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WINTER 2015-16



Are You a Hovering Parent? p10 Raising Girls Right p.20 Body Love p.22 Controlling Anxiety p.24 Birthday Party Madness p.26


Winter Activities for Your Kids p.6

Strengthen Your Marriage p 12 Creative Date Ideas p 14 Personality Effects p 16 Reconnect with Your Non-Mom Self p 18

Beautiful Baby Contest p32 HOLIDAY TALES p.28 Just Ask Joyce p30

• Spruce Up Your Chocolate Drink p34 • Spray on Happiness p36 • This Giveaway is Huge p37 • Read Between the Texts p38 • Healthy Snacks — Without Gluten p40 • Pet Photo Contest Winners p42 • Soothe Your Kids p44 • DIY Toys p48


Volume 24 • Number 4 PUBLISHER

By Anita Oldham, Editor

Cathy S. Zion

Parenting Perfection



Elaine Rooker Jack

Tiffany White




Kaitlyn English

Parent Survival You keep hearing that time with your kids goes so fast — and that is true. But it is also true that some days and stages go so slow. You will find some in-the-trenches ideas from parents who are trying to keep their sanity, their marriage, and raise their children (see page 10).

Girls Each one is so different, so grouping them all together is probably an oversimplification. As parents, we have the obligation to look at each of our children and find the best way to bring out strengths and use talents. Raising girls sometimes takes a little different approach than raising boys (see our last issue on boys at Our parent writers explored different subjects involved with raising girls (see page 20).

Our Models We invited three girls in for a photo shoot, and were impressed with their confidence and imaginations, their goals and ability to express themselves. Each one of their parents is taking steps to know their child and help them explore possibilities with their interests in mind.

Meet the girls in this issue:





Sara Kate Bastin, 10, is in the fifth grade and recently started playing the viola. She has a dramatic flair and knack for expressions. Cadence Caudill, 9, is the oldest of three sisters in her family who loves running (She recently finished the state cross country meet a few days before our photo shoot.) and making music with the Louisville Leopards. Ki’en Bright, 6, is in first grade and showed us one of the somersaults she has learned from gymnastics. She also picked out some bright outfits for this photo shoot and gave us the fun look for the cover.

Teri Hickerson

Suzy Hillebrand







Alissa Hicks


Jillian LeMaster

PUBLISHED QUARTERLY BY: Zion Publications LLC 9750 Ormsby Station Road, Suite 307 Louisville, KY 40223 Phone 502.327.8855 Fax 502.327.8861

Subscriptions are available by sending $15 to the above address for 4 quarterly issues.

Today’s Family magazine is published quarterly by Zion Publications LLC and distributed free to the people of metropolitan Louisville and Southern Indiana. Circulation 35,000. The opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the position of the publisher. Today’s Family magazine does not endorse or guarantee any advertiser’s product or service. Copyright 2015 by Zion Publications LLC with all rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content in any manner is prohibited without permission from Zion Publications LLC.


Enter to win some great prizes this month during our 12 Days of Christmas giveaway now through January 5! BBB RATING OF

For advertising information, call 502.327.8855 or email


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he past couple of winters have tested the mettle of every Kentuckiana parent whose kids have had seemingly endless strings of snow days. Keep the following list handy in preparation for whatever winter 2015-16 brings.

All About Kids — I cannot tell you how much time my children have spent at the Jeffersontown location of All About Kids for their Open Gym and Inflatable Fun Zone activities. (There’s one in Oldham County, too!) From the time they were toddlers, they’ve always had lots of fun exploring the facility, and they still enjoy it now that they’re older. Kazoing — Located on Chamberlain Lane, Kazoing is another fun option where my kids have played and attended parties, especially when they were in preschool. As littles, they loved the Tot Lot, and as they got older they had fun in the inflatables room. SkyZone — SkyZone, in Bluegrass Industrial Park, offers numerous trampoline sections, including a basketball area where kids can “jump” down a court and shoot, and the Foam Zone, where kids can freestyle jump into a pit of foam blocks. My gang has been for both Open Jump times and birthday parties and left sufficiently exhausted. House of Boom — Located in Middletown, House of Boom is, to me, a blend of SkyZone and All About Kids. I took my three during the summer, and they had a blast, as did Finn (8) and Rowan 6 WINTER 2015-6


(6) Smith. Finn says, “I think it’s one of the funnest places I’ve ever been.” Rowan’s favorite parts are the obstacle course and the open trampoline area.

Louisville Mega Cavern — Sophie Stinnett (11) had a great time on the Mega Quest ropes course at Louisville Mega Cavern, located off Poplar Level Road. “It was a lot of fun,” she says, although she admits to feeling a little nervous when the guides were putting her in the harness and explaining the rules. She thought the small zip line on the course was cool and also liked the obstacles that were part of the course.

Lazer Blaze — Lazer Blaze in St. Matthews is an entertainment venue that offers laser tag, bumper cars, mini golf, and arcade games. Xavier (11) and Brendan

McMahon (7) rate this as their top activity in Louisville. Their mom, Susan, says, “It’s a great thing to do with schoolmates and seems to be really popular with boys in their age range.” Xavier likes that players get a printout at the end of each game to see how many shots they fired and how many times they were hit.

Climb Nulu — Climb Nulu on East Market Street is a rock wall climbing facility that offers fun for adults and kids alike. The McMahon brothers visited to preview it as a potential site for a birthday party. They participated in the Climb Club, where they played a Simon Says-type game that involved climbing up the wall and “freezing.” Whet Your Palette — Located in Anchorage, Whet Your Palette offers $10 drop-in painting sessions that kids as young as age 3 can do. For $30, my three kids have painted cute canvases that decorate their bedrooms. A perfect activity for a low-key weekend. CONTINUED ON PAGE 8 4 4 4 4 /todaysfamily 4 4 4 @todaysfamilynow


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Local Speed — Even though the Speed Art Museum has been undergoing massive renovations and will continue to for a while longer, local families can still get their art fix at Local Speed on East Market Street. Once a week, they offer free family art projects. My gang made tessellation pieces and enjoyed investigating the art activity stations. local-speed.html

The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (KMAC) — KMAC, located on Main Street, houses MakerSpace, which gives kids and families opportunities to innovate with art. There are a number of innovative stations for kids to explore. My children have enjoyed both MakerSpace and the unique exhibits scattered throughout the museum. (Renovations were scheduled to begin September 2015 to offer more and better hands-on activities for kids.)

If you really and truly can’t get out of your house or neighborhood due to the weather, here are some ways to break the monotony: Seasonal Silliness — Margo Thornbury, art teacher at Tully Elementary, came up with a fun and funny art project for her students that families can easily do at home. Snap photographs of your children in funny poses. Print or develop the photos and paste to paper. Have children draw seasonal scenes around the photo. Winter Animal Prints — Children can easily make winter animals using paint and their hand or footprints.

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Brothers Xavier (left) and Brendan McMahon get an indoor workout at Climb Nulu. PHOTO: MELISSA DONALD • Penguins — Paint children’s feet black and step on white paper. Allow to dry. Use googly eyes at the heel end of the footprint and paint white bellies. Cotton balls could be used for mounds of snow.

• Polar bears — Paint children’s hands white and press on paper. Allow to dry. Paint on polar bear faces. • Cardinals — Paint children’s hands red and make handprint on a sheet of construction paper. Freehand paint a tree branch underneath them.

E-books — Even preschoolers can help write their own e-books using tools such as Storybird and Storyjumper. When Graeme was in kindergarten last year, he and I made an e-book about his favorite author. He dictated, I typed, and, boy, was he proud!

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Celebrating the Holidays with Pets


We usually give our dog and cats a little leftover turkey, stuffing and other items during the holiday meal. Are there certain foods that I definitely shouldn’t feed them? — John from Bowling Green, Ky.

Ouch! There are SO many foods that are potentially harmful for your pets. Holidays are always the busiest time for veterinarians, treating vomiting/diarrhea, ingested foreign bodies (requiring surgery), and the big problem — pancreatitis. First, there are NO table foods that are OK for cats. Biggest problem for dogs are fatty foods such as meat scraps, fat drippings, turkey skins, bacon and of course, bones. Certain breeds, especially Schnauzers, are more likely to develop pancreatitis. Other problem foods include onions, xylitol sugar substitute, grapes, garlic, raisins, and chocolate (especially dark baking chocolate). But what are some pet-safe foods? Apples, peas, green beans, sweet potatoes, lettuce, blueberries, ice chips (freeze diluted beef broth or chicken broth for a tasty treat) are all safe options. Check our website under emergencies for a more complete list of toxins:


During the holidays, we have lots of family visit, including young children. What’s the best way to acclimate our two puppies to being around people and energetic kids? — Shannon from The Highlands

Young puppies can be great fun for visiting children, but if the kids are high energy, your puppies can become very stressed. It’s a good idea to socialize the puppies as much as possible prior to the visit. Walks around the neighborhood, doggie day care, unscheduled visits to your veterinarian just to visit the reception area, and visits to crowded areas like dog parks and shopping malls are all good options. But still, a busy house can, for a dog of any age, cause stress-induced physical problems such as Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (vomiting +/- bloody diarrhea). Your veterinarian can suggest several excellent medications to induce calm in your pets during these hectic holiday times. Or you may want to leave your puppies (or older dogs) in their crate in a quiet area of the house.


