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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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Kids' Health Taking Hits? Fight Obesity, High Cholesterol and Other Heavy Problems

The incidence of obesity in children has increased dramatically in recent decades. Aside from the social stigma that being overweight holds for kids, childhood obesity can lead to a variety of health problems. Parents need to be aware of the long-term negative consequences of excess weight in children and consult with health care providers on behavior modification.

One-third of kids now obese

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Arkansas has the third highest percentage of adults considered obeseat—34.7 percent—behind Mississippi and Louisiana. The CDC also reports that, in line with national statistics, over one-third of children ages 2-18 in Arkansas are overweight.

Factors that contribute to obesity include family history, diet and exercise. With excess weight comes elevated cholesterol levels, triglycerides, serum glucose, high blood pressure and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Research shows that when cholesterol in kids is high, it’s likely to remain high into adulthood—and in turn can lead to heart disease.

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High cholesterol leads to heart disease

How does cholesterol in kids affect heart disease? Cholesterol is a type of fat particle found in blood (and made by the liver) that’s needed for the body to perform certain functions, such as building cell walls and producing hormones. And while some cholesterol, like HDL cholesterol, is helpful (“H” for helpful), other cholesterol, like LDL cholesterol, is lousy (“L” for lousy) and clogs up arteries. When you have too much of the lousy kind and not enough of the helpful kind, the likelihood of developing heart disease increases.

Simple blood test can indicate risk

Health care professionals can check cholesterol in school-age children with a simple blood test. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that all children be screened for high cholesterol at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 years, and again between ages 17 and 21 years. The following groups of children and adolescents may be considered at greater risk for high cholesterol:

  • Those with a parent or grandparent who had evidence of coronary atherosclerosis, peripheral vascular disease, or cerebrovascular disease;
  • Who had a coronary artery procedure;
  • Who suffered a heart attack or sudden cardiac death before age 55;
  • Or, those with a parent who has a history of high total cholesterol levels (240 mg/dL or higher).

Control with diet and exercise

A sensible diet and exercise program can help treat high cholesterol in children. Eating regular meals has been found to help control cholesterol levels. School-age children who did not eat breakfast were more likely to be overweight and have a higher risk for LDL cholesterol. Kids who eat more snacks and get less physical activity are also more prone to high cholesterol levels and obesity. The American Heart Association makes these recommendations to reduce fatty buildup in the arteries of children:

  • Children ages two and older should be encouraged to eat four to five cups of fruits and vegetables daily and a wide variety of other foods low in saturated fat and trans fat.
  • Encourage regular aerobic exercise.
  • Help kids reduce weight if obese.
  • Identify and treat high blood pressure and/or diabetes. There is an increased incidence of type 2 diabetes among youth when there is obesity and family history of type 2 diabetes present.
  • Discourage cigarette smoking.

Medication may be a solution

If changes in diet and exercise do not have the desired effect, medicine might be considered for children older than eight years. Some drugs used to treat cholesterol in children include cholestyramine, colestipol and colesevelam. Recent studies in children with very high cholesterol have supported the safe use of drugs in the statin class. A child’s cholesterol levels should be re-tested after three months of dietary changes and/or medicines. If prescription medication or herbal supplements are recommended to help manage your child’s high cholesterol, your family pharmacist can counsel you on proper use and any side effects.

Eric Crumbaugh, Pharm.D., is Director of Clinical Programs for the Arkansas Pharmacists Association. Eric and his wife Jennifer, also a pharmacist, have an 18-month-old daughter, Olivia Grace. They live in Benton.

McCain Mall Taziki's Grand Opening Benefits The Call in Pulaski County

Image by Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe Facebook Page

North Little Rock residents can feast happily at the newest location of Taziki's in McCain Mall, as the grand opening of Mediterranean-inspired restaurant will benefit The Call of Pulaski County.

The Call helps connect loving foster and adoptive families with local foster children and teens who need stable homes. The nonprofit recruits, trains, and facilitates support for these foster and adoptive families. Read more about the organization and The Call's co-founder, Mary Carol Pederson, in our 2013 feature here. Or, visit TheCallInArkansas.org for additional information.

Through Sept. 21, Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe will run a "Share to Donate" campaign on their Facebook page here. Followers can share the restaurant's Facebook status, with each share equaling a $1 donation. Taziki's will also match the donation, making each share worth $2.

The campaign will culminate at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 22 with a ribbon cutting and check presentation ceremony at the restaurant. Donations will also be accepted at the ribbon cutting and during the exclusive Friends & Family event from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The new location of the fast-casual chain will officially open to the public on Sept. 23. Located in the McCain Mall at 3929 McCain Blvd., North Little Rock, the restaurant will have an outdoor entrance and patio. And, of course, we're looking forward to their fresh menu staples like hummus, Mediterranean salad with roasted chicken, grilled gyros and a variety of gluten-free options.

For more info about the restaurant, visit their Facebook page or go to TazikisCafe.com.

10 Events for Weekend Fun: Tinkerfest, Pirate Day and Disney Junior Live!

Image by Museum of Discovery

(Pictured above: Last year's Tinkerfest at the Museum of Discovery!

