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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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10 Events for Weekend Fun: Basketball, Symphony and Gingerbread Houses

Image by Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

It's beginning to look (and sound and taste!) a lot like Christmas! This weekend's big events include the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's annual holiday concert, plus multiple gingerbread house workshops. Razorback fans can also attend men's and women's basketball games at Verizon Arena, or catch one of the final performances of "The Velveteen Rabbit" at Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre.

Keep reading for details on all 10 family fun events this weekend, Dec. 19-21!

1. Swingin' Holiday Extravaganza at Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center: Popular singers Destan Owen and Mandy Gonzalez return to lead a celebration of holiday music and festival, including traditional tunes “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." The exciting and uplifting swing stylings of Owen and Gonzalez are sure to bring a smile to faces of all ages this holiday season! $19-$58; children free at Sunday matinee with Entergy Kids ticket. Performances are: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19 & 20; 3 p.m. Dec. 21. For info: (501) 666-1761, ArkansasSymphony.org.

2. The Velveteen Rabbit at Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre: A Christmas-themed childhood favorite of the story of a stuffed rabbit and his quest to become real through the love of his owner comes to life on stage. The Velveteen Rabbit is written by Alan Keith Smith and based on the story by Margery Williams. $12.50; AAC members are $10. Performances are: 7 p.m. Fri., 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. Sat.; 2 p.m. Sun. Through Dec. 21. For info: (501) 372-4000, ArkansasArtsCenter.org.

3. Gingerbread House Workshop at the Capital Hotel: Kids construct their gingerbread houses with the expert instruction of the The Capital Hotel's pastry professionals. The gingerbread houses, candy, instruction, and an apron are provided, and snacks will be served. The class is limited, and advance registration is required. $55 per child; adults are $20. 10 a.m.-noon Dec. 20. For info: (501) 374-7474, CapitalHotel.com.

4. Women's SEC/Big 12 Challenge at Verizon Arena: This premiere showcase event promotes teams from two of the top women’s basketball conferences in the nation! Games are: 12:30 p.m. Texas vs. Texas A&M and 3 p.m. Arkansas vs. Oklahoma. Dec. 21. $18, kids 2-12 $12. For info: (501) 975-9000, VerizonArena.com.

5. University of Arkansas Men's Basketball vs. Southeast Missouri Redhawks at Verizon Arena: This weekend, you can also cheer on the Razorback men as they battle the Redhawks at Verizon Arena. $25 plus tax. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20. For info: (501) 975-9000, VerizonArena.com.

6. Holiday Movies: It's a Wonderful Life (PG) at Colonel Glenn 18+XTREME: Don't miss the 1946 classic starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. In the film, an angel helps the conflicted George Bailey see what life would have been like if he had never existed. 2 p.m. Dec. 21. For info: (501) 687-0499, Cinemark.com.

7. Christmas Museum Open House at Plantation Agriculture Museum in Scott: Bring the family and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere for the holidays while shopping in the gift shop (all items will be 20 percent off), making crafts, sipping hot mulled-apple cider or coffee, and nibbling on homemade treats. Activities will include the museum's annual graham cracker house contest, candle making, soap making, music, and various seasonal, period crafts. $1 per craft. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 20. For info: (501) 961-1409, ArkansasStateParks.com/PlantationAgricultureMuseum.

8. Gingerbread House Making at CALS Main Library: Kids craft gingerbread houses for free! 3 p.m. Dec. 20. For info: (501) 918-3000, CALS.org. FREE!

9. Caroling in the Forest at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Meet at the Kingfisher Trailhead to stroll into the forest and sing favorite Christmas carols along a paved path that is wheelchair and stroller friendly. Dress warmly and bring a flashlight and your best singing voice. Visit with everyone afterwards as we serve hot chocolate around a campfire at the Pinnacle Pavilion. This fun family activity has quickly become a local winter tradition! 7-9 p.m. Dec. 20. For info: (501) 868-5806, ArkansasStateParks.com/PinnacleMountain. FREE!

