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FALL 2016


Why We



This Guy




page 6

Healthy Meals in a Flash p10 Raising a Gifted Child p12 How Do Experts Raise Their Children p16 Inside the Lives of Seven Families p18 3 Tips for Busy Moms p32 Keeping Bodies Active p34 Combat the “No’s” p36 Is Homework Stressing Your Child? p38 Crafty Pumpkin Ideas p40 Yum...Apple Butter p42

the lowdown k

The Vornholt family (page 34) finds fun wherever they are — kickball is one of their favorites.

on energy drinks page 44

PHOTO BY MELISSA DONALD 2 FALL 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow

INTRO By Anita Oldham, Editor

Volume 25 • Number 3 PUBLISHER

‘on-the-job’ Parenting

Cathy S. Zion EDITOR


Elaine Rooker Jack




Kaitlyn English

Teri Hickerson

Suzy Hillebrand


April H. Allman

Kathy Bolger

Jennifer Wilham PHOTOGRAPHER


Miranda Popp

Matt Gibson, senior vice president of events and operations for the Kentucky Derby Festival, poses with his dressed-alike daughter Anna Grace, age 10. Read more about the Gibson family and their family rules on page 22.


Also, be inspired by the family who went on an adventurous African safari (page 6) — with three kids under age 7! You will find other stories from local families providing insight into their lives — maybe offering helpful ideas that will work in your own family. You can read extended versions of the stories online by searching for the keyword listed with the article.

Alissa Hicks


How to Be Part of Our Community Starting with this issue, extended versions of many of these stories have run online at Find them by searching with the keyword included with our story: KEYWORD WOULD BE HERE.

Post a comment, and it could be included in our next print issue. Make the story better by adding your own commentary and experience and sharing it with other parents.

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.

On the cover are Allison Gibson, vice president at Current360, and her youngest daughter, Norah Kate, 3, who took to high heels like a natural. The Gibson family — which also includes father Matt and daughter Anna Grace, pictured above — share how they deal with chores, rituals, exercise, and money on page 22. PHOTO BY MELISSA DONALD

4 FALL 2016


Amanda Peyton

oes your job affect how you raise your children? Is a teacher more attuned to academics? Does a nutritionist only serve healthful snacks? We wanted to see how differently parents are raising their children, so we went right to the sources. Read about them starting on page 16.



For advertising information, call 502.327.8855 or email

Two of the Harrell boys and their grandmother enjoy the view from a jeep on their family trek to Africa. PHOTOS PROVIDED BY ALICIA HINDS

By Megan M. Seckman



6 FALL 2016

hen Heather Harrell’s mother called from Texas to say she’d like to take the whole family (Heather, her husband Steve, their three boys under age seven, and Heather’s two siblings and their families) on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, Heather was game. But when her mother suggested an African safari, she was a little skeptical. “I couldn’t imagine flying three little boys across the world, getting malaria vaccines, and worrying about exposure to the water or the tzetze fly. But ironically, it was the best possible experience for three little boys, and it was surprisingly easy.” Heather’s sons, Eli (6), Teddy (5), and Andrew (3), were blown away by the continual parade of new experiences. Heather’s family began their Tanzanian safari in Arusha, near Mt. Kilimanjaro, where they flew in on a small plane and landed on a rustic airstrip. Arusha features volcanoes, the Ngorongoro crater and Continued on page 8

LIFETIME // // @todaysfamilynow


FALL 2016 7

“Now that we have done this... i know we can do anything.” — Mom Heather Harrell

Before her mother suggested it, the idea of taking three boys under the age of 7 on an African safari trip was not something mother Heather Harrell imagined doing.


Continued from page 6 conservation area, and the endangered rhino. And it has working electricity from 5 to 10pm each day. They spent two nights in tents at a luxurious camp. Each tent held a single family unit and featured large canopied beds surrounded by canvas siding and tiled floors. The next stop was outside a Maasai village that became Heather’s favorite memory of the trip. The family was able to witness this indigenous tribe’s culture firsthand: the scarce diet of porridge and cow blood, a demonstration of handmade spears, and a dwelling that would house the whole family as well as the tribe’s baby animals. “The Maasai village was good for perspective and a reminder to be grateful,” Heather says. In preparation, the Harrells got malaria vaccines, bought special insurance through the travel agency,

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applied for passports, filled prescriptions for countless antibiotics to counteract pathogens in the water, sprayed their clothing with bug deterrent, and packed enough pre-packaged snacks to feed a small army. This trip definitely entailed more prep work than a Florida road trip. But the payoff? A breathtaking experience where the family witnessed warthogs, giraffes, and elephants traversing the expansive landscape. A place where splashing hippos and endangered rhinos are on your itinerary before lunch. A place where you come within 10 to 15 feet from a pride of lions before the sun sets over the Serengeti. “My hope is that the boys will remember it forever,” Heather says. “Now that we have done this with the kids — no water, no teeth brushing with water, lugging around carryons filled with dried fruit and snacks — I know we can do anything.” // // @todaysfamilynow

k The RYAN Family shelby county, KY

HEALTHY IN A HURRY By Sandi Haustein


ob and Kortney Ryan and their two sons, Lee and Jeremiah, live a full and fast-paced life in Shelby County. In addition to the demands of two full-time jobs, family life, and kids’ schooling and swim team every weekday, they also own 30 head of cattle and manage six rental properties. What makes their family different, though, is the priority they place on healthy eating while living an on-the-go life. “I’m not a big recipe person,” Kortney says. “I don’t have time to measure out a ton of spices.” Instead, she’s developed her own system for keeping her cooking simple and throwing meals together quickly. Because they eat a diet focused on protein, fruits, and vegetables, Kortney preps large quantities of meat when she finds time on the weekend. She depends heavily on her grill, she says, because it’s quick and easy and doesn’t create a lot of dirty dishes. Using pre-made spice mixes, she seasons chicken thighs, pork chops, hamburger patties, or shrimp and grills enough to last them three days. The Ryans keep breakfasts simple with pre-made breakfast casseroles, yogurt, and fruit. Mid-week, when they run out of already-prepared food, Rob does another round of batch cooking on the grill to carry them through the rest of the week. Even in the midst of busy lives, the Ryans prove it’s possible to fix simple yet nutritious meals. “Eating healthy doesn’t require a complex recipe or a crazy amount of time,” Kortney says.