There is no way your family can hit all of the amazing events and activities this weekend, Sept. 19-21...but there's no reason you can't try! Plan your weekend wisely and you may be able to visit the Faulkner or Lonoke County Fairs, participate in a Great Arkansas Clean-Up Event, run or walk in one of the three family-friendly fundraising walks, or get an early start on making the pumpkin patch rounds.

AND, we haven't even mentioned our top 10 events for weekend fun! Keep reading for details on each event.

1. 3rd Annual Tinkerfest at Museum of Discovery: MOD is proud to host the third annual Tinkerfest event with over 50 building and taking-apart activities that are sure to please visitors of all ages. Activities include 3D printing, marshmallow shooters, hula hoop construction, giant bubbles, mini catapults, shadow puppets, Google Glasses, giant cardboard robots, light painting and so much more! Included with regular museum admission: $10, kids 1-12 are $8, under 1 & members free. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 20. For info: (501) 396-7050, MuseumOfDiscovery.org.

2. Disney Junior Live on Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure at Verizon Arena: Tickets are still available to see this exciting adventure, led by Mickey and Minnie. Families will be rooting for their favorite pirate, Jake, and Disney's first little girl princess, Sofia. Pirate & Princess Adventure begins with a special interactive pre-show featuring the six-year-old doctor to toys and stuffed animals, Doc McStuffins. Children and their parents will sing the “I Feel Better” song, along with Doc as she provides tender love and care. Then, embark on a journey to the magical world of Enchancia, where Sofia, her step-siblings Amber and James, and the entire kingdom are preparing for the annual friendship festival. The excitement continues when families cast away to Never Land where Jake and his Yo Ho pirate friends, Izzy and Cubby, are in a race against time to locate a mysterious treasure-filled volcano. Peter Pan and Tinker Bell make a special appearance, aiding the team in their heroic quest. $44.80-$98.25. 3:30 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. Sept. 19. For info: (501) 975-9000, VerizonArena.com.

3. Go, Dog. Go! at the Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre: Friday is opening night of the Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre's new season! Find out where the dogs are going and why they are going so fast, as a high-energy cast presents this captivating adaptation of P.D. Eastman's famous canine extravaganza. Watch the stage explode with a delight of color, motion, music, and, of course, dogs! $12.50 for children and adults, $10 for AAC members. Sept. 19-Oct. 5: 7 p.m. Fri.; 2 p.m. Sat. & Sun. For info: (501) 372-4000, ArkansasArtsCenter.org.

4. Talk Like a Pirate Day Celebration & Screening of "Hook" at CALS Ron Robinson Theater: Ahoy, matey! Wear your favorite pirate costume and head to the theater for a costume contest with prizes, Lost Boys-themed snacks, and photo booths. A screening of "Hook" (PG) begins at 7 p.m. $5. 6 p.m. Sept. 19. For info: (501) 320-5715, CALS.org.

5. Growing in the City Block Party in Downtown Little Rock: Enjoy food trucks, live music, kids activities, dip cook-off, and gardening seminars. The fun continues with dance, cheer, and gymnastics performances by groups from central Arkansas on the family stage. Proceeds go to eSTEM's technology needs for grades K-8. $5, children $3. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 20. For info: EstemLR.net.

6. Q is for Quilt: A Children’s Story & Crafts Hour at Historic Arkansas Museum: Join the museum staff for storytime in the galleries amid the quilts hanging in "The Great Arkansas Quilt Show 3" exhibit. Then, decorate a quilt square to add to the Community Quilt that will be pieced together, quilted and put on display. Fun for ages 3–8. There are three sessions of this crafty event: 10 a.m. Sept. 20, Oct. 11 & Nov. 15. For info: (501) 324-9351, HistoricArkansas.org. FREE!

7. Teddy Bears' Picnic at Laman Library in North Little Rock: Enjoy stories, games, treats, and a bear cave for your little ones and their favorite teddy bears! 2 p.m. Sept. 20. For info: (501) 758-1720, LamanLibrary.org. FREE!

8. Fall Equinox Celebration at Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park: Celebrate harvest season by participating in Native American weapons demonstration and help harvest native food crops, as the American Indian tribes did long ago. At 4:30 p.m., the park staff provides a presentation on the alignment of the mounds with solar events. The activities end with a guided tour of the mound site at 5:30 p.m. to observe the sunset over Mound A, the tallest mound in Arkansas. $4, children ages 6-12 $3. 3:30-7 p.m. Sept. 20. For info: (501) 961-9442, ArkansasStateParks.com/ToltecMounds.

9. ASO Demonstration and Instrument Petting Zoo at CALS Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library & Learning Center: Meet Arkansas Symphony Orchestra musicians and get to know their instruments, too! 10 a.m. Sept. 20. For info: (501) 978-3870, CALS.org. FREE!