10. Music & Fun with the Kinders at CALS Main Library: Take a break from holiday hoopla for this fun and lively children's concert featuring Brian and Terri Kinder. 10:30 a.m. Dec. 20. For info: (501) 918-3000, CALS.org. FREE!

Looking for more holiday fun? Check out these articles from Little Rock Family: 5 Christmas Tree Farms in Central Arkansas, 7 Places to See Holiday Lights, Where to Find Santa Claus, and 8 Holiday Shows for Families.

7 Ways To Prepare Your Child for Surgery

Going through a surgery, major or minor, can be a source of anxiety for parents and children. While some surgeries, particularly emergencies, do not lend themselves towards excessive preparation, your child needs reassurance and support from their family before, during and after any surgical procedure.

Before we dive in, recognize that every surgery and every child is different. A low-anxiety kid going under a light anesthetic to have tubes place in their ears will need much less reassurance than a high-anxiety child going in for a potentially life-threatening procedure. By following the tips below, you can be a pillar of strength and comfort for your child and ease your own anxieties in the process.

1. Talk About the Surgery with Your Child

The type and amount of information you give to your child about their upcoming surgery will be based on their maturity level and age. You may sit down with your older child and go over the anatomy of their surgery in a book, while discussing the benefits and possible drawbacks that come along with the surgery.

For a younger child, you may check some books out of the library about going to the hospital, talk about their type of surgery and what they should expect during the process. If you are preparing your very young child for a non-routine procedure, reassure them that the doctors are experts and have performed their type of surgery many times before.

2. Bring Comfort Objects Along for the Ride

If your child has a special comfort object, take it with you to the hospital. Most hospitals will allow your child to take their comfort object with them into the operating room and, while “Spot” may be stowed under the table during the procedure, your child will have it when they fall asleep and it will be there when they wake up. Have your child’s favorite drinks and, if allowed, food items available soon after surgery.

Remembering what to bring to the hospital can be daunting, especially when you’re already stressed. Once you have everything together for your child, you will invariably forget to bring something for yourself. Below is a list of things for you and for your child (age dependant).

For you: For your child:
Referral paperwork Swaddle blankets for babies
Identification Pajamas/comfortable clothes
Insurance Card(s) Your child’s special toy
Hair ties (if needed) DVD player/laptop
Slippers or socks with rubber soles Toys for babies
Change for vending machines Books
Snacks Magna doodle
Water/drinks Gaming system
Comfy clothes (dark colors hide stains) Puzzle books
Phone charger A list of the meds your child is on
Cell phone Mylar balloon for little ones (if allowed)
iPad Your child’s formula or breast milk
Books Ziploc baggies
Cards Wipes/diapers
Camera Antibacterial wipes
Medication Pacifiers
Breast pump (if needed) Tissues
Shampoo Your child’s sippy cup or bottle (if allowed)
Toothbrush/toothpaste Soap
Any other toiletries Brush
Pillow and blanket Toothbrush/toothpaste
Your own hand or facial soap

3. Prepare for Your Child’s Hospital Stay and Homecoming

If your child needs to stay overnight in the hospital, check with staff to verify what items you can and cannot bring. For most hospital stays, your child will wear a gown most of the time. To help make them more comfortable, a set of pajama pants, sweatpants or leggings might be of comfort. For babies, using baby legwarmers will help them stay warmer but will not make diaper changes difficult.

Once your child is in their room, you may or may not get the opportunity to leave depending on hospital policy. Make sure to check rules before your child’s surgery so you are well prepared.

4. Don’t Let Your Worry Show

If you are anxious, chances are good that your child is going to pick up on those feelings. Let them talk to you about their concerns and address them with care. Try not to let your worry and concern creep into the conversation. That will do nothing but fuel your already anxious child’s emotional state. Keep a positive attitude when you are with your child (even if you are very worried).

5. Give Them Some Leeway

Before and after surgery, be sensitive to your child’s needs. You will likely notice changes in their behavior. They may act unkindly towards their sibling(s) more than usually or cry about things that would not normally bother them. The reality is that, if they are old enough, they are likely as nervous about the surgery as you are. Give them a little room with their behavior and chores, and offer a reassuring hug whenever it is needed.

