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Little Rock Family Blog

Events, activities, news, insight and opinion from the trenches of parenthood by Little Rock Family Magazine Editor Heather Bennett and her editorial staff. Share tips, news and feedback with Heather here.
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Embracing the Chaos of New Fatherhood, Ready or Not

Arkansas Business Online Editor Lance Turner with his wife, Laura, and daughter, Elizabeth.

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I’m a father.

Yeah. I can’t believe it, either.

It’s been hard for me to think of myself as dad material. Measured against my own dad, I fall embarrassingly short. Sometimes I wonder, when Elizabeth gazes up at me, wide-eyed and quiet, if she knows this. Or at least suspects that I’m not ready.

I certainly wasn’t ready that first night, on no sleep and little patience, sequestered in recovery with my wife, Laura, and that new little stranger who required so much.

Between learning how to care for and feed a newborn and the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion of the day, that first night was tough. The next morning on the phone, I told Mom and Dad that I’d started rethinking this whole father thing. I was only half joking.

But nearly three months in, I’m feeling better about it. I’m settling into a role for which I am spectacularly unprepared and wholeheartedly determined not to screw up too badly.

Laura, of course, is brilliant.

Before Elizabeth arrived, she’d read all the books, talked to young mothers and logged endless hours online researching Everything About Babies. She’d monitored her diet and stayed in shape. She’d thought through feeding schedules, supplies and logistics.

She’d done the homework. She knew what was coming. I did not.

It wasn’t because I wasn’t interested. And I didn’t not prepare. I’d done the traditional “fatherly” things: painting the nursery, assembling the furniture, plotting the financial arrangements, baby-proofing the home. I’d gone with Laura to register for baby showers, gave thoughtful consideration to diaper bags and car seats, and spent hours upon hours weighing what we’d name her.

I even read a great book for fathers-to-be called “The Expectant Father,” by Armin Brott and Jennifer Ash, and devoured, with great appetite, each and every BabyCenter.com newsletter plotting our daughter’s growth, week by week.

But when it came to the nuts and bolts of what our lives would look like after Elizabeth arrived, I was oblivious. And now I’m playing catch-up.

This has required some adjustments, particularly when it comes to time management. Looking back, I’m astonished at how much time I had on my hands, pre-Elizabeth. I squandered some of it, reading the Internet and binge-watching Netflix. But I also spent a lot of extra hours at work, a trap most of us get sucked into.

So now I’m trying to work faster and more efficiently. Most days, I don’t linger too long at the office. I’m trying to delegate more to a talented staff that’s more than capable of picking up where I leave off. And, yes, I’ve even watched a few episodes of “Game of Thrones” on my iPhone, rocking Elizabeth to sleep in my arms.

I’ve also tried to “embrace the chaos.” That’s the personal guidepost of a friend who’s had more experience as a father and husband. And during the last few weeks, it’s really helped my world view.

Because it’s easy for me to look around the house and become overwhelmed by the little domestic tasks left undone, sabotaged by baby’s sneak attacks: a half-filled basket of clothes in front an open dryer door; the bed just barely made, its pillows lacking the shams; the trash left haphazardly by the door to the garage; my wife’s cellphone and a used burp cloth laying by the play mat splayed out on the living room floor; my office in disarray, desk piled high with papers and bills and checks half-written.

All this stuff—things left lying around, undone, nearly-but-not-quite accomplished as we tend to our little Elizabeth—would usually drive me mad with an urge to put away, do, complete. But, as my friend says, sometimes you’ve got to “embrace the chaos.” There are, and will be, worse things than this. I mean, Elizabeth isn’t even crawling yet!

But being a dad is more about mastering the tedious tasks of everyday childcare. It’s also about parenting: keeping your child safe, educating her and helping her learn to make good decisions.

On that front, the jury’s still out. I still have no idea what kind of parent I’ll be. Laura and I are lucky to have good role models, so we know good parents look like, even if we’re not sure how they did it.

And the truth is, they probably don’t know how they did it, either. I figure that my dad, looking down at me nearly 40 years ago, didn’t think he was ready either. But he made his adjustments and, like me today, had a brilliant partner to lean on.

