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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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Recipe Files: Nutter Butter Santas with Heather Bennett and Alyse Eady

Image by Heather Bennett

Get crafty in the kitchen this holiday season! This is a super easy holiday cookie anyone can help decorate, including the kiddos. Youngsters will need more supervision than older children.

Editor Heather Bennett appeared on THV 11 to show Alyse Eady how to make the festive snacks; click here to watch the segment. Or, follow the instructions below.

Nutter Butter Santas

  • Nutter Butter cookies
  • White pre-made icing
  • Red sugar sprinkles
  • Red hots
  • Chocolate chips
  • Plastic spoon to spread icing
  • Large platter for a work surface for easy clean up

Directions: Spread white icing on the top and bottom third of the Nutter Butter with the underside of the spoon. Sprinkle red sugar on the top icing third for Santa's hat. Place a red hot on the plain white icing for his nose. Put a dot of icing on the underside of two chocolate chips. Then, place the chocolate chips on the cookie for Santa's eyes.

NOTE: This snack is not for individuals with peanut allergies.

North Pole to the Nutcracker: 8 Holiday Shows For Families

Image by David Knight

The most wonderful time of the year is also the most wonderful time to introduce youngsters to live music, theater and dance! This holiday season, eight fantastic shows--from Ballet Arkansas' annual performance of The Nutcracker to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's Swingin' Holiday Extravaganza--will liven up stages around central Arkansas. 

1. "Elf" at Arkansas Repertory Theatre: A young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts is raised in the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually a human, his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities eventually cause him to face the truth. As he embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity, Buddy strives to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. "Elf" turns one of Hollywood’s most beloved holiday hits into a hilarious and heartwarming musical that towers above the rest. Opening Night for Elf is Dec. 5 and includes a post-show reception with the cast immediately following the show. Complimentary champagne and light hors d'oeuvres will be provided. A special matinee sponsored by Little Rock Family will be at 2 p.m. Dec. 6. Regular performances are: 7 p.m. Wed.-Sun. & 2 p.m. Sun. Special Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. Dec. 6 & 27, Jan. 3. $40-$60. For info: (501) 378-0405,

2. The Velveteen Rabbit at Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theater: A Christmas-themed childhood favorite comes to life on stage. Families will recognize the heartwarming story of a stuffed rabbit and his quest to become real through the love of his owner. 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. Nov. 28-Dec. 21. For info: (501) 372-4000,

3. 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. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 & 13; 2 p.m. Dec. 13 & 14. For info: (501) 666-1761,

4. 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." Families will also hear music from favorite holiday movies, including "The Polar Express" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." 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 during Sunday matinee with Entergy Kids Ticket. Peformances are: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19 & 20; 3 p.m. Dec. 21. For info: (501) 666-1761,

5. Conway Symphony Orchestra Presents "Tinsel & Tutus" at UCA Reynolds Performance Hall: Celebrate the season with highlights from "The Nutcracker" performed by the Arkansas Festival Ballet plus a special performance from the Central Arkansas Children's Choir. Enjoy exciting arrangements of holiday classics to make the Yuletide bright. $20-$38. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6. For info: (501) 450-3265,

6. Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Verizon Arena: TSO performs their rock opera "The Christmas Attic" featuring one of the band’s most popular songs "Christmas Canon." Performances are: 4 & 8 p.m. Dec. 6. $59.50, $74.50 & $89.50. 4-10 p.m. Dec. 6. For info: (501) 975-9000,

7. "A Christmas Carol" at UCA Reynolds Performance Hall: A powerful story of redemption, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, has enchanted audiences the world over with its simple message of selfless giving. Ebenezer Scrooge, a most unrepentant, miserly fellow, is made to see the light as he survives a merciless battery of revelations by the ghosts of his own Christmases: Past, Present, and Future. This new adaptation of Dickens’ ever popular classic fills the stage with veteran Broadway actors, lush costumes, stunning sets, music, dance, and a timeless message. With beloved traditional carols of the season included, A Christmas Carol is an enchanting way to celebrate the holidays. $30-$40. 3 p.m. Dec. 7. For info:

8. "A Fertle Holiday" at The Joint: A Fertle Holiday is an original two-act comedy chronicling the Fertle Family's trouble-ridden reunion in the tiny town of Dumpster, Arkansas, as they attempt to entertain their rich relatives from San Diego. The Main Thing comedy trio brings the quirky family to life by portraying all the relatives and townspeople needed to create the illusion of a big, bustling Christmas get-together. Suitable for all ages. 8 p.m. Fri and Sat. $20. 8 p.m. Fri. & Sat. through Jan 10. For info: (501) 372-0205,

To search our full online calendar of events, click here.