The Ryan family grills much of their food because it’s fast and dirties fewer dishes. PHOTOS BY MELISSA DONALD

Mealtime Find a quick recipe for Ginger-Lime Grilled Shrimp

10 FALL 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow

k The benz Family holiday manor area



s a toddler, Sarah Grace Benz’s verbal skills were impressive. At age 2, she was speaking not only in complete sentences but in complete paragraphs. But she was also prone to intense meltdowns that made Ashley question whether adding more children to their family was a good idea. Initially, parents Ashley and Mark Benz considered many of Sarah Grace’s behaviors to be just peculiar preferences. For example, she would put all of her toys and stuffed animals into her bed at night. “We thought she had a quirky fashion sense because for five years straight she wore headbands all the time,” Ashley says. “She had sleeping headbands and awake headbands.” While they could manage these things, there were other troubling issues such as extreme meltdowns that occurred if they took Sarah Grace to the mall. Ashley says Sarah Grace would sit between clothing racks, rocking back and forth and crying. This is where the Benzs’ path to help Sarah Grace learn to manage her giftedness and sensory processing disorder (SPD) began. There are a number of challenges in having a gifted child with SPD. People often expect gifted children to be as emotionally mature as they are intellectually mature, but most children who are gifted experience asynchronous or uneven development. A

“WE THOUGHT SHE HAD A QUIRKY FASHION SENSE . . . she had sleeping headbands and awake headbands.”

The Benz family has grown to understand Sarah Grace’s giftedness and SPD.

— Mom Ashley Benz


Gifted Children

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gifted 5-year-old might have the intellect of a 9-year-old but the emotional maturity of a 3-year-old. Over the years, the Benzs have done many things to help Sarah Grace. They consulted with a clinical psychologist and Sarah Grace began occupational therapy. Ashley and Mark also began attending the Parents of Gifted Students (POGS) support group in Louisville. “It was so relieving to hear that what I was experiencing was common,” Ashley says. // // @todaysfamilynow




k The CHRISTENSEN Family Crestwood, Kentucky

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Melissa Christensen, wellness coach at the YMCA, brand ambassador for Coeur Sports, and marathon runner and Ironman competitor Ryan Christensen, works for the Ford Assembly Plant and competitive cyclist. Daughter Keira (9) and son Soren (7) // // @todaysfamilynow

SING THEIR CHILDREN By Dana Diehlman The Christensen family’s methods:

Mealtime: During the week, meal time includes mostly Melissa, Keira, and Soren at the table. “My husband works really strange hours, so I’ll cook dinner and make him a plate to set aside for when he comes home,” Melissa says. On occasion, when Keira and Soren have leftovers, Melissa might make a fresh, special dish for Ryan and herself that she knows the kids wouldn’t particularly enjoy. As a general rule, however, she doesn’t make separate food for the kids.


On the weekends, Melissa’s family doesn’t spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen. She makes Sunday dinner, and that’s about it. On Friday or Saturday night, they’ll dine out. “We eat a lot at Noodles & Co and Chipotle,” she says. “Shiraz and Gustavo’s are also family favorites.”

Rituals: Most of the Christensens’ traditions and rituals are centered around their Christian faith. They have a daily Bible study and enjoy holiday traditions such as reading the story of Christ’s birth and enjoying a big dinner on Christmas Eve.

Screen Time: Melissa limits her children’s screen time and tablet use. Keira and Soren know they have to ask before they turn on anything with a screen. They will sometimes use the DVR to record their favorite shows, and they have access to the family iPad. But, Melissa says, “We have had some issues with the iPad — we only have one, so they have to share it!” The Christensens also have an Xbox for games. “But when the weather’s nice, it’s so much easier to get them to forget screen time and go play outside,” Melissa says.

Child care: When Melissa works out at the YMCA, she typically uses the provided child care as much as she can. When that’s unavailable or she needs more time than the YMCA’s three-hour limit, she’ll call in the cavalry. “In the summer, I’ll hire teens from my church to babysit,” she says. “I’ll also ask friends who have children the same ages as mine for help by setting up playdates.” Melissa doesn’t have family in the area, but for big events such as when she or Ryan — or both — are competing in a race, her parents have visited to help with the kids. Exercise: Melissa is serious about fitness, and her family is on board with her active lifestyle. She leads intense spin classes at the YMCA and teaches her children the proper form when TODAY’S FAMILY

exercising. Ryan is a competitive bike rider sponsored by V02s Multisports. But this family isn’t all workouts and no playtime. In fact, while she encourages family bike rides, Melissa says most of the exercise her kids get is through active play.

Food/Snacks: “It’s all about moderation!” Melissa says. She and her family don’t eat a lot of red meat and get the majority of their protein through fish and chicken. While she admits they don’t eat as many veggies as she’d like, everyone does like fruit. “Keira and Soren love our homemade fruit rollups. But there still always seems to be some sort of junk food around the house!” Melissa says she’s happy that Keira and Soren are learning about healthy plate guidelines at school, but she’s also aware that those guidelines need to be adjusted at times for the needs of their active family. “That creates conflict, though,” Melissa says. “The kids always want to go with what they learn at school and not what Mom says!”

Chores/Allowance: Melissa and Ryan don’t believe in monetary incentive for chores and don’t pay for things such as keeping bedrooms clean and making beds. “The way we feel is that if you want to live here, you have to work,” Melissa says. “When you grow up, no one’s going to pay you because you kept your room clean.” Extracurriculars: Keira attends dance lessons once a week, and Soren plays soccer twice a week. There are times the entire family travels when Melissa or Ryan compete, such as when Melissa ran in the Boston Marathon in April. Religion: Melissa and her family are active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where they have served by making sure the church gets cleaned after services. In addition, Melissa realizes the importance of being able to worship and connect — which she knows is sometimes hard to do while parenting — so she and Ryan regularly volunteer to sit with another family’s special needs children during worship. FALL 2016 17

HOW THEY ARE RAISING THEIR CHILDREN WHEN ONE PARENT IS A minister k The alleN Family shelby county, Kentucky Greg Allen, lead pastor of the Crestwood Campus of Southeast Christian Church Laurie Allen, former teacher who tutors home-schooled students and serves at Southeast Christian church alongside her husband Daughters, Chelsea (26), Macie (24), and Chloe (17)

By M. Lynn Willing The Allen family’s thoughts:

Religion: “Our faith in God teaches us to lead our children to honor God above all, to serve others because Christ has served us, and to trust God in all matters of life,” says Greg, who has been in the ministry for 32 years. The family has a positive spirit about church involvement. “Being part of a large church brings many friendships, and the kids’ church friendships have been their lasting ones,” Laurie says. The Allens value the small church groups their girls have been involved with because they provide relationships with like-minded adults who will encourage kids in the right direction. But, they say, those relationships have to start in middle school or by freshman year for the most benefit. Education: The Allen daughters attended traditional schools, cottage schools, and home-school because Greg and Laurie knew that what they needed could vary by child and even by year. “All three were wonderful experiences — there’s usually not a right or wrong,” Laurie says. “It’s just choosing the best option for the circumstances at the time.” These decisions have to be made before a school year ends for the following year, she adds “I’m big on observing in a classroom first.” Mealtimes and Conversations: The Allens love including others around the dinner table. Their daughters grew up taking turns inviting one friend to dinner who would get to use the ‘special person’ plate, which is also used for birthdays and personal successes Laurie and Greg want to acknowledge. The whole family prays for the ‘special person’ for the meal, with each person saying something encouraging. To spark conversation, the Allens have used homemade trivia and situational questions pulled from a jar, such as “Who is your favorite president?” and “You just walked into a store and there’s a lady asking for money; what do you do?” “The very best conversations begin with food and end around the table an hour later,” Laurie says.

