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Volume 21 • Number 6

december 2012 january 2013


Cathy S. Zion EDITOR


Elaine Rooker Jack



Cheryl Suhr account executives

Rose Helm

Teri Hickerson SENIOR graphic Designer

April H. Allman photographer

Melissa Donald




4 Beautiful Baby Contest 6 Introduction 8 Practice What You Preach 10 DIY Boot Camp: Screwdriver Edition By Megan Seckman

12 An Open Letter to My Child By LaDonna Kennedy


14 This Girl Got Fit! By Sandi Haustein 18 My Struggle: Should My Children Be Going To Church? By Carrie Vittitoe

20 Parent Perspectives 24 Beautifying Your Gifts 26 25 Things to Do With Your Kids Before They’re Grown By Laura Krupicka


28 Host a Costume Party for New Year’s Eve By Meredith Ball

32 Calendar of Events 34 Desperately Seeking Sleep By Malia Jacobson



Melissa Donald



Kim Kerby

Published bi-monthly 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 6 bi-monthly issues.

Today’s Family magazine is published bi-monthly by Zion Publications LLC and distributed free to the people of metropolitan Louisville and Southern Indiana. Circulation 33,000. 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 2012 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. MEMBER Greater Louisville, Inc., Metro Chamber of Commerce, Area Chambers of Commerce, Better Business Bureau.

36 My Family, Your Family: Instilling Learning By Carrie Vittitoe

38 The Teen Brain: Risky Business By Kim Seidel BBB Rating of

40 What’s Happening on

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 the 6th 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 2013). 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 11, 2013 Sponsored by

Derby City Pediatric Dentistry


Go to

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for more information and to enter.


his family — Melanie and Mark Evans along with daughter Ellie — won the Holiday Card Makeover contest. As part of their prize, we styled a vintage-themed shoot using clothing from The Nitty Gritty and including some toys from their family’s past. They then chose a photo so that Café Press could send them printed photo cards.

Above is not the pose the family selected as their final card, but I chose it because you can see Ellie is putting her best foot forward in this one. She loved to hold her poses — I think some she learned in dance class. As my children grow older, I have found that my favorite photos from the past are the ones where someone is looking less than perfect. May you enjoy beautiful celebrations this season, and as you go into the New Year, take a moment to make some family resolutions to spend more time together making memories — and take an awkward photo or two.* — Anita Oldham, Editor *Save your awkward family holiday photos from this year and enter them into next year’s contest on

Their “awkward” photo that was voted as the contest winner.

Thanks to the The Nitty Gritty (996 Barret Avenue, 502.583.3377) for providing the adult clothing in the Holiday Card Makeover.

on the cover Mini-Me

We put a call out on Facebook for a Mini Me — a parent/child who look just alike, and we hit the jackpot with Jeremy Shultz and his son Andrew, 8. Wow, these two are mirror images. They spend a lot of time together because Jeremy coaches Andrew’s team, helps out at his school, and is a Cub Scout leader for Andrew’s troop. See more Mini Me photos on pages 21-23. PhotoS: Melissa Donald 6

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today’s FAMILY

December 2012/January 2013


Our parent writers share how their children sometimes do what we are teaching them


e try to watch how many sweets the kids enjoy while my mom thinks we’re too restrictive. It’s not uncommon for her to offer 2-3 times what we would allow and our 5-year-old tell her she “can’t have that much.” That takes some willpower for a sugar-loving 5-year-old!


y oldest son Coen (7) is a sports fanatic and extremely competitive, both things he picked up from his dad. And yet, our son is usually the one leading his other teammates in cheers from the dugout to spur on another player.  This proud mom will cheer encouragement over smack talk any day!

— Meredith Ball

— Terra Santos


n my presence, my kids tend to whine, push, grab, and appear so impolite that I wonder if they are listening to anything I say and do! Then we’ll head out to a restaurant or an event, and my children use their manners without reminders from me. Even though we have some work to do at home, I do know that they are courteous and respectful to other people.

— Stephanie White


ur 6-year-old began a cleaning frenzy in the playroom she shares with her little sister. Just like my husband and I do extra cleaning before we expect guests, she wanted her space to be nice and tidy because her friends were coming over to visit. Of course, she also mentioned that she could do it every week and get an “allowancement” like her friend. — Angela Stallings Hagan, Ph.D.


y son (8) recently demonstrated compassion. He overheard another mom talking about her son (3) and his recent illnesses. When my son and I left, he said to me, “I feel really bad for Ethan that he has been so sick.” Proud mommy moment.

— LaDonna Kennedy


y husband was traveling for work and, of course, both Gabrielle (4) and Ainsley Grace (10 months) get sick as soon as his plane left the ground. Then the air conditioning quit during the hottest summer in recorded history. One difficult night, the baby was awake and screaming and Gabrielle was feverish and needed attention. When I asked her to just wait a few minutes so Mommy could get the baby back to sleep, she quietly said, “It’s OK, Mommy. I will wait my turn in my bedroom.” Such compassion and patience from her sweet little heart. — Beth keeney


wo years ago, my child “hung the moon,” in her teacher’s words, for another child in her class. She befriended this child and took him under her wing when no one else in the class wanted anything to do with him. Her teacher revealed this to us through a parentteacher conference and told us that the other child’s mother said he talked nonstop about our daughter. We were so proud that our child was seeking out the kids who needed to be sought after!

— Erin Nevitt

Sometimes it Works! 8

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today’s FAMILY

December 2012/January 2013


T O Screwdriver Edition O B DIY CAMP By Megan M. Seckman • PHOTO BY MELISSA DONALD


he thought of home repair is about as appealing to my husband as a colonoscopy. Growing up in the Seckman household, you might learn how to play the guitar, or how to tell a joke with a decent accent, how to cook, paint, and possibly meditate. But we aren’t handy.

Nadine Seckman, 5, is handy with a screwdriver.

In my constant effort to rear offspring who are better than their begetters, I have decided that my children, Will (8) and Nadine (5), must be self-sufficient around the house. They should know how to change a tire, turn off the waterline, hang a shelf, take apart an appliance, and troubleshoot do-it-yourself repairs. What do most of these tasks have in common? Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey. Will and Nadine, meet the screwdriver. On the morning of our DIY Bootcamp: Screwdriver Edition, Will was completely uninterested. There is a Lego jeep to make, Mom. I can’t build things for real. But Nadine was gung-ho — eager, it seemed — for power tools. We began by identifying the difference between a Phillips-head and flat-head screwdriver. Nadine felt both tips and noticed the Phillips-head resembled a star. She likes stars, so she was hooked. We then moved throughout the house locating various knobs that needed tightening and practiced the righty-tighty, lefty-loosey routine over and over. Finally, I put my 5-year-old to work taking off those blasted, outdated child locks from the kitchen cabinets that snapped my fingers every time I reached for the Tupperware. We discussed the importance of pressure and proper alignment to prevent stripping the Phillips-head screws. Ten minutes later, voilá! My daughter was a screwdriving master. This simple mother/daughter lesson in self-sufficiency led to discussions in how to turn off the hot water heater to save energy; turning off a waterline in case of emergency; taking apart a simple machine for troubleshooting; replacing and tightening guitar strings; and replacing batteries in Nadine’s LeapPad. By age 7, she’ll be changing tires. Our handygirl journey is not over. The screwdriver lesson has inspired me to include my kids in all our humble home-improvement endeavors. We weren’t born handy, but as growing creatures, by God, we will learn. We’ve learned to play songs on the piano and taught ourselves sign language by watching YouTube videos. Who says we can’t learn to caulk a bathroom the same way? With a little determination, patience, and the beautiful Internet, the Seckmans just might have some new tools in our box. Megan M. Seckman lives in Louisville with her husband, Billy, and their kids, Will (8) and Nadine (5). She is a frequent contributor to Today’s Family magazine.