What’s the best way to keep our outdoor pets warm in the winter? Is it safe to use electric heating blankets? — Danny from Jeffersontown

All pets need a little extra TLC in the cold winter months, and dogs and cats should be kept inside if possible. If not, they need a draft-free shelter large enough to stand and turn around yet small enough to retain body heat. Straw or blankets can help insulate against the cold, but check that they aren’t contaminated with urine or feces. A big problem can be frozen water bowls, which can create dehydration, leading to kidney failure. Staying warm also requires extra calories, so feed your outdoor pets accordingly. And, yes, there are heating pads specifically designed for use outside in your dog house. But don’t use a human heating blanket, or pieces of it will end up in their stomach and then you’ll really have serious problems.


Ask Dr. K a question! E-mail DrKennedy@

Medi-Pet Comprehensive Healthcare Plans E-mail or call 502.499.6535 for more information.

Dr. Pat Kennedy Dr. K has been serving the Louisville and Southern Indiana community as a preeminent Veterinarian and business leader since 1978. She is the Hospital Director and owner of both Fern Creek Medical Center and Outer Loop Regional Emergency Center. In 2006, she was honored as “Women Business Owner of the Year” by the National Association of Women Business Owners, Louisville chapter, and esteemed as Kentucky Veterinarian of the year in 2011 by the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association (KVMA). In 2014, her 24-Hour Regional Emergency Center was distinguished as one of four national finalists for “Practice of the Year” by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

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By Carrie Vittitoe



Come In for a Landing and Let your Kids GROW HELICOPTER might CHECK You be flying

too low if….

Your child has a cell phone but is never in any situation in which he/she doesn’t have a landline nearby (such as daycare).

Your 4-year-old has never cleaned up her own toys because you think she doesn’t put them back “the right way.” You have an ongoing string of texts to your child’s teacher, and you sent them all. YOUR CHILD ISN’T FIXING HIS/HER OWN LUNCH BY MIDDLE SCHOOL. You make a pit-stop for Gatorade on the way home from picking up your 11-year-old from school because he didn’t have time to visit the water fountain before dismissal. At middle and high school orientation, you do all the talking for your child instead of saying, “This isn’t my school, now go ask the questions.”

When your 14-year-old calls to say he left his homework in the dining room, you rearrange all your afternoon meetings in order to take it to him at school AND apologize to your child for not coming sooner.

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ll parents are periodically guilty of being a little too involved in their children’s lives, but if we’re helicoptering more than just occasionally, we really aren’t doing our kids any favors. We may be actively hobbling them. We need to be willing to let them fail on a small scale when the consequences aren’t life-altering. We need to let them test their wings and fly, as the cliche goes. Dr. Charles Pemberton, a licensed professional clinical counselor with Dimensions Family Therapy, says most parents don’t have an exit strategy for how to let go and turn responsibilities over to their children. “Many parents say, ‘I guess I’ll say goodbye at college,’ but the cell phone then becomes an electronic umbilical cord,” he says. According to Pemberton, the latest trend in parenting is “cockpit parenting,” whereby parents retain so much control over their children’s lives that they can grab the controls at any time. He suggests parents give children small responsibilities and then gradually add to them over time. A first grader can match socks, fold underwear, or put out utensils for dinner. By third grade, children can pre-sort their laundry, carry it to the washing machine, and put it away when dry. Parents need to realize that handing over responsibility may mean the process of laundry or dinner preparation takes longer for the parent, at least initially, he says. It is much quicker to do things yourself, but that doesn’t teach the child anything. Heather Mohr, a counselor at Kammerer Middle School,

urges parents to put school responsibilities such as schedules and homework onto their children and step back. “When kids take it upon themselves to advocate for themselves, it is a whole new level of skill,” she says. Teachers and administrators will take these students more seriously and will often respond more quickly to them because of their initiative. But the only way students will learn to do this is if their parents don’t do it for them. Mohr’s biggest advice to parents is to not check their children’s online grades, and if they insist on checking, to not obsess about every single assignment. “It gives you an idea of what is going on, but it isn’t the complete picture,” she says. Although I strive not to helicopter my children, I’m guilty of doing things for them that they truly can and should do for themselves. For example, I feed my sons (7 and 5) strawberries (by hand, with a fork) so I know they are getting at least some vitamins onto their picky palates each day. In all this talk of flying, of parents who helicopter, and of children being given wings to soar, I know that if I start chewing the strawberries for them, I’ve gone way, way too far.

DON’T HOVER. Let your kids learn from their mistakes now, when the impact on their lives is less severe. PHOTO: MELISSA DONALD

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MAINTANING your Marriage

By Barb Hartman

is doomed. If a couple will be intentional in working on their marriage and make the necessary heart changes, they can come his marriage thing is hard work. out stronger in the end. It takes work, sacrifice, letting go of our My husband and I dated for seven own self-centeredness. It means making the marriage a priority years. You would think we would have and making a renewed commitment to the relationship.” gotten it all together in that amount of What Rob and I have done with this advice has been our time, but the truth is we still led separate typical small-steps approach, but it has served us well. We lives. Our love grew and withstood some grab hands and silently pray for each other every night challenges, but we didn’t actively work as we go to sleep. I have started occasionally grabbing his together through those events. hand in the morning and speaking a prayer for his day to The “we” survived long enough to go well. I think that his knowing I am actively thinking — David and Penny make a lifetime commitment. It is now about his life while we are apart speaks to his heart. Hudson, founders 15 years past the “I do’s,” and we have added This interaction has been a good way to balance out any of MERCY three kids, job stressors, family health crises, conflict. Rob is able to respond better to my negatives because and other joys of daily living, which often he knows I value his positives, and he is much quicker to laugh result in a shift from “I do,” to “What was I thinking?” or take things lightly if I get bent out of shape about something, When it came to our attention at times that perhaps we weren’t reasonable or not. the strongest of couples, we dutifully applied Band-Aids to our Have we been back to the Center? Not yet. Life has again wounds and continued about our business. Our short attention interrupted us, but I feel on far more solid footing than I have after spans in regards to everything marital have not served us well. previous attempts of this nature. Pulling God into the equation Most recently, we were back at the cliff’s edge. We still couldn’t is more than a quick fix, and if we can keep an eye on His prize, I communicate in an adult manner, especially if we were irritated think we will be OK. If we falter, with each other. I started talking to people in my life, and many we know that MERCY will of them pointed me to MERCY (The Marriage Education and be there for us. Resource Center) located in Crestwood, Kentucky. I talked to Rob and asked if he would be willing to go, and the cost was just right: free. We scheduled a consultation with David and Penny Hudson, the founders of the center. One of the first things they do is tell you the story of their imperfect journey as a couple and how they feel the Lord saved their marriage. They do not mandate a faith-based approach to healing your relationship but are strong advocates for God’s place in your lives. I can tell you that the only reason Rob and I are still together is because a number of years back, we started respecting each other based on a shared faith rather than other standards. Even with that in place, it still takes work. The Hudsons have this to say about love: “I think the first thing couples need to understand is love is not a feeling. Love is a decision. So many couples enter marriage thinking those “in love” feelings they experience early in their relationship are permanent and are going to last forever. Unfortunately, they don’t. In time, those feelings subside. Often when this happens, couples begin to realize they have lots of differences. They have conflicts they don’t know how to deal with. They build up walls. Couples need to realize there are stages in marriage and all couples go through difficult times. It doesn’t mean the relationship


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“ is not a feeling. Love is a decision.”

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Date Ideas to Weekend Away

By Keri Foy

By Carrie Vittitoe

ating your spouse just got easier with outings that are close to home. Bonus: It’s not all about food! A strong family begins with a strong marriage. Even though dating when you’re married is often overlooked, experts agree it’s essential to living happily ever after. Surprise your sweetie with a fun, cheap, and local date to reconnect.

Our marriage maintenance — For our 15th wedding anniversary in 2012, my husband, Dean, and I knew we wanted a weekend away from our kids, but we didn’t want to be too far away. After doing a little research, we decided on an anniversary package at West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick, Indiana, which is a little more than an hour’s drive from Louisville. There was something about the domed atrium and European styling of the suites that we found appealing.