Dating: Older daughters Macie and Chelsea now encourage little sis Chloe to follow Mom and Dad’s advice on dating: When it comes to relationships with boys during the teen years, the less exclusive, the better. The girls weren’t allowed to be alone in a car with a date until senior year (except for dances) and could connect with boys they liked in group settings, usually inviting them to the house with other friends for food and fun. The idea of dating during the last year or so of high school gives Greg

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The Allens (pictured are Greg and Laurie and daughter Chloe) honor their faith in their parenting. PHOTO BY MELISSA DONALD and Laurie the opportunity to coach and mentor their daughters before they are away at college.

Rituals/Traditions: “Our tradition was often serving together — visiting ‘friends’ in the nursing home on Fridays,” Laurie says. Late Saturday morning breakfasts have been a great time for family connection, as have simple annual vacations together. Sleeping: “This is so important for health and clear thinking,” Laurie says. She discourages sleepovers for this reason — and also because temptations can arise — and will pick up her daughters from a party late at night instead. Fortunately, she says, “They are never upset with me more than 24 hours.”

Screen time: The Allens allow no TVs or other screens in bedrooms. // // @todaysfamilynow


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HOW THEY ARE RAISING THEIR CHILDREN WHEN ONE PARENT IS A nutritionist k The oliver0s Family peewee valley, Kentucky Laura Oliveros, clinical nutrition manager for Baptist Health La Grange Lewis Oliveros, works in sales and does personal training for bodybuilders Son, Luke (10) and daughter, Layla (8)

By Keri Foy The Oliveros family rules:

to exercise. Laura believes if you are active as a child, it's easier to maintain that routine into adulthood.

On food: "Because of what I do,

Brass tacks: Luke and Layla do get

I understand the importance of nutrition and how it impacts overall health," says Laura.When it comes to her kids' eating habits, Laura believes what they eat now will establish their preferences as adults. The same applies

some sweet treats, but it's limited to once a day and only after eating their meals. “I do not typically provide sugar-sweetened beverages for my kids,” says Laura. “It’s way too easy to ‘drink’ your calories.” For the most part Luke and Layla drink milk, water, or some type of sugar-free beverage. "I want them to have a healthy relationship with food," says Laura. When it comes to snacks, Laura's go-tos include yogurt, popcorn, hummus, and cheese sticks.

Sleep: Luke and Layla's bedtimes get pushed back by extracurriculars but Laura has a magic number. She strives for her kids to get as least nine hours of sleep each night.

Homework battles: Lewis, like a lot of other parents, believes homework is unnecessary and schoolwork should be left at school. So, the chore of checking homework off the nightly to-do list falls to Laura. "I make sure it's done and done correctly," says Laura.

Chores: Because the family gets home so late, Laura lets the majority of chores fall on her lap. "My husband says I do too much for them, and I think he's right," says Laura. "I'm enabling them to be more dependent." Laura's going to work on shifting the list of chores on her plate to her kids. "They're not going to like it, and that's OK. Some day they'll appreciate me for it." Extracurriculars: Luke plays football and Layla is in cheer. Both have also wrestled. Lewis is the coach for the elementary and middle school wrestling teams. "It's a great individual sport in addition to the team sports they participate in," says Laura. Religion: The Oliveras were raised Christian and still practice their faith. They attend Forest Park Community Church. "We often feel guilty for getting caught up in everyday life and not putting as much focus on church as we should," says Laura.

20 FALL 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow


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HOW THEY ARE RAISING THEIR CHILDREN WHEN BOTH PARENTS ARE corporate professionals By Keri Foy The Gibson family shares their ideas:

The dinner table: After a busy day, the Gibsons unwind with a family dinner. Matt and Allison’s affinity for cooking is rubbing off on Anna Grace, who also goes by ‘AG’ in the family. AG developed a greater appreciation for meal prep after becoming a Food Network fan. “When we come home after work all day, we like to have that family time,” Allison says.


When religion influences education: Matt and Allison were both raised in the Catholic tradition and intuitively wanted to send their kids to a private Catholic school. AG attends St. Albert the Great. “Catholic community is a community where we’re constantly leaning on one another,” Allison says. “It takes a village.” Allison is the room mom for AG’s class this year. “It’s important to be involved with what the kids are involved with,” she says. “It’s important for kids to see that.” The Gibsons also stress good grades. “We tell AG if she makes all A’s and B’s, we’ll buy her a car when she turns 16,” Allison says. While AG is at St. Albert, Norah Kate is close by at a private daycare that is run by a retired couple who are friends of Allison’s aunt. “They are sweet, giving, and creative,” says Allison, who also loves that Norah Kate’s cousins attend the same daycare. “Our pediatrician was blown away at what Norah Kate knew at her 3-year-old checkup,” Allison says.

I got $5 on it: AG is responsible for feeding and watering the dog, taking the trash out on Mondays, and straightening her room. If she can check those off her to-do list, Allison and Matt fork over $5. But if she slacks on the chores, AG’s pay gets cut by $2. The challenge with screen time: “The first thing Norah Kate wants when she wakes up is her iPad,” says Allison, who won’t allow Norah Kate the device at preschool and has sanctioned Sunday as iPad-free. Sweet rituals: The Gibsons pray before every meal. At night, Norah Kate requests the same lullaby: You Are My Sunshine, which holds special meaning to the family. “We sang it to my husband’s grandmother on her 90th birthday,” Allison says. Exercise and extracurriculars: AG’s schedule PHOTO BY MELISSA DONALD

k The gibson Family east end aREA OF LOUISVILLE Allison Gibson, vice president at Current360 Matt Gibson, senior vice president of events and operations for the Kentucky Derby Festival Daughters, Anna Grace (10) and Norah Kate (3)

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could make your head spin. She’s in club soccer, school soccer, cross-country, basketball, and golf, with basketball and golf holding out as favorites. Allison and Matt stay active, too. Allison has a group of friends who gather to get their sweat on at the gym. When Matt turned 40, he renewed his commitment to health and now makes the gym part of his daily routine. // // @todaysfamilynow


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want to earn money, she asks, “What’s something you want to get better at doing?” A fan of setting goals, Kim helps the kids set a goal related to the answer they gave. For example, “once Michael chose reading, so we set a goal to finish a certain number of books as a way for him to earn money.”

