Savvy - November 2014

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Saying Thanks The timeless tradition of handwritten notes D Deficiency Vitamin sources during the cold Spice of Life Healing powers of fall flavors Holiday Generosity Creative ways to give back as a family

New for 2015-16 and Beyond! Magnet School Placement Guaranteed from K-12! LRSD’s Magnet Program offers students the opportunity to participate in a variety of instructional programs from elementary to high school. Each school program emphasizes a specialized theme: • Arts, Math and Science • International Studies and Foreign Languages • Gifted & Talented • Traditional Studies Any student who resides within the Little Rock School District attendance zones is eligible to apply for assignment at one of the District’s eight magnet school programs. Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, these programs are offered across a continuum of feeder schools to enable students to participate in the magnet program from the time they enter elementary school through high school graduation.

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Why do babies love boxes as much as the toys they contain? The possibilities are as endless as her imagination.

In her first year, your baby mostly looked at toys. By her first birthday party, she found boxes and paper offered endless opportunities for exploring with all her senses. By age two, she uses boxes as stand-ins for objects her imagination has created, such as using a block for a pretend phone or car she pushes along the rug. When choosing toys, remember: less is more. The less a toy does, the more opportunity there is for your child to create and learn from it. Join in the play and encourage your child to imagine. Visit your child care program to talk about the toys there that spark children’s imaginations and how your care giver plays such an important role in the fun. Visit our website to download


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With the holidays right around the corner, this is the season where most everyone gets in the giving spirit. And, that spirit is evident throughout this month’s issue. Our cover story features four moms who devote their time and energy to serving the families of Central Arkansas through their various philanthropic efforts. These ladies are awesome. I enjoyed meeting each of them (and their families) during their photo sessions with Dixie Knight, who did a fantastic job capturing their giving natures. Giving thanks and giving back are the focus of other stories in the issue. We have a list of ways families can work in their communities this holiday season. And, because everyone is often so tech-crazed these days, we discuss the importance of sending handwritten thankyou notes. Not only is this a nice thing to do, we found, handwriting also boosts children’s reading skills. Because health and wellness can be difficult to maintain during the busy holiday season, we have a few stories to help you through. Packing on a few extra pounds has been known to happen to many of us during the holidays, so local trainer Jeff McDaniel has a 12-minute damage-control workout so that we can bulletproof our bodies ahead of any big meal. Local functional medicine expert Amy Beard tells us how to get enough vitamin D when it’s too cold to go outside and soak up the sunshine. And, who knew some of our favorite fall spices had medicinal properties? Matt Cooper from Cache Restaurant and Dandelion Herbs, Spices, Teas explains. We wish you all a warm and fantastic holiday season!



I’m a stationery junkie, and I love Rifle Paper Co.’s designs. I couldn’t resist buying this set of cards when I recently visited Moxy Modern Mercantile.



Pumpkin pie is my all-time favorite holiday treat, and this delicious one is from Boulevard Bread Co. I could literally eat it every day. Read all about the healing powers of pumpkin pie spice in this issue.

I’m looking forward to the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center’s newest and biggest exhibit, “Freedom! Oh, Freedom!” which opens this month.

Changing seasons, changing lives…

Giving you peace of mind every step of the way.

RIVENDELL’S ADULT SERVICES UNIT (ASU) has a lot to offer! The ASU team will work with you on setting goals for yourself and aid you in the healing process. Our tailored therapeutic activities will help you make important lifestyle changes. Find the treatment that’s right for you.

DBT – DIALECTICAL BEHAVIORAL THERAPY Designed to help deal with life’s stressors in the moment, as well as learn new skills to help you cope. Held three times a week.

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COURAGE TO HEAL A group that focuses on healing from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. It offers hope and validation as survivors actively participate in reclaiming power in their lives. Held twice a week.

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RELATIONSHIPS This group will assist you with exploring relationships in your life. How have they helped you? How have they hurt you? Held twice a week.


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DOMESTIC PEACE A supportive group that explores issues of family and domestic abuse. Types of abuse include emotional, verbal, physical, sexual and financial. Educational information is presented on the cycle of domestic violence, signs of domestic abuse, issues of power and control, and ways to deal with abuse. Held once a week. LIFE SKILLS Daily session covering various topics for discussion that address real-life issues you face once treatment is completed. Held daily. HEALTH & WELLNESS Groups designed to help you develop healthy lifestyles by looking at nutrition, exercise, dress, sleep patterns, and more. Held four times a week.

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contributors NOVEMBER 2014


is a writer and public relations practitioner in Little Rock. She owns Flywrite Communications, Inc., a public relations agency, and is the PR director for Mass Enthusiasm, a full-service marketing communications firm in Little Rock.


A SCHOOL AND A THERAPY CLINIC At the Academy at Riverdale, teaching methods and curriculum are designed to recognize the individual needs of our students from Kindergarten – Age 21. We are committed to on-going collaboration between parents, teachers, and therapists. Our only goal is to provide the instruction and encouragement students need to work toward realizing their full potential.

is executive chef at Cache Restaurant in Little Rock and owner of Dandelion Herbs, Spices, Teas. He is an Arkansas native and grew up in a family of food technologists and educators. He graduated from the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Ore. (Le Cordon Bleu Schools Northwest). His cooking style revolves around rustic and traditional cuisine, focusing on local and sustainable ingredients. He and his wife, Priscilla, have a 9-year-old daughter, Lillian, who hopes to be a pastry chef when she grows up.


is a private attorney who represents parents of children with disabilities across the state on special education and civil rights issues.


graduated summa cum laude with a degree in dietetics from the University of Central Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine. She is Board Certified in Family Medicine, emergency room trained and is one of only 100 MD/ dieticians in the country. She is continuing her lifelong education in Functional Medicine and is the owner and founder of H2MD with offices in Maumelle, Conway and Greenbrier.

Reading & Writing • Math & Science • Literature Social Studies • Character Education • Social Skills

IF YOUR CHILD HAS BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH A DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER: Autism Asperger Syndrome Pervasive Developmental Disorder Down Syndrome Apraxia Other Language Disorders Sensory Integration issues


is a 23-year-old graduate of the University of Central Arkansas. She has a degree in journalism with an emphasis in print as well as broadcast. She loves photography, scrapbooking, writing and going on adventures with her husband and their two dogs.


is a certified personal trainer and founder and program director for Busy Mom Fitness at FastFit Bootcamps in Little Rock. For more information visit or contact him at

Contact us today for more information or to schedule an evaluation for your child.

(501) 663-6965 · 1600 Riverfront Drive Little Rock, Arkansas 72202 We work with a variety of private insurance providers as well as ARKids 1st, Medicaid, TEFRA and TRICARE.



is a freelance writer, wife and (somewhat) savvy mom of two living in Benton.


is a licensed marriage and family therapist for the Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center.




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SPANKING: HARMFUL OR HELPFUL? How parents can appropriately discipline children BY CALLIE FRANCE STERLING

In light of the controversy surrounding Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, many parents and health care professionals are evaluating what are acceptable forms of discipline. Health care professionals say they believe the research supports that spanking can be potentially detrimental to children. “Research is showing that spanking does have negative long-term effects,” said Nicholas Long, director of pediatric psychology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “Punishing children is a form of teaching them. We don’t teach children using physical punishment when we are trying to teach them daily lessons. For example, we don’t swat kids when teaching them to read.” A more positive form of guidance can be more effective than a punishment approach. “Research is showing that encouragement, instruction and guidance is more beneficial,” Long said. “Punishment can be part of it, but the biggest part is to remain positive. For older children a loss of privilege seems to be very effective. For example, if a child leaves their bicycle outside after being instructed not to, they would lose their bike privileges for a while. Timeout can be a great form of discipline for younger children.”

Disciplining Appropriately Finding the right method of correcting a child’s behavior varies by household and can depend on the personality of the child. It is important to never discipline out of anger. It is also necessary to explain to the child why you are


correcting their negative behavior. “I think spanking can be appropriate if conducted responsibly,” military serviceman and father of two Shoin Hand said. “An explanation beforehand is important so the child will know the reason why they are being disciplined. I was spanked as a child, and I don’t feel like it was detrimental to me. If I didn’t want a spanking I would try hard not to get in trouble.” If a child is extremely sensitive, an alternate method of discipline may be considered. Some believe that the form of discipline should depend on the age and even sex of the child. It is a consistent belief among parents and professionals that the form of discipline should depend on the child and vary on characteristics the child possesses. “I believe and practice several forms of disciplinary techniques, including spanking,” said Amy Velazquez, business manager and mother of a 5-year-old daughter. “Children need to be recognized for their positive and negative behavior. It is important to me to give my child guidance and correction for misbehavior.” Many feel that spanking alone cannot be the sole form of discipline. “I don’t think spanking a child alone corrects the problem, but it does end the undesirable behavior immediately,” Velazquez said. “It should be followed up with a lesson on what behavior issues resulted in the action. Generally, spanking my child is the last form of discipline that is used, unless she is defiant or unwillingly to correct undesirable behavior. Spanking should never be an excuse to cause physical harm or abuse.” C ON T I N U E D ON PAGE 1 4




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Velazquez, who was spanked occasionally as a child by her mother, believes that being spanked was not detrimental to her as an individual. She remains close with her mother today as an adult and respected her mother as an authority figure as a child. “Parents should decide which discipline method works best in their home in their situation,” said Ann Brown, a social worker and mother of four. “Spanking can be an effective tool in correcting behavior and discipline. However, there are guidelines that should be followed if spanking is used as part of raising children. Spanking should not be overused or confused with corporal punishment or physical abuse. Spanking should not be used on the very young (less than 18 months), and spanking should be less of an option over the age of 6, and at age 10 spanking should no longer be used for discipline.”

