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JANUARY 2020 · SAVVYKIDSAR.COM

A Life less Ordinary

Breaking Down Syndrome Stereotypes

DRAWING A LINE IN THE SAND

WINTER READING LIST

WARM UP WITH COMFORT FOOD


ARKANSAS CHILDREN’S COMPLEX CARE PROGRAM

Helping Children Reach their Full Potential

T

he Arkansas Children’s Complex Care Program provides compassionate, specialized care for infants and children with special health care needs. Team members focus on family-centered care to provide assistance to families as they navigate our health care system, both at Arkansas Children’s and in their local communities. Resources are out there, but sometimes they are hard to find. Connecting with both your medical team and other families who have children with similar conditions (often via social media) parents can learn what is available in their community and in their state. Resources differ from one county to another and certainly from one state to another, so it is good to find a group close to your home. With the variety of families and groups who are treated in the Complex Care Clinic, they are all frequently learning from each other about what is available to families. The complex care team at Arkansas Children’s works closely with families, caregivers and community providers to coordinate care and provide personalized treatment services. This includes: • Development of a comprehensive care plan • Creating an individualized nutrition plan and feeding schedule • Addressing oral and texture aversion issues • Monitoring growth and development • Identification, enrollment and monitoring of progress in development therapies • Ongoing psychological and social support • Arranging home health care and respite care

About the Complex Care Program

The Complex Care Program at Arkansas Children’s is a multidisciplinary clinic (essentially a one stop shop) to address a variety of needs at one time. The team includes doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, speech therapists and dietitians, so we can take a more comprehensive approach to meeting the family’s needs for their child. We work to look at the child’s whole picture (medical/educational/social) to try to ensure that as many needs as possible are being met.

Frequently children with medical complexity have developmental concerns such as developmental delay, intellectual disability or neurological issues such as seizures or difficulty walking or talking. Common diagnoses include: • Cerebral palsy • Complications of prematurity • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia • Congenital differences or birth defects • Craniofacial differences such as cleft lip and palate • Genetic syndromes • Hypotonia • Mitochondrial disease • Muscular dystrophies • Neurodevelopmental disabilities • Neurodegenerative diseases • Respiratory system anomalies • Severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy with significant neurological damage • Short gut syndrome

Children with medical complexity typically have multiple chronic medical diagnosis or concerns. The Complex Care Program was designed to address the needs of children who: • Have at least two medically complex conditions and are followed by at least two pediatric subspecialists • Are dependent on special medical technology such as G-tube or other tube feedings, oxygen or other respiratory support • Born with extremely low birth weight or congenital anomalies and or syndromes • Have chronic neurodevelopmental disabilities Contact our Complex Care Program team to better understand our services or to schedule an appointment for your child. Your local doctor can also refer you to us by calling 501-364-3030.

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JANUARY 2020 | SAVVYKIDSAR.COM


Pulaski County Special School District school libraries are rebranding from the traditional “library format” into a versatile Library Learning Center. This transformation into user-centered spaces will better support the ever-changing needs of our school communities. While books are still the focus of the space, the Library Learning Centers will provide a space for students to collaborate and create. Our teacher librarians want students to be consumers of information as well as producers of ideas and projects. Students will use collaborative maker spaces for hands-on learning that foster critical thinking skills and boost self-confidence.

purpose.pcssd.org

With the release of the new state library standards and to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week, this is an ideal time to change the name of our school library spaces from Media Centers to Library Learning Centers. Further, the media specialist role is different than in years past. The new title, Teacher Librarian, is an information expert who provides responsive teaching, advocates for equitable The purpose of Library Learning Centers is to opportunities for all students and supports the encourage the “right to read” for all students and mission and goals of the building. staff. Additionally, the Library Learning Centers Newly updated library book collections will help implement and enrich all parts of the include traditional books as well as eBooks for teaching and learning process by providing our diverse student populations. instruction, resources and support in accessing and sharing information.

501.234.2000 SAVVYKIDSAR.COM | JANUARY 2020

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JANUARY 2020

KATIE THOMAS AND DAUGHTER TAVI PAGE 18

5 EDITOR’S NOTE 8 ADVENTURE & FUN CALENDAR, CRAFT & MORE!

12 MAMA SAID ...

A TIME FOR REFLECTION — JEN HOLMAN

14 EXPLORE & LEARN WINTER READING LIST

18 A LIFE LESS ORDINARY BREAKING THROUGH DOWN SYNDROME STEREOTYPES

24 GOOD EATS

WARM UP WITH COMFORT FOOD

32 FAMILY & PARENTING DRAWING A LINE IN THE SAND

34 HEALTH & WELLNESS BE A LIFESAVER: DONATE BLOOD

38 MEET THE PARENT LUCY BAEHR

HOMEMADE COMFORT FOOD ON PAGE 24!