10. The China Circus Performs at Pine Bluff Convention Center: The Anhui Acrobatic Troupe is known for its cool precision, playful fun, and daring feats of human performance art. The award-winning acts include group bicycling, juggling on stand, tight rope, aerial fish ballet, hoop diving, hats, spinning plates, hula hoop, Diabolo (Chinese Yo Yo), and more. Their dramatic interpretation of classic Chinese dance highlights the fact that each province of China has its own acrobatic troupe that, while using traditional Chinese Acrobatic performances, is distinctly different in presentation, costuming, and performance style. $20, children 16 and under $10; families of 2 adults and 2 children $40. 7 p.m. Sept. 20. For info: (877) 212-4462, Facebook.com/PineBluffArkansas.

For more weekend events, browse our full online calendar here.

Contest: Win Free Admission to Girl Scouts Camp Out at Clinton Presidential Center

Image by Girl Scouts

This October, Girl Scouts - Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas is hosting its first-ever Round Up on the River, a rally and camping event held Oct. 10-12 on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Center!

Scouts will gather for a Girl Rally and Kick-Off on Saturday, Oct. 11, followed by a huge picnic on the back lawn of the Clinton Presidential Center. Program activities will center around the "It's Your World - Change it!" Journeys, and encourage girls to take action and change the world with their sister Girl Scouts. Plus, all participants will earn a grade-appropriate Citizen Badge.

Brownies are invited for a day event from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Oct. 11. They'll learn how to take action in their community and take part in hands-on activities from Heifer International. Cost is $20 each for Brownies and their Leaders.

Junior Girl Scouts can attend an overnight event from 9 a.m. Oct. 11-noon Oct. 12. Girls will plan step-by-step how to tackle issues and spend one night camping on the Clinton Presidential Center lawn. Cost is $40 each for Juniors and their Leaders.

Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors will spend two nights camping out on the lawn! On Oct. 10, they'll dine in the Great Hall of the Clinton Center and attend a Clinton School Panel, learning how the students were inspired to become change agents. Then, girls will work together on solutions and commit to a Take Action Project. Cost is $60 for each girl and their Leaders.

Today (Sept. 18), Little Rock Family is giving away a free admission for one girl and her mom to Round Up on the River. To enter the contest, simply visit our Facebook page at Facebook.com/LittleRockFamily and follow the instructions! The deadline to enter is 3 p.m. TODAY (September 18). A winner will be announced at 4 p.m. on our Facebook page.

For more information about Girl Scouts - Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, visit GirlScoutsDiamonds.org. Or, click here to read Little Rock Family's February 2014 feature on the Girl Scouts!

Stay Ahead of the Curve: Visible Signs of Scoliosis

For many of us who grew up in the ‘80s, scoliosis strikes fear in our hearts because it reminds us of Judy Blume’s “Deenie” or Joan Cusack’s character in the movie “Sixteen Candles.” We may have held our breath and said a prayer as we were examined for the condition at school, and we don’t want that added stress for our kids.

The good news is that most people with childhood scoliosis go on to live full, active lives. Stacy Lewis, a University of Arkansas alumna and pro golfer who ranked No. 1 in the LPGA, is spokesperson for a campaign led by the Scoliosis Research Society. She has worked hard to overcome the challenges she faced as a teen with scoliosis. Her story illustrates the possibilities for young people with scoliosis and confirms that the diagnosis is certainly not a life sentence.

Here’s what parents should know.

What is Scoliosis?

Simply defined, scoliosis is a rotational deformity of the backbone. Instead of forming a straight line, a spine with scoliosis curves, sometimes looks like a letter “C” or “S,” and has an asymmetric prominence when the child bends forward.

There are three primary types of scoliosis: idiopathic (unknown cause); congenital (born with the condition); and neuromuscular (any medical condition that affects the nerves and muscles can lead to scoliosis). By far, the most common form is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, which is typically diagnosed between ages 11 and 16. “Sometimes the curves don’t show themselves until right before puberty, or sometimes during growth spurts in young men,” explains Dr. Kathryn McCarthy, a specialist in orthopaedic surgery of the spine at Arkansas Specialty Orthopaedics. “There is no real, true understanding of why it occurs. We’re now beginning to understand it on a genetic level—a diagnosis is 20 percent more likely in the child of someone who has scoliosis.”

Warning Signs

Unlike what many parents may have experienced, school screenings are no longer standard. “You cannot guarantee that this test will be performed in your child’s school. Most often, the diagnosis comes from the primary care physician,” says McCarthy.

Parents can look for visible indicators, including an uneven waistline, shoulders that are not level, a prominent scapula (wing bone), or the body being shifted off-center when looked at from behind.

If you suspect your child may have scoliosis, consult your family physician, pediatrician or orthopaedist first. Once the child is examined, an x-ray may be obtained, which will confirm the presence of a curvature. From there, the child usually is referred to a scoliosis specialist.

Treatment Plan

After a diagnosis, treatment options become top priority. McCarthy says braces are still very common and can help prevent surgical intervention. The Boston scoliosis brace is the traditional model—a rigid brace designed to hold the spine in place. “I recommend them without question. A brace can prevent further progression of curves that are 25 degrees in someone who still has a lot of growth,” McCarthy explains. A brace is not as beneficial for a 17-year-old, for example, as there is not a lot of growth left. McCarthy recommends her patients wear their braces 23 hours a day, with exceptions for activities like sports. “The worst thing a young person with scoliosis can do is stop being socially active,” she says.