Alternate Methods There is a distinct difference between spanking in order to correct behavior and spanking out of anger. The parent should take time to reflect and properly convey the message they want their child to learn. If the parent feels like they cannot correct the behavior without getting angry, the discipline should be delayed until the parent feels calm. “Spanking should never be done out of anger,” Brown said. “Spanking should be reserved for serious home rule violations and lessons where danger and safety have been compromised due to a child’s actions or decisions. It doesn’t make much sense to try to teach ‘no hitting’ through spanking. Spanking can be used successfully as a part of a comprehensive discipline program in the home. Guidelines have been published by the American College of Pediatrics and can be found on their website. Whatever method is chosen, consistency and follow through is key.” Some parents find alternate forms of discipline that do not involve physical discipline in any form to be effective. “I do not think it appropriate to spank children,” said Kelly Hardin Phillips, a certified public accountant and mother of three. “Very rarely is it done not in anger over a spur-of-the-moment offense. Reacting in anger to children’s often irrational and short-sighted behavior does not teach them anything.” Phillips, who was spanked as a child, believes that spanking and physical forms of discipline encourage potential future negative behavior. “It encourages them to solve frustrations by lashing out in anger,” Phillips said. “I don’t really care if people call it spanking or hitting or swatting, but what you are actually doing is hitting a child so they will respect you, which I find completely counterintuitive. At no other point or situation in your life is it appropriate to sort out your problems or frustrations with a human by using your hand to slap them across the behind other than organized sports.” Phillips believes redirection is the most effective form of discipline she and her husband use in their home. “Sending them to their room, taking away privileges and assigning additional chores,” Phillips said. “Sometimes, when I can tell they are acting out because of tiredness or other frustrating circumstances, I will speak more calmly and ask the child to come and sit in my lap and we talk quietly to reset. Most of the time children are not being bad for the sake of being bad. There is something else going on, and it needs to be addressed before the side effect of the bad behavior is unnecessarily punished.” There are several approaches that parents may take when raising and disciplining their children. The most important factor is deciding what is best for your child’s personality. If they are extremely sensitive, parents should consider that characteristic when choosing a discipline method. If they can entertain themselves easily, timeout may not be the most effective approach. Parents should always remember to discipline with the child’s best interest at heart and find the method that works for their family.



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How parents of children with special needs can work with school staff when issues arise BY KITTY L. CONE

If you have a child with special needs in public school, working through issues related to your child’s programming, services and specific needs can seem overwhelming. Parents may be frustrated and angry with how their child’s school handles their inquiries or requests for additional support. Many parents worry about whether their child is receiving appropriate programming, necessary accommodations, or specific services or equipment to help them benefit from the instructional program. School staff deal with hundreds of inquiries and issues every week, and may wait until a situation escalates before taking additional action. Most schools have specific procedures for working through issues. It often takes time to troubleshoot difficult issues and monitoring to determine whether the issue has been successfully resolved. If your child is in public school, there are two primary programming options: a 504 plan or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Depending on your child’s disability and severity of the condition, the school will select one of these plans to program for your child. The procedural protections and rights under each plan are different. A 504 plan typically provides basic accommodations and has limited procedural protections. These plans are helpful when the child needs an accommodation to access the school or services, but does not need an individualized education plan to help them benefit from instructional programming. When a child with special needs has a disability and needs special education as a result of their disability, the child should be provided an IEP plans provide a combination of academic and functional skills designed to help the child live independently after graduation. The school is required to conduct regular IEP meetings to involve the child’s treatment team and parents in determining appropriate programming for the child. Parents should request an IEP team meeting whenever there are significant issues that need to be addressed, such as problematic behaviors, changing needs, new diagnoses or staffing issues.

5 Tips for Problem Solving at School Solving issues with your child’s school is often challenging, but it can be done and you can do it. Several tips that may help you understand how to work through issues methodically. 1. Familiarize yourself with the school’s chain of command. Part of solving any issue is understanding who has the power to fix the problem. Who are the key decision makers who are responsible for providing services and accommodations to children with special needs? Have these people been notified of the issue and your efforts to resolve the problem? For example, if you have tried to resolve an issue with your child’s teacher and have been unsuccessful, go up the chain of command to the principal or special education director. If there is an issue that presents an immediate serious danger to your child’s health or safety, contact the superintendent. However, the vast majority of issues parents


may encounter can be addressed and resolved at a lower building level. 2. Keep all of your child’s school and medical records organized and document any interactions with the school. Prepare for meetings with the school in advance so that you are more familiar with your child’s records than school staff. It is recommended that you note every meeting, every phone call or chance encounter so that you create a record of who was present, what was discussed and what recommendation or resolutions were proposed. In many cases, a parent’s records are critical if it becomes necessary to file for due process. It is advisable to keep any emails, text messages, disciplinary notices or suspension paperwork that you may receive from your child’s school. It is a good idea to follow up telephone conversations or in-person meetings with an email outlining the discussion and your understanding of what was agreed upon. This allows staff an opportunity to correct you or provide clarification if needed. 3. Be conscious of how you come across to school staff. Thank your child’s teachers for their time and for taking care of your child. Research indicates that a teacher who is actively engaged and interested in a child’s development and progress can make a significant difference in a child’s ability to learn. Understand that your attitude and how you treat school staff greatly impact your relationship and ability to solve problems that may arise. If you send communications that are abusive, angry or incoherent, you greatly increase the odds that the school will not take you seriously and will not work hard to address your concerns. Always be mindful of your communications and understand that if you are unable to resolve a problem, your communications will be read by other school staff or a hearing officer in the future. I encourage parents not to write anything in the heat of the moment. It is better to write an email or letter, think about it, and edit it prior to sending it to the school. 4. Focus on solving the current issue. If you request a meeting to discuss a problem, do not bring out a laundry list of all the issues you have experienced since your child was in kindergarten through sixth grade. Before meeting with school staff, think about what the true issues are and why it is bothering you. Is it a safety issue? Are you concerned that your child isn’t progressing properly? Is your child experiencing worsening symptoms or behaviors that indicate there may be another disability present that has not been evaluated or diagnosed? Schools have many options on how to solve an issue and are not required to implement a parent’s desired solution. 5. Try to keep an open mind when working through issues as they arise. Each school district is a unique bureaucracy, with a chain of command and specific procedures for working through issues. It often takes time for staff to go through their processes and problem solve difficult issues. Don’t get discouraged. Remember that under a 504 or IEP plan you have several methods available for formal dispute resolution (mediation, state complaint or due process hearing) if you are unable to resolve an issue.



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THRIVE Fashion | lifestyle | health

TURKEY DAY DAMAGE-CONTROL WORKOUT Counteract the abundance of holiday-related calories with a 12-minute, all-bodyweight exercise routine BY JEFF MCDANIEL • PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN CHILSON

It’s coming, and we all know it. Everybody wants to know they are torching a ton of calories while they work out, especially on a day like Thanksgiving when the calories we’re consuming skyrocket above normal levels. By most estimates, the average person will consume more than 4,000 calories, about double our baseline caloric needs. That’s not even counting the surplus of calories that comes from grazing on leftovers in the days that follow. Combine this with the fact that most people will be sticking to the same boring cardio approach to get them through the storm of holiday eats and treats. You know, a little walking or some joint-wearing distance running, or maybe some good old violent hyperextension of the knees on the elliptical machine. Yep, I’m being a little sarcastic, but I hope the point has been made there is a better way to burn lots of calories this holiday season. Research has shown that performing high-intensity intervals can burn more than 500 calories in only 20 minutes.


Here’s a short, sweet and all-bodyweight circuit you can do in just 12 minutes right in your own living room. A dynamic, dozen-minute damage-control workout, and it’s all equipment free. Perform each of the four exercises below for 60 seconds with no rest in between movements. Repeat this circuit three times for a 12-minute workout. Mindy Van Kuren, a North Little Rock mom of two, demonstrates how to perform the moves.

1. Squat Thrust With eyes up and weight on heels, sink the hips down and back placing your hands on the floor. With weight on the palms step or jump your feet back into a push-up. Hold position and jump or step your feet back up into the squat position and stand. Repeat for time.

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2. T-Twist Push-Ups Begin in a push-up. Hold position with tight abs, thighs and glutes. Initiate movement by rotating your body up into a side plank position, moving only at the shoulders and hips, not at the lower back. Alternate side to side. Increase the challenge by adding a push-up in between each T-twist. Repeat for time.

3. Y-Split Squats Begin in a split stance position with one foot out in front of the body. Staying tall up top and with weight on heels, reach your arms overhead into a “Y� position. Slowly lower your back knee to the floor until ideally it grazes the floor. Only go as low as you can go pain-free. Return to the top and repeat, switching legs at the halfway mark.

4. Stationary Running Begin with a stationary march with good opposite arm and leg action, ideally raising the knee above the hips. Progress by moving into a low-level trot. Make it even more challenging by performing a high-knee sprint. Repeat for time staying on the balls of the feet. To see a video of this workout, visit THESAVVYMOMS.COM | NOVEMBER 2014


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VITAMIN D: THE SUNSHINE HORMONE How to avoid deficiencies even during the cold-weather months B Y A M Y B E A R D, M D

face, legs, arms or back—without sunscreen—at least twice a week. The American Academy of Dermatology doesn’t recommend any sunlight exposure without sunscreen. I find this impractical. I recommend 15 minutes of daily exposure to prevent any burning of the skin. Fair-skinned individuals can easily burn in 30 minutes without sunscreen. If you are unable to get regular exposure to sunlight, try increasing your intake of foods high in vitamin D, including wild caught salmon, mackerel, mushrooms exposed to UV light, beef or calf liver, egg yolks, fortified milk and yogurt, and cheese. Cod liver oil is also a good source of vitamin D but is also very high in vitamin A, so be careful to avoid vitamin A toxicity. Sunshine is still the best source of vitamin D. Food sources just cannot meet the demands of the body nearly as well as regular sunlight exposure. Winter can often exacerbate vitamin D deficiency and increase the risk of becoming deficient. Getting enough vitamin D can be difficult unless you live in the South or Southwest during the winter months or if you do not get outside enough. Supplementation is often required during this season for a substantial part of the population unless you are willing to eat salmon all day long. Have you ever tasted cod liver oil? I’d rather take a swig of spoiled milk. If you or your physician is worried about a vitamin D deficiency, he or she can order a simple blood test to evaluate your levels. The standard lab order is for 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD). Most labs use a “normal” reference range of 30-100ng/mL. I like my patients’ levels to reside somewhere between 60 and 70 to provide the most benefits while avoiding toxic levels. Weight loss, arrhythmias, kidney stones and polyuria are all linked to toxic levels. Taking excessive amounts during pregnancy could be harmful to the fetus. Too much vitamin D can also worsen atherosclerosis and increase calcium levels when taken with diuretics, digoxin or Diltiazem. Supplementation can also exacerbate the side effects of the psoriasis medication calcipotriene, and decrease the effects of statins. Is there anyone not on a statin these days? It is rare for a person to reach toxic levels with a normal sun exposure and diet. Most toxicities are due to taking too many supplements. As winter gets closer and daylight saving time becomes a part of all of our lives, it requires us to be more diligent in getting adequate sunlight exposure. Roll up your sleeves and take a 15-minute afternoon or mid-morning break outside, sans sunscreen. Or take your workouts outside. Fluorescent lighting and cod liver oil or sunshine, your pick.

