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family 3 at Christmas p.8

ory: t S r e Cov

My t a h W Say Kidsp12

Indoor Game Ideas p.32

Pancakes with

a Twist p.34

ALSO INSIDE... Best Indoor Games p10

Is it Time for the Curfew Conversation?

Hawaiian Chicken p14 Just Ask Joyce p16 Last-Minute Getaway p18 Our Family Has Birthed a Business p26

p. 35

Homework: Let’s Do It Together p28

Have a cute baby?

Extra Curricular Activities p20 Where Does the Boyfriend Sleep? p30 Where Are All the Toys? p36 PHOTO BY MELISSA DONALD

Nominate her/him on p. 6! // // @todaysfamilynow

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10/24/16 10:01 AM


WINTER 2016 3


Volume 25 • Number 4 PUBLISHER

Cathy S. Zion EDITOR


Elaine Rooker Jack



Kaitlyn English

Teri Hickerson

Suzy Hillebrand



Kathy Bolger

make a tradition

Keep your family traditions alive, even when it gets difficult.


etting a Christmas tree at the tree farm has long been a tradition in our family. So, the image of a family on our cover who have gathered to hike through a field and choose a tree is one that fills me with anticipation. It combines things I like in a Christmas tradition: nature, exercise, collaboration, a wide range of possibilities, family, and the scent of pine. Keeping a tradition together can be tough. You will be tempted to let them go as your pre-teen/teenager becomes less than enthusiastic. We decided to embrace it and reward the “Grinch award” to the person who made getting our Christmas tree the most difficult — either by complaining, sulking, or fighting — all of which has occurred.


Some Local Tree Farms • Creekside Christmas Tree Farm, Vine Grove, Kentucky • Hubers Orchard and Winery, Starlight, Indiana • Meyer Tree Farm, Borden, Indiana • Pine Ridge Farm, near LaGrange, Kentucky

— Anita Oldham, Editor

Ben and Crystal Woods plus children Ezra (9), Calla (7), and Lilah (20 months) are a family full of energy. While the parents are being intentional in their choices, the kids are being hilarious. Read more about them on page 12. PHOTO BY MELISSA DONALD

4 WINTER 2016

I want to encourage you to fight for the traditions even in the years when it doesn’t seem fun or worth it. And, starting new ones as your family grows or changes is necessary, too. Traditions bind your family together in a way that is not repeated exactly in other families and create memories that feel comforting and special for years to come.

Jennifer Wilham PHOTOGRAPHER



Amanda Peyton

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 2016 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.


For advertising information, call 502.327.8855 or email


Share the cuteness and the craziness of those pretty babies with us. Enter your baby in our 10th annual contest, sponsored by Derby City Pediatric Dentistry. The winner will be featured in Today’s Family and Today's Woman magazines and will receive a $1,000 savings bond. Hurry, the deadline is January 6, 2017! Read on for rules and guidelines. 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 2017). Winner will be chosen by online voting in February and March. Photo Guidelines: Please keep images at least 750K or larger in file size. For best results, crop images to the head and shoulders. Photos must be in jpeg format and sent to You must also fill out the entry form online. Note: Photos cannot be returned and become property of Zion Publications.

Deadline: January 6, 2017

6 WINTER 2016

sponsored by // // @todaysfamilynow


CHRISTMAS By Sally Estes


orn and raised in the same town, unfamiliar just wasn’t in my blood. I grew up near grandparents and cousins and uncles, every festivity filled to the brim with people. Christmas Eve was crowded, full of 20-something voices belting out carols around a piano and more food than anyone could possibly eat, though somehow we managed. Christmas morning meant Mama’s delicious breakfast and a reading of the Christmas story. Dad played both Santa and referee as my sisters and I surveyed our spoils. It was tradition, and every year I anticipated its precious predictability. And yet here I was, a thousand miles from family, my first Christmas away from home. My house was quiet; my table, empty. No sheets to wash. No pies to bake. No crowd to feed. Christmas had always been loud and full of laughter. How could I possibly feel anything this year but heartbroken? I longed for familiar more fiercely than I could speak. I missed my family. I missed my home. Hearing my quiet sobs, my little Jude, then two, climbed up beside me. “Mama, you sad?” For how could I possibly be sad during the happiest season of all? “I’m missing my family, buddy,” I wept. He paused, puzzled, before reaching his arm around me. “Mama, miss me?? Mama, I here!”

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Recipe: Like sunshine warming a winter frost, my heart finally awoke. The very things I longed for were right in front of me. Right here on this couch, nestled into my side, sat the sweet love I’d needed. Before long we were making our own way, cultivating new traditions that would be ours alone. What had once overwhelmed me, instead filled me with life. Laughter replaced tears. Before I knew it, we were cranking up the carols for a dance party and singing at the top of our lungs. Our little home was suddenly full. We piled into the minivan, travel mugs full of cocoa, and toured Lights Under Louisville in our pajamas. Dreading two weeks of desperately-inventive turkey leftovers, we grilled steak for Christmas Eve dinner instead. Wrapping presents late into the night, we custom-tailored Christmas morning breakfast to our easiest favorites (see sidebar). Santa-dad handed out presents. I read aloud our favorite telling of the Christmas story. And Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause delivered the perfect backdrop for toy assembly and couch snuggles. As the day closed, I took it all in. I was right where I belonged on this quiet Christmas morning. These are my kindred. This is my family. Suddenly, I was home.

Breakfast Bombs My family’s Christmas favorite will soon be yours as well! Try this easy recipe at your next party, and you’re sure to please a crowd. Nearly fail-proof, this dish is breakfast perfection after a late night of wrapping presents, too! 1 lb of ground sausage 1 block of cream cheese 2 cans of crescent rolls Preheat oven to 375°F. Brown sausage over medium heat until cooked through. Remove from heat and add cream cheese, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Line two cookie sheets with foil, laying out eight crescents on each pan. Fill each crescent with sausage mixture and roll into a crescent. Bake as directed. Serve warm and enjoy! Gratitude is making peace with our losses, choosing instead to delight in what remains. // // @todaysfamilynow

10/21/16 1:55 PM



/ By Kylie Kassebaum / Class of 2016

resentation Academy has blessed me with many opportunities to expand my knowledge in the textbooks, in serving others, and in exploring the world. In 2014 I was offered the opportunity to travel to Europe with a group from Pres. I was all on board because as a young child I traveled across the United States, and I fell in love with new places and new cultures. I didn’t think there was a way for me to continue my traveling hobby in high school and especially at the smallest all-girls Catholic high school. I loved going with other Pres girls and the Pres faculty instead of my family because it helped me to become independent and focus on living out my high school experience. I continued to go on a mission trip in the spring of 2015 to Appalachia to further gain knowledge about the poverty surrounding me just hundreds of miles away. A group of sixteen girls headed out to Auxier, Kentucky to take on the rain and help restore some of the damaged house repairs. My group tore down and rebuilt an elderly woman’s porch and ramp. While reflecting one night with the group, we were told to focus on relationships and get to know the people to whom we were serving. This made me take a step back and think about everyone in my life and how I interact with them. The friendships I made on this mission trip were with

classmates I had never talked to before and with a woman who had more wisdom than I knew was possible. My next adventure was to Costa Rica to help install water purification systems in local schools to help the community. Sixteen Pres girls and two teachers joined Waterstep, a non-profit organization, to help save lives all around the world. With my lesson learned from my previous mission trip, I really focused on my interactions and relationships with my Pres community and more importantly, with the people we were helping. We also held vision clinics in local churches and taught sanitation classes to the schools we visited. Our Pres teachers made us take a look at our faith life and use this trip to explore our faith and make connections to our Higher Power. This summer I went on another trip to Europe with Pres to learn the cultures of Ireland, Scotland, and England. Even though I graduated in May, I can take my experiences from traveling to college and beyond. I have gained a universal understanding of acceptance, truth, and service through my trips around the country and around the globe. Presentation Academy has blessed me with a unique high school experience that I will cherish forever. Presentation Academy Essay Winner Kylie Kassebaum in Costa Rica





illy and Danyelle Robinson live in St. Matthews with William (6), who is very active physically, and Audrey (8), who loves interactive play. Although they have their differences, these kids can compromise for the sake of having the other as a playmate. Big Sis might agree to play baseball with William first, and then he agrees to do something she chooses. And she’s long on creativity, according to Mom: “Audrey comes up with creative ideas with fun details, and we just go along!”

