marcopolo.me Video Messenger Free

Words With Friends 2 Messenger Kids www.zynga.com www.messengerkids.com Multiplayer Word Facebook Messenger Puzzle Game for children Free with in-app Free with parental purchases controls

Netflix Party www.netflixparty.com Watch Netflix with your friends Desktop Only

Transcendent Mozart NEW DATE JUNE 26 • 6:00 PM Shaftman Performance Hall Jefferson Center


Family • April 2020

Humans are social creatures - we’ve built our societies on this fact. We give new parents advice such as “It takes a village to raise a child” and remind each other than “no man is an island.” Extroverted or introverted, we need each other. But what does that community mean when it is in everyone’s interest to stay as far apart as physically possible? Thankfully, with today’s technology, we have many options to help keep our relationships with neighbors, teachers, family and friends. Roanoke Valley Family has gathered some of our favorite apps, educational programs, exercise videos and more that will not only keep your family entertained, but bonded with their community!

Ticket to Ride www.daysofwonder.com Multiplayer Board Game app $3.99 iOS/ $6.99 Android






Kids Artspot

scholastic.com/learnathome free Scholastic is well-known for their educational resources. During this crisis, they have curated a free set of Learning at Home lesson plans and resources for families to use. Their Learn at Home plan includes 3 hours of daily instruction for up to 4 weeks for each grade level.

vooks.com 1 free year for educators (including homeschool), $4.99/mo Now your favorite children’s illustrated stories are animated videos! These beautiful video-books (or vooks) are a great way to keep kids’ attention during a lesson or play in the background during a quiet time.

NPR’s But Why?

Audible Stories

But Why is a show led by you, kids! You ask the questions and we find the answers. It’s a big interesting world out there. On But Why, we tackle topics large and small about nature, words, even the end of the world.

Free audiobooks, including classics, fairy tales, self-help and modern fiction.

npr.org free


kidnuz.org free This is a newscast all their own - one that delivers current events in a kid-friendly package, sparks curiosity, and gets kids asking critical questions. KidNuz strives to engage the next generation with news that will inform without fear and educate without opinion. Why? Because kids are curious, the world is fascinating and knowledge is power!

stories.audible.com free

kidsartspot.com 14-day free trial, $7.99/mo Grab some common art supplies you’re sure to have on hand and follow along with simple-to-use, artist-led video instructions.

Google Arts & Culture artsandculture.google.com free

Take a virtual tour of some of the world’s most famous museums, landmarks and cultural sites, study the artworks and watch short videos discussing famous artists’ lives, work and inspiration.

Virtual Artful Journeys

Watch CrashCourse

thecrashcourse.com free Crash Course is one of the best ways to educate yourself, your classmates, and your family on YouTube! From courses like Astronomy to US History and Anatomy & Physiology it’s got you covered with an awesome variety of AP high school curriculum topics. With various witty hosts at your service, you won’t even notice you’re getting smarter.

Curiosity Stream curiositystream.com $2.99/mo

It’s Netflix but for edcuational videos! Great documentaries, nature shows and more can be found on Curiosity Stream.

facebook.com/TaubmanMuseum free Taubman Museum’s virtual Artful Journeys class is a great option for families to check out! With this free digital offering, you can evoke your child’s creative curiosity by working with a variety of materials and build their knowledge of artistic concepts. Working with our instructors, your child can create a piece of art to grow their understanding and love of art history and studio art.

Move Cosmic Kids

youtube.com/cosmickidsyoga free On-demand instructional videos of yoga, mindfulness and relaxation designed specially for kids aged 3+, used in schools and homes all over the world.

Every Breath You Take The Music of Sting and the Police NEW DATE JUNE 19 - 7:30 PM Salem Civic Center

tickets and information at rso.com Family • April 2020


l ley ’s a V e k o n a o R Pa r k e n i l o p m a r On ly T

Stay Safe &

Support Local

Restaurants While we shouldn’t eat IN our favorite local restaurants, many have adapted their menu for curbside pick up or delivery! Delivery services like GrubHub or UberEats have lowered or eliminated delivery fees and they have no-contact delivery options.

The Village Grill 1802 Memorial Avenue SW, Roanoke • (540) 767-0057 Family Style Menu Pick Up

B o o k Yo u r rty Bi r t hday Pa To day !

Scratch Biscuit Company

1820 Memorial Avenue SW, Roanoke • (540) 855-0882 Pick Up & 5-Mile Radius Delivery Available

Sweet Donkey Coffee

2108 Broadway Ave SW, Roanoke • (540) 491-0004 Pick Up & Cloosiv Delivery


2123 Crystal Spring Ave, Roanoke • (540) 204-3100 Pick Up & At-Home Baking Jars Available

Bobby’s Hot & Cheesy and Bubblecakes

2071 Colonial Avenue, Roanoke • (540) 795-4217 Pick Up, DoorDash & Grubhub Delivery

Fork in the Alley 2123 Crystal Spring Ave Roanoke • (540) 982-3675 Pick-Up Available

launchingpadsalem.com 1300 Intervale Drive Salem VA 24153


Evie’s Bakery & Bistro


New York Pizza

Angelle’s Diner

Wall Street Tavern

Hokie House

1212 4th St SW Roanoke • (540) 343-4543 Pick Up Available

708 Hardy Rd, Vinton (540) 342-2933 Pick Up, DoorDash & Grubhub Delivery

32 Market Sq, Roanoke (540) 342-9555 Take and Bake Kits Pick Up, GrubHub Delivery

1 Campbell, Roanoke (540) 595-9071 Pick Up & Delivery

2609 Lee Hwy Troutville • (540) 5917208 Curbside Pick Up

322 N Main St Blacksburg, Virginia (540) 552-0280 Pick up & Delivery

This is not a complete list of every local restaurant in our area-call your family’s favorite and see what options they have available to keep you safe AND fed.


& More!

Photos from The Village Grill and Pastel

Need Lunch? Sometimes when school is out for a long time kids can go hungry. The following restaurants and businesses have free (or cheap) children’s meals available. Cheesesteak Factory & Jerk House Our Daily Bread - Salem Wokology

Evie’s Bakery & Bistro Burger King - App Only Hokie House Angelle’s Diner Feeding Southwest Virginia Note: ALL public school systems also have lunch programs in place for their students.