Lance Turner has been with Arkansas Business Publishing Group since 1999, overseeing content for ABPG websites including ArkansasBusiness.com, where he edits the Daily Report enewsletter. He also delivers daily business news on “THV 11 This Morning” and is a regular panelist on AETN’s weekly public affairs program, “Arkansas Week.” He and wife Laura welcomed their first child, Elizabeth, in June—the topic of this month’s Family Chatter. You can follow their adventures, and those of their corgi Carly, on Instagram @lanceturner.

Fit Families Challenge: Meet the Nippers and Follow their Healthy Journey

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Editor's Note: Over the next six weeks, we're following along with the Nipper family as they take the Fit Families Challenge from Special Olympics Arkansas. The program is designed for individuals with special needs and their families, and encourages physical activity and healthy eating for the whole family. Read more about the free program here, and look for more installments from the Nipper family on our blog in the coming weeks.

"Ready, Set, Go" yells my wound-up 3-year-old as he races through the living room, dining room, kitchen and loops back around to the living room. He repeats this over and over and over again until our applause is clearly lacking as much enthusiasm as it had in the beginning. He stops to "stretch" and I can’t help but laugh and be amazed by how much he has picked up from tagging along to cross country practice with me every day.

My name is Christy Nipper and I am the head Cross Country coach at Little Rock Christian Academy and the mom of two sweet little ones -- Miles (3 years) and Molly (9 months). My husband, Luke Nipper, is the coordinator for 4-H ExCEL, a team-building and leadership program at the 4-H Center. We are both thankful to have jobs that keep us active and hope that our children will continue to be influenced by the exposure to physical activity.

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My son Miles began his career as my assistant coach at 2 weeks old. Nestled in a front carrier, he tagged along for the team’s second meet of the season…and he has been a huge part of the team ever since. It is so fun to see him try to imitate the runners as they warm up, do drills and run striders. When the workout starts, he changes gears and begins "coaching." He will imitate me by looking at his wrist and pretending to yell out times as the runners pass or cup his hands around his mouth to yell directions. I’m pretty sure Miles thinks he has 55 brothers and sisters as each member of the team will play with him, correct him, chase him, and include him in everything. The 7-12th grade students that run on our cross country teams are so supportive and inclusive of Miles and that means more than they will probably ever realize.

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When I was 16 weeks pregnant, I received a phone call from my doctor informing me of some "abnormal" test results. The next two weeks were a blur as we visited specialists and eventually learned our son would have Down syndrome. At the time, it was a very scary diagnosis as I knew very little about Down syndrome and had never really been around anyone with Down syndrome. In those early days all people tell you about is the potential health problems, the cognitive delays, and how much longer it will take your child to accomplish tasks such as crawling, walking, and talking. 

After three years I can honestly say that Down syndrome really is not the scary, hard journey we were warned about. In our experience, the journey has been filled with laughter, joy and some really fun dance parties. Sure, Miles receives 8 hours of therapy a week (PT, OT and Speech) and he does have to work a lot harder to reach some developmental milestones, but that makes the success that much sweeter! I remember and appreciate milestones many people probably do not even notice.

When we found out Miles would have Down syndrome, my biggest fear was how others would treat him. Watching the students on my team interact with Miles each day is a constant reassurance that he will be loved and accepted. The fact that Miles loves to be at practice reassures me that Miles will enjoy being active even with the extra challenges he experiences due to that extra chromosome.

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Miles has low muscle tone and a slower metabolism, which makes being active and eating well extremely important. When the fabulous staff at Miles’ school, Access, told us about the Fit Family program through Special Olympics, we were really excited to sign up! We want to start out teaching Miles and Molly the importance of being active, eating well and leading a healthy lifestyle.

The challenge comes with our busy schedules. By the time we get home from work, the kids are hungry and anxious for dinner, and then it seems like we only have about an hour before we have to begin getting them ready for bed. We are going to dedicate these next six weeks to really trying to find fun ways to fit in exercise. Follow us over the next six weeks as we strive to find fun ways to encourage exercise, target therapy goals, and make healthy eating choices!