15 Events for Weekend Fun: Breakfast with Santa, Nutcracker Tea, Christmas Parades and More

Image by Shutterstock

The holiday season is officially here! From Christmas parades to holiday performances, this first weekend of December is so jam-packed with wonderful family events, we couldn't list them all here. You can browse our full online calendar to see all of this weekend's events--66 and counting! Or, check out our top 15 event picks below.

And don't miss additional ideas for family fun, including where to see Santa Claus, wonderful holiday light displays in central Arkansas, Christmas parades to put you in the holiday spirit, fantastic holiday shopping events this weekend, and much, much more.

1. Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade and Capitol Lighting Ceremony in Downtown Little Rock: Come see Santa, Mrs. Claus and Rudy the Reindeer in this annual parade through downtown Little Rock. Serving as this year's Grand Marshal is Miss Arkansas 2014, Ashton Campbell. Beginning at Second and Broadway Streets, the Holiday parade starts at 3 p.m. and continues south on Broadway, west onto Capitol Ave. and ends at the State Capitol. Enjoy festive entries such as marching bands, floats, cars, animals and much more. Following the parade at 6 p.m., the Arkansas State Capitol will be lit, with Secretary of State Mark Martin and Santa Claus leading the festivities, which include fireworks, music and more. Parade 3 p.m.; Capitol lighting 6 p.m. Dec. 6. For info: (501) 835-3399, FREE!

2. Breakfast with Santa at ACH Children's Hall: Sponsored by Committee for the Future, Breakfast with Santa is an annual fundraiser for Arkansas Children's Hospital. Local fire fighters from the Little Rock Fire Department cook and serve guests a meal of pancakes, eggs, sausage and fruit. Santa arrives at 7:15 a.m. aboard a fire truck! The children in attendance have the opportunity to take a picture with Santa, create holiday crafts, call the North Pole and enjoy festive music. Little Rock Family is a proud media sponsor of this event; visit our booth to decorate holiday ornaments for the children at ACH. Doors close at 11 a.m. 7-11:30 a.m. Dec. 6. $10-$15. For info: (501) 364-1476,

3. 47th Annual Christmas Frolic at Historic Arkansas Museum: Celebrate Christmas as it was in the 1800s with living history, carols, reenactments, live music, dancing and more. Visitors come from across the state every year for the famous hot cider and ginger cake, as well as Arkansas-made holiday shopping in the Museum Store. 1-4 p.m. Dec. 7. For info: (501) 324-9351, FREE!

4. 105.1 The Wolf & KSSN 96's Toy Hill Toy Drive at the Metroplex: Help provide Christmas presents to children in central Arkansas. 105.1 The Wolf's Bob Robbins and the KSSN 96's staff encourage you to bring new, in-package toys to benefit the Marine Corps Reserve's Toys For Tots program. Seventy-two music-filled events begin at 5 p.m. Dec. 5. The Dec. 6 event includes food, a fire truck, ambulance, U.S. Marines, and toys. Parades expected to arrive at Toy Hill beginning at 11 a.m. Free lunch and entertainment for all who come with new toys for Toys for Tots. Dec. 7 event includes food, U.S. Marines, Fraternal Order of Police parade at noon and a motorcycle parade at 2:30 p.m. Free, donations requested. For info: (501) 217-5141,

5. Nutcracker Tea at The Capital Hotel: Join the cast and characters of Ballet Arkansas's annual holiday classic, The Nutcracker, as they take you on a narrated journey from Clara's house through the Kingdom of Snow and into the Land of the Sweets. You'll meet your favorite characters along the way and get to snack on delicious sweets with the cast after the performance. 2-4 p.m. Dec. 7. $38, children $25. For info: (501) 223-5150,

6. Santa at the Center at William J. Clinton Presidential Center: Enjoy holiday activities, including art projects, special entertainment, tasty treats and free photos with Santa. Free for all ages, but regular admission fees apply to tour the library. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 6, 13 & 20. For info: FREE! (For more Santa events and sightings this weekend, click here.)