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today’s FAMILY

December 2012/January 2013


hild C y M to r te t e L n e p O Ann,

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me break th Thank you for helping

Love, Your Mom

“Most smokers try their first cigarette around the age of 11, and many are addicted by the time they turn 14. So why do kids start smoking in the first place? • Their parents are smokers. • Peer pressure. • They see smoking as a way of rebelling and showing independence. • They think everyone else is smoking and that they should, too. • Tobacco advertising targets teenagers.” — From the American Lung Association LaDonna Kennedy lives, smoke-free, in Crestwood with her husband, Robert, and their son, Ian, 8. She is a frequent contributor to Today’s Family magazine.


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today’s FAMILY

December 2012/January 2013


This Girl Got


How friends joined forces to lose weight and get healthier together By Sandi Haustein PHOTO BY MELISSA DONALD


hen I was in college, I was the skinny girl who could eat whatever she wanted and not gain a pound. Bottomless chips and queso, huge bowls of pasta, bloomin’ onions — you name it, I ate it. But 10 years, three pregnancies, and three dress sizes later, I found myself struggling with my self-image for the first time in my life.


I constantly compared myself to other young moms, wondering how they had lost their baby weight while I still carried mine around. I hated going home to my small town because I feared that people I had known my whole life wouldn’t recognize me. Strangers asked me several times when my baby was due when I wasn’t even pregnant. Then, last year, after a difficult loss, I fell into a deep depression and gained an extra 10 pounds on my already overweight figure. I was damaging my body by overeating and drinking excessive amounts of soda, but I didn’t know how to deal with the grief. I needed to exercise, but in my depression, the last thing I wanted to do was to put on my running shoes. I couldn’t start eating better, losing weight, and feeling healthier unless I made a change, but I knew that continued on page 16


December 2012/January 2013

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continued from page 14

I didn’t have it in me to do it alone. A few months earlier, a friend and I had begun a friendly housekeeping competition. Reporting to her each day held me accountable to my cleaning schedule and helped me actually develop the habits I needed for keeping my house clean on a regular basis. A lenient point system helped each of us not get too discouraged if we fell behind, but competing against each other for a piece of cheesecake kept us in the game. I thought, why not do something similar for losing weight? I didn’t want to just “diet” and lose a lot of weight only to put it back on later. What if I led a similar competition with friends who wanted to not only lose weight but build habits that would later maintain the loss? I came up with a list of rules and posted them to Facebook, hoping three or four women would join me in accountability. To “qualify” for my competition, participants had to be at least 20 pounds overweight according to the Body Mass Index, be transparent with their weight, and be willing to donate $10 toward a prize pot. Over a period of 15 weeks, we would earn daily points for drinking 8-10 glasses of water, eating six servings of fruits and vegetables, posting a detailed food journal, staying within a daily goal of calories or Weight Watcher points, and recording every 10 minutes of exercise. Every Monday, we would weigh in and earn points for each pound lost, and the person with the highest percentage of weight loss that week would earn extra points. We would also have opportunities to earn points by answering bonus questions and reaching a weekly individual goal. At the end of the 15 weeks, the woman with the most cumulative points and the woman with the highest percentage of weight loss would split the prize money. To my surprise, not just three or four, but 21 friends committed to the competition we named Girls Getting Fit. These friends, from all different seasons of my life, bonded and cheered for one other for each pound lost, each goal reached, and each new pair of skinny pants. We supported each other through moments of failure, pulled muscles, job changes, deaths in the family, and cancer treatments.

Building Healthy Habits, • Drink 8-10 eight-ounce glasses of water a day. If you don’t like water, try adding a little lemon or lime juice for flavor. If you use a 32-ounce cup, you will only have to refill it once.

• Aim for at least six servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Start your day with a smoothie or eat a salad for lunch. Make it a goal to fill half of your dinner plate with non-starchy veggies or salad and then fill the other half with a quarter protein and a quarter carbohydrate or starch.

• Know how many calories your body needs. Websites such as,, or the phone app “Lose It” will take your weight and activity level and help you determine how much you should eat daily to maintain your weight or to safely lose one to two pounds a week. 16 December 2012/January 2013

We didn’t take any magic pills or perform any quick tricks. We lost weight through good old-fashioned hard work, one small change at a time, and we had fun doing it together. The eight women who persevered to the end lost a combined total of 165 pounds, an average of more than 20 pounds per person. Lynn, my friend battling cancer, was the winner of the most accumulated points. After incorporating exercise and healthy eating into her life, her blood pressure significantly lowered, and her recovery after radiation treatments went from three weeks to ten days, amazing her doctors who had been encouraging her for a long time to get healthy. Rachel, the winner of the highest percentage of weight loss, lost almost 17 percent of her body weight and went on to run two 5Ks. Lori’s ratio between “bad” and “good” cholesterol improved dramatically. And after three years of being on antidepressants, Deanne was able to wean off medication. I might not have been the Biggest Loser, but at the end of those 15 weeks, I had lost 23 pounds and more than two dress sizes. I learned to eat smaller portions and to view food as fuel instead of something with which to stuff my stomach when I’m bored or stressed. My husband and I discovered a love for kettlebells, which somehow helped eliminate the back pain I had long experienced. Our family became more active, taking hikes on Saturdays and joining the YMCA to work out and swim. My weight loss and healthy lifestyle rebirthed self-confidence and a sense of beauty in me that had been missing for many years. The healthy habits I learned and the support of my friends in Girls Getting Fit played an important role in my journey toward emotional healing, too. I know I am not the only mom who has let her health take a back seat during the early years of parenting. Eating healthy foods and exercising is a challenge for busy parents, but if we’re not setting an example and teaching our kids about good health, who will? Why not make a small change toward a healthier you, or better yet, start your own competition like Girls Getting Fit? It might just be one of the best decisions you ever make for you and your family. Sandi Haustein lives in Crestwood with her husband and three sons, ages 8, 6, and 4. She is a frequent contributor to Today’s Family magazine.

Girls-Getting-Fit Style

• Keep a detailed food journal. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, maintaining a food journal leads to greater weight loss success. Be honest about every bite. If you log your food as you go instead of waiting until the end of the day, you’ll be better able to plan what you eat and not go over your daily calorie goal. • Exercise. Start small if you need to, but start. Commit to taking a walk as a family every night after dinner. Meet a friend early in the morning or during your lunch hour to work out. Try different forms of exercise until you find something you love, be it walking, jogging, cycling, rollerblading, kettlebells, jump rope, swimming, Zumba, or something else. The possibilities are endless.

• Set measurable, realistic goals each week. If changing your eating habits and finding time to exercise feels overwhelming, pick one healthy, attainable goal each week. Your goal might be to drink 32 ounces of water before drinking anything else, to walk for 30 minutes three times a week, or to only eat second servings of vegetables.

• Be accountable to others.

In Girls Getting Fit, we shared everything from our daily food journals and exercise choices to our weekly weigh-ins. Seeing each other’s successes encouraged us to keep moving toward our own goals, and seeing each other’s failures helped us not to feel alone.

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today’s FAMILY

My Struggle:

Should My Children

Be Going To

Church? By Carrie Vittitoe

Illustration by Silvia Cabib


December 2012/January 2013

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fter nearly nine years of motherhood, I’ve finally learned that if I listen to my gut, I generally end up making the best decisions for my children. There is, however, one issue that my gut has uncertain feelings about, and that is our choice not to bring our children up in a religion.

