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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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Out & About: 7 Baby-Friendly Places in Central Arkansas

Image by Mark Friedman

Mason and Steve Maddox

Take Junior out for an afternoon on the town! Your tyke will gain important, enriching experiences. And more importantly, you’ll get out of the house and meet other parents. Here are a few hot spots around central Arkansas:

Barefoot Studio: Take a little time to breathe…and bond with Baby in a Mommy & Me yoga class. Two classes are offered every week: The infant class is for brand-new moms with babies up to 12 months and another is for moms with 1-3-year-olds.

Fit4Mom: Sign up for the Stroller Strides fitness program that moms can enjoy with their little ones in tow. Certified instructors weave songs and activities into exercise routines, so the baby stays entertained while mom gets in some cardio and builds strength.

The Little Gym of Little Rock: Weekly parent and child classes start at 4 months with the 45-minute Bugs class, followed by the Birds class (10-19 months). Little ones strengthen motor and social skills as they listen to music, dance and sing.

Local Libraries: Check your local library branch for free baby storytimes! Many branches of the Central Arkansas Library System offer weekly events that include stories, singing and group interaction for young babies and toddlers. The Laman Library offers a weekly Babytime lapsit program for little ones ages 6 months to 2 years, and the Laman Library Argenta Branch also offers an interactive storytime for babes.

MOPS: This international organization brings moms together in local groups to talk about motherhood and foster friendships. Moms with infants through kindergarten-age children are welcome.

The Wonder Place: This indoor play space is designed especially for ages 8 and younger. Little ones ages 1 and up should have a blast exploring the tree house, splashing in the water table and making messy art in the studio.

Pictured above: Mason and Steve Maddox make a splash at The Wonder Place.

Little Rock Soirée Names Mandy Richardson as Publisher

The parent company of Little Rock Family, Arkansas Business Publishing Group of Little Rock, announced last Monday that Mandy Richardson has been promoted to publisher of our sister publication, Little Rock Soirée.

Richardson has previously served four years as advertising director of the monthly city publication. As publisher, she will oversee all facets of the magazine’s operations.

“Mandy has done an outstanding job building the sales team for Soirée, and has worked tirelessly with Editor-in-Chief Sandra McGrew to help craft the future of the Soirée brand,” said Olivia Farrell, CEO of Arkansas Business Publishing Group (ABPG), the parent company of Little Rock Soirée.

Richardson’s promotion comes as Farrell, who has been publisher of Soirée since its inception in 2002, plans to spend more time on other ABPG projects.

Richardson brings more than 14 years of communications, sales and management experience to the publisher role. Before working at ABPG, she was regional account manager and team leader for Commerce Bank and director of marketing for Centers for Youth & Families in Little Rock.

“I am confident that Mandy's leadership paired with the talents and energy of the Soirée team are going to be a winning combination,” ABPG President Mitch Bettis said.

Richardson received a masters degree in media communication from Webster University in Webster Groves, Missouri and a bachelors degree in corporate communication from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.

About ABPG

Arkansas Business Publishing Group is a niche-publishing company that also owns a Web development firm, FLEX360. ABPG produces more than 20 publications, including magazines and websites.

Its products include Arkansas Business, the state’s business news authority; Little Rock Family, a monthly parenting magazine launched in 1994; and Little Rock Soirée, a monthly magazine covering nonprofits, fashion, food and events in Little Rock since 2002.

Other publications include Arkansas Bride, Guest Guide to Greater Little Rock, Arkansas Next: A Guide to Life After High School and Arkansas AgBusiness.

Recipe Files: Grandma Betty's Crazy Good Pumpkin-Applesauce Bread

Image by Shutterstock

'Tis the Season...for baking up a storm! If you're in need of inspiration, Little Rock Family Editor Heather Bennett shares her mother's recipe for Pumpkin-Applesauce Bread. Check it out below!

Grandma Betty’s Crazy Good Pumpkin-Applesauce Bread


  • 2/3 Cup Shortening
  • 2 and 2/3 Cups Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Canned Applesauce
  • 1 Cup Mashed Pumpkin
  • 3 and 1/3 Cups All-Purpose Flour, sifted
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1⁄2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 1⁄2 Teaspoons of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 Teaspoon Mace
  • 1⁄2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 2/3 Cup Apple Juice
  • (Optional) 1 Cup Walnuts or Pecans, chopped

Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in applesauce and pumpkin, sift together dry ingredients and add alternately with apple juice. Stir in nuts. Turn batter into 2 greased 9 X 5 X 3-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until done.