7. Little Rock Family Day for "Elf" at Arkansas Repertory Theatre: Join Little Rock Family at The Rep for fun holiday activities before showtime! Make holiday crafts (including Elf-themed ornaments) and pose for pictures with Santa Claus. Plus, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with the brand-new Rep-permint Chunk ice cream flavor (sweet cream mixed with peppermint chunks and marshmallows!) made by Lobolly Creamery. Free activities will be from 1-2 p.m.; Elf matinee begins at 2 p.m. Dec. 6. Admission to event free; tickets to the show additional. For info: (501) 378-0405,

8. North Little Rock Sertoma Club Christmas Parade and Northern Lights Festival in North Little Rock: Beginning at the intersection of Pershing Blvd. and Main St., the parade will head south into North Little Rock's Argenta Arts & Entertainment District and conclude in front of the City Services Building (120 Main Street). Stick around for the Northern Lights Festival and the lighting of the city’s new 20-foot tree made of LED lights. Enjoy live music from local choirs, free hot chocolate, photos with Santa, and free holiday crafts. Parade begins at 2 p.m.; festival starts at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 7. For info: FREE!

9. Conway Symphony Orchestra Presents "Tinsel & Tutus" at UCA Reynolds Performance Hall: Celebrate the season with highlights from "The Nutcracker" performed by the Arkansas Festival Ballet plus a special performance from the Central Arkansas Children's Choir. Enjoy exciting arrangements of holiday classics to make the Yuletide bright. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6. $20-$38. For info: (501) 450-3265,

10. Hike in the Hills at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Challenge yourself with a guided hike to one of the seven peaks of Pinnacle Mountain State Park on this off-trail expedition. Wear sturdy shoes and bring lots of water. 2-4:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 14 & 21. For info: (501) 868-5806, FREE!

11. Tree Trimming at Laman Library in North Little Rock: The annual holiday celebration includes making an ornament to take home! 2-3 p.m. Dec. 6. For info: (501) 758-1720, FREE!

12. Children’s Crafts: Going Wild for a Natural Holiday at Garvan Woodland Gardens: Bring the kids or loads of fun making striking ornaments of natural materials with the Gardens’ resident artist Suzie Burch. Watch as she transforms pine cones, tree bark, berries, feathers, and other found objects into beautiful hand-made works of art, then try your own. Each ornament will be on display in the Gardens until New Year’s Eve! Registration required and children must be accompanied by an adult. 3-5 p.m. Dec. 6. $10, members $5. For info: (501) 262-9300,

13. I CAN! Dance with the Stars at Maumelle High School: Support the contestants in this showcase of talent and progress. Dancers with special needs perform with local celebrities and special guests, including KARK's Aaron Nolan, Ms. Wheelchair America 2015 Samantha Schroth, Director of Arkansas' Department of Higher Education Shane Broadway and others. 10 a.m. Dec. 6. For info: (501) 888-4140, FREE!

14. Old Fashioned Christmas at the White County Pioneer Village in Searcy: Visit the Pioneer Village, an 1880s-inspired village, to celebrate an "Old Fashioned Christmas." The Village will be decorated with handmade decorations. Visitors will find costumed guides serving cider and sugar cookies. Santa, with his sleigh full of toys, will hear your Christmas wishes. Free admission and parking; donations are appreciated. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 6. For info: (501) 580-6633, FREE!

15. 23rd Annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis at the Clinton Presidential Center and Park: Each year, hundreds of families, company teams, pets, and individual participants join in the fun, don festive costumes, and help raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation in support of programs and services statewide. There is a one-mile option, as well. Wear your favorite holiday costume, put jingle bells on your shoelaces, and get ready to walk or run. Dogs are welcome to participate. $30 for 5K; $25 for 1 mile. 11 a.m. Dec. 6. For info: (501) 664-4591, click here.

6 Holiday Shopping Events This Weekend

Image by Shutterstock

Mark a few more items off your Christmas shopping list this weekend (Dec. 5-7)! There are six special holiday sales, including huge events like the annual Arkansas Craft Guild Christmas Showcase and the Holiday Shopping Expo at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds. Plus, don't miss sales at some of our favorite schools: Pick out handmade ceramics from ACCESS students or stop for a free photo with Santa at Pediatrics Plus' sale.

