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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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Photo Album: Central Arkansas Angels Pageant

Gallery by Mauren Kennedy

The 2014 Central Arkansas Angels Pageant took place in June at Geyer Springs First Baptist Church in Little Rock. The pageant is free for boys and girls of all ages and all types of special needs, and provides free hair, makeup and dress apparel. Children can be escorted onto the stage by family members, or boys can be escorted by beauty queens and girls by members of the military. Once onstage, every child is celebrated, crowned and given a sash. For more information, visit




Fit Families Challenge: Achieving Goals and Celebrating Success


Editor's Note: It's the Nipper family's fourth week of the Fit Families Challenge from Special Olympics Arkansas! The family of four -- Luke, Christy, Miles (3 years) and Molly (9 months) -- is participating in the six-week program designed for individuals with special needs and their families. The Fit Families Challenge encourages physical activity and healthy eating for the whole family. Read more about the free program here, and check out more posts about the Nipper family's journey here.

As a cross country coach, there is nothing that gets me more excited than seeing a runner’s hard work, dedication, and sacrifice suddenly pay off. Seeing someone finally achieve a goal after they have worked so hard is really special. This past week, I was fortunate to be a part of that as my teams prepared for and ran in the State Cross Country Championships. Even better—my family got to experience it with me.


In a whirlwind week full of preparations, excitement and celebrations, my teams took time to look back on how far we had come and to remember all the hard work that had brought us to this point. In a society that promotes instant gratification, I know the qualities my team displays are rare and I am SO thankful that Miles and Molly get to see these concepts lived out in front of him on a daily basis. Even if they do not understand it fully, I know these lessons are being ingrained and adopted into their own lifestyles because I see that too.

Learning new skills often requires more work and practice for Miles. During therapy sessions we are often breaking down developmental goals into individual components that we practice until he is ready to combine those skills and reach the developmental goal. When Miles was learning to walk up and down stairs we first had to strengthen quads by having him repeatedly stand up from a kneeling position. Starting with both knees on the ground, he would then place one foot on the ground, transfer his weight to that foot and push to stand. At the same time, we focused on balance and practiced standing on one foot at a time while holding onto the couch and then independently. After weeks of this we moved to the stairs where we practiced going up and down with two-handed assistance from an adult, then using the handrail and one hand of an adult, then just the handrail.

Miles is fully capable of achieving any milestone but it requires hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. It means that he has less free play and more structured “play” time (most days). It means he has to practice these skills daily. There have been many times when Miles does have free time to play that we walk in and find him practicing skills that we are targeting in therapy sessions, because he is determined and wants to be successful. And when we meet one of our developmental goals after working so hard, there is a lot of cheering, normally some dancing, and big smiles all around. Although Miles often has to work harder to meet some milestones, it makes the celebration so much sweeter!

Miles has become accustomed to being the one that works hard, achieves success and gets to celebrate. This season he got to experience that from the perspective of a coach. He watched our team work hard, stay determined, and make numerous sacrifices over the past 5 months…and on Saturday we all got to celebrate!


Nine Months and Out: Getting Prepped for Toddlerhood

Gallery by Karen E. Segrave


9 Months

Baby should:

  • move sitting to lying
  • may pull to stand
  • crawl
  • repeat sounds (mamamamam,dadadada)

12 Months

Baby’s First: words, birthday

Baby should:

  • say mama, dada, ball
  • walk with assistance
  • crawl fast
  • stand alone

By 7 months old, babies’ brains are already working on speech and trying to figure out how to form words, according to recently published research from the University of Washington. In fact, when babies listen to adults talk, it stimulates areas of the brain that coordinate and plan motor movements for speech, according to the study. So, even though she probably won’t gurgle that first word until after 12 months, Mom and Dad’s exaggerated baby babble is helping her learn months in advance.