When I read or hear things about vitamin D, images of ’20s-era ornate baby buggies being pushed by adoring mothers enter my mind. Sunshine has been used for decades to ensure that infants produce enough of this crucial vitamin in order to prevent rickets in their young developing bones. Rickets was a major problem in urban areas at the turn of the century due to well-meaning protective mothers keeping their young ones inside most of the day to avoid the horrible pollution. While we no longer have to protect our young ones from such terrible pollution, many children and adults still do not spend adequate time outside for various During the winter season, spending as little as 15-minutes outside in the sun can provide 21st century reasons. a vitamin D boost.

Vitamin D Overview Vitamin D is well known as the “sunshine vitamin,” but it is actually a hormone. The active form of vitamin D is known as calcitriol and behaves like any other hormone. This “vitamin” is so important your body makes it by itself. Sunshine initiates a series of reactions that first begins in your skin, and then continues in your liver and kidneys. It gets very complex after that. Calcitriol is mainly recognized as being responsible for ensuring proper bone formation by aiding calcium absorption. In addition to being a major promoter of healthy, strong bones, it plays vital roles in immune function, brain development, muscle and nerve function, and moderating the life cycle of human cells. Unhealthy levels have been linked to colon, prostate and breast cancer, as well as to depression and weight gain. Many studies suggest that vitamin D may prevent diabetes, hypertension, autism, chronic pain, osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases, like multiple sclerosis. People at risk of vitamin D deficiency are primarily those who live in the northern United States, have darker pigmented skin and spend limited time outside for various reasons. Others at risk include those with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and other malabsorption issues. Gastric bypass surgery is often associated with low vitamin D levels. Steroid use can also contribute to vitamin D deficiency, and those who use oral steroids regularly are twice as likely to be deficient as the general population. Obesity can cause low levels because fat binds to vitamin D and reduces the amount in the blood. Infants who are exclusively breastfed are at risk of deficiency because human milk contains minimal amounts of the vitamin. Thus, the reason for so many baby buggy rides back in the day.

Getting Enough D Many medical associations recommend 30 minutes of sun exposure to the


Caring For An Older Family Member In Your Home? The S chmieding Home Caregiver Training Program educates individuals to care for older adults in the home. Whether your goal is to help care for an older family member or friend, we want to help. Learn more today at Call 501-526-6500 to register. Free family caregiver workshops are available at the UAMS campus: Caregiving Skills • Nov 5-6 Dementia Care • Nov 17-18 Caregiving Skills • Dec 8-9 Dementia Care • Dec 15-16

We Make Delicious Gluten, Wheat, Soy and Nut-Free Holiday Treats.

Schmieding home caregiver Training Program Supported by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

To order Gluten-Free holiday items or to make special requests, give us a call at (501) 375-2257. We also have Egg, Dairy and Sugar-Free options available.

323 Cross St. • Little Rock, AR 72201 •

Beautiful Smiles, Happy Children… That is Our Goal.


itchens Pediatric Dentistry

14114 Taylor loop road, liTTle rock 501.868.3331 —



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THE 12 DAYS STRESSES OF CHRISTMAS A guide to surviving holiday stress. BY CHARLIE SIMPSON

I bet you are counting down the days until that magical December morning when you wake up with a smile on your face, grab a cup of coffee and engage in that annual ritual of …swearing to never host Christmas again. Yep, that magical morning I am talking about is December 26. Oh sure, the holidays bring families together, elicit wonder from the young and young-at-heart, and provide memories that last a lifetime. But the holiday season is also one of the most stressful times of the year. Borrowing from a popular Christmas song, I bring you the 12 Stresses of Christmas. (Of course, these stresses can apply to any holiday you celebrate at the end of the year.)

1. Unrealistic Expectations Remove the word “perfect” from your vocabulary. So what if your homemade wreath doesn’t look like the one you saw on Pinterest. Did you and your kids have fun making it? Don’t try to make the holidays perfect; try to make them personal.

2. Overspending Money is a big source of disagreement for many couples. Discuss your spending styles and develop a budget that works for you both before you both start your holiday shopping.

3. Family You love your mother-in-law, but you don’t like the way she criticizes you. Your husband thinks the world of your brother but is bothered by his language. Before any get-together, each spouse should make a point to discuss with their immediate family what is acceptable and what is not.

4-6. Exhaustion, Sore Muscles, Achy Feet You stand in never-ending lines, lift heavy packages and spend all night putting together that “easy-to-assemble” Barbie house. It can take a toll on you. When our physical health is compromised, our mental


health is weakened as well. Take time to decompress and do something relaxing. Meditation is a great way to calm your mind.

7. Depression If you had a painful childhood or lost someone recently, the holidays can bring up negative emotions. While there is pressure to be jolly this time of year, don’t worry about that. Feel what you’re feeling. Talk to someone. Get help to work through emotions if you need.

8. Ghosts of Christmas Past Do you find yourself arguing with your spouse or your children about the same things each year? Step back from the argument and try to discover what the issue really is. Conflict resolution is all about letting someone know how you feel and finding ways to work together to address those feelings.

9-11. Different Spaces, Different Schedules, Different Roles When your routine is disrupted, even for something fun like a trip to grandma’s house, it can cause stress. You have to adapt to different environments. And that’s not always easy. You don’t know where the towels are. Your child’s bedtime rituals are difficult to manage. And you don’t always have the luxury of escaping for a little time to yourself. This is where planning is key. Why not brainstorm with your child to set a new bedtime ritual just for grandma’s house. That makes it special and helps you avoid a meltdown when they don’t get to take all of their toys with them. Or tell your host that you would love to take your family out for a walk during the stay and ask about nearby trails.

12. Over Scheduling Do you HAVE to go to that party? Can you avoid that shopping trip by going online? Find ways to keep from scheduling yourself so much that you can’t enjoy the season. It happens only once a year.

13th Annual

Win a 2014 Ford Mustang

Limited to 500 Raffle Tickets, $100 each Other great prizes available

Fun for the entire family including holiday shopping with nearly 100 merchants, visits and photos with Santa & Mrs. Claus and a special pajama party with Santa for the little ones.

November 20-22 Pajama Party

Friday, November 21, 9:00am $15 per child. Limited number of tickets available. Ticket includes Dazzle Daze admission, storytime with Santa, photo with Santa and a special treat for the kids.

Photos with Santa & Mrs. Claus

November 21, 4-8pm and Nov 22, 10am-3pm. Professional photo packages starting at $15.

Proceeds from Dazzle Daze 2014 will go toward medical scholarships, equipmnet and support for patient and community programs.

Info and Tickets are available online at

WOMEN & CHILDREN FIRST THE CENTER AGAINST FAMILY VIOLENCE Women & Children First: The Center Against Family Violence empowers those who have been subjected to domestic violence, and their children, to live independently and free from violence by providing crisis intervention, safe shelter, social/legal advocacy, transitional housing, prevention education, and support services. In 2013 and 2014, Women & Children First provided these core services: · EMERGENCY SHELTER accommodations were provided to over 731 individuals, representing more than 8,508 shelter days. · THE ADVOCACY PROGRAM provided crisis intervention, case management, emotional support, 2,132 support group hours and 2,862 individual support hours. · THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE answered 12,128 crisis calls.


· THE COURT ADVOCACY PROGRAM provides accompaniment in court for emotional support. More than 1,500 women were assisted with legal and support issues. · TRANSITIONAL HOUSING provided more than 687 case management hours and supportive services to families seeking permanent housing free of violence after leaving the shelter. · THE CHILDREN’S PROGRAM served over 200 children in the shelter, in addition to educational and group support activities. · COMMUNITY OUTREACH AND EDUCATION presentations were given 79 times in the community as well as 9 radio/TV interviews. For more information contact: Angela McGraw, Executive Director, 501-376-3219 • Toll Free 1-800-332-4443 • P.O. Box 1954 • Little Rock, AR 72203 •

Women & Children First’s WOMAN OF THE YEAR GALA


January 17, 2015 • Marriott Hotel Grand Ballroom Peacekeeprs will present the Peacekeepers Award to a special and committed volunteer. Live music with the Rockets after dinner. For more information, contact Brandi Wiseman, 501.960.6778 or THESAVVYMOMS.COM | NOVEMBER 2014














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Cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves fill the air during this time of year, but these spices also have medicinal properties. BY MATTHEW COOPER • PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN CHILSON

1. Cinnamon For years, there have been hints that adding cinnamon to your diet can help control blood sugar.

2. Nutmeg The active principles in nutmeg have many therapeutic applications in traditional medicines including anti-fungal, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, digestive and carminative. Carminative is an herb or preparation intended to either prevent formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract or facilitate the expulsion of said gas, thereby combating flatulence.

remedy for asthma and bronchitis cough, as well as digestive disorders such as flatulence, bloating, colicky stomach pain, nausea and indigestion.