Bumper Cars Ninja Warrior Course Basketball Dodgeball Jousting Pit Fidget Ladder Airbag Pit Launch Tower Arcade with prizes Flight Training Wall Snack Bar 5 Party Rooms

Meet Your Neighbors

the owners of FarmBurguesa! FarmBurguesa, a local burger place that now has two locations in the Roanoke area, in Vinton and in Grandin Village, quickly became a favorite after its launch in 2018. What’s so special about it is that it’s the Roanoke Valley’s first and only farm-to-table burger joint — and that its food is absolutely delicious. Customers have raved on Facebook, saying “Wow! This place will surely be the gem of Vinton,” and “Few things in life are half as good as that burger tasted.” FarmBurguesa is owned by Jimmy Delgado, his fiancée Kat Pascal, Kat’s brother Andres Pascal, and his wife Ashley Overbay. Their main focus: family. “We’re a foodie family,” said Kat. “We love trying all the local restaurants together and with our children. I volunteer with the PTA at our sons Julian and Jacob’s school, and they play soccer and we enjoy going to their games as a family. Jimmy is a soccer fanatic, so we are always watching and attending games together.” Andres and Ashley are all about family, too, spending their free time at the YMCA, their kids’ sports events, and Rail Yard Dawg hockey games. They also like to create costumes for cosplay


Family • April 2020

“We bring our Colombian roots to the table by using sauces, seasonings, and toppings in a combination inspired by the flavors we grew up with.” contests! Their children, Gavin and Chloe, both love dressing up for local comic conventions and being creative in helping make their costumes. Ashley is on the Northside High School Athletic Booster Club and is very active with the NSHS school sports. Gavin and Chloe both play sports and take karate, as well. “We love anything we can do to spend family time together!” Kat said. Starting FarmBurguesa has brought their separate households even closer together, giving them more opportunities to spend time together — and the cousins love getting more time to play together, too.

Roanokers with a passion for Roanoke and its surrounding areas,” explained Kat. That’s why FarmBurguesa hosts events that benefit people in our area. Burgers for a Cause, for example, raises money for non-profit organizations — in February, that money went to Susan B. Komen Virginia Blue Ridge. They also do Burgers and Bootcamp, an initiative to promote healthy lifestyles. One of the best things about Roanoke is how it embraces diversity and different cultures, Kat said. “They’re doing it in a way that’s

Since FarmBurguesa is all about family and community, families can take comfort in knowing that the restaurant makes sure to only provide high-quality food, including locally sourced beef and produce. “It’s from our family to theirs,” said Kat. “We offer a transparent environment with an open kitchen. Both locations are family-friendly and fun for everyone.”

So how did it all begin? “We found a small but perfect space in Vinton, and we worked with lots of ideas,” said Kat. The families brainstormed concepts for a small-scale restaurant with good food and the best ingredients. “Jimmy came up with the name during a planning session, and it stuck,” Kat said. “We bring our Colombian roots to the table by using sauces, seasonings, and toppings in a combination inspired by the flavors we grew up with.” The Grandin Village location opened in December 2019. “It has been so exciting to be part of Grandin Village. We are having a ton of fun! We’re overjoyed at the reception the community has given us,” Kat said. “And it hasn’t been just the Vinton and Grandin communities, but all of Roanoke and surrounding areas, including other local business owners, have been so supportive of FarmBurguesa from the very beginning.” One of the things that makes FarmBurguesa different from other restaurants in the Roanoke Valley is their sense of community. “We are community driven. We are

team gives their input, the customers give feedback and support us, and everyone helps us grow and improve every day. The times we run into obstacles, which happens in every business, those are great for learning too! We are A-H-O-D — All Hands On Deck — at all times. What we’re doing is more than feeding people an awesome burger, and the feeling is so exhilarating I can barely contain it! We are creating experiences, not just serving burgers and fries.

The favorite kid selection so far? By far, it’s been the Tres Quesos, with its extra cheesiness (three cheeses on one burger!). Take a trip to FarmBurguesa when you get a chance and say hello to these exceptional neighbors! The Grandin location is at 1908 Memorial Ave SW, and the Vinton one is at 303 S Pollard Street. evolving every day — including supporting the fusion we have created with our unique gourmet burgers.”  The family’s passion shines through in the way they run their business. Kat described that passion, saying, “They say ‘do what you love.’ At this point, we’re following what we love and savoring the process. We have an incredible team who also loves the brand and supports our mission. The

There’s one other thing the FarmBurguesa family wants you to know: “We’re always happy to hear about what’s going on in your world, along with any projects or community-driven initiatives you’re doing. If there is any way we can help support your cause, e-mail us at contactus@ farmburguesa.com.” photos from Farmburgeusa Facebook

Family • April 2020


Community School’s

Strawberry Sprint This month marks the 40th Annual Strawberry Festival, and Community School is celebrating in a completely new way: the Strawberry Sprint Virtual 5K! How does a virtual 5K work, you ask? Don’t worry — there’s no need to run out and buy a VR headset. This 5K is virtual in the sense that you do it at your own pace, on your own time. Register at strawberryfestivalroanoke. org, and then do your run your way, at any time and any pace. That means all options are on the table! You can walk, jog, run, use the treadmill, hit the road, or even go for a hike. And it doesn’t have to happen all at once; some people choose to break the 5K up into several days. No matter how, when, or where you do it, everyone who registers for


Family • April 2020

the Strawberry Sprint receives an exclusive Strawberry Sprint medal. “For four decades, our community has come together to support the Strawberry Festival,” said Linda Roth, the executive director of Community School. “This year, we are looking forward to seeing our immediate community, as well as friends and families across the country, engage in this fun activity that brings people together in a new way.” Over the past several years, virtual runs have gained in popularity within the running community as a way for enthusiasts to join fellow runners in supporting a cause while adding to their unique race medal collections. Wide social media engagement creates an atmosphere of contagious fun and camaraderie around a

common event. If you’re new to virtual runs, you can learn more — and find a list of frequently asked questions — on the Strawberry Sprint web page. About Community School Since 1971, Community School has been putting children at the center of the learning process. Serving children from age three through middle school, they provide an education of the highest quality for children of all racial, cultural, religious, and economic backgrounds. The school nurtures children’s individual learning styles and fosters creative and analytical thinking. Community School’s students develop personal responsibility for their education and a passion for learning.