I was raised Catholic from birth and educated in Catholic schools from first grade through college, but as I became an adult, my doubts about and disagreements with church teachings made it increasingly difficult for me to attend service without becoming angry. So, I dropped out. My husband, who was briefly exposed to the Baptist faith as a child and now considers himself an atheist, doesn’t stress about not raising our children in a church community. While I’ve come to the place where I feel mostly comfortable with my own beliefs, I haven’t determined where that leaves my three children. Like church-going families, we strive to live the Golden Rule in our home. It is also important to me that my children know an array of Judeo-Christian stories and traditions. Reading Stephen Prothero’s book, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know — And Doesn’t, made me decide that my children need to be familiar with the Bible. Since much of Western literature, art, and music makes reference to Judeo-Christian traditions, a person is at a cultural disadvantage if he doesn’t have this knowledge base. I admit I haven’t done a bang-up job in this respect, though. My 8-year-old daughter recently watched Raiders of the Lost Ark with her dad and hadn’t the foggiest idea what the ark was and why it was important. That evening’s bedtime reading was about Moses and the Ten Commandments. While I can haphazardly read my children Bible stories, there are some things I cannot do by myself. By avoiding church, we miss out on the power of the “village,” which is something Laarni Russell really values about attending Middletown United Methodist. For Laarni, being part of a church is a reinforcement of what she teaches her daughter, Leila, at home. Laarni says, “When it comes to the Golden Rule, Leila knows that this isn’t just something we do but something she hears about and sees at church, too.” Attending church also provides routine and constancy. While I hated what I considered the “rut” of weekly mass and repetitive prayer as a child, I see the value of it as a mom. Dianna Kennedy began attending Catholic mass when her life was in turmoil and found the stability comforting. She says, “I want my children to know the love that comes from God, a historical faith that won’t change with the wind, and a worldwide church family facing the same struggles as we do every day.” For Lisa Raymond, church attendance serves numerous functions. It is a sign of her belief in and love of Jesus, a time to reaffirm her hope for salvation, a means of giving thanks. She says, “Part of the reason I do it is because life is short, and I don’t want to have regrets at some point about not doing it.”

If we did decide to attend church services, we would likely do so without my husband, and I worry what message this would send to our children. And whether I would hear a weekly battle cry of, “We want to stay home with Daddy!” Joanna Katsikas encourages her older son, Max, to explore world religions and has accompanied him to Unitarian services. Joanna’s own spiritual path is deepened by Max’s quest for understanding. This is something the two of them do together since Joanna’s husband does not attend with them. Whenever I’ve flirted with the idea of attending church services for the sake of my children, I’ve wondered whether I’d be doing more harm than good. Should I “fake it til’ I make it” when it comes to faith? Douglas Meister, the pastor at Jeffersontown Christian Church, talks to many families that are not church-going. While he encourages them to do whatever they feel comfortable with at home to expose their children to religion, he says, “You have to find a place that teaches the core values your family believes in and that has a personal vibe you like. Don’t try to make it fit if it doesn’t feel comfortable. There are too many churches and opportunities to not find one that really works for you.” There are many times when I feel like it would be easier on everyone (and by that I mean me) if I let my children just figure things out on their own as they mature. Humanists, like Jennie and Matt “Smith,” teach their children to accept other people’s beliefs and be open to their own existential questions but feel like religion is not up to parents to decide. Jenny says, “It’s not my job to make my children believe or not believe anything. I will allow them to come to their own conclusions.” I look at my own experience of being raised in my parents’ religion and leaving it as an adult, which I’m sure caused them disappointment. I came to my own conclusions even though they shared their faith with me, so when I’m feeling particularly confused, I think, “Why bother?” What I come back to, though, is that it would be a gift for my children to experience faith and the peace and comfort that seem to come with it. Despite all the wonderful things I can share with my children, faith in action is not one of them. I don’t have it, so how can I possibly help them find it? Because of my Catholic background, church attendance — its rituals and rites — is my reference point. I have felt the presence of a power beyond myself in nature and when I’m with my family, but I also sensed it at times when I was a child at church. I wonder if what I need is the church “village” to help my children find faith? By interviewing other parents and writing this article, I hoped that I would either feel a sense of peace about our choice to not church or feel an overwhelming longing to find a church home. But I feel neither. It was a little silly to think something I’ve spent years reflecting on would be so easily resolved. I wish I had faith that whatever my choices are as a mom — with regard to church or other matters of the heart — are the right ones for my children. Faith in myself and in things greater than me is a struggle, so I take heart in Mahatma Gandhi’s sentiment: “Faith is not something to grasp; it is a state to grow into.”

While I hated what I considered the “rut” of weekly mass and repetitive prayer as a child, I see the value of it as a mom.

today’s FAMILY

Carrie Vittitoe lives in Louisville with her husband, Dean Langford, and their kids, Norah (8), Graeme (5), and Miles (3). She is a regular contributor to Today’s Family magazine. December 2012/January 2013


ParentPerspectives Practice What You Preach SPECIAL FOCUS:

Fighting Off Junk Food The prevalence of snacks overwhelms me these days, whether it’s at school, church, sports, activities, or grandparents’ houses. It seems every occasion is “special” and must be marked as such with a treat. What are some ways to make sure our kids’ diets are not totally derailed? • The preemptive strike — If I know snacks are going to be served somewhere, I take my own — cheese, yogurt, fruit, granola bars — and let the kids eat them in the car before they get there. • Mrs. Nice Guy — I talk with the people who provide the snacks to see if healthier options are possible. The parents at my daughters’ Girl Scouts meetings are great about providing healthy choices. • Snack Mom — When it’s my turn to provide snacks for my daughter’s kindergarten class, I choose healthy ones! I always bring bananas from Costco. They might not be the kids’ first choice, but they may be the only fruit or vegetable some of the kids eat that day. • There’s always tomorrow — when all else fails, I try to take it in stride and remember that I do control what comes into my house and I influence a great deal of what my children consume. If they have a less-thanhealthy snack or meal, I just try to do better tomorrow! — SUSAN VIERS WOBBE

Crazy Reactions in Sports Ah, the sounds of Little League baseball! The ping of a metal bat, the giggling of children nearby, the cussing of parents from the opposing team. Yes, you heard me right. When our oldest son joined the Little League system, we were excited to let him play his favorite sport and support his teams along the way. And apparently, we were naïve. As we sat on the bleachers of his coach-pitch games, we could hear the rowdy crowds of parents from the minor and major league games around us. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of encouraging. But as the season wore on and the kids got closer to playoffs, we heard some other things too. We even heard a parent cheer when a kid on the opposing team got hit hard by a pitch. Have we really come to a place where it is acceptable to cheer for another kid getting injured if it means your team gets an advantage?! And I won’t even get into the arguments with the coaches and umpires. It is easy to get over-eager in cheering for your kid. You want them to win and do well. You get upset when they are wronged. But what are we teaching them by yelling negative comments from the sidelines? Are we saying that in our impatient, road-rage-filled society, it’s OK to disrespect others? I want better for my sons, both while they are playing and when they are cheering. For that reason, my husband and I make a point to be encouraging to all players, speak positive words, and keep negative comments to ourselves. We praise our son when he is cheering for others. We ask him if he is having fun and how he felt about the game instead of giving him a tally of what he did well and did poorly. This isn’t always an easy thing to do. But I hope our efforts will give the boys an example of patience, rising above your emotions, and being respectful to everyone. — Meredith Ball

Follow the Leader My oldest (5) tends to be a follower in groups. It’s not uncommon for her to do whatever others (including her younger siblings) are doing and then excuse it by saying they were doing it too. I regularly have to remind her that just because someone else is doing it doesn’t make it OK. I’m reminded of my mom’s comment, “If they jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too?” My kids aren’t allowed to jump on our living room furniture. I understand this rule doesn’t apply in every home, and we often have visitors with kids the same age who forget about our expectations. As soon as our kids see them jumping on the furniture, they follow suit. When I address 20

December 2012/January 2013

the situation, there is an instantaneous “But soand-so is doing it!” I say, “I understand that, but you know we don’t jump on the furniture. Let me ask you this: What should you have done when you noticed so-and-so jumping?” They usually say they should have told the friends that their mom does not allow jumping on the furniture. At that point, if the friends don’t listen, my children should let me know and not join in the jumping. We try to teach our children that parents may not all have the same rules for their children, and that’s OK. The rules we’ve established are because we love them, care for them, don’t want them to get hurt, and want them to learn how to respect authority. They’ve been put in our care until they are adults, and even when we fail, we truly have their best interests in mind. — TERRA SANTOS

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Mini-Me Matchups Fitting In Family Time The day Terre Haute police officer Brent Long was buried, my husband, a Jeffersonville police detective, traveled with a co-worker to Terre Haute. They left before 6 a.m. and were expected home by 5 p.m. The other wife and I decided to grill out, a nice end to an emotional day. At 7 p.m., we fed the kids dinner and had a glass of wine. They got back at 8 p.m., just in time for a SWAT call out. They kissed the kids goodbye and headed back out. The kids had dessert; we finished the bottle. Being married to a police officer can be challenging. After adding children, things get very tricky. Being a police wife is sort of like being a single parent, although not every day. While adults like consistency, our children need it.