6. Cardamom Cardamom is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium.

7. Cloves

3. Paprika

Cloves are one of the highly prized spices, widely recognized all over the world for their medicinal and culinary qualities. They are the “flower buds” from an evergreen rainforest tree native to Indonesia. The active principles in the clove are known to have antioxidant, antiseptic, local anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, rubefacient (warming and soothing), carminative and anti-flatulent properties.

This is one of the most popular spices in the world. It is known for its antiinflammatory properties and pain relief.

8. Rose Hips

4. Sniffle Tea This tea contains organic peppermint, organic elderflower, organic raspberry leaf, organic ginger, organic elderberries, organic yarrow flower and organic hyssop. Elderberries are the front runner in this tea and are active antioxidants, which lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system, improve heart health, and help with coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections, and tonsillitis. This blend is used to boost immune health and decrease cold symptoms.

5. Star Anise The seeds are an excellent source of many essential B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin. Anise preparations are an excellent

Dried rose hips and seeds are used to make medicine. The medicinal properties can be obtained by using them to make teas, syrups and jellies. They have high levels of vitamin C.

9. Turmeric Root Turmeric helps reduce unhealthy levels of joint and muscle inflammation.

10. Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend Pumpkin pie spice includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove. This blend is very popular in the fall season and has all of the healing properties of the individual spices. These spices are available at Dandelion Herbs, Spices, Teas in Little Rock. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | NOVEMBER 2014


We take your child’s education With quality public schools like Homer Adkins Pre-K School, the education you want for your child is close at hand. Choose PCSSD schools with: • Test scores higher than other local districts • Millions in college scholarships awarded • Teachers with advanced degrees • Talented and gifted programs • State-winning sports teams


Zoo membership is a gift that gives and gives. When you give a membership to the Little Rock Zoo, you do two good deeds with one gift. You give family and friends hours and hours of fun. AND you help fund the Zoo’s crucial mission of wildlife conservation and education.

Give one gift that helps both humans and animals! Get all the great details at or at Guest Services at the Zoo’s main entrance. Or call (501) 661-7218 with questions. #1 Zoo Drive | Little Rock, Arkansas | 501.666.2406 Like us on Facebook!


gracefulgiving Four local moms engage in a variety of philanthropic efforts to pay it forward and teach their children the importance of giving back PHOTOGRAPHY BY DIXIE KNIGHT

Dedicated fundraisers, volunteers extraordinaire and nonprofit visionaries. The four local moms that we are profiling in our annual philanthropy issue have these categories covered. While each has her own reasons and motivation for devoting her free time and resources to a cause, they all agree that setting the example for their children is their No. 1 priority. This dedication will likely ensure that the next generation of philanthropists is in line to carry out their missions. Carla Gregg has been a devoted volunteer with ACCESS since her oldest daughter began preschool there more than 15 years ago, and she has helped many families over the years who have children with special needs. Kerri Jackson Case works with many organizations in a lot of different ways. One cause that’s close to her heart is adoption, and Raise a Glass for Gladney, a fundraiser for the Gladney Center for Adoption, is one of her favorites. Sisters Sarah Adams and Britney Spees started the nonprofit Mamie’s Poppy Plates after a family tragedy. The organization provides keepsakes for parents who have lost a child through stillbirth. While each of these mothers demonstrates her own giving spirit by paying it forward in a number of ways, most of the causes are family oriented. Their graceful giving is ensuring the health and happiness of Central Arkansas families.



the village volunteer Gratitude drives Kerri Jackson Case as she participates in many community projects, including Raise a Glass for Gladney, a fundraiser for the Gladney Center for Adoption held November 6 BY KD REEP

If you haven’t heard of Kerri Jackson Case, your home may be under a huge, overhanging boulder. Case is everywhere—a popular blogger (she is the notso-evil genius behind Drink Sleep Be Kerri), a public relations practitioner and adoption advocate in addition to a volunteer with her church and community. Wife to Charlie and mom to Jackson (or Monkey Boy, as she affectionately refers to the feisty 8-year-old), Case’s approach to life is to wake up every morning with gratitude. “The main example I’m concerned about is the one I show my son,” Case said. “I want him to learn gratitude at home so he can practice it when he goes out into the world—I learned gratitude from my parents. But more than anything, gratitude motivates me to get involved.” Among all the issues and causes in which Case participates, Raise a Glass for Gladney, a fundraiser for the Gladney Center for Adoption, is her favorite. Case says Gladney is unique in the adoption community as it has an endowment to provide services that are not always available to birth mothers in other places. “Through this endowment, birth moms are provided food, housing, clothing, medical care, legal services, educational services and counseling pre- and postadoption through Gladney,” she said. “Adoptive families pay for the adoption costs, but the endowment makes sure birth moms are provided everything they need. It’s a holistic approach to adoption for both families.” In celebration of National Adoption Month, the Arkansas Gladney Family Association will host this wine tasting and live auction to benefit the Gladney Fund. Raise a Glass for Gladney will be 6-9 p.m. at the Arkansas Arts Center on November 6. For tickets or more information, visit Adoption is particularly close to Case’s heart, as her son is adopted. However, the wealth of other causes and issues for which she and her family contribute their time, talents and money is vast. When asked why she prioritizes community service in her family, Case gets right to the point. “I’m basically a crazy person with an overactive guilt complex, and I volunteer to keep that in check,” she said. “Mostly, though, I really believe every single one of us can do something that makes our corner of the world a better place.” “Charlie, Jackson and I are not the kind of family that can make large donations or endowments. There will not be hospitals or schools named for us. (I’m still holding out hope for a bowling alley one day.) However, we do live comfortably, and what a waste it would be for us to use all our resources on only ourselves. So we make it a point to look around our community and see where the holes are and fill as many as we can.” Another service with which Case helps is coordinating birthday cakes for kids in foster care. Her church, Pulaski Heights


United Methodist, partners with the southwest office of the Department of Human Services to provide a variety of services for foster children. Case is instrumental in coordinating people to make birthday cakes for these kids. “Everyone should have his or her own cake for birthdays,” Case said. “It’s the least we can do.” Throughout the year, Case “helps pick up the slack,” as she says, for a variety of other causes and nonprofits. “Each year, I assist families with the sign-up process for the Salvation Army Angel Tree, and we make family trips to the Arkansas Rice Depot a couple of times of year to pack food for people who live with food insecurity,” Case said. “We also assist with food pantry deliveries from our church, and I volunteer at my son’s school for a variety of tasks. One of the things I get a lot of joy from is co-directing Listen to Your Mother: Little Rock. A portion of those proceeds go to The One, a rescue resource for homeless families.” While this schedule may seem daunting, Case says she learned the power of organization and keeping up the pace from the Junior League of Little Rock. “In my time there, some very dear friends modeled for me how to add volunteerism to my priorities, along with family and work,” Case said. “Drawing from a group’s skills and talents is almost always better than trying to do it all by yourself. I’m really grateful for the women there who are doing so much to make our community a better place to live and work. “Also, none of us achieves anything truly on our own. There are countless teachers, church members, community leaders and family friends who, along with my parents, invested in me. I would be living a very different life if it weren’t for the accident of my birth into a family and community who cared about the next generation. That’s not the kind of thing you can really pay back. So I pay it forward.”

Kerri Jackson Case with her 8-year-old son, Jackson.



Carla Gregg with daughters Katie, Maddie and Lillie.


leading by example Carla Gregg is devoted to volunteering with ACCESS’ programs and extracurricular activities, providing support to families with children with special needs and inspiring her three daughters along the way BY ERICA SWEENEY

Loyal, approachable, candid, family-oriented and dedicated. After a little prodding, Carla Gregg said these adjectives best describe her. Through her many philanthropic efforts spanning around 20 years, she continuously embodies each of these characteristics and demonstrates them for her three daughters. Many of Gregg’s endeavors have focused on her children’s education and activities, and provided support to families with children with special needs. It all started when her oldest daughter, Katie, was diagnosed with epilepsy, then autism, and later obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorder. Katie had motor skill and language delays. When she was 5, she resembled a 2- or 3-year-old developmentally, so her parents enrolled her at ACCESS Preschool. Gregg said her daughter began to show improvements almost immediately. After six months, her language began developing, and after a year, Katie reached another milestone when she cried at the start of a school day because she wanted to go home. “I lost it,” Gregg said. “At 6 years old, she cried for me for the first time. It was amazing to see her be able to express such a strong emotion.” Katie progressed to ACCESS Academy and, now at 21, is enrolled in ACCESS Life, a program for young adults. She is one of the school’s longest-tenured students. ACCESS recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and the Greggs have been involved almost since the beginning. Gregg, her husband, Buddy, and their other daughters, Maddie, 17, and Lillie, 13, have volunteered at the organization in many ways. Maddie and Lillie also attended ACCESS Preschool. Gregg says they received a solid educational foundation and learned how to interact with peers with disabilities and differences, something their mom says is invaluable. When Maddie was 2, Gregg became a teaching assistant at ACCESS Preschool. Gregg worked at ACCESS for seven years. She became certified in The DuBard Association Method, a teaching strategy designed for children with learning disorders and language deficiencies, and obtained a child development associate certification. “I wanted to know how they did what they did,” she said. “I wanted to learn their special and intensive approach. I saw it first hand, work miracles for not only Katie, but many other children.” Monika Garner-Smith, ACCESS Preschool director, said Gregg’s passion and ability made her a great teacher. “I first met Carla when her daughter Katie was in my classroom,” GarnerSmith said. “I had seen her passion, creativity, and how she was able to use the tools we set in place with her own daughter. I knew these skills would be transferred to the classroom. Carla and I became quite a team. It was a rare and special working relationship that I enjoyed for several years. I benefitted from this partnership personally, but so did ACCESS. She was highly skilled and a natural teacher. She could have gone this route professionally, but in the end, she knew that her job was to advocate for her daughter and other families facing the challenges of having a child with a disability.” Over the years, Gregg, 42, has helped organize ACCESS’ track, swim and Special Olympics Arkansas teams, where she assists with the annual trip to the state meet in Searcy, the annual sports banquet and other activities. She also helps