The spine usually stops growing at the end of puberty, (typically age 14-15 for women and age 16 for men), and the brace is no longer necessary.

The vast majority of people with scoliosis do not need surgery. For the few that do end up having surgery, McCarthy says that “most of my patients are up and walking within one day of surgery. Within six weeks they are back in school. I have a patient who has returned to competitive cheerleading.”

With early detection and proper treatment, parents and doctors can help minimize the long-term impact of scoliosis. Says McCarthy: “We’re giving somebody the opportunity to live a very active, fulfilling life. They don’t miss a beat.”

The Straight Truth

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, there are three primary types of scoliosis: idiopathic (unknown cause); congenital (born with the condition); and neuromuscular (any medical condition that affects the nerves and muscles can lead to scoliosis).

  • Idiopathic scoliosis is thought to be present in two to three percent of adolescents.
  • One in 500 of these will require active treatment.
  • Only one in 5,000 will have curves that progress to the degree where surgery is recommended.
  • Girls and boys are equally affected by small degrees of scoliosis.
  • Girls, however, are eight times more likely than boys to develop progressive curves.

For more information, visit Scoliosis Research Society, SRS.org, and IScoliosis.com.

19 Pumpkin Patches in Central Arkansas to Visit this Fall

Take your kids to some of these amazing farms and patches for great fall fun!

Pumpkin Patches & Family Farms
Pumpkin Patch in Scott — Scott Pumpkin Patch includes hayrides, pig races, barnyard nursery, playground, farmer’s market, petting zoo, maze, concessions, pony rides, cart rides and the pre-picked pumpkin patch. Hours open to the public are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and noon-6 p.m. Sun. Oct. 1-31. Admission is $7 per person, and kids ages 2 and younger are FREE. For info: 920-2901 or ScottPumpkinPatch.com.
BoBrook Farms in Roland — Bring the whole family to BoBrook for a hayride, play in the cornpit, go through the hay maze and play with the animals. You can also pick your own pumpkin. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. and noon-6 p.m. Sun. Sept. 24-Oct. 31. Admission is $5, and the maze is an additional $3. Children ages 2 and younger are FREE. For info: BoBrookFarms.com or 519-5666.
Schaefers’ & Collins’ Pumpkin Patch & Farm in Mayflower — Take a hayride to the pumpkin patch, where you can pick out your own pumpkin. Then visit the barnyard animals, navigate tunnels, race in sacks and climb over hay bales. Cost is $5 per person. Concessions available. Patch open 9-6 Mon.-Sat. and noon-6 p.m. Sun. Sept. 24-Oct. 31. 
For info: SchaefersPumpkinPatch.com.
Schaefers’ Corn Maze in Mayflower — Schaefers’ includes two corn mazes: one for younger children and one for older children and adults. Hayrides are also available, along with hay bales, tractor tires, a corn pile and more. Schaefers’ Corn Maze will run from Sept. 24-Oct. 31. Hours are noon-8 p.m. Thurs., noon-11 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-midnight Sat. and 1-8 p.m. Sun. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children and ages 2 and younger are FREE. For info: SchaefersCornMaze.com or 269-7903.
Mary’s Place in Bryant — At Mary’s Place, kids will enjoy train rides, a maze, a treehouse, bounce houses, animals and a pumpkin patch. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. and 1-5 p.m. Sun. Sept. 22-Nov. 12. Cost is $5 per person without a pumpkin, and $7.50 per person including a pumpkin. For info: MarysPlaceinBryant.com or 847-3900.
Garner Homestead Family Farm in Lonsdale — For $7 you can enjoy a full day on the farm, including a hayride, live barnyard animal show, woodland nature trail, animal petting area, corn field of trails, playground, picnic areas, a trip to the pumpkin patch and your choice of a bonus activity. Hours are 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Sept. 20-Nov. 5. Children ages 2 and younger are FREE. For info: 463-0510 or GarnerHomesteadFamilyFarm.com.
Johnston Pumpkin Farm in Greenbrier — Come enjoy hayrides, farm animals, lots of pumpkins, a play area, a country store and many photo opportunities. Hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Sat. and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun. Sept. 24-Oct. 31. There will also be two special events: Scarecrow Contest on Oct. 1 and Pumpkin Fest on Oct. 8. Admission to the farm is FREE, but there are additional charges for some activities. For info: 679-5078.
Motley’s Pumpkin Patch in Little Rock — A day at Motley’s includes hayrides, a farm zoo, hay play, picking pumpkins and pig races! Everything is included with admission, which is $6 per person, and children ages 3 and younger are FREE. Hours open to the public are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Oct. 1-31. For info: MotleysPumpkinPatch.com or 888-1129.
Pumpkin Hill at Wildwood Park for the Arts in Little Rock — Hayrides to Pumpkin Hill are available for field trips on weekdays and to the public from 1-4 p.m. Sun. from 
Oct. 9-30. Other activities include a pumpkin push, sack races and a nature hunt. Cost is 
$5 for kids and $2 for adults, and kids get to pick their own pumpkins. For info: 821-7275.