CREATIVE ROLE-PLAY Library As the librarian, Audrey lines up books on a shelf, has patrons like William and Mom complete an application form, creates their library cards, then stamps the cards at check-out. Café/Bakery Audrey likes to bake — or just gather store-bought goodies — display them nicely, make little signs with prices, and sell them to “customers” who come to shop. Restaurant At home or at their grandparent’s house, the siblings set a table for diners, announce the specials, take orders on notepad, and serve the meals. Cooking Show Sometimes Audrey pretends to be a TV chef, propping up her tablet to record an episode for viewers. Other times she mimics the Food Network show Chopped Junior, asking Mom to give her five ingredients and 15 minutes on the timer to prepare and present a dish for judging. William enjoys serving as assistant chef or judge.

William setting up one of his domino effect structures.


Danyelle is often recruited for outdoor games like baseball or make-believe scenarios with Audrey. It can be a challenge with housework and other responsibilities. “Some days they can play together happily for hours, but on other days each of them is asking for my personal attention instead” says Danyelle, who works as a part-time RN. “Saying yes to them is important to me, so even on a busy day when I can only devote 10-15 minutes to a specific activity, I have found it is still meaningful to them.”


Outdoor play tops William’s list, where he exercises creativity in building things with his hands. For example: a waterfall with the hose and plastic dishes, race car tracks with extra wood pieces, and an obstacle course with a small slide, chair, and hula hoops. He and Audrey spend lots of time in their yard climbing trees, playing on the rope swings, and playing baseball. They also like riding bikes and walking to nearby parks with Mom. Dad Billy, an analytics manager and sports lover, recently created a chart for list-maker daughter to track her progress with volleyball drills.

The Robinson family enjoying a game of Life together.

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Prevent Holiday Illness Q. We will be having a lot of family over for Christmas and are worried about our two cats and our dog being stressed and also eating stuff that’s not safe. — Sandy, St. Matthews

Thanksgiving and Christmas are the veterinarian’s primary season for pancreatitis in pets, which can be fatal. Why? Because many holiday foods are high in fat: turkey skins, gravy, ham fat, and dressing. If you have any guests, train them NOT to feed your pet anything or you may be visiting our hospital for a lengthy hospitalization. STRESS from too many visitors is also a huge cause of illness in pets. Holidays are our primary season for HGE (Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis), which is profuse vomiting and diarrhea (with or without blood). Consider finding a quiet area for your pets during these frantic times. CHRISTMAS TREES have lots of sparkly items that will attract the attention of dogs and cats and cause ingestion that may need emergency surgery. Also, please anchor your tree to avoid the risk of tipping over and also to prevent dirty water spill that if ingested could cause gastrointestinal upset. Stay clear of TINSEL entirely since these are potential string foreign bodies that can very seriously damage your pet’s intestines.  We never recommend using CANDLES since they can cause burns or even a fire. Never leave a lit candle unattended. WIRED LIGHTS should be kept out of your pet’s reach to avoid electrical shock if they were to chew on the wire.  Avoid these plants: HOLLY can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. MISTLETOE can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Many types of LILIES can cause kidney failure when ingested.  ALCOHOL is a big problem if ingested by pets. Make sure you and your guests place drinks out of reach of your pets. NOISE can be a huge problem for sensitive animal ears, especially at New Year’s.  Confetti, noisy poppers and fireworks can be terrifying to many pets.  Cats can easily become obstructed when ingesting confetti or strings from poppers.     HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE HOLIDAY SEASON FOR YOU AND ALL YOUR FAMILY, THOSE WITH AND WITHOUT FUR!

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

Dr. Pat Kennedy

Medi-Pet Comprehensive Healthcare Plans

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 “Woman 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).

E-mail or call 502.499.6535 for more information.

k The WOODS Family New albany, indiana



or Ben and Crystal Woods, being parents is about more than taking care of their three kids — it is an experience they celebrate daily on Twitter (@benjaminrwoods). Ben regularly tweets about some of the funny things his kids say as a way of encouraging parents to pay more attention to their kids’ words. His comical tweets generate much response. “A lot of people will say, ‘Man, your kids are hilarious.’ But then I think, your kids are probably pretty hilarious as well. You just maybe aren’t listening as much, and I don’t mean that as a negative thing — I am just saying the way I choose to use social media is to celebrate how I’ve been blessed,” he says.

The inspiration came from his mother, who kept a journal of quotes from his older brother and sister. “Even though she would tell us these stories over and over again, it was cool to have documentation. I think part of it was just being blessed with amazing parents that were and still are so invested in their children and grandchildren’s lives that this shaped my heart.” Ben, who often works with college students at the church he pastors, says he is trying to set an example by emphasizing the value of putting family first. “If I am not the kind of husband and dad I need to be, I am not much use to them as a pastor.” What are your plans for celebrating Christmas? “All of our family lives in Champaign, Illinois, which is three hours away. We will have everyone come here for Christmas, and we’ll host for the first time.” Any special traditions? “Each person in the family picks out a new ornament for the tree. We give each child three presents: something they want, something they need and something to wear. We’ll attend a Christmas Eve service.” We know life has to be chaotic. What do you think is the most important thing you do with your kids right now? “We’re making sure we have opportunities to be generous. So Ezra and Crystal makes custom designed cake pops for her business Lulu’s Cakepop Shoppe.

12 WINTER 2016

Ben Woods, pastor of spiritual formation at Northside Christian Church in New Albany, Indiana, and his wife Crystal Woods, owner of Lulu’s Cakepop Shoppe, enjoy the crisp winter air with their children Ezra (9), Calla (7), and Lilah (20 months). PHOTO BY MELISSA DONALD

I go to the food pantry once a month,” says Crystal Woods. “We spend a lot of time as a family talking about how Jesus is first and Jesus is King, and that is the most important thing that we can teach them. There is something everyday about how Jesus would act, how Jesus’ way is the right way, the best way and that it is the way to a joyful life. We try to make everyday an adventure and make it fun, but at the same time have a purpose behind it and a reason that we do things.” What is a favorite thing that you are doing right now? “Ben has been working real hard to be here most nights to put the kids to bed,” Crystal says. “We’ll put our baby to bed and then Ben, me, and the two older kids do devotions and prayer time just before they head off to bed.This is our time to go back over the day and talk about what happened and what we’re looking forward to.” What is one thing that has surprised you about parenting? “I think things are always changing,” Crystal says. “Once you have a handle on the baby years, they become a toddler, and then they go off to school. It feels like it is a constant learning process.” How do you manage all of your responsibilities? “We have set some boundaries. Our kids are only involved in one sport at a time. I only take two cake pop orders a week, or otherwise my life would spin out of control. Ben is very selective about what he says ‘yes’ to.” How do you find time to manage your business while raising kids? “I make the cake pops when my kids are in bed,” Crystal says. “I work 9:30pm-2am, depending on how many I have to make.” // // @todaysfamilynow

k The poulette Family Lagrange, KY


The Poulette family makes a priority of family dinnertime at the table.