Strawberry Sprint

Virtual 5K


r e v E w o H

WHERE EVER Register for your race medal today at


Proceeds benefit Community School


• NEW! Half and Full-Day Camps • 20+ camps to choose from:

Clay, pottery, drawing, painting, printmaking, jewelry-making, and more!

• Small groups for individualized attention

spectacular TaubmanMuseum.org/Camp saturdays

110 Salem Avenue SE, Downtown Roanoke | 540.342.5760

family. home. health. together



540-985-6550 Michael Craft 4750 Valley View Blvd geico.com/roanoke

Limitations apply. See geico.com for more details. GEICO & affiliates. Washington, DC 20076 © 2019 GEICO

Maybe a woman wants to be a mother but is unable to have children. Maybe a man wants to be a father but is infertile or is single. Perhaps a same-sex couple wants to start a family. In these and other circumstances, people have options. They can adopt, they can be fertilized in vitro or undergo a host of other medical procedures — or they can opt for surrogacy. As Melissa Brisman, the founder of Reproductive Possibilities, explains, surrogacy — when a woman carries the baby of those who want to have children but can’t — is an incredibly special and intimate way to start a family. And one of the most important elements of this method is the courageous, selfless woman who acts as the Carrier. So, could you be a Carrier?

What Does Carrying Look Like?

Could You be a Carrier? by Jacqueline Moon

There is no love like the love of a parent for her children, and there’s no experience that can compare with the beautiful, complex, weighty, exciting, and fulfilling job of parenthood. So many people want that experience; so many want to know that love — but some, for one reason or another, can’t get there on their own.

If you’ve had a child of your own, then you get the gist of what it’s like to be pregnant. The difference as a Carrier is that you’re not growing your own little one inside you, but someone else’s. With the help of the Reproductive Possibilities team, you’ll establish a relationship with the Intended Parents, who will be trusting you to take good care of their baby until she or he enters the world. You’ll also form a relationship with your RP coordinator, who will stay in touch to make sure you’re feeling well and answer any questions you have. You’ll go to medical appointments like any pregnancy, but the difference is that you won’t foot the bill.

Who Can Be a Carrier? At RP, a Carrier is a woman who has had at least one child before, is a non-smoker, is between 21 and 44 years old, has a BMI of 18 to 35, and lives in the United States.

Why Be a Carrier? There are lots of reasons you might want to be a surrogate. You might be inspired by the thought of giving the gift of life to another family. You may also enjoy the idea of being helpful while earning money at the same time (yes, RP compensates their surrogates — $35,000 to $50,000, plus additional expenses). Perhaps you would like a different perspective on motherhood, or maybe you just love being pregnant but


Family • April 2020

What Do Other Carriers Say About It?

are happy with the size of your family.

What about... There are undoubtedly plenty of “what-if” questions floating around your head. One of the ones Melissa hears frequently is “What if the Intended Parents decide halfway through the pregnancy that they don’t want the baby? Will I get stuck with the child?” The answer is no — there are loving guardians in place who will take the baby if that situation were to arise. Another is “What if I get emotionally attached to the baby?” And the answer is that, of course, you’ll care about the baby you’re carrying; however, most surrogates say that while they’re carrying the baby, they don’t form as close a bond as they did when carrying their own children.

Here are some comments past and current Carriers made about being a surrogate with Reproductive Possibilities: “Not only do I highly recommend RP, but the journey itself. I have been blessed with two wonderful families, and we still stay connected as much as we can (thank you social media). I found this practice to be very informative, thorough and efficient.” - Barb McMullen

“I completed my first surrogacy in October. It was the best experience I ever had! This agency is so kind and loving. I am currently in the process of blessing another family.”

You might wonder, “What if I don’t like the Intended Parents?” The good news here is that you, the surrogate, get to decide who you’re going to carry for. On the Carrier application, there are ten options to help narrow down the types of parents you’d be interested in. Intended parents view your profile and a conference call is set up between RP, you, and the Intended Parents. Afterward, you can decide whether or not to proceed.

“I love this agency and what it does for families that aren’t able to have their own children. I started the process of being a gestational Carrier in 2013. It’s a wonderful feeling to do this for a family and see how you can make someone so happy and complete their family. Reproductive Possibilities has been great in the whole process. They communicate, hear your concerns out, are very organized, and most importantly, they are like a family helping throughout the process.” – Cecilia Martinez

up carrying six beautiful babies for four wonderful families (2009, 2011, 2015, 2017), utilizing Reproductive Possibilities each time. If you’re interested in being a gestational Carrier, I’d highly recommend going through Reproductive Possibilities!” – Kristie Taylor “I completed my first surrogacy in October. It was the best experience I ever had! This agency is so kind and loving. I am currently in the process of blessing another family.” – Deana Seitz

How Do I Find Out More? There’s a plethora of information, both for prospective Carriers and Intended Parents, at reproductivepossibilities.com. There’s a contact form on the site where you can shoot the agency an email, and you can also reach out to them at (201) 505-0078.

Deana Seitz

“For years, I had known I wanted to be a gestational Carrier. I truly enjoyed pregnancy, and being a momma myself, my heart ached for infertile couples who wanted a baby but couldn’t achieve parenthood by natural means. I ended

Surrogate Mothers Needed! Call for Information

Find out more about Melissa Brisman, founder and sole owner of Reproductive Possibilities, on our website at virginiafamily.com/brisman.

Be Part of a miracle Earn up to $50,000 by giving the gift of life. The rewards are more than financial. We are seeking women ages 21-43, non-smokers with a healthy pregnancy history.


www.reproductivepossibilities.com Family • April 2020


Outdoor Living 2020

Bringing the INDOORS out. 

Curtis Burchett, REALTOR Long gone are the days of the folding chair and a few lawn darts out in the backyard near the charcoal grill. Today’s outdoor living spaces are evolving into extensions of the home with confortable confortable,but butdurable durable furniture, plush seating and decorative accents. If you want to expand your outdoor living space into a retreat you love, love -here hereare arethe thehottest hottesttrends trendswe’re we’re seeing for 2020. One project that is trending on Pinterest is garden rooms. These rooms are created by outdoor structures that are built or arranged to feel like an actual room. If you don’t want to construct a space of this type, you can accomplish a similar feeling by adding plants of varying heights to fill the space, or surround a path by different sized plants leading to

a destination with a bench or soft seating - that feels like a room - without the build. One of the biggest trends for this year is an outdoor kitchen bar - complete with refrigerator, lighting and a grill. If you want to go high-end, you can build out the area into your existing hardscaping. If you’re on a budget, you can get a similar feel with a moveable bar cart or kitchen cart. Pergolas are seeing a resurgance in popularity. Wooden pergolas have been around for years, but today’s modern pergolas can include vinyl, aluminum and fiberglass alternatives which are easier to maintain, are stronger and can last longer than traditional wood options.