15 Months

Baby should:

  • feed self with fingers
  • say 10 or more words
  • stand and walk
  • bend and pick up a toy while standing


18 Months

Baby should:

  • walk well
  • be starting to run
  • speak 20-50 words
  • repeat sounds and gestures
  • feed self with spoon and cup
  • be working on using a fork

Developmental timeline compiled with help from Dr. Carrie Brown, a pediatrician at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. For more baby tips and topics, visit

Community Leader, Aunt Extraordinaire Joy Secuban Shares What Her Extended Family Is All About


There’s an old proverb historians have connected to several cultures throughout the centuries. It’s a proverb that conveys a child has the best ability to become a healthy adult if the circle around them takes an active role in how they are reared. The immediate as well as extended families influence them and take stock in having an impact. That ancient proverb is, “It takes a village.” The term was popularized on more of a mainstream level with the publication of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book of the same name in 1996.

Today’s world where families have become more scattered poses a challenge. But, establishing positive relationships with extended family members still helps build strong, healthy families. They can help provide emotional and physical support, encouragement, and share interests or hobbies. Emotional bonds with people at church, school, neighborhoods and other avenues are important to the self-worth of children as well.

Local community leader and aunt extraordinaire, Joy Secuban shares with Little Rock Family the JOY of being involved with her family and the love of her work as the Communications Manager for the Clinton Foundation.

Joy Secuban: I lead the Communications team’s work including exhibits. It’s so cool to come up with ideas and travel and see if things will work in our state for families and school children to enjoy…from preschoolers to senior citizens. It’s another way of storytelling, turning the two dimensional into the three dimensional.

The Clinton Center is evolving all the time. We think outside the box, especially with temporary exhibits. Perfect examples are Lego: Art of the Brick and Oscar de la Renta. Next summer we’ll have dinosaurs with animatronics. We want to be that community cornerstone known as an educational venue with local and international appeal.

Out of all the roles in my life though, my favorite is being an aunt. My sister JoJo has Michael, Warren and Olivia. My sister Gigi has Jonah. They call me Tati. My parents immigrated from the Philippines, so I am a first generation American. Tati (pronounced Tah-tee) is actually supposed to be Tita (Tee-tah), but Jonah mispronounced it when he was little and it just stuck.

I love them so much. I was there in the beginning when they were born and I plan to be always be there for them. I get to show them fun parts of life, but not be afraid to call them out when they get in trouble. I also get to spoil them a little bit too!

We do a lot together. We go to the bookstore and Kroger. I take them to birthday parties, baseball and soccer. I even had my own birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, so everyone could really enjoy it. It was so much fun!

I love sharing my life with them. They don’t really quite understand what I do (at the Clinton Center) yet, but they see it as a creative, artistic outlet that involves history. Michael enjoyed our Dr. Seuss week celebration. There was a birthday party with local celebrities. There were free tours, reading fun and cupcakes. Olivia loves pink and loved the pretty dresses in the Oscar de la Renta exhibit. We’ve also built mosaics with glass during the Chihuly exhibit.

Our parents were such hard workers. Mom is a nurse and dad is an accountant. They taught us to dream big, work hard and you can achieve anything. That’s the core of who I am. I want my niece and nephews to learn those same lessons. I want them to know hard work pays in dividends and for them to be successful and happy in what they are doing. I have high hopes for them to build upon what our parents did, build on what we have done, and take it to another level. They are so important to me.

Saluting a Decade of Progress


Gretchen Hall, President & CEO of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau along with James L. “Skip” Rutherford, III, Dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service share what the Clinton Center has affected over the past decade:

It’s been nearly ten years since the opening of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library on November 18, 2004; a true landmark that has drawn millions of visitors to Little Rock, and has spurred unprecedented cultural, economic and social progress. November 18 will mark the library’s 10th Anniversary. The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, along with the Clinton Foundation and many others, will be coordinating a 10-day celebration leading up to this important anniversary. The opening of the Clinton Center (Clinton Presidential Library, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and the Clinton Presidential Park) has forever changed the landscape of Little Rock, and was undoubtedly the catalyst that has propelled more than $2.5 billion in economic development to the Central Arkansas area.