By Sandi Haustein


ennis and Janell Poulette, and their children, Nathan (11), Benjamin (8), and Shiloh (6) moved to LaGrange in 2015 after spending 11 years as missionaries in Mexico City. Janell works from home writing a popular money-saving blog called “Saving You Dinero” while Dennis works at Youth Ministry International. Although their family has gone through many transitions, their priority on dinnertime around the table has remained the same. Mealtime has always been an important part of the Poulettes’ day. When they lived in Mexico, Janell looked for ways to save time preparing dinner so she could enjoy eating with her family instead of worrying so much about cooking and cleaning up. Her solution was creating five freezer crockpot meals — one for each weeknight — that she could prepare in only one hour. In that hour, Janell would chop all of her onions and peppers, measure out all the meat and ingredients, put them in freezer bags, and label them with instructions for the crockpot. “I loved that I only had to clean up one mess when I prepped all the meals at one time,” she says. With her freezer full of meals, Janell was all set for dinnertime. Because she was homeschooling, each

day during her and her kids’ lunch break, she would take a meal out of the freezer and put it directly into the crockpot to cook for the afternoon. When Janell posted the freezer crockpot recipes on her blog, she had no idea they would be shared more than 520,000 times on Pinterest. At the encouragement of her readers, she went on to create 35 more freezer crockpot recipes that helped thousands of busy moms save time in the kitchen. Now that they are back in America, life is different for the Poulettes. The kids go to school, so grocery shopping is a lot more convenient, and Janell doesn’t rely on her crockpot as much as before. Instead, she plans meals for a couple of days at a time and makes more frequent grocery trips to buy smaller batches of fresh ingredients. Even though they sometimes pick up fast food on the way to baseball practice, most nights you’ll find the Poulettes sitting in their dining room eating together as a family. For them, dinner is a tech-free time of focusing on meaningful conversation with each other, catching up on the day, or talking about what they’re learning at church.


14 WINTER 2016

Hawaiian Chicken (4-5 servings)

2-3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts ½ cup white sugar ½ cup vinegar 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 Tablespoons soy sauce ½ cup of pineapple juice (use what’s in the can) ½ can of large pineapple chunks Add all the ingredients to a freezer bag, seal, and put into the freezer. When ready to serve, pour the contents of the bag into a slow cooker. Cook 4-5 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker, shred it with two forks, and put it back in the sauce. Serve over rice. // // @todaysfamilynow

YWhy I Love My School ASSUMPTION


/ By Claire Feller / Grade 12

rom the moment I stepped inside Assumption’s doors, I knew I had found much more than a high school. While many places call themselves a community, Assumption epitomizes it. We are urged to “Remember who we are,” as our mission statement goes, we are the community of Assumption where faith guides, compassion inspires, integrity matters, and excellence empowers. A Rocket is a woman who personifies all of these cornerstones, one who always remembers who she is, and what she stands for during her four precious years at Assumption and for the rest of her life. Assumption does not simply teach theology; we let faith guide us in everything we do. Through the four-year overnight retreat program, I was able to develop my own faith by taking time to examine my relationships with family, friends, and God. In our annual Thanksgiving prayer service, I have learned the beauty of expressing gratitude to those who bring light in our lives. On my mission trip to urban Cincinnati, I saw God in the faces of individuals who loved so much despite having so little. Through encouraging my faith, Assumption taught me the value of showing compassion to all. Every single day, I am met with a friendly smile. This kindness and concern for others does not end within our walls. Through the ACTS program (A Christian Through Service), I was blessed with the privilege of serving Kosair Children’s Hospital.


Such an extensive servicelearning program is uncommon, but Assumption realizes the importance of educating our hearts as well as our minds. Faith and compassion are of little importance if we are not women filled with integrity of mind and action. Assumption has taught me to stay true to who I am when faced with adversity. Every girl is able to find her place at AHS and explore what she is capable of achieving. I became the young woman I am because of Rose Theatre Company, Advanced Choir, and Assumption Ambassadors. I made memories and learn lessons that will last a lifetime. At Assumption, I have blossomed. With the deep concern that AHS exhibits in nourishing our faith, compassion, and integrity, excellence is inevitable. I’ve achieved heights I never imagined because of Assumption, and I know that my rigorous coursework and passionate teachers will help me to achieve in college and beyond. Many consider college the best four years of your life, but I know that my time as an Assumption Rocket will be hard to top. Because of Assumption, I have high expectations for my future and I know that as a Rocket, I will soar.

Assumption Essay Winner Claire Feller PHOTO: MELISSA DONALD

WINTER 2016 15

Just Ask Joyce

By Joyce Oglesby

k [sleepy teen]


your teen is likely experiencing what is natural for his age.


“My teen wants to sleep all the time! He was such an early riser when he was younger, but I think he’s become lazy. School mornings are a dreadful scene. His dad loses his patience, which starts the day off badly for everyone. What can I do to make this situation better?” Joyce: A kid will only be lazy if a parent allows it, but your teen is likely experiencing what is natural for his age. A recent study developed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine revealed the amount of sleep needed by kids at different ages. It might surprise you, as much as it did me, to see how much sleep is required to keep our young folks healthy. Here’s the breakdown: • Infants 4-12 months: 12-16 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps)

• Children 1-2 years: 11-14 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps)

• Children 3-5 years: 10-13 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps)

• Children 6-12 years: 9-12 hours of sleep every 24 hours

• Teens 13-18 years: 8-10 hours of sleep every 24 hours Sleep doesn’t always equate to laziness, and adequate sleep will play a part in allowing your son to grow and mature into a healthy, vibrant, hard-working adult. However, if a child is lazy while he’s not sleeping, then you have a real problem that needs to be addressed.

Need Family Advice?


Q: Our daughter has her learner’s


Q: “I know very attentive parents who have experienced great heartache because their children have disappointed them in some manner or another. Is there anything I can do to prevent the heartbreak of a rebellious child?”