6. Lavish the Love

In the weeks, hours and minutes leading up to surgery, give your child as many hugs and kisses as you can. Your support is something that they need during this time whether they know it or not.

7. Accept Support

When you come home from the hospital with your child, you may find that you need a lot more help than you originally thought. If you have younger or older children, they will still need to be cared for. Dinner and laundry will still be there and your post-op patient is going to need more care and extra love. If you are part of a community, accept support that comes your way whether it is a neighbor offering to host your younger child for a play date or your mother-in-law who offers to cook you dinner.

Whether your child is going in for a minor procedure or headed to the hospital for a major surgery, stay strong, be positive and keep the preceding tips in mind.

Beth N. Davis writes from Rockville, MD where she and her husband are raising their four children.

Unplug to Recharge: Making the Most of the Holidays (Without Social Media)

Image by Shutterstock

Studies show that social media has affected our interpersonal communication offline. We take and share pictures, think of clever hashtags and vie for the most liked posts. While social media is a great way to stay in touch with our friends around the nation and globe during times of celebration, it is good to be intentional with how we spend our time on social media—especially when surrounded by those we love.

As the Executive Director and Founder of Link Year, a program focused on developing spiritual and emotional intelligence in recent high school graduates, we use periods of being unplugged to help cultivate emotional intelligence. In the last four years I have seen nothing but benefits from unplugging our students and engaging in community, quiet and freedom from distractions.

With the holiday season afoot, our families have a great opportunity to make the most of our time together, exercising interpersonal communication skills and recharging the bonds under our own roofs. Let your experiences this holiday season revolve around each other and set the tone for future family time.

I don’t want to grow up with my kids thinking their dad was always distracted. If we as parents model a healthy communication lifestyle for our own children, we set them up for greater success. Here are seven ways to unplug from social media and recharge family bonds while encouraging your teens to do the same. These practices might even supply some great posts for the year ahead!

1. #LaterGram: Yes, share your special moments—but experience them while they are happening. We used to take pictures to capture moments. Now we take them to create moments. As a result, we often miss the moments.

2. #NoPhoneZone: When I grew up, we turned off the TV and sat around the supper table for a meal and quality time. We even asked to be dismissed! Now, the TVs are in our pockets. It takes a lot more intention to focus. When you make the table a #NoPhoneZone, it forces you to look at the faces across from you and engage in real conversation.

3. Create together: Make your favorite breakfast casserole, coffee cake or hot chocolate and enjoy it together. Take a photo of your delicious creation and share with friends.

4. Bundle Up: It might be cold outside, but don't let that stop you! Put on your new scarf or favorite sweatshirt and share some outdoor fun.

5. Play a Game: Friendly competition leads to fun conversation and memories. Who had the best impression or drawing?

6. #TBT: Take an afternoon to sift through the container full of old photos under the bed and reminisce about the fun your family has had. You could supply every #TBT for 2015!

7. #NoCellPhoneSunday: My wife and I faithfully power down our cells every Saturday night and do not turn them back on until Monday morning. This has been a huge blessing to our young family. Try it. Pick a day this holiday season to completely turn the phone off. You might be hooked and take a Sabbath each week!

Adam Donyes is the Executive Director and Founder of Link Year, Kanakuk Ministries’ post-high school program designed to build a solid foundation within each student. This helps participants develop socially and spiritually before entering a university setting. Participants unplug from all Internet and social media for four periods ranging from one to four weeks during the 9-month program. Donyes began his career as a worldview and apologetics teacher at a Christian high school near Kansas City. Here he developed a passion for developing spiritual and emotional intelligence in youth. He has been serving alongside Kanakuk in various roles for 14 years.

Elizabeth Smart's Message of Hope

#asset_cutline

She is demure, stunning, poised, warm and wise beyond her years. She is Elizabeth Smart. She was the 14-year-old girl in Salt Lake City, Utah whose kidnapping by Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee in 2002 captured the attention of a nation. She is the same young lady who still holds our attention today, not only because of what she endured, but because of what she has become. She has become a champion for abused children. She advocates for awareness and action. She advocates for my child, your child and every child.