Through the years, I have learned these techniques to have happy kids and a healthy marriage: Make friends with other families. Being a police wife means being part of a much larger family. It’s nice to be with others who understand the challenges. It’s good for the kids, too. Don’t cook! If you cook a great meal, they are guaranteed to not be home on time. Pack up and visit. Some days, the kids (and Mommy) just need to see Daddy. We meet in parking lots, have dinner with him and his coworkers, or connect with Skype and FaceTime. Recreate events. When my husband missed our daughter’s dance recital, they watched the video together, with her recreating the whole performance. It wasn’t the same, but it was still pretty great. Be flexible and patient. Fridays are sometimes Tuesdays. We’ve had Thanksgiving on Saturday and opened Christmas presents after dinner. The only thing consistent in this lifestyle is change. Eventually, Friday will be on Friday. — BETH KEENEY

It isn’t hard to see that these parents and kids are related!

Thanks to our readers for sending in their look-alike photos at Check back regularly to send us your photos or input on family issues.

April Wyatt and Charlie

T’Andrea and her mother Phelisa Burt

When a parent works long hours, kids can connect with him or her through Skype or FaceTime. today’s FAMILY

Donnie Abell, Jr and Donnie Abell, III December 2012/January 2013


ParentPerspectives Practice What You Preach SPECIAL FOCUS:

A Strong Will Needs Strong Consequences When our daughter was three, she was a line walker. She liked to prance behind the line, meander right up to the line, and put her pinky toe on the line. But at that age, she didn’t cross it. This line I refer to is the line of obedience. Listening. Respect. Fast forward six years. All of a sudden, we have a line crosser complete with a bold, assertive viewpoint. I’m talking about attitude, rolled eyes, the stomp-away walk. Sass in a Justice shirt. Sometimes she talks to us like we’re the kids. This past week, she told her father to “calm down.” Just those two words, but with the sass behind them that sure didn’t work for him. His response was, “Go to your room. You can talk to your friends that way, but do not speak to me, your father, that way.” After she had served her time in her room, we called her downstairs to talk. We try to model the way we want to be spoken to by speaking to each other that way. And we remind her of the best way to speak to adults. Sometimes talking and reminding isn’t enough. Sometimes she uses her relentless, whiny, pleading voice. “Please, please, please, can I spend the night with Mildred?” Then comes the sassy look, which I got recently while surrounded by my daughter’s friends. We had not planned a sleepover, and a standing rule in our house is we don’t often change plans once they’re set, especially if it’s to spontaneously spend the night. So I took my daughter aside and firmly told her the case was closed. Then comes the sassy exit line — “You never let me do anything!” — and the stomping away. I let the steam roll off her shoulders (and mine), called her back over to me, told her we were leaving because of her meltdown, and we said our goodbyes. Sometimes talking isn’t enough. Sometimes they have to have consequences. Our daughter is a good kid. And we’re working diligently to train her up in the way we want her to go. My husband and I know she is a strong-willed child. And that is a good thing. It will be her backbone when she is grown up, and hopefully she’ll use it when others try to change what she believes in. We try to help her use that strong will to refocus and think about what she says before she says it. We have to constantly reel her in, but we have also learned to gradually let go of the reigns. It is a process that involves lots of words. We have conversations over and over again. We learned our daughter’s love language: quality time. We spend time with her. The roller coaster ride we’re on has peaks and valleys. But when we spend the one-on-one time with our daughter that she desperately seeks, we reach her, and she listens. — ERIN NEVITT

Mini-Me Matchups

I am accustomed to living life by my daily planner. This is personality-driven, but it’s also because I have worked full-time my entire adult life. As I transitioned to stay-at-home-mom this year, I quickly learned that the daily (sometimes hourly) structure I had built into my normal mode of operation is no longer possible. I try so hard to create structure in my structure-less existence, and my girls, ages 2 and 4, are picking it up. I have heard my oldest daughter, on more than one occasion, echo my phrase, “OK, here is our plan,” and she goes on to detail our morning, or trip to the store, or evening. It is times like these that I realize my need for structure is impacting them. It is also in these moments that I am so glad we have Grandma Rosenberger and Grandma Pyles. Visits with both grandmas are a respite from Mommy’s daily agenda. The ease in schedule and chance to do fun things that don’t happen at home show my daughters the flexibility and spontaneity that I struggle to exhibit. Their naps are off schedule, and bedtime is pushed later than would happen on my watch, but the girls thrive and have fun. I am amazed at how quickly both my mom and my mother-in-law adjust and find creative ways to keep the girls engaged. They do not have calendars filled with local events to attend or a pre-set agenda for fun and sleep. They play, they laugh, and they enjoy every minute as the day unfolds. My girls and I are learning to be flexible and enjoy the moment, ironically, from two of the most organized women I know. But they also know the value of relishing what is in front of you and not worrying about what is to come. When my schedule implodes, as it often does, I try to think, ‘What would the grandmas do?’ — TAMI L. PYLES

Niki Rodriguez and Isabela Wilmes

It isn’t hard to see that these parents and kids are related! Thanks to our readers for sending in their look-alike photos at Check back regularly to send us your photos or input on family issues.

What Would Grandma Do?

Natasha Finn and Ava Nikki McCubbins and Angel


December 2012/January 2013

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My children, especially as they are growing older, will often come to me after they have heard something from an adult friend or family member with, “Wasn’t that stupid?”

Speaking Up We were getting ready to move from Baltimore to Louisville and had just listed our house. I was chatting with my neighbor, an elderly lady, whom I loved dearly, and she did the ole look around to make sure no one was listening and said, “I just hope you don’t sell it to a black family.” I guess you never know when someone might be lurking in the bushes ready to jump out at comments like that. I quickly smiled at her and first informed her that there was no need to whisper the word black. They are fully aware of the color of their skin. I then asked her, “Would you rather I sell it to a white family who ends up not taking care of the property and whose teenage kids run around at all hours making you nervous of their intentions? Or a nice middle class black family who keeps up the yard and cares about the impact they are having on the neighborhood in which they have chosen to raise their family?” She nodded in understanding. I had made my point. Had I changed her opinion? Probably not, but she knew where I stood and maybe took a moment to consider what I had said. Tolerance is tough. People’s views are shaped by how they were raised, their exposure to and experiences with specific groups and by their outlook on life in general. You will have instances where family members share their intolerant views with your kids. While it is easier to simply ignore them at the time and talk to your children later about what you find acceptable, you can use these times to show your children that not only is it OK to speak up, but by doing so they are pushing for a more fair-minded world. I try to keep my response to offensive comments non-accusatory. “That’s a stupid comment,” isn’t going to make the other party, who may have suffered an injustice — real or perceived — listen to your opinion. I prefer to say something like, “I don’t




think it’s just the Jews, Blacks, Elderly, One-Legged Jugglers — insert your own choice — who are capable of doing that.” This approach also works with people you’ve just met, who might be testing the water to see where you stand in your views regarding a specific group of people. My children, especially as they are growing older, will often come to me after they have heard something from an adult friend or family member with, “Wasn’t that stupid?” It is good that they recognize that whatever transpired was unacceptable, but I am quick to let them know it is not stupidity, it is narrow-mindedness that is the result of a lifetime of experience. They need not judge but keep an open mind when they are confronted by opinions that are based on misunderstanding. Returning negativity with negativity will only keep the ball rolling. We are here to stop these prejudices from moving forward and that can only work if we do not give them the fuel they need to continue burning. — BARB HARTMAN

Laura Jansson and Bethany Deanne Byrd and Robert

Craig Duncan and son Cristopher Duncan Kalyn Reed and MacKenzie Conner

today’s FAMILY

December 2012/January 2013


Beautifying Your Gifts A ribbon on the side so you can stack your gifts on top of each other under the tree.