organize ACCESS’ annual prom for teenage and adult students. The prom is a partnership with Little Rock Christian Academy, whose seniors dress up and take an active role in the event. (Maddie and Lillie are students at LRCA.) Buddy Gregg, owner of Cornerstone Industrial Services, has helped make repairs and additions to the school, including repairing fences and building a deck. Carla says Buddy helps out with everything, and she couldn’t do all that she does without him. In December, the couple will celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary. “Buddy and I are a team,” she said. “We’re always on the same page regarding this parenting adventure. He’s our rock.” Tammy Simmons, ACCESS executive director, says families like the Greggs have played valuable roles in the success of the school’s programs. “It’s hard to reflect back on 20 years of ACCESS without thinking of families like the Greggs,” Simmons said. “Carla and Buddy have been instrumental in nurturing our extracurricular activities for the students and young adults, freely volunteering their time and talents when needed and making the experiences that much better. They are also wonderful mentors for other families of children who have special needs and have been a great resource for our families. It’s fun to watch their youngest daughters, Maddie and Lillie, mature into equally supportive advocates for those who have been diagnosed with developmental disabilities.” In addition to her work at ACCESS, Carla Gregg created a playgroup for children with special needs, called Integrated Play Group. She co-founded Raising Independent Special Kids to provide mentoring and support to families with children with special needs. She has had leadership roles at the Arkansas Autism Society, where she assisted with a parent support group, and led a Bible study for young mothers of children with special needs at Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock. “It’s huge to know you’re not alone,” Gregg said. “In the beginning, you feel so isolated and overwhelmed at all there is to do to help your child.” Gregg also helps out at Maddie and Lillie’s school and extracurricular activities. Maddie is drum major in the school band, and Lillie is in choir and plays soccer with Arkansas United. Recently, Gregg began volunteering at Sparrow’s Nest, a shop that benefits Partners Against Trafficking Humans. She says as soon as she walked into the shop, she knew she wanted to be a part of it. “Everything I’ve done up until now has been for my kids,” she explained. “I felt it was time to add something different, something for me. Sparrow’s Nest is my happy place.” Gregg calls herself a “worker bee,” and is willing to help out in any way. A stayat-home mom, she says she feels obligated to give back to the community, and her actions set the example for her children. Maddie has volunteered at Camp Aldersgate, where all the Gregg girls were once campers. “Nonprofits would not be successful if not for volunteers,” she said. Even with Katie at 21, Gregg says ACCESS still helps Katie progress. Through ACCESS Life, Katie learns life skills, independence, vocational training, fitness and nutrition. “She’s such a confident, joyful young woman,” Gregg said. “She’s never struggled with being made fun of or felt less than. I’m beyond grateful, because it was 100 percent because of ACCESS.” THESAVVYMOMS.COM | NOVEMBER 2014


beauty, healing and remembrance After a family tragedy, two sisters created a nonprofit aimed at helping families who’ve experienced stillbirths BY LISA LAKEY

It wasn’t the way Sarah Adams imagined the birth of her first child would be. It was a reality she didn’t expect and didn’t want, but in June 2009 her life was forever changed. Born just two-and-a-half weeks before her due date, her daughter, Mamie, was stillborn. “Coming home from the hospital and not having Mamie here with me, I just felt completely lost,” Adams said. “I wanted people to know about her and I wanted to talk about her.” Along with the rest of their family, Adams’ sister, Britney Spees, stayed by her side throughout the days to come. “When Sarah lost Mamie, it was heart wrenching,” Spees said. “We’ve always been close. It was her first child. That first year was so hard for me to watch her go through so much pain. And she struggled through the grief and wondered what her purpose was. We were just pushing through the grief together.” Approaching Mamie’s first birthday in 2010, Spees urged Adams to celebrate and remember Mamie with a party. During their planning discussions, Adams mentioned an ornament that she wished she had brought to the hospital to have Mamie’s footprints on. In that moment, remembering a much-loved daughter and niece, Mamie’s Poppy Plates was born. “It turned from an ornament that would be out once a year to a plate that people could have out year-round,” Spees said. “Sarah came up with the name. Mamie was her daughter, and Poppy Seed was Mamie’s nickname when Sarah was pregnant.” The following weekend, Adams and Spees took their idea to friends and family. They posted to their Facebook pages asking for help. Their goal was to provide keepsake plates with the child’s hand and footprints to grieving families at St. Vincent Hospital in Little Rock, where Mamie was born. The response was more than they had anticipated, raising $5,000 in the first weekend. “So we launched Mamie’s Poppy Plates and we had no idea what we were doing,” Spees said. “We didn’t have a business model or anything. Once we raised that money we quickly realized we could do a lot more.” Since Mamie’s Poppy Plates began in 2010, the nonprofit has grown beyond their wildest expectations. Thirty hospitals in Arkansas, and a handful outside the state, have been “adopted,” meaning a donor has agreed to pay


the cost of the plate for each family experiencing the loss of a stillborn or infant death. Packets at the adopted hospitals contain all the information needed with no cost to the family or the hospital. Each family chooses the design of their plate, which is then hand painted by Mamie’s Poppy Plates artists. The art is fired, prints are added and then carefully packaged and shipped to the family. While both sisters say the growth of Mamie’s Poppy Plates was a blessing, it did make them stop and re-evaluate what their goal was. When overseas requests began filing in, it was time to “pull back the reins.” “We want to get to that point someday, but we had to take a step back and say, ‘Are we serving the Arkansas families that we set out to serve?’ The answer was no,” Spees said. “Now any family who has a loss inside the state of Arkansas, regardless of when—we’ve served people who lost their babies in the ’50s. If they have their baby’s footprints that’s all we need. That’s such a blessing to us to be able to serve a mom who maybe never had anything and was told to brush that life under the rug and forget about it. She carried that around with her, her whole life. Now she can have something to remember that baby by.” That’s what Mamie’s Poppy Plates is all about. Their mission states they exist “not to fill the impossible void of loss, but to serve as a timeless reminder of their baby’s brief yet profound life.” As Adams said, you have a hole in your heart from the moment it happens. “It’s bittersweet,” Adams said. “Seeing Mamie’s name brings a smile to my face but also makes me sad because she’s not here. It was a way for me to remember her and keep her memory alive but also bring some healing to other families. For the parent getting the plate, it’s something to remember your child by and share with other people. Just because they’re not here doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about them or they didn’t exist.” But from the tragedy of the family’s loss came something beautiful, a piece of healing and remembrance. “It’s all in memory of Mamie,” Spees said. “It’s a way for us to care for her and carry on her memory in a way that we never would have imagined. Sarah has risen from the ashes and it’s a beautiful thing to watch her, too.”

From left, Sarah Adams with children 3-year-old Burke and 19-month-old Winnie, and, at right, Britney Spees and her children, 7-year-old Silas and 3-year-old Abe.



Elijah, with big sisters Maddie and Riley.


Elijah’s nursery was truly a collaborative effort. Eggshell blue and orange were colors chosen by family friend and designer Lindsey Binz to accent the room’s black-and-white elements. Dad Britt Mtichell made the wall shelves. Elijah’s grandmother painted the sign above his crib, and local artist Morgan Coven Herndon created the painting of hands holding gumballs, which represent everyone who contributed to the Mitchells’ adoption. And, Julie Mitchell has written the name of each of the contributors on a gumball in the gumball machine on the dresser’s second shelf.

CradleofLove Little Rock family takes a team approach for the design of their adopted son’s nursery BY ERICA SWEENEY • PHOTOGRAPHY BY CINDY MOMCHILOV



Planning for Elijah’s nursery began before the family knew if they were adopting a boy or girl. Family friend and designer Lindsey Binz chose elements that would be appropriate for a boy or girl, and that would grow with the child. Elijah’s big sisters, Riley and Maddie, contributed the artwork between the windows.

Julie Mitchell always knew she wanted to adopt. Her mother was adopted, and she has other relatives who have adopted children. After she and husband, Britt, had two daughters—Riley, 7, and Maddie, 4—of their own, they decided it was time to adopt a third child. After initially pursuing international adoption, the couple eventually went through ABBA Adoption to become parents of a newborn, Elijah, earlier this year. And, the process was quick, says Mitchell, because the family did not have gender or race preferences for their baby. The Mitchells applied to the agency in August 2013, created a profile book for their family, were matched with Elijah’s birth mom in early December, and took him home a day after he was born in January. When the family knew their baby would soon be at home, Julie Mitchell turned to her long-time friend, local interior designer Lindsey Binz, to help prepare a nursery. “We wanted him to be special, just like any other kid,” Mitchell said. “The nursery is his little sanctuary in our home.” Planning began before the family knew if they would be adopting a boy or a girl. The family raised money to help cover the costs of the adoption. Some of the items in the nursery were donated or purchased with the funds. The nursery’s design was a collaboration of family members and friends, with artwork created by Elijah’s big sisters and grandmother. Julie wanted black and white incorporated into the design, so Britt painted one wall black-and-white striped. Binz chose an eggshell blue for the other walls, a color that


she says would be appropriate for a girl or boy. Orange was incorporated last. “It’s bright and happy,” Mitchell said. Binz says she enjoys designing nurseries with practicality in mind, so that children can grow into the room and parents don’t need to constantly redesign as the child gets older. The room was designed inexpensively with repurposed furniture and donated items. “We made it come together on a low budget,” Binz says, explaining that paint can make a big difference.

“It’s bright and happy.”

Mom Julie Mitchell wanted black and white incorporated into her son’s nursery, and says her favorite part of the room is the black-and-white striped wall accented with family photos.