How to Safely Include Pets in Halloween Festivities

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Including pets in your family's Halloween festivities can be a fun, but with all the excitement comes the chance for pets to get into danger or trouble.

Keeping your pet away from candy and other Halloween treats is especially important because so many favorites include chocolate, which is potentially toxic for dogs. It's also an ideal time to practice obedience commands with your four-legged friends, as crowds of unfamiliar people, costumes and lots of open doors can create temptations too hard to resist.

To include your furry family members while still keeping them safe during the fun, follow this advice from the pet experts at PetSmart:

Trick-or-treating together

  • Before hitting the streets, make sure your dog is socialized around kids, adults and other animals.
  • Bring water and dog treats to reward your dog for good behavior and reduce the desire to go for kids' candy.
  • Increase nighttime visibility with LED leashes, collars or harnesses, or look for light-up Halloween outfits.

Paw-sitively good party manners

  • Before guests arrive, practice "leave it" or a similar command. This is useful to help pets avoid candy or food they might encounter on the ground. Trainers can help you get it down right.
  • Establish a rule that guests don't feed the dog -- candy or human food. Many ingredients commonly found in Halloween candy can be harmful to your pet. For example, xylitol, found in gum and candy can cause dangerously low blood sugar or liver disease in dogs. Chocolate can create a range of symptoms, from vomiting to abnormal heart rhythm to death. Even snacks that are healthy for humans, such as raisins can cause a toxic reaction. Instead, offer a new interactive toy or long-lasting rawhide to keep your pup busy and out of temptation's way.
  • Prevent your dog from running out an open door by working on a "stay" command. PetSmart's expert trainer Debbie McKnight explains how to teach this trick: Ask your dog to sit, and praise him when he obeys. While your dog is sitting, say "stay" and place your hand flat with your palm facing the dog. Wait 2-3 seconds then give your dog a treat. You can increase the time he stays by a couple of seconds every three repetitions, working up to 30 seconds.
  • If you aren't confident about your dog's abilities, keep him on a leash while the doorbell is ringing.

Costume comfort and safety

  • A costume should never constrain or bother your pet. If your pet isn't comfortable, try a strap-on costume that attaches loosely with snaps, or find other ways to look festive.
  • Once a costume fits properly, make sure your pet won't trip on anything like a cape or ribbon. Check for little parts within chewing distance and keep identification tags on collars.
  • Throughout the evening, watch your pet and make adjustments as needed. You may need to cut or remove portions of the costume to increase a pet's comfort. The most important part of the evening is your pet's safety.

For more tips on pet safety, as well as costumes and events, visit your local PetSmart or PetSmart.com/halloween.

Article courtesy of Family Features and Petsmart.

5 DIY Halloween Costume Ideas, Plus How To Save

Gallery by Savers

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Thrifty parents know where to go to find affordable Halloween costumes -- local thrift stores like Goodwill and Savers, where you can cobble together your own DIY costumes (see five ideas below) while sticking to your budget.

Not into DIY? Even the most craft-challenged will find options at some of these stores. For example, each Savers location has a costume consultant to help customers create unique get-ups. Plus, the Halloween section has new and used costumes, wigs, masks, makeup, jewelry and more. That's right: If you aren't feeling up to the costume challenge, you can still pick out a packaged costume at a lower price.

Now for the hard part: Helping your family choose who (or what!) they want to be for Halloween! Find several ideas, including mad scientist and Charlie Brown, in Goodwill's "Chamber of Costumes" here.

Plus, here are five DIY costume tutorials from Savers:

1. Elsa from Disney’s Frozen

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What You’ll Need:

  • Fancy or frilly blue dress, blue slippers or flats
  • A wand, cape, and blonde wig

How to Create the Look:

Stay within your budget by combining a base piece, such as a fun or fancy blue dress from your child's closet (or thrifting one). Pair the dress with accessories like a blonde wig, snowflake wand and shimmery cape to create an Elsa look.

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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What You’ll Need:

  • Mix a solid color shirt or shorts in your favorite TMNT color—Raphael (red), Michelangelo (orange), Donatello (purple) or Leonardo (blue)— with black or green (shirts or shorts/tights) and black boots.
  • A TMNT backpack, nunchucks and matching bandana and/or socks. Other options include: gloves, matching sweat bands.