Joyce: The sure way to escape the pain of rearing children is to not have any. But then, you would miss the sheer joy they bring! The best advice I could give you is to invest. Perhaps a great analogy is that of the Chinese bamboo tree. You plant it, nurture it, and for the first four years it looks as though your investment is for naught since an inch-long sprout is all it produces each year. But with the proper care, the fifth year will take you by surprise. In six weeks the plant grows to 80 feet! It appears somewhat out of control in a very short amount of time. But what sustains a tree that grows that tall that fast? Its root system, of course. Keep doing all the good you can while there’s still time. Teach, correct, rebuke, and train. Your children might outgrow you at a fast rate of speed, but with a solid structure, they’ll return to their roots, which held them in place all along.

license. She’s taken driver’s education and did very well. My husband will not let her drive, and while I do allow her to, I don’t feel comfortable letting her drive on the expressway and in the city. She thinks we’re unreasonable and suggested we “Just Ask Joyce.” So, I ask: Are we being unreasonable? Joyce: In a short answer: Yes. When our kids turned 15, I put them behind the wheel and had them drive me to downtown Atlanta. They were more apprehensive about the journey than me, but I didn’t give them time to get nervous. By the time we arrived home, they were well versed in driving on the expressway, one-way streets, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and in the midst of impatient drivers honking horns at law-abiding travelers driving the speed limit. I had to mentally prepare myself for the journey ahead of time. I knew it could be a recipe for disaster if Mom was whiteknuckled, braking on the passenger’s side floorboard, and/or yelling in a panic-stricken tone. Our kids will tell you it was the best preparation for operating a vehicle they could have received. It also took some worry away once they were driving alone. I’m not sure parents ever completely cease being concerned for our kids’ safety. It’s the other folks we don’t trust. But by all means, let her drive. She’ll never learn to navigate a car or life if she’s tethered to your fear. Trust me, she’ll have enough of her own.

Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro at Listen to The Just Ask Joyce Show weekdays at 3pm on WFIA 94.7fm/900am.

16 WINTER 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow





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ina Hardison found herself like most of us this time of year: deadlocked in the winter doldrums, swimming in a hectic schedule, desperately needing spring break — which was looming right around the corner in early April — but having no plans yet. At the end of February, Tina swung into action, feverishly trying to plan a last-minute getaway for her family of four (husband Billy, sons Jackson, then 11, and Charlie, then 4). She knew she wanted a beach vacation, but she worried about the early April cool Florida temperatures. So, with no real leads, she put it out to the universe on her favorite sites: Facebook and Pinterest. “Within a couple hours, three friends suggested San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s 80 degrees just about all year and you don’t need passports. I immediately searched on Pinterest for ‘family-friendly hotels’ and ended up booking the first one that popped up,” Tina recalls. The Marriott Stellaris Resort Hotel and Casino, where the Hardisons stayed, was right on the beach, had four restaurants to choose from on site, was walking distance to just about everything they needed, had an adult pool area with a swim-up bar and hot tub as well as a shallow pool on the first level for littles. And the best part? It featured a giant water slide that captivated Charlie for about eight hours every day. He’d wake up every morning, throw on his floaties, and say, ‘Let’s go!’ Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, the currency is the dollar, you can forego the passport (which would total around $500 for a family of four), most citizens speak English as well as Spanish, and cars drive on the right side of road. Along with over 270 miles of beaches, this archipelago also boasts an impressive cave system and streets paved in blue cobblestones. Tina said she would absolutely go back. “The resort was simple but completely kid-friendly. Every menu could accommodate my picky eaters, and the prices were comparable to Louisville.”



TRIP DETAILS: PRICE less than $1000 per person for flight, hotel, and rental car LENGTH OF STAY 5 days, 4 nights in April TEMPERATURE 80 degrees year-round; rainy season in late summer FLIGHT FROM LOUISVILLE (Hardisons left at 9a.m. and landed at 2) The highlight for Tina was their drive to Old San Juan, where they toured the old forts, sized up the cannonballs, and took in the local culture. “You could picture a hundred years ago with the ships coming in: the beautiful painted buildings and pristine blue cobblestone streets that almost seemed iridescent. Everything was surrounded in these beautiful colors that reminded me of San Francisco. It was beautiful.” // // @todaysfamilynow

10/21/16 2:12 PM

Dupont pediatric 2/3 V


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10/21/16 2:59 PM


Angela Parsons, principal of J. Graham Brown School , believes that the concepts of a liberal arts education also apply to activities outside the classroom: “It’s important for students to be well-rounded because we’re preparing them to function and to have careers in a world that doesn’t exist yet. We don’t really know what skill set is going to be required 15 to 20 years from now.”

“WE DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT SKILL SET IS GOING TO BE REQUIRED 15 TO 20 YEARS FROM NOW.” To make sure that her sons, now aged 19 and 13, got opportunities to develop their creativity, focus, self-confidence, and teamwork skills, Angela always required that they participate in an art form (they chose music), a school organization or club, and a sport. There’s nothing wrong with putting more time into one specific activity that the child really loves, she says, but it’s important to encourage exploration. “If a kid doesn’t like soccer, try golf,” for example. “If golf isn’t working, try swimming.” Being involved in a variety of activities is also an insurance policy of sorts: “Let’s say you have a student who has been very focused on one thing from a very young age, but then junior or senior year of high school becomes burned out and wants to try something new. That student would be at a real disadvantage if he or she didn’t have other interests.” Students who are more well-rounded might also be eligible to apply for a greater variety of college scholarships than those with a narrower focus, she adds.

By Yelena Sapin


ost of us agree that it’s good for our children to be involved in extracurricular activities. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey on parenting in America, “at least half of parents with school-age children say their kids have played sports (73%), participated in religious instruction or youth groups (60%), taken lessons in music, dance, or art (54%), or done volunteer work (53%) after school or on the weekends in the 12 months preceding the survey.”

But with so many extracurricular options, and only so many hours in the day, the question arises: is it better for our kids to diversify and do several different things, or to concentrate on and delve deeper into one type of activity, be it sports, the arts, or something else? And with college applications on the horizon, is one approach better than the other? There is a growing consensus that kids should play a variety of sports and not specialize too early to decrease the risk of injury and burnout and to help them become better athletes overall, but opinions are harder to pin down when other activities are thrown into the mix. The age and temperament of the child, as well as the family’s particular dynamics and circumstances, are just some of the variables in the extracurricular equation that parents need to solve, and continually re-solve, for themselves. Here are some thoughts from local experts to help you.

“. . . colleges are increasingly looking for students with depth, rather than breadth, of experience.”

A College Admission 4 Expert’s Perspective As principal of College Admissions Planning, Denise Park Parsons likes the idea of exposing kids to different things when they are younger — “that’s how they find out what they’re passionate about, what they really like” — but feels that colleges are increasingly looking for students with depth, rather than breadth, of experience. “A lot of families think that colleges are looking for the most well-rounded student, but they’re really looking for the most wellrounded incoming freshman class.” The best college application essays are written by kids who have found something they feel really strongly about, Denise says. “It actually doesn’t matter what that is. It could be anything that appeals to the student.” Being able to demonstrate active involvement in an area of interest is especially important for students applying to more selective colleges or programs. “It’s helpful if there’s some kind of thread that ties to what they’re interested in. For instance, this is an election year. For kids who are interested in political science: are they volunteering? Are they putting themselves out there in situations where they’re getting involved at a deeper level?”

“[Colleges are] really looking for the most well-rounded incoming freshman class.” Denise Park Parsons

Principal of College Admissions Planning

And if the student’s interest changes, parents need to stay open and be supportive of their child’s desire to go in a different direction. “It doesn’t have to be trading one sport for another. It can be doing something else that’s outside of themselves: volunteering, getting involved in the neighborhood, going to the corner store for an elderly neighbor every Friday afternoon. We don’t have to look very far to find ways to be of service to others, and out of that service or involvement sometimes comes a passion to affect change. And that always comes across to college admission folks.”