The Clinton Foundation’s initial goals for the Presidential Center focused on four themes: economic development and revitalization of downtown Little Rock; developing an institution of higher education promoting public service; a tourism magnet for Arkansas and the mid-south; and archival repositories where the past, present and future intersect. Ten years later, Little Rock and all of Central Arkansas have benefitted from the advancement of those goals.

For up-to-the-minute details on 10th anniversary celebration plans all month long, including some scheduled free admission days, go to

10th Anniversary Events       
Oct. 15-Nov. 30 Handbags for Hillary at Esse Purse Museum
Nov. 8-23 The Clinton Years:
George Fisher’s Political Cartoons at Arkansas Arts Center
Nov. 11 100th Birthday of Daisy Bates,
Guest Speaker Ernie Green, ‘Little Rock Nine’ member
at Clinton School of Public Service
Nov. 12 “The War Room” and “396 Days: From Arkansas to America” Documentary Showings at Ron Robinson Theatre
Nov. 13 Throwback Thursday:
Party in the Pavilions at River Market Pavilions
Nov. 13 “The Hunting of the President” Documentary Showing,
Special Guest: Harry Thomason, Producer & Director
at Ron Robinson Theatre
Nov. 14 “Party Like It’s 1999” Concert - The Greasy Greens at Historic Arkansas Museum
Nov. 14; 17-18 Clinton Tour of the Governor’s Mansion (Call for Tour Times)
Nov. 15 Science of the Saxophone:
Good Vibrations at Museum of Discovery
Nov. 15 String Petting Zoo Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
at Museum of Discovery
Nov. 15 “Celebrate 10” Community Concert
benefitting Arkansas Foodbank and featuring Nick Jonas, Amos Lee, Court Yard Hounds, Kool & the Gang, and Kevin Spacey as Master of Ceremonies
Nov. 16 “Day of Action for Little Rock”
benefitting Arkansas Foodbank at AR Foodbank
Nov. 16-18

Free admission day at Clinton Presidential Center

Ongoing Exhibit Pillars of Power, First Families of Arkansas, On the Stump:
Arkansas Politics 1819-1919, and More
at Old State House Museum
Ongoing Exhibit Gubernatorial Memorabilia
at Central Arkansas Library System, Butler Center
January 2015
Dale Chihuly Glass Exhibit at Clinton Presidential Center

Baby Seats & Baby Teeth: What To Expect Between Two and Six Months

Gallery by Karen E. Segrave


Great news! Your little one is growing so big and finally starting to interact with the world. But beware: Those new interactions should be closely watched.

2 Months

Baby’s first: smiles & coos

Baby should:

  • follow object from one side to the other
  • lift chest when lying on stomach
  • bat at toys
  • clearly see 12 inches

Tummy Time

Babies should always be put to sleep on their backs, but during waking hours Tummy Time helps babies:

  • Strengthen neck and shoulder muscles to prepare for sitting, crawling and walking
  • Improve motor skills (using muscles to move and complete an action)
  • Prevent flat spots on the back of the head

Babies benefit from 2-3 Tummy Time sessions each day. Start with 3-5 minutes when they first come home from the hospital and lengthen the time as Baby gets older. Parents can use the time to bond with Baby; spread a blanket on the floor and sit in front of your baby. Put toys within Baby’s reach, so that she will try to play and interact.

Source: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; read more at

Buckling in Baby

Correct and consistent use of car seats can reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for infants, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Here are five steps to infant passenger safety:

  • Babies should ride rear-facing until they are 2 years old, or until they reach the upper weight and height limit of their car seat. Some seats can stay rear-facing for up to 35 pounds; then, children should ride in a forward-facing seat with a harness until it is outgrown (around 4 years or 40 pounds).
  • Check that harness straps are in slots at or below baby’s shoulders to hold child down in seat.
  • Do the harness straps fit snugly?
  • Place the harness clip at armpit level.
  • Have your car seat checked by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, who can provide a one-on-one educational safety check. The technician can help parents feel confident in re-securing the car seat in a vehicle and re-buckling the child on their own.