COLORFUL JARS ON PAGE 13

ON THE COVER: KATIE AND TAVI THOMAS PHOTO BY KATIE CHILDS

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JANUARY 2020 | SAVVYKIDSAR.COM


Photo by Stacy Kinzler

New Year, New Same Amazing You! If you are reading this then you survived another insane holiday season. Congratulations! Some people like to transition from holiday madness straight into New Year’s resolution pressure and guilt, but I prefer a little stopover into winter indulgence. January is cold and dark and I’ve found the best way to battle that seasonal affective disorder is with sweatpants and comfort food. Get ready to go into full hibernation mode with some amazing winter comfort food recipes (including homemade rolls!) from Zara Abbasi on page 24. It’s the perfect complement to the snow day we are all hoping for. If you find yourself trapped indoors, or have kids who actually enjoy reading (great, job!) then you’ll want to flip to page 14 to find an exciting winter reading list compiled by our local libraries. While it’s great to hunker down for the winter, too much time inside can quickly lead to cabin fever and chaos at home. If your home sometimes feels more like a war zone than a sanctuary, you might find some valuable parenting tips on discipline on page 32. Discipline is one of those things that no one wants to do, is super hard and makes everyone unhappy but is key for creating functioning little ones that grow up to become functioning adults. A Family Life Specialist at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture gives guidance on age-appropriate consequences, what to reasonably expect from your child, when it’s OK to use bribes and how to temper your temper. If you’ve read this far (I appreciate you!) you’re probably wondering, “When is she going to get around to that beautiful cover baby?” Meet Tavi and her mom, Katie Thomas, on page 18 to learn all about this special girl with her own Facebook following. Tavi is a sweetheart who exudes joy and love and, together with her parents, she’s working to break down stereotypes of children with Down syndrome. Learn about the advancements in care, importance of inclusive environments and all the things that make Tavi special. We hope you enjoy some much needed down time, comfort food and harmony within your home in the new year!

Amy Gordy Editor, SAVVYkids amy@arktimes.com

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PUBLISHER BROOKE WALLACE | brooke@arktimes.com EDITOR AMY GORDY | amy@arktimes.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR MANDY KEENER ART DIRECTOR | DIGITAL MANAGER KATIE HASSELL SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE LESA THOMAS ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE KRYSTAL RHODES PRODUCTION MANAGER | CONTROLLER WELDON WILSON ADVERTISING TRAFFIC MANAGER ROLAND R. GLADDEN ADVERTISING ART DIRECTOR MIKE SPAIN GRAPHIC DESIGNER SARAH HOLDERFIELD DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL STRATEGY JORDAN LITTLE PHOTOGRAPHER BRIAN CHILSON IT DIRECTOR ROBERT CURFMAN ACCOUNTING CHARLOTTE KEY CIRCULATION DIRECTOR ANITRA HICKMAN PRESIDENT ALAN LEVERITT

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contributors ZARA ABBASI lives in Little Rock with her husband and three children. She is a licensed attorney, but you know her better as Little Rock’s friendly pastry chef and custom cake maker. She keeps busy with dessert orders, pop-up dinners, writing articles and doing anything food-related. Follow her on Instagram @Zaramadeit for her newest cake creations and dinner ideas.

KATIE CHILDS is a wedding, lifestyle and commercial photographer based in North Little Rock. When she's not behind the camera, Katie, her husband, Jon, and their new addition, baby Jonas, can be found traveling the U.S. in a DIY camper van.

DWAIN HEBDA is a writer and editor living in Little Rock. He and his wife, Darlene, are the parents of four grown children. The empty-nesters spend their time traveling, working out and spoiling their two dogs.

WHAT THE HUB DELIVERS THE INNOVATION HUB uses tools, skills, and expertise to inspire innovators and entrepreneurs who expand the range of educational and economic opportunities for themselves, for their communities, in our state, and throughout the world. Simply put… we build skilled artisans and disciplined entrepreneurs. WHERE DOES YOUR ADVENTURE BEGIN? • Education • Production • Memberships Available • Ask About Event Space Rental 204 E 4th St • North Little Rock, AR 72114 (501) 907-6570 arhub.org

The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub is a proud affiliate of Winrock International.

JEN HOLMAN is doing her best right now, OK? She lives in Little Rock with her husband and three children, striking that delicate balance between inspiration and frustration. She’s written five novels, one of which won a Rosemary award for excellence in young adult fiction.

ANGELA E. THOMAS is a proud University of Arkansas at Little Rock graduate and a member of its Alumni Board. For 11 years, she served Central Arkansas as editor for a locally owned magazine. Thomas is founder and owner of the greeting card company GODsent Greetings.

Learn inside and outside of the classroom. THE LIBRARY, REWRIT TEN.

MELISSA TUCKER spends her days working in web marketing. When not at work, you'll probably find her at the gym, on the playground with her kids or checking out too many books from the library.

COOKING CLASSES | CONCERT SERIES | TECHNOLOGY CLASSES SPEAKER SERIES | DIGITAL MUSIC LIBRARY | ART GALLERIES

CALS offerS So muCh more thAn bookS. Get the whoLe Story At CALS.orG/rewritten.