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Enjoy fall harvest time at a pick-your-own pumpkin patch that offers hayrides, corn mazes and other family activities. Start planning your harvest fun now -- many of the farms will start welcoming visitors at the end of the month and the beginning of October, but some will even open this weekend (Sept. 19-21)!

Note: We advise that you call ahead before your pumpkin patch visit; for many farms, opening dates and hours are dependent on the weather.

1. Arkansas Frontier in Quitman

Not only can your family pluck a pumpkin from the U-Pick Pumpkin Patch, they can also learn about the lives of early settlers and Native Americans on the living history farm. Tour a replica of a pioneer homestead, learn a lesson in the schoolhouse and see a covered wagon. Little ones can also meet the animals who live on the farm—pigs, miniature horses, sheep, rabbits and a llama. In the Enchanted Forest, visitors stroll through a nature trail of storybook characters like Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs.

1625 Wesley Chapel Road, Quitman. $8, includes all attractions except Gem Stone Mining; pumpkins purchased separately.

Oct. 1-31: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. Available for groups by reservation Mon.-Fri. For info: (501) 589-3122, ArkansasFrontier.com.

2. Asbury’s Pumpkin Patch at Asbury United Methodist Church in Little Rock

Pick your perfect pumpkin and take pictures in this patch, conveniently located in west Little Rock.

1700 Napa Valley Drive, Little Rock. Pumpkins range in color and price.

Oct. 11-31: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun. For info: (501) 225-9231, Asbury-LR.org.

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3. BoBrook Farms in Roland

Not far from Pinnacle Mountain State Park, you’ll find this charming sunflower maze and pumpkin patch. Enjoy a hayride, sunflower maze, farm animals and a hay maze. Plus, kids can climb on a hay mountain formed from 200-300 bales of hay, and jump into the corn pit of 5,000 pounds of corn. When you’re ready to find a pumpkin, head to the 12-row pumpkin patch; some of the pumpkins are even left on the vine for families to cut themselves. Concessions and crafts are also available for purchase.

3810 Combee Lane, Roland. $6, includes all attractions; pumpkins sold separately and range from 50 cents-$12.

Oct. 1-31: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. & Sun. For info: (501) 519-5666, BoBrookFarms.com.

4. Cox Berry Farm & Nursery in Clarksville

This family-owned farm in Clarksville has been in business for close to 50 years; families can choose from many Pick-Your-Own experiences ending in late fall with pumpkins. In September and October, families can also snag apples from the orchard; in October, you’ll find Gold Rush, Fuji and Arkansas Black varieties. Plus, during the autumn season, younger children will love walking along a trail lined with fun characters, decorations, photo opps and a rope maze.

1081 Hwy. 818, Clarksville. Entry to the farm free; pumpkin prices vary by weight; pumpkin trail costs extra.

Oct. 1-31. For info and hours: (479) 754-3707, CoxBerryFarm.com.

5. Family Farm Fall Harvest and Pumpkin Patch in Malvern

Known by local families for its summer day camp, Family Farm also offers a pumpkin patch in October. Visitors can enjoy a hayride and John Deer train, fishing in the pond, petting farm animals, braving the “slide mountain” and running through hay tunnels.

18448 Hwy. 67, Malvern. $5, includes all attractions except the zipline; pumpkins sold separately.

Oct. 4-Nov. 1: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat; available by reservation Mon.-Fri. for school field trips. For info: (501) 337-4171, FamilyFarm.org.

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6. Garner Homestead Family Farm in Lonsdale near Hot Springs

Day trip to this family farm near Hot Springs for the complete autumn harvest experience, including a hayride, barnyard animal show featuring two goats (including a pygmy) that give kisses, pull a rabbit out of a hat and more, cornfield trails to run through, and an animal petting area. Youngsters can also frolic in a play area with tire swings, tunnels and climbing poles, hunt for arrowheads in the “arrowhead hunting grounds,” or hike a woodland trail down to a creek bank where kiddos can pan for “fool’s gold.” And, of course, don’t forget to pick up a locally-grown pumpkin!

1376 Hwy. 128/Hot Springs Village Cutoff, Lonsdale. $6, includes all attractions, children under 3 free; pumpkins sold separately and range from $2-$25.

Sept. 23-Nov. 1: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sat. For info: (501) 463-0510, GarnerHomesteadFamilyFarm.com.

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7. Hay Days at Wildwood Park for the Arts in Little Rock

Celebrate fall with tractor-drawn hayrides, storytime featuring American tall tales and Native American folklore, and pumpkins to take home.

20919 Denny Road, Little Rock. FREE!

Oct. 11-31: noon-4 p.m. Sat.; available Oct. 21-31 by reservation for school field trips. For info: (501) 821-7275, WildwoodPark.org.

8. Hicks Family Farms Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch in Lonoke

Romp through the corn maze, visit the pumpkin patch, enjoy a pony ride and make friends with a barnyard full of farm animals. Little ones can saddle up for a pony ride and the whole family can take a hay ride.