ACCESS Gardens & Ceramics Holiday Sale at ACCESS Schools: Set your alarm and rise early to get the best of ACCESS ceramics. Shoppers will find platters, bowls, mugs, coasters and more colorful pieces created by ACCESS students. The once-a-year sale begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends when the items sell out. Dec. 5. For info: (501) 217-8600,

Arkansas Craft Guild’s 36th Annual Christmas Showcase at the Statehouse Convention Center: This holiday shopping extravaganza features quality art and fine crafts, both traditional and contemporary, by members of the Arkansas Craft Guild and their guests. More than 100 artists offer a unique array of fine handcrafted work, including pottery, woodworking, fiber art, glass, photography, jewelry, gourmet foods, and more. $5; free admission 8-10 a.m. Dec. 6. Show hours are: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 5, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 7. For info: (870) 269-4120,

Holidays at Hurricane at Hurricane Creek Elementary School in Benton: This 5th annual community event hosts more than 60 vendors from across central Arkansas showcasing jewelry, home and holiday decor, children's items, fashion, handbags, plus much more. A bake sale and silent auction are also part of the two-day shopping tradition. The event kicks off with a Ladies Night Out 6-9 p.m. Dec. 5 & the doors open to everyone 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 6. Entry is $3; children 12 and under free. For info: (501) 653-1012, or click here.

Holiday Shopping Expo at Arkansas State Fairgrounds: Support local vendors and small business owners while shopping for family and friends. We will have a variety of products and services, ranging from handmade, direct sellers, and wholesale items. Admission free. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 6. For info: (501) 504-5177,

Living Gift Market at Heifer Village: Visit with the Heifer Ranch animals, create fun crafts to take home and find the perfect gift in the Shop@Heifer. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 6. For info: (501) 907-8800,

Photos with Santa at Pediatrics Plus in Little Rock: Have your child's picture taken with Santa Claus and enjoy shopping at vendor booths at the Pediatrics Plus location on Aldersgate Road. Admission free. 9 a.m.-noon Dec. 6. For info: (501) 821-5459,

For more holiday shopping ideas, browse our Holiday Gift Guide here.

The Voices of Addiction & Depression Part 1: Parent, Child, Professional

Editor’s Note: There are instances—chronicled daily—of people’s lives torn apart by substance abuse and depression. Some are high-profile like that of creative genius Robin Williams, while some are cases of local teens harming themselves or others. All are troubling. All are heart breaking. All are preventable. Little Rock Family is partnering with The BridgeWay for a series of four articles over the next few months called “Voices” to provide the perspective of a significant adult in a child’s life, the child themselves, and the professional’s points of view. Everyone needs to be heard and understood when dealing with addiction and subsequent depression. It is our hope this series of articles will encourage someone to seek help and healing before it is too late.

The Parent's Voice

Beth savored the rich flavor of her coffee while sitting in the cafe and awaiting her close friend, Sheila. Yet, her mind wandered to the recent behavior of her daughter, Suzanne. She and her husband, Mike, were becoming concerned about the direction their 13-year-old daughter was taking.

As soon as Sheila arrived, she could sense that Beth was distracted. After they talked about the daily challenges of striking a balance between working and raising a family, Sheila asked Beth what was weighing on her mind.

“I’m really worried about Suzanne,” Beth replied. “She has changed and I can’t quite figure out why or what is causing those changes.” “Well,” Sheila countered, “she is a teenager after all. Perhaps you’re overthinking it a bit.” “I don’t think so,” answered Beth, “I’m really troubled.” “So what’s going on?” Sheila asked.

“Her grades have dropped,” Beth said, “which is troubling enough, but she just doesn’t seem to care about school or even the extra activities. As soon as she started getting D’s in her classes, we grounded her but allowed her to continue with cheerleading, student council and the church youth group.” “And did that work?” Sheila asked. “Then, she said she wanted to quit the cheerleading squad and drop student council. Although we convinced her to stay with those activities, she has been late to cheer practice many times, skipped several council meetings and isn’t as involved in the youth group. “Wow, I thought she loved cheer, especially now that she’s on the varsity squad,” Sheila said. “I know,” said Beth. “And if she is late again, the coach said she would be dropped to the junior squad.”