MOTHERS AGAINST VIOLENCE FAMILY FESTIVAL NOV. 1, 11 A.M.-5 P.M., CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CENTER, LITTLE ROCK The first-ever Mothers Against Violence “Inner”Active Family Festival features food trucks, entertainment, children’s activities, family yoga and lots more. The festival’s Dance Out Violence, an interactive dance party, will attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Dance Class. For more information, visit


The Clinton Presidential Center celebrates its 10-year anniversary with an array of activities, including a symposium, Picnic Under the Pavilion, community concert and more. There will be free admission to the center on November 17. For a full schedule and other information, visit


HAPPENINGS OUR PICKS FOR COOL TO-DOS AROUND CENTRAL ARKANSAS for a complete calendar of events, visit our website at



The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center’s largest exhibit, “Freedom! Oh, Freedom!” ,opens with a reception at 7 p.m. Nov. 14. The exhibit, which runs through December 31, explores the African-American perspective of the Civil War. It focuses on slavery, contributions of African-American soldiers and the Reconstruction Era. The reception features live music, guest speakers and refreshments. For more details, visit

CARTI AUXILIARY FESTIVAL OF TREES NOV. 19-22, STATEHOUSE CONVENTION CENTER BALLROOM The 38th annual event benefits CARTI cancer patients. Events include Festival of Fashion, Sugar Plum Ball, Stroll Through the Forest, Festival After Dark and Tux ’n Trees. Ticket prices vary by event. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit

THE ARKANSAS CORNBREAD FESTIVAL NOV. 8, SOUTH MAIN STREET, LITTLE ROCK The fourth edition of the Arkansas Cornbread Festival, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 where teams will compete to dish up the best cornbread in Arkansas. Cosmo himself, the loveable festival mascot will be in attendance for the first time, meeting and greeting the crowd and making for great photo opportunities. And, as usual, the music is as scrumptious as the cornbread. For details, visit THESAVVYMOMS.COM | NOVEMBER 2014




Even amid today’s technology-crazed communication methods, handwritten thank-you notes can be a more personal approach to showing appreciation. Local boutiques offer a variety of stationery for any reason to express thanks. BY ERICA SWEENEY PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN CHILSON

Top to bottom: Rifle Paper Co. Happy Set boxed cards, $16, available at Moxy Modern Mercantile in Little Rock; William Arthur calligraphic thankyou card set, $18.50, available at By Invitation Only in Little Rock; Rosanne Beck customizable blank cards, $15.50, custom printing is $4, available at By Invitation Only in Little Rock; Moglea brand single letterpress card, $7, available at The Social Type in Little Rock; Garance Dore Collection “Merci” box set, $17.50, available at The Social Type in Little Rock.


Much of today’s communication is electronic, sent via text, email or social media. But, the time-honored tradition of sending thank-you notes and cards should not be forgotten, say local etiquette experts. While a phone call or text to say “thank you” is better than nothing, says Kathleen Joiner, owner and director of Little Rock Junior Cotillion, taking the time to write out a message of thanks is much more meaningful. Many of these “polite niceties are going by the wayside,” she says. “I’m sure an email would be OK, but everyone knows how they feel when they get something in the mail.” When someone takes the time to purchase a gift or do something thoughtful, acknowledging them with a handwritten note or card shows appreciation and reciprocates the act, says Sherri Lee, owner of Refining Images, which offers image consultation and etiquette education to people of all ages. “When you take the time to send a thank-you note, it’s intentional and shows that the person is important and appreciated,” Lee says, explaining that text messages have become too comfortable and casual as methods to thank others. “Time is everything. When you make time for that person, it makes them feel valued. It sets you apart.” Sending thank-you cards or notes also teaches children the value of relationships and a sense of gratitude, Lee says. Parents should model the act for their children. “If children see this played out time and time again, they [will become] grateful,” she says. Joiner says parents should talk to their children about how they feel when someone does something special for them. She recommends that parents begin this activity when their children are in elementary school. Joiner and Lee say writing and sending thank-you notes can be a fun family activity. Letting children make a card or pick out stationery that they like will help them take ownership of the notes they send, they say. Also, parents should involve their children in sending the note or card by taking them to the post office, and allowing them to choose stamps and mail the note.

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WHEN TO SEND A THANK-YOU NOTE Not sure when a thank-you note should be sent? Here are a few instances that warrant a note: • Receipt of a gift (birthday, wedding, graduation or otherwise) • After being a houseguest • After a job interview • Any time someone does something nice and unexpected • After a birthday party • After a play date (as a way to establish another meeting) • In response to a condolence note or gift

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HANDWRITING BOOSTS THE BRAIN A 2012 study led by psychologist Karin James at Indiana University found that handwriting is important for the areas of the brain known for successful reading skills. Children who were not yet able to read or write were given a letter or shape to reproduce via tracing the image along an outline, drawing it or typing it on a computer. MRIs recorded their brain activity when shown the image again. Children who had drawn the letter or shape freehanded had increased activity in the areas of the brain typically activated in adults when they read or write.

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IDEAS FOR PAYING IT FORWARD DURING THE HOLIDAYS Go beyond the glitz to teach kids the value of giving back BY LISA LAKEY

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” – Dr. Seuss, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”


puts a new spin on the gift that keeps on giving. Each gift helps an individual, family or community on their path to sustainable living. Donors can share the cost of an animal or other resource or fulfill the entire cost of the gift. In the catalog or online, children can read about each gift and its impact on the recipient. As little as $30 can buy honeybees for a family or put your little philanthropist As the holiday season swings into full gear, kids are bombarded with to good use by encouraging them to seek support from friends and family. A Gift advertisements for the latest gadgets and toys, and elaborately decorated trees Ark, “Changes the world two by two,” can are lurking around every corner. While be purchased for $5,000. Visit enjoying a bit of the glitz and glamour for more information. this time of year brings can be a fun part Operation Christmas Child from of this parenting gig, overindulgence Samaritan’s Purse is another option. (and the stress it will bring) can take the Many families make it a holiday spirit out of Christmas faster than you tradition to stuff a shoebox with small can say “green Grinchy grin.” toys, candy and other items for OCC. But there’s no better time than the Children can pick the gender and age holiday season to put your child in range for the intended receipt of the touch with his or her inner giver. To box. These boxes are flown around start, find a cause that matches your the world to places where, much of child’s personality—animal lover? the time, hope is scarce and presents entrepreneurial spirit? With a little are nonexistent. In addition to OCC, research (let your kids chime in), a lot Samaritan’s Purse reaches out to of heart and a little time, your kids will the communities these children undoubtedly learn the age-old adage, live in through aid including food, “’Tis better to give than to receive.” education and support. Gifts that can Here are five nontraditional ideas to be purchased range from emergency get you started: medicine (suggested gift of $60) to providing stuffed lamb toys to sick or 1. For the Globally traumatized children ($10 provides Conscious Child five lambs). Visit Heifer International’s “The Most for information on both programs. Important Gift Catalog in the World” The Gift Ark from Heifer International changes the world two by two. C ON T I N U E D ON PAGE 4 2




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2. For the Animal Lover For the kid who loves all things on four legs (and maybe those that slither along), showing some love to their furry, feathered and sometimes slimy friends can bring them a feeling of joy and accomplishment. And there’s no shortage of need to take care of these creatures. The Little Rock Zoo relies on donations to supplement costs where the budget ends. Veterinarians and Zookeepers have developed “wish lists” to help provide exceptional care to the zoo’s inhabitants. Blankets and treats (even mouthwash), along with medical equipment, are just a few of the items needed. Visit for requested items or call 501-666-2406. Animal shelters are always in need of donations. Run off of extremely small budgets, most shelters rely on the kindness of volunteers and donors to care for the animals. Many shelters allow mature children to volunteer their time caring for animals, and all shelters have ongoing needs to be met. Learn more by contacting your local animal shelter or visit the Humane Society of Pulaski County at


3. For the Savvy Shopper

Donations to the staff wish list at the Little Rock Zoo help ensure that fantastic exhibits like the penguin habitat continue to thrive.

Be a Santa to a Senior. Kids aren’t the only ones that benefit from a small gift at Christmas. Senior citizens, especially those in nursing homes, are often forgotten or don’t have loved ones to share the holidays with. Home Instead Senior Care’s Be a Santa to a Senior program allows individuals and groups to adopt a senior during the holidays. Applicants are given forms to fill out with a gift request list. Items range from toiletries and house slippers to books and


$ .49



small throws — all practical, affordable gifts that could make a huge impact in the life of the deserving recipient. And volunteers (kids included) are invited to the annual gift-wrapping party before presents are delivered. Tags can be found on trees at area Walgreens or through

4. For the Entrepreneur/Philanthropist-in-the-Making Kids helping kids is the basis for Arkansas Children’s Hospital Kids Caring for Kids fundraising opportunities. ACH will provide silicon bracelets for kids to sell to their family and friends. Schools can also get involved through programs such as Casual for Kids and Hush Heart Day. Students can pay one dollar to wear their pajamas on Casual for Kids Day. On Hush Heart Days (a day for girls and a separate day for boys), students purchase hush hearts to wear. If a girl speaks to a boy (and vice versa) they have to give them their heart. The boy/girl who collects the most hearts at the end of the day is given a prize.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital is also in need of handmade donations. From knit hats for babies and toddlers to travel pillows and teaching dolls, specifications and instructions can be found on the ACH website. If your child has a knack for sewing, give them a hand at creating something for the kids who often make their home at ACH. The pillows give them something familiar they can take to and from the hospital, while the teaching dolls are given to children undergoing procedures or surgery. The dolls provide the Family Life Specialists a hands-on way to explain what will be happening to the child, and the children get to keep the small dolls to play with. To coordinate handmade donations or to learn more about ACH donation programs, contact ACH Volunteer Services at 501-364-1825 or visit Giving.


5. For the Crafty Kid

Teaching dolls are just one way the staff at Arkansas Children’s Hospital make a child’s stay a little easier.