The Smith family’s solutions:

Meal Time: “We focus on organic, healthy, clean foods, and we avoid genetically modified ingredients as much as we can,” says Kim, adding that the family eats together nearly every night. “We don’t eat fast food but occasionally eat at farm-totable places around town. The kids have never had a soft drink, and I can’t imagine why they ever would.” To manage their busy lives, the family plans and prepares all meals for the week, including lunches, on Sunday.

Extracurriculars: Kim makes new activities available to the kids every three months through school and she reviews them with Kate and Michael. She asks “why” they are interested in an activity but leaves the decision to them. Kim wants them “to pick what they are into.”

Religion: When she was younger, Kim went

Sleeping: Kate and Michael don’t have a set bedtime. While 8pm is typical for going to bed, Kim says, “The weather is a factor, especially when the sun is out. I base bedtime on the kids’ behavior. Getting enough sleep is important.” Education: Ryan’s role as a school principal makes education a hot topic for discussion. Kim and Ryan agree there are different ways to educate children. “Everyone should learn as they need to learn. Education is more than testing and can’t be fit into a box. I don’t want my kids being told what to be,” adds Kim. She feels strongly that kids should have more outside time and that teachers are role models. Conversations: When talking to the kids, Kim asks a lot of questions. She helps them

to several different churches with family and friends. She’s spiritual, but the family isn’t involved in an organized religion. “I find it very divisive,” shares Kim. She teaches the kids that love and compassion are the Source. “Our minds twist things and I want us to be more aware. Every religion is connected and they are all correct.” discover their own answers by asking, “What’s the kindest way? Or the most compassionate?” As part of Live Well Warriors, a children’s program she founded, Kim also writes stories. Her kids relate to the characters in the stories, which leads to great conversations about everyday situations. “I’ll ask them, how do you think so-and-so would do this?” says Kim.

What I Would Never Do: Kim is determined to never make her kids feel small, like they don’t matter or that they aren’t good enough. “My family makes me raise my standards. They’ve loved me at my bottom and through challenges. They push me to be better.”

Screen Time: Kim believes screen time falls into a range of “being productive versus robotic. It needs balance.” She doesn’t watch the clock but pays attention to when the kids seem bored or exhausted. “I’ll say to the kids, ‘You’ve been on that for a long time. Do you want to keep playing the game or do this instead?’ I’m helping them make a choice.”

The kids’ school teaches them yoga. PHOTOS BY MELISSA DONALD

Exercise: Kim doesn’t use the words “diet” and “fat.” She replaces the word “exercise” with “moving” and is a role model to her kids. Kim adds, “Our family is very active. It’s what they know and a way for them to spend time with family and friends.” Chores: “We have no system whatsoever for chores,” Kim says. “Instead, we teach them to help each other.” When the kids

k The SMITH* Family EAST END Kim, Chiropractic Doctor Ryan, school principal Son, Michael (7) and daughter, Kate (5) * Family requested not to publish last name.

24 FALL 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow


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FALL 2016 25

HOW THEY ARE RAISING THEIR CHILDREN WHEN ONE PARENT IS A therapist k The STILLWAGON Family HIGHLANDS AREA OF LOUISVILLE Michelle Stillwagon, licensed marriage & family therapist (LMFT) and certified sex therapist (CMT) Andy Stillwagon, chief marketing officer at Power Agency Daughter, Ella (11) and son, Drew (8)

By Lorie Leitner The Stillwagon family’s plan:

Mealtime: Even when Michelle works with clients during certain evenings, the family eats around the dinner table nightly. Meals are an opportunity to be adventurous, Michelle says. She encourages “eating a rainbow,” adding, “I don’t want my kids to shy away from the unknown, whether it’s a vegetable or a dish from another culture.” Sleeping: When Ella and Drew were younger, Michelle stuck to a rigid nap schedule. “Kids equate sleep to missing out on fun,” she says. “That’s not true. I want my kids to be mindful of when their bodies need rest.” Education: Both Michelle and Andy believe education is important for building character and skill sets. They support the public school system and its diversity by enrolling their kids in the school community. Ella and Drew excel in school, but Michelle is cautious of using food or money to reward them for academics. “I

encourage and recognize diligence and consistent study skills,” she says. “My favorite questions to ask are, ‘Do you love learning?’ and ‘Are you curious?’”

Conversations: Michelle worries that technology and short answer texting create false engagement and cut off true connection. To combat this, the family unplugs from electronics every Tuesday and Thursday. Michelle also looks for teachable moments to begin conversations. “We embrace discussion about news headlines that feature historical moments or politics. I believe the world’s stories are entrenched in the negative, and my goal is to highlight those showing gratefulness, kindness, and compassion.” Exercise: The Stillwagons recently created a workout area in the house. Sedentary jobs for Michelle and Andy plus a back surgery for Ella caused the family to focus on strengthening their bodies. Michelle acknowledges that fitting exercise into the schedule is tough, but once a week, the family takes a walk with their therapy dog, Yoshi.


Food/Snacks: Michelle refuses to make food a battle. “I don’t want to send a message to my kids about what they can’t or shouldn’t eat,” she says. “There should be no judgment or guilt associated with food.” Grocery shopping is completed around the perimeter of the store where fresher, less processed food is found. Also, the family often pre-measures snacks. When the kids say they are hungry between meals, Michelle encourages them to drink water or eat fruit.

Child care: Michelle has wiped the word “babysitting” from the family’s vocabulary, joking that “my kids aren’t babies or being sat upon.” She frames child care as a play date between her kids and another loving person. Michelle never wants her children to think they’re a burden for her and Andy to escape or to feel anger toward them for being left behind. “I want Ella and Drew to witness parents who make marriage a priority,” she adds. Chores: Running the Stillwagon household takes a solid system and is the responsibility of every family member; therefore, Michelle and Andy don’t pay allowance to the kids. Ella and Drew select from a list of ageappropriate chores each week. “Andy and I both work full time to provide a home and experiences for our family,” Michelle says. “I remind the kids that their contribution to the chores helps to give us more free time to be together.” When the kids want to earn money, Michelle creates a list of unique chores tied to dollars. Religion: The family talks easily on the topic of religion. Michelle wants Ella and Drew to be thoughtful and curious about all belief systems. “We discuss what’s common, what’s different, and what’s to be respected,” she says. “I adhere to the philosophy of ‘Do No Harm,’ and it’s my responsibility to teach it through the way I live my life.”