How to Create the Look:

It’s easy to put together a fun costume by mixing and matching solid color tops or bottoms in a mix of your favorite TMNT color, black and/or green. Don’t forget to accessorize with a TMNT backpack, nunchucks and a pizza box.

3. Katniss from The Hunger Games

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What You’ll Need:

  • Black long sleeve shirt, black pants, brown leather jacket, and boots
  • Bow and arrow set and brown wig long enough to braid

How to Create the Look:

This is an easy costume to put together. Many of the basic pieces can be found in your own closet, including black shirt and pants, and brown leather jacket and boots. Finish off the look with a bow and arrow set, and a long brown wig (if you need it).

4. Dracula

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What You’ll Need:

  • Black pants and red or black shirt
  • Patterned vest, Dracula cape, fangs, vampire makeup and Gothic jewelry

How to Create the Look:

Start with a button down red or black shirt, black slacks and dress shoes from your closet, and pair them with a patterned vest, Dracula cape and some Gothic jewelry from the Halloween section. Vampire fangs and makeup pull the whole look together.

5. Zombie Princess or Bride

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What You’ll Need:

  • Princess dress or fancy white dress
  • Princess crown or wedding veil, colorful hair extensions, tights, dress shoes or boots and zombie makeup

How to Create the Look:

Zombify your costume this Halloween by ripping and shredding the skirt of an old dress. Next, throw it in the dirt or even run over the costume with your car. Add black combat boots, ripped black tights, colorful hair extensions and a tiara to create a deathly frightening costume. Finish the look with a zombie makeup kit.

6 Ways To Help Your Kids Banish the Boogeyman

In addition to being a short-order cook, housekeeper, and 24/7 chauffeur, I’m also my kids’ #1 fear-fighter. I check under their beds for bad guys and stick my own arm in the toy bin “to make sure the crab isn’t real.”

My daughter believes zombies live in our attic and my son swears he’s seen a green ghost in my bedroom. I tell them, “Monsters are just pretend,” but neither child believes me. They’re convinced that danger lurks in the darkness.

Where Fears Come From

Kids’ fears are as unique as their personalities. Many young kids are afraid of animals and insects, characters in costumes, and things that go bump in the night. Others fear loud noises or believe they’ll be sucked down the toilet when it flushes. Even kids who don’t believe in the boogeyman may fret about schoolyard bullies.

“Some kids are more fearful than others because they are born with a predisposition to worry,” says San Diego, Calif., clinical psychologist Joanne Wendt, PhD. Other fears grow in response to trauma. For example, a child may start to fear bees after being stung himself or seeing a classmate get stung on the playground. A little information can be dangerous: Kids who learn about killer bees may believe backyard bumblebees are mini-mercenaries.

Adult role models can also fuel kids’ fears. A mom who is deathly afraid of escalators may pass along her anxieties by telling kids moving stairs are slippery and insisting the whole family take the elevator. Tamar Chansky, PhD, author of Freeing Your Child from Anxiety, says, “Parents need to be mindful of the signals they send so they don’t send fearful messages about objects or situations that are basically safe, or can be managed,” she says.

Fight Fears Together

Dismissing kids’ concerns isn’t the answer. “Parents can unintentionally feed kids’ fears by reassuring them they have nothing to worry about,” Wendt warns. The best approach is problem-solving. Here are some ways to do it.

Identify the issue. When your child comes to you for help with a fear, engage in some critical thinking. Questions like “Why are you afraid of this spider?” and “Have you been hurt by a spider in the past?” encourage your child define her fear more clearly. Once she’s defined her fear, she can start to question its legitimacy.

Teach kids to think twice. First, ask your child what worry is telling him about the situation, using a funny voice or puppet to represent worry. “Then, using his ‘smarter mind,’ ask your child what he really thinks will happen,” Chansky says. A worry might be saying, “The 6th-grade bully will toss me in the trash can,” but your child’s smarter side knows, “The trash can has a locked cover.”