Raised Garden Beds. These beds make gardening an option even for those with small yard spaces. Whether you plant vegetables or flowers, raised beds can offer architectural interest and beauty to your outdoor space. Raised beds are also an excellent option for pet owners since the beds can be raised high enough to keep Fido’s curious nose and digging paws away from your plants. Outdoor Fireplaces. Whether wood or gas, homeowners are looking to extend the season of their outdoor living spaces by using heating options that not only are functional, but beautiful as well. Outdoor fireplaces can be built into hardscaping and include features such as pizza ovens or extensive hearths. They can also be portable, with many attractive wood and gas options. And weekend DIYers are in luck - an outdoor wood fire pit space can be created with minimal construction knowledge - just a little hard work and sweat equity.

A native of the area, Curtis Burchett has more than 18 years experience as full-time Realtor. He currently lives in Southwest Roanoke County with his wife and 3 children.


My Adoption Story by Jen Marie Cliff

Heredity or environment, which are you a product of? Neither, my child, neither; just two different kinds of love.


Family • April 2020

was adopted at six months old in Manila, Philippines in 1984 during the month of February — 36 years ago! I consider my story unique because my mom knew me before she adopted me. She volunteered at the American Women’s Association. Through that organization, she’d take time at the local orphanage to play with the babies. That’s where she met me! I had no official name except the volunteers would call me “Funny Hair” for my cowlicks or “Juliet” for my rosy cheeks and pink lips.   Before my parents adopted me, my mom had to convince my dad. Apparently, he was hesitant at the time. But just like any smart person who wants to convince their significant other to adopt (a human baby, a puppy, a kitty, etc.), you take them to the orphanage or kennel, where they fall in love with the idea of taking the baby or animal home. That’s exactly what happened with my parents!   I don’t remember a thing at that age, but Mom would tell me stories. There was one that always stood out in my mind:   After volunteering for a while at the orphanage, my mom was ready to adopt a baby. She was offered a healthy baby girl. The day my mom arrived to pick up the baby, the image of what was to happen burned in her brain forever. The mother of the baby girl, a local Filipina maid, was there, crying. The mother did not want to give up her baby. Next to the crying mom was her boss, a wealthy woman demanding the maid give up the child.    At that moment, my mom refused the healthy baby girl and everyone who worked at the orphanage thought she was crazy. If you knew anything about my mom, you’d know she’s fearless. She stands up for what she believes is true and takes on whatever challenges come her way with grace and gumption.   There was no way my mom was going to be on the receiving end of that tragic story. It pains me to imagine all the moms in history who had to give up their child — no matter what the circumstance.   So by divine order, the orphanage gave my mom a sick baby instead — ME! I had all kinds of issues; malnourishment, plagiocephaly, multiple ear infections, fevers, colds, etc.    Without complaint, my parents took me in and got me back to health, and I made up for the lost time.   

When I was a child, Mom used to read my favorite poem, “Legacy of an Adopted Child.” She’d cry every time. This helped me understand my situation. My parents went out of their way to read books about adoption, diversity, and being different. At a young age, I established the belief that being adopted was normal. For the most part, it didn’t bother me.   As for the teenage years, I’d like to think that the thoughts of running away and hating my parents were a normal thing. I never ran away, nor did I tell my parents “I wish you’d never adopted me,” because in truth, I’m grateful — even if my stubborn teenage self didn’t want to admit it.    The most significant time of my life that made me truly appreciate my family was when my son Liam was born in June 2017. Motherhood brought me closer to my mom. Today, I reflect on something she told me in my 20s, and it didn’t mean much until now:   “I never thought of you as being adopted. To me, I gave birth to you. I know I actually didn’t, but you are my daughter, and that’s how I feel.”   I am filled with gratitude to have a family who loves me for who I am — not for where I came from or for the color of my skin. Family is defined by healthy and supportive relationships, not by biology.  Jen is a mom to a wild toddler and wife to a firefighter/paramedic student. She has two bachelor’s degrees, in art history and in nursing. Her diverse experiences in nursing include resource pool, neurotrauma critical care, and home hospice. In addition, she traveled to Duke University Medical Center for one assignment in the Neuro ICU. Currently, she holds a per diem position on an oncology/palliative care unit. She has been a Usui and Karuna® Reiki master teacher (RMT)/practitioner since 2011 and a shaman apprentice since 2018, and she opened her small holistic business in 2019, focusing on self-care, spirituality, and intuitive development for moms. She is one of the co-founders and directors of Huddle Up Moms, a new local organization dedicated to empowering women through education and connection. She is passionate about health, wellness, and alternative methods and hopes to inspire moms to love their bodies, minds, hearts, and souls. Check out her personal website, jenmariecliff.com, and the Huddle Up Moms site, huddleupmoms.org.

n Adve

Start a


is Su nture th

Join us for a mashed up summer of fun! Your child will enjoy STEAM activities, field trips, exciting games and creative projects. 4225 Brambleton Avenue, Roanoke, VA 24018 • Childcarenetwork.net

Kids Square camps promise to offer a Summer of FUN! In addition to themed activities each week, participants will enjoy water fun two days out of each week, outside on our rooftop (weather permitting).



The Best of the Best Camp May 26 - May 29 We will invite the magic of some of the best Disney Movies ever made. Disney themed activities all week long. But wait, it gets better. Meet and greet with a special character is in the works.