Denise Park Parsons

Principal of College Admissions Planning

20 WINTER 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow


Psychologist’s 4 APerspective Child psychologist “Dr. Katie” Smith believes it’s good for kids to be involved in different types of activities and urges parents to resist the pressure to specialize their kids too early. “Parents need to understand that only a very, very small percentage of kids end up playing sports in college or being paid to do the activities that they’re spending so much time and money on. It’s important that parents find activities that their kids really enjoy and that are intrinsically motivating to their kids rather than follow other people’s programs.”

“Kids — even teenagers ­— really need to have unstructured free time.”

The Simmons children

What Activities ARE BEST FOR YOUR FAMILY? By Carrie Vittitoe and Megan Willman

The options are endless, starting as early as age 3! Today’s Family talked to six families who shared their busy activity schedule with us, along with what they discovered when their kids followed a passion.

Scouts and Soccer k The SIMMONS Family

Erin and Ronald, Paisley (17), Jasmine (15), Kyla (13) and Caden (7). Paisley and Jasmine are students at Eastern High School, Kyla attends Crosby Middle School, and Caden is a student at Tully Elementary.

How They Decided: Ronald says Paisley brought home a flier about Girl Scouts when she was in kindergarten or first grade, and it wasn’t too long after she joined that her mother began taking on a leadership role with the troop. Jasmine and Kyla each participated in troop meetings as “tagalongs” before they were old enough to officially join. Even Caden has been an honorary member of the troop. Ronald says, “Caden was saying the Girl Scout promise from two years of age.” The entire family goes to Area 10 Girl Scout camp every summer. Ronald teaches fishing to all campers, and Erin recently became camp co-director. The girls serve as aides, and Caden hangs out with the boy unit (the brothers of campers whose parents volunteer). All four children also play soccer, and Paisley and Jasmine run track. TODAY’S FAMILY

By high school, kids are usually mature enough to start specializing or focusing on one activity if they so choose, but even then parents should set some boundaries. “Kids — even teenagers — really need to have unstructured free time. If parents start to notice that their kids are no longer enjoying or even avoiding an activity, or if the activity leaves no time for other things, they might need to reassess and ask, ‘is my child burned out?’ Are we doing too much of this one particular activity?” Finally, whether their kids diversify or specialize, parents need to keep in mind that extracurricular activities are meant to enrich — not take over — the lives of the kids and their families. “It’s OK to limit kids, even in something they love, for the sake of the family routine,” Dr. Katie says. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for one child’s activities to dictate the family’s rhythm. It’s just not healthy for the family.”

Paisley, Jasmine, Kyla, and Caden Simmons

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continued from page 21

A Band Family, Loving Music k The bruner Family

Michelle and Ryan, Jason (17), Andrew (14) and Sarah (9). Jason and Andrew both attend Eastern High School, and Sarah is a student at Tully Elementary.

How They Decided: Michelle says Jason got involved in band when they lived in China from Aug 2009-July 2010 for Ryan’s job. Because of when they arrived, the only activity still open to him was band. Although Jason liked playing around on drums, Michelle encouraged him to take up oboe because of the potential for college scholarships if he stuck with it. Once the family returned to Louisville, Jason continued with oboe at Crosby Middle School. At Eastern, he added drums in marching band. Michelle says, “He would rather play drums any day of the week.” Andrew, 14, originally began with saxophone, but then switched to French horn. As an 8th grader at Crosby, he played with Eastern’s marching band on melaphone and continues now that he is a high school student. Sarah says she is going to do color guard in band when she gets older. When it comes to an instrument for Sarah, they are leaning toward bassoon. A Push at the Beginning: Michelle says she had to push both boys a bit at the beginning, telling them to try band for a year and then reassess, but she never had to push Jason again. He plans to study music composition in college, and she thinks he will always have his hand in music in some way. “It was the greatest thing for him,” she says. Andrew practices diligently, even taking his instrument to the lake to stay on top of practicing for upcoming performances. Michelle feels that he has found a niche that he enjoys and where he has friends.

The Right Activity for Each Kid k The smith Family

Clarissa and Eddie, Ford (15), Chelsea (13) and Liam (9) Ford attends the Youth Performing Arts School (YPAS) at Manual, Chelsea is in Noe’s Gifted & Talented program, and Liam attends Tully Elementary.

How They Decided: When Ford was in middle school, Clarissa says he came home one day and announced he was going to do band. He applied for YPAS on his own, with his mom’s encouragement. Clarissa says Chelsea’s interest in field hockey was “Mr. Connor’s idea” (Tully Elementary’s physical education teacher), although she adds, “I thought that’d be a good way to meet girls” when she entered 6th grade. In addition to playing field hockey in the fall for Noe, Chelsea participates in a winter field hockey league. She

is a long-time basketball player, too, and now plays for both Noe and the Louisville Centurions. Liam,9, tried football with the Jtown Bulldogs this past summer, so the family is waiting to see if that sticks. Why It Works: Playing field hockey and basketball meets Chelsea’s competitive nature and allows her opportunities to be social, but Clarissa has seen the most change in Ford as a result of his extracurricular activity. She says, “He seemed lost in 4th and 5th grades,” and it worried her. With band, “I’ve never seen him work so hard for something. It’s helped him develop work ethic and discipline.“ She says she cried at some of his first band concerts because she thought back to how things used to be for him. “It really was life-changing for him.” she admits.

continued on page 24

22 WINTER 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow



continued from page 22

The More Academic Side k The palmER Family

Cathleen and Pete, Haley (17), Sydney (15), and Jack (11). Haley and Sydney attend Floyd Central High School. Jack attends Highland Hills Middle School.

The Arts Called to This Family k The burger Family

Kate and Brent, Kristen (19), Jordan (17). Kristen graduated from Floyd Central High School last spring and attends Purdue University, and Jordan attends Floyd Central High School.

How They Decided: Kate and Brent encouraged their children to try any activity they wanted as youngsters. “We wanted to expose our kids to many things so they could choose their favorites. They just never narrowed the list,” Kate says, with a laugh. Heavily involved in dance, theatre, and orchestra, Kristen also played basketball all through high school and played softball for the first two years. She also poured hours into Dance Marathon, a charity that raises money for Riley Children’s Hospital. Jordan, a junior at Floyd Central, played tennis and soccer through grade school but turned to the arts in high school. He plays cello and bass, sings, and acts in every school theatrical production, and he also begins Eagle Scouts this year. Watching Them Develop: Kate says the kids have always been outgoing, but that their busy schedules have led them to be great problem-solvers. They have had to learn balance, and when balance wasn’t possible, they had to learn flexibility. They’ve gained a great deal of confidence over the years, but Kate acknowledges that sometimes they learn the hard way. “Not all experiences have been positive. They’ve been prepared well to succeed. But they also know how to regroup and start again,” Kate says. Kristen said, “When you put theater and sports together, there are just so many pulls in different directions.” One coach or another was always frustrated with her, she said, and sometimes they had to change schedules to accommodate her. “Looking back, I wouldn’t change anything,” she says, “but I cried a lot.” Kate agreed that since her kids never pared down their activity lists, the schedules could be intense. “We had to find a new normal,” she says. “Sometimes we would have three cars on the road — Mom, Dad, and Uncle Tio — just getting these two kids where they need to be each day.”

Soccer Works k The DETTLINGER Family

Kelly and Kyle, Jack (8) and Nick (4). Jack is in third grade at Tully Elementary, and Nick is in preschool.

they enjoy the most.”