Makes 2 loaves. One loaf can be wrapped in foil and frozen.

Editor’s note: The first time I made this, I got a little zealous with my stirring of the pumpkin and applesauce and flopped a big blob out that landed on between my toes. Ick! I also drizzle cream cheese icing over the bread for extra yumminess. I use the ready-made kind; warm it in the microwave for about 20 seconds, stir and then drizzle over sliced bread with a spoon.

New Holiday Light Displays in Downtown Little Rock & North Little Rock

Image by Shutterstock

This holiday season, central Arkansas will have two brand-new light displays to admire! Both the City of Little Rock and the City of North Little Rock have plans to unveil new holiday attractions.

Holidays in the Park: On Nov. 29, the First Security Amphitheater in downtown Little Rock will transform into a bright winter wonderland called Holidays in the Park. The seasonal lighting display, a new attraction for Riverfront Park, was donated by Randy Guptill, the Director of Technical Services at Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau. Guptill is well-known in Cabot for his family's annual Christmas light display at their home.

The 10-minute show will be choreographed to music and can be seen each night throughout the holiday season. Holidays in the Park will run on the First Security Amphitheater stage each evening from 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Nov. 29-Jan. 3. The show is completely free and open to the public.

Families can help kick things off at the official lighting ceremony from 3-5 p.m. Nov 29. The opening night celebration includes a meet & greet with Santa Claus, holiday cookies, beverages, crafts, games and more. For info: or


Northern Lights Festival: Across the river, the city of North Little Rock is gearing up for its Northern Lights Festival on Dec. 7--where they'll unveil a new, 20-foot tree made of LED lights. The free festivities take place from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and families can enjoy photos with Santa, free hot chocolate and performances from local choirs. Plus, kids can make holiday ornaments and cards with Art Connection, Thea Foundation and the North Little Rock Mayor’s Youth Council.

And families won't want to miss the annual North Little Rock Sertoma Club Christmas Parade, which takes place right before the festival. The parade rolls through town beginning at 2 p.m. at the intersection of Pershing Blvd. and Main St, heads south on Main St. to enter the Argenta Arts & Entertainment District and concludes in front of the City Services Building (120 Main St.).

After the Northern Lights Festival on Dec. 7, the tree will be lit each evening until Jan. 2. The tree will be located in the middle of "Trolley Plaza" in front of the City Services Building (120 Main St.) at Washington and Broadway Sts. For info:

Help Name Elf-Inspired Ice Cream from The Rep and Loblolly Creamery

Image by The Rep

Update: The top five submissions have been chosen! See all five finalists and vote for your favorite on The Rep's Facebook page here.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre's holiday production of "Elf" just keeps getting better and better. The Rep announced a special "Elf"-inspired ice cream, created in partnership with Loblolly Creamery!

The special flavor--sweet cream with peppermint chunks and house-made marshmallows--will be sold at the theater and at Loblolly Creamery's soda fountain in the Green Corner Store during the month of December.

Plus, The Rep is asking fans to help come up with unique name for the special flavor, but you better act quickly--the deadline to submit a name is this Sunday, Nov. 16 at 5 p.m.! Click here to make your submission.

The top five submissions will be chosen by The Rep staff and posted on their Facebook page here. Fans are asked to vote for their favorite name from Monday, Nov. 17-Wednesday, Nov. 19. The winner will receive a pint of the special flavor and a pair of tickets to see the show.

"Elf" will play at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre Dec. 3-Jan. 4. For even more fun for families, visit on Dec. 6 for Little Rock Family Day! The Little Rock Family staff will be on hand with crafts and activities for families before the show! For more info, click here.

Watch: Museum of Discovery's Kevin Delaney On The Tonight Show

Image by NBC/The Tonight Show

Kevin Delaney leads Jimmy Fallon and Lucy Liu in a series of science experiments on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" on Nov. 7.


In case you missed it, the Museum of Discovery's Kevin Delaney once again appeared on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" last week! Delaney, the director of visitor experience at MOD, made his debut on the national television show earlier this year, and was invited back for another round of amazing science experiments.