“Plus,” Beth added, “Suzanne doesn’t spend time with the friends she’s had. She skipped council to be with some other kids who just don’t share the same interests as Suzanne.” “Where were they,” Sheila asked.” “Just hanging out on campus,” Beth said, “and some of the kids were smoking and drinking.” “That’s not good,” Sheila said, “what did Mike say about that?” “He’s been so stressed with work that he’s pushed most of this onto me, and he’s drinking more than usual.” “Beth, I’m so sorry,” Sheila consoled. “Anyhow,” Beth said, “we took away her phone and internet privileges since that’s how she came in contact with that group of kids.”

“Has she said how she feels?” asked Sheila. “Hard to tell,” Beth replied, “her mood shifts from being angry to shutting down. And when we ask her what’s going on, she says she doesn’t want to talk about it, runs to her room and sleeps.” “That must feel like a no-win situation for you and Mike,” offered Sheila. “It is—for the whole family,” added Beth.

The Adolescent's Voice

“What about me?” shouted Suzanne as she ran to her room. “Mom and dad are too busy to listen to me even if I did tell them what’s going on,” she thought. “There’s just too much going on—school, cheer, council, church group, babysitting my little brother, a new school. I feel like I can’t keep up and I’m really frustrated and sad. Why can’t they see that? I didn’t want to drink—not really—but I didn’t know how to say no…and I still don’t.”

The Professional's Voice

“While some of the signs may indicate Suzanne has a problem with alcohol or drugs,” says Megan Holt, LCSW, Director of Clinical Services at The BridgeWay, “some of the other signs may point to the growing pains associated with adolescence. Yet, from our experience, we have found that a chemical dependency problem is more likely if one notices several of these signs at the same time. This is especially true if the symptoms occur suddenly, or if some of them are extreme in nature.”

  • Mood changes: flare-ups of temper, irritability, and defensiveness
  • School problems: poor attendance, low grades, and/or recent disciplinary action
  • Rebellion against family rules
  • Friend changes: switching friends and a reluctance to let you get to know the new friends
  • Desire for belongingness: a need to “fit-in” or an inability to sustain against peer pressure
  • A careless attitude: sloppy appearance, a lack of involvement in former interests, and general low energy
  • Physical or mental problems: depressed mood, memory lapses, poor concentration, increased headaches, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, or slurred speech
  • Alcohol presence: finding it in your child’s room or backpack or smelling alcohol on his or her breath

“We have also seen that alcoholism tends to run in families,” says Holt. “In Suzanne’s case, she may be predisposed to this disease due to her father’s abuse of alcohol.”

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, genes are responsible for about half of the risk for alcoholism. Yet, genes alone do not determine whether someone will become an alcoholic. Environmental factors account for the remainder of the risk.

“It is difficult for many parents to accept that their child might be using alcohol or other substances and is in need of professional help,” says Holt.” Typically, when they learn of their child’s usage, most parents are shocked and begin to question their parenting skills. However, when seeking help for a child who drinks, it is important not to blame yourself or your child. Instead, it is crucial to act now to help your child stop using substances. There is still hope for Suzanne—no matter what or how long she has been using.”



Parade Passion: 8 Christmas Parades in Central Arkansas

Image by Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade

Give yourself the gift of a sweet holiday memory, and add at least one of these parades to your busy holiday schedule! There are eight Christmas parades happening in central Arkansas over the next couple of weeks. Here's where your family can catch a little Christmas spirit:

7th Annual Illuminated Christmas Parade in Bryant: "Lights, Camera, Christmas!" is the theme for this year's lighted parade featuring floats, bands and special guests Santa & Mrs. Claus. The parade begins on Reynolds Road in front of Bryant High School and travels south. 6 p.m. Dec. 8. For info: (501) 847-4702, FREE!

57th Annual Christmas Parade in Downtown Jacksonville: For the first time in many years, the parade will be held at night and feature illuminated floats. Santa is the featured guest, along with parade favorites: marching bands, floats, dance groups and the fire department. The parade begins at the corner of Sharp & Main Streets and will end at First United Methodist Church on Main Street. The parade proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Jacksonville. 6 p.m. Dec. 2. For info: (501) 982-4316, FREE!