How They Decided: Kelly and Kyle enrolled Jack in YMCA soccer when he was 3. She says, “Jack has sensory processing disorder and needs a lot of sensory input. Soccer was so much running that we thought it would be a good activity for him.” As it turned out, he was pretty good at it. After Jack turned 6, his parents switched him over to J-town Youth Soccer Association (JYSA), which was a step above the YMCA but still a recreational team. After three seasons there, Jack moved to a competitive team, the Derby City Rovers, and is now playing with the Kentucky Fire Juniors. He also takes additional lessons with the Cardinal Touch Juniors, which is led by Ilija Ilic, a professional soccer player with Louisville City FC Kelly says the lessons “are going a long way in nurturing his love of soccer.” Nick participates in Soccer Shots, a program that goes to area preschools. He tends to be nervous in group settings so Kyle and Kelly like that the program is in a familiar environment with kids he knows. Kelly says, “He doesn’t like to go out of his comfort zone.” Watching Them Develop: Kelly says playing soccer has “shown us a lot about Jack. He’s a work-horse. That’s been really cool to watch. He doesn’t give up if they’re losing.” She wants him to develop confidence and learn to work in a team environment, which she hopes will help him avoid negative influences as he grows older. She says, “Ultimately, Jack just wants to play. It’s our responsibility to give him the tools to play as long as he wants.”

24 WINTER 2016

How They Decided: When their kids were youngsters, Cathleen and Pete paid close attention to their interests and let them explore whatever they wanted to try. Haley was always an avid reader. “She was the kid who took a book on the playground during recess,” Cathleen says. She gravitated toward academic endeavors like math bowl, spell bowl, speech contest, and science fair in elementary and middle school. Now a senior in high school, Haley has largely kept to this trend, although she has added tennis into the mix. She competes on the debate team, writes for the school paper, is a member of the student council, and is a co-founder of the school’s Young Democrat club. Sydney and Jack pursued academic clubs in elementary school, but they felt less enthusiasm than Haley did. Jack was drawn to sports and plays baseball, tennis, and basketball. He also joined the middle school diving team. Sydney plays on the high school golf team and is a member of the band. “Our kids know we place equal value on all clubs, just wanting them to follow their interests. Their schoolwork is the first priority. After that, we want them to stick to what Deciding on Balance: Cathleen believes their kids learn to make decisions about how they want to spend the 24 hours they have every day. She says, “We remind them that every choice leaves them with less total time. They have to balance their school and home responsibilities along with the extra-curricular choices. I tell them to choose what’s important to them and put their focus on that. Some things they will just have to let go.” Cathleen pointed out that each of her children has a different level of intensity and interest in how they want to spend their time. “Haley doesn’t seem to need any time where she isn’t doing an activity or club. She has an intrinsic motivation that keeps her working hard at everything she does. Jack and Sydney both like a little more free time to relax.” Cathleen believes that debate team has helped Haley learn to relate to and work with other people. “In debate, Haley hears a wide range of political, spiritual, and world views, and she has an appreciation for those different value systems.” Involvement: From Cathleen’s point of view, academic clubs don’t require parents to participate at the same level as she has found with sports. “I can’t show up and put a chair in the back of history class, cheering for Haley to take a second look at #4 on the exam,” Cathleen says. “In sports, parents are coaching from the sidelines and are sometimes very critical. It seems like sports are the parent’s extra-curricular activity as much as it for the kids. And coaches seem to encourage that. In academic clubs, kids participate because they want to and it matters to them.” // // @todaysfamilynow


WINTER 2016 25

k The SECKMAN Family germantown, KY

Our Family Has Birthed a Business


The Seckman family at their new coffee shop, Bean.


By Megan Seckman


veryone has said it, maybe even meant it: I should just open my own business. For our family, that pipe-dream of 6-7 years actually came true. We’re still in shock. But here we are, owners of a brand-spankin’ new coffee shop in Germantown named Bean that is located just six blocks from our house. I still teach and the kids still learn, but now Dad has a new baby to tend to, down the street, for just about more hours than there are in a day. You want to talk about tough decisions? Turns out turning an idea/ dream/idle-threat into a tangible, moneyearning enterprise is just about the most overwhelming, exhausting, and frightening experience known to man. Kinda like parenting or chronic illness. But we’ll stick with the parenting metaphor because you can look in on your business with pride as it sleeps knowing that your hard day’s work was justified. You do post a zillion pictures on social media extolling the praises of your creation on a weekly basis. You have, with your bare hands, created something from nothing. Along this tumultuous entrepreneurial road, there have been many times — just as in parenting — when I have questioned the sanity of my decision to bring this thing into the world. At first, I was giddy with the idea and drunk with the possibilities. Then it got real and our back-breaking work and endless planning and crunching of numbers and signing of papers and spending of all our money seemed futile because the thing just wouldn’t get off the ground. It seemed we signed away our future and security to the bank that took way too long to give us a loan; at that

point we wanted to turn back. It was like that last month of pregnancy where you seriously think the baby will never come. But then Bean opened one late July day and actual human beings praised the decisions we fretted over for weeks and weeks. Actual humans sat and sipped cappuccino together in their business suits and cowboy boots and sweat pants. And we made that happen, bringing a community together. That feeling was worth it. That, and seeing our 8-year-old ring up customers, and seeing our tween son wash dishes, sweep, and analyze the flow of customers like a young man. He even proclaimed at dinner that first week, “I’ve figured it out. I want to own my own business someday.” Then our son said sarcastically, a few weeks later, on the way to his first cross-country meet, “Remember when we had a dad?” And I laughed because I really wanted to cry. This business has, hopefully, opened more doors for us — for travel, abundance, and creativity — but it has, undoubtedly, consumed our family. My husband’s temples are a bit more grey. Family dinner is a rare, bizarre occurrence. Our very close little clan is spending most events without the dad. Our decision to open a business has definitely impacted our humble household. We’re tired, stretched-thin, stressed, and feeling isolated together, just like new parents. And just like new parents, I’m sure we’ll adjust, figure out our system, and learn to work more efficiently on less sleep. It has most definitely helped that Bean is so close to our home, because as of now, home has changed, and we’re all learning to adjust to the new baby.


26 WINTER 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow

k The krieger Family OLDHAM COUNTY, KY

Mother Cammie Krieger gives her 15-year-old daughter Kinsey a boost during her study time.



By Sanna Rogers


o teachers have a secret weapon when it comes to homework success with their own children? For Cammie Krieger, a 19-year teaching veteran from Oldham County, it’s no secret: plan for the week ahead and embrace holistic learning. With three daughters, Cammie and her husband Jim balance study time with dance practice three nights a week. After school it’s a homework debriefing, dinner, dance for Kelbie, 18, and Kinsey, 15, then back to the books. Daughter Caiden, 20, is a nursing major at IUS. Cammie is a natural proponent of nightly homework, but for a surprising reason. Homework equals time with your kids, she says. “I wish parents knew how valuable their conversations would be during homework time if they were more hands-on.” As a kindergarten teacher at Centerfield Elementary, she gives homework three nights a week but not just to establish good study habits. “A lot of times kids think back to what happened during the day while doing homework,” she says. “It triggers their memories. Then parents can help them with issues that arise at school.” With each of her daughters, Cammie was very involved early on with their studies before gradually backing off. Her mantra in her classroom and at home has always been

