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December 2019 • Free

Last-Minute Holiday Gifts Ideas for everyone on your list Babies & Toddlers Special Section: • Modern Midwifery • Mom Brain

MVP Math, Part 2 Not a textbook case

Smart Speakers: Smart Choice? 8 Triangle Exhibits for Families | DECEMBER 2019


Pediatric Surgery Orthopaedics Neurology Diabetes Endocrinology Urology Pediatric Intensive Care Primary Care Urgent Care Radiology Pediatric Anesthesiology Cardiology Neonatology Perinatology Gastroenterology Emergency Medicine Ear, Nose and Throat Child Life Rehabilitation Weight Management

Inside every kid, there’s a life waiting to be lived. We’re here to see that it’s a healthy one. Some kids go through childhood unscathed. Others face illness. Injury. Surgery. From the common to the complex, we’re here. With the only children’s hospital in Wake County. The most advanced technology. Specialists, nurses and therapists who specialize in kids. A scope of services that’s second to none. A patient-family experience that’s one of a kind. And when we say we’re here, we mean right here. Where you live. Which, when it comes to your kids, is something no one else can say.

Learn more at

Discover your capable, confident Montessori child. Visit us online to RSVP for one of our upcoming events or to book a tour. Guidepost at Wake Forest Christmas Parade Saturday, December 14, 1 to 2 p.m. Downtown Wake Forest (919) 825-1771 12600 Spruce Tree Way, Raleigh, NC 27614


Infant • Toddler • Preschool • Kindergarten Spanish Immersion programs available!

GP-CarolinaParent (19-1103).indd 1

11/5/19 8:27 AM | DECEMBER 2019


FUTURE SITE of BRIGHTER FUTURES. UNC Children’s is opening a new, kid-friendly center closer to you. Now, kids in Wake County will get the advanced care, doctors and technology they need in a unique space made just for them. With a new home coming soon, brighter futures are closer than ever.






LAST-MINUTE HOLIDAY GIFTS Find something for everyone on your list


SMART SPEAKERS: SMART CHOICE? Weigh the pros and cons of these devices


MVP MATH, PART 2: NOT A TEXTBOOK CASE Discover how Wake County Public School System makes curriculum purchases


Part 2



21 SPECIAL SECTION: BABIES AND TODDLERS 22 Modern Midwifery A traditional method evolves to meet new expectations 25 Mom Brain How pregnancy and motherhood affect brain chemistry






December Online




Editor’s Note

27 Oh, Baby!

35 Our Picks

40 Faces and Places

28 Growing Up

36 Exhibits


29 Understanding Kids

37 Daily



30 Tech Talk




10 Health 11


College Transitions

32 Raising Readers 33 Father Figuring 34 Excursion | DECEMBER 2019


June 22 to July 31, 2020 Residential & Day Camps


Sports • Fitness • Art • Performing Arts • Enrichment • STEM

919-424-4028 • WWW.SMS.EDU/SUMMER

Registration opens November 22, 2019!

Reduce waste sent to landfill this holiday season with For the Smile Of a Lifetime... Wake County Waste & Recycling

Now Accepting New Patients! 919.489.1543

121 W. Woodcroft Pkwy Durham, NC 27713


Robert T. Christensen John R. Christensen DDS, MS, MS DDS, MS Pediatric Dentistry


Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics

Holiday lights and artifical Christmas trees can be recycled in scrap metal containers at Convenience Centers.

Fried turkey or ham on the menu this holiday season? Recycle used cooking oil at Multi Material Recycling Facilities.

Too many boxes to fit in your curbside recycling bin? Recycle extra cardboard at Convenience Centers.

If you cannot finish your holiday feast it can be composted at Convenience Centers # 4, 7, 8 & 10.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, American household waste increases by more than 25%



Snowflake images courtesy of Flaffy/ Toy silhouettes courtesy of mayrum/

Find out where to experience festive illuminations across the state.



See vintage classics at this North Carolina Museum of History exhibit.

Choose from more than 50 options where you can shop for handmade gifts.

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS Read tips for how couples can merge and blend childhood traditions.

ENTER A CONTEST Enter to win tickets to see “Seussical Jr.” Feb. 14-23, 2020.

Connect with us online: carolinaparent carolinaparent carolinaparent carolinaparent | DECEMBER 2019



Halfway There


s this issue goes to press, I’ve finished about 50% of my Christmas shopping. I know — because it happens every year — I’ll end up shopping for the other half at the last minute. With that in mind, and since some of you might follow the same path, we asked Parenting Media Association award-winning writer Mandy Howard to pull together a list of “Last-Minute Holiday Gifts” for you to check out on page 12. You’ll discover some unique — and useful — ideas there. Most of my last-minute shopping takes place online. Enter Alexa. A couple of years ago, my husband thought it would be fun to invite her into our home. This smart speaker is helpful in many ways — one of which is to light up and notify us when a package has arrived. This happens a lot during the holidays. But my husband was only halfway done shopping for smart speakers. Last Christmas, he ordered a Google Home Mini. He situated the two smart speakers next to each other. My son noticed this and asked Alexa to ask Google Home Mini a question. The result: an endless cycle of entertaining banter between the two devices. Your family may have found a more useful way to engage these popular devices in your home. Carolyn Caggia writes about them, pointing out their pros and cons, in “Smart Speakers: Smart Choice?” on page 16. If you’re following the Mathematics Vision Project (MVP) math series we launched last month, you’ll see that we’ve reached the halfway point on page 18, where you’ll find part two of four planned installments on the subject. This month, I look into what Wake County Public School System considered

Editor’s photo courtesy of Morton Photography. Front cover photo courtesy of Hannamariah/ Back cover photo courtesy of




Katie Reeves ·


Beth Shugg ·


Janice Lewine ·


Sean W. Byrne ·



to be one reason for acquiring the new discovery-style math curriculum: a lack of funding for textbooks. Beginning on page 21, you’ll find a Babies and Toddlers special section that features stories on modern midwifery by Samantha Gratton and how pregnancy and motherhood affect a woman’s brain, by Parenting Media Association award-winning writer Caitlyn Wheeler. Our December columns cover gifts that foster motor development in babies (page 27), how to transform tantrums (page 28), ways to deal with changes in routines (page 29), tips for holiday online shopping (page 30), how to address a bad grade on a college application (page 31), holiday-themed children’s books (page 32) and a teen’s joy of writing letters (page 33). Travel to the charming North Carolina coastal town of Beaufort in our Excursion column on page 34, and check out our calendar section for a variety of fun events and museum exhibits the entire family will enjoy, beginning on page 35. As the frenzied pace of the holidays picks up, we hope you’ll take time to relax with your family and enjoy the many seasonal festivities across the region. A new year beckons, and we look forward to starting it with you!


Beth Shugg, Editor


Candi Griffin • Sue Chen •






CONTACT US Phone: 919-956-2430 · Fax: 919-956-2427 5716 Fayetteville Rd., Suite 201, Durham, NC 27713 · Circulation 35,000. Distribution of this magazine does not constitute an endorsement of information, products or services. Carolina Parent reserves the right to reject any advertisement or listing that is not in keeping with the publication’s standards. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.

A Publication of the Visitor Publications Division of Morris Communications Company, L.L.C. 725 Broad St., Augusta, GA 30901 Chairman William S. Morris III

President & CEO William S. Morris IV




9 1 9 . 4 1 6 . 9 4 2 0 | W W W. D U K E S C H O O L . O R G

Play your way to

Kindergarten Visit any Wake County Public Library and join the FREE SCHOOL readiness game: Play Your Way to K.

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11/4/2019 12:57:07 PM | DECEMBER 2019




Cary Regional Library Opens The Town of Cary and Wake County Public Libraries celebrated the grand opening of the new Cary Regional Library and a nearby 600-space parking deck with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Downtown Park Nov. 3. The 23,450-square-foot library, located at 315 Kildaire Farm Rd., features 90,000 books, programming for all ages, 32 public computers and free Wi-Fi. The first floor houses the children’s collection and a large children’s program room. The second floor features the

adult services collection, a community meeting room and a quiet study area. “The new downtown Cary Library is a stunning setting and inspiring environment for learning and growing, and we are incredibly proud to have it in our community,” says Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. The new parking deck serves library patrons, as well as those visiting Downtown Park, Cary Arts Center and other nearby businesses. Learn more at

Duke Energy Center is Certified as Sensory-Inclusive KultureCity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to effecting change for the sensory-sensitive community, recently partnered with Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh to make all performances and events sensory-friendly. KultureCity’s certification of the performing arts center as a sensory-inclusive venue ensures that guests with sensory sensitivities are better suited to having the most accommodating experience possible when attending an event. The certification process involved medical professionals who trained the performing arts center’s staff on how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory

overload situation. Sensory bags equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools and verbal cue cards are available at no charge to those who may feel overwhelmed by the environment. Prior to attending an event, families can download the free KultureCity app to view sensory-friendly features and find out where they can access them at the center. Through the app’s social story feature, guests will get a preview of what to expect while enjoying a performance at the center. Learn more at

The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources has been awarded a grant by the National Park Service to renovate a 1920s rail car built to comply with Jim Crow laws. The $287,442 grant will fund renovation of the car, located at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, which has not been used since 1969. This project is supported through a grant from the African American Civil Rights Grant Program of the Historic Preservation Fund as administered by the National Park Service in the Department of Interior. “The preservation work on Southern Railway Car No. 1211, known as the ‘Jim Crow Car,’ will allow the Transportation Museum to continue to grow its interpretation of African American and human and civil rights narratives,” says North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites and Properties Director Michelle Lanier. Dedicated to all forms of transportation history, the North Carolina Transportation Museum is a railroad heritage site, boasting the largest repository of rail relics in North and South Carolina. It sits on the grounds of what was once Southern Railways’ largest steam locomotion repair facility, built to service the 1,400 locomotives and 75,000 freight cars owned by the company. Learn more at

National Special Education Statistics Percentage distribution of students ages 3-21 served under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act:


Specific learning disability


Speech or language impairment





Other health impairment

10% Autism


Other disabilities

Photo courtesy of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Photo courtesy of

National Park Service Awards Grant to Renovate Historic Rail Car


WCPSS Names Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year Wake County Public School System has named Ruth C. Steidinger, principal of Olive Chapel Elementary School, its 2019-20 Principal of the Year. Catie Burnette of Hilburn Academy has been named the WCPSS Assistant Principal of the Year. Steidinger was recognized for building relationships and establishing a culture of mutual trust and respect among her staff at Olive Chapel Elementary as milestone achievements. A recent survey of Steidinger’s staff indicated a 50% increase in trust and respect among colleagues since her arrival in 2015. Burnette was honored for her leadership in the shared vision among Hilburn Academy’s administrative team, as well as for strong communication with staff, students and families. She was also recognized for providing great learning experiences for teachers and students. Finalists for both awards submit an e-portfolio for review, and committee members visit school sites and interview the finalists. Those who have the highest scores are selected as the Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year. Learn more at


New Experiential Learning Program for Children Comes to the Triangle On Oct. 15, more than 100 volunteers from BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina joined the national nonprofit Out Teach — which coaches and inspires teachers to unlock student performance with the power of outdoor experiential learning — to build an outdoor learning lab at Merrick-Moore Elementary School in Durham. The first-of-its-kind lab in the Triangle area, dubbed the “Big Dig,” was completed in one day by volunteers and will provide handson learning for more than 600 students. These students will be given the opportunity to integrate science and nutrition education into their school day by working directly with vegetable beds, compost bins, rainwater harvesters and additional tools that encourage physical activity.

The outdoor learning lab concept is designed to help children who lack engaging learning experiences, proper nutrition, time outdoors and physical activity since, according to Out Teach, these students are less likely to thrive in school. The program nets positive results, such as: • 94% of teachers reporting more engaged students. • A 12-15% increase in standardized test proficiency rates. • 90% of teachers reporting feeling better prepared to help their students succeed academically. Learn more at

The new Out Teach Learning Lab at Merrick-Moore Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Durham Public Schools

North Carolina Science Museums Grants Awarded to 56 Science Centers

WCPSS 2019-20 Principal of the Year Ruth C. Steidinger. Photo courtesy of Paul Cory, WCPSS

WCPSS 2019-20 Assistant Principal of the Year Catie Burnette. Photo courtesy of Michael Yarbrough, WCPSS

The Duke Lemur Center and Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute are just two of 56 science centers across the state that will receive grant awards as part of the nearly $2.4 million North Carolina Science Museums Grant Program. The program is one of the ways North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources invests in sustaining and advancing one of the most diverse and widespread networks of science museums in the country. Grants were awarded based on criteria that support the goal of enhancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education opportunities for the public, particularly in low resource communities.