Fight scary with silly. Have your child draw a picture of the thing that scares her. Then, do a goofy makeover complete with a ballet tutu and hair curlers. Coach your child to imagine the monster slipping on a banana peel or falling off a cliff. “This allows her to take charge of her fear and her imagination,” Chansky says.

Practice self-soothing. Kids can learn breathing and muscle relaxation techniques to calm themselves. The easiest strategy is to breathe slowly while counting to four and breathe out while counting to seven. This focuses your child’s attention and puts him back in control. “Repeating a special word, phrase or affirmation, such as ‘I can handle this,’ also eases anxiety,” Wendt says. Practice these calming behaviors every day so they become automatic.

Step it up. Use a technique called systematic desensitization to approach the feared situation gradually. “Make a simple drawing of a stairway from the side view and put your child’s goal at the top,” Chansky says. Then start at the bottom and write in steps from the least to most threatening. For example, a child whose goal is to pet a dog might start by looking at pictures of dogs, visiting a pet store or animal shelter and letting a dog sniff her hand. Remind your child to take deep breaths as anxieties escalate.

Be patient. Forcing kids to confront their fears when they aren’t ready will only increase their anxiety. Talk about your own insecurities and model a courageous approach to the unknown. When your child feels overwhelmed, allow him to step back and observe the scary situation from a distance. Before long, he’ll probably be ready to reengage.

If Ghosts Won’t Go

All kids have occasional worries, but some suffer from intense and persistent fears. “Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders, affecting between 10 and 17 percent of children and teens,” Chansky says. “They are also the most treatable.” Using cognitive-behavioral therapy, kids can learn to turn down their over-reactive emotion systems and teach their brains new tricks.

If your child’s fears keep her from enjoying everyday activities at home and at school, reach out to your pediatrician or school psychologist. A professional fear-buster can help your child say “Boo!” to ghosts and other childhood anxieties.

Outsmart Anxieties

Research and logic can help kids shrink fears down to size. “Have your child write down three facts about his feared situation to put it in perspective,” says licensed professional counselor Neil McNerney, LPC, of Reston, Va. A child who is afraid of thunder storms might note:

  1. Thunder makes a loud boom, but it can’t hurt me.
  2. I can keep myself safer by staying inside during a storm.
  3. The odds of being struck by lightning are only 1 in 700,000.

Bottom line: Fear is a healthy response to a dangerous world. Encourage your child to learn from it.

Helpful Picture Books

Scary stories allow kids to practice coping from a safe emotional distance. These books confront kids’ fears head-on without inspiring nightmares.

"The Dark, Dark Night" (2008) by M. Christina Butler and Jane Chapman. A fearful frog mistakes his own shadow for a swamp monster in this sweet read.

"A Not Scary Story About Big Scary Things" (2010) by C.K. Williams. A growling monster begs a brave boy to believe in him in this silly story.  

"Wemberly Worried" (2000) by Kevin Henkes. Anxious kids will recognize themselves in Wemberly, a shy white mouse with lots of worries. 

Frightfully Fun: Halloween Events for Families in Central Arkansas

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Your little monsters have lots of activities this month! Mark some of these Halloween events in central Arkansas on your calendar and enjoy big smiles and making memories.

For even more Halloween and Harvest events, browse our full online calendar, where you can search by date and categories (including free events!).

Annual Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at The Wonder Place: Little ones who aren't ready for all of the frights and thrills can hang out at this sweet soiree that includes goody bags, storytime, special crafts and a scavenger hunt. Family-friendly costumes are encouraged. The second adult in the family receives free admission. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 24. $5, kids under 1 are free. For info: (501) 225-4050, TheWonderPlace.com.

Big Boo!-seum Bash in Downtown Little Rock: At this 19th annual Halloween celebration, kids can enjoy a safe and fun evening at museums and businesses downtown, including Museum of Discovery, Arkansas Arts Center, Historic Arkansas Museum and others (see full list of participating locations here). Little boys and ghouls can visit participating locations at no charge and take part in storytimes, games and trick-or-treating. Pick up game cards at any participating location and get the card stamped at each location to be eligible for prize drawings, including a flat screen TV, $100 gift card and basket of goodies. Hosted by the Greater Little Rock Museum Consortium and sponsored by the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau. 6-8 p.m. Oct. 30. For info: (501) 376-4781, LittleRock.com. FREE!