Consider wrapping two packages for the same person in a way that coordinates. Amy says this is a great paper for a man.

This is what Amy calls quirky wrapping. Taking ordinary paper and adding a holiday adornment for a more holiday look.


resentation makes your thoughtful gift all the more appreciated. The anticipation of opening a beautifully wrapped package adds to the value. Amy Holley, owner of Holleywrap gifting service, demonstrates inspiring wrapping ideas. Go to for her gift ideas.

Try wrapping your gift card. You can also add some live greenery to a package. These also hang from the tree. 24

December 2012/January 2013

Ever thought about wrapping an invitation? Here is a very posh and elegant way of wrapping a holiday invitation. Amy did these for a party an artist was throwing. She not only hand-wrapped the invitations, but also delivered them in person. 4 4 @todaysfamilynow 4 4 4 4 4 4 /todaysfamily 4

25 Things

to Do With Your Kids Before They’re Grown By Lara Krupicka

Let’s face it, our years with children under our roofs slip past us when we’re not paying attention. Suddenly we find ourselves with preschoolers, then grade-schoolers, and pretty soon teens. We do our best to make the most of these years, but sometimes it helps to know we aren’t missing out on our children’s childhood by engaging it full on.

With that in mind, here are 25 activities to get in before taking them to college:

1 Sleep out under the stars. Pitch a tent or just drag blankets and sleeping bags out on your yard or balcony.

2 Visit a lighthouse. Take a picture while you’re there. 3 Pick apples, blueberries, or another fruit. Enjoy eating produce right from the source. 4 Have a Silly String fight – just because. Launch a sneak attack, but leave an arsenal in plain sight for them to retaliate. Then take what you’ve dished out.

5 Take them to meet a favorite author or sports star. 6 Drive around at night looking at holiday light displays. To make it extra enchanting, put the kids to bed first then take them out in their pa jamas and give them hot cocoa for the ride.

7 Swim in the ocean. Or at least wade in up to your knees and feel the rocking motion of the waves. 8 Carve a pumpkin. Encourage your kids to grab out the seeds with their fingers and get up to their elbows scooping out the gooey flesh.

9 Build a sand castle. Or create a sand sculpture — turtles and snakes are easy. 10 Serve in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. 11 Eat ice cream sundaes for dinner. Include fresh fruit like strawberries and bananas among the toppings to make it “more healthy.”

12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Own a pet (fish, bird, dog, cat, lizard).

Catch lightening bugs. In your hands or in a jar. Have a contest to see who can collect the most.

Climb a mountain or go to the top of a skyscraper. Then take in the view from up high.

Go on special dates, just parent and child. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s about one-on-one time.

Try skiing – water, cross country, or downhill.

Teach them how to waltz. Or hip hop or line dance. Get out some music and show them your moves. Take them to a big concert event. Whether it’s kid music or classical, give them exposure to a live performance.

19 Go on a picnic. Grab an old blanket, make some sandwiches, and hit the park or beach for an old-fashioned outdoor meal.

20 Make and take a meal to a shut-in neighbor or friend — together. 21 Plant flowers. Give them a garden trowel and invite them to dig in the dirt with you. 22 Attend a funeral. Then talk about life, death, and the future. 23 Go to a theme park. Ride the roller coasters and eat cotton candy. 24 Let them make you dinner — by themselves. Even if it’s PB& J sandwiches. 25 Attend a ma jor sporting event in your city — baseball, football, hockey. Cheer loudly. Enjoy the energy of being surrounded by your fellow fans.

Whatever you choose to do, soak up each moment. It might not slow down time, but it will capture memories you can share with your kids long after you’ve shared a home. Lara Krupicka is a freelance writer who’s working her way slowly through this list, hoping to make childhood last longer for her daughters.


December 2012/January 2013

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today’s FAMILY

December 2012/January 2013


Host a Costume Party... G By meredith ball

eorge Washington, Princess Diana, and Montezuma walk into a party…

It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it’s actually the beginning of my in-laws’ New Year’s Eve party two years ago. We had around 40 family members under one roof, all dressed as some historical figure, dancing, eating, and giving speeches to vie for the title of “best costume.” And this is what we call a “normal” New Year’s Eve in our family. We love fiercely and compete creatively. My husband, Reggie, and I (or George and Martha Washington, as it were) have the honor of holding the “best costume” titles from that year. To be honest, it was a pretty tight race. I find it hard to believe that we beat out a cousin dressed as Reggie and Meredith Ball, A K A George President Taft, complete with rotund belly and a and Martha cardboard bathtub around her waist. Perhaps we Washington. aced her out because we truly became George and Martha. We spoke in colonial English; we referred to little-known historical facts. Or it could continued on page 30

New Year’s Eve! The couple as “Maverick” characters during movie character theme.


December 2012/January 2013

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Only 3 Drawings Remaining in December! WIN: A FREE Private Party (up to 15 guests) at Pinot’s Palette Bring your friends, enjoy a bottle of wine and be inspired by a local artist who will guide you step by step through your chosen painting.

WIN: Family photo session, which includes an 11” x 14” mounted print from Little Face Photography. Not valid on newborn or senior sessions.

WIN: A family membership to Frazier International History Museum and a pair of tickets to see “Diana: A Celebration.” PROMOTION

Go to to enter to win! today’s FAMILY

December 2012/January 2013


continued from page 28

be because my husband might as well be a politician since he can persuade anyone to take his side. Either way, we’ll have our work cut out for us trying to defend that title at the next party. And there WILL be a next party. Reggie’s extended family has been having these themed New Year’s Eve parties since he was in elementary school. In a family as creative and wacky as his, any excuse to get together is an excuse to be silly. What could be sillier than costumes? This kind of outlook is right up my alley, considering that I made my husband and friends dress in Dickens-esque attire just to go to tea with me last December. The party themes have ranged from “pajama party” to “Chinese New Year.” I have had the fortune of participating in “movie characters,” “tacky formal,” and “historical figure” themes since marrying into the family. Sometimes they go all-out and have the food and décor match the theme. Other years, they let the costumes take center stage and the other pieces fall where they may. No matter what, there is a house full of family members of all ages laughing and having fun together. It’s a great way to get the kids involved and to let the adults feel like kids again. Meredith Ball lives in LaGrange with her husband Reggie and their kids Coen (7) and Weston (4). They are expecting number three in December. This is Meredith’s first piece for Today’s Family magazine.

How to Throw a Costumed New Year’s Party

Top: Every year has a different theme in their family. Several family members represent historical figures. They each have a minute to convince everyone that their costume is the best representation. Reggie and pregnant Meredith with son Coen in Tacky Formal Wear.

How Do You Spend New Year’s Eve?


Every New Year’s Day, my family of five and my brother’s family (also of five) head over to Nana’s and Pa’s house for dinner. In honor of the German tradition, my mother fixes cabbage so that we’ll all have plenty of money for the 364 days that follow. My husband never eats it, which means that if we have any financial issues over the ensuing months I can blame him and his picky eating. – CARRIE VITTITOE 30

December 2012/January 2013

Just Dance

My kids and I spend New Year’s Eve with our friends — the adults are my best friends and all of our kids are best friends also! Ringing in the New Year eating, playing Wii Just Dance, and just hanging out is the best way to celebrate the past year together and usher in the new one! – stacie l. martin

New Tradition We don’t currently have a tradition, but are planning to start one this year — a New Year’s Day open house. We are planning to invite friends and family over in the afternoon at their leisure and plan to make several different types of soups and chili for them to enjoy while we wind down from the holiday rush! – susan wobbe

• Decide on a location • Pick a theme • Decide on costume guidelines • Figure out refreshments and if you want guests to bring items • Invite friends and family

Costume Resources • • • •

Your closet Your parents’ closets Sales after Halloween Goodwill and consignment shops • Ask your friends (especially if they’re in theater or do historical re-enactments)

Our Routine

Just about every New Year’s Eve since we’ve had kids, we’re in bed around our normal time (10ish).  Regardless of what’s going on and how late the kids stay up, they will STILL be up at 7:30 a.m. Very little is worth my losing sleep and the kids having a cranky mama in the morning to watch a glowing ball drop.  – TERRA SANTOS

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CALENDAR of events

Lights Under Louisville

Locust Grove Candlelight Tours

The Louisville MEGA Cavern is transformed into an underground holiday light spectacular for the Christmas season. Load up the kids and enjoy a 30-40 minute ride through part of 17 miles of underground passageways, featuring more than 800 lit characters with more than 2 million points of light. It’s the only underground light show of its kind on the planet.