I had the honor of visiting with Elizabeth when she was in Little Rock recently. She was the featured speaker at an event supporting Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s fundraising initiatives for the Children’s House, a comprehensive care facility for children and families affected by abuse. The 23,000 square-foot building will consolidate all child maltreatment programs into one location close to the hospital’s new Emergency Department—providing a seamless transition from inpatient to outpatient care.

In her 2013 book “My Story,” Elizabeth chronicles her nine-month-long abuse and torture at the hands of her kidnappers and how through her faith and the love of her family, she survived the ordeal to become a warrior for children’s rights. She dedicated her book to “the safe return of missing children everywhere.” She is now married and President of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which advocates for change in the areas of child abduction and recovery programs and legislation.

While preparing for the interview, my mind made one of those connections that paralyzes you for a moment. Hanging in my thoughts, it gripped my throat and made me shiver. Elizabeth was 14 when she was abducted. My daughter is 14. My mind swirled with emotion. I couldn’t even comprehend the gravity of the situation for Elizabeth, for her family… for her mother.

Instead of asking Elizabeth to re-tell her ordeal in the interview, I asked her what she would say to my daughter or any other girl or boy out there that might encounter abuse at some point in their lives. If she were to write them a letter, what would she say? What would she say to parents? She graciously poured out her heart.

From Elizabeth to Your Child

I would say a lot! I would want them to know that despite what has happened, you are still special. You were born with value and no one can take that away. You can never be cheapened. Bad things happen and you are not alone. Make the decision to not allow this to ruin your life. You can become a doctor, a mom, a writer, anything. There are a lot of options like advocacy centers where people care and want to help. There is a wealth of resources to help you along your journey. It’s not a one size fits all and that’s okay.

For me, music was a big part of my healing. I play the harp. I always felt like I could play what I felt. It was a release. Celebrate each little triumph along the way. Be goal-oriented. Sometimes just to get out of bed is a big deal. Then you can make new goals. Take it at your own pace, maybe just one a month. It’s okay.

More than anything, please don’t feel guilty or responsible. The abuse, rape and kidnapping were not my fault. No one has the right to do that to anyone. Just like wearing a skirt doesn’t give anyone the right to rape you. Even if you feel that it’s easier to let the abuse go, don’t. That abuser is probably abusing someone else. It’s a real battle. Maybe it’s a boyfriend. Even if you love them, if it’s against your will, it is not okay. Don’t carry that pain around with you the rest of your life.

Live life. Go out and do the things you wanted to do before the abuse. My grandfather said, “If you look back in 20 years and think you should’ve tried it, then do it. It’s how we learn.”

From Elizabeth to You

Please talk to your child and be involved in your child’s life. It will help. These kinds of things happen. Talk with your child about what to do. Practice screaming and kicking and that it’s essential to fight back. Not all adults are good. Even if you meet someone once, they’re still a stranger.

If your child comes to you, always believe them. Always take your child’s side. Their safety is more important than a rift in the family. There are so many fabulous resources for parents too. You don’t have to fight it on your own.

Your child needs to remain your #1 focus and they will go on. This doesn’t have to follow them around the rest of their life. Be there for them until they’re ready to talk to you. My family loved me and treated me like they always did. They saw me for me and not what had happened. That line of communication is so important. Don’t think about things from an adult perspective or rationale. Think about things from a kid’s perspective.

From Elizabeth to Us All

#asset

Instead of asking “Why me?” I asked “Why not me?” I have a happy, secure, supportive family. I wanted to help people and now I already have a voice in this area. I have a stage. I’ve become more and more engrossed in this “life calling.” It’s easy to get caught up in it being a losing battle, but meeting people who are making a difference every day gives me courage to keep fighting. My favorite thing is just seeing all of the people who care. It’s so hope-inspiring and makes everything worth it. I want people to remember that one person CAN make a difference. I’m hopeful and hope-filled.

Win Two 2015 Season Passes to Magic Springs Water and Theme Park

Image by Magic Springs & Crystal Falls

Step outside--it feels more like a nice spring day than the week before Christmas. So we thought it would be the perfect day to give away two 2015 season passes to Magic Springs Water and Theme Park!