4 years: The typical age a child outgrows his forward-facing car seat
Children should ride in the back seat of the vehicle until they are 13 years old—and always wear a seat belt!

Visit to find a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area and to learn about local car seat safety events. Or, call the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Center at 364-3400 if you need to have your car seat checked.

Source: and

4 Months

Baby should:

  • turn face to voice
  • roll front to back
  • hold head/body up when held in a sitting position
  • like mirrors

Early Childhood Education

By now, your maternity leave is likely coming to an end. If you’re returning to work and you do not have family to help babysit, your little one needs a quality childcare facility that fosters early learning. Brilliant Beginnings, an annual special section from Little Rock Family, profiles early childhood education programs in central Arkansas to help parents in their search. Read more at

Another helpful resource is Better Beginnings, Arkansas’ quality rating improvement system for childcare, early education and school-age programs. Visit for tools that help families recognize and find quality child care in their area.


6 Months

Baby’s first: teeth

Baby should:

  • babble
  • recognize name
  • move objects from one hand
  • to the other
  • sit alone
  • move from sitting to up on all fours (crawling position)

Teething Troubles

The slobbering is in full force. Your wee one gums anything and everything within his grasp including your hair. Yep! He’s getting teeth. Such a fun and adorable phase of development, but those pearly whites require a little extra attention beyond your admiring gaze.

  • Sometimes babies are born with teeth. Typically, teeth are seen around five to six months though.
  • Breastfeeding can be impacted by teething.
  • Signs of teething can include drooling, face rash from saliva, biting, gum pain and inflammation, irritability and wakefulness.
  • Wipe early teeth with a clean damp gauze pad, washcloth or very soft, tiny (no more than 3 rows of bristles) toothbrush. No toothpaste is necessary.
  • Clean teeth after meals and never let your baby go to bed with a bottle.
  • Be a good dental care example.
  • Maintain good nutrition and begin dental check-ups when they are around two to three years old.

Developmental timeline compiled with help from Dr. Carrie Brown, a pediatrician at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. For more baby tips and topics, visit

Birth & Infancy: Tips on How To Get Through Those First Few Weeks

Image by Karen E. Segrave

Elizabeth O’Neal Turner, daughter of Lance Turner, Online Editor for Arkansas Business Publishing Group.


Hormones, Part 2

After junior arrives, prepare for night sweats! As with morning sickness, moms experience this to varying degrees. Some moms have a full-on episode while they sleep that leaves them, their beds and probably their spouses drenched. Here’s what to do:

  • Sleep in light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Layer a couple of beach towels on top of the spot where you sleep.
  • Have a fan running nearby.
  • Keep an extra set of PJ’s next to your bed.
  • Stay well hydrated.
  • Talk to your physician.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) is typically depression that occurs after having a baby, but can also occur during pregnancy, after the loss of a baby or when a couple is having difficulty conceiving.

8-19 percent of women reported having frequent postpartum depressive symptoms, according to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

4 percent of fathers experience depression in the first year of their child’s life, too.

Look for these symptoms if you think you or your partner is experiencing postpartum depression:

  • Low or sad mood
  • Having problems thinking, concentrating or make decisions
  • Trouble sleeping when your baby sleeps (more than the usual lack of sleep for new parents)
  • Feeling numb or disconnected from your baby
  • Having scary or negative thoughts about your baby
  • Worrying that you will hurt the baby
  • Feeling guilty about not being a good mom, or ashamed that you cannot care for your baby

If you are concerned about having any of these feelings, it is vital to tell your doctor or nurse.


