Generation Next

To a TeaLittle ladies and gents learn the Ps and Qs of tea

By Lori Hutzler Eckert

The Mad Hatter from “Alice in Wonderland” understood perfectly well that taking tea need not be a bore for little ladies and gents. Experiencing a proper tea can be a fun and lively experience for children, especially when sweetened with a handmade scone or two.

At Magnolia & Ivy, a popular Emerald Coast tearoom, children ages 7 to 12 can participate in a tea etiquette class in August. The shop’s owners, Terri Eager and Kay Snipes, designed the school to help children feel comfortable and self-assured in a more formal dining situation. However, this tea school is as much about make-believe as it is about minding one’s manners.

The evening starts with a chance to dress the part. Children can select their perfect tea-time costume from the shop’s numerous top hats and floppy, flower-covered vintage hats, gloves, fur stoles and a treasure trove of costume jewelry. The students then enjoy a full tea, learning the fine art of serving and partaking in a Victorian-style tea salon.

Magnolia & Ivy is located in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort’s Village of Baytowne Wharf. The children’s tea etiquette classes are from 5 to 7 p.m. each Tuesday in August. The session, which costs $45, includes a tutorial meal and a diploma. For details or reservations, call 267-2595.


Treats That Work Miracles

Dairy Queen Blizzards have long been a great way to cool off, but purchasing one of those famously irresistible ice-cream treats on Thursday, Aug. 10, could warm your heart as well. The nationwide fast- food chain is partnering with Grammy-winning singer LeAnn Rimes in celebrating Miracle Treat Day, with proceeds from sales of all Blizzards benefiting Children’s Miracle Network, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for children’s hospitals. So swing by Niceville’s Dairy Queen on John Sims Parkway during Miracle Treat Day for a Blizzard and a good cause. For kids ages 13 and younger, visit to get the scoop on the “Blizzard of the Month” and other fun promotions. – Lori Hutzler Eckert


School Rules

School bells soon will be sounding on the Emerald Coast, and children will be heading back to the classroom. After the carefree days of summer, kids often forget the rules of personal security, so parents should add a review of safety tips to their school preparations. Remind children to stay in groups, always be aware of their surroundings at all times, and know the appropriate way to deal with a stranger.

And to help ease the back-to-school transition for parents and kids alike, take some pointers from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This organization offers some timely tips including how to alleviate first-day fears, rules for safety on the school bus, solutions for day care before and after school, and how to develop good homework habits. Visit the academy’s Web site at – Lori Hutzler Eckert


Talk to The Hands

Babies typically begin to talk between 12 and 15 months, but some researchers say babies can grasp sign language and communicate with it before they learn to speak. The simple system known as “Baby Signs” – which includes signs for such words as “flower,” “diaper” and “drink” – can help parents communicate with pre-language infants rather than trying to differentiate cries of hunger, discomfort and need for affection.

And the benefits could extend beyond alleviating parental frustrations: One study of 8-year-olds by the National Institutes of Health showed that children who had been signing since the age of 2 had a higher IQ than kids who didn’t learn to sign. The Web site offers classes and resource materials, while the “Baby Signs” series of books and videos is available in local bookstores.– Amanda Finch Broadfoot