“These museums are critical resources for schools and communities in providing learning experiences in and out of the classroom that enhance science literacy,” says Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “The grants will provide much-needed support to the science centers so that they can broaden their reach into their communities, and connect more kids to science and STEM careers.” The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences administers the grant program. The awards range from $5,373–$75,000 and will be applied to the 2019-20 budgets of these science centers. Learn more at | DECEMBER 2019




Positive social-emotional development in early childhood helps children develop complex skills like self-regulation, empathy, resilience and curiosity. For children who experience trauma or chronic adversity, developmental processes are interrupted, increasing their risk for a range of negative outcomes — from dropping out of school to developing chronic illnesses in adulthood. A new five-year grant of $4 million to the Center for Child & Family Health, a Durhambased nonprofit with expertise in traumainformed approaches to early childhood development, will help Durham County make meaningful progress toward assisting those who serve young children in the community feel equipped to support healthy social and emotional development, and to identify children with developmental concerns. The primary goal of the READY (Responsive Early Access for Durham’s Young Children) project is to foster the healthy development and wellness of all young children in Durham County, preparing them to thrive in school and beyond. While the project is designed to meet the needs of all children from infants through 8 years of age in the county, it will give particular attention to those affected by racial disparities, substance abuse, homelessness and parental military deployment. The grant has been awarded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Other funded agencies include Child Care Services Association, Duke Children’s Primary Care, Exchange Family Center, and Families Moving Forward. Project evaluation will be conducted by the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy. Learn more at press-release-ready-project.

Photo courtesy of Kaesler Media/

New Grant Invests $4 Million in Durham County Early Childhood Development

Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy If you’re expecting a baby, here are some nutrition tips for a healthy pregnancy from the American Academy of Family Physicians. Be mindful of the following foods and drinks during pregnancy: • Meat, eggs and fish: Be sure that meats and fish are fully cooked. Do not eat more than 2 or 3 servings of fish per week (including canned fish). Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish, which can have high levels of mercury that can harm your baby. If you eat tuna, make sure it is light tuna. Do not eat more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna and tuna steaks per week. It’s safe to have 12 ounces of canned light tuna per week. • Fruit and vegetables: Wash before eating. Keep cutting boards and dishes clean. • Dairy: Eat four or more servings of dairy each day. This will provide enough calcium


for you and your baby. Do not drink unpasteurized milk or eat unpasteurized milk products. These may have bacteria that can cause infections. These include soft cheeses such as brie, feta, Camembert, and blue cheese; or Mexican-style cheeses, such as queso fresco. • Sugar substitutes: Some artificial sweeteners are OK in moderation. These include aspartame (Equal or NutraSweet) and sucralose (Splenda). • Caffeine: Do not drink more than one or two cups of coffee — or other drinks with caffeine — each day. • Pregnant women should take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to help prevent problems with their baby’s brain and spinal cord. SOURCE:



The percentage of North Carolina children who live in poverty. North Carolina is one of 25 states where more than 10% of children live in poverty.

The number of people who died worldwide while taking “selfies” between October 2011 and November 2017. The largest number of deaths occurred in India, followed by Russia, the U.S. and Pakistan. Approximately 72% of the deaths were men under age 30.

SOURCE: Annie E. Casey Foundation

SOURCE: Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care

Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer in Chapel Hill.





LET IT SNOW Summer lingered longer than usual in the Triangle this year. While we anxiously awaited cooler temperatures, it felt like sweater weather might never arrive. Finally, it’s here and, to celebrate, we turn our focus toward the Fair Isle sweater. You may recognize this classic winter piece by its iconic pattern and

the wide range of beautiful colors that make up this popular knit. Fair Isle sweaters are perfect for laid-back weekends and can also be layered when you hit the slopes. At the end of a day of skiing, you’ve got that coveted, après-ski style covered, with little effort.

Here are some Fair Isle styles to consider. A few tips: Be on the lookout for vintage styles and try tucking your sweater into high-waisted jeans or pants for a fun look. Find additional picks and direct shopping links at (search for “Fair Isle”).

Rebecca Taylor La Vie Cozy Fair Isle Pullover | | $295

L.L.Bean Classic Ragg Sweater | $89

Sea Fair Isle Cotton Sweater | $345

Faherty Brand Bethna Fair Isle Sweater | $149

Peter Millar The Aarons Fair Isle Novelty Sweater | | $225

Frame Alpaca Fair Isle Mock Neck Sweater | $425

Isabel Marant Ètoile Ned Fair Isle Knitted Wool Sweater | | $415

All photos courtesy of respective brands or retailers

Derek Lam 10 Crosby Diagonal Fair Isle Turtleneck Sweater | | $395

Helen Banzet Wallace is a freelance writer, fashion blogger and mom. Her work has appeared in local and regional publications. | DECEMBER 2019


Last-Minute Holiday Gifts BY MANDY HOWARD


till haven’t finished your holiday shopping? Don’t worry, you’re not alone — and Carolina Parent is here to help. These gift ideas are categorized to cover everyone on your list, so keep this issue handy when you’re shopping. Most of these items are available via Amazon, so if you’re an Amazon Prime member, the gifts can be delivered to you — or your recipient — for free just a couple of days after you place the order. Happy shopping!

Holiday gifts image by Mallmo/ Product images courtesy of the respective companies unless otherwise noted.

Babies and Toddlers

CALI’S BOOKS Push-button technology on each page of these beautifully illustrated board books makes it possible for little hands to trigger musical accompaniment as they read. “The Nutcracker” introduces Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet in a way that kids will understand and love. Cali’s Books Publishing House,, ages 0-4, $14.99.



PEOPLE BLOCKS WORKING CARS This 18-piece magnetic mix-andmatch car set encourages children to use their imagination as they recreate favorite cars and invent new ones. People Toy Company,, 18 months and older, $34.99.

PRECIDIO DESIGN DRINK IN THE BOX These innovative and reusable on-the-go drink boxes are perfect for the moms and toddlers on your list because they are useful, fun and good for the environment. They are also bisphenol A- and phthalate-free, won’t squirt or leak, and allow parents to choose exactly what baby (and mommy) are sipping on. Available in 8- and 12-ounce sizes. Precidio Design,, all ages, $11.99-$14.99.

Ages 3-11

GEOSAFARI JR. TALKING MICROSCOPE This updated version of the best-selling Talking Microscope features the voice of Bindi Irwin, star of Animal Planet’s “Crikey! It’s the Irwins,” and daughter of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin. Kids will fall in love with science as they explore 60 photo-quality images and hear more than 100 facts. Educational Insights,, ages 4-7, $49.99.

BUZZ LIGHTYEAR STAR COMMAND To paraphrase Woody, “This is a cool toy!” It includes a spaceship, space-exploring rover and glow-in-the-dark Buzz Lightyear. With the recent release of Disney+ streaming service and the global success of “Toy Story 4” last summer, this toy is sure to be a hit. Mattel,, ages 3 and older, $79.99.

Ages 12-18

BARBIE FASHIONISTAS The Barbie Fashionistas line consists of diverse dolls with a wide variety of skin tones, eye colors, hair colors, hair textures, body types and fashions. Mattel introduced two new additions to the family this year. One doll has a prosthetic leg and others come with wheelchairs. To make these stars as authentic as possible, Mattel worked with medical professionals and kids who have lost limbs. Mattel,, ages 3 and older, $19.99.

ESCAPE PUZZLE New this year from Ravensburger, Escape Jigsaw Puzzles bring the fun of escape rooms into your living room. These 759-piece puzzles are games, riddles and adventures in one box. A unique cutting process allows the pieces throughout the puzzle to fit together in multiple places. Similar to an actual escape room, players must work together to solve problems and escape the puzzle. Each box includes a story booklet and sealed envelope with the solution. Ravensburger,, ages 12 and older, $19.99. | DECEMBER 2019



Gift card image by AlexLMX/ StoryWorth home page image courtesy of

MYCHARGE PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER A great gift for any teen, this portable charger is easy to keep in a backpack, sports bag or car for a quick charge anytime, anywhere. It features an integrated Apple Lightning cable and micro-USB cable, as well as a built-in USB port. myCharge,, ages 12 and older, $99.

BOMBAS SOCKS These socks are fun and insanely comfortable. Not only do they cradle feet with warm and fuzzy cotton, they also give hearts the warm fuzzies. For every pair purchased, Bombas donates a pair to the homeless community. (A special Sesame Street 50th anniversary sock line is also available for younger children on your list). Bombas,, all ages, $107 for a seven-pack gift box.

GAS GIFT CARD Is it terribly exciting? Nope. But what is even less exciting? When teens have to spend their own money on gas. Buy this on the way to a holiday event and brighten the day of any teen driver on your list.



HONEY & SAGE CO. MALA BRACELET Malas are traditional Buddhist prayer beads used to count how many times a mantra is recited. This practice, like yoga, has spread beyond the Buddhist religion because of the benefits that mantras, meditation and mindfulness can have. Each bracelet is made with stones and aromatherapy designed to help the person who is wearing it focus on a specific aspect of well-being. Honey & Sage Co.,, $24.

“IT’S BLUNDERFUL” BOARD GAME “It’s Blunderful” requires players to read out awkward situations from game cards and then make bets on how the other players will handle those scenarios. Be careful — players may get to know each other too well!, $24.99.

SPONGELLÉ BEACH GRASS PEDI-BUFFER Want to add a spring to someone’s step this winter? This uniquely textured sponge is just the gift to do it. It whisks away dry skin while cleansing feet with extracts of peppermint and sea kelp. Spongellé,, $16.

STORYWORTH On your way to visit the in-laws and just found out that your spouse dropped the ball and forgot to buy a gift? Fear not. StoryWorth is a service that prompts recipients with emailed questions throughout the year and then compiles a beautiful book filled with a “story of their life.” This thoughtful gift doesn’t require much thought. In fact, you can purchase it on your way to the celebration. StoryWorth, storyworth. com, $99. Products reflect prices at press time. Mandy Howard is a Parenting Media Assocation award-winning writer and mother of three in Raleigh. | DECEMBER 2019


Smart Speakers: Smart Choice? Weighing the pros and cons of welcoming Alexa or Google Assistant into your home BY CAROLYN CAGGIA


he 1960s sci-fi TV series “Star Trek” introduced an array of futuristic gadgets, like a flip phone communicator, Uhura’s Bluetooth-esque earpiece and voice interface computers. Today we’ve adopted technology that was once the science fiction of the past — and we have even invited it into our own homes.

Amazon introduced Alexa as part of its Amazon Echo line of smart speakers in 2014. Google Assistant, which was released in 2016 as part of the Google Home series, is another cloud-based service that can be accessed via smartphone or speakers, and features products ranging from the Google Home Mini to the Google Home Max. Apple’s

Google Home Series

Photos courtesy of SerialTravelers/ (top); Colin Hui/ (bottom right); Pianodiaphragm/ (bottom right)

In the Clouds



HomePod speaker, released in 2017, allows users to tap into Siri’s vast knowledge without having to use an iPhone. Users can interact with these virtual assistants by using their voice to request that they play music, check the weather and answer general questions. These products can also talk to other smart home devices to turn on the lights, change a home’s temperature and more. Interactions begin with an activation “wake word.” For Alexa, users might say: “Alexa, what’s 5 times 2?” “Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes.” “Alexa, play ‘Baby Shark’!”

Smart Benefits Brian Gribbin of Saxapahaw, a father of two kids ages 10 and 12, says playing music is the most popular way his family uses Alexa.

“We pay the $1.99 a month and it gives you access to a never-ending ocean of music,” he says. “The kids love it, and we all like a different genre.” He says using Alexa to play music brings the family together and makes chores more fun. “We have danced together in the kitchen while I rinse dishes and the kids fill the dishwasher,” he says. Families can also use cloud-based devices to make calls or send messages to approved contacts (although users can’t receive calls or messages using these devices). Smart speakers can replace screen time, too, since kids can use them to listen to music or a family podcast without resorting to opening a laptop or checking a smartphone. “[Alexa] does make looking things up a bit easier,” Gribbin says, adding that his children have used Alexa to get help with homework from time to time. “It’s funny — I used to use encyclopedias. The next generation had Google. Now my kids just ask Alexa.”

Virtual Personalities Alexa is a virtual personality. She can provide basic homework help or crack a pre-programmed joke, but she can’t carry on a conversation the same way a human can. Thanks to the development of such intelligent software for homes, many parents are asking: “How should our children interact with virtual personalities?” A 2019 study published by the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology suggests that children view robotic entities as occupying a middle, moral ground between living and inanimate entities — affording robots less concern than people or animals, but more concern than a stuffed toy or a box. Since smart speakers are

recordings to their respective companies to improve their services, but users can opt out of sharing data. Parents can use the services’ apps to monitor and control children’s interactions. Kid-friendly features include filtering explicit music, setting bedtime and daily time limits, and establishing purchasing limits.