You can enter to win the two season passes at Facebook.com/LittleRockFamily. The deadline to enter is 3 p.m. today, Dec. 15. The winner will be announced at 4 p.m. on our Facebook page.

Then, start dreaming about rollercoasters and water slides! Season passes include unlimited park access for the 2015 season, plus free entry to the entire Magic Springs summer concert series (which will include a performance by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on June 20, 2015), access to the Magic Screams Halloween festival and more.

If you're still looking for the perfect Christmas present for the whole family, Magic Springs is currently offering an online deal: Buy your season passes right now and pay nothing until March. Learn more at MagicSprings.com.

Nominate a Faith-Based Organization or Program for Family Faith Builders

Do you know of an organization working to enrich the faith of families in central Arkansas? Nominate them today for Little Rock Family's inaugural class of Family Faith Builders!

Little Rock Family is looking for faith-based programs that are constructing communities of character through unique and innovative youth programs—including youth groups and children's ministries, mission trips, mentoring programs, community outreach, nonprofit work and more.

Programs must involve youth (preschool to college-age) and must have a presence in central Arkansas. All faith-based organizations, from churches to temples to nonprofit missions, are eligible to be considered for the Family Faith Builders program.

Programs selected for Family Faith Builders will be featured in the March 2015 issue of Little Rock Family.

Visit LittleRockFamily.com/FaithBuilders to nominate a program; the deadline to submit a nomination is January 5, 2015.

Learning to Inhale: Asthma Management Tips for Children

Although asthma is a serious disease, there are many ways to control it in children and keep them healthy. Asthma causes swelling and inflammation in the airways that lead to the lungs and make it hard to breathe. Symptoms can include wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing.

Approximately one in 12 people has asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and it is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases. It runs in families so if an adult has asthma, children are more likely to have it too. It is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization for children and a leading cause of absenteeism. A total of 12.8 million school days are missed each year because of asthma. And, more than 4,000 Americans die every year from asthma-related complications.

Asthma Causes Unknown

The causes of asthma are unknown but something—air pollution, allergens, exercise, and stress—causes the airways of the lungs to narrow or become blocked. Asthma affects children in different ways. The same substances that trigger allergy symptoms can trigger an asthma attack, the CDC says. Allergens may be inhaled, like pollen, smoke or dust, or eaten, like shell fish. Children with asthma are particularly vulnerable to air pollution. Breathing in cold air or strenuous physical exercise may also trigger an asthma attack.
Asthma is diagnosed in children by looking at peak expiratory flow, which shows how much air your child can breathe out when trying his or her hardest. The pediatrician may also do a chest x-ray or recommend allergy tests.

Asthma Plan Important

All patients with asthma should have an asthma plan that includes avoidance measures and maintenance medication/ and inhalers and rescue inhalers. There are also non-pharmacologic ways to treat asthma such as avoiding the allergens that are bothersome.

The National Institute of Health has a downloadable Asthma Action Plan with helpful steps to consider at NHLBI.NIH.gov. The Plan includes a list of how to control things that make asthma worse and what the danger signs are.

If an attack happens, children should see their pediatrician who may prescribe antihistamines or a brand name medication for asthma such as Singulair. In addition to an antihistamine, they may prescribe an inhaler.

Choosing an Inhaler

Your family pharmacist can recommend over-the-counter antihistamines. And, he or she can help demonstrate how to use the inhaler.

There are two kinds of inhalers: a dry powder inhaler (DPI) or metered dose inhaler (MDI). DPI is a dry power in micro particles and MDI is like an aerosol. There are also inhalers for maintenance use every day, regardless of symptoms. A rescue inhaler is used to immediately alleviate symptoms. If a child has trouble breathing, use a rescue inhaler. Rescue inhalers contain prescription medications like albuterol (brand names include Ventolin, Proventil, Proventil-HFA, AccuNeb, Vospire, and ProAir).

Your pharmacist can help ensure children are using inhalers appropriately so they don’t have to use a rescue inhaler all the time. If you notice your child using a rescue inhaler frequently, talk to your pediatrician or pharmacist about the dose or technique.