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Why it worked — Dean and I are a low-key couple, so we were happy to ride our • Zip-lining in Louisville bikes, walk the grounds, and tour the hotel Mega Cavern. Feeling with a local historian who actually went to adventurous? Need adrenaline school there when it served as a seminary. instead of appetizers? The November weekend was crisp and sunny Challenge yourself on a date and perfect for outdoor activities. During a that will having you clinging stroll, we even saw traces of the gray-tinged to each other. sulphur water that lends the hotel its name. Our Friday evening meal was at 1875: The $150-$180 for two Steakhouse, which required a short shuttle ride over to the French Lick Springs Hotel. For Saturday’s meal, we stayed at West Baden to dine at Sinclair’s. Both offered indulgent entrees and desserts. One of the nicest things about West Baden Springs is that it is at a distance from the casino and nightlife at French Lick Springs, so we had plenty of peace and quiet. It was cool to just share a seat in the atrium and study the intricately designed dome. Before heading back to Louisville, we visited the French Lick Winery, where we purchased a few bottles as a thankyou to the grandparents for watching the kids. The two-night anniversary package (including dinners and some special room extras) definitely wasn’t cheap ($600+), but we felt that after 15 years and three kids, we deserved to spend a little extra on ourselves. There are plenty of optional extras, such as massages at the spa, golf, horseback riding, and slot machines. 4 4 4 4 /todaysfamily 4 4 4 @todaysfamilynow

RECONNECT • Wine tasting at Old 502 Winery. Craving a little culture after cleaning up toddler messes all day? Plant yourself in one of Louisville’s gems, the Old 502 Winery. Its witty, Kentuckythemed labels are fun in and of themselves, but the real treat is the wine. Try the Bourbon Barrel Red, a favorite among many Louisvillians. Tours are by appointment only. Tastings are available at Over the 9.,

• Touring Woodford Reserve, then eating at Wallace Station. If you want to take your date outside Louisville Metro, consider a quick trip down I-64 to Woodford Reserve. The houror-so tour gives a nice history. Afterward, make time for Wallace Station, an eatery just 15 minutes from Woodford. Visited by Guy Fieri, this farmhouse will have you swallowing your tongue. $-$$ TODAY’S FAMILY

More Sweat, Less Talk By Megan M. Seckman

Our Problem: For the first five years of parenting, it seemed like every time my husband and I finally made it out on date night, it ended in an argument. Not because we didn’t love each other anymore, but just because date night is too darn much pressure. Between finding a sitter, deciding on a destination, budgeting for dinner, staying awake through a movie, and all that blessed grooming in preparation for possible romance, it was simply too exhausting. What We Did: You know what finally worked for us? Gym time. The YMCA saved our marriage. Why It Worked: Post-baby, we lacked energy, the ability to have engaging conversations that did not involve breast milk or a count of daily bowel movements, and taut abdominal muscles. A yoga class was the perfect solution. My husband and I could pack up the babies and drop them at the childcare center on-site where they could rock climb, make art, or play in a jungle gym. And we didn’t have to hussle some teenager or grandparent over to our house. We could then spend one precious hour side by side, not talking. Pure paradise. An hour later, we would emerge relaxed and Zen-like, ready for whatever tantrum awaited us before our grown-up bedtime of 9:30. No late nights, no hangover, no plucking or waxing necessary. The only side effects? Strength and wellness. Ten years and countless barre, yoga, pilates, and bodypump classes later, we are still going strong, and I mean strong. We still may not have much more to say to each other than what’s going on with the kids, but one look in each other’s direction during a succession of clean-and-presses or a successful headstand, and we know that we can live through this parenting gig until we finally have time to sit down and have a decent conversation. For whatever life decides to throw at us, we’re ready. Until now, thanks to the Y, we’ll focus on more sweat and less talk, side by side. The cost is $89 per month for community wide membership; childcare and classes included.

Vacation without the expense? Walk across the Big Four Bridge into Jeffersonville. Park your vehicle at the base of the Big Four Bridge and stroll across the Ohio River holding hands. Once in Jeffersonville, pick a restaurant for dining and have dessert at See’s Candy. The best part — you can walk off your calories on the way back to the car. WINTER 2015-6 15


Does your PERSONALITY Affect your Family?

By Megan Schreiber Willman


’m not like the rest of my family,” my son Trace told his sixth grade teacher. I didn’t learn about his comment until I ran into his teacher at school a year later. I spent the rest of the day thinking about it, and his words wander across my mind to this day. Suddenly in motion were all those guilty feelings I can bring to the surface at any given moment: Does he not feel a part of our family? Does he feel left out? Am I not giving him enough attention? The latter question doesn’t even seem possible. If there is one person in this family who demands the most of our collective time and attention, it is Trace. He’s just “that” kid, and I suspect every family has one. (That’s true, isn’t it?) This article gave me just the excuse I needed to revisit his passing comment. I asked Trace what he meant by it, thinking he might relish the opportunity for a Trace-focused conversation. He dismissed it, though, and told me he didn’t remember why he said it. “It isn’t a big deal, Mom. Not everything is a big deal,” he said. Yes, I tend to read far more into comments like that. I once heard a comedian — Jerry Seinfeld, perhaps — say that the trouble with men and women is that when a man says, “Pass the milk,” that’s what he means. But the woman begins to wonder if he’s hinting there’s something wrong in the relationship. Sometimes “pass the milk” just means “pass the milk.” Be that as it may, Trace directed my attention to the dynamics in our household. There are four of us in the house, and like any family, we have similarities and

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differences as well as shared and diverse interests, but when I searched for something that Trace is and the rest of us aren’t, the first thing I came up with was that he’s a “second child.” My husband and I are the oldest in our families, and our son Lucas is not only the oldest child in our household but also the oldest grandchild on both sides of the family. Parent personality is said to have a great deal to do with the way we raise our children (see the review of Personality Plus on page 18), but I wanted to consider birth order as a factor. When I was in college psychology class years ago, we read articles about birth order by psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman, who has written since 1967 on the topic. He postulates that firstborns are “reliable,” “conscientious,” and “natural leaders” who strive to please others, while the baby of the family will tend to be “social,” “outgoing,” “attention-seeking,” and “charming” with the potential to be “manipulative.” Leman says, “The lastborn is the one who will probably still have a pet name although he’s 29 and has a master’s degree.” Picture me nodding my head in agreement with these descriptors as I read. Besides, I think Trace might have 29 pet names! In her article “Birth Order and Personality,” writer Jocelyn Voo agrees with Leman. In addition to the descriptors he uses for firstborns, Voo adds

“structured,” “cautious,” and “controlling.” Firstborns, Voo says, will often act like “mini-adults” who strive to win over anyone in the room. She asserts that the baby of the family is “free-spirited” because Mom and Dad are much more relaxed about parenting this time around. An aspect of Dr. Leman’s work that I had not considered before is the notion that it is just as much the parents’ own birth order that impacts the way in which they raise their children. He contends that parents “subconsciously identify with the child who holds the spot in the family they occupied themselves.” Oh my! If that is true at all, no wonder Trace feels as though he doesn’t fit in. He’s surrounded by firstborns. Perhaps that’s why he’s bonded so well with our second dog! I confess I remain as enchanted by these theories as I did in college when I was analyzing myself. I love to take personality quizzes and do any time I get the chance. I guess I’m drawn to the rather simple formula: if you’re a firstborn, you’re [this], and if you’re a lastborn, you’re [that]. But, of course, if I’m honest, nothing is ever that simple. It’s true that Trace is outgoing and always wants to be with friends. He is entertaining and loves to be entertained as well, and he “checks out” if a dinner table conversation doesn’t come back to him quickly enough for his liking. He has huge dimples and a winning smile and will talk you into almost anything, with particular enthusiasm if it involves a new pair of shoes. But he also fits many of the descriptors of a CONTINUED ON PAGE 18

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firstborn. He works hard to be the best he can be in anything he tries, and he never wants to let anyone down. Just this summer, I saw him give a giant hug to a friend who had been struggling with success on the baseball field. There’s no self-centeredness in that. Finally, before I digress into too much mom-bragging, I’ll proudly mention that his teachers and coaches have always described him as a “natural leader.” Just this summer, research out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign released the largest study of its kind stating that birth order does not carry the weight Leman and others have long postulated. More than 377,000 high school students were included in a study that indicated that the difference between firstborn and later-born children was so small as to be irrelevant. I’m not prepared to fully relinquish my affection for the birth order concept, but I am equally sure our individual personalities play a huge part in the way we interact with each other. Those qualities develop within our DNA and merge with what we pick up from each other on a daily basis. Some days this family is a fluid machine, and other days it’s a wonder we get along at all. I can only hope that on more days than not, Trace would say he “fits in” with our family just fine.

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Read This By Lynn Willing “Personality Plus For Parents: Understanding What Makes Your Child Tick” by Florence Littauer As this past summer heated up, so did some interactions with my kids. Personality differences surfaced as a possible culprit in my ongoing struggle to understand and encourage them. A friend suggested the book Personality Plus for Parents by Frances Littauer, so I took it to the beach and within days began to see a change in how I related to my kids. It was remarkable, really. The increased understanding of myself and my children has dramatically improved those relationships and my effectiveness as a parent. The author identifies four basic personality types: • Sanguine (popular) • Choleric (powerful) • Melancholy (perfect) • Phlegmatic (peaceful) She makes a strong case for the inborn nature of personality and states, “Parents who don’t understand the role of nature in their children may try to make

every child act the same. ‘All children should be seen and not heard’ may work well with your Melancholy and Phlegmatic children, but it will stifle the spontaneity of the Sanguine who says, ‘This is no fun!’ and the leadership potential of the Choleric who protests, ‘Don’t I have a vote here?’ Part 1 gives an overview of the temperaments and a Personality Profile Questionnaire for identifying your children’s

personalities and your own. Part 2 gets into the nitty gritty by detailing for each personality type: • basic desires, emotional needs, what they’re typically controlled by, and what they tend to avoid • strengths and weaknesses when they are babies, children, and teens • common issues when parenting each personality type, based on your own type The discussion of each personality is surprisingly spoton and fun to read. But most beneficial to me was learning the ups and downs of each parentchild personality combination, with practical steps to ensure parental goals are met while actually enjoying the uniqueness of each child. I realize now that what appears to be disinterest or laziness to me (a “Perfect” Melancholy and “Powerful” Choleric) is actually my child’s way of being peaceful and deliberate in her (“Pleasant” Phlegmatic) actions. I recommend this book to all parents who want to connect better with their kids, build up their strengths, and allow for — or work on — their weaknesses.