Dating : Michelle realizes her main role is to help them understand sexuality, their bodies, and tactics to use for anyone who doesn’t respect them. “Making dating scary only complicates things,” Michelle says.

26 FALL 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow

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Assumption High School OPEN HOUSE Thursday, December 1 • 6:30pm

OPEN HOUSE Sunday, November 20 • 12-3pm

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Presentation Academy, a Catholic college-preparatory school for girls in grades 9-12, creates a diverse community that promotes academic excellence and challenges young women to develop their greatest potential as leaders in a global society. Visit Presentation Academy’s Open House to discover what it means to be a Pres Girl!​

In the next issue, look for the winning essays from these schools in the

I Love My School Essay Contest!


FALL 2016 27

HOW THEY ARE RAISING THEIR CHILDREN WHEN BOTH PARENTS ARE teachers k The lange Family WESTPORT ROAD AREA OF LOUISVILLE Krista Lange, primary school director for junior kindergarten at Highlands Latin School Steve Lange, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church and high school Latin teacher at Highlands Latin School Daughters, Maddie (18) and Lily (13); son, Ben (16)

By M. Lynn Willing The Lange family’s ideas:

Education: Krista says she believes parents are the most important teachers of their children. “Which school the child attends doesn’t matter as long as parents are involved,” she says. For Krista, intentional parenting includes ongoing conversations about what a child is learning from teachers, peers, and the world around them in order to understand what the child is thinking. And since not all of that will be compatible with what they’re being taught at home, it’s important to counteract some things with your own teaching and modeling. Schoolwork is definitely a priority over other activities, and that includes priority over summer vacation! The Langes feel much can be lost during those months away from school, so their kids review notecards from a few subjects two or three times a week for an hour or less during summer break.

Religion: Steve’s calling as a pastor impacts the Langes’ parenting in many ways. “Our faith informs everything we do: conversations,

WHEN ONE PARENT IS A k The robson Family Lagrange, kentucky Dr. Greg Robson, Pediatrician Becca Robson Sons, Luke (14) and Eli (11) and daughter, Mollie (8)

discipline, education,” he says. “It’s a worldview thing, not something you add on. Because it’s antipathy to what our kids encounter, frequent conversations happen from a Christian perspective. Church and Sunday school were a priority for us from the start because your outreach to teens starts when they are infants.”

Rituals : During their preschool years, the Lange kids spent an afternoon hour of “quiet time” in their rooms to rest, read, or play, something they still do now during summer breaks. Conversations and Mealtimes: Conversations happen at dinner, which the whole family eats together as many times a week as possible. Family members share the highs and lows of the day, sometimes revealing personal struggles that can be discussed one-on-one later. Krista is earnest about not jumping in to fix the kids’ problems. “They have to learn to endure and find solutions on their own,” she says. Chores/Allowance/Jobs: The Lange teens have unpaid responsibilities around the house as members of the family. Steve deposits money regularly into a student PayPal account to help them learn how to manage money.

Extracurriculars: Ben plays on the basketball team and Maddie and Lily are active in dance, but Steve and Krista make sure the kids aren’t over-scheduled with activities that also cost the family a lot of time and money.“Kids need free time,” Krista says. “Over-scheduling prevents them from learning the skill of finding their unique interests and developing those. And also, kids need to know that it’s OK to just chill.”


Mealtimes: Dinners together — at whatever time is necessary to include everyone — is a priority for this crew. Greg walks the talk he gives parents on this topic: “Children won’t starve if they miss meals due to a refusal to eat what the cook prepared.”

By M. Lynn Willing

Conversation: Becca says they “intentionally

The Robson family’s practices:

create opportunities to talk,” knowing a healthy parent-child connection depends on it.

“We’re an imperfect family like every other,” Becca Robson begins, as pediatrician husband Greg nods. The Robsons are intentional yet flexible in their parenting of their three children.

Sleep: Greg often reminds parents that adequate sleep is critical. “Culturally we are pressed to do more, but the attitudes and behaviors parents struggle with can often be improved with fewer activities and adequate sleep.” The Robsons’ preteen children get about 10-11 hours and their teen gets about nine. Key to the development of healthy sleep habits is the complete absence of screens — TVs, phones, tablets — in the bedroom.

28 FALL 2016

Education: “They need to apply themselves and challenge themselves. Being a student is their job” in life, Becca says.

Rituals: The Robsons’ rituals include scheduled chores, day’s end devotionals, family fun on Fridays, and big breakfasts on Saturdays. Chores: “We are created to do work. Work is not a punishment, and it’s not an option,” Becca says. She uses a scale based on ages to make a weekly assessment for each child, determining the monthly cash payout based on chores and schoolwork, with deductions for things they need to work on. Exercise and Screen time: Both parents exercise several times a week and the kids are

very active. Screen time happens only after physical play/exercise, at about a 3:1 ratio. There is one computer in the middle of the family room. Since unhealthy screen-time is a major temptation in society, the Robsons have also decided that Luke will be 15 before having a smartphone (with NO internet capability). “We can’t unsee things,” Dad points out.

Religion: “Every area of our family life is rooted in and built upon our faith in God,” says Becca. “For us, trying to grow a healthy family without biblical truths to guide us would be like trying to grow a healthy garden without soil and sunlight.” // // @todaysfamilynow


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Marvelous MENTORS Rick Edwards

is the winner of Today’s Family magazine’s Marvelous Mentor award. PHOTO BY MELISSA DONA LD


By Tiffany White

Rick Edwards’ joy is only one mile away from where he lives: the kids at First Baptist Church in Jeffersonville, Indiana, make every day special for the man they lovingly refer to as “Mr. Rick.” Despite having stage four cancer, Rick, who is also a deacon and chairman of the trustees, has been a comforter for the kids at his church. Up until this year, he had been the activities director of their vacation Bible school for at least 12 years. When his health was better, Rick would take the kids to the playground to play kickball during Wednesday night Bible study. Although Rick’s health problems have now limited his level of physical engagement with the kids, it hasn’t stopped him from taking an active role with them through mentoring. “I have always spent a lot of time with the kids — whether it was at vbs or sitting down with the youth if there was something they wanted to talk about,” he says. At age 67, Rick extends his caring nature beyond the church doors. He and his wife Zenith don’t have grandchildren, but they happily fulfill the role of grandparents to fellow church members Kodi (6) and Cameron Hughes (10) and Addisyn (10) and Kelsey Fox (12). “They will come over and spend the night. Those two little girls and little boys mean so much to me in my life that I can’t tell you the pleasure they have brought me,” Rick says. Getting kids to talk openly about their problems, he says, is about establishing trustworthiness between the child and the confidant. “If there is something serious going on with the kid, they may be very hesitant to talk, but you have to make them feel comfortable with you. You have to be a really good listener. Kids know whether you’re genuine or not,” he says. Rick says he was surprised to know fellow church member Michael Ranney nominated him as a Marvelous Mentor, but it served as a reminder of how his church involvement has helped his morale. “Everyone wants to say how much they appreciate what Mr. Rick has done, but the real gift is that they don’t understand how much I get out of it.” He adds, “I am going to be active and do all I can to serve the Lord for as long as I can.” Congratulations, Rick! The Marvelous Mentor winner was voted on by our readers.