Children’s Books Help Make Sense of Asthma

In addition to having a management plan and using the right inhaler, parents can help children make sense of asthma through story books. Before giving your child a book, it is always a good idea to read it yourself. If you have any questions about accuracy, ask your child’s pediatrician, nurse or pharmacist for help.

Some of the children’s books about asthma that help kids understand and manage the disease include “The ABCs of Asthma: An Asthma Alphabet Book for Kids of All Ages” by Kim Gosselin; “I Have Asthma (Let’s Talk About It Books)” by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos; and “Taking Asthma to School” by Barbara Mitchell. Story books like “Abby’s Asthma and the Big Race,” by Theresa Golding, and “The Lion Who Had Asthma” by Jonathan London, are fun and educational.

Eric Crumbaugh, Pharm.D., is Director of Clinical Programs for the Arkansas Pharmacists Association. Eric and his wife Jennifer, also a pharmacist, have a 22—month-old daughter, Olivia Grace. They live in Benton.

15 Events for Weekend Fun: The Nutcracker, Teddy Bear Tea and Holiday Lights Festival

The holiday fun continues this weekend, Dec. 12-14! Ballet Arkansas presents its annual production of "The Nutcracker" and Burns Park lights up the night with a free Holiday Lights Festival. Plus, Garth Brooks visits North Little Rock to play three highly-anticipated concerts at Verizon Arena. All these events and more are included in our top 15 picks for families this weekend! 

1. Garth Brooks World Tour with Trisha Yearwood at Verizon Arena: Don't miss the electrifying return of country legend, Garth Brooks. The star makes his first Arkansas appearance on The World Tour and his first time in North Little Rock in more than 23 years. And, believe it or not, tickets are still available! $73.25. Performances are 7 p.m. Dec. 11-13. For info: (800) 745-3000, VerizonArena.com.

2. Ballet Arkansas Presents "The Nutcracker" at Maumelle Performing Arts Center: Ring in the holidays with Tchaikovsky’s magical score performed live by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and a classic performance by Ballet Arkansas. With enchanting costumes and original choreography, the tradition of "The Nutcracker" will create unforgettable memories for children of every generation. $20-$52. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 & 13; 2 p.m. Dec. 13 & 14. For info: (501) 666-1761, BalletArkansas.org.

3. K.I.D.S. Volunteer Day at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center: Kids Involved in Dynamic Service offers an opportunity for children ages 8-13 to serve their community. This year, K.I.D.S. volunteers will be creating handmade decorations to bring holiday cheer to those served by the Little Rock Compassion Center. Registration required. Noon-2 p.m. Dec. 13. For info: (501) 683-3592, MosaicTemplarsCenter.com. FREE!

4. Teddy Bear Tea at Restaurant One Eleven at the Capital Hotel: This holiday tea is certain to bring smiles to children and their parents. Teddy bears will adorn Restaurant One Eleven, and live music by harpist Alisa Coffey from the Arkansas Symphony will fill the room. Special tea fare will be prepared, and each child will leave with a teddy bear. Call for reservations. $38, children $25. 1:30-3:30 p.m. Dec. 13. For info: (501) 370-7011, CapitalHotel.com.

5. Breakfast with Santa at Bravo! Cucina Italiana at The Promenade at Chenal: Blitz, the Bravo! elf and Santa have a busy schedule, but they take a break to have a merry breakfast with you! Be sure to bring your camera for photos, too! Reservations required. Call for seating time. $11.95, kids $5.95. 8 a.m. Dec. 13. For info: (501) 821-2485, ChenalShopping.com.

6. Holly Trolley Day in Downtown Little Rock & North Little Rock: Ride the trolley free all day and take a picture with Santa from 2-5 p.m. at the trolley barn in North Little Rock. 2-5 p.m. Dec. 13. For info: CAT.org. FREE!

7. Dashin' Thru the Lights at Burns Park Softball Complex: Run, walk, or stroll through the Hometown Holiday Lights in Burns Park. The display is about one mile each way, and you can complete the course as many times as you like during the event. Wheelchairs and strollers are welcome at any time during the event. Leashed pets welcome after 5:15 p.m. A shuttle will be available to return participants to the parking lot. Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. $5, $10 per family. 5-6 p.m. Dec. 13. For info: (501) 791-8543, NLRPR.org.