Take a virtual trip into the 18th century at Locust Grove. Refreshments and children’s crafts will be offered.

WHEN~ Now through December 30 WHERE~ Louisville MEGA Cavern CONTACT~

WHEN~ December 7-8 (Fri. 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. & Sat. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.) WHERE~ Locust Grove COST~ $6 Adults; $3 children CONTACT~ 502.897.9845

A Fairytale Christmas

Christmas at the Galt House Hotel Presents: KaLightoscope Christmas

See interactive and lighted holiday displays handcrafted by Chinese artisans. New this year, kids can ride the Peppermint Express kiddie train through the Candy Cane Forest with “Mr. Sugar Pine” and 80 animated forest animals. Kids can also visit the Snow Fairy at her castle in the Christmas Village, plus many more activities. The Galt House features something for everyone. WHEN~ Now through January 2, Mon-Sat: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. & Sundays & Holidays: Noon-6 p.m. WHERE~ Galt House Hotel COST~ 1st child’s ticket free with purchase of Adult Ticket: $18.99; additional child: $9.99 CONTACT~ Visit or call 502.584.7777 for tickets

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in the land of Happily Ever After as princes, princesses, and fairy tale creatures prepare for the Crystal Christmas Ball. Experience this adventure and the magic of the holidays through the eyes of your favorite fairy tale characters.

WHEN~ December 8, 15, 17, 22 WHERE~ Derby Dinner Playhouse CONTACT~ or 812.288.8281

Santa’s Safari at the Louisville Zoo Be a part of Santa’s workshop where elves help families create a holiday craft. Then grab your special Santa Safari Passport and begin your journey through the Zoo’s heated buildings to experience one-on-one interaction with Zoo animals and Zoo educators. A complementary photo with Santa will be provided to each child. New this year, visitors will be treated to a 4-D version of The Polar Express movie.

Dare to Care at the Louisville Zoo

For the fourth year, the Louisville Zoo is partnering with Dare to Care to offer half-price zoo admission. To participate, visitors need to bring one canned good per person and present it at the Zoo’s ticket window. This offer is valid with regular adult or child admission. Items needed for the Dare to Care Food Bank are canned meats, canned vegetables and fruits, soups, peanut butter, rice, spaghetti, and spaghetti sauce. Ask about the Dare to Care Adventure Ticket, which includes Zoo admission and a ticket to the 4-D Theater. WHEN~ Now through February 28 during Zoo hours WHERE~ Louisville Zoo CONTACT~ or

Holidays Around the World The Frazier International History Museum will have its annual Holidays Around the World exhibit. This event features 25 multi-cultural trees on display that celebrate holiday traditions found throughout Louisville’s diverse communities. Tree decorations range from trees decorated as they would be in countries that observe Christmas, to cultural displays showcasing other holidays observed around the globe throughout the year. WHEN~ Now through January 3 WHERE~ Frazier International History Museum COST~ $10.50 Adults, $8.50 seniors, $6 children 5-14 CONTACT~ 502.753.5663

Are You Fighting the Bedtime Battle?

WHEN~ December 8-9 & 15-16 at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., & 2 p.m. WHERE~ Louisville Zoo COST~ $15.95/members; $20.95/non-members; age 2 and under: $8.50/members; $11/non-members CONTACT~ Tickets only available online at

Olde Tyme Christmas Celebration on Frankfort Avenue It’s the perfect event for the family. The Olde Tyme Christmas Celebration includes the Santa Sprint and Stroll and Dog Walk. You can shop for gifts, listen to live music, and your kids can be photographed with Santa at Margaret’s Consignment. WHEN~ December 8, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Santa Sprint and Stroll-December 1 at 9 a.m. WHERE~ Frankfort Ave; Santa Sprint and Stroll at Barret Traditional Middle School, 2561 Grinstead Drive COST~ Free CONTACT~

Here are some suggestions that might help your child go to sleep: • Give children a 5-minute warning before you want them to start getting ready for bed. • Create a routine around bedtime so they know what to expect. Children like and respond well to familiar routines.  What is your process of getting them ready for bed? • Make sure they have a snack before they get into bed. This avoids the need to come back out of their rooms after they are settled into bed. • Washing their face and brushing their teeth should occur right before they hop into bed. • Reading to them before they go to bed provides an activity that you can do together.  This is a great cuddle time. A funny or silly story will be welcoming and will put them in a happy mood as they drift off to sleep. — JUDY LAUFER, author of Last Night I Had a Laughmare


December 2012/January 2013

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Schnitzelburg Area Christmas Tree Decorating

Come out and help Schnitzelburg’s community with their time-honored tradition of decorating the Christmas tree. Schnitzelburg is a walking community and the holiday spirit is unmistakable to visitors. Please bring gently used decorations or something sparkly to add to the beautiful evergreen donated by Parkway Produce. Visitors can also stop before or after and enjoy a bowl of chili at the historic Check’s Cafe.

Harlem Globetrotters

The famous Harlem Globetrotters are guaranteed to keep both parents and kids laughing through the whole show. WHEN~ January 20 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. WHERE~ KFC Yum Center COST~ $25-$113 CONTACT~ or 1.800.745.3000

Living Nativity

WHEN~ December 9 at 3 p.m. WHERE~ Texas and Burnett Streets COST~ Free CONTACT~ 502.892.8790

St. Barnabas Catholic Church is staging a Live Nativity scene, accessible on foot or by car. Free hot chocolate, coffee, and cookies are also available.  

Highview Fall Festival and Parade

This family-friendly festival continues to grow. Kids can enjoy a bouncy land and parade, while adults enjoy the music, booths from local businesses, and food.

WHEN~ December 14, 15, 6 pm – 8 pm WHERE~ St. Barnabas Catholic Church, 3042 Hikes Lane, Louisville COST~ Free

School’s Out Science Camps

The Kentucky Science Center is hosting winter camps for grades pre-k to 6. WHEN~ Dec 31-Jan 4, while kids are out of school, and January 21 WHERE~ Kentucky Science Center COST~ Full Day is $40, $45/nonmembers; half-day camps $20, $25/non-members CONTACT~

WHEN~ December 13, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. WHERE~ Outer Loop Plaza COST~ Free CONTACT~ 502.724.2014



A Mother’s Touch Jewelry & Gifts 12312 Shelbyville Rd. Louisville, KY 40243


YMCA Several Kentuckiana locations



A Mother’s Touch offers a party room for both boys and girls ages 5 & up. Enjoy a theme or beading party. You can also use our room for classes, meetings, wedding or baby showers, or a fun girls night out. Prices start at $10 per person or a room fee. Reservations and deposit required. We can help make your event fun and memorable. Call 502.253.9477 with any questions and availability. The Y has several great ways to celebrate birthdays with fun-filled activities! Options vary at Y locations and include pool, Calypso Cove, Hawaiian luau, Wii play, rock climbing, party art, pirate, Disney princess, Twilight, Justin Bieber, Toy Story and more! Come and celebrate with the Y; your party will be a blast!