184 Lasiter Road, Lonoke. $8, includes all attractions, children under 5 free with paying adult; pumpkins and food sold separately.

Sept. 27-Nov. 1: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., 1-6 p.m. Sun; available by reservation Mon.-Fri. for school field trips. For info: (501) 941-2703, HicksFamilyFarms.com.

9. Holland Bottom Farm in Cabot

Stop by this produce stand for decorative gourds, white pumpkins and mums to spruce up your front porch; or shop for edibles like tomatoes, potatoes, squash, pie pumpkins, honey, jam and more. For a pick-your-own experience, families can head to the pumpkin patch behind the stand. On the last two weekends before Halloween, hop on a free tractor-pulled hayride out to the field (10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. & Sun., plus Halloween Day).

1255 Bill Foster Memorial Hwy./Hwy. 321, Cabot.

Produce stand open through Oct. 31: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. For info: (501) 843-7152, (501) 743-8181; HollandBottomFarm.com.

10. J&P Ranch, Inc. in Scott

Since 1999, this pumpkin patch has been bringing smiles to little ones. Kids can wind their way through a hay maze made of round bales, take a hayride in a tractor-pulled covered wagon, gaze at an aquarium filled with fish, and feed rabbits, goats and chickens in a petting zoo. Little ones can also hop on a horse for a quick, hand-led horseback ride or blow off steam on basketball and volleyball courts. A mobile pumpkin patch (complete with Frankenstein-esque monster) is available to visit to schools and churches, and brings along pumpkins, chicken and rabbits.

966 McCoy off of I-40 East, Scott. $5, includes all activities and a free pumpkin for each child under 12.

Sept. 29-Nov. 2: 1-5 p.m. Sat. & Sun.; field trips and groups welcome 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Mon.-Fri. by reservation only. For info: (501) 920-6537.

11. Mary’s Place Pumpkin Patch in Bryant

At Mary’s Place, kids will enjoy rides on the new train which takes riders through the Sherwood Forest. You’ll stop at the Western town setting which has lots of spots for photo opps. Plus, kids can play on a wooden maze, a treehouse, and a hay mountain with a tunnel.

3705 Hwy. 5 N., Bryant. $9 includes all attractions and large pumpkin; $6 includes all attractions and no pumpkin.

Sept. 25-Nov. 8: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. For info: (501) 847-3900, MarysPlaceInBryant.com.

12. Motley’s Pumpkin Patch in Little Rock

This Little Rock farm offers a full day of fun, including a pick-your-own pumpkin patch, country store, tractor-drawn wagon rides, and a petting zoo full of goats, chickens and pigs. Kids can also climb on a hay bale mountain and take a slide back down to the ground. Or, pick an oinker to compete in the pig races. Plus, don’t miss a special performance of Tommy Terrific’s Wacky Magic Show (see website for schedule).

13724 Sandy Ann Drive, Little Rock. $8, children under 3 and seniors ages 55 and up free.

Sept. 27-Nov. 2: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. & Sun; available by reservation Mon.-Fri. for school field trips. For info: (501) 888-1129, MotleysPumpkinPatch.com.

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13. Mountain Home Berry Farm

If you’re in the northern part of the state during the harvest months, make a stop at this popular attraction. During its Fall Festival, families can go on an hour-long hayride tour that stops by the petting zoo (featuring an adorable miniature donkey), Mulch Mountain, kid’s corn maze and the pumpkin patch. A country store features homemade jams and jellies, apple cider, local honey and more.

693 County Road 57, Mountain Home. Entry to pumpkin patch free; $6 includes Fall Festival attractions; pumpkins sold separately.

Sept. 19-Nov. 2: noon-5 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. & Sun. Available to groups, birthday parties and field trips by reservation Wed.-Fri. For info: (870) 425-7028, MountainHomeBerryFarm.com.

14. Peebles Farm in Augusta

Pumpkins take over 60 acres of Peebles Farm, with 10 acres set aside for visitors to pick their own. Plus, visitors can hop on horse and carriage rides, explore the you-pick cotton field and more. Adventurous tykes can stumble through a 20-acre corn maze—the aerial view of the labyrinth forms the outline of a tractor pulling a pumpkin-loaded cart. Fearless families can even try and navigate the maze with flashlights after dark on Friday and Saturday evenings, but be prepared for some extra thrills and frights!

Hwy. 64 between Augusta and McCrory, Augusta. $8, includes most attractions, such as barnyard, corn maze, cotton patch and admission to pumpkin patch; children ages 2 and under free; hayrides $3; horse and carriage rides $3; pumpkins sold separately.

Sept. 26-Oct. 31: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri. & Sat., noon-dusk Sun. For info: (870) 919-6162, PeeblesFarm.com.

15. Pumpkin Hollow in Piggott

Spend a beautiful autumn day enjoying all the fun, including the corn mazes, hayrides, catfish feeding, pony rides and pig scrambles (weekends), farm animals, Kids’ Barn, kids’ “train” ride, a slide down the pond levee, shopping, tasty treats, haunted attractions, and much more. The Friendly Forest, decked out with scenes and interactive displays, is designed just for children and the faint-of-heart. Two separate corn mazes with different difficulty levels are also available for visitors. Bring a flashlight and brave the mazes on Fright Nights, if you dare.

