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November 2019 • Free

Making a Case for Adoption


5 parents making a difference for kids

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People Who Care Five local parents moving the needle in the right direction for kids


Adoption: Trials and Tribulations Firsthand advice on what to expect when adopting a child


Playing Favorites


How to equally share your heart with all your little loves

IN EVERY ISSUE 2 Editor’s Letter 5 FYI 9 Growing Up 10 Thrive 11 Families Managing Media 22 Excursion 32 Daddy Derek


CALENDAR 23 Our Picks 24 Daily Calendar 25 On Stage 28 Tree-Lightings and Parades 30 Santa Sightings


16 | NOVEMBER 2019

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Paying it Forward


harlotte is without a doubt a city of philanthropists. Fall galas and fundraisers

that benefit a multitude of causes

EDITOR Michele Huggins

ART DIRECTOR Melissa Stutts

are abundant, but what about the


people working behind the scenes

Andy Smith •

of nonprofit organizations that help meet needs of our city and communities. There are many people in the Charlotte-area that struggle to pay bills, put food on the table each day or have a house to call home. In this issue, we spotlight five parents who are moving the needle to in the right direction to help families and children. These go-getters are motivated by personal experience, inspired by neighbors, and simply driven to be part of solutions. People like Emily Ratliff who through Claire’s Army helps support families who have children battling cancer by providing some basic comforts; Kim Aprill, the “food rescuer,” who is helping stop food waste and get hot, healthy meals to shelters, domestic violence facilities, and homes for children; and J.D. Ross, who along with his son Lawson, created a Tae Kwon Do program for children with special needs. Their efforts and outcomes are inspiring. Read their stories, plus two more, in the feature “People Who Care” on page 12. November is Adoption Awareness Month. No two adoption stories are the same, but each is a story of uniting children with adults to make a family. Read three stories of families, with very different dynamics, that adopted, their journeys and adjustments, plus questions to ask if you are





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thinking about adopting. November is also the month we kick off the holidays. Find where and when the tree-lightings and parades are taking place (page 28) and where Santa is making appearances (page 30). As we stop and consider the little things to be thankful for this season, it’s a good time to reach out, share and support one another. Kindness lifts everyone and is free to give. You never know what someone is experiencing in their life. A smile, a nod of encouragement or recognition, or a helping hand can make a big difference in a person’s day. Happy Thanksgiving!

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




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Here Come the Holidays Parades, tree lightings and Santa sightings. There’s a lot to love about holidays in the Queen City. Let us help you stay up to date with all the holiday cheer for families.

… /thingstodo

The Digital Issue

Education Guide

Connect to Charlotte Parent when you are on the go with the magazine’s tablet edition available via It’s free with a quick sign-up. cltparent charlotteparent charlotteparent charlotteparent

Because we know your child’s education is a priority, our annual Education Guide is filled with resources to help you make smart choices.

… /educationguide | NOVEMBER 2019

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JOIN US FOR OPEN HOUSE K to 8th: Nov. 7 @ 9:30 a.m.

THERE ARE SOME PRETTY AWESOME CHILDREN OUT THERE WAITING TO CALL YOU MOM OR DAD. Happy National Adoption Month Children’s Home Society of NC (CHS) provides families with the support and resources they need to be a forever family. To find out how you can make a difference in the lives of children across NC

Visit Us Today: CHSNC.ORG | 800.632.1400 4


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An entry at last year’s Gingerbread Lane competition. Courtesy of The Ballantyne Hotel

Be a Part of the Annual Gingerbread Lane Competition If your family is a fan of shows like “Kids Baking Championships” and “Nailed It,” now’s your chance to compete and showcase your confectionary talents, while also benefiting Levine Children’s Hospital. The annual Gingerbread Lane competition at The Ballantyne Hotel invites children children ages 6-12, amateurs 12 and older (who do not work in a food-related business), as well as professional pastry chefs and bakers to design, build and showcase their best gingerbread creations. Entries in the past have ranged from the traditional gingerbread house to snow scenes and other whimsical creations. The only rules are that each piece must be entirely made of edible materials — no wood, cardboard, wire or lights can be incorporated into the structure — and it must include gingerbread. Judging is based on creativity, attention to detail, complexity and use of materials. Prizes are awarded in each category, including a two-hour culinary class led by The Ballantyne Hotel pastry chef, a special holiday brunch for four people, and a complimentary afternoon tea at The Ballantyne Hotel. The last day to submit entry forms is Nov. 22, and only the first 40 entries are accepted. Visitors can stroll Gingerbread Lane and vote on their favorite creations Dec. 5-26. Cast your vote for $1 with all proceeds benefiting Levine Children’s Hospital. Find the entry form at

“Faces of Diversity” Installation Showcases Diversity, Social Awareness Local artist Edwin Gil unveiled a new social art project “Faces of Diversity” at Charlotte Bilingual Preschool that includes more than 600 thumbprints of the school’s children and families on pieces of upcycled glass. The mosaic features portraits of two Charlotte Bilingual Preschool students that represent its diverse community of students. “Charlotte Bilingual Preschool and art are both bridges between cultures. Everyone has different shapes. But all are part of the same community. One of the most amazing things in the world is our diversity.” Charlotte Bilingual Preschool is launching a partnership this year with MECK Pre-K that provides extended day preschool programs for 72 children. It also is piloting ParentChild+, a proven home visiting program focused on early childhood literacy, school readiness and socio-emotional development.

New 3-in-1 Book Teaches SelfWorth to Kids and Adults They say birds of a feather flock together, but what if there’s trouble in the nest? The recently published book “The Huckabirds Learn About Self-Worth” is written and illustrated by J.R. Huckaby, who has a professional background in childhood development, is a mother and grandmother, and a former Charlotte resident. The story touches on the uncertainties, conflicts and emotions that children feel in their lives as they grapple to understand and manage emotions. The book includes two stories that follow a clever set of birds — the Huckabirds — as they face real-life, relatable experiences that cause feelings of jealousy, sadness, anger and frustration. The stories include conflict resolution and are followed by a chapter for adults with discussion questions and practical application for helping children boost their confidence and self-worth. Available at $12.99, paperback. NOVEMBER 2019

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Vaping Risks, Realities As e-cigarette use skyrockets in popularity and vaping-related deaths climb, parents need to know the risks children face from using a device that floods the body with high doses of nicotine. “Nicotine causes the release of dopamine in the brain, which causes a feeling of pleasure making it very addictive,” says Dr. Julia Richards, pediatrician with Novant Health Pediatrics Denver. “In adolescence, nicotine can harm parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control.” E-cigarettes — also called vape pens — work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs. The liquid typically has flavoring, nicotine, and may also contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabinoid (CBD) oil in addition to or instead of nicotine. “Many kids think vaping is better than smoking a cigarette. but the reality is that e-cigarettes have a higher concentration of nicotine,” Richards says. “A single Juul pod can have as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes, making them much more addictive.” One ingredient, propylene glycol — largely responsible for making users’ breath look like a cloud of mist — is found in fog

machines used at concerts and has been linked to chronic lung problems among stagehands. Some studies have found the vapor produced by e-cigarettes often contains tiny particles of lead, nickel, tin and silver from the machinery inside the devices that can get stuck in a user’s lungs. “The only thing that needs to get into the lungs is air — period,” Richards says. “Vaping of any kind is putting you at risk for serious health issues that are not yet fully known or understood.”


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Sil Ganzo, founder of ourBRIDGE for KIDS, with her husband and children. Courtesy of Sil Ganzo

FYI | people

problem for me to stay up and catch up with work later that night. Best advice ever received: My dearest mentor, Charlie Elberson, once told me: “There is always a better answer out there, it’s just waiting for a better question.” Every time I feel stuck, his words remind me to change my perspective. “What am I not seeing?” It helps every time. Proudest parenting moment: Iván once stood up to a much older boy that was calling his best friend “weird.” Iván yelled to the boy: “No one ever did anything cool by being normal!.” He was 8. You go, kid! Be weird!

Get to Know: Sil Ganzo BY MICHELE HUGGINS


il Ganzo is the founder and executive directory of ourBRIDGE for KIDS, an organization dedicated to providing support to refugee and immigrant children adjusting to life in the United States. She is married to Claudio Bonus, and together they have two children, Ivan, 13, and Martina, 9. Where in Charlotte do you live and where did you grow up? I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Moved from there to Mooresville, North Carolina in 2003 where I met my husband. We now live in the Steele Creek area of Charlotte. Tell us about your job. What do you like most about it? What are the challenges? My job is to lead the growth of a grassroots organization called ourBRIDGE for KIDS, which I founded in 2014 to provide support to refugee and immigrant children as they acculturate to life anew in the United States. We have created a safe, welcoming space where we provide high-quality afterschool, summer programs to 150 students in kindergarten through 7th grade from 20 different countries. We also provide ESL classes to parents and many resources with the help of our communtiy partners. The most stressful part of my job is fundraising. I am hopeful it will be easier once we hire a great development manager this year.

Another big part of my job is to provide opportunities for both, our American-born neighbors and our newcomer families, to get to know each either and learn about each other’s cultures and challenges. I still feel like we, immigrants, are not always fairly portrayed in the general narrative, and I’d like to help change that through the advocacy and educational piece of my job. I think this is what I like doing the most, and it can be the most challenging piece as well. What’s your recipe for success to juggle family life and work life? It’s been 10 years since I’ve started this work and I can’t say I’ve found the perfect recipe. It was super challenging for my husband and I to work full time when the kids were younger because neither of us has parents here, so we didn’t have the “let’s go to grandma’s!” option. At times, my kids have attended board meetings, and conference calls have taken place from the dentist’s office. I think it helps that I am a night owl, so if I have to take a day off from the center to stay with my kids, is not a

Lowest parenting moment: Martina loves acting and performing. A couple years back, when she first started taking classes, she was supposed to participate in a little presentation that she had been practicing for months. The night of the event I got so stressed out with a crisis at work that I forgot about it. I still feel guilty. Because of that, I decided to keep one day per week that is non-negotiable and dedicated to my family. No late meetings or events on Wednesdays for me. What are three things you can’t live without? • Matē, the traditional Argentinian infused drink. • The ability to manage my own schedule. • Traveling often. Favorite Instagram account: I don’t use Instagram. Last book read: “Just Mercy” by Brian Stevenson What inspires you? Seeing the resilience and determination to succeed in the eyes of the kids and the families I work with, despite everything they’ve been through. There is so much hope in this country. Knowing that we can do so much better for each other is what keeps me going. Michele Huggins is the editor of this magazine. | NOVEMBER 2019

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The Logic Project

Putting logical consequences into action BY MALIA JACOBSON


onsequences are a cornerstone of discipline. Whether doled out by a caregiver or the result of a child’s actions, consequences help children learn about the world around them and reinforce important life lessons about responsibility, respect and relationships. Natural consequences that occur without any action from the parent, and logical consequences, those a parent might implement to help guide a child’s learning, both encourage reflection, build skills, as well as foster social and emotional growth. When consequences aren’t carefully considered, they can fuel power struggles, resentment and even retaliation. We sort out consequence confusion with age-by-age tips so your approach is effective, and comes with skill, empathy and love.