Overall, smart speakers can be used for a variety of purposes. Parental controls and privacy settings can help you tailor your family’s experience with these popular devices so everyone can enjoy using them. Carolyn Caggia is a communicator and graphic designer in Cary.

Photo courtesy of Apple

Apple HomePod

relatively new devices, there has been little research thus far about how they directly affect children’s development. However, researcher Pamela Pavliscak, a futurist who studies emotional relationships with technology, has discovered that kids and teens often look at Alexa as a “friend of the family,” according to an April 30, 2018, NPR article titled, “Kids, Meet Alexa, Your AI [Artificial Intelligence] Mary Poppins.” The Atlantic refers to Alexa as a digital genie in an April 23, 2018, article titled, “Alexa and the Age of Casual Rudeness.” When all a kid has to say is, “Alexa, set volume to 5,” or “Alexa, play ‘20 Questions,’” your wish is her command. This effortless method of retrieving information makes it easier for kids to withhold manners. What’s a parent to do? Ask your kids to say “please” and “thank you” to Alexa or Google Assistant. You can also consider purchasing the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition, which encourages good manners through positive reinforcement.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Amazon Alexa’s privacy policy states that she records all interactions and stores them securely in Amazon’s clouds. “You’ll always know when Alexa is recording and sending your request to Amazon’s secure cloud because a blue light indicator will appear or an audio tone will sound on your Echo device,” the policy states. “You can view, hear and delete your voice recordings at Alexa Privacy Settings or in the Alexa app at any time. To delete by voice, you can also say, ‘Alexa, delete what I just said,’ or ‘Alexa, delete everything I said today.’” Amazon’s FAQ states that Echo devices only store audio when the wake word is detected. Recordings are sent to Amazon’s cloud, where the request is processed and answered. Google Home devices function similarly, storing customizations such as names and interests. Both devices can be muted, and both services provide apps that allow you to view your data and delete your history at any time. Devices sometimes send

Amazon Echo Dot

Big Brother | DECEMBER 2019


MVP Math, Part 2: Not a Textbook Case Understanding WCPSS’s curriculum decisions and purchases BY BETH SHUGG

“The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple.”


Image courtesy of Kumer Oksana/

his quote by American mathematician Stan Gudder sums up how some math-minded professionals and teachers think math should be. It also represents what many math students would like for it to be. But if you’re following our series on Wake County Public School System’s implementation of Mathematics Vision Project’s Math 1, Math 2 and Math 3 curriculum, you already know that more than a few parents believe it complicates their student’s ability to learn math. Some families are paying as much as $85 per hour for their students to be tutored to make up for what they aren’t learning at school. Cliff Chafin, owner of Chapel Hill Math Tutor, is currently working with several of these students, as well as teachers who are trying to understand the best way to teach MVP. Chafin says he uses MVP with his students on a “very individual basis — like a one-onone tailored basis,” so students can make connections as they go, but he does not believe it should be used as a course curriculum. “The company advertises it as sort of an exploratory approach to learning, and there are people objecting that this was never validated as a reasonable approach,” he says. “I don’t know how you could possibly scale that to a curriculum, and that’s what Mathematics Vision Project seems to be trying to do … I don’t understand how they think they can do that in a course setting.” Teachers who like the new curriculum say it can be done and, in fact, feel this new way of learning math is long overdue. “In classroom lessons, students are encouraged to offer their thoughts and discover logical reasoning for their strategies,” says John Pritchett, a Math 1 and Math 3 teacher at Athens Drive Magnet High School in Raleigh. “By design, student thinking is not only acknowledged, but celebrated.” RECESSION = BUDGET CUTS To understand how WCPSS arrived at the process that led to implementation of MVP, administrators point to the December 2007June 2009 economic recession. WCPSS Assistant Superintendent for Academics Drew Cook says the district began feeling the effects of the recession during the 2009-10 school year, and that it resulted in budget cuts that caused “significant reductions” and, in some cases, “elimination” of funding for textbooks. He added that many of the school system’s textbooks being used at that time were already tired and outdated. “There were textbooks that had survived seven or eight years of multiple use by hundreds of students,” he says. “There were teachers



who were using old math textbooks. Quite frankly, I remember my own daughter coming home with photo copies of textbooks because there weren’t enough textbooks for kids in the classroom.” Cook says this was one of the factors that led to the school system’s decision to conduct an external curriculum audit of WCPSS in 2016, the results of which made it “very clear” the district needed a consistent math curriculum countywide. So, in spring 2017, WCPSS administrators filled that gap with MVP. “Ultimately, based on alignment to standards and also the breadth and the depth of resources and support that it provided, the district landed on MVP in 2017 as the best option,” Cook says. FOLLOWING THE MONEY Carolina Parent has obtained public record documents issued by WCPSS Chief of Communications Tim Simmons showing the annual funding North Carolina Department of Public Instruction allotted to WCPSS for textbooks since the 2008-09 school year. The allotments listed below reflect the totals after charter school expenses were deducted and, when combined, equal $51,356,687 over the course of the 11-year period. It’s important to note that NCDPI allows school districts some flexibility regarding use of textbook funding for school-specific needs. (More on that later.) The budget cuts Cook refers to began in 2009-10. As noted in the chart on page 19, WCPSS’s textbook budget was $9,310,352 in 200809. It dipped to an alarming $243,734 in 2010-11. By 2017-18, the year MVP was implemented, the budget had risen to $7,455,978. “You can see that we went from $9.3 million in 2008-09 to $243,734 in 2010-11, then up to just over $2 million in 2011-12,” says Michael Yarbrough, senior administrator for communications at WCPSS. “During lean times you have to really work to make things last longer.” WCPSS’s student population, noted in the chart as “second month average daily membership,” increased annually during this time as well. The smallest increase occurred between 2017-18 and 2018-19, when the ADM only went up by 42 students. Prior to the adoption of MVP, WCPSS Math 1 proficiency scores were in the 40th-70th percentile range, depending on which WCPSS data set is used. After modest gains following the first year MVP was implemented, both WCPSS and NCDPI data sets show that those scores dropped after the second year. WCPSS and NCDPI have released different proficiency percentages based on how they report testing data, and therefore provide different explanations and percentages for why and how much those scores dropped. We will cover this in part three of this series.





































* Numbers reflect the budget after funds for charter schools were deducted. ** Average daily membership (ADM) is the total days in membership for all students over the school year divided by the number of days school was in session. SOURCE: WCPSS Chief of Communications Tim Simmons

NCDPI uses a formula that produces a dollar amount per ADM that ranged from $67 per ADM in 2007-08 down to $14.26 per ADM in 2012-13 and up to $38.67 per ADM in 2018-19. As noted in part one of this series, MVP publishes materials free of cost under a Creative Commons license, but makes ancillary curriculum support and professional development products available for purchase. As of Sept. 20, 2019, WCPSS had spent approximately $1.7 million on purchases from MVP, according to Yarbrough. This figure does not include the $125,000 approved by the WCPSS Board of Education to cover a third-party independent evaluation by MGT Consulting Group, which is headquartered in Tampa, Florida. That evaluation is currently underway, with a report of the results expected to be presented at the Dec. 16, 2019, WCPSS board meeting. Also, MVP requires a recurring printing fee for one-timeuse workbooks, which are discarded after each semester. There are also expenses related to ongoing professional development for teachers who are teaching MVP math. TRACKING TEXTBOOK EXPENDITURES Sandy Joiner, parent of a WCPSS high school student in Cary, would like to know how the school system spent the remaining funds for textbooks during the last 11 years. “Where did the textbook allotment money go?” she asks. “Can it be tracked past the school level? We could have bought a math textbook for every Math 1, 2 and 3 student in Wake County with the allotment money, and the textbooks could have been used for years.” Joiner is not the only parent asking this question. On July 15, 2019, a post to the private Facebook group “Parents of MVP Math Students in WCPSS” containing the same public information referenced in this story, netted 114 comments. Because this is a private group, Carolina Parent will not publish the comments, but group owner Blain Dillard, parent of a Green Hope High School student who took Math 2 last year and who will be taking Math 3

this spring, confirms that many of the comments mirror Joiner’s concerns. As of Nov. 8, 2019, the group had 2,043 members. In response to a different parent’s*** public request for information on how WCPSS’s textbook budget is spent, Simmons confirmed that this is not easily tracked and provided the following statement, which Yarbrough confirmed and gave Carolina Parent permission to include in this story: “More specifically, the school can use state textbook money allotted to them for different items, such as the printing of math materials and replenishment of science materials, as well as expenses related to general classroom supplies and materials. While the total amount expended within the budget code that identifies the school is tracked centrally, the specific items purchased with the funding are not. This provides the schools that have different needs the flexibility to spend money on those different needs without seeking central approval for every purchase. The district can, of course, audit a school’s spending down to the dollar if or as needed, but that is not expected by policy or law.” According to section 115C-98 of NCDPI’s public school laws, “Local boards of education shall have sole authority to select and procure supplementary instructional materials, whether or not the materials contain commercial advertising, to determine if the materials are related to and within the limits of the prescribed curriculum, and to determine when the materials may be presented to students during the school day. Supplementary materials and contracts for supplementary materials are not subject to approval by the State Board of Education. Supplementary books and other instructional materials shall neither displace nor be used to the exclusion of basic textbooks.” Carolina Parent contacted WCPSS to request examples of some of the specific items schools spent the remaining textbook funds on but, as of press time for this issue, we had not received a response. We will update this story online if and when we receive that information. WHAT ARE OTHER SCHOOL SYSTEMS AND PRIVATE/PREP SCHOOLS AND DOING? According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau, there were 14,000 school districts in the U.S. in 2010. (This number is likely much higher now, since this data is almost 10 years old.) WCPSS is the state’s largest and nation’s 15th largest school system. Janet Sutorius, co-founder of MVP, reported in September 2019 that the number of U.S. school districts using MVP is “at least 50” and that “this number is growing.” So if the number of U.S. school districts using MVP amounts to less than 0.4%, what math curriculum are other large school systems using? A joint U.S.-Korea workshop that took place in July 2012 titled, “Mathematics Curriculum, Teacher Professionalism, and Supporting Policies in Korea and the United States,” sheds light on this subject. A summary report from the workshop, held by the U.S. National Commission on Mathematics Instruction and Seoul National University, states that three major publishers — Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and McGraw-Hill Education — “dominated” the math curriculum market at that time, claiming 90% of textbook sales. The report also states that in 1989 the National Council of Teachers and Mathematics (NCTM) developed standards for math curriculum reform created in response to a federally commissioned report produced in 1983 called “A Nation at Risk.” Key features of those standards included: “increased attention to conceptual understanding, problem solving and reasoning; and decreased attention to the teaching of rote procedures.” ***This parent wishes to remain anonymous. | DECEMBER 2019


This reform may have planted the seeds for what would soon lead to the next big math curriculum reform: the Common Core State Standards, which began to spread across the country in 2009. Not long after, all three of the nation’s largest math curriculum publishers — Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and McGraw-Hill Education — began offering Common Core textbooks and worksheets in fulfillment of those standards and to retain their hold on the market. Common Core landed in North Carolina in 2010 and by 2012, it had been implemented in 45 states. Eureka Math is another Common Core-aligned curriculum currently in use by some school districts in states such as New York, Louisiana and Tennessee. Business Insider’s list of the most elite boarding schools, such as Phillips Exeter Academy, Groton School and Milton Academy, typically follow a traditional high school math curriculum that teaches algebra I, geometry, algebra II, trigonometry, precalculus and advanced math subjects, such as college-level calculus, integrated math, statistics and data analysis. Most, if not all of these classes, are also offered at top prep high schools across the country, according to information provided by the schools. Examples of these high schools, according to Forbes’ list of 20 best prep schools and Niche’s list of 3,903 private secondary schools include (in addition to Phillips Exeter Academy) Phillips Academy, Harvard-West Lake, Trinity School and Chaote Rosemary Hall. Locally, many private schools are also following a traditional math curriculum. Cary Christian School uses Larson Texts for algebra 1 and geometry, and Forester Math Books for algebra 2, trigonometry and pre-calculus. Trinity Academy in Raleigh uses Prentice Hall Mathematics textbooks for algebra 1, geometry and algebra 2.