Preserving your Non-Mommy Identity By Lynn Willing


eing a mother causes us to be more introspective, purposeful, and maybe a little fanatical about mom stuff. Doing and being All Things Mom can consume us to the point of feeling we’ve lost our personal identity. It was JUST here yesterday and then — POOF! — it’s gone again.

I’ve found I need a strategy to ensure I stay in touch with who I am. Aside from quiet time alone in the morning and regular date nights, here’s my identity restoration go-to list: • Working out: Regular exercise gives us more energy and lifts our spirits, but it’s hard to make exercise a priority when family needs are constantly flowing. My YMCA membership, and scheduling visits the weekend before, has been the key for me. My little ones love the Kids Club, and my teenager can do her own workout or swim. I can go to a class, meet a friend to walk, or even relax in the hot tub after a workout. • Time with Girlfriends: Friendships are critical for us gals. They help us de-stress and reconnect with who we are. I have to be intentional to connect with friends or it doesn’t happen, and I do this in two ways: • Established groups with scheduled meetings (such as Bible study, support group, book club or neighborhood Bunco) • Dates with my longtime best friends at least monthly. Our paths would never cross unless we went through a dozen text messages to find a date, time, and place to meet. It’s always worth it! • Personal Development: We were each created with specific interests, skills, and passions, things that inspire us and give us energy. I like to read books, take classes, and do activities (such as writing this) that line up with my passions. I’ve got to exercise the part of my brain that gets sleepy when overshadowed by mom-duties. Nurturing and developing our personal identities brings clarity about who we are and how we are meant to contribute to our world. 4 4 4 4 /todaysfamily 4 4 4 @todaysfamilynow


WINTER 2015-6 19

Parenting Through Different Ages By Lynn Willing

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”


— Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream


S Sara Kate Bastin


20 WINTER 2015-6

Photos by Melissa Donald

arenting girls ain’t for sissies, people. On a recent trip to Holiday World, I watched the blur of my teenage daughter as she was launched out of the gates on the new Thunderbird winged coaster, which accelerates from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds. I had previously compared coasters to parenting: what begins as a leisurely ascent to the crest of a hill, where you appreciate the beautiful countryside, is followed by a terrifying plunge into the dark unknown of an underground tunnel! But perhaps the Thunderbird is an apt analogy of parenting girls in their teen years, because following the crazy-fast launch, there are sleek-as-steel twists and turns that thrill and delight one moment, then shock and nauseate the next. Sound familiar? When my daughter begged me to ride it with her, I declined; I’ve been there, done that. Am there, doing that. Personal experience has taught me that girls tend to be relational, expressive, sensitive, and a bit unpredictable. These traits are different depending on the stage of development. For example, my teen daughter’s tendency toward people-pleasing brought me pride and joy in her younger years, then anxiety as she approached dating age! Kelly Parker, licensed marriage and family therapist with James Kassel & Associates near Lyndon, encourages us to be intentional in parenting our little angels. “Let’s face the honest truth: our girls are living in a provocative world, and we need to help them — not only with the basics of learning to tie their shoes and saying their ABCs, but gearing them up for battle to fight against immorality, peer conformity, and low self-worth,” she says. Parker, who is also mom to Vivian (4), says values are formed at a young age. A common pitfall parents make is waiting to have uncomfortable conversations until their child is well into her teen years. “By then, your daughter has been bombarded for years with sensationalized media telling her exactly the way she should view herself and the world around her,” Parker says. “Of course, you have to be age-appropriate in talking to your child, but it’s never too early to start. For instance, you may teach your youngest about ‘good touch versus bad touch’ and to ‘never go anywhere with a stranger.’ As the years go by and she grows, the conversations can be richer in texture, including full-blown conversations on sexual purity and healthy boundaries.”

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After 10 years of working with young girls and their parents, Parker offers advice for teaching your daughter — preferably by example — at each stage of development: Elementary:

• Be silly. Laugh and play every day. • Work hard. Cultivate a love for learning. • Make friends and be a good friend. • Identify your feelings and express them in healthy ways. • Cooperate and follow the rules. • Model how to handle change. • Discuss good touch versus bad touch. • Stress the importance of telling the truth. • Insist “we are kind to everybody” and talk about why. • Share, include everyone, and be a good sport.

Middle school:

• Affirm that being smart is cool. • Like yourself, respect yourself, and use your voice. • Resist changing in order to be liked. Be yourself and realize that true friends will love you for exactly that. • Develop perseverance and self-responsibility. • Be kind even when no one is watching, and that also means to yourself. • Do not gossip unless you want to be gossiped about. • Recognize the importance of purity in all settings: your p phone, social media, Internet sites, speech, and your body. • Laugh at yourself and take time for fun. • Explain that now is not the time in life for boyfriends. It’s time for discovering who you are and developing good friendships. • Stand up to mean girls, and don’t be one yourself.


High school:

• Believe you are beautiful inside and out. • Look people in the eye and speak with them. • Be your own person and value your individuality. Know where you stand on things and resist peer pressure. • Connect with your peers by being part of a group and getting involved at school. • Remember that a boyfriend should build you up, never tear you down. Don’t neglect your friends. • Don’t keep secrets if they’re life-threatening. Teenage depression, anxiety, and suicide are real. Tell a trusted adult so your friend can get real help. • Unplug every once in a while. • Spend some time with family. • Persevere. Work hard at school because college is right around the corner. • Make time for fun and keep playing! Society may try to make you grow up too quickly.

All Ages:

• Praise her for who she is and for trying things more than for her appearance or accomplishments. • Teach her how to face challenges with confidence, how to problem-solve, and how to ask for help when she needs it. • Teach her she has the ability to say no, and she is allowed to use that word. • Model good conflict-resolution skills and how to handle stress. • Show her she can always count on you for anything and that you will always love her, no matter what.

Getting lots of parenting advice from friends, books, and professionals can feel overwhelming. Parker says it’s most important to remember each day that God made you the mom or dad of your precious little (and fierce) girl, so embrace the notion that you are exactly what she needs. Connect with her, play with her, learn all about her, and encourage her. TODAY’S FAMILY

Cadence Caudill

S WINTER 2015-6 21




Preserving Her Healthy Image By Keri Foy



Cadence Caudill

our feel-good formula to help your daughter sidestep the discontentment with her body is to appreciate what she sees in the mirror. How do we preserve and bolster the body image our daughters develop? According to local therapists, parents actually play a pretty big part in how their daughters perceive themselves, and there are steps you can take now to get your little girl on the right track. Could it all come down to a Hardee’s commercial? While we can’t blame all our thighhating, muffin-top moaning on a bad burger commercial, this type of advertisement is indicative of the oversexualization of women in our culture. From Victoria’s Secret commercials to Beyoncé’s music videos, we see females celebrated for their physical attributes almost to the exclusion of other important traits. Dr. Charles Pemberton, licensed professional clinical counselor with Dimensions Family Therapy in Louisville, suggests we teach our daughters to analyze the media. “These ads are not projecting reality. Their goal is to sell us something,” says Pemberton, who has worked in the mental health field for more than 20 years. “I’m not condemning marketing, but let’s help our daughters put it in its place.” To help your daughter accept who she is and what she looks like, consider zinging her with one-liners on a regular basis. When you both see a Kardashian on the screen or a model selling perfume, Pemberton advises saying something sarcastic like, ‘Oh, that’s realistic,’ or asking, ‘I wonder what she has to do to keep that figure?’ These one-sentence comments will show your daughter that what she sees on television or in the media does not reflect reality. Your daughter’s perception of beauty forms at an early age. “Don’t wait until your daughter is 14 years old to start thinking about this,” Pemberton says. “The ideal age to begin setting the tone for a good body image is around 8.” Body confidence and awareness

How you talk about yourself and others can hugely impact the thoughts your daughter will have about her own body. Licensed

professional counselor associate Liz Rhyne Swabek, also of Dimensions Family Therapy, encourages mothers to show confidence in their bodies and offer uplifting compliments to their partners. Alternatively, she says to avoid making negative remarks. Dissing your body or shaming yourself teaches kids to do the same. “If you have an extra piece of pizza, be careful not to make the comment that ‘this will go straight to my thighs,’” Swabek says. She also advises limiting critiques you place on others, especially when looking at social media. “Parents are getting into social media and selfies as much as their daughters,” Swabek says. “Be mindful of when you have to have the perfect selfie, how you critique others on social media, and even some of the accounts you follow. Your daughter will notice and absorb all of this.” Physical activity and nutrition

Part of a good body image comes down to physical activity and nutrition. Eating well and exercising boost body image because you appreciate what it’s doing for you. “Hike, walk, or try new, healthy recipes together,” suggests Swabek, who also owns a gym with her husband. “We love when families come in to exercise together.” Encouragement

Hugs, notes, and compliments will go a long way to nurture anyone, and those things don’t fall short when it comes to body image. “Hugs show your daughter you like being physically close to her, while an encouraging note in her gym bag is positive reinforcement,” Swabek says. When praising your daughter, choose a one-to-two ratio: balance one physical with two non-physical compliments. If your daughter dislikes an area of her body, don’t immediately disagree. “Say ‘I am sorry you feel sad about how your [insert body part] looks,’ then suggest a positive thought or prompt her to focus on something she does like,” Swabek says. “Validation tells the child you heard her versus tried to correct her.” Lastly, share your own hurdles. If you’ve overcome being critical of the parts of your body you don’t love, let her know and discuss the positives of your body.