Little Lessons Your child may understand basic cause-andeffect consequences sooner than you think. As your baby becomes mobile, set loving limits to help her feel safe. For example, you may choose to use a gate to keep your baby out of your craft room after you’ve removed her from the space several times. “A child’s basic ability to learn cause and effect develops in the first few weeks of life,” says licensed family therapist and “Love & Logic” instructor Ashleigh Bryan, owner of Charlotte Therapy Associates. Although logical consequences can be used during these early years, it’s a strong parent-child attachment that forms the foundation of effective discipline. “It is absolutely essential that a strong

bond and healthy attachment is developed early in life,” Bryan says. “This basic building block of trust sets the stage for logical consequences to be effective, as well as for the child to develop an inner voice that guides them to make healthy choices and decisions. Loving actions that set limits early in life set the stage for an easier toddlerhood and childhood.” ELEMENTARY YEARS

Memorable Mistakes Natural consequences are simple and effective teaching tools. If a child doesn’t remember her rain jacket for school, she gets wet at recess. But there are times when natural consequences are less valuable, either because the natural consequence isn’t important to the child, or when the natural result of a child’s choice negatively impacts his health or


safety. For example, when a child repeatedly forgets his retainer on his lunch tray, the natural consequence is that he goes without his retainer, which likely is unacceptable to his parents and his orthodontist, but maybe not so much to him. When natural consequences aren’t enough to guide good decisions, it’s time to consider logical consequences. Like natural consequences, logical consequences should be clearly connected to the behavior, says certified ADHD and parenting coach Caroline Maguire, author of “Why Will No One Play With Me? Coaching Your Child From Social Challenge to Success.” Using the retainer example, a parent might ask the child to help choose a way to earn part of the money to pay for a new retainer, or the child might have to miss an after-school activity to search through the cafeteria. Taking away screen time as a punishment isn’t a logical consequence because it’s not connected to the child’s actions, making it less memorable and less effective as a teaching tool. TEEN YEARS

All the Feels Effective discipline during the teen years may require caregivers to pause and cool down if they’re clashing with their child. Delivering a knee-jerk consequence like grounding is likely less effective than a wellchosen logical consequence connected to the teen’s poor choice. The key to encouraging social, emotional and moral growth during the teenage years is using consequences that teach rather than punish. Logical consequences do this by ensuring that the teen experiences — and feels — the results of his or her actions. “If the older child or teenager does not earn money for a video game, the logical consequence is that they cannot buy the game, not that the parent steps in and buys it anyway,” Maguire says. “The link between the feeling of disappointment and the actions is what results in learning from the mistake.” Malia Jacobson is a nationally published health journalist and mom. | NOVEMBER 2019

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THRIVE professional pastry chefs, as well as children. Since it’s a go-at-your own pace, we don’t feel rushed. Go earlier in the day, there’s practically no crowd. Happening Dec. 4-26. Creating Calm at Home The overwhelming feeling of having to get things done can be extremely frustrating throughout the holiday season — and the kids can feel that frustration too. To maintain a sense of calmness within the home, I work on several things: Jacob and Abigal Moise enjoying a holiday outing. Photo by Bea Moise

Sensory-Friendly Holidays That Bring the Merry to the Whole Family BY BEA MOISE


t’s the most wonderful time of the year for most, but for a family with children who have special needs, the holiday season can be overwhelming and present challenges. Fear not, you can still enjoy the holiday hoopla. As a mom of a child on the autism spectrum, thinking about activities and things to do can become overwhelming. While I want to go out and enjoy what Charlotte has to offer, sometimes I am confronted with the reality of will this be enjoyable or I am setting myself up for disappointment? Here are a few tips on how to tackle the holiday with ease out and about, as well as at home.

Sensory-Friendly Holiday Outings A few years ago, we started adding activities that are special-needs friendly to our holiday adventures. These outings have become part of our tradition, and let all in the family enjoy holiday fun without the stress of navigating large crowds and managing sensory overload. Caring Santa. Caring Santa is a private event held at SouthPark mall that gives children and young adults with special needs an opportunity to visit Santa without the normal holiday crowds. SouthPark also makes necessary adjustments to the environment to support sensory, physical and other developmental needs of children of all abilities. The event is held in Center Court during private mall hours. Make plans to see Caring Santa at SouthPark Dec. 1 or 8 between 9 and 10:30 a.m. Sensory-friendly ballet. Together with Allegro Foundation, a Champion for Children


with Disabilities, Autism Speaks, Autism Charlotte and InReach, Charlotte Ballet created a sensory-friendly “Nutcracker” performance. Performances are shorter, house lights remain at half brightness and sound is controlled through recorded music, and designated quiet areas are available. Before you go, download the social narrative story that introduces the story and gives an overview of what to expect during the performance. See the sensoryfriendly performance of the “Nutcracker” at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s Belk Theater, Dec. 11 at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $15. Stroll Gingerbread Lane. Enjoy a stroll through Gingerbread Lane at the Ballantyne Hotel to cast your vote and donation for your favorite creation. Donations benefit Levine Children’s Hospital. My kids look forward to seeing all the confectionary creations by

Plan ahead. Try to get as much done as you can before things become too chaotic. From travel arrangements to playdates, if I can get details about it ahead of time, I do. Relinquish control. Do not stress the small stuff. Allow yourself to leave a situation and revisit it at another time. It is OK to walk away and clear your head. Ask for help. Calling someone and asking for help is honorable. It takes an active community to keep a family with a child with special needs functioning. Support doesn’t have to be professional. Friends and family can offer aid, and most of the time they are waiting on the request and are willing to be helpful any way they can. Talk to family. Family can mean well with their advice or input on child-rearing. Children with special needs, however, do not respond to traditional discipline techniques. Let family members know how they can help, and that while they may mean well, their added input can increase your anxiety. The best way they can help is by asking how. Take care of yourself. Self-care is essential but typically overlooked. You can’t be available to your family if you don’t give yourself the time to recharge. Take a day off, go for a walk or join a class. It doesn’t matter what it is schedule time for you. Bea Moise is a board-certified cognitive specialist and parenting coach. She and her husband have two children, Jacob and Abigail.


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Learn a new skill together. Use an online tutorial to learn to cook, play the guitar, knit, or any other do-it-yourself project. Video chat with family together as a family. Make it a regular time to build a tradition and a memory. Digital Detachment Screens can quickly derail even the closest family if not kept in check. Here are things to keep in check:

Building Bonds Through Technology How screens can enhance family relationships BY MELANIE HEMPE


he desire for children to fit in and develop a healthy social life is rooted in the basic universal, human need to belong. Many parents work hard to make sure that their kids are well ahead of the curve when it comes to collecting friends. But while you focus on setting up their social media accounts and Fortnite playdates, you may be neglecting the area that matters more: building strong family relationships. Science tells us that deepening a child’s connection to his family (family attachment) is more vital than strengthening his attachment to his peers (peer attachment). Not to be confused with overprotective parenting, healthy family attachment means that parents, not peers, remain the dominant influence throughout childhood and adolescence as your child’s personality and identity develops. Research by international authority on child development Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D, and Dr. Gabor Maté indicates that children who grow up with strong family attachments than peer attachments have

an advantage. They exhibit less violent behavior, less early sexual behavior, less stress and overall better emotional health. Enhancing Family Attachment Screens can be a bonding tool when used wisely. The key is to intentionally use screens ­­— and with limits — toward the end goal of creating healthy memories. Watch movies together. Carefully selected films can enrich family relationships by providing a shared entertainment experience. Whether it’s family dinner and a movie, enjoying home movies together, or going to the movie theater, movies can build traditions and enrich time together. If the movie is based on a book you’ve read aloud, all the better. Work on a digital scrapbook together. As you prioritize the preservation of family memories and special stories, you can enhance your child’s sense of belonging to the family. Work on a project together to make it more meaningful.

Watch for excessive virtual relationships. Your child’s preference and dependence on virtual relationships via video games and social media can easily weaken family attachment. The shift from time spent with family also erodes sibling relationships. Keep a check on your own screen attachment. Parents screen use during offwork hours, family outings or dinnertime lowers face-to-face communication and undermines family attachment. Lack of time to connect as a family. According to the American College of Pediatrics, teens that have frequent family dinners are more likely to get better grades in school and are more likely to report having excellent relationships with their family. When every member of the family eats at a different time, often in front of a screen, these critical opportunities to increase family attachment disappear. Excessive screen use also can cause kids to feel lonely because virtual friends are not the same as in-person friends. Imbalanced screen use comes at a high cost. Will your children have fond memories of all the hours they spend on Instagram and Fortnite? Or will they grow up with a strong sense of belonging to your family? Melanie Hempe is the founder of Families Managing Media. Learn more at | NOVEMBER 2019

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5 Charlotte parents that stand out for their hard work and commitment to local kids and families



With countless nonprofits and organizations committed to doing good, there’s no doubt that Charlotte is a caring community. From supporting families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer to reducing food waste to feed the hungry in our community — and much more — these five parents stand out for their hard work and commitment to the kids and families they benefit. These are

people who care.

Emily Ratliff, far left, and volunteers put together Claire Packages to deliver to Hemby and Levine children’s hospitals. Photo by Karin Emily Tate


Claire’s Army

In 2011, Emily Ratliff and her husband Kevin Ratliff learned that their daughter Claire had been diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer. Their friends, family, and an army of supporters rallied around them, providing food, hugs — and lots of help. In 2012, Claire passed away, but her army marches on. Over 200 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in the Charlotte area, and whenever that tough news hits, Claire’s Army steps in. “We realized that everyone didn’t have this level of support, and that what we had was quite an anomaly,” Emily Ratliff says. “We want to do the things that people did for us.” Basic things, like drinking coffee


out of a mug rather than a Styrofoam cup, or having a hot meal when she couldn’t be home to cook, helped Ratliff feel more human and gave her family more time with their daughter. That’s where the idea of Claire Packages started. Through the program, families at both Hemby and Levine children’s hospitals receive a utility tote filled with bath towels, dryer sheets, dish soap, gift cards, journals — things that are inaccessible at a hospital that make hard times a little more bearable. Meals help, too. Since 2014, they’ve delivered close to 5,000 meals to families in hospitals. Since

40 percent of families with these diagnoses deplete their savings within the first two years of treatment, money also helps. Through donations and funds raised through galas and pancake breakfasts, Claire’s Army also provides mortgage support, gas cards for those with long commutes, and other financial assistance. “We want to do something helpful and keep stress levels as low as possible,” Ratliff says. For more information, visit


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Carolina Panther Greg Olsen and his wife Kara Olsen, pictured with their children, at the 2019 HEARTest Yard + Showmars 5K. Photo by Willenbock Photography

The HEARTest Yard

In 2012, Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and his wife Kara got some good news: They were going to be parents — of twins. Then came the news that would change their lives forever. One of the babies had a congenital heart defect. Along with the Levine Children’s Hospital, the couple established the HEARTest Yard, a program that supports families, like their own, affected when their child has a congenital heart disease. By providing in-home care, physical and speech therapy, and more — free of charge — the program allows families to adapt to their new ways of life with a little more ease. “In our latest endeavor under The HEARTest Yard program, we’re ecstatic to bring a state-of-the-art cardiac neurodevelopmental center to Levine Children’s Hospital,” Olsen says. “This … kid-friendly clinic will house a full gamut of medical services for pediatric cardiology patients. We’re honored and proud to bring this next-generation health care concept to the southeast region.” For more information, visit