28 WINTER 2016

‘Watch me do it; let’s do it together; now you do it.’ Today she is there mostly to give them a “kickstart” or just answer questions. “When my girls ask for help I know they really need it.” She admits that adapting to each daughter’s learning style has been relatively easy because — like her — they’re all diligent about keeping track of assignments and completing work. Is it nature or nurture? There’s no definitive answer. “They just don’t know any different than having a mom as a teacher,” she says. Usually Cammie lets the consequences of their actions be their biggest teacher. “It’s motivational to them that their friends are going to show up with their work done, and their teachers are going to be ask-

ing about it, and I might be getting an email.” You might be surprised that Cammie doesn’t worry that her girls’ studies might suffer because of their extracurricular activities. A couple of late nights after dance practice? No problem, she says, because they can adjust. Their approach is: “This is our schedule so how are we going to tackle this to be the most successful this week?” For her, their after-school interests are equal to their academics. “They are as important to forming their sense of self-worth and building their physical bodies as school work,” she says. “I’ve never looked at it as one was more important than the other. I don’t want it to be all about academics at the expense of their physical and emotional states.” With that said, summer break is always a recipe for relaxing and learning. The girls attend Oldham County High School which often requires summer reading projects. “Reading is the backbone of academia,” says Cammie. “And summer reading can also be the classics that your child may not have been exposed to yet.” Is this teacher-mom ever tempted to give her daughters extra reading? No! “Their homework was always to the level that it took every minute of extra time we had to get it accomplished.” Lesson learned. // // @todaysfamilynow


WINTER 2016 29



SLEEP? By Jane White


ur daughter Lydia lived in Bowling Green and graduated from Western Kentucky University last year. She met her fiancé Christopher four years ago. The first time she brought Christopher home for an overnight visit during their first Christmas together, my husband Charles and I had to consider their sleeping arrangements. How would we handle the situation while making Christopher feel welcomed?

We’re traditional; some would say that we’re old-fashioned.

dictate behavior in our home. Charles and I clearly communicated to Lydia that she and Christopher had to sleep in separate rooms. She relayed the message to Christopher in advance so we didn’t have to deal with an awkward situation.

The first time that Christopher spent the night, we greeted him and Lydia at the front door. After a short visit in the family room we walked with him to the guest room in the basement. Charles knew that Christopher liked to work out. He showed him the exercise equipment in the basement and invited him to use it. We wanted to make Christopher feel comfortable while setting the ground rules. Clearly we can’t control our adult children, but we have the right to expect certain behaviors. It is our home, and we felt strongly about the sleeping arrangements. We had many wonderful visits through the years. Lydia and Christopher accepted our decision, or at least they didn’t complain to us. We revisited the situation when they moved in together in Bowling Green. Lydia asked if they could share a room, but we stood firm on our belief that ‘marriage counts for something,’ as Charles eloquently said.

What are parents to do when society sends different messages to our kids? Many romantic comedies show a dating couple sharing a room when they visit his or her parents. We’ve always been clear with our two daughters, Lydia and Elizabeth, about what behavior we expected from them. Our rules were to be followed, and we made the consequences clear. We also asked the girls to respect our feelings when we made decisions. They didn’t like our rules sometimes, but we worked hard to instill values that were important to us. We were willing to be the “bad guys” on whom the girls could lay the blame when we said no to certain social situations. We weren’t total dictators when the girls were in high school. We clearly explained our standards to them, and we were willing to listen to how they felt. Charles and I would discuss the issue and come to a consensus. At times we would compromise, such as when Lydia

We were overjoyed when Christopher proposed to Lydia last year. With them planning to be married, Charles and I decided that they could begin sharing a room when they were here. It

When the girls went away to college we held our breath, hoping they would make good choices. We continued to stand firm on our right to

was a little uncomfortable at first to say goodnight, knowing that they were sharing a bed. They stayed up later, so we could retreat to our room. Gradually it became easier. Perhaps some parents may judge us. The most important thing to Charles and to me is that we made the choice, and we have no regrets.

was invited to a coed sleepover after the senior prom. We called the parents who were hosting the party to confirm that they were going to be there.

30 WINTER 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow


WINTER 2016 31

AGE Page Birth to 5

By Angel Lyn Nance

3 Indoor Games for Bad Weather Days


Bean box: Take an old shoebox and fill it full of a variety of dry beans. To make it more colorful, add dry split peas, corn, or lentils as well. Add measuring cups, spoons, and/or plastic eggs, and let your child have fun. Homemade “parachute”: Take a flat toddler sheet or beach towel and place ping pong balls or other small balls in the center. You hold the sheet on one side, while your child holds the opposite side. Shake the sheet up and down to make the balls bounce and your preschooler giggle.


I Spy: Take a gallon-sized zip bag and fill it with dry rice. Add small items to find, such as sequins, buttons, or tiny erasers. Tape the bag shut with packing tape, and let your child shake the bag to reveal the treasures. You can also make these in dry, empty, clear water bottles and hot glue the lid shut.


Get Moving! Covenant Preschool Director Linda Estes knows the value of letting the kids move their bodies. “One thing we do to help kids focus and settle down is to do ‘Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ or other musical rhymes.” By letting the kids get in some gross motor movements first, they are more able to sit still for storytime or other projects. Parents can use these strategies, too. When the kids are too wound up and need to calm down, try playing Simon Says or doing a rhyme with movement to help them regain control.

Bring Action to Storytime, Too

Teach cooperation by checking out the Count Your

Chickens game

from Peaceable Kingdom, where players work together to get all of the chicks in the coop. Source:

Try having an active storytime. Read Eric Carle’s Head to Toe and do all of the movements. Sing and jump with the animals in Jan Ormerod’s If You’re Happy and You Know It. Wiggle and stomp with farm animals while you read Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance. For babies and toddlers, the board book Baby Dance by Ann Taylor lets the reader and baby join in the simple rhyming dance.

32 WINTER 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow

Weekly drawings beginning Nov. 2–Jan. 4 at Week of 11/2-11/8 WIN: 4 tickets to Home for the Holidays from the Louisville Orchestra Week of 11/4-11/10 WIN: Family 4-pack of tickets to Honky Tonk Angels Holiday from Derby Dinner Playhouse Week of 11/9-11/15 WIN: 4 tickets to Best Christmas Pageant Ever from StageOne Family Theatre Week of 11/16-11/22 WIN: 4 vouchers good for 1 ticket each to The Brown-Forman Nutcracker Louisville Ballet Week of 11/18-11/24 WIN: 4 tickets to Best Christmas Pageant Ever from StageOne Family Theatre Week of 11/23-11/29 WIN: Family 4 pack of tickets to North Pole Express at the Kentucky Railway Museum Week of 12/21-12/27 Week of 11/30-12/6 WIN: 4 tickets to Rudolph the

Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical from

WIN: Family 4-pack of tickets for Mega Quest at the Louisville Mega Cavern

The Kentucky Center Week of 12/28-1/3 Week of 12/7-12/13 WIN: 4 regular admission tickets and 4 Santa Safari tickets from The Louisville Zoo

WIN: Children’s Birthday Party for 10 at the Louisville Mega Cavern Week of 1/4-1/10

Week of 12/14-12/20 WIN: Family 4-pack of tickets for the Mega Bike course at the Louisville Mega Cavern

WIN: Family 4-pack of tickets for the Mega Zips at the Louisville Mega Cavern

Enter to win at! 12Giveaways_TFwin16.indd 1

10/21/16 2:26 PM

AGE Page 6 to 11

By Erin Nevitt

DIY: Terrarium Make a terrarium together for a fun science-in-a-bottle lesson, and watch the water cycle in action! You need an empty 2 liter bottle or similar container, scissors, a utility knife, pea gravel, activated charcoal (available at pet stores), potting soil, washi tape, plants, and small plastic toys to embellish. Use the link below for step-bystep instructions on creating it together! Source: terrarium/soda-bottle-terrarium.htm


Snuggle Up With a Book If you’re looking for an indoor place to go this winter, the library is a reliable, free spot ready to serve you and your family. (Give your local library a call to make sure the doors are open if weather conditions are hazardous.) Libraries provide a variety of programs as well as storytimes. Check with the library locations in Jefferson and Oldham counties as well as Southern Indiana for more details on their offerings.