By middle school, 40-70 percent of girls are dissatisfied with two or more parts of their body, and body satisfaction hits rock bottom between the ages of 12 and 15. (Cash, Thomas F., and Thomas Pruzinsky. Body Image: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice.) 22 WINTER 2015-6

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Why I Love My School ASSUMPTION


/ By Gina Passanisi

am a valuable person, I have dignity and worth, and what I do makes a difference. Ask any Assumption student, any graduate, and she can recite these words learned early freshman year. Beyond simply engraving this into our minds, I have felt firsthand how true the meaning behind this phrase is. Weeks dedicated to loving our bodies and respecting diversity incorporate aspects of life that can’t be found in normal textbooks or graduation requirements. Raising awareness about the lack of women in STEM jobs and making us believe that we can achieve in a field where men are known to dominate is powerful. I have received encouragement from teachers, counselors, coaches, and peers to go after opportunities I would have otherwise thought impossible, and because I have had the support and guidance I needed, I have been more successful than I could have ever dreamt. More than once I have been questioned about how it’s possible to sit through an 85-minute class and stay focused, and each time I have answered by giving credit to our teachers. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and they develop activities that give us a chance to apply what we have learned so that we aren’t doing just one task for the entire block. However, in the same way that I have received an education with which I can change the world, I have also been loved by every single teacher and administrator. They have shown me how to live as a follower of Jesus by speaking calming words to me when I have felt overwhelmed, by putting in extra hours to ensure that each student understands the material, by asking how my day is going with genuine concern, and by dancing in front of the entire school at pep rallies, making


Assumption a place that truly cannot be replicated. I realize that these past four years have been a memorable experience because I have been able to make them my own, taking advantage of as many opportunities to become involved as my daily calendar would allow. Cross country, Advancement Council, Recruitment Team, and an unforgettable mission trip to Cincinnati during our annual Mission Week are just few activities that I will always remember fondly. I have been made more aware of the greater world outside of my tiny bubble through doing service. I have participated in groups like the St. Joseph of Arimathea Society. Before I joined this group, it never crossed my mind who buried those who lacked family or the money for a proper burial. I have learned of needs that I would have otherwise been oblivious. Something still baffling to me is how connected I have felt to every woman who has walked these halls. On my senior retreat, as I branched out to learn more about my own classmates, I began to feel a newness and a responsibility to uphold all the values that Assumption has planted within me: faith, compassion, integrity, excellence. They have taken me in and given me a home.

Assumption Essay Winner Gina Passanisi PHOTO: MELISSA DONALD

WINTER 2015-6 23





GIRLS and ANXIETY By Yelena Sapin


ith ever-increasing demands of school, extracurricular activities, peer relationships, and family interactions, it’s natural for children to experience occasional anxiety in their lives. The bursts of hormones released under stress can even be beneficial in small doses, sharpening focus and improving mental and physical performance. But while feeling stressed in certain situations can motivate children to study harder for a test or to think before they speak, chronic or unmanaged anxiety can take a toll on their health, derail their performance in school, and make it difficult to relate to family and friends. Statistics show that symptoms of anxiety disorders tend to appear at age 6 and affect boys and girls in equal numbers. By puberty, however, girls are almost twice as likely as boys to be diagnosed with anxiety and other mood disorders. The disparity might be due to the ways that male and female brains process emotional stimuli, which begin to diverge as girls mature, suggests the Child Mind Institute. Common anxiety disorders affecting adolescents include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and specific phobias. Anxiety can be caused by trauma or negative experiences, but some kids are simply genetically predisposed to have an anxious temperament that lends itself to developing an anxiety disorder, says child psychologist “Dr. Katie” Smith. Now in her 40s, Carrie Vittitoe first began to experience symptoms at around age 10 and remembers her mother struggling to help her through her feelings. “She would try to talk rationally to me about things, but I was just so anxious I think she sometimes thought she was talking to a brick wall. I think she just thought of me as high strung or tightly wound — all those catch phrases for people who are anxious.” Therapy wasn’t really talked about when Carrie was a kid, and it wasn’t until age 30 that she was diagnosed with OCD and GAD. “Growing up, I just thought I was weird,” she says.

24 WINTER 2015-6

Looking back, however, Carrie sees some positive things that came out of her anxiety. A perfectionist in high school, she used to tear up and rewrite her notes if they weren’t perfectly written. “I wasted a lot of time doing that, but maybe part of the reason I got good grades was because rewriting my notes helped me remember them,” she says. Carrie was also very cautious as a teen. “I think if you tend to be anxious you

Sara Kate Bastin

think things through a little bit more, and you tend to stay away from things that are risky or dangerous,” she says. “But it can go either way, because some kids try to numb their anxiety with risky behavior.” As a parent and a teacher, Carrie has noticed that anxious children tend to be intelligent, reflective, sensitive, and empathetic, which are all very positive traits. On the flip side, however, their fears and tendencies to over-think may keep them from exploring interests and opportunities. Dr. Katie suggests that parents of anxious children take a look at the demands being placed on their kids and examine whether they have too much on their plates. Helping children learn to differentiate between rational and irrational fears is also helpful, as is teaching them to relax through deep breathing and meditation exercises. If parental efforts to help their child don’t work, if the child is withdrawing from activities or regularly reporting difficulty coping, or if the anxiety is impacting the child’s life or the lives of other family members on a regular basis, then it’s time to get some help, says Dr. Katie. Pediatricians, school counselors, and other parents are great sources of referrals to therapists and psychologists, who will in turn refer a psychiatrist if necessary. Knowing first-hand what anxiety can do, Carrie urges a proactive approach. “If you start noticing things with your children that concern you, it’s worth getting them evaluated,” she says. “If they don’t get help when they’re young, anxious children may develop patterns of distorted thinking that put them on a life-long path. And once they get those thinking patterns, it’s really difficult to break them.” Carrie also emphasizes the importance of checking in and communicating with your child. With her own preteen daughter, she’s found that keeping a mother-daughter journal helps them connect in a fun, stressfree way. “I think a lot of times it's easy for kids to hide their anxiety from their parents,” she says. “When you get to be a preteen you start spending more time in the basement or in your room: wherever your parents are not. It can be hard, but as a parent, I think you must try to stay open.”

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WINTER 2015-6 25





It’s Her Party, but Something’s Got to Give By Megan M. Seckman


lthough I’ve been one, birthed one, loved many, and taught nearly a thousand, I can’t lie: girls still remain a mystery to me. There are many enigmatic aspects of being young and female, but one that really has become a giant sore spot lately is the complex notion of the girl birthday party. Pink, princess-laden, and painful, I have suffered through or hosted countless of these, only to leave with ringing ears and a heavy heart. I’ve seen birthday girls donning tiaras and being treated as princesses somehow becoming “the fairest of them all.” I’ve seen the guest of honor end the party in tears too many times to count. I’ve been to humble backyard parties, a kiddie version of the sip and paint, parties that jump, dance, or tumble, and parties so large that entire ballrooms must be reserved. All of these themes — from Elsa to tie-dye — have something heartbreaking in common: a pedestal. Someone is left out, someone is idolized, and someone’s feelings will be hurt. By encouraging our daughters to throw extravagant parties, are we somehow setting our little girls up for future disappointment? In my 37 years as a woman, I’ve realized that (a) no one will ever treat you as a princess — in fact, life is more like Cinderella before the fairy godmother shows up; (b) toil beats beauty every time; and (c) true happiness comes by helping others. I know we all want to raise well-rounded, intelligent, confident, and kind girls who go out into the world and demand more from it than what we received. We want happy and conscientious girls. No one wants to raise one of the mean girls; no one wants to spawn a self-centered prima donna. I’m certainly not suggesting we forgo the birthday altogether or host a rock-breaking party on the chain gang this year, but something’s got to give. The money spent, the hours planning, the stress over the guest list: do these things really make our girls happier? More fulfilled? From my humble observations, the big birthday party tends to reinforce the cliquey nature of girls. According to PBS Parents, competition, cliques, and gossip begin in the third grade. I’ve seen firsthand (at my own daughter’s tiny two-friend gathering) how the guests form a white lie to tell the other girls in class who were not invited. And this was at a supposed “non-party” that avoided the girl drama! Then there are those who opt for the all-inclusive soiree so that no one is left out. Guest lists larger than an average sports team seem to do something even worse to the birthday girl: make her feel like a debutant. When tables of gifts spill onto the floor, filled with duplicate Elsa dolls and more toys than any child could play with in a year, then I think we’ve created a problem of excess. How can you truly teach gratitude and the “take only what you need” philosophy when you have an entire Target toy aisle in your room? I want my daughter to feel special. Heck, I even want to feel special sometimes, but do you know how far that has gotten me? Scrubbing the toilet in between writing paragraphs for a free publication while my family yells that they’re hungry. The big birthday party creates a false sense of royalty and admiration that just does not exist in the real world. In real life, women only get to feel “special” after a minor success from hard-earned work. Then, if we’re lucky, we can sit back and relish our tiny triumph with a best friend. That’s really all a girl wants: one friend who knows her inside and out. A friend she doesn’t have to dress up for, a friend who just wants to spend time with her without the fancy venue. This year, my daughter will get to do whatever rocks her world for her birthday. With her best friend. Chances are, she’ll probably just want to hang out at home and eat junk food, and she will receive a small handmade gift. But she’ll be fulfilled. So, here’s to the non-party, to confident and kind daughters, and to best friends with hands entwined as equals, neither playing the part of the little princess’s court.