Food Connec tion Charlotte

Kim Aprill is a food rescuer. One of three local leaders of the Charlotte chapter of Food Connection, Aprill teamed up with Mendy Godman and Sue Hawes in January 2019 and, since then, has saved roughly 8,000 pounds of food, delivering it to those who need it most. A staggering amount of food — over 40 percent globally — goes to waste, according to Feeding America. Food Connection, which also has locations in Asheville and Black Mountain, wants that to stop. “One goal is to get healthier food to food insecure people,” Aprill says. Most food donations come in the form of canned goods

or bulk fast food, she says, but Food Connection focuses on saving wholesome food that already exists, and feeding Left to right: Sue Hawes, Mendy Godman and Kim Aprill, the women those who need it. behind Food Connection Charlotte. Courtesy Kim Aprill The organization works with food donors the education she can give her kids, ages 11 like Belmont Abbey College, and 13. Queens University of Charlotte and Roots “We want to involve them … so they Catering to collect fresh, unserved, surplus know that they have the food they need,” meals that are delivered to shelters, housing Aprill says. “Not everyone is as fortunate.” and domestic violence facilities, and homes Find more at for children. charlotte. Equally important to rescuing food is | NOVEMBER 2019

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Circle of the Panda

When JD Ross’s son Lawson started taking Tae Kwon Do, he thought it looked fun, so they started doing it together. Today he runs a consulting business and teaches Tae Kwon Do, including a program created for children with special needs. Operating from the Champion facility in Baxter Village in Fort Mill, South Carolina, the Circle of the Panda meets on Saturdays and welcomes children with a wide array of special needs. It all began when a mother came in one day and asked him if he had any classes for kids with special needs. “We told her, no, we didn’t, and within 30 minutes, another parent came in and asked the same question,” he says. The next day, a third


parent asked. Realizing the need, Ross says, “I told my son, ‘That’s it.’ I J.D. Ross, back row, far right, with Circle of the Panda students. Photo by Eric Demsky get a lump in my throat talking about it.” Today he and other relationships like I’ve never seen.” Tae Kwon Do students work with up to six In the future, Ross plans to kick start a children with special needs. Students learn holistic martial arts program that includes from peers — teenagers with black belts meditation, yoga, fitness and martial arts for — the key lessons of marital arts: courtesy, kids without and with special needs. integrity, perseverance, self-control and an “Ninety percent of this is about love,” he indomitable spirit. says. “I hope we alter the way the world looks at “This is on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m.” the special-needs community.” Ross says. One of the students doing the Learn more on the group’s Facebook page teaching is his son, Lawson, now 15. “Its built at

imothy FOWLER B oys to Men

What started as an after-school hangout with five kids in fifth grade has grown into Boys to Men, a mentoring program that has provided a safe, trusting environment to roughly 1,500 Charlotte-area boys and young men for more than 10 years. “I’m the oldest of seven, so mentoring has always been a part of my life,” says founder Timothy Fowler. Today Boys to Men works with over 100 boys and young men ages 9 to 17. Through after-school tutoring, community service, and lessons in self-respect, anger management, life and job skills, the program helps participants feel more supported in managing their daily challenges. Apprenticeships range from work at car dealerships — Hendricks is a key partner — to restaurants and investment companies. They do community work as well. Every third Saturday, the group meets at a senior center to play bingo, sing songs or read scripture. Every boy who has participated has graduated high school. Fowler also emphasizes the parent’s role, noting that 95% of the program’s participants live in a single-parent household. He offers parent workshops to help parents learn how to save and invest money, build a resume, and anything else that may help along the way. “Parents are the voice of Boys to Men, we don’t do any marketing — all of the kids come in by word of mouth.” Find more at

Timothy Fowler, founder of Boys to Men, was recognized at the 2018 Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance Awards. Courtesy Timothy Fowler

Virginia Brown is native Charlottean and freelance journalist, writer, and editor who loves sharing stories. Her work appears in Departures, AAA GO magazine, BBC News Magazine, Charlotte magazine, among others. Reach out to her at

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EDUCATION RESOURCES? Find local tutors, academic support, foreign language and homeschool resources in our Education Resources Directory. | NOVEMBER 2019

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The Trials and Triumphs of Forever Families BY DENISE YEARIAN

There are many reasons why people consider adoption. For some, it’s a result

of failed fertility efforts. For others, it’s a desire to enlarge their family and make life better for a child. But for all, it’s a way to bring people of diverse culture, race and heritage into the bonds of a loving family. Tony and Nancy Rivera couple to adopt to enlarge their family and find a companion for their child. “When our son Tony was 8, we went through the state foster-adopt program to find a playmate for him,” Nancy says. “We told them we wanted a child near our son’s age, but when they contacted us, it was for a 2-month-old boy named Alex.” At first the Riveras declined the agency’s request, but when subsequent phone calls came in, they re-evaluated their decision. “The third time they called us we said, ‘Yes,’” Nancy says. “We figured if they contacted us that many times, maybe this was the child we were supposed to get.” But the Riveras got more than they planned for. “Two months later, the agency called again. This time they said Alex had a 2-year-old brother named Alfonzo who was in foster care and asked if we wanted to adopt him. So we did,” she says. “Then a year later, we found out the boys had two sisters, Candice, who was 6, and Anastasia, who was 8, so we decided to adopt them to keep the family together.” John and Jo-El Azato took a different adoption route and went through a private agency to find an international child. “We had seen an ad in the newspaper about a seminar on domestic and international adoptions, so we went,” Jo-El says. “We knew we wanted an international child who was 1- or 2-years old. And after doing research, we decided to go with a child from China.”


During the 14 months the Azatos waited for their daughter Nina, they busied themselves with preparations. “We had a baby shower and prepared her room,” she says. “We also read a lot about parenting and asked friends who had kids lots of questions.” Waiting, says experts, can be the hardest part of the adoption process, whether it’s waiting for the paperwork to go through or waiting to receive the referral. But while families are on hold, there are things they can do. “When I talk with couples, I tell them to use the time productively,” says Sam Wojnilower, a licensed social worker with a local private adoption agency. “Read about adopting and raising children, attend workshops, find a pediatrician, that kind of thing, so they’re already being active parents.” One Charlotte-area parent, Katherine Regan, welcomed her son, Vincent, home in late August of 2019. Vincent’s birth mother chose Regan to adopt her son while still pregnant. Regan developed a relationship with Vincent’s birth mother through a process called “open adoption,” which encourages biological and adoptive parents to communicate with one another to support the best interests of the child. Through this process, Regan traveled to Arizona to be in the delivery room during Vincent’s birth. “We had skin-to-skin contact just 10 minutes after he was born and have been inseparable ever since,” Regan says. “Vincent will grow up in a loving, diverse family knowing that he’s been chosen.” MAKING THE FAMILY ADJUSTMENT Although the Riveras didn’t need a primer on child rearing, they did have to learn how to help their adopted children adjust a new environment.

“I think it was harder on the Candice and Anastasia because they were older than the boys,” Nancy says. “I had to tell the girls they weren’t going to see their biological parents anymore. I’m not sure Candice totally understood, but Anastasia took it very hard. She was a little weepy and apprehensive, maybe even confused. I spent a lot of time with her letting her know she could come and talk with me. I told her it was OK to talk about her mom and dad, and I would listen. I tried very hard to build a relationship and establish her trust.” This is exactly what Adoption Consultant Mary Lou Edgar suggests. “One of the best ways to help newly adopted children adjust in their environment is to close in and establish those family relationships. There’s a natural inclination to want to celebrate with family and friends, but that can come later.” Wojnilower agrees. “Children need time to adjust to their new family. They also need to establish a consistent routine as soon as possible. This is even truer with international adoption where things like food and times zones are different.” Although Nina was only 10-months old when the Azatos adopted her, she too had an adjustment to make. “I think the hardest part of the adoption process was that we didn’t bond right away,” Jo-El says. “When we first got Nina, she was well aware we weren’t her regular caretaker and the hotel we were staying in was not the orphanage. She wouldn’t eat and covered her face with her hands. She also cried a lot.” But three days into the adoption, things changed. “We were still at the hotel and Nina had fallen asleep on the bed. When she woke up, she rolled over and I caught her before she fell off the side. She laughed; she thought it was a game. From that point on it


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FACTS ABOUT ADOPTION Katherine Regan and her son Vincent wait at the airport to fly home to North Carolina. Regan, who chose an open adoption, flew to Arizona to be at the hospital when her son was born. Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Regan

Adoption has a significant impact a child’s life. Children in the American foster care system wait an average of five years to be adopted after entering foster care. Children living in institutional settings, rather than family settings, often suffer from delayed brain development. As many as 9 in 10 foster children experience mental illness at some point in their life and 30

was completely different. I knew we had bonded,” Jo-El says. Perhaps the one who had the biggest adjustment was young Tony, who went from being an only child to sharing his parents with four other children. “Tony did OK when we got boys, but when Candice and Anastasia came, we had to have a talk,” Nancy says. The Riveras didn’t know for certain the girls were coming until that morning, and Tony had already left for school. “When he got home, the girls were

there, so I pulled him aside and explained why we wanted to keep them all together,” she says. “It was hard but I think he understood. It’s funny, though, the last thing he said to me was, ‘Mom, I’ll let them come in, just don’t paint the house pink!’ ” One day soon, 2-year-old Nina may be making that same adjustment. “We are just now starting the adoption process to get a boy from Vietnam,” Jo-El says. “We want to get another Asian child so there is a similarity between them, particularly in this big Italian family.”

percent eventually become homeless. •

In the United States alone, there are 400,000 children living in the foster care system, many of whom are eligible for adoption or who may become eligible for adoption at some point in the future, according to the most recent federal data. Globally, there are 150 million parentless children.

Nearly one-third of Americans have considered adoption, but less than 2% of the population has actually started the process. The cost of adoption can be a barrier. According to the Children’s Bureau, costs vary, but the average adoption costs between $20,000 and $45,000. Organizations like Gift of Adoption exist to help parent shoulder the cost of adoption

Denise Yearian has more than 20 years of published work in newspapers and magazines, and is the mother of three children and six grandchildren.

through grants. Source: Gift of Adoption

QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN CONSIDERING ADOPTION Adoption is a broad topic covering everything from domestic infant to international to children from foster care. Add to that transracial, transcultural, older children, plus physical, mental and emotional challenges, and the subject can be overwhelming. Families interested in pursuing adoption, should start by asking themselves what type of adoption they want. From there, they can begin their search for a private or government-sponsored agency. When choosing an agency, it is important that families feel comfortable with the organization and know they are being heard. Following is a list of questions to ask when shopping around for an adoption agency: Is this a licensed adoption agency? What types of adoption does this agency do?

What are the requirements to adopt from this agency (age, religion, income, marital status, other children)? What does a home study with this agency entail?

How do you train prospective families, individually or in groups? Do you provide support for families after a child has been placed in the home?

Can you provide me with a referral of someone who has worked with your agency so I can speak with them about their adoption experience? | NOVEMBER 2019

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Playing Favorites How to equally share your heart with all your little loves BY CAITLIN WHEELER Do you get a pleasant glow every time you look at your middle child because she has your grandfather’s eyes, but not so much for your son who looks like your husband’s cousin? Do you spend hours making freshly blended organic vegetables for your first baby, but resort to grocery store purees for your next two? If you said yes to either of these questions, you might have a favorite child. This is a perennial, popular topic. From science writer Jeffrey Kluger’s TED talk claiming that 95% of parents have a favorite (and the other 5% are lying), to the current slew of articles with titles insisting that “You really do have a favorite child,” and the scores of “favorite kid” jokes and memes online. Whether or not you have a favorite, and even if you’re 100% sure you do not, this is a topic worth exploring because of the deep effect favoritism can have on both parents and children.