(Ages 3-4) (Tuesday-Friday)

Super Hero Camp June 8 - June 11 Participate in a Super Hero training like you have never seen before and experience super powers that will blow your mind! (Ages 4-6)

Ninja Training Camp June 15 - June 18 Are you the next Kids Square Ninja Warrior? Let’s challenge ourselves mentally and physically each day. Training takes place in the museum and outside our doors. Earn a Ninja Warrior medal at the completion of our training. (Ages 4-6)


every smile

comes from a place of safety and security that only a home can bring.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to build a better life. Donate or volunteer at habitat-roanoke.org

Ad Generously Provided by BURCHETT HOMES

Telemedicine: Making It Work for You by Caroline Anderson, executive director of Medicare and retirement programs in Virginia for members of UnitedHealthcare


igital technology has changed so much in our daily lives. Whether it’s driving directions, shopping, or booking vacations, many of us instinctively go online to take care of business. And now, going to the doctor can be just as convenient. More and more Americans are turning to smart devices as their preferred way to see and talk to a doctor. And why not?   Telemedicine visits, also called virtual care, typically last under 20 minutes, often cost less than $50 (excluding outof-pocket costs)


“Plans also provide coverage for telemedicine and access to virtual care, in some cases with no out-of-pocket cost.”

Family • April 2020

and enable people to connect 24/7 with a health care provider via a smartphone, tablet, or personal computer. Virtual physicians — who are, of course, real live doctors on the other end — can help diagnose symptoms, prescribe medicine, and recommend treatment for a variety of medical conditions.   Almost half of Americans today are keen on the idea of telemedicine. Two in five say they are interested in accessing care in this way, but so far virtual care is just now beginning to take hold, with only about 10% of the country now using

telehealth, according to a recent J.D. Power survey1.   Expanding the use of virtual care is one way to close the gap, especially as consumers begin to appreciate more and more the added convenience, lower costs, and the positive experiences that those already using telemedicine have had. As many as seven in 10 virtual health patients rate their telemedicine visits a 9 or 10 on a 10-point satisfaction scale. Three in four had their medical concern resolved during the first visit. And the average net savings per virtual visit? Over $120.   As you consider exploring this emerging technology, here are answers to some frequent questions:  

Where can I find resources?

The J.D. Power survey found that 37% of people who had not used telemedicine didn’t know whether they even had access to this technology. You can find out by

checking with your local hospital or care provider group, health insurance plan (see newsroom.uhc.com/news-releases/ UnitedHealthcare-app.html), or employer. Nearly nine in ten employers currently offer telemedicine, while 76% of U.S. hospitals already connect patients and care providers using video or other technology. Some Medicare Advantage plans also provide coverage for telemedicine and access to virtual care, in some cases with no out-ofpocket cost.

What can telemedicine be used for? While telemedicine has the potential to help treat a variety of health issues, the technology today is most widely used to address minor and nonemergency medical conditions — conditions like allergies, flu, pinkeye, and rashes. It’s also emerging as a useful tool for behavioral health services, which are often in high demand. Doctors can prescribe medications and send prescriptions to local pharmacies for pickup via telemedicine. While people who are

experiencing a serious medical issue should go to the emergency room, history tells us that 25% of ER visits typically involve conditions that could be satisfactorily addressed with a virtual visit.

Should I keep my primary care physician? The short answer: yes. Telemedicine is ideal for treating minor and nonemergency medical issues, but patients should absolutely maintain a relationship with a primary care physician. Your doctor is much better suited to handle wellness checkups, diagnostics, management of long-term conditions, and some urgent and non-urgent treatments. Even so, as telemedicine programs evolve, people may have the option to use virtual visits to access primary care while at the same time maintain that important ongoing relationship with their personal doctor.

Can virtual care be connected to other digital devices? There is a growing number of devices that patients can use to help access care and improve their health. Smart watches and activity trackers, continuous blood glucose monitors and asthma inhalers can provide critical real-time information and offer people actionable feedback about their behavior patterns. They also help make it easier for care providers to counsel patients on how to more effectively follow recommended treatments.   As telemedicine becomes more widely available, two segments of the population — those with chronic conditions and the 20% of the U.S. population that lives in rural areas— will find the service especially valuable, and in particular those who need specialty care. But for everyone, virtual care is another option worth considering.

Think outside the book. NORTH CROSS SCHOOL was founded on the belief that a classroom is a concept, not a room. With small groups, teachers are inspired and empowered to curate lessons, not follow them. Children pursue their best selves in a community that supports and respects curiosity and imagination.

With programs designed to engage, question and surprise, every North Cross graduate is a product of our ceaseless evaluation of what works—and, a commitment to embrace what’s next.

BEST OF 2018

Voted Best Private School and Preschool in the Valley for four years running.


Family • April 2020


The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spring Cleaning by Lesley Butterfield Harrop

A clean home is a healthy home! We all know this, but marathon cleaning sessions are just not a real possibility for busy families. Spring cleaning is great, but how can it get done without spending hours and hours that you may not have to spare? Why Spring Clean After winter ends, when the ground starts to thaw and weather turns nicer, it’s important to let the sunshine in! Deep-cleaning a home after the winter months can be particularly helpful in cleansing the space of harmful bacteria and germs that can cause illness. This type of cleaning boosts mental wellness and also improves immunity. Deep-cleaning can help mentally recharge your family to stay on top of the day-to-day housekeeping that must be done. Spring cleaning can also reduce stress, increase productivity, and promote activity and exercise. How to Spring Clean Ideally, spring cleaning should include deep-cleaning, de-cluttering, and


Family • April 2020

organizing every usable space in and around the home, including garages and patios. Usually, we think of spring cleaning as wiping down every single surface with a disinfecting agent, dusting all the light fixtures, wiping baseboards and walls, and scrubbing hard-to-reach places. Overwhelmed by this insurmountable feat? Yes, I’ve been there! I hardly have time to tackle the laundry, let alone break out the Murphy’s Oil. But I have found some surefire ways to help conquer the cleaning: Tip: Try doing Enlist an army to one or two help. Wouldn’t family chores that be nice? But together each in all reality, I have day to lessen learned that many the load and hands make light work — and that little establish the routine. hands can also work! Getting my kids to participate in chores has been a bit of a chore itself, but I have found some non-coercive ways to get them to cooperate without threats, and that’s always a good thing. Younger children often want to model what parents are doing, so use this to your advantage.