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Party Ideas for the Best Pals • Dinner out at the girls’ favorite restaurant with Mom sitting at another table. • Chick-flick night filled with empowering heroines in movies such as A League of Their Own or Brave. (No dumb blondes!) • Rock climbing or a ropes course that fosters confidence and team-building with your partner in crime. • Set up a tent in the living room or basement and make a “camping” party with s’mores and popcorn. Who doesn’t love a fort? • Go out of town. St. Louis, Cincinnati, even Lexington offer a quick getaway for less than an extravagant party in town.

Ki’en Bright

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WINTER 2015-6 27

Goodbye, Christmas Tree . . . By Barb Hartman


H oliday Tales

Shaking Up Thanksgiving Traditions Dad’s Secret By Megan Schreiber Willman


y mom’s favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. Not only was she a wonderful cook, but she relished the opportunity to bring out her fine china, iron her tablecloths, and create a dining room straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. This was Thanksgiving in the Schreiber household all of my life until six years ago when Mom passed away. Little did we know that Dad was harboring a secret. As a dutiful husband for 46 years, Dad knew there was no crossing Mom when it came to Thanksgiving. She was in charge of every aspect of that meal. His job was only to make drinks for our guests and take out the trash when it was over. His dark secret? He never liked Thanksgiving food. What a shock! Who doesn’t like the starchy, Continued on opposite page buttery wonders of this festive meal?

28 WINTER 2015-6

here is nothing like a live Christmas tree. The smell of pine brings me back to the most joyous times of my childhood...and makes my eyes start to itch. One year my family chose a tree we could replant and ended up planting the scraggliest, most Charlie-Brownlooking tree ever. It ended up twiggy and sad and had to be cut down years later. And I remember the rash that went with it. I'm allergic. To everything that grows. I have mattress covers and eye drops and antihistamines and have NEVER, EVER slept with my windows open without feeling the wrath of Mother Nature the following day. But I was darned if I was going to be forced into the fake tree club. Then we moved to Kentucky. No one ever told me about the allergies here. They are the worst — number two on the national list — but I persevered, and for our first two years, we had a live tree. YEAR ONE: A beautiful specimen graced our living room, bringing Christmas joy to all. I couldn't walk through the house without snot running down my face, but I was joyous! YEAR TWO: I recalled the previous year's suffering, and we decided to house it in our sunroom, a large glassed-in area attached to our home. We picked another beauty and had a great time decorating and hiding the Christmas pickle in its foliage. Christmas morning dawned, and we all ran down to see what Santa had delivered. Within a few minutes of entering the atrium, I began to sneeze, itch, and whine. Two months later, friends who were moving offered us their fake Christmas tree. It was a beauty. I took it but thought to myself that we would surely just store it for them and return it when they could use it again. YEAR THREE: December visited again, and my husband and I began to talk of the tree. He grew up with fake trees and had no problem making the switch, but I wasn't sure I was ready to let go. Then I remembered the rashes, the swelling, and the itching. Was it worth it? I agreed to set up the imposter in our living room. The kids and I built it together. I didn't need tissues or antihistamines. We decorated it, and I didn't break out in a rash when I touched the branches! In the four years since, I've never looked back. I still love the smell of pine and can reminisce about the good ole days, but getting rid of a live Christmas tree was the best move we ever made.

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Shaking Up, Continued from opposite page

A Less Formal Holiday Fest Not Quite Like Mom Used to Do By Mary Ellen Bianco


ast year we had a lovely Thanksgiving at our house with nine young adults ages 18-26 and six, ahem, mature adults. We broke with my family’s traditions, mixing things up in order to keep it simple. My mom didn’t join us since she was celebrating in Florida with our huge extended family. She has hosted many, many feasts through the years, and she’s a really good sport. But she probably would have been surprised by some of our new traditions, such as: • Mom always used cheesecloth on the turkey to keep it moist. It required a lot of basting! I used a cooking bag, and the turkey came out perfectly browned and moist. NO BASTING REQUIRED. Even though my cousin Sheila helped prep the turkey, I managed to leave the bag of gizzards inside. I had to open the cooking bag to retrieve it, but it worked out in the end (pun intended!). • Mom boiled the gizzards all day with spices, onions, carrots, and celery to make stock. Dad would munch on the turkey neck after it was cooked until nothing was left. I tossed the gizzards and used pre-made turkey stock. Fast and easy. • Mom always made whole creamed onions for Dad. Although we really miss him and think of him with fondness, that dish would not have been eaten by our group. • Mom put the stuffing inside the turkey. We cooked the cornbread oyster dressing in a separate dish. Bacteria be gone! • Mom is the pro at making mashed potatoes and gravy, and she was even in charge as our girls were growing up.


When my parents starting staying home for Thanksgiving, I was on my own. Glue-like mashed potatoes and lumpy gravy were common. Fortunately, my friend Pattie made them last year. Phew! • Mom made sure that Thanksgiving was always a formal event that included the good china, silver, and crystal. We chose heavy paper plates and napkins and red Solo cups. Why put out the fancy stuff when the young adults paid more attention to their phones than the table settings? • Mom always set up a kids’ table when I was young. As my two older sisters and I hit our teenage years, we were allowed to sit at the adult table if there was room. When I got married and moved away, my parents visited us for Thanksgiving. It became our annual tradition until my dad couldn’t travel anymore. We didn’t always need a kids’ table unless we had extra people over. Our daughters, Laura and Katherine, loved sitting at the same table with their grandparents. • Mom is very loving to her 10 grandkids and 14 great-grandkids. She probably would have joined our daughters last year at what we called the young adult tables. We had two tables set up in the kitchen. Those over 21 could have had alcohol with dinner, but they chose to drink the sparkling grape juice from the bottle instead! Photography ensued and ended up on Facebook, of course. That was one detail we didn’t share with Mom when we spoke to her. We must keep up a semblance of propriety, mustn’t we?

Just like Mom used to make? Well, not exactly...

It turns out Jim Schreiber didn’t. And like a dam waiting to burst, Dad couldn’t wait to share this revelation with my sister and me. My sister and I had been trained early on for the day we would take charge of Thanksgiving, so we did our best to keep Dad on the traditional course. We decided to humor him the first year because it was so soon after Mom died. What did he have in mind? Party food. He wanted a table full of his favorite (mostly meaty) appetizers. Corned beef and cream cheese roll-ups. Artichoke dip with Triscuits. Smoked sausage in a jelly/ mustard sauce. Sausage dip. Meatballs. Tuna salad. Ham salad. Pimento cheese spread. Party pizzas. And LOTS of chocolate chip cookies, but never pie! I was sure the rest of the family would balk at this crazy notion, but as it turns out, Dad’s idea made it much easier for us to move forward into holidays without Mom. For the last six years, our new Thanksgiving tradition is a feast of all of Dad’s favorite appetizers: wonderful party food and mounds of it! Each kid picks his favorite, and we all cook together. We joke every year about how appalled Mom would be about this grievous breach with tradition and the lack of “decent” food on the table, but we know she would be so happy that we’re all together in celebration. We haven’t let go of everything she taught us. We faithfully iron the tablecloths and get out the good silverware. Even though fine china looks a little funny with party pizzas and wieners on it, we know Mom would be pleased we’re using it.

WINTER 2015-6 29

Just Ask Joyce By Joyce Oglesby

Ask Questions


“I can’t get my pre-teen to talk to me. We’ve always been close, but now that she’s growing up, she doesn’t want me in her world. It breaks my heart, but more than that, it scares me to death. Is there something I’m missing?”

Joyce: Welcome to the testy tweens! It happens to the best of us. It could be that her circle of friends has expanded, and Mom isn’t that cool any longer. It’s possible that she is starting to embrace her identity and needs some space. The possibility exists, however, that she is discussing things with her new friends that you wouldn’t approve of. Which is it? You won’t know, but you’re on the right track — you’re asking questions. First, I would encourage you to not panic, but do remain vigilant. If she has a cell phone already (she likely does), check her texts. Let her know you will be doing that randomly with her knowledge. Then, when she doesn’t know you’re checking, see what her conversations have been about. Rule of thumb: Parents need to trust with a dose of reservation. When kids know you’re an investigator, they know you care. Number two, if she doesn’t talk, perhaps she’ll write. Start a journal with her. You ask the first question: “What was your biggest concern at school today?” She might respond; she might not. And if she does, it could be generic. But keep it up. Respond back with, “When I was 12, I remember when a friend of mine....” Now you’ve become relational. You’ve alerted your daughter that things haven’t changed that much since you were her age. Communication should return between the two of you. But should the lack of communication continue, become even more vigilant. It’s a tough world out there.

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“My 4-year-old is no longer interested in eating...”

He’ll Eat, Eventually


“My 4-year-old is no longer interested in eating. He’s decided he doesn’t like food. I do give him yummy treats because he doesn’t eat, and I know he burns a lot of energy. He has a strong will and can sit and stare at food the whole meal. We make him stay at the table until he eats, but he’ll just sit there for as long as it takes. Is this just a stage?”