WCPSS EXPECTED TO BE MEETING COMMON CORE STANDARDS Prior to choosing MVP in 2016, WCPSS considered one other curriculum: McGraw Hill Education’s Core-Plus. After choosing MVP, procurement of the curriculum began, and it was implemented for Math 1 in time for the 2017-18 school year. As we reported in part one of this series, both Cook and Michelle Tucker, director of K-12 mathematics for WCPSS, believe MVP aligns to the Common Core State Standards. “NCTM has guiding principles that establish how students should interact with math and then the principles of instructional practices for how teachers should then deliver instruction,” Tucker says. “And so when we look at the core curriculum of MVP, it aligns to what those standards are. There are what NCTM defines as the expected teaching practices, so we’re excited to see those things come alive for both our teachers and our students in the classroom.” NCDPI adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010 and, soon after, adjusted end-of-course Math 1, Math 2 and Math 3 tests to align to those standards. Since WCPSS administrators agree that MVP aligns to the Common Core State Standards, the expectation has been that students will perform well on the Math 1 and Math 3 state tests (there is currently not a state test for Math 2). In part three of this series, we’ll look into whether or not that has happened. Beth Shugg is the editor of Carolina Parent and a mother of three children, none of whom were impacted by MVP math. Email comments and feedback to her at

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Babies & Toddlers If you’re an expectant or new mom, or recently welcomed another baby to your growing family, this special section is for you. Learn about modern midwifery and how pregnancy and motherhood affect your brain chemistry. Plus, visit us at to explore our comprehensive directory of baby and toddler resource listings — from birthing centers to parent support classes. | DECEMBER 2019


Modern Midwifery This traditional birthing option has evolved to meet the needs of today’s pregnant moms BY SAMANTHA GRATTON


hen you or someone you know is pregnant, there are multiple appointments throughout the pregnancy leading up to the big event: labor and delivery. Having support throughout that journey is pivotal to a pregnant woman’s care and experience. For some, the person providing that support is a midwife. “Midwives have been around as long as women have been having babies,” says Sarah Dumas, a certified nurse midwife and clinical director at the Women’s Birth & Wellness Center in Chapel Hill. The term midwife means “with woman” and, for generations, it has been used to describe the person who assists a mother giving birth. Dumas is a second-generation midwife who grew up



attending births as a Red Cross volunteer in a military hospital before going to nursing school, working in an intensive care unit and, later, attending midwifery school. Traditionally, up until the 1900s, midwifery was passed down from one generation to another through apprenticeships. Today, it is a profession most commonly achieved after first working as a certified nurse before earning a master’s degree in a midwifery program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. This requires passing a certification examination as well. “Nurse midwives, in training, learn wellwoman care, primary care, breast health, gynecology, contraception, pregnancy, birth,

WHERE NURSE MIDWIVES PRACTICE There are midwives who practice in every setting: hospitals, birthing centers and home births — although state regulations vary, and North Carolina laws currently do not allow home births. Midwives are required to work under the supervision of a licensed medical physician. As more women seek midwifery care, more hospitals and OB-GYN practices are including it as a part of their services. As the only free-standing birth center in the Triangle, the Women’s Birth & Wellness Center has been around for more than 20 years and treats mothers who travel from as far east as Wilmington, as well as from border states Virginia and South Carolina, to experience an unmedicated birth. Most patients commute 45-60 minutes for regular appointments, labor and delivery. The birthing center places an emphasis on education and offers optional community prenatal care. Mothers must be low-risk and are given the flexibility during labor to move freely and in whatever desired position they feel comfortable. The center also offers patients a water birth option. Two myths about midwifery are that it is exclusively for mothers who want to experience an unmedicated childbirth and can only be found outside of a hospital setting. “Midwifery care is not just for people who want unmedicated births; midwifery care is for anyone wanting to have a baby,” Dumas says. Midwifery care is becoming more common in hospitals, with some supporting a model that prioritizes making a midwife the first provider on call, with a patient’s physician available if needed. Duke Regional Hospital is currently working toward providing that model 24/7. Mothers can still have a home-like experience in a hospital labor room by bringing in comfort items, such as pillows or clothes, says Lisa Barkley, a certified nurse midwife with Duke Health. Some hospitals offer labor rooms that resemble bedrooms.

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postpartum and newborn care (for the first 28 days of life),” Dumas says. “It’s got a breadth to it, certainly.”

Special Section: Babies & Toddlers Aesthetics aside, Barkley says she tries to give them the experience they are looking for because “it’s such an important time in their life.” She says she gets “all types of patients — some that want very little intervention, to women that want everything. I stay with the patient during the entire labor and delivery process. Push with her, help with pain management — that’s what you’ll find with most midwives.” Originally a labor and delivery nurse, Barkley pursued midwifery after her own experience delivering three of her children with the support of a midwife. That same midwife later became one of her professional mentors and friends. “Probably the main reason I became a midwife is because of the care she gave,” Barkley says. EMPOWERED PARENTS HAVE CHOICES “Parents have become more empowered to speak up for what they want, compared to 20 or 10 years ago,” Barkley says. This means mothers and their partners are more often wanting to have input, ask

as allowing various labor positions or taking a more educational approach. “More women are specifically asking for midwifery care, wanting to have a voice and be an active participant in their care. The midwifery model has shared decisionmaking at its core,” says Dumas, who feels the popularity of midwifery has increased, in part due to social media and the internet. Instead of being bound by limited exposure and understanding within one’s own town, or via family members’ experiences, information about other options is more readily available online. While there are always going to be some “not great midwives,” Dumas says it’s important to recognize that one type of provider isn’t necessarily better than another. In general, she says, “if you want to have a partner helping figure out how you want to be taken care of and assisted during birth, midwifery can be really excellent.”

questions and make decisions about the kind of labor experience they want. And because midwives place such an emphasis on support, they are able to take more time to educate and build relationships with patients. The faith and trust parents-to-be put in their midwives speaks to how special they are to their patients. That relationship goes both ways, Barkley says. “I’m trying to put into words how much my patients mean to me; it is investing in the patients’ lives,” Barkley says. “[For] some of them, I delivered three or four of their children.” Barkley has seen a shift with more midwives becoming involved in legislation and helping to train and teach medical students. Nurse midwives are able to write prescriptions and do some medical procedures, but there still are limitations in terms of what nurse midwives can do and how widely accepted they are in the medical field. However, Dumas says some hospitals and physicians have adopted practices more common in traditional midwifery care, such

Samantha Gratton is a freelance writer in Raleigh who enjoys traveling on a budget, rock climbing and doting on her little ones.


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Special Section: Babies & Toddlers

Mom Brain

How pregnancy and motherhood affect a woman’s brain BY CAITLIN WHEELER


hen a woman becomes pregnant, many questions

for the developing fetus, but also to signal the maternal brain

enter her brain except, perhaps, the one that pertains

to respond.

directly to it: Does pregnancy and motherhood affect a woman’s brain?

“Yes,” says Liisa Galea, a professor of psychology and director of the graduate program in neuroscience at The Women’s Health

Bridges emphasizes the pre-optic area of the expectant mother’s brain, which increases production of natural opioids during gestation, then decreases production after delivery. “The opioid system helps manage pain, but excessive opioid

Research Institute at the University of British Columbia. “Exercise

production may also be disruptive to maternal care,” he says,

affects the brain. Diet affects the brain. Of course, having a baby is

explaining its rise and fall. Bridges has observed a connection

going to affect your brain.”

between higher levels of dopamine following birth and the

And that’s a good thing, she says. The changes in a

receptiveness of the brain’s reward system, which is helpful in

woman’s brain during pregnancy ease her transition

infant bonding, and says “oxytocin is also integral to

to motherhood by prepping her mind for

mother-child bonding.”

bonding and vital maternal behavior.

One of his studies demonstrates the

“During pregnancy, a mother’s brain

longer-term effect of these hormones,

is primed for attachment — luckily!”

as well as what he calls a “shift in the

she says. “Before I had my children, I

brain.” In the study, females who had

was totally selfish. But the moment

previously given birth displayed

my baby was in my arms, all I could

an increased facility in how their

think about was him.”

brain interpreted and responded to pregnancy hormones, compared with first-time mothers.

HORMONES Remember that crazy love you felt for your newborn? Yes, it was partly


because he was the most amazing creature

In addition to the flow of hormones

Image courtesy of Carla Francesca Castagno/

ever born — but it was also your body’s

affecting cognition, pregnancy induces

dramatic increase in oxytocin, prolactin and progesterone prodding your brain to adapt. Robert Bridges, a professor of neuroscience and reproductive

structural changes in the brain in order to ease and direct hormone flow. Bridges says these changes occur primarily in the brain’s gray matter and medial pre-optic

biology and behavioral neuroendocrinology at Tufts University,

area, which is part of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and is

has been studying the biological basis of maternal behavior since

related to stress response. Galea has reviewed studies that confirm

1974, focusing his research on the endocrine system and brain.

these changes.

His animal studies reveal that all animals have the capacity to

“Research shows that there is a general reduction in the

respond to infants, but that “the physiological changes in the

amount of gray matter in a pregnant woman’s brain,” she says,

brain during pregnancy especially prime an expectant female for

referencing a 2016 study led by neuroscientist Elseline Hoekzema

motherhood,” he says.

of Leiden University.

Estrogen, progesterone and prolactin increase “as much as five hundredfold” Galea says. They work not only to provide

Gray matter is associated with effective executive function, which includes working memory, planning and problem solving. | DECEMBER 2019


Special Section: Babies & Toddlers

While its loss might sound alarming, the reduction in gray matter

is thus primed by pregnancy and childbirth to effectively adapt and

simply makes room for skills more vital to early motherhood.

change in response to each of her children.

“Don’t confuse more with better,” Galea says. “Sometimes less is better,” adding that the same study did not observe a


reduction in cognitive function (e.g. memory), but did find

The heightened sensitivity in the brain brought on by pregnancy

that less gray matter was associated with a more effective

hormones and brain adjustments may make new mothers vulnerable

mother-infant attachment.

to anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Galea also points out that the loss in gray matter during pregnancy is temporary.

“An appropriate level of anxiety can morph from a motivating level into obsession,” Atkinson says, adding that postpartum

“It builds back up postpartum,” she says.

depression, anxiety or OCD affects one out of seven new mothers,

And studies indicate that within five years, woman who had

and that women “don’t realize that pregnancy hormones really

children actually performed better than non-mothers on memory tests. “Not only does the gray matter regenerate — it is potentially stronger than ever,” she says. While gray matter decreases to make way for nurturing,

amplify what they’ve experienced before.” Amanda Harp, an assistant professor of psychology in the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders, says a lot of her patients are naturally more anxious people who, up until

Bridges notes that the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which

pregnancy, have been able to manage it. “Some are just more

processes anxiety and fear, is more responsive during pregnancy

sensitive to hormones,” she says, noting that studies are underway

and postpartum. This makes a woman more sensitive to hormone

at the center to look at whether there is a specific phenotype for

triggers and, thus, more sensitive to her baby’s needs.

hormone-sensitive women.

“A certain increase in anxiety is good,” says Audrey Atkinson,

Harp notes that depression is particularly tricky in pregnancy

a licensed clinical psychologist and owner of Balanced Mind

and early motherhood because it is difficult for a new mother

Psychological Services in Davidson. “It encourages a new mother

to find time to seek help. She says she hopes increased access to

to be vigilant in feeding and caring for her infant, to be particularly

telemedicine will serve as a boon for addressing this problem.

sensitive to her baby’s cry and to be protective of the infant from

Atkinson is also hopeful, citing improved publicity and acceptability

outside threats.”

of this issue.



The helpful rush of hormones does not buoy a mother much

It makes sense that such dramatic changes to the brain could have

beyond the first few months of parenting. That’s when the brain’s

long-term effects, and there are studies being done that may make a

plasticity and reward system kick in. Dopamine, one of the

positive impact on addressing these issues.

hormones that increases postpartum, may help boost the plasticity of the brain’s neural systems. “It may make the brain’s reward system more effective,” Bridges says, “allowing a mother’s brain to change and adapt with the needs of her child.”

In a current study of middle-aged women, Galea is finding health differences between women who have been pregnant versus those who have not. “We are noticing differences in disease susceptibility,” she says. “For example, women who have had multiple births may be more

Beyond age 2, “a parent’s behavior with her growing child will

vulnerable to Alzheimer’s. At the same time, motherhood appears

be powerfully influenced by the child’s behavior and temperament,”

to provide some protection against breast and ovarian cancer. We

says Kirby Deater-Deckard, a developmental psychologist and

are also seeing markedly different reactions to hormone therapy.”

professor of brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts

These distinctions are not better or worse, she points out — just

Amherst, as well as director of the Healthy Development Initiative

different. “The more we know about these differences, the better

at the UMass Center in Springfield.

we will be able to treat individuals,” she says. “This is incredibly

Deater-Deckard has found that a child’s behavior during

important research.”

parent-child interaction has a more profound effect on a mother’s parenting behavior in the moment than any other factor, including

Caitlin Wheeler is a Parenting Media Association award-winning

socioeconomic, familial or health-related issues. A mother’s brain

writer who lives in Durham.