Older kids are sometimes more resistant to chores, but making it part of the family routine early and often will help teach them that everyone’s participation is needed and valued. Invite kids into these tasks by doing chores together. Show them that when everyone pitches in, the work is easier. Involving kids in the cleaning tasks can help to establish healthy routines and promote family unity. Tip: Teach kids that items they donate go to help other children who may need them. Have them see the process of donating an item. Find age- and skill-appropriate chores for everyone in the family. There are many resources online on age-appropriate chores, depending on your child’s developmental ability. Preschool-age children can wipe walls with Magic Erasers and match socks. Older children can load and unload the dishwasher, use the vacuum, and clean bathrooms. All kids can go through old toys and books and decide what they want to keep and what they can live without. If a child has sensory-seeking behaviors, encourage them to push or pull a heavy garbage can to the curb to provide sensory input. Make it Tip: Have a Donate fun for the Box in a convenient family! location in your home Spend and encourage kids to a sunny place items in it that Saturday they no longer want cleaning and need as they come out the across them, instead garage, of going through a sweeping massive toy room the cleaning. patio, or organizing yard supplies. Make a playlist that pumps everyone up. Put on those tunes, and take it away! Promise pizza or ice cream, and make sure to deliver on your promise. Plan and schedule these bigger projects in advance in order to prepare kids and set the expectation of participation. Spend a rainy spring day going through their winter wardrobes and bringing out the summer shorts. Have a fashion show while hanging up and putting away clothing, or simply see who can color-code his or her closet the fastest.

contentment in ourselves. Struggling with how to declutter kids’ art, toys, and other special items? Try using free preservation apps like Keepy or ArtMyKidMade, which allow you to take a picture of the artwork, digitally store it, and even share it with others. Have children choose which toys they want accessible in their rooms and store the rest in a closet until they are ready to let them go for good. There are so many ways for busy parents to tackle spring cleaning challenges! Remember, start small and don’t overwhelm yourself before you even start. Take it day by day, little by little, until you have completed all the cleaning you never knew you needed. Be realistic about what you want to accomplish and what are the most important tasks to do. Spring cleaning can really last all year round, so get in these good habits now to reap the benefits later!


Tip: Crowd-surf your family for ideas for the next big spring cleaning event. Have an older child plan the theme and activity. Declutter, declutter, declutter! This is a huge task for some of us! Clearing the clutter is helpful in rejuvenating creativity and

Family • April 2020


FREE Class: Ready, Set, Sing! A class to help young singers prepare for their audition. June 4 and August 20 6:00-6:45pm  Bethel Baptist Church

RVCC Newcomer Auditions (for Ages 7-17) June 6 | 3:30-6:00 August 22 | 10:00-1:00 Schedule your audition Join.ChildrensChoir.com or (540) 724-6787

Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir

Shaping Children’s Voices and building character since 1987




and your family

The essential details of Covid-19 and how you can protect your family and community.

Social Distancing With Kids: Staying Healthy Physically and Mentally at Home Carilion Clinic shares healthy ways to beat boredom and stress at home. Getting out of our normal routines, seeing less of our friends, and feeling uncertain about what might happen next is hard on all of us, and can be especially hard on children and teens. Acting as a role model for healthy coping behaviors — like staying physically active, connecting with others, and taking mental breaks when needed — will make a big difference both for your kids and for you. Here are ten ways to support your physical and emotional health as a family.

Have fun with fitness challenges.

Gym equipment is by no means necessary for getting a great workout, no matter what your age. Hearken back to your high school P.E. class days and challenge your kids to


Family • April 2020

classic calisthenic exercises like inchworms, or simple but effective cardio like jumping jacks.

objects you have around the house or in the garage. See

Hold a family yoga class in the living room, or even on the patio as the weather warms up.

Throw a living room dance party.

who can successfully complete the course the fastest, or the most times in a set number of minutes.

Yoga is a great no-equipment workout and has been shown to help relieve both the physical and mental symptoms of stress. You’ll find countless free yoga practice videos — for all levels of athleticism, and from under ten minutes to over an hour in length — on YouTube.

Dancing has been shown to release serotonin — an important brain chemical that contributes to the sense of happiness — and is a fantastic home workout. Make a playlist of mood-boosting songs and show off some of your “vintage” dance moves to your kids.

Unleash your kids’ (or your!) inner “ninja warriors” by creating an obstacle course in your backyard out of

Work on some spring landscaping as a family.

Everyone will benefit from the fresh air, as well as from beautifying the surroundings you may be spending much more time in

than usual. You might even plant some veggies or flowers and enjoy the results later this summer.

Start a home book club.

You can read aloud with younger children, or if you have preteens or teens in the family, you can decide together on one book to read on your own and then discuss. Local libraries offer a collection of eBooks to members, so put that library card to good use and download a few today. As always, reading can be a great escape!

Have a family car wash. If

temperatures get high enough, your kids might even want to put on their swimsuits and start a good-natured water fight.

Head out for a walk or a bike ride (if circumstances allow).

Cook a healthy meal together.

As long as you keep your social distance from others while doing so, enjoying the great outdoors and all the scenery that our area has to offer is a great way to lift everyone’s spirits. Or grab a blanket and have a picnic in your yard!

Color together.

Many people find coloring very relaxing because it can help promote a state of mindfulness (a focus on the present moment). If your kids have some coloring books and crayons, sit together and find your inner artists. You can also use coloring apps like Colorfy, Pigment, or Garden Coloring on a smartphone or tablet if you don’t have coloring supplies handy.

540-966-3990 lenkortho@gmail.com www.lenkbraces.com

Current times might call for more kitchen creativity in making meals out of pantry and freezer staples. Get your kids involved — they’ll love to help! Younger children might also enjoy playing pretend as chefs in their very own restaurant. What matters most is connecting as a family over the finished meal (no phones, please), because now more than ever we could all use some connection at the family table. This article was reviewed on March 20, 2020, by Christopher A. Pierce, M.D., Carilion Children’s Pediatric Medicine.

Check us out at www.lenkbraces.com

Helping Your Child Cope With Anxiety About COVID-19 Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage and social media posts on COVID-19 Have honest, age-appropriate conversations about COVID-19 with your child; let them know they can always talk to you if they have questions about it. Reassure your child that you have a plan to take care of them if they get sick, and for familiar adults to look after them if you get sick. Remind your child that it is still flu season, and it’s now spring allergy season too — so feeling sick doesn’t necessarily mean COVID-19. Stick to routines as much as possible; schedule study times and keep to usual waking and bedtimes. Remember, children pick up cues on how to respond to a stressful situation from adults around them — so try to be mindful of the cues you are giving now Some anxiety is normal in uncertain situations. But if your child’s anxiety interferes with daily activities or causes major changes in behavior, contact their health care provider or a mental health professional right away.