671 County Road 336, Piggott. $10 for standard package, $15 for Kids’ Daytime Armbands.

Sept. 20-Oct. 31: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 1-6 p.m. Sun. Corn Maze open additional evening hours on Fright Nights; see website for details. For info: (870) 598-3568, PumpkinHollow.com.

16. Roseberry Farm in Benton

This brand-new pumpkin patch in Benton is operated by three brothers on a 56-acre farm. For its first year in business, Roseberry Farm will offer homegrown pumpkins in the 3-acre, pick-your-own patch; farm animal visits with chickens, goats and rabbits; hayrides; and thrills on the barrel ride, a tractor-pulled train made from 55-gallon drums cut in half. Treats at a small concession stand will also be available. Field trips, birthday parties and large groups are welcome by reservation.

12223 Hwy. 9, Benton. $6, children under 2 free; pumpkin prices vary.

Sept. 25-Oct. 31: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Thu.-Sun. For info: (501) 722-8545, Roseberry-Farms.com.

17. Schaefers and Collins Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze at Lollie in Mayflower

This popular spot boasts a brand-new building and larger play area this year; visitors can take a hayride to the field where the pumpkins are grown and make their pick. Children can also meet the barnyard animals and tumble around a play area with hay tunnels, cut-outs for pictures, a large sand box, swings and more. On weekends, kids will delight in train and pony rides, bounce houses and face painting. And, families can get spooked on a haunted, nighttime hayride (check website for dates and times). After all the wholesome fun, head to farm next door to get lost in the corn maze—every year a new design is etched into the corn stalks, and this year’s is a special design to celebrate its 10th year. Field trips, groups and birthday parties welcome by reservation.

Pumpkin patch: 864 Lollie Road, Mayflower. $5 includes play area, hayride and a pumpkin; hayride only $1; haunted hayride $5; other attractions and concessions available for additional fees.

Pumpkin patch opens Sept. 27-Oct. 31: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon-6 p.m. Sun.; haunted hayrides Fri. & Sat. For info: (501) 470-3127, SchaefersPumpkinPatch.com.

Corn maze: $7, seniors ages 60 and up $6, children ages 3-12 $5, children under 3 free; mini corn maze, hayride and train ride $3 each.

The maze will be open Sept.-Oct.; check website for updates. Noon-10:30 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sat., 1-8 p.m. Sun. For info: (501) 269-7903, CornMazeAtLollie.com.

18. Scott Pumpkin Patch

After taking a year off from the pumpkin business, this popular patch is back. The new location in Scott will offer pig races, a bucking barrel, barnyard zoo, hayrides, hay mountain, rubber duck races, a toddler zone, tractor playground and a pirate ship. Birthday parties and field trips available by reservation.

14900 Hwy. 165, Scott. $8, seniors ages 65 and up and veterans $7, children under 3 free.

Sept 27-Nov. 1. For info and hours: (501) 920-2901, Facebook.

#asset

19. St. Joseph Farm Fest in North Little Rock

Housed on the 63 acres surrounding the former St. Joseph Orphanage, this new educational farm will teach visitors about sustainable agriculture and carbon-negative farming—and, of course, give families a chance to pick pumpkins on the four-acre patch. Unique activities include a maze made from Sorghum-Sudangrass, a fast-growing grass that stands up to 12 feet tall; demonstrations on non-GMO pasture poultry; and 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.

6800 Camp Robinson Road, North Little Rock. $15 Sat., $10 Sun.; children under 12 $7; children 2 and under free.

Oct. 15-Oct. 31: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. & Sun.; open Wed.-Fri. by reservation for school groups, homeschool groups and custom tours. For info: (870) 370-4047, StJosephFarm.com.

Are Your Kids Overscheduled? Watch for These 12 Warning Signs

As we welcome the new school year, we, as parents have the opportunity to start it right. With messages of, “Rush here, hurry there,” and “I must get from one activity to another,” the pressure of over-scheduling our children (and ourselves!) can dominate our day-to-day activities. Why do we, as parents, feel pushed to over-schedule?

One reason seems to be that many adults feel that an abundance of structured, goal-oriented activities will help prepare children for a top-ranking college and a successful career. Another view is that children who are exposed to an array of “enrichment” activities will be better prepared for adult life. A third explanation is that many parents believe the earlier you expose a child to structured learning, the faster he or she will learn and the more academic they will be. It is not uncommon to see parents enroll pre-school children in multiple extracurricular activities and accelerated academic programs in hopes of getting a step or two ahead.

However, according to experts in the field of child development, this is just not so. Recent scientific research supports the theory that self-initiated, unstructured creative play is the single most important activity that young children can engage in to develop at all developmental levels, including neurological and cognitive growth.