For Party Places advertising information, email or call 502.327.8855 Deadline for Dec./Jan. issue is Oct. 29.

today’s FAMILY

December 2012/January 2013


Desperately Seeking Sleep!

10 Surprising Ways Overtiredness Hurts Children By Malia Jacobson


irst, the bad news: Your seemingly healthy child may be harboring a serious health problem. Left unchecked, this highly common condition can contribute to weight gain and hinder school success. When your child is irritable, inattentive, or sullen, this often-overlooked ailment may be to blame. The condition is chronic overtiredness, and doctors say it’s rampant among modern kids. “Today’s children are notoriously sleep-deprived,” says Stephen Grant, MD, sleep specialist with Iowa Sleep Centers. But there’s good news: Overtiredness is as preventable as it is pervasive. The more you know about overtiredness and how it affects children, the better you’ll be able to spot it —and stop this health saboteur in its tracks. Surprise 1: Tricky Tots Don’t assume that you know when your child is overtired — kids who need sleep often appear anything but sleepy. Detecting overtiredness can be tricky, says Maida Chen, MD, associate director of the Pediatric Sleep Center at Seattle Children’s Hospital: “Parents should remember that overtiredness can look like hyperactivity.“ That means your child’s late-night burst of energy is actually a sign of sleepiness, despite appearances to the contrary.

Surprise 2: School Struggles Want your child to ace that big exam? Make sure he hits the sack early, because sleepiness can sabotage school success. The National Sleep Foundation reports that sleep deprivation in children is associated with poor school performance and lowered test scores. Surprise 3: Weighty Matters Chronic overtiredness can pack on the pounds and make it difficult for children to maintain a healthy weight. Research from Warwick Medical School shows that sleep deprivation increases the risk of obesity two-fold in children and adults. According to the journal SLEEP, reduced REM sleep is associated with excess body weight in both kids and teens.   Surprise 4: Diabetes Danger Kids who don’t sleep enough have an increased risk of diabetes. Multiple studies link insufficient sleep to increased diabetes risk, and new research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that just one night of sleep deprivation can bring on insulin resistance, a factor in type 2 diabetes. Surprise 5: Too Tired, Too Wired It’s counterintuitive, but overtiredness makes sleep more difficult — so depriving kids of naps or encouraging too-late bedtimes to help kids sleep better at night often backfires. When kids are awake too long, an overbalance of adrenaline makes it difficult to reach and maintain deep, restorative sleep. Surprise 6: ADHD Imposter Overtiredness can masquerade in a host of ADHD-like symptoms, and even lead to what researchers call “faux ADHD,” or misdiagnosed ADHD. According to a recent study, faux ADHD is characterized by behavior problems, violence, and learning difficulties, and linked to poor bedtime habits and too little sleep. Surprise 7: Emotionally Exhausted New research links overtiredness brought on by missed naps to mood disorders in toddlers. According to a new study, toddlers who miss naps have trouble expressing emotions, which has a lasting effect on their developing brains. Surprise 8: Night Frights Helping your child get adequate sleep can help protect her against things that go bump in the night. Kids who are overtired are more prone to nightmares — doctors chalk this up to the fact that overtired children spend more time transitioning in and out of deep sleep.

How Much Sleep Does Your Child Need?

One to Four Weeks Old: 15-16 hours per day One to Twelve Months Old: 14-15 hours per day One to Three Years Old: 12-14 hours per day Three to Six Years Old: 10-12 hours per day Seven to Twelve Years Old: 10-11 hours per day Thirteen to Eighteen Years Old: 8-9 hours per day

Surprise 9: Fidgety Legs Overtiredness worsens the symptoms of restless legs syndrome. According to the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, RLS affects 1.5 million children and adolescents and contributes to disrupted sleep, fatigue, and depression. Surprise 10: Early Birds When overtired children reach the naturally-occurring phase of lighter sleep in the pre-dawn hours (4 a.m. to 6 a.m.), many wake up and stay awake instead of rolling over and falling back to sleep. Malia Jacobson is a nationally published sleep journalist and mom of two. She blogs about sleep and parenting at


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today’s FAMILY

December 2012/January 2013




How different families deal with similar situations Like Father... Clint and Karrie Tally, Genesis (15), Peyton (11), and Madeline (8) Current and future careers: Clint works as a medical assistant and limited radiological technician at Baptist Medical Associates while attending Ivy Tech to become a registered nurse. He would like to work in an emergency room or be a flight nurse. “I’m able to stay calm under pressure and work well in complete chaos,” Clint says. Previous careers: Clint was in the Navy for more than two years, where he worked on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. After leaving active duty, he was in the reserves for six years, where he worked in a naval construction battalion as a heavy equipment operator. The kind of student he was then: “I was a very absent student,” Clint says with a laugh. He says he just barely finished high school and was at the bottom of the barrel. As a teen, Clint was interested in playing music in a band and trying to impress girls. The kind of student he is now: His experiences in the Navy forced Clint to mature. He says, “It took me a long time to grow up.” Being able to see various places in the world


December 2012/January 2013

during his military stint, such as Israel, Spain, and Dubai, was a great learning experience. Clint understands now that some things have to be sacrificed to meet his educational goals. While he would like to go hunting more often and spend time with his family, he knows he has to hit the books. The challenges and rewards of education: Being considerably older than his classmates is a challenge for Clint, as is managing his time. After working all day, he must devote time to classes, homework, and studying, which cuts into his time with his girls. He gives a lot of credit to Karrie, who also works fulltime, for being supportive and managing the family by herself while he is at school. Perspective on education as a father and student: Clint says he is able to walk in his girls’ shoes and better understand their frustrations with school. But he admits that he may be a little tougher on them, especially when it comes to using their time wisely and getting homework done promptly. He hopes that he is a role model to them. Thankful to be doing this: Clint is able to attend school through the Veterans Administration’s (VA) Vocational and Rehabilitation Program. Since Clint is a disabled veteran, the VA pays for tuition, books, and supplies. Once Clint begins the full-time coursework load of the program, he will receive a stipend to help with living expenses.

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Like Mother... Kimberly and Vince Esposito; Brittany (21), Anthony (19), and Dominic (13)

“How empowering at such a young age to compose your own song.”

Like mother......: Kimberly started piano lessons in the second grade and continued for 10 years. She has been giving private piano lessons for nine years, and now she owns Children’s Music Academy, where she teaches a comprehensive music theory program to preschool-age children to prepare them for private music lessons when they get older. Like son....: Anthony took piano lessons for about four years, then switched to drum lessons. He also took bass lessons and taught himself guitar. He is now a freshman at Middle Tennessee State University, where he hopes to earn a degree to prepare him for work in the recording industry. A natural gift for music: Kimberly says that from an early age, Anthony showed a unique gift for music. She remembers listening to a Hootie & the Blowfish song in the car when preschool-age Anthony said to her, “Mommy, that’s not right,” as she was tapping along to the beat. Kimberly says, “I realized he heard the intricacies of the drumming through all the other sounds going on in the song.” Musician appreciation: Kimberly says it has been neat to watch Anthony develop as a musician. She says, “I am in awe because music comes so naturally to him. But he doesn’t quite get that he’s very talented, that not everyone can do what he does musically.” Bonds and conflicts: Anthony has been in a band since eighth grade, and rehearsals were often at the Esposito home. Anthony was excited for his parents to hear the band’s music and would sometimes ask Kimberly for input. While Kimberly and Vince wanted to support Anthony, once the band began playing gigs at various venues, Kimberly admits, “We were not jazzed about late nights.” Learning from children, hers and others: As owner of Children’s Music Academy (CMA), Kimberly instructs preschool-age children and their parents in musical note reading, ear training, and ensemble playing. Kimberly says, “CMA lends itself to Anthony’s style of musical learning, a more creative approach that takes into consideration various styles.” Watching her own son compose music for years and now helping CMA students compose their own seven-note songs is thrilling. She says, “How empowering at such a young age to compose your own song.” Every age enjoying music: Kimberly has keyboards set up in her dining room for her CMA students. Anthony and his friends have been known to have impromptu jam Anthony sessions at the little tables as well as borrow some of her instruments. Kimberly says, “There have been times when my tambourine has made it downstairs (where the band usually jams). When I go asking about it, Anthony will say, ‘We swiped it. Sorry.‘ It’s cute!” To hear Anthony’s music, visit

today’s FAMILY

December 2012/January 2013


The Teen Brain: Risky Business Knowing about your teen’s brain can help you through high-risk situations, but not necessarily stop them. By Kim Seidel


ould you buy a car with no brakes? The teen brain is comparable to a car built and equipped with all the bells and whistles, but no brakes, experts say. Like the car without brakes, the teen brain is prone to risk-taking and accidents. Is it any wonder many parents find the teen years some of the most challenging of parenthood?