Annual Christmas Parade in Cabot: This year's theme is "A Cabot Candyland Christmas." Floats line up near the Junior High School, and travel on South Pine St. to Pond St. 3 p.m. Dec. 14. For info: FREE!

Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade in Downtown Little Rock: See Santa, Mrs. Claus and Rudy the Reindeer in this annual parade in downtown Little Rock. Serving as this year's Grand Marshal is Miss Arkansas 2014 Ashton Campbell. Beginning at Second and Broadway, the parade will travel south on Broadway, turn west onto Capitol Avenue and end at the State Capitol. The lighting of the Capitol and a fireworks display will follow at dark or approximately 6 p.m. Parade begins 3 p.m. Dec. 6. For info: (501) 835-3399, FREE!

Conway Christmas Parade in Downtown Conway: A festive parade beginning on south Front Street includes 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: FREE!

North Little Rock Sertoma Club Christmas Parade in North Little Rock: Beginning at 2 p.m. at the intersection of Pershing Blvd. and Main St., the parade will head south into the Argenta Arts & Entertainment District and conclude in front of the City Services Building (120 Main St.). Stick around for the Northern Lights Festival, which begins immediately following the parade. The free festivities take place from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and families can enjoy photos with Santa, free hot chocolate, performances from local choirs, and holiday crafts. Plus, don't miss the lighting of the city's brand-new LED tree. 2 p.m. Dec. 7. For info: FREE!

Oaklawn Rotary Christmas Parade in Downtown Hot Springs: Along with the superb parade which features floats and marching bands, the entire town of Hot Springs will be aglow with holiday cheer. This year's parade theme is “Miracle on Central Avenue." Check website for parade route. 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8. Rain date is Dec. 9. For info: (501) 321-2277, FREE!

Sherwood Christmas Parade in Sherwood: Don't miss "A Candy Cane Christmas" parade with school bands, floats and fun. Parade will start at Lantrip Road and Kiehl Avenue and will end at Oakbrooke Drive. Santa will be there, too! 2 p.m. Dec. 6. For info: (501) 835-7600, 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 Classic Christmas Movies Showing at Local Theaters.

Molar Milestones: Dental Development from Birth to Age 18

Just as children regularly see their pediatricians for preventative care, it is recommended that your child see a pediatric dentist by his or her first birthday. Establishing a pediatric dentist as your child’s primary care dentist early on allows you to instill preventative dental health habits that will keep your child free from oral disease. Your dentist will also be able to establish a friendly relationship with your child. Your child’s dental appointment is tailored to his age and stage of development, cavity risk and ability to cooperate.

A comprehensive dental exam, cleaning, and a preventative fluoride treatment will be performed, and dental images will be taken when appropriate. Your family’s current dietary habits and oral hygiene routine will be reviewed, and your dental professional provide suggestions that will reduce your child’s cavity risk.

Regular preventative dental appointments also allow families to take a proactive approach to their children’s dental health, and provide an opportunity for the pediatric dentist to address parents’ questions. The dentist also has an opportunity to prepare parents for changes and potential conditions that their child may experience at their particular stage of development. Plus, starting these habits early will help them continue into adulthood, and help maintain your child’s oral health throughout their life.

Here are the most common topics of concern for children from birth to age 18.

Newborn, Toddlers and Teething

Oral health care begins even before your baby’s teeth come in. Gently massaging your baby’s gums with a soft cloth after feedings helps them get used to having their mouth (and later their teeth) cleaned.

As soon as your baby’s teeth begin to erupt, use a small, soft toothbrush and a rice grain-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste.

If your child receives a bottle at bedtime, it should contain water only. Children who are put to sleep with juice, formula or milk are very likely to develop tooth decay.

Teething usually starts around 6 months old, and most children have all 20 of their baby teeth by age 3. Your child may drool and be fussy as teeth are pushing through the gums. Teething rings or a cold, clean washcloth may be used to alleviate pain. Tylenol, ibuprofen, or any other over-the-counter analgesics approved by their pediatrician may be used. However, topical anesthetics such as Baby Orajel are not recommended due to the potential for accidental anesthetic overdose.

Note that a low-grade fever and diarrhea may be associated with teething. However, any child with fevers at or over 101 degrees, and those who show changes in drinking, eating and voiding should be evaluated by a pediatrician.