Holiday Gifts That Foster Motor Development BY REBECCA QUINONES AND RACHEL GANDY


Play Mat photo courtesy of DinaPhoto/ Shape Sorter photo courtesy of Abimages/

ith the holidays approaching, many families are thinking about gifts for babies. We created this holiday gift list to help parents (and grandparents) choose items that are not only fun, but that also help promote a baby’s development.

BABY PLAY MAT OR ACTIVITY GYM Play mats and activity gyms provide a great place for baby to play on her back, tummy or side, or while sitting up. The toys that hang down encourage her to reach up and may offer a rattle, chime, crinkle or light to reward her for reaching them, providing great sensory feedback. Some models come with a pillow that can be used under her chest to make tummy time easier. The surface of the mat may have fun textures, mirrors and flaps for baby to explore, too. PLAY TABLE WITH REMOVABLE LEGS (NEED TO FIND A PHOTO OF THIS) A play table is a toy that will grow with your baby. The legs can be removed to help your baby reach the toys before he can stand. When your little one is sitting up, you can add two legs to provide an angled surface for him to sit and play at. Once he is getting up on his feet, you can add the other legs, which encourage him to pull up to play. LINKS They seem like simple toys at first, but links are incredibly versatile. Their small size makes it easy for baby to grip onto them from an early age. The various textures are great for exploring with her hands and

mouth. They can be linked together to make a rattle or to hang other toys. STACKING AND NESTING TOYS Stacking cups and nesting toys are also seemingly simple yet versatile toys your baby will love. The pieces may be grabbed with one hand or two, and encourage her to learn about grasp, release and in-hand manipulation. Baby will love taking them apart, and she will eventually learn how to put them together, which helps her practice hand-eye coordination. POP-UP TOY A pop-up toy is a great choice for helping baby learn about cause and effect. When he performs the function of pushing, pulling or twisting a lever, he is rewarded with a fun figure that pops up. Learning to master the different levers develops your baby’s fine motor and problem-solving skills. SHAPE SORTER

Little ones will love having a container of easy-to-grip shapes to dump out, grab and mouth. As your baby progresses, she will learn how to put the shapes into the bucket. Container play is great for your baby’s fine motor and cognitive development. Plus, once she figures out how to put toys in, she has also learned how to help clean up! This toy will grow with baby, as she problemsolves, learns to recognize shapes and colors, and figures out how to match and categorize the blocks.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS Babies love music. Playing with and learning how to use instruments will help him refine his motor skills and learn how to balance himself when sitting and standing — even more so when he starts to bounce or sway to the beat. Music is also great for baby’s language and cognitive development. BALLS Providing balls in various sizes and textures for your baby to play with challenges her ability to grab them — using one or two hands — and to explore the various textures. Early on, balls are great for grasping, holding and releasing. As she progresses, she will enjoy rolling, throwing and kicking them. RIDE-ON TOYS Your older baby will love to go for a ride on a ride-on toy, which is great at challenging his balance and stimulating his vestibular system. As he gets bigger and stronger, he will be able to propel it himself, which will increase his leg and core strength. ACTIVITY CLASSES A wonderful gift for your little one is an activity or experience such as a parent-baby class. Babies On The MOVE classes provide fun learning opportunities that will benefit your baby long after class has ended. Check out other local classes, such SproutSongs Music and Kindermusik, for more fun experiences with your baby. Rebecca Quinones and Rachel Gandy, both of whom have doctorates in physical therapy, are founders of Babies On The MOVE, a Cary-based organization committed to helping children excel in motor development with in-home pediatric physical therapy and community-based infant movement classes for all abilities. Learn more about their services at | DECEMBER 2019



Helping children handle the strongest of feelings BY MALIA JACOBSON


toddler throwing a theatrical tantrum in the grocery store can make any parent feel like shrieking in frustration, but tantrums are part of the development process as children learn to manage hard feelings. Tantrums may be normal, particularly during the preschool years, but that doesn’t mean we, as parents, must accept them as a way of life. If meltdowns are making parenting a chore, read on for age-by-age strategies to help diffuse anger, calm chaos and turn tantrums around.

EARLY YEARS Cooling Off A toddler or preschooler who throws tantrums is probably perfectly normal: 75% of kids experience tantrums between ages 3 and 5, and the mean age for tantrum behavior is 4.5, according to research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Tantrums that regularly disrupt school or home life — or those during which a child becomes violent or destructive — however, are signs your child may be struggling with overwhelming emotions or dealing with a challenging transition, says licensed counselor Leslie Petruk, a play therapist



at The Stone Center for Counseling and Leadership in Charlotte. Other signs include regressive behavior like a sudden return to bedwetting, thumbsucking or baby talk; an increase in sibling fighting; and aggressive or defiant behavior. “These are ways that children communicate that they’re struggling, and that often can be related to transitions. For some children, a change in routine creates major anxiety,” Petruk says. To help diffuse tantrums, Petruk teaches parents the three Cs: calm, curious and collaboration. “If you calmly reflect your child’s feelings and become curious about why they’re upset, you can then collaborate with your child by figuring out what will help them feel better,” she says.

ELEMENTARY YEARS Fits and Starts Around first or second grade, the number of children having tantrums tapers. After age 8, there’s another significant drop, but for the one in five kids ages 6-8 that display uncontrollable emotions via temper tantrums, these outbursts can be disruptive, upsetting and even shameful. Exasperated parents may be fed up and ready to punish older children for melting

TEEN YEARS In Control Bona fide temper tantrums are rare for teens. Communicating anger with outbursts that feature yelling, door slamming, tears or name-calling is more the norm. Learning to regulate strong emotions is still in process for teens who need guidance from parents on managing anger, says board-certified pediatrician Charles I. Shubin of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. He suggests the behavior modification approach: positively reinforcing desirable behaviors along the lines of “I appreciated how you talked through that conflict at the store without yelling,” and ignoring unacceptable ones, which might sound like “I’m not going to continue this conversation until you can lower your voice.” Make sure your teen knows your family’s rules and expectations for behavior, like “we don’t scream at each other,” or “when things get heated, we take a break to cool down.” Finally, when your teen shows emotional maturity during a difficult conversation, offer a sincere compliment. Recognizing signs of growth, even small ones, can go a long way toward encouraging emotional and behavioral regulation, and fewer angry outbursts in the future. Malia Jacobson is a nationally published health journalist and author of “Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep, So You Can Sleep Too.”

Image courtesy of Kidzuki/

Transform Tantrums

down — but keep in mind that your child doesn’t want to lose control any more than you want him to, and the tantrum is likely a distressing experience for him, too. Because older children are probably better able to talk about their feelings than toddlers and preschoolers, choose a calm moment to talk about what might be triggering these meltdowns. Next, help your child develop strategies for selfsoothing to stop a tantrum before it starts. Stanford University research shows that deep breathing dials down anxiety that can lead to tantrums. Try a fidget spinner exercise: Have your child give her fidget spinner a twirl, then breathe deeply in and out until it stops spinning.


Helping Children Through Winter Holiday Routine Changes BY LUCY DANIELS CENTER STAFF

Image courtesy of Aleutie/


he festivities leading up to and during the winter holidays can bring about many changes and disruptions to a family’s routine. Some children take these changes in stride, while others may need extra support to manage the excitement of the season. Children, especially under age 6, depend a great deal on routines for a sense of comfort. Of course, routines sometimes change. Learning to cope with changes is an important achievement that emerges over time. Parents can help children with this developmental task when they talk about the disruptions, including having preparatory discussions when they anticipate them, and reflective discussions when they don’t occur as anticipated. Parents can ease anxiety around disruptions in routines by maintaining as much age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate structure as possible, while providing additional support around the parts of the routine that are different. In addition to the anticipation of giving and receiving gifts, there are a number of disruptions to the usual routine that occur for many families this time of year. • Schools close for a week or two, so a child’s daily routine and connection with teachers and friends are temporarily interrupted.

• Some families travel while others welcome relatives or guests. In either case, children are visiting with people they may not see very often, and may be sleeping (and going to bed later) in unfamiliar places. • During this time of so much activity and excitement, there is the added cultural pressure for some children to maintain proper behavior if Santa is “keeping a list” and watching their behavior.

MAINTAINING STRUCTURE AND PROVIDING SUPPORT Maintaining the structure of some of your child’s routines, such as bedtime stories and providing familiar comfort objects, can help when there are other disruptions. Sometimes, simply talking about what a child can expect each day is enough support to ensure that child’s success and comfort. Children benefit from adults putting words to experiences, and words that describe potential feelings are especially helpful. For example, a parent expecting visitors could say, “Today may feel a little different because we have some errands to run, and then Aunt Sue and Uncle Joe will be here. We haven’t seen them since last year, so it may feel a little strange at first.”

Changes in behavior usually indicate that a child feels different in some way. Some children may seem more excitable and have a harder time settling down. Others may seem quieter, more withdrawn or less interested in their usual pleasures. For young children, the magical thinking related to Christmas holiday traditions makes this time of year both exciting and worrisome. Some families may be able to ease a child’s anxiety by playing down the magical elements of Christmas; in particular, those that lead a child to feel watched (such as the “elf on the shelf ” or “naughty and nice” lists).

WHEN TO SEEK HELP Some children have difficulty with changes to their routine in general. The anticipation of birthdays, traveling or visitors may cause changes in behavior that interfere with your family’s ability to carry on smoothly. If your child has particular difficulty with changes throughout the year, help from a professional may add to your understanding of how to best support his or her development. The Lucy Daniels Center is a nonprofit agency in Cary that promotes the emotional health and well-being of children and families. Visit to learn more. | DECEMBER 2019



Transactions and Distractions 7 Tips for safe holiday online shopping


his holiday season, online sales are projected to grow 14-18% compared to 2018, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday retail projections, with nearly a quarter of annual online buying occurring Nov. 1-Dec. 31. It’s no surprise that online shopping is so popular, since it offers a range of fast and convenient options to free up much-needed time while families juggle packed holiday agendas, shuttle kids to a seemingly endless stream of events and enjoy time with loved ones. Unfortunately, thieves see these distractions as opportunities. Online safety can seem like a luxury in our quest to make 2019 the best holiday season yet, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some easy and helpful hints to keep your family’s finances safe this holiday season. 1. Use a credit — not debit — card for online holiday purchases. Using a credit card protects your bank account in case of fraud, because they come with a “chargeback” feature that can be applied when a purchase is not legitimate, whereas thieves can empty a debit card linked to your bank account if they can access it. Compromised bank accounts also give thieves all the information they need to open new lines of credit and damage your credit rating. 2. Watch out for bogus charities and donations. The holiday season is a time of giving to others, but thieves often seek to take advantage of joyful spirits. The Federal



Trade Commission lists the following as warning signs that a charity could be a scam: • There is little to no information about how the donations will be used by the charity. • You feel pressure to donate immediately. • The charity asks for cash donations, gift cards or money to be wired to it. 3. ’Tis the season … for email scams. Most inboxes are bombarded on a regular basis, but this is especially true during the holiday season, when retailers know we’re in a shopping mood. Scammers seek to take advantage of this as well with schemes that seem to be getting more sophisticated each year. If you receive an email from an unknown sender, the email has attachments or the email promises something too good to be true, delete it. Manage your inbox with caution all year, but especially during the holiday season. 4. Reset your passwords. Use the holiday season as a standard time to reset your passwords. Yes, you’ve been promising yourself that you would do this on a regular basis, so why not now? Here are some key points to consider when resetting your password security: • Use a variation of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols in your passwords. • Don’t use personal information, such as birthdays. • Avoid using the same password across multiple accounts. If thieves crack one, they will definitely try using it on your other accounts.

5. Be cautious with public Wi-Fi. Use caution and don’t any make transactions on public Wi-Fi. With a little know-how, thieves can intercept your data while you’re entering sensitive information during transactions on public Wi-Fi. If you still can’t resist the lure and convenience of free Wi-Fi, consider using a VPN, which is short for “virtual private network.” A VPN encrypts the connection between your laptop or smartphone and the server. 6. Be mindful of website security. While browsing retail sites this holiday season, look for the small lock icon in the corner of the URL bar that indicates the site is secure. Also look at the actual URL to make sure it starts with “https” on pages that ask for your financial information (typically checkout pages). The “s” on the end of the “http” indicates that information is secure and encrypted to mask any sensitive financial data you enter. 7. Check your statements. Check financial statements at least once a week during the holiday season, and set up account alerts with your bank and/or credit card provider. Harold Henn is a senior digital marketing strategist at Walk West, a full-service marketing agency in Raleigh. He also teaches a “Social Media Strategy and Management” class at Wake Technical Community College on the RTP campus.