Boo at the Zoo at Little Rock Zoo: Arkansas's largest Halloween festival is back Oct. 17-Nov. 1 and filled with lots of howl-oween fun. Boo At The Zoo is appropriate for families with children of all ages, and features a safe environment for trick-or-treating. Don your costumes, stroll through the colorful lights and Halloween-themed decorations, and enjoy nightly dance contests, free carousel rides, glitter tattoos, live music, a dance party and more. 6-9 p.m. Oct. 19; 6-9 p.m. Oct. 23-Nov. 1. $10, all-inclusive arm bands $20. For info: (501) 666-2406, LittleRockZoo.com.

Haunted Halloween in the Park at Lake Catherine State Park: Activities include trick-or-treating in the campground, a costume contest, hay rides, marshmallow roasts, Arkansas ghost stories, and more. 6-9 p.m. Oct. 25. For info: (501) 844-4176, ArkansasStateParks.com/LakeCatherine. FREE!

Halloween Carnival and Crafts at Amy Sanders Library: Join the family-friendly Halloween fun, including a costume contest (adult and children's divisions), games, crafts, and music. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 28. For info: (501) 835-7756, CALS.org. FREE!

Halloween Fun at Petit Jean State Park: Celebrate the season on Petit Jean Mountain. Family nature activities will be provided, and costumes are welcome. Contact the park for a schedule as the event draws near. Oct. 31. For info: (501) 727-5441, PetitJeanStatePark.com. FREE!

Halloween Hayride at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Enjoy a fun-filled evening hayride complete with a roaring campfire and treats. Advance payment and registration required. 5-7 p.m. Oct. 26 & 31. $12; children ages 6-12 are $6. For info: (501) 868-5806, ArkansasStateParks.com/PinnacleMountain.

Halloween Kids Night Out at Unity Martial Arts: Kids ages 7 and up play action games during a safe and spooky adventure night. $25. 6-9 p.m. Oct. 31. For info: (501) 664-0604, UnityMartialArts.com.

Halloween on Ice Show at Arkansas Skatium: A Halloween performance features local skaters of all ages in costumes. 6:30-7:15 p.m. Oct. 28. $3, kids 5 and under are free. For info: (501) 227-4333, ArkansasSkatium.com.

Mac-O-Lanterns at MacArthur Park: This pumpkin carving contest and event features music, food trucks, face painting and libations at MacArthur Park. Pumpkin carving begins at 3 p.m. and the evening celebration goes from 5-8 p.m. The lighting of the lanterns begins at 6:24 p.m. Pumpkin carvers must pre-register by Oct. 22. 3 p.m. Oct. 25. $5, kids under 12 are free. For info: (501) 375-0121, MacArthurParkLR.com.

Magic Screams at Magic Springs Water and Theme Park in Hot Springs: Family events, including rides for kids and a haunted house for younger children, are planned for daytime hours before scarier monsters and events emerge from the shadows at dusk. Open Sat. & Sun. Oct. 11-Nov. 2 & Oct. 31. Hours: 4-11 p.m. Sat.; 4-9 p.m. Sun.; and 4-11 p.m. on Halloween night. $29.99; kids under 48" inches are $19.99; kids under 3 are free. Look for $19.99 tickets at Walgreens, too. For info: (501) 624-0100, MagicSprings.com.

Great Pumpkin Halloween at Bass Pro Shops: This Peanuts-themed event features all of the classic characters, including Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Sally and Lucy. Kids can participate in a costume parade, trick-or-treating and craft activities. Visitors can also have a free photo taken with life-size cutouts of the Peanuts characters. Oct. 24-31; hours vary. See website for full list of activities and specific times. For info: BassPro.com/Halloween. FREE!

Screening of "Monster House" at CALS Ron Robinson Theater: A special screening of PG-rated "Monster House" will thrill the audience, along with movie-themed concessions. This event is part of Big BOO!seum Bash. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30. $5. For info: (501) 918-3000, CALS.org.