Joyce: It could be a stage, but don’t let him write the script! There is a basic principle about all humans: If we get hungry enough, we’ll eat most anything, and when it comes to survival, we’ll drop the “most” part. Here is a 1-2-3 plan that should work: • Stop the treats! Why supply his demand with something not nearly as good for him? When he wants a treat, remind him when the next mealtime is. • Feed his tummy with balanced nutritional goodness such as carrots, celery, grapes, or a banana. A child who can open the refrigerator door and graze on healthy snacks should be afforded that opportunity any time. • Wait this out. We often allow our tender hearts to interfere with our good sense. A child’s needs should be considered first. He needs to eat, but it doesn’t have to be what he wants. One thing you can bet will happen: when your child gets hungry enough, he’ll eat. Not to make a hasty judgment here, but chances are, he has caught on to how to manipulate Mom and get his way. Win this tier of control, and save yourself a lot of heartache in days to come.

Abnormal Anger


“My son has suddenly become angry. He’s just turned 9 and has been a tender, sweet child until now. I’m not sure what has come over him, but he’s challenging every day. He has three older sisters, and they never reacted this way. Is this normal for boys?”

Joyce: It’s time to take stock. I would encourage you to evaluate some of his world and what’s going on within it. Start with these: • Does he have a new circle of friends? Perhaps he’s being influenced by one or several new friends. Invite his buddies into your home and observe their behavior. You’ll know better how to direct him in regard to his choice of friends. • Is he being bullied? You’ll have to do some probing with him. Ask his teachers if they’ve observed anything. It might not be the case, but don’t discount the possibility. • Don’t allow his behavior to continue. Take away privileges, devices, time with playmates. The sooner he comes to understand that there are boundaries he can’t cross, the sooner your home is rid of chaos. Parents need to remember: You’re always bigger than the kid.

need family advice? Change your life … NOW! Write Joyce Oglesby, Family-Life Fix-It Pro, at Check out my books and other resources at Listen to my live talk show Monday through Friday on WFIA 94.7fm/900am at 3pm.

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love my school because it’s a great place to learn and expand my way of thinking. Presentation is a small school and I’m able to get involved in a lot of different activities. From lacrosse to Best Buddies to KUNA, there are many different clubs that I became involved in my first year at Pres that I have never done before. Also, I am enrolled in a class called Freshman Honors Seminar. This class is project based and we focus on women’s empowerment, this class helps me see the world in a different light. It helps to get outside of your standard classroom and study things that aren’t usually “classroom material.” Pres cares about you as an individual. At the beginning of freshman year, there are a lot of activities inside school that help all the freshmen get to know each other. Also, there is the Big Sister Little Sister program. Every senior is paired with a freshman,

/ By Molly Uhls

they meet the first day of school and have activities throughout the school year. This program helps at the beginning of the year. It’s nice to come to school and already have a familiar face in the hallways (it also makes the upperclassmen less intimidating). Pres takes advantage of its awesome downtown setting. We can walk to the Main library, 4th Street Live, Actor’s Theater. I will admit, downtown can seem a little scary at first, but after a while you begin to realize how cool it is. Overall, I love Pres because it’s like a second home to me: everyone here is so accepting. Pres helped me discover who I was and what I wanted to become and for that I will be forever thankful. Presentation Academy Winner Molly Uhls, sophomore PHOTO: MELISSA DONALD

Share the cuteness and the craziness of those pretty babies with us. Enter your baby in the 9 th annual...

The winner will be featured on a Today’s Family magazine cover and receive a $1,000 savings bond.

RULES: You must be the child’s guardian and own the copyright to the submitted photo. Child must be between the ages of 0 and 3 years old (not 4 before June 2016). Winner will be chosen by online voting in February and March.


images at least 750K or larger in file size. For best results, crop images to the head and shoulders and size to 2” x 3”. Photos must be sent in jpeg format. PHOTOS CANNOT BE RETURNED


DEADLINE: January 6, 2016 Sponsored by

Derby City Pediatric Dentistry

Go to for more information and to enter.

AGE Page

Birth to 5

By Tami L. Pyles

Hopped-up Hot Chocolate Try one of these add-ins with your next batch of hot chocolate for a delicious twist on this wintertime favorite: • 2 teaspoons of maple syrup • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon • 3 drops of peppermint oil • 2 tablespoons of maraschino cherry juice Source: article/59842/10-delicious-hotchocolate-mix-ins


Developmental Down Play Tummy time and floor-based activities are extremely critical to a baby’s development. Important neurological connections are made while crawling and playing on the floor that ultimately impact later-stage development and activities such as handwriting. Help your child maximize the benefits of floor time by employing the following strategies offered by Colleen Murphy, MS OTR/L, a pediatric occupational therapist in Louisville: • Tummy time should start from day one. Place your newborn tummy-down on your chest multiple times a day. • Around 2-3 months, place your baby on his tummy and put toys down in front of him. This helps him to begin to develop neck

and shoulder muscles and the connection between seeing an object and reaching for it. • Ditch the ExerSaucer and other standing and jumping toys and opt for a blanket on the floor. The more stomach and floor time your child gets, the more that critical neural connections can form. • For children ages 3-5, promote tummy time by playing board games on the floor. Turn off the tablet and reap the benefits a board game played on the floor offers: developing hand-eye coordination, building back and stomach strength, and gaining valuable social skills such as taking turns and patience.

Tangle Tamers


End post-bath hair-combing meltdowns with these great tricks and tools for taming tangles from Sarah Mannix, stylist at Omagi Salon:


• Apply conditioner in the tub or shower, and brush out hair before you rinse. • Use detangler spray. Mannix recommends Aveda Brilliant Damage Control. Spray a liberal amount on tresses when still wet and then comb through. • Get the Wet Brush-Pro. This brush has flexible bristles that make combing through hair a breeze. Our family got this brush, and my only regret is that we did not get it sooner! You can find these brushes at Omagi Salon at the Paddock Shops, various local retailers, and online at

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Get out in the snow with your little one and have some fun! • Ice Cube “Jewel” Treasure Hunt — in advance of the snow, make colored ice cubes. Let your little one help create the jewels. Fill an ice cube tray with water and add drops of food coloring. Take your frozen “jewels” outside and bury them in the snow for a fun treasure hunt. • Snow Paint — fill a spray bottle with colored water (add lots of food coloring to get a bright color) and head out to your snow canvas to create a winter masterpiece.



It depends on his or her age. The total hours listed can be a combination of overnight and naps. AGE


Birth to 1 1-3 3-5

14-15 12-14 10-12


Spoon Salute to SOUP January is National Soup Month! Warm up on a cold January day with your favorite soup. Find great kid-friendly slowcooker soup recipes such as taco soup and corn and potato chowder at Kid-Friendly-Slow-Cooker-Soup-32234068

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WINTER 2015-6 35

AGE Page

6 to 11

HAPPY SPRAY! If winter blues have gotten you down, this family project will boost the mood and leave the room smelling divine. Also makes a great gift. 30 drops of essential oils (lemon, sweet orange, and lavender are mood-boosting) 3 oz. rubbing alcohol or vodka 1.5 cups of distilled water 1 spray bottle Mix essential oils with the vodka/ alcohol, add the water, and then shake. Spray on linens, in the air, or on your body. Sigh and smile.

DIY Holiday Cards

By Megan M. Seckman

Winter Fruits Pink grapefruits contain high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants, which boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and cancer risk, have been known to prevent asthma, and play a vital role in collagen production in the skin. They also contain a host of minerals and are made up of 91 percent water, which fights against dehydration. Pomegranates are the oldest known fruit and have been shown through clinical trials to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart blockage; inhibit breast and prostate cancers due to the highest levels of antioxidants in all fruits; and stimulate serotonin, which aides in improving symptoms of depression. Combine together in a salad with local honey and a splash of orange juice: beautiful, delicious, and powerfully healing!

A Time of Giving (Back) ‘Tis the season for hedonism and entitlement if we aren’t intentional in our parenting. Help give your little material girls and boys some perspective while helping the needy in our community through volunteermatch. org, a networking site for volunteerism. Type in your location and find the perfect service project for your family from lists of local organizations. 36 WINTER 2015-6

Have the kids earn their keep this Christmas by making easy DIY cards to celebrate the season or give thanks after the gluttony. Try a few of these ideas from Pinterest using recycled newspaper, paint chips, and craft paper.

torn paper tree

felt decorations

paint samples

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AGE Page

By Stacie Martin-McCutcheon

12 and up

Everything Old Is New Again It has been 30 years since The Breakfast Club was released. This John Hughes movie about teenage angst and growing up has truly spanned the generations: 51 percent of teenagers in 2015 have seen it. Source:

Theater Thrives From high school plays to visiting Broadway musicals to community theater, stages all over Kentuckiana offer something for everyone. If you’ve never taken your child to the theater, start now! It’s never too late to instill a love for the arts in your child. Check out a few of the following productions that may interest your young adult: • Shrek, Youth Performing Arts School, November 20-December 5, 2015 • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Clarksville Little Theatre, November 13-21, 2015 • The Metamorphosis, Walden Theatre, January 21-30, 2016 • BIG FISH, CenterStage, January 28-February 14, 2016

Texting acronyms that could signal your child could be hiding something:


Parent In Room



Hunting season is upon us in Louisville, and if you have a young hunter in your household, it is important to make safety a top priority. George Eberhardt, hunter education instructor for the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife, offers the following advice for parents: Know the law and abide by it. Be sure to review the current year’s hunting guide for any changes from the prior year. FOR MORE All hunters born after January 1, 1975, must carry INFORMATION, a valid hunter education course completion card CALL and the appropriate hunting license with him or FISH AND her when hunting. Youth aged 15 and younger WILDLIFE must be accompanied by an adult in position to 800.858.1549 take control of the firearm. The hunter education course is offered as a traditional course, online, or via a CD. No matter how the course is taken, hunters must attend the range day training and pass the live fire part of the class. Eberhardt suggests the traditional course because it is fun and the instructors can answer questions.