Oral habits such as pacifier-use or thumb-sucking should be discontinued by age 3, as it can affect tooth alignment and the growth of the jaws.

Permanent Tooth Eruption

Permanent teeth begin to appear around age 6, with the lower central incisors and the permanent first molars erupting around the same time.

Incisors have ridges on the edges. They erupt slightly behind the existing row of teeth, and are often slightly rotated. As the front teeth erupt, the tongue pressure will move them forward so that they align with the other teeth.

Permanent teeth are slightly darker in color than the primary teeth; the color difference is normal. Their appearance will look more natural after all of the baby teeth are lost and all the permanent teeth have erupted.

Dental Sealants

Dental sealants, a special coating placed in the grooves of the teeth, are often recommended for teeth as a way to reduce cavity risk on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Sealants are particularly beneficial for permanent molars, and for other teeth determined by your dentist to be at high risk for cavities.


At your child’s continuing care appointments, your pediatric dentist will assess how the permanent teeth are coming in, and how the teeth are fitting together.

Orthodontic screening appointments are recommended around age 7, but may be required earlier for children with issues such as obvious underbites, prominent overbites, etc.

Although orthodontic treatment usually starts later, the screening allows the orthodontist to anticipate potential problems, and to proactively plan for the best time to begin treatment.

Tweens and Adolescents

Regular dental appointments are especially important at this age. Many children are receiving orthodontic care; this makes oral hygiene more challenging, and thus places them at an increased risk for cavities and hygiene-related periodontal problems. Also, changes in diet often occur, since they are less dependent on parents to provide all their meals and snacks.

Panoramic X-rays are used to assess the presence and development of wisdom teeth. Referral to an oral surgeon for wisdom tooth removal around the ages of 16-21 is common, due to the lack of room in the mouth and problems associated with wisdom tooth eruption and care.

Oral Health Tips for All Ages

  • Use toothpaste containing fluoride as follows:
    • Age 0-2 years: rice grain-sized amount
    • Age 2-5 years: pea-sized amount
  • Snacking should be limited to designated mealtimes and snack times, as frequent snacking on sugary and carbohydrate-containing snacks greatly increases the risk for tooth decay.
  • Make tap water your drink of choice in between meals, as it naturally cleanses the teeth. Avoid sipping on sugary (carbohydrate-containing) drinks, especially milk and juice, in between mealtimes. Frequent exposure to these sugary liquids greatly increases your child’s risk for cavities.
  • Parents should brush their child’s teeth up until age 8, as children 8 and younger lack the fine motor skills needed to perform brushing correctly.
  • Floss in between any teeth that are touching, as brushing alone cannot remove plaque located between the teeth.
  • See your pediatric dentist every 6 months, or more frequently at their recommendation, to ensure their oral care is efficient, and that there are no problem areas.

December 2014 Editor's Letter: Whole Child Health is a Gift

Image by Karen E. Segrave

What a gift! What a great concept! Whole child health means a child is emotionally AND physically healthy. It means they feel healthy, safe, supported, engaged and challenged by family, school and community. It means they are living in an environment that promotes the learning and practicing of healthy lifestyles. It also means, as indicated by a wide array of research, they are less likely to partake in risky behaviors, miss less school, and are generally more successful in school.

Life is full of highs and lows. Children experience the undulations of life just like adults. As the Little Rock Family team planned for this holiday issue, we thoughtfully considered the gifts of life and health. Our mission for the past two decades has been to help strengthen families through all of the ups and downs. Emotional health and physical health have a direct impact on the strength of families. We've filled this issue with resources and information to help your family have a happy and healthy holiday season this month and beyond.

Dr. Brian Eble, pediatric cardiologist, shares his passion and wishes for his family and his patients. Plus, Elizabeth Smart conveys her story of survival to help others.

You'll also find information on amazing local healthcare heroes, nutrition and ways to keep kiddos' chompers thriving from tot to teen. We've compiled priceless information to help families cope with tough issues like depression and addiction.

Page after page you'll enjoy the latest and greatest ideas for family fun and bonding. Last, but not least, beloved B98.5 morning radio co-host Jeff Matthews caps everything off with a nod to a "stress less" Christmas and what this joyous time of year means to him and his family.

Our Little Rock Family wishes your family a whole, healthy and happy holiday season.

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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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