Homemade Pumpkin Pancakes

Saturday Morning Pancakes with Pizazz Get the kids going on those cold, winter mornings with some twists on your old-fashioned pancake batter. Try adding these ingredients to one cup of your traditional pancake mix and water or milk:

• ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa, 1 tablespoon sugar, ⅓ cup peanut butter chips

• 4 tsp poppy seeds, ⅓ cup mandarin oranges

While you’re there... Check out these fun family reads for children at this stage: • Bink & Gollie series by Kate DiCamillo

• The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara

• The Pirates Next Door:

• ¼ cup ricotta, zest of 1 lemon • ⅓ cup apple pie filling, 2 tsp cinnamon • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa, 2 tsp red food coloring

• ¼ cup pumpkin puree, 2 tablespoons sugar, ¾ tsp pumpkin spice


Starring the Jolly Rogers by Jonny Duddle

• The Three Ninja Pigs

by Corey Rosen Schwartz

• Who Was? Biography Series The characters Bink and Gollie from Kate DiCamillo’s funny book series

34 WINTER 2016

Apple Pancakes // // @todaysfamilynow

AGE Page 12 and up

By Megan S. Willman


Simple Family Game Night Ideas Even the most grumpy teens can enjoy a game night at home. The next time you have the family together, schedule a night for carry-out and games. You can buy great games like Quelf, Awkward Family Photos, or Say Anything, but much is to be said for freebies such as Charades, Telephone, or Categories. Set a regular monthly appointment to have fun together.

Paoli Peaks

Don’t Let Curfews Drive You Crazy If you have a teenager in your home, you’ve probably had some battles about the curfew you’ve set. In an article called Setting Curfews for Teens, Diana Wing offers advice for being firm but fair about these important guidelines.

• Set the curfew that works in your household. Your kids will use their friends’ curfews as a tool to pressure you. Stick to your guns.

If you dream of hitting the slopes this winter but think the cost and the distance is too much to bear, visit Paoli Peaks. Only an hour from Louisville, Paoli Peaks has snow. And if nature hasn’t made the white stuff for us, Paoli will take care of that. You can ski, snowboard, and tube to your heart’s content, and season passes offer direct access to the slopes. Every season pass comes with half price group lessons and discounted pricing for your friends. Source:

• Be willing to compromise depending on specifics like who they’re with, what they’re doing, and what time the event they’re attending ends. Find out what time the school basketball game will end, for example. Then allow a little time for them to have some dessert at Dairy Queen before asking them to be home. • Determine the consequences for being late and make sure your child knows what they are. Be consistent so your child knows what to expect. • Find out if your community has a curfew. Some of them do, and if so, that’s the curfew your child needs to follow in order to be within the law. • Offer some flexibility. This last point doesn’t come from the author but from personal experience. Sometimes things honestly do come up: horrible bridge traffic, a football game that went later than expected. Encourage them to pay attention to the clock and let you know in advance if they see they’re going to be late. In that case, offer a few minutes’ grace. However, if “emergencies” crop up every weekend, it might be time for a talk!

Frazier History Museum A trip to the Frazier History Museum is an interactive adventure for the whole family. Perhaps you’ll find yourself costumed in period dress or listening to one of several daily historic interpretations by the likes of George Rogers Clark or Catherine the Great. Check out these current exhibits:

• Stewart Toy Soldier Gallery (opened September 27)

• A Morning that Changed the World: Personal Stories of Pearl Harbor (opened October 25)

• First Folio! The Book that Gave Us

Shakespeare (open Nov. 10 - Dec 10)

• White Christmas: The Exhibit



(open Nov. 17 - Jan. 5)

• Holidays around the World (open Nov. 25 - Jan. 2)


WINTER 2016 35

WHERE ARE ALL THE TOYS? By Carrie Vittitoe


hristmas gift buying for my children, Norah (12), Graeme (9), and Miles (7), used to be so easy. I could purchase gentlyused toys at consignment sales, wrap them up, and my kids never knew the difference. They were so excited by the prospect of opening brightly colored and intricately adorned presents that they didn’t spend any time inspecting them for wear or defect. Even if their specific interests were narrow, like dolls or cars, I could purchase a seemingly endless amount of different dolls or cars that would delight them. These items were inexpensive, too, even if I bought new. A Barbie doll and a handful of Matchbox cars could be mine for under $10. The tree skirt was sufficiently covered with gifts, and I hadn’t spent a fortune.


As they have gotten older, though, it has become both mentally maddening and financially formidable to try to purchase gifts that they want, that I can afford and tolerate, and that don’t look dinky beneath the tree.

All three of them want gadgets now, from iPod touches to Xbox Ones, and this ramps up the cost unless we can score a super Amazon deal (like $35 Kindles in 2015). In years past, my entire Christmas budget for all three kids was $300. Now, one gadget for one child could take me well beyond that amount. I could go into great debt and have only six inches of tree skirt covered with gifts. The rule in our home has always been that the kids get gifts/ toys only at Christmas and on birthdays, not sprinkled throughout the year just “because.” The dearth of gift buying/giving makes me want to get them things they really want on these two occasions of the year. Unfortunately, all Graeme wants is video games. He will play video games to the point that he ignores my calls for him, forgets to eat, and collects dust bunnies around his feet because of his lack of movement. His obsessiveness makes me think one or two games per year are more than enough. Miles still likes toys, but he ends up not playing with them

36 WINTER 2016

because his older brother is interested in video games. As the adoring little brother, Miles fills his role of doing whatever Graeme wants to do. Any toys I do buy Miles end up collecting even more dust than Graeme’s game-induced stagnant body. I can no longer just go and buy an outfit at Target for Norah, spend $15 and know that it will fit. Not only does she have specific taste preferences (no bootcut jeans), her lanky body makes it difficult to find clothes that fit. I abhor post-holiday returns so buying her something knowing full well we will have to return it just doesn’t compute. I would love to just take the kids on a trip over Christmas break and avoid gift-buying altogether, but they are still just kids who like seeing the presents under the tree and anticipating opening them on Christmas morning. And I like seeing them open presents. Childhood passes so quickly. I think I need to just boost the Christmas fund savings and accept that I’ve entered the stage of parenting older, harder-tobuy-for, more-expensive-to-buy-for children. And if it looks too skimpy beneath the tree come Christmas Eve, I can always wrap individual bandaids in pretty boxes, or collect all the McDonald’s toys and birthday party freebies that clutter up the kids’ desks and throw them into gift bags. That’s the holiday spirit!

Small tech “toys” like phones, iPods, and tablets look unimpressive wrapped and under the tree. // // @todaysfamilynow

Today's Family Winter 2016  
Today's Family Winter 2016