Parent ing Watch

SUGA PIC R Sugg or erestive phototic o

(L)MIRL Let’s M

eet In Real Life


Alcohol Hung over from

Proper Handwashing

38 WINTER 2015-6

Do you know how to properly wash your hands to prevent infection? The American Academy of Pediatrics & Centers for Disease Control recommends the following steps for proper washing:

• Wet your hands • Apply soap to hands • Rub hands vigorously together and scrub entire area completely for at least 10 to 15 seconds to effectively remove germs. • Rinse and dry hands. While 15 seconds sounds like a short time, most people underestimate this

420 na Marijua

important step. It sounds a bit silly, but the song “Happy Birthday” takes about 15 seconds to sing. Try singing it while you wash so you get an idea of how long it takes to get completely clean. In the case of colds and flu, a little extra time at the sink can mean better health for the entire family.

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Get Crackin’ on Gluten-Free Snackin’ By Melissa Donald

There’s a lot of interest in gluten-free foods. For kids who have a gluten intolerance, it’s sometimes hard to know what to reach for when it comes to wanting a quick snack. For a highprotein snack, try these gluten free cheese crackers. It is quick and easy and only uses one ingredient! These little cheese crackers paired with your favorite salami or pepperoni are a great afterschool snack. Add nuts to the snack and you’ve added Omega 3’s. Gluten Free Cheese Crackers (makes 48 small crackers)

12 thin slices of prepackaged Colby Jack cheese (or your favorite thin cheese slices) Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Cut each square slice of cheese into quarters. (You can use the new “thin” slices for a perfect crisp.) *Place on a middle rack of the oven for about 30-40 minutes or when the cheese has melted completely and is crisping up. Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet. There may be some oil from the cheese as it separated when baking. Store in an airtight container unrefrigerated for 2-3 days, but they usually don’t last that long! If you don’t have cheese slices, you can also shred your favorite cheese. Use about 2-3 Tbsps of mounded shredded cheese to create a cracker. Follow the same instructions as above at the * Once baked and cool, these crackers will have a more lacey look to them.

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WINTER 2015-6 41


L-r: The Freiberger family: Amanda, Joel, Wyatt, 7, and Clayton, 5

The Freiberger family won the Pet Photo Contest featured on and voted on by our readers. The winning photo was of their precious pooch at left. The family won a a $500 party at Champs Rollerdrome, 9851 LaGrange Road, Louisville. Champs features family skating and birthday parties.


Sponsored by

Congratulations, Freiberger family!

42 WINTER 2015-6

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Tips offer comfort to sensory kids By Meagan Ruffing Kids with sensory processing issues sometimes need some products to help enhance soothing feelings. Here are a few of one mother’s tips for coping when you need to offer soothing. • Playdough — A family favorite. Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) like the way playdough feels because it is relaxing. • Stress ball — A simple stress ball is great for children with anxiety. This is also an ideal ‘tool’ to have in your child’s classroom. His teacher can store it in her desk and when she sees that your child is starting to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or fidgety, she can give him the stress ball. This is a great way to get the child to refocus their attention without making a big deal about it in front of the rest of the class.

A simple stress ball is great for children with anxiety. • Balloons — This was one I had never thought of before, but my son’s occupational therapist used it in one of his sessions. Buy a bag of regular old balloons. Blow them up. Let your child toss it in the air, swat it around and watch his face light up with a smile. • Gum, lollipops, and Tic-Tacs — These small, practical pieces of candy help with oral stimulation. I use these all the time with my son when he is having a hard time focusing. Whether he’s being hyper, moody or a little bit of both, he knows he can go to the pantry in our home and take one of these items whenever he needs to. • Electric toothbrush — There are so many cool

My Kid’s Health

toothbrushes out there for kids now. Use this as an opportunity to teach them about the right way to brush their teeth and invest in a quality, electric toothbrush. These are great for making sure your child is brushing their teeth for the suggested two minutes and the vibrating of the toothbrush head helps

children actually feel the process of what they are doing. • Seamless socks and tag-less shirts and pants — Clothes can feel like the end-all be-all for children with SPD, and most families steer clear of asking friends and family to buy clothes for their child for Christmas because what feels good one day for your child, doesn’t always feel good the next day. But, chances are, your child’s wardrobe consists of primarily seamless and tag-less items. UnderArmor is a great brand because there are no tags on their clothes. Seamless socks can be found online and look for elasticfree pants so that your child doesn’t have to worry about getting their pants to “feel right.” Check page 48 for more ideas.


Pre-Teen and Teenage Teeth By Staff We talked to Dr. David Hammer of Stony Spring Family Dental about what to expect in regards to dental health as kids move into later childhood and teenage years. Q. What do you wish you could tell parents about their older child’s dental health? A. Older children definitely need regular check-up visits. Parents need to stress the importance of dental health. Q. What are the most common dental problems you see in teens? I have never seen so many young people who are having problems due to tobacco use — pouches and raw tobacco. But we are seeing soft tissue changes that aren’t good and even some that are pre-cancerous. Also, we tend to see more decay in teeth when kids go away to college. Their diet changes, they’re away from Mom and Dad, and I guess it’s a phase they go through. We’ve also seen so many young people not wear their retainers after braces. Mom and Dad might have spent $5,000-$6,000 on braces, but the teeth will relapse pretty quickly. For some reason, it’s worse in boys — until they get their first girlfriend, they don’t brush their teeth or wear their retainers well. We also see tongue and lip piercings, and they end up breaking teeth. The piercing clashes against the tooth and breaks the cusp off.

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Q. When do wisdom teeth tend to become an issue? The majority of young people have wisdom teeth come in right before college or during their freshman or sophomore year. If the teeth need removed, we send them to an oral surgeon. Wisdom teeth removal is not the barbaric thing it used to be in the past. It can be a 10- or 15-minute procedure on a Friday or Saturday, and the person can be back at school on Monday. I tell parents to go ahead and have them taken out early because teens recover more easily now than they will later in life. Q. Are there any seasonal problems you see during winter or the holidays? We’ve had some patients slip on ice and break teeth. Also, a lot of people want to get their teeth whitened for the holidays or receive that as a gift, but be cautious because teeth can be sensitive. Watch foods with nuts in them, and there are more sweets, so make sure kids brush. In addition, for college students, it can be hard to schedule a dental appointment over winter break because a lot of people want to get their dental benefits in for the year. When your college student sees us over the summer, go ahead and make a six-month appointment before you leave.

Dr. Hammer grew up in Louisville, Ky. He is a graduate of St. Xavier High School, Bellarmine University, and the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. He has been married to his wife Pat for 32 years and they have one son and daughter-in-law and a grandson and granddaughter. Dr. Hammer enjoys all aspects of dentistry and attends numerous hours of continuing education each year.

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4 Great Gifts By Meagan Ruffing

Main Photo by Melissa Donald

You and your child’s daily lives are probably stressful enough. Make things as easy as possible on yourself this year and use these ideas as your go-to Christmas shopping checklist.

2 Water Beads. These things are amazing. They start out as tiny little beads (about the size of a tip of a pen) but when you soak them in water for 4-6 hours, they expand to marble-looking bubbles. This will probably be one of your child’s favorite gifts because it is so unique.

These toys are especially great for sensory kids who like all the same things that other kids do but when their world already seems overwhelming, a calming sensory-activity based toy is really what they crave. Check out these top gifts for your sensory seeking child ­— and they will work for any child. Meagan Ruffing is a freelance parenting writer. She always has an arsenal of sensory-based activities and toys tucked away in her pantry. Follow her at find the latest information and tips and tricks on how to make your life easier with a child who has special needs.

3 Rice bucket with small toys. Just go to the dollar store and pick up a cheap shoe box container. Grab a (big) bag of rice and a few trinket-like toys. Dump the bag of rice in the shoebox container and hide the toys in the rice.

4 Moon Sand. Hands-down one of the best sensory-based activities and can be bought pretty much anywhere ($10-$20 for a nice sized kit). Moon sand is similar to playdough, but it feels like sand. When you pick it up with your hand, it falls through your fingers just like sand does but without the mess. This is also great for hiding toys in.

3 Lego lunchbox. Do you have any old-school lunch boxes lying around? The tin ones that your kids like to play with? Take a Lego base, score it to fit the inside lid of the lunchbox. Superglue this down. Add a few Lego pieces inside the box. Voila! Your child now has their very own Lego lunchbox to play with at home or on-the-go. 48 WINTER 2015-6

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Today's Family magazine  
Today's Family magazine