For more baby tips and topics, visit

Track the Developmental Milestones of Your Child from In Utero to 18 Months

Image by Karen E. Segrave

Grace Caroline Irvin, daughter of Lindsay Irvin, editor of consumer special publications at Arkansas Business Publishing Group.


Inch-by-inch and step-by-step, it is phenomenal how much your little one learns and grows in such a short amount of time. While Junior is in utero, your doctor helps you track development, but what about after Baby is born? You’ll continue to see your trusted pediatrician or family doctor for regularly-scheduled wellness check-ups and vaccinations. And in between visits, you can consult our handy developmental timeline—compiled with help from Dr. Carrie Brown, a pediatrician at Arkansas Children’s Hospital—to determine if your child is meeting major milestones.

Of course, it’s important to remember that not all children will progress at the same rate, especially if your baby was born prematurely. Don’t sweat it if your tyke isn’t mastering all developmental skills at the prescribed time. But, trust your instincts as a parent, and bring up any concerns or significant delays with your doctor. Says Dr. Brown: “Any child who is failing to meet [the following] milestones, doesn’t make consistent eye contact with others or demonstrates a lot of repetitive behaviors (lining up cars, spinning a pinwheel, etc.) should be evaluated by their physician.”

Read Dr. Brown's top developmental tips, plus more helpful info, at the links below:


Birth & Infancy

2-6 months

9-18 months

For even more information, including tips on breastfeeding and baby bathtime, visit

Developmental Milestones: Tracking Your Pregnancy Through Nutrition & Exercise

Image by Karen E. Segrave

From left: Jessie Hogan, wife of Arkansas Business Print/Digital Reporter Lee Hogan, is due in February 2015. Sandra McGrew, Editor-in-Chief of Little Rock Soirée, is also due in February 2015.



“Eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to give you and your growing baby the nutrition you both need,” says Dr. Kimberly K. Reynolds, a practicing physician at The Woman’s Clinic, P.A. Here’s what you need daily for a well-rounded diet:

  • The five food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy
  • Oils and fats derived mainly from plant sources, such as olive oil, nut oils and grapeseed oil
  • Limit solid fats, such as those from animal sources and processed foods
  • 64 fluid ounces of water every day
  • Vitamins and supplements, such as folic acid, iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D

Sign up for the free meal planning program on the United States Department of Agriculture’s website, which shows pregnant moms the foods and amounts needed each day during each trimester of pregnancy.


30 minutes or more of moderate exercise is the recommended amount per day, unless Mom has a medical or obstetric complication.

Avoid any exercise with a high risk of falling or high risk of abdominal trauma.

No scuba diving, as the baby is at increased risk for decompression sickness.

Terminate exercise if you experience any of the following warning signs: vaginal bleeding, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, headache, calf pain or swelling, preterm labor, decreased fetal movement, or amniotic fluid leakage.

Kick Bad Habits

10 percent of women reported smoking during the last 3 months of pregnancy, according to the 2011 Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System data from 24 states (

“Smoking during pregnancy is the most modifiable risk factor for poor birth outcomes,” says Dr. Reynolds.

Smoking during and after pregnancy is associated with fetal and infant risks, including:

  • low birth weight
  • preterm delivery
  • stillbirth
  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • childhood respiratory illnesses
  • possible cognitive effects associated with learning disabilities and conduct disorders
  • placental complications of pregnancy and more

Nutrition, exercise and smoking tips courtesy of Dr. Kimberly K. Reynolds, a physician at The Woman’s Clinic, P.A., who is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology.


There are a few times during pregnancy where you feel like a circus side show. Your body is doing things at will, not your will, thanks to hormones. Morning sickness, for example, hits in varying degrees and can be an all-day sickness for some. Here are a few tips for coping:

1. Rest, slow down and avoid stress.

2. Don’t get dehydrated: drink water or eat ice chips.

3. Eat, even if you can only nibble a few bites.

For more information on pregnancy and childbirth, visit

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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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