Silver Moon Cinema Presents "Hotel Transylvania" at Hendrix: The Village in Conway: Bring a lawn chair, blanket, or other comfy seating, load up the kids and enjoy a movie night under the stars for just $1. This small donation to a local charity gets you a spot in the street to view the movie. Movies start at dark; the time changes depending on the sunset and any pre-movie activities; check the website for updates. 6:30 p.m. Oct. 25. $1 donation. For info: (501) 450-6186, SilvermoonCinema.com.

Skatium Spooky Skate at Arkansas Skatium: Roll through Halloween at the Skatium. Don your costume and receive $2 off admission. 6-8 p.m. ice skating; 6-10 p.m. roller skating. 6-10 p.m. Oct. 30. $7; $2 discount for those who wear a costume. For info: (501) 227-4333, ArkansasSkatium.com.

Trunk or Treat and Fall Fest at Chenal Valley Church: Come for trunk-or-treating for candy and treats, lots of fun carnival-style games with prizes, face painting, photo booth, and more. Fun for all ages but geared for toddlers through 6th graders. 6-6:30 p.m. Trunk or Treat; 6:30-8 p.m. Fall Fest. Oct. 29. Free admission and games. For info: (501) 868-9808, ChenalValleyChurch.org. FREE!

Boo at the Zoo Opens Oct. 19; Win Tickets from Little Rock Family

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Boo at the Zoo, a favorite annual attraction for Little Rock families, opens this weekend at the Little Rock Zoo! The proceeds of the Halloween event help to fund the zoo's daily operations and carry out the mission of conservation education and wildlife preservation.

Boo at the Zoo offers a safe environment for families, where children can trick-or-treat, hop on carnival rides or bounce in inflatable attractions. Visitors can check out the Enchanted Forest, bust a move at Frankenstein's Dance Party and brave a kid-friendly haunted house. Plus, don't miss the nightly dance performances and food truck concessions.

And, on Nov. 1, the festival honors the Mexican Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, tradition with a special celebration.

The fun kicks off this Friday, Oct. 17 with an adult-only night. The Little Rock Zoo will be closed Saturday, Oct. 18 for the Razorbacks game at War Memorial Stadium, and Boo at the Zoo officially begins Sunday, Oct. 19, and runs Oct. 24-Nov. 1.

General admission is $10 per person and includes 6 tickets to be used for trick-or-treat stations, rides or attractions. All-inclusive wristband admission is $20 per person and includes unlimited rides and attractions (except food and fortune-telling), plus 6 tickets for trick-or-treat stations. For more info, click here.

Little Rock Family Giveaway

Little Rock Family readers have three chances to win ticket packages to Boo at the Zoo! All contests will be held on our Facebook page here. Here's the giveaway schedule:

Thursday, Oct. 16: Two VIP Passes (each includes all-inclusive wristband, reusable bag, snack, and two tickets for wine or beer) and Two All-Inclusive Wristband tickets.

Thursday, Oct. 23: Two VIP Passes (includes all-inclusive wristbands, reusable bag, snack, and two tickets for wine or beer) and Two All-Inclusive Wristband tickets.

Thursday, Oct. 30: Family four-pack of all-inclusive wristband tickets.

Visit our Facebook page for more information on entering our giveaways!

10 Events for Weekend Fun: Pooches & Pumpkins, Razorbacks and More

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It's the last weekend to visit the Arkansas State Fair, and the first weekend for the 2014 Boo at the Zoo! Plus, there's still plenty of pumpkin-picking to do. And, if you need a good scare, you can head to Magic Screams (read our full article here)!

Here are 10 ideas for family fun this weekend (Oct. 17-19), from dog costume contests to live music!

1. Razorback Football: University of Georgia vs. University of Arkansas at War Memorial Stadium: Get ready, Little Rock! The Hogs take on the Bulldogs at War Memorial this weekend. Ticket prices vary. 3 p.m. Oct. 18. For info: ArkansasRazorbacks.com.