What the Data Says

According to Jennifer Lansford, a research professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, and an affiliate of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, there are “no really good empirical studies on this issue.” She suggests that the “strong social preference not to have a favorite” may cause some parents to feel too embarrassed or guilty to admit they have a favorite, while other parents might have difficulty interpreting the question itself: Does having a “favorite” mean you actually “love” one child more than your other(s)? Or does it simply mean that you treat your children differently for any number of reasons? In a group of 30 parents polled anonymously for this article, 13% said they had a favorite. Given the uncertainty of this question, perhaps the more interesting and relevant number is that 50% of parents polled believed their own parents had a

favorite, and 40% of parents polled believed their children thought they had a favorite. What seems to matter here is perception. Parents should consider whether their own actions are leading their children to assume they have a favorite.

What Kids Say

Kids perceive favoritism, whether it’s there or not, and it can be tricky to know how well your child is reading you. “Parents underestimate how much kids pick up,” says Meg Hill, a counselor and owner of Raleigh Parent and Child. Children can be observant and wrong about what they see, since they read situations and emotions through the sometimes-distorted lens of youth. “It can be difficult for kids to understand that fair doesn’t always mean same,” Hill says. She notes several issues that exacerbate kids’ misunderstanding:


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Developmental stage: Younger children might miss the nuances of context and see only the piece that affects them. Personality: A child might be naturally competitive and, thus, more likely to compare herself (and her treatment) to a sibling. Self-image: A child might have a more negative view of herself and might project this view onto a parent.

Adrienne Aaron, a counselor at New Leaf Counseling Group in Charlotte, says that throughout the 20 years she has been practicing, she has never had a parent tell her they had a favorite child. “But plenty of kids have told me their parent has a favorite.” She says she hears this most often from kids in families with three or more children, from families of both boys and girls, and typically from elementary-age kids who are just learning the concept of fairness. “It’s impossible to keep score,” she sayss, “but some kids do.” If a child perceives that he or she is loved less or more than a sibling, that perception is likely based on a combination of the child’s creative assumption and savvy observation of a parent’s real emotions. The assumption could be situationally based and have nothing to do with a parent’s preference. These situations could include: • Birth order: The younger child may observe the oldest getting to be the first to do a lot of fun stuff, while the older child may observe the baby being cuddled and coddled. • Differing times in the parent’s life: You are younger with your first born and may be more energetic and enthusiastic, whereas you might be in a better financial position with your youngest child and able to afford more comforts for him or her. • Life changes: Divorce or a family relocation can affect a 3-year-old more or less than a 10-year-old. The “real” part could be a child’s legitimate observations of the way you act

with each child, Lansford says. It might be that you click better with the personality of one child, so you’re able to relax and have more fun with that child, or one child may have been an “easy baby” which made you feel eternally grateful for those extra hours of sleep. Maybe one child is more temperamentally difficult, which leads to arguments and trouble. Lansford says that a child’s perception will be tied to his or her own emotional wellness. “Real or fabricated, a child’s perception matters,” Lansford says. “It is very hurtful for a kid to believe that a parent loves a sibling more.” Indeed, it can be damaging for both the favored and less-favored child if a parent displays any kind of preference. Long-term, the favored child may suffer from anxiety while the less-favored child, who might already have low self-esteem, may sink lower. “It puts pressure on the golden child, who then becomes overly invested in perfection, while the child who feels less loved might believe there’s nothing they can do to get favor and might give up on things they should be working on and improving,” Hill says.

What to Say to Your Kids

“Even when they are frustrating or inappropriate.” She suggests separating your child’s behavior from the feeling of love you have for him or her, and reassure your child that your love is unconditional. “You can even ask, perhaps in a lighthearted way, whether they thought the differential treatment meant they were less loved. You can then respond with something like: ‘No wonder you thought that, but that’s not true or what I meant.’”

What to Say to Yourself

You can avoid projecting favoritism by making use of certain parenting tools. 1. Clearly state household rules, and be consistent with the consequences. A child who understands the consequences of actions and sees them equally applied is less likely to think he or she is being treated arbitrarily, compared with a sibling. 2. Explain differential treatment. In practice, differential treatment can be a good and necessary parenting strategy. What works well for one child might not make sense for another based on age and personality. 3. Make each child feel loved. “Kids need to know they’re loved no matter what,” says Caroline Hexdall, a psychologist and owner of the Center for Mindful Development in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

There is social pressure not to have a favorite child. In the anonymous poll for this article, 83% of respondents said they felt it was “unhealthy” to have a favorite child. Nonetheless, “it happens,” Hexdall says. “It’s only natural that we may be drawn to a child who is more compliant, or who has an easier temperament, or whose personality, appearance or preferences may resonate more closely with our own. This is perfectly understandable.” Natural and understandable, but does this make you a bad parent? Hexdall says that is the wrong question to ask. “Don’t criticize or judge yourself,” she says. “Parents feel guilty about a lot of things, this shouldn’t be part of that list.” Instead, “dig deeper and ask why. Is it really that you love this child more? Or is it that this child is easier to raise? Or that the other child is difficult?” Hexdall says by removing self-criticism and judgment, you can get to know yourself better and work on being a more mindful parent who is more open to connecting with all of your children. Making these connections and showing this love can be hard work. Hexdall says parents understandably have real feelings, even grief, when a child is difficult in ways he or she hadn’t anticipated. “Learn to love your children the way they are. Parent the way they need parenting.” Caitlin Wheeler is a Durham-based freelance writer. | NOVEMBER 2019

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ChristmasVille The 14th annual ChristmasVille will take place Dec. 5-8. This award-winning festival has over 100 events, including horse-drawn carriage rides, historic tours, strolling Dickens carolers, art, theater, dance, music, a gingerbread house contest, multiple Santa activities, and an ice skating rink.

Novant Health Thanksgiving Parade

Downtown Rock Hill 803-326-3838

Find a mile of smiles in Uptown Charlotte during the 2019 Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade! Now in its 72nd year, the parade is filled with fun for the entire family. See larger-than-life balloons, incredible marching bands, spectacular floats and more. The parade steps off at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day along Tryon Street in Uptown. For more information and reserved seating, visit

Tree Lighting Celebration and SantaĘźs Arrival at Blakeney Get ready to deck the halls at Blakeney Shopping Center! Welcome Santa during the Tree Lighting Celebration on Saturday, Nov. 23. Enjoy activities in the Vendor Village from 4 to 7 p.m. Santa arrives at 6 p.m. and will be available for photos until 9 p.m. Blakeney Shopping Center Ardrey Kell and Rea Road, Charlotte 980-474-1660



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Explore the Mile of a Million Lights featuring musically orchestrated topiaries, an illuminated Prairie, holiday lanterns and lights throughout the Garden! Enjoy traditions including the 15-foot orchid tree, live music, holiday shopping, Santa and Mrs. Claus on select nights, children’s activities, warm beverages and more. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden 6500 S. New Hope Road, Belmont 704-829-4490

Charlotte Youth Balletʼs ʻThe Nutcrackerʼ The Charlotte Youth Ballet brings to the stage its 38th annual holiday classic production of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” featuring the choreography of Charlotte legend Gay Porter and Bridget Young. This magical production takes place Dec. 6-7 at CPCC’s Halton Theater. Tickets on sale now. Dale F. Halton Theater 1206 Elizabeth Ave., Charlotte 980-322-5522

Your essential everyday resources.

Holidays at the Garden | NOVEMBER 2019

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EXCURSION The Biltmore kitchen is transformed to that from Downton Abbey during Downton Abbey: The Exhibition. Photo by The Biltmore Company

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition

plus Christmas at Biltmore BY SHAWNDRA RUSSELL


eeing Biltmore gussied up for the holidays has become an annual must-do for many area North Carolinians, and the added grandeur of a Downton Abbey exhibit makes this year extra-special. If you missed the 2015 Downton Abbey exhibit at The Biltmore, never fear: The nationally touring exhibit is back and bigger from Nov. 8 to April 7, 2020 with exclusive multimedia elements on display. And what perfect timing for fans of the series since the feature film hit theaters Sept. 12. For this exhibition, “Downton Abbey” set recreations and 50-plus costumes take over two areas of the Biltmore creating an immersive experience inside the grand dining room, kitchen, and bustling servants’ quarters. The best part? The exhibition is included with a regular day pass and/or the Christmas Evening tickets. Plus tickets are free for kids 9 and younger. Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, produced by NBC Universal and Imagine Exhibitions, aims to create a spectacle that everyone will love and what the New York Times called, “A cleverly immersive experience mounted with the


same exacting care as the show itself.” Charlotteans who make the twohour trek to The Biltmore also can enjoy the estate’s stunning holiday decor, including 56 carefully curated Christmas trees inside the 175,000-square-foot behemoth mansion, and be greeted outside with a 60-foot tall tree decorated in 55,000 lights. Create your own scavenger hunt and seek out all of these gorgeous trees to really get in the holiday spirit. Speaking of lights, the estate lights up with nearly 200,000 lights and luminaries indoors and out framed by nearly 30,000 ornaments and more than 500 wreaths, as well as over 2,000 festive live plants, half of which are poinsettias, scattered throughout the estate. Add a plethora of kissing balls, garlands and ribbons, and the whole family may leave with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. Families may also want to take advantage of other special events happening during the holiday season, including s’mores bonfires beginning

Nov. 1 through Jan. 3, 2020, plus visits with Santa and roving holiday carolers on select dates. Visitors can also opt to purchase tickets to the annual Gingerbread House tea happening Dec. 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 at The Inn on Biltmore Estate in the Vanderbilt Room. The tea experience includes decorating your own gingerbread house and nibbling on holiday desserts created by The Biltmore’s pastry chef, as well as plenty of lovely candies, sandwiches and, of course, an assortment of holiday teas (holiday cocktails also can be purchased a la carte). We highly recommend the Candlelight Christmas Evenings if you’ve never been — the flickering lights are sure to mesmerize your entire family. Christmas at Biltmore is ongoing Nov. 1 through Jan. 5, 2020, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Shawndra Russell is a content professional who enjoys writing about travel and is based in Asheville, North Carolina.


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See Eric Litwin, bestselling author of the original four “Pete the Cat” books, “The Nuts” and “Groovy Joe,” at EpicFest. Courtesy Eric Litwin

Carolina Renaissance Festival | Through Nov. 24 The Carolina Renaissance Festival is filled with charming cottages, castles, kitchens and pubs, all with simulated architecture of a 16th-century European village. In addition to the jousting, merriment and mayhem, experience the new Living Mermaid exhibit to see fairies of the sea swimming. The rain-or-shine festival is open on Saturdays and Sundays. Carolina Renaissance Festival, 16445 Poplar Tent Road, Huntersville. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. $15$26.

Disney Junior Holiday Party! on Tour | Nov. 18 This dazzling musical wonderland features singing and dancing to Disney Junior songs, along with holiday classics. See Disney friends, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, the Puppy Dog Pals, Vampirina and more, plus a visit from Santa Claus. Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. 6 p.m. $25. 704-372-1000.

EpicFest | Nov. 9 EpicFest is Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s annual literary festival that connects families with authors and illustrators through activities that encourage reading. This year includes a groovy storytime and concert with Eric Litwin, original author of “Pete the Cat,” “The Nuts” and “Groovy Joe,” at noon and 2 p.m. The family festival includes a YA author panel, teen-writing workshops, face painting, and a Tap Snap photobooth. Family festival is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a YA author panel from 4 to 5 p.m. ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center, 300 E. 7th St. Free.

Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade | Nov. 28 The largest Thanksgiving Day parade in the Southeast steps off at Ninth and Tryon streets and marches south along Tryon Street to Stonewall Street with the main performance area in front of the Duke Energy building. Expect floats, larger-than-life balloons, Segwalloons, marching bands and performing acts. The parade is free, but VIP seating can be purchased for reserved seats along Tryon Street. 9 a.m.

Enjoy time with the family at the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo by Kyo H. Nam | NOVEMBER 2019

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1 FRIDAY On Stage: Disney’s Aladdin Jr.; Peter Pan; and The Invisible Boy. See page 25. Crews Family Fun Night. Crews Recreation Center, 1201 Crews Road, Matthews. 6-9pm. Free. Family Fun Night at Crews returns with a fun-filled lineup of activities and entertainment. Light refreshments will be provided. Movies Under the Water Tower. Downtown Waxhaw under the Water Tower, Waxhaw. 7pm. Free. Grab a chair and a blanket and enjoy a movie under the Water Tower in downtown Waxhaw. MyGym Lake Norman Puppet Show. Barnes and Noble: Birkdale Village, 8725 Townley Road, Huntersville. 10:30am. Free. Local puppeteer troupe from MyGym Lake Norman leads a puppet show with songs and book readings.

and marshmallow roasting. Girls in STEM at Discovery Place Kids. Discovery Place Kids, 105 Gilead Road, Huntersville. Ages 7-9. 1-2pm. $15, includes museum admission. Girls are invited to participate in workshops with changing STEM topics. Register for 10-11am or 1-2pm session. kids. Story Explorers: Carolina Renaissance Festival. ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center, 300 E. 7th St. Ages 5-11. 2-3pm. Free. Brigid Hussey, Countess of Bedford, explains what it’s like for a noble lady to get dressed in one of her full court gowns. Vulture Playground Fun. Carolina Raptor Center, 6000 Sample Road, Huntersville. 11-11:30am. $8-$12, children 3 and younger free, included with admission to Raptor Trail. Watch a King Vulture play on a playground in the Vulture Culture exhibit.



On Stage: Disney’s Aladdin Jr.; Peter Pan; and The Invisible Boy. See page 25. 2019 Muggles Market. Noah’s Event Venue, 2421 Yorkmont Road. 10am-2pm. Free, $2 or canned food item donation suggested. Explore the Geek Short Film Fest, live music, food trucks, fan cars, face painting and caricatures, demonstrations and a kids’ scavenger hunt. mugglesmarket. ASC Culture Blocks: Clayworks for Families. Hickory Grove Library, 5935 Hickory Grove Road. 1-3pm. Free. Learn how to texturize and manipulate clay to create your own art. Register online. Fiddle and Fire: A Night at the Museum. Historic Latta Plantation, 5225 Sample Road, Huntersville. 6-8pm. $20, advance tickets only. Enjoy live music, star gazing, a candle-lit tour of the Latta home, hearth cooking

On Stage: Disney’s Aladdin Jr.; Peter Pan; and The Invisible Boy. See page 25. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Día de los Muertos. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, 6500 S. New Hope Road, Belmont. 11am-3pm. $8-$15, children younger than 2 free, includes garden admission. Come for live entertainment, Day of the Dead crafts and activities. Family Day: Day of the Dead. Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. 7th St. Noon-6pm. Free. Enjoy traditional foods, folkloric arts and crafts, dances, and activities for children. Front Porch Sundays. Sycamore Brewing, 2161 Hawkins St. 11am-4pm. Free. Front Porch Sundays brings more than 65 vendors, puppies, Kombucha, and food trucks to Sycamore Brewing.


Our Feathered Friends. Latta Nature Center, 6211 Sample Road, Huntersville. Ages 4-12. 2-3pm. $4. The world of birds is fun, feathered and fantastic. Appreciate their differences in shapes, colors and sounds. Pumpkin Chunkin’. The Schiele Museum of Natural History, 1500 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia. 1-3:30pm. $2 in addition to museum admission, $6-$7, children 3 and younger Free. Bring your old pumpkins for a smashing good time! Choose from a variety of creative options to smash your pumpkin. Extra pumpkins are available for purchase.

time. One sibling or caregiver can jump for free. Stories in 2 Languages: English and Russian. Matthews Library, 230 Matthews Station St., Matthews. Age 5 and younger. 6-7pm. Free. Engage your child with stories, songs and activities in English and Russian.


Family Storytime: Pajama Storytime. Matthews Library, 230 Matthews Station St. Ages 5 and younger. 7pm. Free. Enjoy stories, songs and movement activities in your pajamas. Preschool Playtime. Carolina Stars, 1080 Maxwell Mill Road, Fort Mill. 10:30am-noon. $5, cash only. Come play in the open gym. All students younger than 3 must have an adult present at all times.

STEAM 101: Art! Leaf Candles. Hickory Grove Library, 5935 Hickory Grove Road. Ages 10-18. 5-6:30pm. Free. Use various techniques to make a leaf candle. Register online. Sugar Creek Reading Lab Club. Sugar Creek Library, 4045 North Tryon St., Suite A. Ages 5-11. 5-6pm. Free. Listen to interesting stories while improving literacy and critical thinking skills. A reading incentive or snack provided. Wee Wednesday. The Museum of York County, 4621 Mount Gallant Road, Rock Hill. Recommended for ages 4 and younger. 10:30-11:15am. $5-$8, children 3 and younger free, included with admission. Sing and wiggle around, read fun books and participate in a craft or activity.



CM Library Presents: Music with Holly. ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center, 300 E. 7th St. Ages 5 and younger. 11:30am-noon. Free. Attend the music and movement program with songs and instruments. Dakota and Friends. ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center, 300 E. 7th St. Ages 3-11. 11am-1pm. Free. Meet and interact with Dakota, pet a baby T-Rex. Read aloud to dinosaurs, then take a ride. Special Needs Jump Time at KINSO. KINSO Kinetic Social Park, 601 N. Polk St., Pineville. 4-6pm. $5.50. Children with special needs are invited to jump during a special

After School De-stress. Mountain Island Library, 4420 Hoyt Galvin Way. Ages 10-11. 5-6pm. Free. Create a personal “de-stress kit” to use after long days of learning and studying. The kit includes slime, a stress ball and snacks. Board Game Night at Barnes and Noble Arboretum. Barnes and Noble: Arboretum, 3327 PinevilleMatthews Road. 6pm. Free. Bring some friends, and come play board games. Mini Chefs. Town Hall, 315 MatthewsIndian Trail Road, Indian Trail. Ages 3-5. 11am-noon. $6. Learn to cook something new and leave with



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› a recipe card. Register prior to attending. Read a Book, Learn to Cook. Beatties Ford Road Regional Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Road. Ages 5-11. 5-5:30pm. Free. Investigate cookbooks and learn about measurements in this hands-on program for schoolage children. Register online. Stories in 2 Languages: English and French. Matthews Library, 230 Matthews Station St., Matthews. Ages 5 and younger. 9:15-9:45am. Free. Engage in stories, songs and activities in English and French. Storytime in the Park. Squirrel Lake Park, 1631 Pleasant Plains Road, Matthews. Ages 5 and younger. 11-11:30am. Free. Enjoy stories, songs and movement activities at Squirrel Lake Park.

8 FRIDAY On Stage: Disney’s Aladdin Jr. See page 25. Bird is the Word. Latta Nature Center, 6211 Sample Road, Huntersville. Ages 5-11. 1-3pm. Free. Examine eggs, focus on feathers and create a sweet “tweet” for birds. Child registration and parent attendance are required. Books, Bites and Crafts. Southview Recreation Center, 1720 Vilma St. Ages 2-5. 10-11am. $5. Participants read books, sing songs, design crafts and eat treats. Stories and Stretches at Jumpin Jax. Jumpin Jax of Lancaster, 2650 Charlotte Hwy., Lancaster. 11:30am. Free story time. Visit a Lancaster County librarian at Jumpin Jax Fun Center of Lancaster for movement and yoga through stories. Regular admission is applied for children who want to stay to play following the event. W8less LKN Flips-n-Giggles. W8Less LKN, 10442-A Bailey Road,

Let your imagination CALENDAR take flight at a “Peter Pan” performance. Photo by John Merrick

ON STAGE Peter Pan. (Through Nov. 3). ImaginOn, McColl Family Theatre, 300 E. 7th St. $15+. 704-9732828. Fly to new heights in the Tony Award-winning musical that never gets old, presented by Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. Join Peter as he whisks the Darling children off to Neverland in a story filled with magic, delight and adventure. See website for showtimes. Disney’s Aladdin Jr. (Nov. 1-10). Armour Street Theatre, 307 Armour Street, Davidson. Ages 4 and older. $12. 704-892-7953. Based on the 1992 Academy-Award-winning film and the 2014 hit Broadway show about the street rat who learns that his true worth lies deep within. See website for showtimes. The Invisible Boy. (Nov. 1-24). ImaginOn, Wells Fargo Playhouse, 300 E. 7th St. Recommended for ages 6 and older. 7:30pm. $16+. 704-9732828. No one notices Brian until Justin arrives. This high-spirited musical shines a spotlight on the possibilities that begin with a simple act of kindness. See website for showtimes; sensory friendly performance on Nov. 10.

Charlotte Has Talent. (Nov. 16). Booth Playhouse, 130 N Tryon St. 7pm. $25-$50. 704-372-1000. This talent show is packed with Charlotte celebrities and benefits children in foster care. Jonas Brothers Happiness Begins Tour. (Nov. 20). Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St. $49.95+. 800-7453000. See the Jonas Brothers live as they bring the “Happiness Begins Tour Presented by American Airlines and Mastercard” to the Queen City. Frozen Jr. (Nov. 21-24). McCelvey Center’s Lowrey Family Theatre, 212 E. Jefferson St., York. $10-$15. Showtime Theatre Company’s middle-high school youth bring Elsa, Anna, and the magical land of Arendelle to life on stage. See website for showtimes. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical (Nov. 29-Dec. 29). ImaginOn, McColl Family Theatre, 300 E. 7th St. $19+. 704-973-2828. Ring in the holiday season with this hilarious and heartfelt musical comedy, adapted from Barbara Robinson’s classic story. See website for show times. Enjoy a sensory-friendly

performance on Dec. 8 at 4 p.m. Charlotte Symphony: Home Alone. (Nov. 29). Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. 7:30pm. $29-$132. 704972-2000. Delight in John Williams’ beloved score performed live while “Home Alone” is projected on a big screen. The Nutcracker Ballet (Nov. 30-Dec. 8). Matthews Community Center, 100 E. W. McDowell St., Matthews. $5-$7. Come get in the holiday spirit with the performance of the renowned Nutcracker Ballet. Sat., 2 and 7pm; Sun., 3pm. For an additional $5 per person, meet the cast of the Nutcracker after the performance after the 3pm performance on Dec. 1 and 8. Magic and Mystery (Nov. 30). Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square, 345 North College St. 8pm. $35-$45. 704-372-1000. Experience a miraculous world of magic, mind reading and hypnosis from world class “Astonishment Artist” Mat LaVore.


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CALENDAR Cornelius. Ages 5 and younger. 10am-1pm. $10 per hour. Young children can jump with other little ones. Parents and caregivers jump free! W8less socks required.