Studies on the teenage brain – fascinating research only possible since the late 1990s with the development of brainimaging technology – bring parents good news and bad news. The good news: The studies offer some explanation for teens’ often unexplainable behavior – moodiness, impulsiveness, disrespect, disorganization, and other annoying traits. Knowing why they exhibit these traits can help parents talk more effectively with their teens. Perhaps even more important,


December 2012/January 2013

the science can guide parents to better communicate with their teen about the severe effects drugs, alcohol, and other high risk-taking behaviors can have on their developing brain. Youth who begin drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to become addicted to or abuse alcohol later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21, according to The Partnership for a Drug Free America. “When talking with your kids about drug and alcohol use, you can honestly say to them, ‘I want to protect your brain from being damaged before it’s fully developed’,” says Ronda Lettner, a family therapist and alcohol/drug counselor. The bad news: With or without the latest brain research, teens will naturally make mistakes, and it can be painful to watch. Teens will take risks, mess up, and face consequences. Why take risks? Though brain development continues throughout one’s lifespan, adolescence is a critical window when connections are forming throughout the brain, says Jacquelyn Hammen, a clinical substance abuse counselor. This critical window extends from early adolescence until roughly age 21 in females and age 25 in males. “Most notably are the connections between the brain’s more emotion-laden, impulsive mid-brain region and the sophisticated, rational decision-making frontal lobe region,” Hammen says. “The impulsive, free-spirited, adventurous brain of the adolescent is perfect for the developmental task of setting themselves apart from the family unit and discovering an identity of their own. It’s wired perfectly for the job to move from the safety of home into a more complex world.” Although teen brains are wired to move out of the house, the caution and stop buttons aren’t completely developed just yet. That’s one reason why teens are more likely to take risks. And while many adults think teens act as invincible as Superman, brain research shows they know they aren’t, but they just don’t care. The rewards of bad behavior for teens, such as the thrill of a speeding car with friends, far outweigh the risks in their mind. “Some teens are aware of the possible consequences of their risky behavior and may even believe they are taking steps to guard against potential dangers,” Hammen says. “The difference between teens and adults is teens’ willingness to take the risk, to ‘chance it.’ They are less careful than adults.” In short, teens see more incentives in certain activities, especially those involving their friends, than adults do. Parents can help counter risky choices by offering teens compelling reasons for making good decisions. For example, the privilege to drive a car is not a “given”; teens are not “entitled” to drive simply because they turn 16. “Parents can structure expecta-

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tions for driving so teens earn the chance to drive by achieving and maintaining at least a B average in school,” Lettner says. “An earned privilege is more dear to a teen.” Parents can set the expectation that ongoing, trustworthy behavior is required for the teen to keep that driving privilege. Then notice and affirm the teen’s positive behavior.

Discuss positive risks Risk-taking – even negative ones – makes teens feel good. Parents can steer teens in the direction of healthy risks, such as trying out for a sports team or auditioning for a play. Encourage them to try new activities, such as snowboarding or entering an art show. Be prepared to help them make the arrangements; according to brain research, a teen’s planning and strategy skills aren’t fully developed yet. However, parents who overdo it on help can easily ruin a teen’s self-confidence and desire to take a new risk independently. Taking healthy risks and facing the consequences — from criticism and failure to praise and success — helps teens gain important life skills, such as confidence, courage, and the ability to plan and resist impulses.

“Parents can structure expectations for driving so teens earn the chance to drive by achieving and maintaining at least a B average in school... An earned privilege is more dear to a teen.” Ronda Lettner Family therapist and alcohol/drug counselor When it comes to negative risk-taking, it’s ideal for parents to talk with teens well before they find themselves in danger, whether it’s experimenting with drugs, cheating on a test, shop lifting, riding with a drunk driver, or some other bad decision. Describe the short- and long-term consequences of negative risks: “If you cheat, you’ll get a bad grade and you may not graduate. Without a diploma, you may not find a good job.” Use examples from news items, movies, books, TV shows, personal experiences — whatever it takes to make the point hit home with teens. Remind teens that it’s not only family that places limits on what they can and cannot do. Speeding and underage drinking, for instance, are against the law. This type of conversation can help teens understand the transition from being dependent on parents to independence in society as lawabiding, responsible citizens.

Role model wisely All brains, including the teen brain, learn most effectively by example. Many experts agree that parents are much more effective role modeling small daily actions rather than having one big talk about important topics: how you treat your partner and strangers and how you handle stress, time and money. If your family’s activities, even camping trips, birthday parties, and other celebrations include alcohol and drinking, that’s what your child will grow to perceive as normal, and that won’t likely change in their teenage years, Lettner says. Your teen is always watching, and that’s how their brain is learning to be an adult. Kim Seidel is the mother of 14-year-old and 10-year-old daughters. She is discovering the teen brain research highly useful for both children in everyday life. today’s FAMILY

Teen Talk: How to effectively communicate with your teen Teenagers have revealed time and time again that parents are the most important influence when it comes to taking risks, especially with drugs and alcohol. That’s why it’s vital to talk and listen — a lot! — to teenagers, even when they act like they don’t want to spend time with you. Teens may act up around their parents because there’s little risk in it. They test limits with parents because they know it’s safe. “Teens act like they don’t want boundaries, but they do need them,” says Ronda Lettner, a family therapist and drug/alcohol counselor. “They want limits, but they won’t tell you that.” The following tips are from Lettner and The Partnership for a Drug Free America: Avoid eye contact. Because a teen brain’s prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed, teens read facial expressions poorly. For instance, a teen might read your surprised expression as one of anger. Teens do best when they don’t have much eye contact. They feel like parents are checking them out too closely. Take a walk or go for a drive to discuss things with them, rather than sitting directly across from them. Use active listening. When teens are upset, try to get past the emotions to what’s really

bothering them. Listen without interrupting, and then sum up what you’ve heard. Once he’s shared his side, you could start with: • I hear you say you’re feeling… • I wonder if you’re feeling… Next, describe your teen’s emotions: • It sounds to me like you’re feeling hurt and angry. Is that true? • I hear you saying that you’re overwhelmed. Am I right? Your teen’s responses will guide you to the next steps. That’s how the connection between a parent and teen begins. Use “I” statements. “I” statements allow parents to express themselves without teens feeling like they’re being judged or blamed. Parents describe the teen’s behavior and how they feel about it. Then parents clearly say what they need. Following are two examples parents can practice before talking to teens: • “When you don’t come home on time, I worry that something terrible happened. What I need is for you to call me as soon as you know you’re going to be late. Then I know you’re okay.” • “I feel like you can’t hear what I have to say when you’re so upset. Then I get frustrated. I need to talk about this later when we’re both able to listen.” December 2012/January 2013


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Don’t Miss These Giveaways, only at • A family membership to Frazier International History Museum and a pair of tickets to “Diana: A Celebration • A family photography session • A private party at Pinot’s Palette

What You Will See at in January: • Learn a Craft: Do a seasonal project • Communicate with your teen • What are other parents thinking? • Where kids eat free • Recipes • Places to have fun 40

December 2012/January 2013

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Today's Family Dec-Jan2013  

Quality Resource for Quality Time for Families

Today's Family Dec-Jan2013  

Quality Resource for Quality Time for Families