2. Boo at the Zoo at Little Rock Zoo: This popular Halloween festival is back Oct. 19-Nov. 1 (plus an adult preview night on Oct. 17!) and filled with lots of howl-o-ween fun. The festival is appropriate for families with children of all ages, and features a safe environment for trick-or-treating. Don your costumes, stroll through the colorful lights and Halloween-themed decorations, and enjoy nightly dance contests, free carousel rides, glitter tattoos, live music, a dance party and more. Zoo is closed Oct. 18 for Razorback football game; 6-9 p.m. Oct. 19, 6-9 p.m. Oct. 23-Nov. 1. $10; all-inclusive arm bands $20. For info: (501) 666-2406, LittleRockZoo.com.

3. Arkansas State Fair at Arkansas State Fairgrounds: The fair continues through Oct. 19, with rides, a petting zoo, concerts and more. For more info, read our full blog post here.

4. Farm Fest at St. Joseph Farm in North Little Rock: A celebration on the picturesque 63-acre farm includes a pumpkin patch, sorghum-Sudan maze, tours through the seven-acre Food Forest -- a project designed to feed the hungry and planted with fruit, berry and nut trees. The opening weekend (Oct. 18-19) will feature music all day, hayrides, the Arkansas Craftsman Fair, local food and a pioneer village filled with costumed actors. $15 Sat., $10 Sun.; children under 12 $7; children 2 and under free. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 18-19. For info: (870) 370-4047, StJosephFarm.com.

5. Pooches & Pumpkins at The Good Earth Garden Center: There will be many fall-themed areas for family photos, a pet costume contest, free hot dogs, hayrides, balloons, face painting, live music and much more. Local rescue groups have been invited, too. Kids and pets in costume get little pumpkins while they last. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 18. For info: (501) 868-4666, TheGoodEarthGarden.com. FREE!

6. 3rd Annual Paws on Pinnacle at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: This event features informative programs about caring for your dog, getting outside and hiking safely with your dog, and agility and working dog demonstrations. The final event of the day will be a dog "Howl-O-Ween" costume contest! Programs begin at 8 a.m., and the costume contest at 3 p.m. All well-behaved dogs on a leash are welcome to attend. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 18. For info: (501) 868-5806, ArkansasStateParks.com/PinnacleMountain. FREE!

7. 2nd Annual Biketoberfest at River Market Pavilions: The Little Rock River Market, Chainwheel and Recycle Bikes for Kids present this 2nd annual event that features bikes, beer, music, art and a stunt BMX show! Soft Drinks, water and beer are available for sale; with a portion of the proceeds going to the Arkansas Freedom Fund. Noon-5 p.m. Oct. 19. For info: Rivermarket.info. Admission FREE!

8. 5th Annual Arkansas Walk Now for Autism Speaks at Clinton Presidential Library: This signature event for Autism Speaks generates funds for autism research, raises awareness and connects local families. There is no fee to walk in the event, but each participant who raises at least $150 will receive a commemorative t-shirt. The one-mile family fun walk begins at 10:25 a.m. This year, runners can also participate in the 2nd Annual Arkansas 5K, held in conjunction with the walk event. the run begins at 7 a.m.; registration is $20, plus an option for a 5K t-shirt. 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Oct. 18. For info: WalkNowForAutismSpeaks.org.

9. ASO Masterworks Series: Blazing Brass at Maumelle Performing Arts Center: Richard Jorgensen, principal trumpet with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, performs selections by composers Joseph Haydn and Anton Bruckner. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 & 3 p.m. Oct. 19. Tickets are $19-$58, children are free to Sunday performance with the Entergy Kid's Ticket. For info: (501) 666-1761, ArkansasSymphony.org.

10. Justin Moore in Concert at First Security Amphitheatre: Local country musician (and dad!) Justin Moore brings his "Off the Beaten Path" tour to Little Rock for an outdoor concert in the First Security Amphitheatre. The night kicks off with opening act Backroad Anthem. $25.50. 7 p.m. Oct. 17. For info: Ticketmaster.com.

For more events, browse our full online calendar here.

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About The Author
Jennifer Pyron is the Associate Publisher and Editor of Little Rock Family magazine. She is the go-to gal for family events, activities, news and opinion. She and husband Charles are the proud, exhausted, penniless parents of Charles Jr. and Emily. Plus, should you need a pop culture lifeline on "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire," you may call her.
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