30 FALL 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow


FALL 2016 31



t’s easier to prepare as much as possible beforehand,” says Jenna O’Dwyer, self-proclaimed Type A and mom to Mason (8) and Michael (5). Mason, who is autistic, has also been diagnosed with ADHD. “We can just grab lunches and go, so he can focus on other things like getting on his clothes and shoes.” On Sunday afternoons, you can find Jenna busy making wellthought-out sandwiches for her boys. “I used to do it at night,” she says. “But I’d rather spend an hour on Sunday and be done. It’s a chance for me to reset and get organized for the week.”

Here’s Jenna’s weekly sandwich menu: Monday: turkey with mayo. “I use whole wheat bread because it holds up better than white,” Jenna says. Tuesday: bologna. Jenna uses leakproof Ziploc containers. Wednesday: homemade Lunchable – cubed or diced lunchmeat with crackers and cheese. Thursday: hummus with turkey. For this lunch, Jenna uses whole-wheat tortillas. Friday: peanut butter and jelly. Jenna also suggests making and freezing PB&Js if bread or peanut butter go on sale. Jenna suggests yogurt drinks, applesauce pouches, cheesesticks, and produce such as carrots, celery, and berries to go with the sandwiches.

32 FALL 2016


Opt for pre-made breakfast Mini cereal containers help the boys take charge of their mornings. The cereal is already portioned out and set in an easily accessible spot. Mason and Michael just need to pour the milk. Jenna is also a fan of pre-made breakfasts such as french toast, waffles, banana muffins, and pancakes easily popped in the microwave.

Averting the daily drop Jenna averts the daily disaster of her kids walking in and throwing everything down by the door as soon as they walk in by settling into a quick post-school routine. “When they come in, I immediately go through their backpacks and read any communication from the school,” she says. Mason and Michael clean out their lunch boxes and put them away. Jenna adds tomorrow’s snack in the backpacks right away so they won’t have to remember it in the morning.

Knocking out homework The boys are allowed 30 minutes of downtime before homework begins. They can watch TV, play video games, or go outside to play with friends. While Jenna preps dinner, Mason knocks out his homework in the kitchen where she is there to help if needed. As soon as he’s done, the homework goes straight into the backpack by the back door. // // @todaysfamilynow

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(502) 499-8827 FALL 2016 33

k The vornholt Family woodmont area

Bethany Vornholt and daughter Olivia play grocery.



By M. Lynn Willing


ethany Vornholt and her family — husband Trip and kids Caleb (11), Olivia (9), and Henry (5) — try to incorporate creativity into all aspects in life. While outside activities include taking nature walks, playing kickball, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and jumping on the trampoline, it’s the activities inside that keep her kids entertained and always thinking.

For inside fun, they recommend: • Hullabaloo by Cranium: a family favorite! Out-of-the-box fun with an unpredictable console directing each step of the game with speech and music. • Playing restaurant: kids take orders and serve real or play food. • Blanket forts • Measuring and pouring fun with beans using funnels, scoops, and bowls • Shaving Cream ABCs: write letters with fingers on a cookie sheet filled with foam.

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In waiting rooms: • Spot It! — a fast-moving game that increases focus by challenging players to quickly find a matching picture on round cards. • Kid interview — the “What does (Henry) like?” game.

In public restrooms: • To keep little ones from touching everything while Mom or a sibling uses the restroom, play Turn a Circle by giving sequential instructions such as, “Put hands on hips and turn a circle” and “Put hands on head and turn a circle.”

In a restaurant: • Alphabet Memory Game — go around the table and have each person say a word that begins with the next letter of the alphabet, after first repeating the previous words. • Would You Rather…? game • Hangman and tic-tac-toe. // // @todaysfamilynow



“I can’t get my almost-3-year old to stop saying, ‘No!’ I tell him to do something; he says, ‘No!’ I ask him to eat, play, stop; he says, ‘No!’ We’ve been working on this for nearly six months now. Nothing seems to work. We’ve tried time-out, taking things away, spanking his hand. It doesn’t matter what we do; he is still defiant. Any suggestions?”

36 FALL 2016

“Am I missing a great opportunity by not putting [my daughter] in advanced programs?”


Joyce: We could quickly attribute his behavior to the Terrible Twos, but let’s not. This is likely a phase, but I understand your concern. Defiance is nothing to sniff at. He is old enough to understand that disrespect will not be tolerated. Time-outs and hand-spanks might not be effective now, but give the taking away of things a bit more time, and it will become much more important to your child. If he’s at the table and says “No!” to eating, he gets no treat afterward or nothing until the next meal. If he says, “No!” at playtime, toys get put away, totally out of sight until he can apologize for his behavior and say he won’t do it again. If he says, “No!” when you ask him to stop, this could be a bigger concern. If he runs from you, say on a sidewalk and into the path of an oncoming car, “No!” is not the answer you want to hear. I would encourage you to continue your path of restrictions and appropriate punishment until he understands and submits to your authority. If he still refuses to obey, the lack of respect will only heighten. But remember: he is only 2. There is time to rein in his behavior and come to an understanding of who is the parent and who is the child. It’s a must. Keep up the good work!