With "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon and actress Lucy Liu as his lab assistants, Delaney demonstrates different densities in various gases: He lights floating hydrogen gas bubbles on fire; makes a boat float in mid-air with sulfur hexafluoride; and in the finale, creates a giant cloud with hot water and liquid nitrogen.

Check out the clip below, and learn more about Kevin Delaney in our Q&A here. Watch Delaney's first appearance on "The Tonight Show" here.

10 Events for Weekend Fun: Ballet, Breakfast with Santa and More

Image by Bass Pro Shops

This morning's light dusting of snow isn't the only sign that holiday season is officially here: Get ready for more Santa sightings! He'll arrive at McCain Mall and Bass Pro Shops this weekend, Nov. 14-16 (click here for our full list of where to see Santa in Little Rock and central Arkansas!).

Santa won't be the only celebrity in town this weekend either: It's the Clinton Center's 10th Anniversary, and the community is invited to a free, star-studded concert featuring Nick Jonas, Amos Lee, Kool & the Gang and others. Plus, there are several more anniversary events we think families will love. Learn more about the festivities in our full blog post here.

There's so much more happening this weekend, too. Here are our top 10 picks for family fun this weekend, Nov. 14-16!

1. Second Friday Art Night in Downtown Little Rock: At the monthly art night in downtown Little Rock, families can explore museums and gallery spaces for free. This month, attend the opening reception of the exhibit Freedom! Oh, Freedom at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. The exhibit explores the Civil War from African-American perspective through experiences with slavery, the contributions of African-American soldiers and what happened in the Reconstruction Era. The reception includes refreshments and music by Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers and the Philander Smith choir.

Stop by the Historic Arkansas Museum for the opening of the new exhibit "Under Pressure: The Arkansas Society of Printmakers" and listen to entertainment by The Greasy Greens. And, beer lovers won't want to miss the Homebrew for the Holidays at the Old State House Museum, a free annual showcase for the Central Arkansas Fermenters. Second Friday Art Night is 5-8 p.m. Nov. 14. Events FREE!

2. Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra & Ballet Youth at Albert Pike Memorial Temple: The Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra, the premier youth ensemble partner of the ASO, is joined by Ballet Arkansas Youth Division in a performance of music and dance from La Traviata, Mozart's Magic Flute, and more. $20, children $10. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 & 15. For info: (501) 666-1761,

3. 3rd Annual "The Nutcracker" Event at Garvan Woodland Gardens: Dancers from Ballet Arkansas perform a short show and read the story of "The Nutcracker." Children and adults have the opportunity to mingle with the cast, take pictures, and enjoy a dessert reception. Children must be accompanied by an adult, and reservations are required. $30; members are $25; kids are $15. 3-6 p.m. Nov. 16. For info: (501) 262-9300,

4. "Good Vibrations" Programs at Museum of Discovery: As part of Little Rock: A Decade of Progress celebrating the 10th anniversary of the opening of the William J. Clinton Library, the MOD offers two programs. During “Science of the Saxophone,” guests meet saxophone players and explore what science makes a saxophone work. In the “String Petting Zoo,” visitors can touch and play instruments from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Programs included with general admission: $10, children 1-12 & seniors are $8, members and kids under 1 are free. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Science of the Saxophone, 1-3:30 p.m. String Petting Zoo; Nov. 15. For info: (501) 396-7050,

5. Breakfast with Santa at McCain Mall: Santa arrives on Nov. 14 on a North Little Rock Fire Department truck and settles in to take photos starting at 6 p.m. The following morning, kids of all ages can enjoy breakfast with Santa in Center Court. After breakfast, children make reindeer food and receive a free keepsake from the event. Students from the NLR Mayor's Youth Council will join the holiday fun, too. Reservations required for Breakfast with Santa. 9 a.m. Nov. 15. For info: (501) 758-6317, FREE!

6. Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops: It's the most wonderful time of the year at Bass Pro. From Nov. 15-Dec. 24, visitors will find Santa’s Wonderland, which includes a Christmas village, model trains, twinkling lights, free crafts and free photos with the big man in red. Santa will arrive at 5 p.m. Nov. 15, where he'll invite children to help him light up the outside of the store and the big Christmas tree. Families will also be treated to free cookies and hot chocolate during the opening celebration. Kids can then participate in free games and activities all day, as well as crafts from 5-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and noon-5 p.m. Sat. & Sun. Photos with Santa are 3-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun. Santa’s Wonderland continues through Christmas Eve. Nov. 15-Dec. 24. For info: (501) 954-4500, FREE!