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T In an era of changing educational standards, one-size-fits-all instruction, slashed public school budgets and the soaring costs of private elementary and secondary education, providing your child with the best start in life can be a challenge. Even parents who take on the role of educator to their children may find it difficult and expensive to fulfill this most important obligation. One resource that is gaining a lot of attention is online education, which provides students the opportunity to learn at home either full time or in concert with material presented at school. Online education can be useful in dealing with a variety of educational scenarios or problems and, depending on the service, can be tremendously affordable and convenient. In one sense, online education is exactly what it says: A series of coursework, materials and related activities provided by a company to a student via the Internet. In another sense, the term “online education” paints the wrong picture of what this mechanism provides students and parents in the way of access to live teachers, quality and relevance of materials and ongoing support and social interaction. Here are some of the most common facts and myths about online education:

FACT: ONLINE EDUCATION ISN’T A BRAND NEW CONCEPT Online education isn’t new, but providers’ focus has evolved over the years. Many of these companies started out providing lessons and drills to help students one-on-one who were struggling and either needed additional skills practice or to be presented a different way of approaching subject matter. Today’s online education companies still provide that service, but have added courses that cater to the other end of the education spectrum—providing a means to challenge accelerated students for whom the classroom curriculum is too easy. It can also be a significant resource for parents who homeschool their children.

MYTH: ONLINE EDUCATION=ONE-WAY LEARNING One misconception that people have about this option is that it boils down to a student staring at a computer screen for a few hours. And while this is a good question to ask when comparing providers, reputable online education companies have moved well past that in their curriculum programming. Legitimate online education providers add a human element to the process, much like colleges today hold online courses that feature live instruction. Certified teachers instruct and monitor students, run web-based classes, hold online office hours and are available by phone, chat and email to answer student and parent questions. Online school teachers also work hand-in-hand with parents to design learning plans that meet each student’s unique needs.

FACT: REPUTABLE ONLINE EDUCATION MEETS OR EXCEEDS STATE GUIDELINES Reputable online education companies craft their curriculum to meet or exceed individual states’ educational requirements, and they are held to the same accountability standards as traditional public schools. Like any other industry, important differences exist among providers, so parents should be prepared to read the fine print and ask company representatives


a lot of questions about how the curriculum is crafted and how frequently it is updated to meet changing requirements or add new information. A good first question is if the online school is accredited, by whom, and what is required to maintain that accreditation on a go-forward basis. It also doesn’t hurt to research the accrediting body itself, if it’s an entity with which you are not familiar. One particularly important difference between providers that should be mentioned: Some providers set up as a charter school within a state and are thus subject to state guidelines for curriculum and quality of outcome. In other words, it makes them exactly like a brick and mortar school except everything is conducted online.

MYTH: ONLINE EDUCATION IS ONLY GOOD FOR HOMESCHOOLING There can be no argument that online education can be a tremendous resource to parents who choose to homeschool their children. However, online education programs are also a good way to support or augment the curriculum of students who attend school. In addition to what has already been discussed—the use of live teachers and providing research-based, state-approved curriculum—online educators typically seek a partnership with parents, regardless if their children attend school or are educated at home. Together they assess needs, craft lesson plans and monitor progress of the student, whether the goal is to improve lagging grades, challenge high performers or provide an overall education plan.

FACT: ONLINE EDUCATION IS AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE One distinguishing characteristic among providers is the emergence of tuition-free curriculum, which is another advantage of online providers that set up as a charter school. While this doesn’t cover supplies such as students’ printer ink and paper or entry fees to zoos and museums as part of assigned field trips, everything else is included. There are even providers that offer computers or subsidized Internet service for eligible families. Here again, important differences exist among provider companies so parents should be sure they understand the details before signing up for classes.


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The difference between qualifying for an academic scholarship and having to take out a loan for college can be a few points on the ACT (American College Testing) score. If your high school student needs a little extra push to go from a 19 to a 24 on the ACT, Awesome Scores can help. Developed for students that need to achieve higher ACT scores, Awesome Scores is a live, online course where students interact with experts in each portion of the ACT exam: math, science, English and reading. “Awesome Scores came about from my experience as a math tutor,” said Dave Bobbitt, the founder of Awesome Scores in Little Rock. “In 2007, I was an online math tutor working with students in junior high and high school. The student would go online with me, and I would work out the problem he or she was having. I also privately tutored a student in math, and when it was time for her to take the ACT, her parents asked me if I could help her prepare for the math portion. What I learned was the ACT tested on math skills normally covered in seventh and eighth grades—things like elementary algebra that high school students already would have surpassed.” Bobbitt used this experience to develop a live webinar in which multiple students could dial in from various locations but still receive personalized help. “Each student would have a code to use when he or she logged in, and they could all see the same screen I was working on,” Bobbitt said. “They would type in their questions and I would review each one. That way, each of them saw the process as a whole but also received personal assistance for particular issues they were having.” The preparation for the math portion of the ACT grew into science, which Bobbitt also teaches. Today, Awesome Scores has two teachers who assist high schoolers in all areas of the ACT: math, science, English and reading. “Cynda Alexander, who has a master’s in technical writing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, teaches English and reading while I pursue the math and science areas,” Bobbitt said. “We conduct live online classes that are interactive and designed to drastically increase ACT scores in each subject as well as the student’s overall score.” Bobbitt notes that Awesome Scores is an efficient use of time and money for students and their parents. During the course, the students are taught how to prepare for the test, work on test-taking strategies, shown test questions, and given strategies on how to think through them for the answer. Awesome Scores builds confidence in the students’ abilities so they can focus on taking the test rather than being nervous of the process. “The ACT is given six times per year,” Bobbitt said. “Our course is eight hours total and bro-


ken into four two-hour sets: The first set covers math, which is four hours total and divided into two two-hour sessions. Then we focus on science, which is two hours, and English and reading, which together is two hours. The course is held the weekend prior to the date the ACT is scheduled so students will have time to outline their problem areas and focus on the actual test.” Bobbitt stresses that students enrolled in Awesome Scores will only be working with one of two people, not just a random instructor. The company’s instructors are passionate about the subjects they teach and will help students see the test through the administrators’ eyes and gain some of their insight. “The eight-hour course is $399,” Bobbitt said. “For that investment, a student could get into a college he or she might not otherwise have been able to attend because of a lower ACT score. Or, it could mean the difference in paying for remedial courses in math—courses for which the student does not receive credit —or saving the cost of those classes. It also can mean the difference between no scholarship and one that will help the student and his or her family get the best education possible while affording all the other necessities in their life.” The next schedule for Awesome Scores’ ACT prep classes are: English and reading at 10 a.m. on December 6, science at 2 p.m. on December 7, a math class at 6 p.m. on December 7 and December 8 at 8 p.m. For more information about Awesome Scores or its class schedule, contact Dave Bobbitt, president, at 888.8MY.MATH, email or visit http:// You also can like Awesome Scores on Facebook at or follow on Twitter at https://

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There once was a time when students said they were going to college and it almost automatically meant they were headed off to a four-year public or private institution. But with the high cost of tuition and rapid changes in the workforce, more students than ever are changing that notion and opting for a community college instead. In fact, between 2006 and 2012, Arkansas community college enrollment increased 42 percent and has stayed roughly at that level through the 2014 school term. Degree and certificate production increased by 84 percent between 2004 and 2011. Students who take a look at community colleges are increasingly discovering the following substantial benefits:

COMMUNITY COLLEGES ARE A LOWER-COST ALTERNATIVE Students attending community colleges in Arkansas save approximately 40 percent over a four-year public university. Programs completed in half the time also mean students walk away with less student loan debt. Not only is the cost less per credit hour, but as the state’s 22 community colleges and their 39 satellite locations are nonresidential campuses, students can save what it would otherwise cost to live in a dormitory. Students generally attend school in their immediate area, so travel expenses can also be greatly reduced over “going away” to college. It should be noted, lower cost doesn’t mean lower quality of education or lack of a “college experience.” Community colleges in Arkansas enjoy a high rate of success in transferring credits to other institutions. Technology advances at community colleges has mirrored that of larger state colleges, and online learning is frequently offered as an option. Community college campuses also offer many of the same facilities, services and social opportunities as residential four-year schools including financial aid, tutoring, job placement, health and fitness centers, and campus organizations. Some even offer intramurals among the slate of campus activities.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE DEGREES TARGET IN-DEMAND POSITIONS Let’s face it, the whole point of most people going to college is to gain the education and skills necessary to earn a living in a field they enjoy. It is this kind of targeted career-track training where community colleges truly shine. Community colleges provide hands-on instruction in highly sought-after fields, a mere sampling of which includes nursing, medicine, criminal justice/ police science and a variety of trades from welding and culinary arts to over-theroad trucking and aerospace technology. It’s not uncommon for community colleges to partner with companies to ensure training matches what’s actually going on in the field, giving graduates highly marketable skills. And because coursework can be completed in two years or less, it takes less time to move a person from the classroom into a career. Such courses aren’t just for first careers. Many students find community colleges’ flexibility and course offerings useful in earning additional credentials


to advance in the job they already have. Or, as with the recent economic downturn, to help displaced workers train for a new job.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES HELP TRANSITION TO FOUR-YEAR SCHOOLS Not all students are prepared for college life coming right out of high school. They may lack the necessary funds to live away from home (58 percent of twoyear students come from low-income backgrounds) or lack study habits or academic development to meet some curriculums (86 percent of community college students require at least one remedial course). An often overlooked benefit of community colleges is providing an environment helpful to individuals moving from highly structured high school systems to largely self-directed college models. Nearly half of two-year students in Arkansas are part time, many hold down a job while attending school, and many develop the self-discipline and study habits that allow them to pursue other educational opportunities.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES OFFER SOMETHING FOR EVERY PHASE OF LIFE Community colleges are aptly named because the student body represents a cross-section of society. In Arkansas, 48 percent of two-year enrollees are age 25 or older. Most campuses also feature a high degree of racial and ethnic diversity; in fact, statistics show Hispanic and African-American students at community colleges enjoy completion rates higher than the national average. Community college students also boast a diversity of educational interests. High school students can take classes to get a jump on college credit. Working individuals pursue coursework for advance certification in their field or to learn new skills to make them more marketable. And, a percentage of students are simply pursuing a path of lifelong learning, taking classes that appeal to a variety of personal interests.