9 SATURDAY On Stage: Disney’s Aladdin Jr.; and The Invisible Boy. See page 25. ASC Culture Blocks: It’s Not Just Selfies ... it’s Photography. Scaleybark Library, 101 Scaleybark Road. 11am-1pm. Free. Teens can learn photography and videography techniques using point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras. Register online. ASC Culture Blocks: True Story of Three Little Pigs. Hickory Grove Library, 5935 Hickory Grove Road. 11:30am-1pm. Free. Learn and explore with the Children’s Theater of Charlotte as they perform, “True Story of the Three Little Pigs.” Aw Shucks Corn Maze. 3718 Plyler Mill Road, Monroe. 1-6pm. $8-$13, plus extra fees for certain activities, children 3 and younger free. Corn maze, hayrides, pumpkin bowling, kids play area, gem mining, corn hole, horseshoes, animal barn and more. International Games Day. Beatties Ford Road Regional Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Road. 2-3pm. Free. Learn and play some new board games. Register online. Mini-Masters Adult/Child Workshop. Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road. Ages 3-7. 1-2pm. $16. Young artists and their adult companions explore the museum galleries and create art. Projects vary each month. Story Time at Northlake Mall. Northlake Mall Live 360 Games Court, 6801 Northlake Mall Drive. Recommended for ages 5 and younger. 2-4pm. Free. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library


presents stories and activities at the Live 360 games court near the kids’ play area. Story times are at 2:30 and 3:30pm.

10 SUNDAY On Stage: Disney’s Aladdin Jr.; and The Invisible Boy. See page 25. 2019 Warbirds over Monroe Air Show. Charlotte Monroe Executive Airport, 3900 Paul J. Helms Drive, Monroe. 9am-5am. $5-$15; children 12 and younger admitted free. From jets and warbirds, aerobatics, comedy and choppers, the annual event brings history to life. Also enjoy food and children’s activities. Fall Colors Kayak Tour. McDowell Nature Preserve, 15222 S. York Road. Ages 5 and older. 10am-noon. $20-$25. Paddle the edges of McDowell Nature Preserve with instructors while enjoying nature. Registration is required. Military Timeline. Fort Dobbs, 438 Fort Dobbs Road, Statesville. $2. The experiences of veterans are shared through living history displays and weapons-firing demonstrations. Sat., 10am-4pm; Sun., 10am-3pm. Rural Hill’s Sheepdog Trials. Historic Rural Hill, 4431 Neck Road, Huntersville. 10am-5pm. $8-$11, children age 4 and younger admitted free. Watch skilled border collies in action. Merchant and food vendors will be on site during this event. Sensory Friendly Sunday at SeaLife Aquarium. SEA LIFE CharlotteConcord Aquarium, 8111 Concord Mills Blvd., Concord. 9-11am. Free. Families with children on the autism spectrum or children with sensory processing disorders are invited to the aquarium before the public for a sensory friendly underwater journey. Register online prior to the event.

11 MONDAY VETERANS DAY Nature Detectives: Dinosaurs and Other Reptiles. Latta Nature Center, 6211 Sample Road, Huntersville. Ages 2-3, 10:1511am, $4. Ages 4-6, 1-3pm, $6. Uncover the mysteries of nature through stories, crafts and activities related to the topic of the week. Veterans Day Ceremony in Davidson. Davidson Town Hall, 216 S. Main St., Davidson. 11am-noon. Free. The ceremony includes color guard, laying of the wreath and a keynote speaker.

12 TUESDAY Crafty Kids. Town Hall, 315 MatthewsIndian Trail Road, Indian Trail. Ages 2.5-5. 11am-noon. $6. Each class brings a new theme while making arts and crafts. Registration is required. Family Storytime: Pajama Storytime. Beatties Ford Road Regional Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Road. 6-7pm. Free. Bring your whole family out to enjoy stories in pajamas. Register online. Light refreshments provided. Free Tuesday at the Schiele Museum. The Schiele Museum, 1500 East Garrison Blvd., Gastonia. 4-8pm. Free. Get free entry to The Schiele Museum every second Tuesday of the month. Stories in 2 Languages. Hickory Grove Library, 5935 Hickory Grove Road. Ages 2-5. 11-11:45am. Free. This program is intended for children who speak English as a second language.

13 WEDNESDAY Free Wednesday Evenings at the Mint Museum. Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road, Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St. 5-9pm. Free. Explore

the Mint Museum’s exhibitions. Get to Know the Greenway Guided Tour. Anne Springs Close Greenway, 250 Dairy Barn Lane, Fort Mill. 9am. Free. Learn more about the activities, events, venues, history and how to get around the Greenway by van. There is no hiking required, but register online prior to the tour. Rookie Science. Mint Hill Library, 6840 Matthews-Mint Hill Road, Mint Hill. Ages 5-11. 4-5pm. Free. Discover the world of science through books, activities, and experiments. Register online. Levine Center for the Arts Stroller Tours. Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, 551 S. Tryon St. 10:30-11:30am. Free. Parents and caregivers are invited to docent-led museum tours that rotate between all three Levine Center for the Arts institutions, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Mint Museum Uptown and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. Registration is required. Single-strollers only.

14 THURSDAY ID a Tree Hike. McDowell Nature Preserve, 15222 S. York Road. Ages 10 and older. 2-3pm. Free. Study leaf patterns and tree characteristics to learn more about tree species. Registration is required.

15 FRIDAY Britax Car Seat Checking Station. Britax Child Safety, Inc., 4140 Pleasant Road, Fort Mill. 11am-2pm. Free. Meet with a nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) teaches the correct way to install your child’s seat and answer questions.


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› Messy by Nature. Latta Nature Center, 6211 Sample Road, Huntersville. Ages 5-11. 1-2:30pm. $4. Get your hands dirty, learn about nature and create nature-inspired crafts. Mommy and Me Yoga. Lake Wylie Public Library, 185 Blucher Cir., Lake Wylie. Ages 2-5. 10:3011:15am. Free. Practice fun yoga combined with traditional yoga poses, meditation, relaxation and breathing. Register online. Nature Exploratorium. McDowell Nature Preserve, 15222 S. York Road. Ages 6-12. 3-4:30pm. Free. Participants will hike and create games and activities while learning from nature.

16 SATURDAY On Stage: Charlotte Has Talent; and The Invisible Boy. See page 25. 2019 Queen City Fall Festival. The Carole Hoefener Center, 615 E. 6th St. 1-5pm. Free. Enjoy food trucks, entertainment, face painting, bounce house, free giveaways and crafts. Cars and Coffee Concord. Charlotte Motor Speedway, 5555 Concord Pkwy. S., Concord. 7-10am. Free. Car owners and enthusiasts gather to celebrate their passion for cars and showcase their prized classics, customs and hot rods. Drop-in Discovery: Don’t Wake the Animals. The Museum of York County, 4621 Mount Gallant Road, Rock Hill. Noon-2pm. $5-$8, children 3 and younger free, included with admission. Attend “Don’t Wake the Animals” story time at noon or 1pm, and enjoy an activity. Introduction to Bouldering. McDowell Nature Preserve, 15222 S. York Road. Ages 7 and older. 11am-3:30pm. $15. Meet at McDowell Nature Center, and take a van to climb at Dixon School Boulders in Crowders Mountain State Park.

McDowell Arts Center Saturday Kids and Parents Clay Workshops. McDowell Arts Center, 123 McDowell St., Matthews. Ages 6 and older. 9:30-10:45 am. $10. Come create functional, seasonal clay projects! Musical Saturday: Fall Frenzy. The Bridge, 4100 Raleigh St. Ages 3-8. 10am-noon. $8. Learn to sing some fun songs, try out new instruments and make some friends. Vulture Feedings at Carolina Raptor Center. Carolina Raptor Center, 6000 Sample Road, Huntersville. Noon-2pm. $8-$12, children 3 and younger free, included with admission to Raptor Trail. Learn about vultures found at Carolina Raptor Center. Weather Proof. The Schiele Museum, 1500 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia. 10am-4pm. $3 in addition to museum admission of $6-$7, children 3 and younger free. Meet meteorologists, explore weather instruments and enjoy activities.

17 SUNDAY On Stage: The Invisible Boy. See page 25. All Ages at Abari Game Bar. Abari Game Bar, 1721 N. Davidson St. Noon-5pm. Cost for games. On Saturdays and Sundays from noon5pm, the arcade bar opens to all ages with a parent or guardian present. Cars and Cappuccino. SouthPark Mall, 4400 Sharon Road. 8-10am. Free. See a variety of European sports cars. Stories in the Woods. UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, 9090 Craver Road. 1-2pm. Free. Visit the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens for picture books and literacy activities. events-calendar. Turkey Jeopardy. McDowell Nature Preserve, 15222 S. York Road. Ages 6-12. 2-3pm. Free. Register

to gobble up turkey facts in a trivia game all about turkeys. Vulture Venture. Carolina Raptor Center, 6000 Sample Road, Huntersville. 12-1pm. $8-$12, children 3 and younger free, included with admission to Raptor Trail. Vultures and humans engage in a fun activity of the trainer’s choice,

18 MONDAY On Stage: Disney Junior Holiday Party! on Tour. See page 25. ASC Culture Blocks: Get Creative With Clay. Independence Regional Library, 6000 Conference Drive. Ages 5-11. 5-6pm. Free. Register online for a hands on pottery making workshop with Clayworks. Little Bit Fit Time. Charlotte Allstar Gymnastics and Cheerleading, 11011 Monroe Road, Matthews. 10:30am-noon. $3-$5. With parental guidance, toddlers can jump on the trampoline, play in the foam pit and craw through obstacles. Cash only. Pajama-Rama on The Plaza. Plaza Midwood Library, 1623 Central Ave. 7-7:30pm. Free. Enjoy stories, songs and movement activities in your pajamas. Toddler Jump at DefyGravity. DefyGravity Trampoline Park, 8116 University City Blvd. Ages 6 and younger. 9-10am. $11 for one hour. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

19 TUESDAY Ray Play. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Site, 500 Billmark Ave. Ages 1-3. 10am-noon. $3. Children play with interactive, age-appropriate toys and games while listening to music. Parent participation required.


Story Time and More. Wing Haven Gardens, 260 Ridgewood Ave. Recommended for children younger than 10. 10am-noon. $10 per family. Enjoy two stories and two crafts. After the program, romp and play in the SEED Wildlife Garden and Children’s Garden. Toddler Tuesdays at Barnes and Noble: Arboretum. Barnes and Noble: Arboretum, 3327 PinevilleMatthews Road. 9:30am. Free. This weekly story time includes classic tales and new favorites. Toddler Tuesday at Dish It Out. Dish It Out, 7828 Rea Road, #C. Ages 5 and younger. 10am-noon. $3 per hour. Come paint pottery with your toddler.

20 WEDNESDAY On Stage: Jonas Brothers Happiness Begins Tour. See page 25. Big Bang beTween: Comic Book Club. Mountain Island Library, 4420 Hoyt Galvin Way. Ages 8-12. 4-5pm. Free. Geek out on everything comics and manga related. Botanists in Training. Latta Nature Center, 6211 Sample Road, Huntersville. Ages 9-10. 1-3pm. $4. Take a closer look at the plants that make the nature preserve a beautiful and important habitat. Family Pottery Workshop. Mint Hill Library, 6840 Matthews-Mint Hill Road, Mint Hill. 6-8pm. Free. Ceramic teaching artists walk participants throug a clay project from start to finish. Preregistration is required. Little Explorers: Turkey Tales. Tom Sykes Recreation Center, 1501 Euclid Ave. Ages 2-5. 11am-noon. Free. Parents and their little ones to get outside and explore in a slightly structured environment. McDowell Prairie Wagon Ride. McDowell Nature Preserve, 15222 S. York Road. Ages 5 and older. | NOVEMBER 2019

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CALENDAR 6-7:30pm. $5. Learn about our native nocturnal wildlife via wagon ride. Wildlife Science. Latta Nature Center, 6211 Sample Road, Huntersville. Ages 7-8. 1-3pm. $4. Search for wildlife in fields, forests and streams to learn how each species makes its home in the nature preserve.