Children today have half as much free time as they did 30 years ago, notes a national study of 3,500 children ages 12 and under, released by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Contrary to popular belief, doing “nothing” is not necessarily wasting time. In fact, having time to observe, explore, fantasize and engage in imaginative play is extremely productive. It is exciting to think about this unstructured time as an opportunity to become more resourceful, self-reliant and resilient. In addition to independent, free play, there are endless opportunities for hands-on, intellectually-stimulating activities parents and children can do together (see “Unstructured Fun” sidebar).

Often, the joy of just being a kid is taken away when we pressure and over-schedule our children with activities. It can also lead to many physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, insomnia and anxiety attacks. Children need time to be creative, dream, imagine, play, and interact with other children without adults directing the activity. And, it’s even okay for children to be bored once in awhile.

While there is no “right” number of activities for every child, it is important to make sure your child is not over-scheduled and has plenty of downtime. Make a plan to carve out some unstructured time each and every day. It’s certainly okay to enroll your child in a structured activity, and as the child gets older, even more than one. The key is to find the right balance for each child.

#asset

12 Warning Signs That Your Child May Be Overscheduled

If you notice your child presenting two or more of the following behaviors on a consistent basis, he or she may not be getting enough downtime. If so, it might be a good idea to re-evaluate his or her schedule. (Source: Scholastic.com)

  1. Acts significantly more grouchy or irritable
  2. Trouble falling asleep at bedtime
  3. Difficulty finishing homework; grades slipping
  4. Overeats
  5. Zones out in front of  TV
  6. Complains of stomachaches, headaches or mysterious illnesses
  7. Grumbles about being bored
  8. Over-anxious about gaining approval from authority figures
  9. Throws tantrums or “loses” equipment when preparing to leave for activity
  10. Picks fights with siblings or complains about not being loved
  11. Trouble keeping track of where he or she should be
  12. Schedule is draining to any of the family members

Unstructured Fun

Here are a few hands-on and mind-stimulating activities the whole family can participate in together. Adapt these activities, as needed, depending on the age of your child. Also, ask your child for his or her ideas for more activities. (Source: PasadenaISD.org)

•  Take outings to interesting places, such as the library, museums, parks and hiking trails.
•  Make a scrapbook together of places you visit (older children may enjoy keeping a journal).
•  Allow children to plan menus and help with grocery shopping.
•  Bake and cook together.
•  Play sports and games indoors and outside.
•  Play board and card games.
•  Encourage your child to create his own game and play with him.
•  Provide a variety of creative experiences such as arts and crafts, music and movement, and performing skits or plays.
•  Encourage child to find and use recycled items for art activities and games.

Recommended Reading

  • “Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk” by David Elkind, Ph.D.
  • “Take Back Your Kids: Confident Parenting in Turbulent Times” by William J. Doherty, Ph.D.
  • “The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon” by David Elkind, Ph.D.
  • “The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap” by Alvin Rosenfeld, M.D., and Nicole Wise
  • “The Power of Play” by David Elkind, Ph.D.
  • “Your Child’s Growing Mind” by Jane M. Healy, Ph.D.

Sharon Long, M.S., is the Parent Education Coordinator, Prevention Services at Centers for Youth & Families.

Fitness and Fundraising: 3 Family-Friendly Races This Weekend

Image by Mark Friedman

3. Raven McDonald, Brianna Crafton, Kendall Perkins

(Pictured above: Participants at a previous Central Arkansas JDRF Walk.)

Put on your running shoes and head to one of these active events for families, all happening this Saturday, Sept. 20. The events will support various organizations, from JDRF to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

1. Central Arkansas JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes at Dickey-Stephens Park: Celebrate the fundraising efforts led by families, schools, hospitals and businesses throughout the state. This year's walk will be held at the ballpark, and will occur rain or shine. Festivities begin at 8 a.m., and the walk kicks off at 9 a.m. Walkers will march along the Riverfront Park trail to the Clinton Presidential Center and back. Participants can also snack on food, listen to music from B98.5, and take part in children's activities. 8 a.m. Sept. 20. For info, click here.

2. Corner Store Country Run at War Memorial Stadium: Come dressed in over-the-top country attire for the 5K fun run (stroller-friendly!) and stick around for a free, family-friendly country fair with live music, food, refreshments, carnival games and giveaways. One hundred percent of proceeds will benefit charitable causes, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, and additional funds will be donated to other organizations in Little Rock. $30, online registration $25; family of four $75, children under 8 free; first 500 to register will be free. 7:30-11 a.m. Sept. 20. For info: (501) 663-0775, CornerStoreRun.com.

3. MEMS 5K at Two Rivers Park: Run through the park on this USATF-certified course. Registrants will receive a commemorative race T-shirt (while supplies last), race bib, and goodie bag. Snacks will be available at the finish line and awards given for the top three finishers in all age groups by gender. Proceeds from this race benefit The September Fund. The fund was established as a living memorial to the brave police, firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians who perished on September 11, 2001. The fund gives a one-time scholarship to first-year college-bound children of any first responder in the 100.3 the Edge listening area. $25. 5-7:30 p.m. Sept. 20. For info: (501) 605-2654, 5KRun.MetroEMS.org.

For more weekend 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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