Misty D. Lenk, DSS, MS, PC 228 Commons Parkway Daleville, VA, 24083 Family • April 2020


I AM NOT CREATIVE. by Alyssa Mitchell

“You aren’t creative, you know.” A stern female countenance glares down at me, faintly lined round the mouth and scrawled with creases, etches of time. Within her cold gaze, darker and more uninviting than any pair of big browns I have ever come across, I see myself. Then the woman smiles a leering grin, and it is like gazing into the abyss of despair. My mind stretches from its reverie, and I am there again, in the classroom. Seventeen years old, I am a senior, and I yearn to unfurl my cramped little baby bird wings and launch myself to greater heights, to the pleasures and delights that accompany adulthood. But ... there are still things I have yet to accomplish before the conclusion of my public education. Before my childhood officially arrives at its end. They are mortifying things, frightening because the prospect of reaching out for them has elevated my hopes, and what goes up must come down. All I have ever known since my teen years when it comes to these sorts of things is down. I scribble absentmindedly across a sheet of copy paper, bored and miserable as my English teacher discusses our latest project; she expects her students to compose a creative and riveting diorama to represent one of the books we have recently finished reading. The word creative sends pangs of agony rippling through my heart. It is a physical pain I can perceive as the stone of sorrow slithers down into my stomach, heavy and oppressive. As the stone falls, gray colors my vision and I scribble faster, jotting down nothingness onto my paper as I am once again transported back to my past. My mother towers over me again, donning her trademark expression of censure. She wears that expression like the clouds in a rain-spattered sky wear turbulent gray, and it hardens her, ages her. There is little love or softness to distinguish her face, what was once feminine and kind, from cold alabaster. “You aren’t creative, you know.” She bends over my latest work, an outline of one of my original characters penciled lovingly in my sketchbook, and struggles against a laugh. A smirk plays across her lips, and the sight of it, the sight of the lines and shadows that form when she makes it, causes nausea to roil in my gut. “What is this? Wasting your intelligence making these...these...unintelligent

doodles? I can think of several chores you could be tending to instead of doing this.” Mother’s words are bloated with poison, and so are those soul-crushing, dark brown eyes she punctures me with when she looks at me. It isn’t a look, not really; her eyes are wasp stings, deflating my self-esteem further each time they pierce me. “Mom, I...I like to draw,” I whispered, terrified by my own justification of why I dared to draw a picture. “I’m sure you like it, but that doesn’t mean you’re good at it,” Mother replied. “Sorry, kid, you know I never lie about these things. You’re just not creative. Give up this drawing crap and do something more worthy of your time.” As the memory swirls away, another one comes to replace it. In this other one I am 14, fresh into high school art class to continue pursuing my passion against my mother’s desires. My art teacher is gliding through the classroom from desk to desk to grade our drawings from the previous day. She stops at one student’s desk and her eyes bulge ecstatically in her glasses. “Wow! This is fantastic, hon, just spectacular! Really super job! If I could have everyone’s attention for a moment...” The teacher waits until a hush blankets the room and all eyes are drawn to her, and then she holds up the star pupil’s paper. Envy clenches my chest as I see it. It is beautiful, better than beautiful. On one half of the paper is half of a young woman, the one part of her visage and slender figure exquisitely detailed and gleaming. She is portrayed with half of her body cavorting through a meadow teeming with natural delights, among those being deer, leaping trout in a nearby pond, flitting butterflies, and grass spritzed with flashes of color in the form of wildflowers. On the other half, the meadow has been robbed of trees and flowers, and what remains of the nature there is shown squashed under a big, shiny shopping mall. The other half of the woman’s face and body is drooping, gloomy, as she glances behind her at Gaia’s demise. “This, ladies and gents, is art!” the teacher exclaims. “Very well done, dear.” She visits several other desks before mine and makes little exclamations, genuinely impressed. Then she visits my desk and a drawing of the same original character my

mother had ridiculed the previous year, and there is no light in her eyes as she says disinterestedly, “Nice job.” You see, ever since adolescence began, I have been unable, or perhaps just unwilling, to draw. I had hoped I would emerge from this phase of lackluster creative ability and sagging self-confidence victorious as I grew older, but I am a senior now, and my childhood is essentially over, along with the dreams that were born with it. I have told myself I can try again, I can relive the joy that drawing gives me before I leave high school, but alas, the end of the year is approaching, and I find myself still unable to make something that satisfies. Something that is riveting. Something... creative. A voice breaks through the prison walls of my wallowing despair. I am back in the present as the stern face of my English teacher bends over me, glaring down at what nonsense I have drawn across my paper as I recounted old memories and miseries. “Well, would you look at this...this is really good! Wow!” she exclaims, smiling down at what I drew. In an assortment of font types, a few being bubble letters and calligraphy, I have drawn the words, I am not creative. Around the words are flowers, sparks, hearts, and little animal doodles, and my English teacher is beaming at all of it. “I love this! You actually are very creative, you know.” As I look into her eyes, not full of disdain, not full of faux excitement, something stirs in me — what, I don’t know. As she walks away, I stop for a moment, then glance down at my drawing. Without pausing a moment more, I take my pen and cross out the word not, doodling over it the word very. Now I am satisfied. Alyssa Mitchell is a senior at Lord Botetourt High School. She is deeply passionate about Godzilla, music, writing, and inspiring fellow members of the human race. She has been writing stories since she was a small girl, and she wants other young creators to always pursue their goals and never cease to indulge in their artistic sides, no matter what opposition they may receive. After graduation, Alyssa will be shipping off to the Navy to become a United States Sailor and intelligence specialist.

Sou t hwe st Vi rg i ni a’ s LAR GES T 4-day Se aso nal p o p -up co nsi g nm e nt e ve n t ! Gr e at d e a l s on ba by, chil d r e n’ s, p re -t e e n, f ashi o ni st a, ho m e de co r and m at e ri nt y i t e m s.

L FA k ids.c om M AY 7-10 • BERGLUND CENTER Buy tickets fo r o u r sp e c i al VI P P r e - Sal e Sh o ppi n g E v e n t & R e g i st e r t o b e t h e n e w e st c o n si g n o r at

just for fun.

books. science experiment. activity pages

Cuom shirts, awards, glassware, mugs, gifts, banners, and more!

Helping create your perfect experience.