7. Holiday Open House at Pleasant Ridge Town Center: Santa visits the shopping center! Enjoy music from carolers, rides in a carriage, refreshments and beautiful store window decorations. 1-4 p.m. Nov. 16. For info: (501) 225-7807, FREE!

8. Holiday Candle Making Workshop at Plantation Agriculture Museum in Scott: Join a park interpreter at the Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park for both traditional candle dipping and pouring candles to make as homemade gifts and take home for the holidays. Pre-registration required. $15. 9 a.m.-noon Nov. 15. For info: (501) 961-1409,

9. 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 then on display. Fun for ages 3–8. 10 a.m. Nov. 15. For info: (501) 324-9351, HistoricArkansas.orgFREE!

10. Get Your Rear in Gear – Little Rock 5K Run/Walk at Burns Park in North Little Rock: Help raise funds for colon cancer awareness efforts in the Little Rock area. Monies raised will stay in our community, helping with prevention, early detection and treatment, and healthy living projects for this disease. The event includes refreshments, T-shirts and marathon-quality medals for age group winners. Get Your Rear in Gear provides a special opportunity to honor survivors and those lost to colon cancer in our community. $30; kids 12 and under $15. 7:30 a.m. Nov. 15. For info: (501) 609-5855,

For more events, browse our full online calendar here.

5 Family-Friendly Activities to Celebrate the Clinton Presidential Center 10th Anniversary

Image by Mauren Kennedy

This month, the Clinton Presidential Center celebrates 10 years since opening its doors on Nov. 18, 2004! In our November issue, we shared some of the Clinton Center's original goals and the ensuing decade of progress in central Arkansas and beyond. We also chatted with Joy Secuban, the Communications Manager for the Clinton Foundation, about the center's role for central Arkansas families (including her own nieces and nephews!). Click here to read the full article.

The anniversary festivities offer multiple family-friendly events this weekend, Nov. 14-16. Here are five activities where you can celebrate!

1. Celebrate 10 Community Concert benefiting Arkansas Foodbank at Clinton Presidential Center: This event will encourage the central Arkansas community to give back by collecting food to feed hungry Arkansans through the holidays. Kevin Spacey will serve as the evening's Master of Ceremonies, introducing performers like Nick Jonas, Amos Lee, Court Yard Hounds and Kool & the Gang. The event is free and open to the public, and attendees are asked to bring nonperishable foods to gain entry. Advance registration is also required: 8-10 p.m. Nov. 15. FREE!

2. "Good Vibrations" Programs at Museum of Discovery: The MOD will offer two programs for families on Nov. 15. During “Science of the Saxophone,” guests meet saxophone players and explore what science makes a saxophone work. In the “String Petting Zoo,” visitors can touch and play instruments from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Programs included with general admission: $10, children 1-12 & seniors are $8, members and kids under 1 are free. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Science of the Saxophone, 1-3:30 p.m. String Petting Zoo; Nov. 15. For info: (501) 396-7050,

3. Free Admission Days at Clinton Presidential Center: Celebrate by perusing the Library's permanent collections, and exploring the phenomenal glass artworks in the temporary exhibit, "Chihuly." Visitors can also pick up free audio tours narrated by President Clinton. Free admission days will be held Nov. 16-18. (Please note: The Center will be closed Friday, November 14, and Saturday, November 15, for Clinton Foundation meetings.) FREE!

4. Day of Action for Little Rock at Arkansas Foodbank: Participate in a service project and help distribute food to Arkansans struggling with hunger. Volunteers ages 8 and older will sort fresh produce in two 2-hour shifts from noon-2 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. on Nov. 16. Reservations required; click here to sign up. FREE!

5. Party Like It's 1999 Concert: The Greasy Greens at Historic Arkansas Museum: This free concert not only celebrates the Clinton Center anniversary, it's also a part of the Second Friday Art Night in Downtown Little Rock. At the monthly event, families can explore museums and gallery spaces for free. Stop by the Historic Arkansas Museum for the opening of the new exhibit "Under Pressure: The Arkansas Society of Printmakers" and listen to entertainment by The Greasy Greens. FREE!

For more information about the Clinton Presidential Center's 10th Anniversary, click 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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