8. Holiday Lights Festival at Burns Park Softball Complex: Immediately following the Dashin' Thru the Lights run, families can enjoy a bright festival at the Hometown Holiday Lights. Enjoy games and activities for the whole family and don't miss photo opportunities with Santa and Dasher. 6-8 p.m. Dec. 13. For info: (501) 791-8543, NLRPR.org. FREE!

9. Living Gift Market at Heifer Ranch in Perryville: Stroll through the show barn, decorate cookies, find unique gifts in our international gift shop and support the work of Heifer International. Warm up with hot drinks and light snacks and enjoy a roaring bonfire. Snap a pic at a photo booth with an animal, too! 5-8 p.m Dec. 13 & 3-6 p.m. Dec. 14. For info: (501) 889-5124, Heifer.org. FREE!

10. Photos with Santa at Tipton Hurst at The Promenade at Chenal: Bring your little elves to enjoy a magical moment with Santa Pete! Take a free photo with Santa at the new Tipton Hurst location at The Promenade at Chenal. Donations to Home Away from Home scholarship fund are accepted and appreciated. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 13. To learn more about the fund, visit HomeAwayFromHome.LittleRockChurch.org. For event info: ChenalShopping.com.

11. Holiday Hayride at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Jostle, bounce and laugh your way across the fields and through the woods on a guided hayride. Then enjoy a warm campfire, stories, hot chocolate and marshmallows. Advance payment required. $12, children ages 6-12 $5. 3-5 p.m. Dec. 13 & 27. For info: (501) 868-5806, ArkansasStateParks.com/PinnacleMountain.

12. Arkansas Chamber Singers Holiday Concert: Christmas at the Old State House Museum: The annual Christmas at the Old State House concert features traditional music of the season, music of new composers and music popular during the American Civil War. The combination of the acoustical magic of the hall and the glorious voices of the Arkansas Chamber Singers promises to pack the house for all three thrilling performances! Performances are 7 p.m. Dec. 12 & 13; 3 p.m. Dec. 14. For info: (501) 377-1121, AR-ChamberSingers.org. FREE!

13. 28th Annual Christmas & Candlelight at Historic Washington State Park: The entire park is seen with natural 19th century holiday decorations. After dark, luminaries light the way for guests to stroll the streets, see historic buildings, and hear musicians caroling throughout the town. $10 plus tax; children are $5 plus tax. 1-8 p.m. Dec. 13. For info: (870) 983-2633, HistoricWashingtonStatePark.com.

14. Santa Skate at Arkansas Skatium: Meet Santa and sit in his sleigh as it snows in the arena! Holiday music and decorations will get all skaters in the holiday spirit. $13, includes ice and roller skates; free for kids 4 and younger. 2-5 p.m. Dec. 14. For info: (501) 227-4333, ArkansasSkatium.com.

15. Conway Christmas Parade in Downtown Conway: A festive parade beginning on south Front Street with bands, floats and lots of smiles. The parade is hosted by Relay for Life of Faulkner County with all proceeds from float sponsorships going to the American Cancer Society. 6 p.m. Dec. 13. For info: DowntownConway.org. FREE!

Looking for more holiday fun? Check out these articles from Little Rock Family: 5 Christmas Tree Farms in Central Arkansas, 7 Places to See Holiday Lights, Where to Find Santa Claus, Classic Christmas Movies Showing at Local Theaters, and 8 Holiday Shows for Families.

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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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InArkansas.com: your guide for all things Arkansas, including where to Eat, Live, Shop, Play, Visit and Work in the Natural State. Here, find exactly what you're looking for in restaurants and shopping directories; plan weddings and events; and stay abreast of the most fashionable parties and fundraisers. See videos, photos and blogs. Use our Highly Recommended voting system to share your favorite businesses and events. And get our free Daily Recommends e-news for editors' picks of the best in Arkansas dining, gifts, events and more.