21 THURSDAY TREE-LIGHTINGS AND HOLIDAY PARADES CHARLOTTE Piedmont Town Center Tree Lighting. (Nov 22). Come early and stay late to enjoy train rides, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a photo booth, balloon artist, face painting, and hot cocoa. Tree-lighting at 7pm. Free. Piedmont Town Center, 4725 Piedmont Row Drive. Holiday Magic at Rea Farms. (Nov. 23). Meet Christmas Mickey and Minnie, and visit with characters from “Frozen,” and ride the trackless train before the tree lightings at 7pm. 4-8pm. Free. Rea Farms, 9855 Sandy Rock Place. Santa’s Arrival and Tree Lighting at Blakeney Shopping Center. (Nov. 23). Enjoy the vendor village and activities from 4-7pm. Santa arrives at 6pm, and is available for photos until 9pm. Free. 4-9pm. Photos available for purchase. Blakeney Shopping Center, 9839 Rea Road. South End Tree Lighting. (Nov. 30). Watch the tree come to life with holiday lights after shopping Historic South End’s Small Business Saturday. Free. Time is TBD. Historic South End, South Boulevard.

Uptown Tree Lighting. (Dec. 3). Uptown Charlotte comes to life with holiday spirit at the Charlotte Christmas Village. Free. 6:30pm. Charlotte Christmas Village, Corner of 7th and N. Tryon streets. CORNEILUS Light Up Cornelius. (Nov. 30). Stop by for the annual tree lighting, performances, concessions, holiday activities, carriage rides and a visit from Santa. Free. 4-7pm. Cornelius Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave., Cornelius. HUNTERSVILLE Santa’s Arrival Parade. (Nov 16). Watch the parade to celebrate Santa’s arrival, plus live entertainment, tree-lighting and vendors. Free. 6pm. Birkdale Village, Birkdale Commons Parkway and Sam Furr Road, Huntersville. KANNAPOLIS Kannapolis Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. (Nov. 23). Celebrate the start of the holiday season with live entertainment, kids’ activities, fireworks, Santa, and the Winterland Express and Carousel. 6-10pm. Free. Village Park, 700 West C. St., Kannapolis.

MOORESVILLE Mooresville Christmas Parade. (Nov. 26). The parade features floats, marching bands, dance and tumbling troupes, vintage and modern vehicles and Santa. Free. 3pm. Downtown Mooresville, Main Street, Mooresville. Mooresville Holiday Light Spectacular. (Nov. 29). The annual Holiday Light Spectacular features 150,000 lights set to music. Free. 6:30pm. Town Hall Lawn, 413 N. Main Street. INDIAN TRAIL It’s a Wonderful Life Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting. (Dec. 1). Enjoy hot cocoa, games, crafts and a parade. Free. 4-7pm. Chestnut Square Park, 320 Chestnut Pkwy., Indian Trail. MCADENVILLE Lighting of Christmas Town USA. (Dec. 2). Join the annual tree-lighting ceremony in McAdenville. The ceremony begins at 5pm, and the switch is pulled at 6pm to start another Christmas Town USA season. Free. Pharr Family YMCA, 208 Main St., McAdenville.



On Stage: Frozen Jr. See page 25. Carolina Flipz Tot Time. Carolina Flipz, 11812 Carolina Place Pkwy., Suite B, Pineville. Ages 5 and younger. 10:30am-noon. $5. Little ones are invited to jump, roll and play in the gym. Puppet Show at ImaginOn. ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan MartinTKTKTKTK Center, 300 E. 7th St. 11:30am-noon. Free. See a puppet show with songs and activities that support early literacy and foster a love of books. Rookie Science: Genetics. Morrison Regional Library, 7015 Morrison Blvd. Ages 7-11. 4-5pm. Free. Discover the world of science through books, hands-on educational activities and experiments. Register online.

22 FRIDAY On Stage: Frozen Jr.; and The Invisible Boy. See page 25. Turkey Jeopardy. McDowell Nature Preserve, 15222 S. York Road. Ages 6-12. 2-3pm. Free. Register to gobble up turkey facts in a trivia game all about turkeys.

23 SATURDAY On Stage: Frozen Jr.; and The Invisible Boy. See page 25. Down on the Farm. The Schiele Museum, 1500 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia. 11am-2pm. $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission. Meet farm animals, and watch staff feed, clean and care for them. Family Pottery Workshop at Tuckaseegee Recreation Center.


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Tuckaseegee Recreation Center, 4820 Tuskaseegee Road. 10am. Free. Ceramic teaching artists walk participants through a clay project from start to finish. Registration is required. Let’s Eat Together. Naomi Drenan Recreation Center, 750 Beal St. 10am-4:30pm. Free. Come for a free Thanksgiving dinner, youth basketball games and live entertainment. Now Showing: “Frozen.” Mountain Island Library, 4420 Hoyt Galvin Way. Ages 10-18. 2-4pm. Free. Enjoy a free movie at the library. Sensory Friendly Screenings: “Frozen.” Sun Valley 14 in Indian Trail; and RedStone 14, Indian Land. 10am. $5. Sensory Friendly Screenings are designed for a sensitive audience in a safe and accepting environment. sensoryfriendlymoviescreenings.

24 SUNDAY On Stage: Frozen Jr.; and The Invisible Boy. See page 25. Family Cooking: Gobble It Up. Morrison Family YMCA, 9405 Bryant Farms Road. Ages 2 and older. 2-3:30pm. $10-$15. A professional instructor leads lead families in an engaging cooking experience. End class by enjoying a family activity and the food you created. WinterFest. Carowinds, 14523 Carowinds Blvd. $48+, children ages 5 and younger free with Pre-K Pass. Carowinds is transformed into a winter wonderland with spectacular holiday experiences. Fri., 5-10pm; Sat., 2-10pm; Sun., 4-10pm.

25 MONDAY Nature Detectives: Turkey Adventures. Latta Nature Center, 6211 Sample Road, Huntersville. Ages 4-6. 1-3pm. $6. Uncover the mysteries of nature through

stories, crafts and activities related to turkeys. Story Explorers: Native American Heritage Month. Myers Park Library, 1361 Queens Road. 6-7pm. Free. Learn about books that celebrate the history and traditions of Native Americans. Play a game, and make something to take home. Register online. World Culture Club: England. Lake Wylie Public Library, 185 Blucher Cir., Lake Wylie. Ages 11-17. 5-6:30pm. Free. Explore other cultures while doing fun activities and having snacks from other places. Register online.

26 TUESDAY Outdoor Adventure Club: Fishing. Tom Sykes Recreation Center, 1501 Euclid Ave. Ages 8-12. 5-6:30pm. $5. Experience the great outdoors while practicing survival skills. Preschool Tinker Time. ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center, 300 E. 7th St. Ages 2-5. 11-11:30am. Free. Come for hands-on STEAM activities in support of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s STEAM Month. Super Play Time. Superior Play Systems, 11415 Granite St., Suite C. 10am-6pm. $6, $8 on school holidays. Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors. Toddler Time at Sky Zone. Sky Zone, 10200 Centrum Pkwy., Pineville. Ages 5 and younger. 10-11am. $8. Jumpers need Sky Socks, which are available for purchase, and a signed waiver. Toddler Tuesday at Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium. Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium, 8111 Concord Mills Blvd., Concord. $15 for adult. Get one free child ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket on Tuesdays. Each additional child ages 3-12 will cost $5. Yoga Storytime. Cornelius Library, 21105 Catawba Ave., Cornelius.

6-6:30pm. Free. Enjoy stories coupled with fun and easy yoga poses.

27 WEDNESDAY Terrence Creek Greenway Family Hike. Torrence Creek Greenway, Cedar River Road and Cypress Springs Road, Huntersville. 10-11:30am. Free. Take your family for a stroll on the Torrence Creek Greenway, with a stop at Defined Coffee for coffee or hot chocolate. Toddler Storytime at Barnes and Noble: Morrison Place. Barnes and Noble: Morrison Place, 4020 Sharon Road. 11am. Free. Come join story time with other families. Turkey Eve Hike. McDowell Nature Preserve, 15222 S. York Road. Ages 8 and older. 9-10:30am. Free. Hike 2 to 3 miles through the McDowell Nature Preserve. Register for the 9am or 2pm session.

28 THURSDAY THANKSGIVING Charlotte Turkey Trot. SouthPark Mall, 4400 Sharon Road. 8am. $12$45. Run the 5K, 8K, Fun Run or Tot Trot to start Thanksgiving off on the right foot. Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade. Uptown Charlotte. Route follows Tryon Street from Ninth Street to Stonewall Street with main performance area in front of Duke Energy building. Expect floats, larger-than-life balloons, Segwalloons, marching bands and performing acts. 9 a.m. The parade is free, but VIP seating can be purchased for reserved seats along Tryon Street.

29 FRIDAY On Stage: Charlotte Symphony: “Home Alone,” and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical. See page 25. Black Friday Campfire. Latta Nature Center, 6211 Sample Road,

Huntersville. 1-3:30pm. Free. Drop by to roast a marshmallow, play cornhole or take a hike. Holidays at the Garden. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, 6500 S. New Hope Road, Belmont. It’s opening night for the annual event that includes a musically-orchestrated topiary display, the illuminated prairie garden, and lights of fire and ice in the perennial gardens, and more. 5-9pm. $7.95-$14.95, younger than age 2 admitted free.

30 SATURDAY On Stage: Magic and Mystery; The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical; and The Nutcracker Ballet. See page 25. AmeriCarna LIVE Car Show 2019. Ingersoll Rand, 800 Beaty St., Davidson. 10am-4pm. $5, children younger than 10 admitted free. A car show to benefit Evernham Family: Racing for a Reason Foundation and to support the IGNITE community center in Davidson for young adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. ASC Culture Blocks: Drums4Life. West Boulevard Library, 2157 West Blvd. 11am-1pm. Free. Join Drums4Life drum circle to experience the spontaneous creation of music. Register online. ASC Culture Block: Visual Art Workshop. Beatties Ford Road Regional Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Road. 1-3pm. Free. Create art during this workshop that offers live music. Charlotte Checkers: My First Checkers Game. Bojangles’ Coliseum, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. 6pm. $18.50+. Purchase $5 kids tickets, and the first 1,500 kids to arrive get a free jersey. Do not miss the Teddy Bear Toss to benefit children affiliated with local nonprofits. | NOVEMBER 2019

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SANTA SIGHTINGS Santa’s Arrival at Concord Mills. (Nov. 8). Enjoy festive activities and special guest appearances. Santa Claus arrives in style around 6:30pm. followed by a parade down to Santa’s workshop in the dining pavilion. Photo packages vary in price. 5-7pm. Concord Mills, 8111 Concord Mills Blvd. simon. com/mall/concord-mills.

local wines, Santa and more than 450 holiday merchants. $4-$15, children ages 5 and younger admitted free. On-site parking is $8. Sun.-Wed., 10am-6pm.; Thurs.-Sat. 10am-9pm. Park Expo and Conference Center, 800 Briar Creek Road.