Image courtesy of Elenabsl/



5 Ways to Address a Bad Grade on Your College Application BY DAVE BERGMAN, ED.D.

Image courtesy of 9dream Studio/


ad” can be a very relative term, particularly when attached to high school grades. For high-achieving teens with their eyes on gaining acceptance into a prestigious college, an A- or B might feel like the onset of Armageddon. For average high school students, a “bad” grade may result in an objectively poor outcome, like a D or F. In reality, two students can receive a C on the same day and pass each other in the hallway — one crying tears of joy, the other wailing in despair. To ensure that this article is of relevance to your student, whomever he or she happens to be, let’s define a bad grade as one that is significantly lower than your student’s typical academic performance — a relative blemish on an otherwise consistent record of achievement. Consider sharing these tips with your student. 1. Use essays or short response questions as a chance to explain the story behind a grade that is not like the others. Perhaps you had just been diagnosed with a learning disability or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or maybe your parents were going through a separation. Even if the reason is unspectacular but still gives insight into you as a human being — a bout of depression or a philosophical crisis — it’s worth highlighting here. 2. Obtain recommendations from those who are familiar with the challenge(s)

you faced and can speak to your growth process (your counselor may be ideal). Colleges expect that, within their own rigorous and challenging environment, you will experience a setback or two over the course of four years. How you responded to adversity in high school can impress an admissions officer who is looking for students with grit and resilience, factors that predict collegiate success. 3. Craft a narrative about your future major and career interests that helps minimize the damage. Let’s say you aced AP Computer Science and AP Calculus but bombed a history elective. By stating your intended major as electrical engineering, for example, you’ve already minimized the importance of that unrelated elective mishap. The same goes for a humanities-focused student who struggled in math. If an intended area of study is less directly related to the subject in which you received a lower-than-typical grade, you can lessen the sting. 4. Study for the SAT/ACT. If a bad grade (or three) has dropped your GPA below the average levels of current freshmen at your target schools, balance this out by scoring above those colleges’ mean scores on standardized tests. Research has demonstrated that 20 hours of targeted study on Kahn Academy’s free website produces an average SAT gain of 115 points. A bad grade or two may have dropped your

GPA slightly under the mean of your dream school’s freshman class but, thanks to your intensive preparation, your SAT scores go up to the 75th percentile of accepted students at your target institution. Suddenly, that wart on your transcript is way less damaging to your admissions prospects. 5. Target schools that allow for imperfect transcripts. As hard as we try, perfection eludes most of us. Some schools are more forgiving of a hiccup or two than others. At Duke University, for example, the average freshman GPA is over 4.0. Freshmen at High Point University possess an average GPA of 3.2. Both schools accept students with exceptional records of achievement; one is forgiving of a blemish, the other is not. Students with amazing but imperfect transcripts should not be compiling a college list full of Duke University-like schools, hoping that they win the admissions lottery. Rather, targeting other stellar universities that have a proven record of, at least sometimes, taking students like you is a better recipe for a successful outcome. Dave Bergman, Ed.D., is a co-founder of College Transitions, a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. He is also co-author of “The Enlightened College Applicant: A New Approach to the Search and Admissions Process.” Learn more at | DECEMBER 2019



Holiday Spirit

y season is full most grown-ups) the holida For almost all children (and traditions with g atin s anticipation of celebr of joy, excitement and restles back on the ting lec about beginning anew, ref family and friends. It is also n. Here are izo hor rd to another year on the past year and looking forwa ders with rea little ng books that will fill your four newly released, engagi s. ate y your family celebr spirit, no matter what holida

In “Santa Rex” (Viking Children’s Books, 40 pages, $13.76), Caldecott honoree author and illustrator Molly Idle is back with her fourth book in this funny series. Cordelia and her brother are celebrating Christmas with their dinosaur friends. There are a few mishaps while getting ready for the holidays, such as the Triceratops shattering the fireplace while hanging stockings and a Tyrannosaurus rex knocking down the tree. Yet through it all, the friends have a great holiday and discover that what makes Christmas magical is how it brings everyone together. This secular story, which has been written for ages 3-5, can be used to introduce young readers to other nonreligious Christmas traditions. In “Beautiful Yetta’s Hanukkah Kitten” (Feiwel & Friends, 32 pages, $17.99), husband-and-wife team Daniel and Jill Pinkwater bring us the story of a Yiddish chicken named Yetta who escapes from the poultry market and takes up residence in Brooklyn, where she becomes the adoptive mother of a flock of wild Spanish-speaking parrots. One cold night she finds a lost kitten and takes it under her wing. Neither Yetta nor the parrots know how to care for a kitten, so they take it to the old grandmother who is known for her caregiving skills. Other animals watch as the grandmother gives the kitten latkes, and when Yetta and the parrots ask, “What are latkes?” they hear the kitten belt out, “They are potato pancakes traditionally enjoyed during this holiday.” Written for ages 4-7, this story celebrates the diversity of various cultures by incorporating Jewish, Spanish and English traditions. Prices reflect Amazon hardcover rates at press time.



“Santa Bruce” (Disney Books, 48 pages, $13.68), is New York Times best-selling author Ryan T. Higgins’s latest release in his “Mother Bruce” series, which stars a grumpy, old black bear named Bruce, who wants nothing to do with the holidays. His furry forest friends do, however, so they deck the halls, prepare eggnog and spread Christmas cheer. One day Bruce becomes so cold shoveling snow that he dresses in long underwear and a warm hat, only to be mistaken for Santa Claus by a gossipy raccoon, who tells all the young critters in the village that Bruce is Santa. They rush into his house to sit on his lap and tell them what they want for Christmas. Bruce tells their parents he is not really Santa, but the parents beg him to deliver gifts and play the part of Santa Bruce, if only for one night. Thanks to encouragement from his mice friends and geese, Santa Bruce spreads the spirit of Christmas all over the forest and brings happiness to everyone. Written for ages 4-7, this story highlights the importance of giving, in addition to receiving. “Emily Brown and Father Christmas” (Hachette Children’s Group, 32 pages, $10.99) is author Cressida Cowell’s holiday contribution to her famous Emily Brown series. Cowell, who also authors the best-selling “How to Train Your Dragon” and “The Wizards of Once” book series, tells the story of Emily Brown and her stuffed grey rabbit, Stanley, as they discover Father Christmas lurking outside their window. When Father Christmas comes down with a terrible cold, Emily and Stanley must call up some serious holiday magic to successfully deliver presents to every single child in the entire world, “even though it was way past their bedtime.” Beautiful illustrations accompany this story, which was written for ages 4-7. Elizabeth Lincicome is a mother, communications expert and freelance writer based in Raleigh.

Bookmark image courtesy of and Sean W. Byrne/ Book cover images courtesy of their respective publishers.





Image courtesy of Art of Line/

wish that joy could fill every moment of Jessie’s life, but children, like their parents, must overcome difficulties. Two major challenges Jessie has faced in her young life come to mind. The first was when Jessie’s beloved dog, Ginger, died. Ginger was Jessie’s “sister” and wore as many outfits as Jessie’s Barbie dolls. Jessie didn’t just cry, she wailed. The other time Jessie’s tears flowed faster than the tissues could keep up occurred when my wife, Mattie, and I broke the news that we were moving to a new state. Jessie knew this meant her relationship with her friends — the only friends she had ever known — would change. Of course, Mattie and I emphasized the positives of the move: a good career opportunity, closer to family (some readers might not see this as a positive) and a chance for Jessie to meet new friends. All Jessie cared about when we pulled the rug out from under her young life was that she would miss her current friends. I understood, as I didn’t want to move either. Switching from a manual toothbrush to an electric one is too much of an adjustment for me. I’m not a big fan of change and, from experience, I knew a move was a major one — and a big headache. Mattie and I tried to convince Jessie that she would eventually be happy. “You can write letters, text and Instagram.” Even with that said, Jessie’s stuffed animals continued to collect her tears. I’ve always heard, “Kids adjust to change much quicker than adults.” From what I’ve seen, this is true. The transition to a new state and school went well for Jessie, but I’ll let her share her thoughts with you.

Of course, a piece of paper, card or electronic post isn’t the same as an in-person hug — or dog love — but I’ll choose mail over wail anytime. Though I like to get the mail when it arrives, I wait for Jessie until she gets home from school. My reward, other than not receiving bills earlier in the day, is to see Jessie running with a card in her outstretched arm. I can always tell when she receives a letter from one of her friends, not only because she waves it high in the air, but because of the big smile on her face. We live in a changing, challenged-filled world. It’s great when we have family and friends with whom we can share the good times — and not-so-good times. I don’t write as many letters as I once did, but Jessie is right: There is joy in both sending and receiving cards and letters. Who know? Maybe one day I’ll write a letter to a friend or family member to say how much I like my electric toothbrush, though I doubt it. Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and writer. He is the author of “MoMENts: A Dad Holds On,” available at Follow him at J.L. Hempfing, now 14, began writing with her dad in kindergarten. Her current hobbies include reading, writing, playing clarinet and alto saxophone, and dancing.

JESSIE, AGE 12: I moved from Statesboro, Georgia, at the end of last summer. I have found out that it is easier than ever to contact to your friends via text, email or social media, but of all the forms of long-distance communication, receiving good old-fashioned letters is my favorite. I go to the mailbox every day, excited to see if any of my pen pals wrote. I also enjoy writing letters. I have a huge tub full of cards and stationery. I enjoy thinking about the happiness receiving letters brings to others. I have saved all the letters I have received since I moved to Florida. They are special to me. I hope I have convinced you why it’s good to write letters, as well as taking advantage of today’s technology. Now, let’s get back to Dad. | DECEMBER 2019



Bright Lights in Beaufort BY ADDIE LADNER


istoric homes adorned with red velvet bows, forest green garland wrapped around iconic Southern porches, and lights twinkling through windows are hallmarks of small-town holiday charm. Beaufort, named one of North Carolina’s most notable small towns by Southern Living and Travel + Leisure, knows how to dress up for the holidays. It also offers a dose of North Carolina’s pirate history, since Queen Anne’s Revenge — the famed ship belonging to the state’s most famous pirate, Edward Teach, aka “Blackbeard” — ran aground just offshore from Beaufort in 1718. If you find yourself longing for the ocean year-round, take your family to Beaufort. With a population of a little more than 4,000, this inlet town draws crowds from near and far during the holiday season. In addition to classic seasonal events ranging from a tree lighting to a parade and art walk, we’ve mapped a few other festive events in Beaufort to get your family in the holiday spirit. CRYSTAL COAST CHRISTMAS FLOTILLA Head out to the Front Street boardwalk Dec. 7 for the Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla to watch an entourage of water vessels — from stand-up paddleboards to 40-feet shrimp boats decked out top to bottom with holiday lights — as they illuminate Beaufort Inlet and cruise from the Morehead City waterfront, starting at 5:30 p.m., to the Beaufort waterfront, arriving around 6:15 p.m. The boats will be met with cheering crowds, judges and a viewing party at the end of the parade. Learn more at HISTORIC BEAUFORT CANDLELIGHT HOMES TOUR On Dec. 14, 5-8 p.m., experience the Historic Beaufort Candlelight Homes Tour, which costs $20 per person and kicks off with the Beaufort Art Walk. Following your stroll around town, tour the interiors of early 1800s historic homes. You can also hop on a doubledecker bus, where you can listen to carolers from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and enjoy a free ride to your destination. “The fun thing about the candlelight tour is that it’s not tons of people, so you are making friends all around the town, the The Pecan Tree Inn Bed and Breakfast. Photo courtesy of Patricia Suggs



restaurants are open and it’s a nice communal event,” says Patricia Suggs, executive director of the Beaufort Historical Association. For more information, visit NEW YEAR’S PIRATE DROP Stick around or make a post-Christmas trip to Beaufort for a familyfriendly, pirate-hosted New Year’s celebration in Beaufort’s John Newton Park, 5-7 p.m., on Dec. 31. Sip hot cocoa and devour s’mores while kids befriend pirates who tell tales of what life was like back in the day. They will also get to watch a pirate walk the plank and see another (mannequin) being dropped into the water. Learn more at MORE FUN Have little kids in tow? Book your stay at the Inlet Inn, which offers views of Carrot Island, muffins and coffee each morning. Grab a pizza from Black Sheep, tapas from Aqua and ice cream from The General Store. Dine while enjoying island views at Moonrakers. Your trip won’t be complete without a visit to the North Carolina Maritime Museum, which offers free admission. While there, take part in a scavenger hunt and acquaint yourself with 300-year-old artifacts from Queen Anne’s Revenge. Be sure to take a ride on the Island Ferry Express to Shackleford Banks, where you can scour the shore for conch shells and catch a glimpse of a rare, stately herd of wild Banker horses believed to be direct descendants of Spanish mustangs. Ann O’Neal, a Raleigh native who splits her time between Raleigh and Beaufort, loves the calm and remoteness of Beaufort, yet appreciates that it still has a Piggly Wiggly grocery store and is close to places like the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve and Cape Lookout National Seashore. “It’s interesting, because you have the locals, and then people who have discovered Beaufort from all over the world — some who have made Beaufort their permanent residence,” she says. Addie Ladner lives in Raleigh with her husband, two young children and beagle mix. The Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla. Photo courtesy of Mike Caraway



Image courtesy of Kochkanyan Juliya/


Family Basketball Ham Toss | Dec. 17

Photo courtesy of Historic Polk House

Photos courtesy of Hillsborough Arts Council

Here’s your chance to win a holiday ham, courtesy of Lowes Foods of Apex. Two members of the same family — 1 adult (age 18 or older) and 1 child (age 17 and younger) — comprise teams to shoot foul shots at the Apex Community Center. The winning team from each of the six ages divisions that holds the highest number of points when the scores of both participants from all three rounds are totaled, wins the ham. Handicaps will be given to the youngest age divisions. For ham toss times, visit Admission is FREE; registration is not required. The Apex Community Center is located at 53 Hunter St., Apex.