By Joyce Oglesby



Q: “I know blended families

Q: “My 8-year-old daughter is

are hard, but mine seems more difficult than others. My husband’s ex is constantly unloading her kids on me when it’s her weekend. It might be more tolerable if he were around to enjoy his own kids, but he gets lost, and I have to babysit. I don’t want to cause trouble, but when my kids visit their father, I’m always stuck with his children and never get a break. How can I make my husband see they’re his responsibility more than mine?” Joyce: Poor kids. They always get caught in the middle. Please understand it’s not the child’s fault when adults make poor decisions. Perhaps you should begin with the ex, since your husband seems to be neglecting many responsibilities. If he won’t draw boundaries, the stick is left in your hand. Tell her sorry, you’re unavailable. And a word to the wise: consider long and hard before you have children with him. He might not be the father any kid deserves.

quite gifted, but I don’t really want to accelerate her. I just want her to be a kid as long as she can be. Is that wrong? Am I missing a great opportunity by not putting her in advanced programs?” Joyce: I had to make the same decision for our daughter when she was in fifth grade. After much deliberation, we decided not to push her. She enjoyed her childhood, excelled in her schoolwork, and went on to college. She is now owner of a large company in Atlanta, Georgia, and she has two of her own gifted children. One is in an accelerated program, but only after he became a ninth-grader. The 3-year old? Not sure what she’ll do with her. But she has her choices; I had mine. Are her kids missing out on their childhood? No. Do I have regrets? No. You must decide not only what your child can manage but what you and the family can negotiate, as well. After all, these kinds of decisions impact the entire family.

Need Family Advice? 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. // // @todaysfamilynow



HOMEWORK By Sanna Rogers


ast year when A-student, Isaiah Cook was planning his ninth grade schedule, he saw a way to get more out of school: Fit for Life, a condensed, performance-based physical education course given over the summer. Partnered with an online health class in the fall semester at Oldham County High School, this plan would allow him to squeeze in another class. Add to this track and cross-country practice five nights a week and an advanced placement class, and Isaiah was overloaded. Looking back, mom Sonya Cook, said it all sounded great at the time. But from August through midOctober, Isaiah’s life was sleep, run, go to school, eat, and do homework. “The jump in homework and time management from middle to high school has been huge.” Sonya and dad David helped by micromanaging his studying for a while to reduce procrastination and improve his comprehension. Sonya explained that Isaiah's normal pace of reading, note-taking, and processing info had to speed up because of the faster pace of his AP and advanced classes. Most importantly, his parents emphasized hard work over straight As. For high-achieving student athletes such as Isaiah, his brother Aaron, 13, and his sister Adrah, 11, organization is crucial. Typically, Isaiah and Aaron (also a runner at Oldham County Middle School) don’t get home from weeknight track practice until 6pm. Then it’s dinner, about 30 minutes of downtime, and studying. Sixth-grader Adrah’s passion is dance; she attends classes twice a week until 8:30 and has the option to attend more classes if her homework load isn’t too heavy. Sonya says she established the importance of homework early on before the kids were involved in after-school activities. “I trained them from kindergarten what the homework routine was, and it’s still held today,” she says. Isaiah wants to continue at the advanced level and keep taking AP courses, so his schedule includes a study hall, which helps him keep up. After a year of ups and downs, Isaiah is continuing the AP track. He’s even considering an online math class and a study hall to make room for another elective. Sonya is determined to prepare siblings Aaron and Adrah for the same transition so they can excel without burnout.

38 FALL 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow

AGE Page Birth to 5

By Angel Lyn Nance



WHILE YOU’RE SELECTING YOUR PUMPKINS, GET AN EXTRA ONE FOR SOME GREAT FINE MOTOR SKILLS PRACTICE! Take a child’s toy hammer (wood or plastic), some golf tees, and a medium or large pumpkin and allow your preschooler to hammer the tees into the pumpkin. They can make faces, designs, or just randomly hammer the tees into the pumpkin. Tees can be pulled out and reused, so this activity can keep kids busy for quite a while.

Fall Fun for the Little Ones Fall is a great time to take the kids to pick a pumpkin. There are several local farms that o er rides to the pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin of your choice. Gallrein Farms, in Shelbyville, Kentucky, o ers several fall activities in addition to the pumpkin picking, such as a corn maze, farm animals, and pony rides. Bray Orchard in Bedford, Kentucky, also sells delicious, a ordable homemade ice cream at its roadside market, so customers can end their pumpkin picking with a sweet treat. Huber’s Orchard, Winery, and Vineyards is a large farm in Borden, Indiana, that o ers a family farm park, where parents can pick up a bottle of wine from the winery after the ride to the pumpkin patch. Check out one of these options for a fun fall afternoon with your little ones.

Shaken Baby Syndrome What We Need to Know

ATIONAL According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, about 306 babies die each year from Shaken Baby Syndrome. Periods of inconsolable crying are normal for babies, particularly from ages 2 to 4 months. You can place your child on his or her back in a crib and take 5 minutes to call someone for support or just breathe deeply if you need a break. Securing the baby in a stroller and going for a brisk walk can help your mood as well, and may even calm the crying. For more information on Shaken Baby Syndrome, go to

What to Read This Fall

There are so many good fall books for kids. Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills is a fun board book for toddlers. Older preschoolers will enjoy Lois Ehlert’s Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, which is a colorful introductory science lesson on the life cycle of trees. Explore the entire season with a bear family in the picture book The Autumn Visitors by Karel Hays. For a lively Halloween trick-or-treating story, try We’re Off o Find the Witch’s House by Richard Krieb. Tony Johnston’s Ten Fat Turkeys is a rhyming countdown board book with silly illustrated turkeys. Finally, prepare for Thanksgiving with Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson.

40 FALL 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow

AGE Page 6 to 11

By Erin Nevitt

Top 5 Autumn Gems Here are ve great sites to explore in the fall foliage: Blackacre Conservancy — There is a trail that takes you to a waterfall that is gorgeous! Cave Hill Cemetery — Take a walk (be respectful of the rules) around the beautiful grounds. Big Rock Park — Nestled between Cherokee Park and Seneca Park, this area of town is beautiful in the fall. Rose Island Amusement — Give your hiking boots a challenge at this once-happening place in Southern Indiana. Hidden Hill Nursery — Explore a sculpture garden and support a true local/family business in Utica, Indiana.

Halloween Treats Don’t Have to Be Sweets

Take Time for Autumn Treats

Did you know that 1 in 13 of trick-or-treating children has a food allergy? Keep Halloween safe for these children by embracing the Teal Pumpkin Project and o ering non-food treats. Paint a pumpkin teal and place it on your porch to indicate to trick-or-treaters that you o er both food and non-food options — like stickers or bubbles — at your house. Or place treats containing allergens in a separate bowl from more allergy-friendly treats — like lollipops, which are free of the major allergens — so there is no chance for cross-contact. Source:

For a warm and delicious treat that will ll the house with delightful smells, try making homemade apple butter in the crockpot. Bottle some the old-fashioned way in small mason jars and give as gifts to friends, family, teachers, and neighbors. Try this recipe from Hidden Hollow Orchard:

Apple Butter 5 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and chopped 2 1/2 cups brown sugar 1 tbsp cinnamon 1 tsp nutmeg 1/4 tsp cloves Place all apples in a slow-cooker. Combine the sugar and spices. Pour mix over apples and mix well. Cover and cook on high for one hour. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for nine to 11 hours or until a deep brown color. Uncover and cook another hour on low, stirring occasionally. Puree in a food processor or blender. If desired, spoon into freezer containers, leaving 1/2 inch from top. Freeze or refrigerate. source:

42 FALL 2016

DIY: Birdseed Cakes Kids can give our feathered friends a real treat by making a festive homemade birdseed cake out of a handful of simple ingredients. Find the recipe and step-by-step process at // // @todaysfamilynow

AGE Page 12 and up

By Megan S. Willman

Don’t be THAT Parent The role of sports-parent is not always a simple one. Research shows that the messages parents send their kids about the sports they play have a powerful impact on their love of the game. The website bills itself as “a place for parents seeking balance, sanity, and an edge in the crazy world of youth sports.” Parents can nd helpful articles, resources, and lists such as “8 Things Young Athletes Wish They Could Tell Parents” by Alex Flanagan, which includes:

Are Energy Drinks Bringing Down Your Teen? The next time you hear your teen pop the top on another energy drink, you may want to have her reconsider. The powerful punch your kid gets from these drinks comes from eight times more ca eine than that found in soda, which gives him a quick rush, but then what? According to research, the more teens ingest, the more likely they are to have sleep di culties, racing heart symptoms, increased anxiety, risk of poor choices due to the edginess left by the drink, stomachaches, and headaches. Encourage your teen to nd healthy pick-me-ups like taking a walk, taking a break, listening to music, and especially, getting more actual sleep! Source: WebMD teen page

See the World Without Leaving the ‘Ville Save the passport and suitcase for another time and come downtown to World Fest 2016, September 2-5, at the Belvedere (5th and Main) to taste and see all the world has to o er. You’ll nd music and dancing, a parade of cultures, a global village for shopping, performances, and cultural foods. Information:

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• I like it when you come to my games and practices, but I want you to be silent most of the time. • It is nerve-wracking and distracting when you yell out instructions to me during an important moment in my game. • Winning isn’t what I enjoy most about playing.

Can You Read the Signs? It may feel like pulling teeth to get a grumbled response from your teenager, but according to Julie-Ann Amos in her article “The Body Language of Your Teenager,” you can decipher some critical clues. Slumped Posture: This might mean that she is worried, self-conscious, or simply pre-occupied. Amos’ Advice: Don’t push (or tell her to ‘stand up straight!’), but be available for casual conversation. Poor Eye Contact: Good eye contact is something that can take a while for teens to learn. It can make honest face-to-face conversation uncomfortable for him/her. Amos’ Advice: Start a chat while in the car or take a bike ride. It takes some pressure off f face-to-face conversation and may make your teen more comfortable. Just Hanging Around: If your teen usually goes off o his room but lately is hanging out in the living room with you, he may want to talk or he may just want some time together. Amos’ Advice: Don’t make a big deal and embarrass him by expressing surprise. Take the lead and do something together. (And don’t forget to treasure the moment!) // // @todaysfamilynow


FALL 2016 45



By Megan S. Willman


y son doesn’t understand my suspicion when he huddles in the corner of the car making sure I don’t see his phone screen. I assure him that these middleaged eyes are focused on the road and can’t read from that far away, but he steadfastly protects the privacy of a conversation consisting of “K” and “CU.” I get it, though. Privacy matters to all of us, and as parents of teenagers, we are navigating tricky waters. We need household guidelines concerning electronic privacy (phones/social media) as well as personal privacy (bedrooms). But how do we decide what those expectations should be? Our boys got phones when they turned 13. We have their passcodes, check the phones periodically, and “follow” their social media activity. As for their bedrooms, I enter often to bring in laundry. We don’t lock doors in our home, but I always knock first, and I expect them to do the same for me. They know that I will not go through their things, unless there is some reason to believe that they have put themselves at risk. My friends are basically on the same page. We have talked with our kids about expectations and grant them privileges based on the level of responsibility that each shows. We demonstrate our respect for them by beginning from a place of trust. Still, we all wonder if we’re doing the right thing.

Terri White, director of Student Services at St. Francis High School, agrees that “Privacy around phones and social media is a privilege.” She adds, “At the base of teenage privacy is the trust between parents and their children.” However, she asserts, “Physical privacy is more than a privilege. It is important to the emotional wellbeing of children and teens.” Terri provided me with a list of guidelines for each area:

Social Media/Cell Phone • Parents unite! Know where you stand before you talk to your teen. • Educate yourself by checking sites like,, and • Know your child. Parents usually know when a child is ready for a cell phone. • Ignore the claim that ‘Everyone I know has a phone except me.’ You decide when the time is right. • Recognize that phones and social media are a huge part of a teen’s social life and his/her sense of belonging and connectedness. • Provide clear expectations. Sample “contracts” are available online. • Be a good role model with your own electronic practices. • Follow your teen on social media but do it silently. Don’t embarrass your child with your comments. Talk about any issues in person.

Physical/Personal • Teens should have a designated space in your home. • Knock. Show that you respect that space. • “Snoop” only if you feel he’s at risk. You want to trust your teen, but he needs to trust you, too. • Teens have the right to have certain secrets from their parents. It’s good for them and us! • Let her know from an early age that her privacy will be violated if you ever think that she is at risk.




FALL 2016 47

Read about more healthy bodies on TodaysWoman



“My most recent fitness accomplishment has been to regain the muscle definition I had built prior to baby number two (8 months) by her first birthday. I remember feeling like I’d never reach my goal, overwhelmed at how far away I was from where I wanted or ‘used’ to be. I was quick to compare and convince myself that if I couldn’t be perfect at an eating plan or flawless in my seams, I could never be the woman I was before so why try. I felt too busy, too tired, and too squishy to be the fit girl I remembered. “But remembering my ‘why’ and what I could show to my class participants and kiddos, I kept on! I revised my schedule to be more ideal and less restricting, started tracking my caloric intake on a fitness app, cleaned up my eating habits, tracked and increased my water intake, and focused on creating more realistic, healthy goals that included family fit time. Everyone is busy, and mom-life is hard, but my fit goals are worth the struggles. Taking on these struggles can add up to make me the healthiest, strongest, and fittest me yet! I have almost passed the strength of the old me, and that is my power!”

Dixie Oxford, Mom of 2

Neuroscience/Transplant, Surgical Critical Care RN, KentuckyOne Health; Fitness Instructor, Louisville Athletic Club, Fitness Inspirer, B.YOU; Instructor, Northeast YMCA

48 FALL 2016 // // @todaysfamilynow

Today's Family Fall 2016  
Today's Family Fall 2016