Breakfast with Santa at SouthPark Mall. (Nov. 9). Enjoy light breakfast bites with music and a craft, and a story with Santa. Free. 9-10am. SouthPark Mall, 4400 Sharon Road.

4th Annual Cookies with Santa. (Nov. 16). Take a digital photo with Santa, then shop local vendors and food trucks while the kids make crafts. $15 for photo with Santa. 10am-2pm. Baxter Close YMCA, 857 Promenade Walk, Fort Mill. fort-mill-baxter.

Southern Christmas Show. (Nov. 14-24). Experience charming shops, festive music, crafts, food, holiday decor,

Santa’s Arrival Parade. (Nov. 16). Watch the parade at 6pm. to celebrate Santa’s arrival, followed by live entertainment,

tree lighting and vendors. Free. 3-8pm. Birkdale Village, Birkdale Commons Parkway and Sam Furr Road, Huntersville

admission, children ages 12 and younger admitted free. Noon-4pm. Charlotte Convention Center, 501 S. College St.

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. (Nov. 16-Dec. 24). Santa’s Wonderland offers photos with Santa and holiday crafts, games and activities. Free. Bass Pro Shops of Concord and Cabela’s of Fort Mill.

Piedmont Town Center Tree Lighting. (Nov. 22). See the tree lighting at 7pm. Come early and stay late to enjoy train rides, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a photo booth, balloon artist, face painting, goodie bags and complimentary hot cocoa. Free. Piedmont Town Center, 4725 Piedmont Row Drive.

Santa at the Charlotte Auto Show (Nov. 21-24). Santa is stopping by the Charlotte Auto Show Saturday and Sunday. Be sure to also check out the video game truck and first responder vehicles. On Sunday, entertainers and mascots will also be available for pictures and high-fives. $10 general

Charlotte Christmas Village (Nov. 22-Dec. 24). Santa visits this uptown Christmas market on select dates starting Thanksgiving Day. The event

The Holiday Shop | Dec. 4-7 The Holiday Shop at ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center includes Santa’s Bag and The ENCORE! Boutique. Santa’s Bag gives children ages 10 and younger the opportunity to shop for inexpensive, wrapped gifts with the help of a holiday elf. The ENCORE! Boutique is a unique place for tweens, teens and adults to browse while younger children are shopping at Santa’s Bag. Proceeds benefit Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. See Santa in the lobby during the event. Free admission. Gifts range in price from 50 cents to $6. Wed-Fri., 9-11:30am and 4:30-7pm; Sat., 10am-1pm (or until inventory sells out). Expect to wait in line! ImaginOn, 300 E. 7th St.



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› includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming. Closed Mondays. See website for Santa’s schedule. Free admission. Charlotte Christmas Village, Corner of 7th and N. Tryon streets. Speedway Christmas (Nov. 22-Jan. 5). Drive the 3.5-mile course to see over 3.5 million lights. Every Thursday through Sunday, the indoor Christmas Village includes photos with Santa, children’s activities, a display of decorated Christmas trees, plus a live nativity, Ferris wheel, merry go round and carriage rides outside. $25-$30 per car for Christmas light show and the Village visit. $20 on days when the village is closed. Thurs.Sun., 6-10pm. and daily Christmas week except Christmas Day. Charlotte Motor Speedway, 5555 Concord Pkwy., South, Concord. Breakfast with Santa. (Nov. 23). Eat a holly, jolly breakfast and visit with Santa. Enjoy music, games and crafts. This is a Mall Stars Kids Club event, and the first 200 kids and their families enjoy breakfast at no cost. Register online for this event. Free. 8-10am. Northlake Mall, 6801 Northlake Mall Drive. Holiday Magic at Rea Farms. (Nov. 23). Come out for a free photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus! Meet Christmas Mickey and Minnie, and visit with characters from “Frozen.” Enjoy trackless train rides, face painting, balloon twisters, a cookie decorating workshop and the 7pm. tree lighting. Free. 4-8pm. Rea Farms, 9855 Sandy Rock Place. Santa’s Arrival and Tree Lighting at Blakeney Shopping Center (Nov. 23). Enjoy the vendor village and


activities from 4 to 7pm. Santa arrives by horse-drawn carriage at 6pm, and he is available for photos until 9pm. Free. Photos available for purchase. 4-9pm. Blakeney Shopping Center, 9839 Rea Road. Sensory Event with Santa. (Nov. 24 and Dec. 8). Children with special needs are invited to meet Santa in a subdued environment. Photos available for purchase. 10am-noon. Carolina Place Mall, 11025 Carolina Pl. Pkwy. Caring Santa (Dec. 1 and 8). Caring Santa is a private event designed for children and young adults with special needs and their families to have an opportunity to visit Santa and have their photos taken. Photos available for purchase. 9-10:30am. SouthPark Mall, 4400 Sharon Road. caringsanta. Santa at Holidays at the Garden. (Dec. 2-19). Take a personal photo with Santa at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dec. 2-19, before strolling to see Holidays at the Garden lights. $7.95-$14.95, under age 2 admitted free. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, 3500 S. New Hope Road, Belmont. Cookies with Santa. (Dec. 4). Have a cookie and get a free photo with Santa to take home as a keepsake. Free. 3-6pm. Cabarrus Arts Council, 65 Union St. S., Concord. Winter Wednesdays at Waverly. (Dec. 4, 11 and 18). Start a new holiday tradition that includes a night full of entertainment, including music, shopping, sweet treats and of course, a visit from Santa! Free. 5-7:30pm. Waverly Charlotte.

ChristmasVille (Dec. 5-8). This fourday festival includes Santa Workshops, a parade, Founder’s Holiday Ice Rink, a carousel, performances, arts and crafts and other events. Santa arrives Dec. 5 in Fountain Park at 7pm. Cookies and cocoa at First Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill will follow his arrival. See the festival website for more events with Santa. Free. See website for full schedule of events, including cookies and cocoa with Santa and Santa workshop events. Historic Old Town, Rock Hill. Santa’s House at Christmas in Davidson (Dec. 5-7). Part of the Christmas in Davidson celebration, children can share their wish lists and have a picture taken. Santa arrives Thurs., Dec. 5 at 6:29pm via a horsedrawn carriage to Santa’s House where he sees visitors from 7-9pm. See Santa Friday and Saturday from 6-9pm. Free. Davidson College Presbyterian Church Congregation House, 100 N. Main St., Davidson. Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Show at Phillips Place. (Dec. 5 and Dec. 12). See the dazzling light shows at 6:30 and 7:30pm, and enjoy visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, face painters, balloon artists, and hot chocolate. Free. 6:30-8:30pm. Phillips Place, 6800 Phillips Place Court. Ballantyne Village’s Holiday Open House (Dec. 7). Kids receive goodie bags, while supplies last. Fun events for the family include visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, face painting, balloon artist, crafts and a bounce house. Free. 1-4pm. Ballantyne Village, 14825 Ballantyne Village Way.


SANTA AT THE MALLS Birkdale Village Nov. 16 -Dec. 24 - select days Carolina Place Mall Nov. 9-Dec. 24 Concord Mills Nov. 8-Dec. 24 Northlake Mall Nov. 16-Dec. 24 Southpark Mall Nov. 1-Dec. 24

Breakfast with Santa at Harris YMCA (Dec. 7). Join Santa for breakfast and pictures, and tell him what’s on your wish list this holiday. $12-$15. All ages. 9-10:30am and 10:30am-noon. Harris YMCA 5900 Quail Hollow Road. Candy Cane Hunt and Paws with Claus. (Dec. 7). Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, search the greenway for candy canes and finish with s’mores over a campfire. Register online. $12 per child, $5 for parking. Hunts at 10am and 12:30pm. Anne Springs Close Greenway, 288 Dairy Barn Lane, Fort Mill. Caring Santa (Dec. 8). Children with special needs and their families can enjoy a sensory-friendly Caring Santa event. Photo packages available for purchase. 9-11am. Concord Mills, 8111 Concord Mills Blvd.

The Charlotte Parent calendar lists free and low-cost local and regional events for children and families. To submit an event for consideration, go to, then click on Submit an Event. Submission deadline for print is the 1st of the month prior to the next month’s publication. Time, dates and details of events are subject to change. Call venue to confirm. | NOVEMBER 2019

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10/3/19 9:55 AM


Leading the Way BY DEREK JAMES


have enjoyed leadership roles for as long as I can remember. From always wanting to lead the line in elementary school, joining student council in middle school, being elected president of our middle school Tech Education class, and leading my high school’s very own TV show, I’ve always looked to lead. I’m sure my teachers always warned my new teachers how to handle me. “You have Derek. He’s smart and knows how to get people on his side, but he’ll take over the class if you let him.” That may have happened on one or two occasions — or 50. Now that my two boys are getting to the later years of elementary school, they too are starting to look for ways to be leaders. Thus far, they both seem to be going about it in ways a bit subtler than I did. My younger son Chase is that kid in the class who helps his teacher or a classmate without being asked while in the process also getting the class involved. Tyler, my older son, is also willing to help, but he may also try to get something for himself out of the deal. He’s the kind of kid you have to worry about accepting something (insert middle school contraband here) under the table in exchange for his assistance with, say, someone’s math homework. Whereas I was more than willing to take responsibility for the outcome of a project, especially the kudos, my sons seem to prefer a more low-profile approach: think senior manager over CEO. This fall, Tyler applied to be on his school’s safety patrol. As part of the selection process, he had to write a few sentences about why he thought he’d be a good choice for the role. He explained that kids look up to him, that he is responsible and that he would try


his best. Because he made that effort to write a short paragraph when others didn’t, he got the gig (and a trip to Carowinds later in the school year). He was also selected by his teacher as the first Star Student award winner for being a silent leader and doing what needed to be done without having to be told to do so. Last year, Chase was voted Terrific Kid in his class for one month. The focus was on citizenship. While it’s great to receive recognition for leadership, both my boys understand that the actions themselves are the most satisfying part. Awards are just the cherry on top. Let your kids know that being a leader isn’t about being the boss or about always being perfect. Instead, it’s about getting people to communicate their ideas clearly, about celebrating that diversity of thought, and getting things done in a fair and timely fashion. And that it’s about putting down the

devices to actually talk to each other. It’s also about learning patience in a world that often is lacking in that regard. It’s about encouraging hard work instead of the easy way out. It’s about learning to negotiate when it seems like no one wants to budge. I have no idea what my boys will do when they grow up, but regardless of their career choices, I’m confident that they will have a good amount of leadership experience. That experience can pay off as good leaders at home, at church and in the community, and that’s better than being the boss. As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m especially thankful for valuable lessons and bright futures for my children. Derek James is a host of WCCB News Rising, and dad to Tyler, 10, and Chase, 8.


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10/2/19 3:53 PM

Having better health means you can live a better life. It’s what we all want for ourselves, our families and our community. At Atrium Health, that’s what drives us every day. We’re always pursuing a higher bar, a higher standard, to find better ways to care for you – so that we can all enjoy a better life.

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9/19/19 4:52 PM 10/7/19 12:52 PM


NOV 24 – DEC 31

Immerse yourself in a world of holiday spirit at the return of WinterFest at Carowinds. Where the park will be transformed into a glittering winter landscape, with ice skating, festive characters, rides and live shows. Visit to learn more.

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Don’t miss the all-new

• Dazzling Lights • Extravagant Floats • Talented Performers • A Special Appearance By Santa Claus

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Profile for Morris Media Network

Charlotte Parent November 2019  

Charlotte Parent November 2019