Solstice Celebration Lantern Walk | Dec. 21 American Girl Doll Christmas Tea Dec. 7 (all other teas sold out as of press time) Historic Polk House in Raleigh welcomes girls ages 5-12 to celebrate the magic of the season with their American Girl doll. Enjoy refreshments, make a Christmas craft for your doll and create special memories inside the 1892 Victorian home decorated in its holiday finest. The American Girl Christmas tea takes place Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m. (There is a waitlist for sold-out teas.) Registration is required by emailing Tickets are $22 per attendee; a second child is $20. Historic Polk House is located at 537 N. Blount St., Raleigh.

Celebrate the astronomical phenomenon that marks the beginning of the winter season in the northern hemisphere, and the longest night of the year, during the Solstice Celebration Lantern Walk in Hillsborough. This celestial event is significant to cultures around the globe and recognizes the tranquility that the darker, colder months of the year can bring. Register online at The walk begins at 5:45 p.m. at the Farmers Market Pavilion at 144 East Margaret Lane, travels along the Hillsborough Riverwalk and ends at the Weaver Street parking deck. Take a handmade lantern with an LED light (since flames are not permitted) to guide your family along the route. Only registered individuals with lanterns will be permitted to enter the walk. Admission is FREE. | DECEMBER 2019




EXHIBITS “Wildlife in North Carolina” Through Dec. 31 See winning photos in this annual competition that aims to encourage people to participate in nature photography, and foster greater understanding and appreciation of North Carolina’s wildlife and wild places. FREE. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 W. Jones St., Raleigh. “One Giant Leap: North Carolina and the Space Race” Through Jan. 5 In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this exhibit features artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, including a Presidential Medal of Freedom, astronaut John Young’s Apollo 16 chronograph, and a training helmet. Visitors can even take part in a training module to test their ability to follow Mission Control’s command. FREE. North Carolina Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh. “What in the World Is a Grain Mummy?” Through Jan. 5 While researching the ancient Egyptian collection, North Carolina Museum of Art Egyptologist Caroline Rocheleau discovered through analytical observation, and confirmed using medical technologies, that an object in the museum’s collection once thought to be a falcon mummy is, in fact, a grain mummy. The mummy was at one time believed to be a fake because it did not contain bird bones. This exhibit presents this humble bundle and its falcon-shaped coffin for the first time to unravel the mysteries of the museum’s only Egyptian mummy. FREE. North Carolina Museum of Art, 2110 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh. “Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now” Through Jan. 12 This exhibit charts the development of contemporary indigenous art in the U.S. and Canada, and examines the practices and perspectives of the most influential Native


“Viva Viclas! The Art of the Lowrider Motorcyle” is on exhibit through Feb. 9 at CAM Raleigh in downtown Raleigh. Photo courtesy of Adam Chapin Photography

artists and their important contributions to American art. $7/adult. Free for ages 7 and younger. Nasher Museum of Art, 2001 Campus Dr., Durham. “Viva Viclas! The Art of the Lowrider Motorcyle” Through Feb. 9 “Vicla” is a slang term for a style of lowrider motorcycle customization popularized by Chicanos/Mexican-Americans and is derived from the Spanish word for bicycle — “bicicleta.” The exhibition features 10 custom lowrider Harley-Davidson motorcycles and 12 artworks inspired by themes in Vicla culture, including heart, pride, brotherhood, respect and pride. FREE. CAM Raleigh, 409 W. Martin St., Raleigh. “QuiltSpeak: Uncovering Women’s Voices Through Quilts” Through March 8 See quilts designed by women whose voices have been silenced by illiteracy, exhaustion, racial oppression and gender inequity.


Attendees will learn how to “speak quilt” through an interactive quilting glossary, become quilt sleuths to uncover what the physical qualities of quilts reveal about their makers, piece patterns together and share stories about the quilts in their own lives. FREE. North Carolina Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh. “R3: Raleigh Then, Raleigh Now, Raleigh Next” Ongoing Explore Raleigh’s history through 200 years of artifacts and images. The R3 timeline offers a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural landscape. Interactive kiosks provide visitors with a fun and challenging way to explore photographs from Raleigh’s past. Through an interactive activity featuring the museum’s mascot, Sir Sammy the Squirrel, children learn how trees in the City of Oaks can reveal secrets about the past. FREE. City of Raleigh Museum, 220 Fayetteville Rd., Raleigh.

“Toy Boom! Toys from the 1950s and ’60s” Through Jan. 3, 2021 See toys from the ’50s and ’60s come to life. The toys are curated into unique environments in the following categories: TV westerns, space age, zany toys, creative toys, dolls, action figures and more. From an Easy Bake Oven to Rock ’Em, Sock ’Em Robots, this exhibit examines how toys most beloved by Baby Boomers reflected the energy, ambition and abundance of a prosperous era. View a larger-than-life Twister board, a giant Lite-Brite wall, an Etch A Sketch station, working Hot Wheels racing tracks, a “Name that Tune” game featuring TV Westerns, and digital Christmas catalog stations where visitors can digitally flip through pages to look at vintage toys. FREE. North Carolina Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh.



DAILY 1 SUNDAY Enjoy a Holiday Light Show. Find a festive light show near you at

2 MONDAY Parent/Child Clay Workshop: Snow Creatures. Durham Arts Council Clay Studio, 1058 W. Club Blvd., Durham. 10-11:30 a.m., 4-5:30 p.m. $15/child. Use your imagination to create a snow person using the pinch pot method. Paint your creation with liquid clay. Register online.

3 TUESDAY Nature Families: White-Tails in the Woods. Crowder County Park, 4709 Ten-Ten Rd., Apex. 11 a.m.-noon. Learn about whitetailed deer via hands-on discovery stations and play a predator and prey game. All ages with adult. Registration required online. Parent/Child Clay Workshop: Snow Creatures. See Dec. 2. 4-5:30 p.m. “Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit.” Blue Jay Point County Park, 3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd., Raleigh. 10:30-11 a.m. FREE. Read the story by Il Sung Na and learn how animals survive in the winter. Ages 18 months-3 years with an adult. Registration required online.

4 WEDNESDAY FABRICakes. Herbert C. Young Community Center, 101 Wilkinson Ave., Cary. 4-6 p.m. $35/resident, $45/nonresident. Create a keepsake apron with vibrant markers and other decorations. Enjoy baking and decorating your own individual cake. Ages 6-10. Nature Fun-Days: Woodpeckers. Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs, 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary. 10 a.m.noon. $9/resident, $12/nonresident. Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online.

Choose course #127198. Nature Watchers: White-Tailed Wonders. Crowder County Park, 4709 Ten-Ten Rd., Apex. 11 a.m.-noon. FREE. Read a story about deer and make a deer-themed craft. Ages 3-5 with adult. Registration required. Meet at the upper pavilion.

5 THURSDAY Coaching Social Skills With Young Children. Project Enlightenment, 501 S. Boylan Ave., Raleigh. 6:30-8:30 p.m. $22/person or $33/couple. Parents of children ages 3-6 learn how to help them develop social skills. Register online.

6 FRIDAY Cary Youth Voices Present “Holidays Through Children’s Voices.” Greenwood Forest Baptist Church, 110 S.E. Maynard Rd., Cary. 7 p.m. FREE. The three ensembles of Cary Youth Voices perform choral music. Purchase tickets online. Holiday Creations at the JCRA. JC Raulston Arboretum, 4415 Beryl Rd., Raleigh. 10 a.m.-noon. $10/child member, $15/ child nonmember. Parent and child create five holiday crafts using materials from the gardens. Registration required online. php?ID=2071. Holly Springs Homeschoolers 4th Annual Market Day. Hope Community Church, 2080 E. Williams St., Apex. 1-4 p.m. FREE. Student entrepreneurs showcase their products valued at $5 or less. Free gift wrapping provided. Teen Art Takeover. Chapel Hill Community Clay Studio, 200 Plant Rd., Chapel Hill. 6:30-9 p.m. $5/resident, $6/nonresident. Ages 11-17 enjoy art activities.

7 SATURDAY American Girl Doll Christmas Tea. Historic Polk House, 537 N. Blount St., Raleigh. 10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m. $22/ attendee, $20/sister. Girls ages 5-12 prepare for the holidays and enjoy refreshments with their favorite doll. Registration required by emailing American Girl Holiday Tea. Middle Creek Community Center, 125 Middle Creek Ave., Apex. 11 a.m., 1 p.m. $21/child. Take your American Girl to enjoy crafts, games, tea etiquette and more. Registration required online. Ages 5-10. Choose course #127007 for the 11 a.m. tea or #127008 for the 1 p.m. tea. Angelic Ornaments. Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary. 1-3 p.m. $19/resident, $25/nonresident. Make an angel out of polymer clay to hang on a tree. Register online. Choose course #127353. Daddy Daughter Dance. Rolesville Community Center, 514 Southtown Circle, Rolesville. 6-8 p.m. $25/resident couple, $30/nonresident couple, $10/additional child. Ages 3-12 and their fathers enjoy a night of dancing, light refreshments, photos and more. Registration required at Rolesville Community Center. rolesvillenc. gov/event/daddy-daughter-dance. Gingerbread House Display. Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. FREE. See award-winning entries from the Town of Cary’s 9th Annual Gingerbread House Competition on display. Super Fun Saturday. Halle Cultural Arts Center, 237 N. Salem St., Apex. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. FREE. Ages 4-12 with adult enjoy free arts and crafts. Registration not required.

8 SUNDAY Bright Star Theatre Presents “Cratchit Family Christmas.” Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, 405 S. Brooks St.,

Wake Forest. 3 p.m. FREE. Discover how the Cratchit family has fared in the year that has passed since old Scrooge learned the true meaning of the season. All ages. Brunch With Santa. Joyner Park Community Center, 701 Harris Rd., Wake Forest. 10:30 a.m.-noon. $10/child. Free for ages 2 and younger. Wear your favorite holiday attire and enjoy brunch, stories and crafts, and photos with Santa. Cary Community Choir Presents “Messiah.” White Plains United Methodist Church, 313 S.E. Maynard Rd., Cary. 7:30 p.m. FREE. The choir presents its 49th performance of Handel’s oratorio. The Durham Medical Orchestra Performs: “Celebrations.” Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University, 1336 Campus Dr., Durham. 3 p.m. FREE. The Durham Medical Orchestra performs with special guest Joseph Alessi from New York Philharmonic. Flamenco Carolina Performs. Century Center, 100 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro. 2:303:30 p.m. $3/person. See dancers and a guitarist from Flamenco Carolina perform a lively style of Spanish music and dance. Junior Naturalist: Life Under Logs. Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs, 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary. 2-3 p.m. $8/ resident, $10/nonresident. Ages 5-8 with adult develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Register online.

9 MONDAY Kids Get Crafty: Welcome Winter. Crowder County Park, 4709 Ten-Ten Rd, Apex. 11 a.m.-noon. FREE. Make a snow globe. Materials provided. All ages with adult. Registration not required. Meet at the Cardinal Shelter. | DECEMBER 2019


CALENDAR DECEMBER 2019 10 TUESDAY Preschool Swamp Romp: Winter in the Wetland. Walnut Creek Wetland Park, 950 Peterson St., Raleigh. 11 a.m.-noon. $2/child. Ages 2-6 with adult enjoy a craft, engaging activity or story, and a guided greenway walk through the wetland. Register online. Choose course #243247. The Really Terrible Orchestra of the Triangle Presents “A Mildly Italian Christmas.” Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary. 7:30 p.m. $9/adult, $3 ages 12 and younger. Join RTOOT as it performs the music of great Italian composers and beloved Christmas classics. Purchase tickets online.