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T Anyone who has ever made the trek to the ER for something that was not life- or limb-threatening knows what they are in for: crammed waiting rooms and long delays that take up the whole day (or most of the night) as patients are seen in order of severity of injury. But what else can a parent do for those times their child is sick or hurt severely enough to make waiting for a doctor’s office visit unfeasible? Happily, there is a third option available: an urgent care facility.

WHAT IS URGENT CARE? Many doctors agree that individuals often head for the emergency room when the conditions don’t require it. Urgent care facilities treat patients of all ages with episodic, non-life-threatening injury and illness. These facilities are typically open seven days a week during nontraditional hours, treat walk-ins without long waits or requiring an appointment, and offer the option for insurance payments or cash for services. Some urgent care facilities are operated as walk-in neighborhood clinics by hospitals in the community. Others are operated as part of for-profit health care companies and still others are stand-alone clinics owned by the physicians on staff there. In some communities, urgent care clinics have partnered with 24hour businesses such as big-box retail stores for clinic space on an around-theclock basis.

WHAT KIND OF SERVICES DO URGENT CARE FACILITIES OFFER? Some urgent care facilities are staffed with physicians and some are staffed with mid-level providers such as physician assistants or nurse practitioners. Most facilities provide an array of services such as x-rays, IV fluids and medications, flu shots, lab work and stitches. Most facilities can also treat simple broken bones or fractures, sprains, sinus infections, wounds and minor burns ,and symptoms of cold and flu such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and coughs. Non-trauma-related services may include health exams and diagnostic services. School, sports and pre-employment physicals and drug testing.

ARE THERE ANY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN URGENT CARE FACILITIES? As a matter of fact there are, so it is a good idea to shop around before you actually need one. Take the time to tour facilities and bring along a list of questions; a reputable and longstanding firm will have no problem with this. First and foremost, ask about the experience and qualifications of physicians on staff; specifically, the level of experience or specialization in emergency medicine or as a family practitioner. The more experience the facility’s physicians have, the better equipped they will be to render quality care to a variety of conditions at any age. Other considerations include hours of operation, proximity and the level of technology in use both for medical treatment and for back-office functions as appointments, follow-up and handling medical records.


KIDS ARE ALWAYS COMING DOWN WITH STUFF, HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO SEEK A DOCTOR? Doctors say parents are often very good at evaluating the seriousness of illnesses and injuries and determining what type of care is needed. When parents are unsure, getting a child seen by a doctor provides peace of mind. On the other hand, even when something about their child’s health just doesn’t seem right or the matter doesn’t appear that serious, parents may be tempted to put off seeking a doctor to avoid the hassle of the ER or because it’s something “all kids go through.” Urgent care provides a “middle ground” in these cases.

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO USE URGENT CARE AND WHEN TO GO TO THE ER? Any child over 3 months of age with a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, gastrointestinal problems such as persistent diarrhea or vomiting, cough, congestion, cuts that aren’t bleeding a lot but require stitches, skin rashes, sore throat or even sports-related injuries are all common reasons to visit an urgent care facility. Symptoms of more serious conditions in children or adults that do warrant a trip to the emergency room or calling 911 include chest pains lasting longer than two minutes, shortness of breath, serious trauma such as compound fractures, deep knife or gunshot wounds or heavy, uncontrollable bleeding. A high fever in a child younger than 3 months, poisoning or pregnancy-related issues should always be treated as an emergency. In other cases where symptoms of something serious aren’t quite as obvious, parents can rest assured that urgent care physicians will refer patients to the emergency room when appropriate.

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T While most adults understand that death is a normal part of life, young children often do not have this same level of understanding. They’ll need your guidance through this most difficult time. Since each child is unique and their grasp of the concept of death progresses as they grow older, a parent’s way of discussing death can vary from child to child. Here are some tips that might help you talk to your child during this sad and often confusing moment. Because we usually shield children from the reality of death, many children lack a frame of reference to draw from. Because of that, your child may need you to provide them with a basic and honest explanation of what death is. If they have no experience with death, you might say: “When a person dies, his or her body and mind stops working. Their heart stops beating. Their body stops moving, eating and breathing, and the person they were is no longer there.” If the child has experienced the loss of a pet, you might reference that as a way of helping them understand. Sometimes, young children may not understand that death is permanent and may ask questions like: “When is Daddy coming back?” Continue to be concrete and honest in your explanation. Use words like “died” and “dead,” rather than “went to sleep,” “lost” or “passed away.” While these phrases may seem gentler, they may also be confusing to a child. Since young children often think literally, they may assume, for instance, that if they look hard enough, a “lost” parent could be found. They might even come to believe it’s their fault a loved one was lost. After the death of a loved one, your children may begin to worry about you, thinking that if one parent can die, the other might as well. Reassure them, once


again, by being gently honest. If the person who died was taken by a disease or an accident, then you might tell them that their loved one was very sick – so sick that they couldn’t be cured no matter how hard the doctors at the hospital tried. To help quell their general anxiety that you or others they love might die too, you might say: “No one can promise that he or she won’t die. But I take care of myself by staying healthy and strong, and I expect us to be together for a long time.” Another issue parents may run into is that sometimes children will assume that if they can’t see their parent’s body, he or she isn’t really dead. You can explain by saying, “Even though we can’t bring back the person who died, his or her memory can live in our hearts.” It is important to recognize that children might feel angry at or disappointed with the person who has died. Allow them to express their feelings openly, and be sure to tell them that these feelings are normal and okay to have. You might let them know that you have some of those same feelings. To help them get through their anger, you might encourage them to share their feelings by talking to you or others, drawing pictures or writing in a journal. Often times, children experience a wide range of emotions following a death in the family, but they may not always have words to identify these emotions. You may have to help them find a way to let those emotions out. Assure your children that everyone, including yourself, has big feelings, and there are no feelings too big or too little to talk about. Here are some ideas for shared activities or discussions: • Create a time and place for sharing and talking each day. For example, at bedtime, you might sit with them and say, “I’m feeling _______ . How are you feeling?” • Using dolls and puppets, make up stories and act out feelings with your children. • If necessary, provide an outlet for your children to express anger or frustration. You might allow them to run outside, or give the soft things to throw, or musical instruments with which to create noise. Listening to slow, soothing music and taking deep breaths can also help children feel more calm and relaxed. • Spending lots of time together, reassuring and taking care of one another, and keeping to routines can help your child understand that, although much has changed, you still are a family. Make sure to let your children know every day that they are loved. Hugs help, too! When providing comfort to a child, understand you will not be able to take the hurt away. It’s also okay to tell your children that you don’t have an answer for every question. However, through honesty, communication and providing validity to their feelings, and even relying on your cultural or religious beliefs, you can provide them with the reassurance they need to get through one of the toughest experiences of childhood. For more information on explaining death to your child, give us a call at Roller Funeral Homes 501-225-0818 and we would be honored to help.






lives of our youth volunteers and the families we serve. Nothing makes me happier than receiving thank-you notes from the people we’ve served. I HOPE TO INSPIRE YOUTH TO GET INVOLVED WITH THEIR COMMUNITIES BY…volunteering. It doesn’t matter how old

or young you are, you have a gift you can share with others. Our campers and college staffers are some of the most outstanding youth in our state. I look forward to them stepping into leadership roles in their communities. MY FAVORITE THANKSGIVING TRADITION THAT I HOPE TO PASS ON TO MY DAUGHTER…is attending the Big Dam

Bridge Full Moon Walk. This year it’s on Sunday, November 2. Ozark Mission Project has partnered with Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance to do a canned food drive the night of the walk. It’s a great way to start the conversation with your children about how some families go without on Thanksgiving. MY FAVORITE PICK-ME-UP ON A STRESSFUL DAY IS…going to

lunch time yoga at Arkansas Yoga Collective or walking the Labyrinth at Pulaski Heights Methodist. IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT AND I’M HOME ALONE, SO I…call and check

in with my friends and often invite them over.


I AM THE AEA Meet Laura Montgomery, Pulaski County Special School District

Brian Chilson


aura Montgomery has spent more than 27 years serving the students, families and teachers of Pulaski County Special School District. An education support professional (ESP), Montgomery serves as the bridge between a child’s home and school. “I help get kids ready for learning,” Montgomery said. “Whatever they need – from school supplies to healthcare to advocating for their parents in parent-teacher conferences – I make sure it happens.” According to the National Education Association, education support professionals are the first employees to see students when they enter school and the last to see them move on in the school community. Through their various careers they touch the lives of students and ensure student success. In fact, education support professionals make up more than 40 percent of the total K-12 education workforce. With a degree in social work, Montgomery worked with students at Landmark Elementary in the Landmark community for more than two decades. Today, she works alongside educators in The Pulaski County Special School District. “I’ve had students and parents I worked with from 1987 to this year come back to tell me what an impact the education support professional had on their lives,” Montgomery said. “I don’t go anywhere without being recognized.” Montgomery sees her job as her ministry and focuses on the importance of ensuring the children and adults she works with every day know they matter. “What an education support professional does is help those who can’t always help themselves,” she said. “A lot of times, a parent doesn’t understand what a teacher says in a conference. What I do is help them understand so they can help their child.” The vice president of the Arkansas Education Association and the president of the National Council of Education Support Professionals of the National Education Association, Montgomery strives to educate people within the community about the role ESPs play in the well-being of children and families. “We are on the front lines of K-12 education every day,” she said. “We know who is being bullied and why. My dream

is to show our community that ESPs are people who support children at school and home. We take care of the whole student – his or her education, health, well-being and other needs.” Montgomery will participate with other education support professionals in the Build Communities Not Bullies event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock on Saturday, October 25. The event is supported by ESPs from the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special School Districts and encourages participants to take the pledge against bullying. “We have to create an atmosphere where everyone is treated with respect,” Montgomery said. “Students can’t learn in fear, and as children, they aren’t equipped to handle bullying situations. It’s up to adults to be present, aware and available to help children feel safe and cherished.”

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