(540) 725-8200

1409 S. Colorado St., Salem, VA funtimesvirginia.com

Rachel’s Reads: Spring Edition Spring has arrived! Flowers are blooming, trees are budding, and the birds are chirping away. Nature is calling us outdoors to enjoy the delights of spring. After a visit to the park or a walk on the Greenway, grab one of these sweet spring-themed stories to share with your little one. And keep an eye out for The Happy Day in Free Little Libraries around town!

Finding Spring by Carin Berger

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes

The Happy Day by Ruth Krauss

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano

Maurice is a bear cub getting ready for his first winter hibernation. His mama tells him it is time for bears to sleep. Maurice, however, has heard about something called spring, and he is determined to find out what it’s all about. He slips out of his family’s cave and heads out on an adventure. Children will giggle out loud over Maurice’s silly mistaken conclusions before cheering him on when he finally finds what he has been searching for. Maurice’s quest is illustrated with whimsical paper collages that are worth poring over all on their own.

Waiting for spring is hard. In the winter, dead grass and bare trees are everywhere we look. We long for green grass, blossoming trees, and bright flowers. When Spring Comes reflects that longing and reassures readers that the wait for spring will be worth it in the end. Bright, cheerful paintings illustrate the beauty we have to look forward to when our waiting is finally done.

This Caldecott Award-winning story from 1949 is worthy of the prize. It’s winter, and all the animals of the forest are sleeping. Suddenly, a smell begins to awaken them. The bears, the field mice, the squirrels, the groundhogs, and even the snails are all roused from their sleep, and they set off to find the source of that wonderful new scent in the air. What they find brings joy to all the forest. Detailed and sweet pencil drawings bring the animals to life on each page of this classic book.

Everything is brown, but a young child and his dog are looking ahead to green. They plant a seed together and wait. They wait and worry. Has too much rain fallen? Or too little? Could the seed have been eaten by birds? But one marvelous day, the brown disappears, and green arrives in its place. This sweet tale is taken to the next level by Fogliano’s beautiful language and turns of phrase. This is a book not to be missed.


Family • April 2020

The Reasons for the Seasons by Gail Gibbons Why do we have seasons? Why are winters cold and dark while summers are sunny and warm? If your child is curious about how the seasons work, then this is the book for you. Gail Gibbons is a prolific writer and the queen of nonfiction picture books. She has a knack for clearly explaining complicated concepts to kids. In this volume for elementary-aged children, Gibbons explains how the earth’s rotation around the sun on its axis creates each distinct season. Characteristics of each season are also explored as the book celebrates winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Roanoke City Public Schools (RCPS) Proudly Presents Our Accomplishments: • All schools are fully accredited • 90% on-time graduation rate

• Grandin Court Elementary is a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School

• Extensive Fine Arts & Sports offerings

• NAMM Foundation has named RCPS one of the Best Communities for Music Education for seven consecutive years • Coding & Elementary Spanish

• The second phase of the new Fallon Park Elementary was completed in December, 2019

• RCPS has the greatest number of slots available for the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School


Kids’ Fun Pages This is a zigzag word search puzzle. Words go left, right, up, down, not diagonally and can bend at a right angle. There are no unused letters in the grid; every letter is used only once.


Family • April 2020


Logic Puzzle A man was driving a black truck. His lights were not on. The moon was not out. A lady was crossing the street. How did the man see her? A: It was a bright, sunny day.


Bring in this completed puzzle to Firehouse Skate when we reopen, and receive 50% off skating or playground. Ages 12 and under - One Coupon per person. Good until December 31, 2020 Family • April 2020


Community High offers…

Small class sizes Highly qualified faculty Individualized attention College preparatory environment Unique, student-driven liberal arts curriculum Diverse arts offerings Affordable tuition and needbased financial aid Strong, close-knit community …and much more!

• • • • • • • •

Schedule a visit today!

ROCKS with

SECRETS Science Museum Of Western Virginia’s Science Experiment What are we looking at: Geodes don’t look like much from the outside, but inside they are full of sparkly quartz crystals or chalcedony deposits! Geodes are round rocks with hollow cavities lined with internal crystal formations or concentric banding. Where to find a geode:

Community High School of Arts & Academics 302 Campbell Avenue SE Roanoke, VA 24013 info@communityhigh.net (540) 345-1688 www.communityhigh.net 44

Family • April 2020

Naturally formed geodes can be found in the environment; however, you’d have to go as far as Kentucky or Indiana to have a good chance of finding one! Alternatively, you can buy one in Downtown Roanoke at the Science Museum of Western Virginia. How to open your geode: 1. Place your geode in a bag or an old sock. 2. Carefully, but firmly, hit your geode in the center with a hammer 3.Reveal the hidden world within the shell!


YOU CAN FOSTER. How are geodes formed? Geodes begin life in hollow areas of soil, such as animal burrows or tree roots. Over time, dissolved mineral seep into the hollow and harden, forming an outer shell and creating the geode. The minerals continue to form on the inside wall of the shell, growing towards the center. These create stunning crystals of all different colors, depending on which mineral is involved in the process.



Family • April 2020


Yes, It’s Real!

Earn up to APY*

Freedom Stash™ Checking | Open an account today! FEATURES

• NO MINIMUM BALANCE REQUIRED • Deposit AnywhereSM • Access to 50,000 surcharge-free ATMs* • Up to 4 out-of-network domestic ATM refunds (540) 389-0244 (866) 389-0244



Enroll in Direct Deposit to access perks Federally insured by NCUA. * Annual Percentage Yield (APY) as of 4/1/2020. Monthly Direct Deposit of $5,000 or more to receive the 5.00% APY on Average Daily Balance (ADB) up to $10,000, 1.00% APY on ADB above $10,000 up to $1,000,000. Monthly Direct Deposit of $1,000 or more to receive 2.00% APY on ADB up to $10,000, 0.50% APY on ADB above $10,000 up to $1,000,000. Maintain a monthly Direct Deposit of at least $1,000 to avoid a $9 fee and enroll in eStatements to avoid a $2 paper statement fee. Fees could reduce earnings on the account. APY could change after account opening. Visit www.freedomfirst.com/checking or call 540-389-0244 for more details. Network of free ATMs includes every ATM in the U.S. that displays the CULIANCE, MoneyPass, and Allpoint logos.

Profile for Roanoke Valley Family Magazine

Roanoke Valley Family Magazine April 2020