11 WEDNESDAY Grinch Candy Cane Hunt. Bond Park, 801 High House Rd., Cary. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. $10/child. Find candy canes hidden in Bond Park before the Grinch turns them green. Ages 6-12. Registration required online. Choose course #127871. Our Yard is Full of Birds. Blue Jay Point County Park, 3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd., Raleigh. 1-2 p.m. FREE. Ages 3-5 with adult learn about winter birds and make a bird treat to feed those in a backyard. Registration required online. Wild Animal Encounters. Century Center, 100 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro. 10:3011:30 a.m. $3/person. Dan the Animal Man entertains all ages with animals from his vast collection.

12 THURSDAY Kids, Cookies and Candy Canes. Century Center, 100 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro. 10:30 a.m.-noon. FREE. Decorate cookies, make a craft and enjoy a holiday show. Tots on Trails: Log Life. Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs, 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary. 10-11 a.m. $8/resident, $10/nonresident. Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online.


Wake Forest Abilities Choir Winter Concert. Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, 405 S. Brooks St., Wake Forest. 6:30 p.m. FREE. The Wake Forest Abilities Choir presents an evening of holiday music.

13 FRIDAY Cary Town Band Presents “Winterfest.” Cary Senior Center, 120 Maury O’Dell Place, Cary. 7:30 p.m. FREE. Sing along with the band as they perform music of Christmas, Hanukkah, the winter solstice and more. Christmas Movie Night. Crossroads Fellowship, 2721 E. Millbrook Rd., Raleigh. 6-8 p.m. FREE. Take a blanket, wear your Christmas pajamas and enjoy “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” Hot cocoa, cider and popcorn provided. Crowder By Night: Mysteries of the Moon. Crowder County Park, 4709 Ten-Ten Rd, Apex. 4:30-5:30 p.m. FREE. Hear stories people have told about the moon and find out if there is truth to them. Enjoy hands-on activities, crafts, hot cocoa and more. All ages with adult. Register online. Meet at the Heron Shelter. Gingerbread House Decorating Party. Orange County Main Library, 137 W. Margaret Lane, Hillsborough. 4:30-5:30 p.m. FREE. Discover how Habitat for Humanity builds houses, hear a Christmas tale and build a graham cracker house of your own. Call 919-245-2532 to register. Ages 4 and older with caregiver. Glow Party. Middle Creek Community Center, 125 Middle Creek Ave., Apex. 6-8 p.m. $18/child; $28/two children. Wear white clothing, dance and play games. Enjoy pizza, drinks and more. Ages 5-10. Registration required online. Choose course #127487. Parents Night Out. Halle Cultural Arts Center, 237 N. Salem St., Apex. 5:30-7 p.m. $30/resident, $45/nonresident. Kids ages 5-12 enjoy indoor activities


while parents enjoy a night out. Register online. Pecan Day. State Farmers Market, 1201 Agriculture St., Raleigh. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. FREE. Celebrate pecans at the State Farmers Market.

14 SATURDAY Concert Singers of Cary Symphonic Choir Presents “Holiday Pops.” Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary. 7:30 p.m. $20 and up. See the choir perform Christmas songs with guest vocal group AVANTE. Purchase tickets online. Explore Puerto Rico! Orange County Main Library, 137 W. Margaret Lane, Hillsborough. 10:30-11:30 a.m. FREE. Discover Puerto Rico through books, games and crafts. Ages 3 and older with caregiver. Gingerbread House Decorating Workshop. Family Preschool, 4907 Garrett Rd., Durham. $40. Decorate a gingerbread house. One ticket admits the entire family. Supplies provided. Workshops available at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.; allergy-free workshop available at 11 a.m. Registration required online. Girls on the Run Reindeer Romp 5K. Koka Booth Amphitheater, 8003 Regency Pkwy, Cary. 9-11 a.m. $30$35. Celebrate as nearly 1,000 girls reach their end-of-season goals in this non-competitive event. Register online. peakofrunningreindeerromp5K. Happy Holiday Christmas Trees. Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary. 9-12:30 p.m. $32/resident, $42/nonresident. Celebrate

the joy that the holiday season brings by creating art inspired by a Christmas tree. Register online. Choose course #126761. Holiday Habitat Helpers. Blue Jay Point County Park, 3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd., Raleigh. 2-3 p.m. FREE. Create simple outdoor decorations and crafts that are beneficial to wildlife. Ages 5 and older. Registration required online. “Live From Nashville: Merry Country Christmas.” Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, 405 S. Brooks St., Wake Forest. 7 p.m. $25/person. Enjoy favorite Christmas songs in authentic Nashville country style. Purchase tickets online. Make and Take Holiday Workshop. Halle Cultural Arts Center, 237 N. Salem St., Apex. 9:30-11 a.m. $30/resident, $45/nonresident. Ages 5-12 make a picture frame for the holidays. Snack provided. Register online. Science Saturday at the JCRA: Treasures from a Winter Garden. JC Raulston Arboretum, 4415 Beryl Rd., Raleigh. 9 a.m.-noon. $10/member, $15/ nonmember. Learn about conifers and craft an evergreen wreath to take home. Drop-off program. Registration required online. php?ID=2072. Tots on Trails: Log Life. Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs, 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary. 10-11 a.m. $8/resident, $10/nonresident. Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online.

CALENDAR POLICY The Carolina Parent calendar lists local and regional activities for children and families. Visit to submit an event for consideration by the 6th of the month prior to the following month. Some events may appear in print. Please call ahead to confirm dates and times. This calendar may include some events not intended for young children. Find more events at

CALENDAR DECEMBER 2019 15 SUNDAY Babies On The MOVE Master Movers: 7 Months-New Walkers. Open Arts, 1222 Copeland Oaks Dr., Morrisville. 11-11:45 a.m. $24. Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for a child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for a baby, how to help a child learn to crawl, walk and more. Register online. Babies On The MOVE Mini Movers: 0-6 Months. Open Arts, 1222 Copeland Oaks Dr., Morrisville. 10-10:45 a.m. $24. Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for a child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for a baby, how to help a child learn to sit, roll and more. Register online. “Live From Nashville: Merry Country Christmas.” See Dec. 14. 3 p.m., 7 p.m. Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Tannenbaum. Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary. 11:45 a.m.-3:15 p.m. $31/resident, $40/nonresident. Create artwork inspired by the Christmas tree. Ages 6-10. Register online. Choose course #126771. Triangle Wind Ensemble Presents “‘Tis the Season.” Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary. 4 p.m. See the website for fees. The ensemble performs favorite holiday tunes, as well as the soundtrack to “The Snowman” as the movie is shown on a large screen. Purchase tickets online.

16 MONDAY Specialized Recreation: Holiday Dance. Century Center, 100 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro. 7-9 p.m. $3/person. Ages 15 and older enjoy a night of dancing, refreshments, a photo booth and more.

17 TUESDAY Basketball Ham Toss. Apex Community Center, 73 Hunter St., Apex. 6 p.m. FREE. Family members form teams to shoot foul

shots for the chance to win a holiday ham. See website for age divisions and times. Registration not required. Family Features: Winter Wrap Up. Crowder County Park, 4709 Ten-Ten Rd, Apex. 2-3 p.m. FREE. Learn how to identify tracks, explore conifers and drink pine needle tea. Observe snow and ice through hands-on science experiments. All ages with adult. Registration required online. Meet at the upper pavilion. Specialized Recreation: Movies @ The Cary. The Cary Theater, 122 E. Chatham St., Cary. 6:30-8:15 p.m. $2/resident, $3/nonresident. Ages 11 and older with special needs enjoy the movie “Home Alone.” Register online. Choose course #128732.

band music. No experience or partner required. Purchase tickets at the door. Nature Fun-Days: Dino Discovery. Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs, 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary. 10 a.m.noon. $9/resident, $12/nonresident. Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #127199. Night Out in Nature. Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs, 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Raleigh. 6-9 p.m. $15/resident, $19/nonresident. Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Register online.



Happy Dan the Magic Man Performs. Renaissance Centre, 405 Brooks St., Wake Forest. 11 a.m. $5/person. See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Gingerbread House Decorating Workshops. See Dec. 14. 2 p.m. Allergy-free workshop available at 11 a.m. Holiday Yoga Workshop. Middle Creek Community Center, 125 Middle Creek Ave., Apex. 9:30-11:30 a.m. $19/child. Ages 5 and older move through yoga poses set to holiday music, decorate a special treat and drink hot chocolate. Registration required online. Choose course #127393. Natural Explorations: Winter Wonders Walk. Historic Yates Mill County Park, 4620 Lake Wheeler Rd., Raleigh. 2-3 p.m. FREE. Take a walk with a naturalist to explore the seasonal changes that can be observed in nature, discover how various kinds of wildlife prepare for the cold, and look for animal tracks and other wildlife signs. Registration required online. wakegov. com/parks/yatesmill. Solstice Celebration Lantern Walk. Downtown Hillsborough. 5:45 p.m. FREE. Take part in this annual walk to celebrate the winter solstice. Take a handmade lantern with an LED light. Participants will gather at the Farmers Market, proceed along the Riverwalk and end at the Weaver Street parking deck. Register online.

19 THURSDAY Pizza and a Movie. Halle Cultural Center, 237 N. Salem St., Apex. 6-8 p.m. $5/person. $2 for ages 2 and younger. Enjoy a familyfriendly movie and a slice or two of pizza. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Purchase tickets online.

20 FRIDAY Candy Making. Herbert C. Young Community Center, 101 Wilkinson Ave., Cary. 6-7:15 p.m. $18/resident, $23/nonresident. Ages 11-17 create old-fashioned taffy and hard candy using ingredients like caramel, marshmallow and chocolate. Register online. Choose course #127044. Family Dance. Halle Cultural Arts Center, 237 N. Salem St., Apex. 7-8:30 p.m. $2/person or $5/family. Traditional dance caller Connie Carringer teaches fun dances for the whole family, including squares, circles, Appalachian and more accompanied by old-time, string

Super Fun Saturday. See Dec. 7. Tales and Trails: Stories Around the Campfire. Stevens Nature Center/ Hemlock Bluffs, 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary. 4:30-6 p.m. $18/resident, $24/ nonresident. Discover what’s happening in nature as the sun sets and listen to stories around a campfire. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #127675.


“Toy Boom: Toys from the 1950s & ’60s.” North Carolina Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh. All ages. Noon-5 p.m. FREE. See a vintage collection of toys from the ’50s and ’60s and examine how the toys most beloved by Baby Boomers reflected the energy and ambition of a prosperous era.

23 MONDAY Eco-Express: Salamander Searching. Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs, 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary. 1-3 p.m. $9/resident, $12/nonresident. Take the fast track to nature in this hands-on study of ecology. Ages 8-12. Register online. Chose course #127204.

24 TUESDAY Enjoy a Holiday Light Show. Find a festive light show near you at




Art in the Park: Super Snowflakes. Historic Yates Mill County Park, 4620 Lake Wheeler Rd., Raleigh. 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. FREE. Make paper snowflakes and help decorate the exhibit hall for winter. All ages with adult. Registration not required. Enjoy a Holiday Light Show. Find a festive light show near you at



Art in the Park: Super Snowflakes. See Dec. 26. Kwanzaa Celebration. Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary. 11 a.m. FREE. Take part in a cultural celebration that honors African-American people and their heritage.

Art in the Park: Super Snowflakes. See Dec. 26.

28 SATURDAY Art in the Park: Super Snowflakes. See Dec. 26. Fossil Fundamentals. Blue Jay Point County Park, 3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd., Raleigh. 2-3 p.m. FREE. Explore the basics of fossils and start your own collection. All ages with adult. Registration required online.

30 MONDAY Discover the Park: Walk in the Woods. Crowder County Park, 4709 Ten-Ten Rd, Apex. 3-4 p.m. FREE. Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call our park home. Help collect data for the Natural Resources Inventory Database and other citizen science projects. All experience levels welcome. All ages. Registration not required. Durham Kwanzaa Celebration. Holton Career and Resource Center, 401 N. Driver St., Durham. 1-4 p.m. FREE. Celebrate Kwanzaa featuring live entertainment from local artists.

Nature Fun-Days: Cardinals and Chickadees. Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs, 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary. 1-3 p.m. $9/ resident, $12/nonresident. Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #127200.

31 TUESDAY First Night Raleigh. Downtown Raleigh. 2 p.m.-midnight. $11/person for a First Night Raleigh Button. Enjoy live music, performers, sleigh rides, a Ferris wheel and more. Watch the acorn drop twice, at 7 p.m. and midnight. Hanakkah image courtesy of valdis torms/ Christmas image courtesy of MO_SES Premium/ Kwanzaa image courtesy of rSnapshotPhotos/

FACES & PLACES Matteo (7) of Erwin chats with Santa in downtown Dunn.

Submit high-resolution photos of your kids having fun in the Triangle and beyond at



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STAND OUT IN A CROWD PICTURED: English Bernhardt starred as Annie in North Carolina Theatre’s 2010 production of “Annie.” Photo courtesy of Mitch Danforth Photography





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Carolina Parent Raleigh Dec 2019  

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