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Photo by Atle Mo on Unsplash

ADVENTURE & FUN

JANUARY 2020 Through Jan. 18

‘WICKED’

Catch this interesting story of what happened in Oz before Dorothy dropped in at “Wicked,” a Broadway musical performed at Robinson Center. The story centers on what happened between an emerald-green skinned witch and a bubbly, likeable blonde witch to cause one to be called “good” and the other “wicked.” Recommended for ages 8 and up. celebrityattractions.com

Jan. 1

NEW YEARS DAY Jan. 2

NATIONAL SCIENCE FICTION DAY

Jan. 4

NATIONAL SPAGHETTI DAY

Jan. 3

MÖMANDPÖP LIVE

The Little Rock-based singers and songwriters Mömandpöp will put on a fun, interactive live concert geared toward kids and families at Museum of Discovery at 10 a.m. The concert is included in regular museum admission, or free for museum members. Seating is limited to 145, so first come, first served. museumofdiscovery.org

The true story story The untold untold true of of Oz Oz of the the Witches Witches of

Jan. 7

HOMESCHOOL SKATE

Bring your homeschool students to this monthly social event at Arkansas Skatium. On the first Tuesday of each month from 2-5 p.m., homeschoolers are invited for an afternoon of fun, socializing and movement on the ice and on the roller rink. Cost is $5 per person, or $15 for a family of four. arkansasskatium.com

Jan. 11

January 1–19 January 1–19 8

ROBINSON ROBINSON PERFORMANCE PERFORMANCE HALL HALL

JANUARY 2020 | SAVVYKIDSAR.COM

NATIONAL ARKANSAS DAY


Jan. 16

‘PJ MASKS LIVE! SAVE THE DAY’

“PJ Masks,” the hit animated Disney Junior series, brings this live show to Simmons Bank Arena to thrill kids of all ages. Enjoy the night-time adventures and heroism of three young friends who, when they put on their pajamas and activate their animal amulets, transform into Catboy, Owlette and Gekko. simmonsbankarena.com

Jan. 13

NATIONAL RUBBER DUCKY DAY

Jan. 31

HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS

You’ll be dazzled by the athleticism of the Harlem Globetrotters at Simmons Bank Arena at the Pushing the Limits World Tour featuring new thrills, surprise moments and more player interaction than ever. Watch as favorite team members exhibit incredible ball handling, dunks, trick shots, comedy and hilarious audience interaction. Hang around after the game to meet the stars and get autographs. simmonsbankarena.com

Jan. 19

NATIONAL POPCORN DAY Jan. 19

WINTER TEA PARTY

Get wrapped up in the magic of fairytales, castles and princesses with your child at this lovely event at the Castle on Stagecoach. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride to and from the castle; meet the Snow Queen, Ice Princess and Ice Cutting Man; participate in a sing-along and dance-along; and enjoy tea and treats beginning at 12:30 p.m. $60 per adult, $50 per child. Call 501-960-0658 for reservations.

Jan. 20

MLK DAY CAMP AT THE REP

Jan. 25

CHINESE NEW YEAR 2020

School is out Jan. 20 to honor this influential civil rights leader, and the kids will need somewhere to go! Send them to The Rep for a day of theater activities, creative and collaborative activities and exercises centered on harmony for all living things. Registration is open to grades kindergarten through sixth. Students will be grouped by age and work closely with The Rep’s professional faculty to create visual and performance art. The day will end at 4 p.m. when students share what they’ve learned with family and friends at The Rep’s Annex Black Box. Tuition is $60. therep.org SAVVYKIDSAR.COM | JANUARY 2020

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ART SPACE

Colorful Storage Jars

Upcycle those old glass jars into colorful works of art

You will need:

BY KATIE HASSELL

Glass jars Modge Podge Food coloring Paper plate Paintbrush Baking sheet Foil

Big Game

The Party Headquarters

INVITATIONS • DECORATIONS • PARTY FAVORS • BALLOONS • PIÑATAS • CAKE SUPPLIES • INVITATIONS •

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How to:

1. Remove any labels on the jars. Many labels will come off by soaking them in warm water and then gently scrap the paper and adhesive off with a popsicle stick. (On one of my jars, I needed to use coconut oil and baking soda to gently scrub off the adhesive.) 2. Clean the jars and allow them to dry completely. 3. To make the color, mix one tablespoon of Modge Podge with food coloring on a paper plate. Mix in more drops or combine colors to achieve your desired hue. 4. Use a paintbrush to paint the colored Modge Podge on the inside of the jars. Then allow to dry. If you want the color to be darker add a second layer of your colored Modge Podge. 5. For a faster cure time, preheat your oven to 175°F. Place the jars on the foil-covered baking sheet in the oven and bake for one hour. 6. Remove the jars from the oven and allow to cool. 7. Once completely cool, fill with anything you need to store or plant a beautiful succulent!

11218PARHAM N. RODNEYRD. PARHAM RD. /ROCK LITTLE ROCK 4822 4822 HILLS BLVD. / NORTH LITTLE ROCK 11218 N. RODNEY / LITTLE N.N.HILLS BLVD. / NORTH LITTLE ROCK 501.223.4929 501.978.3154 501.223.4929 501.978.3154

• DECORATIONS • PARTY FAVORS • BALLOONS • PIÑATAS • CAKE SUPPLIES • INVITATIONS • DECORATIONS SAVVYKIDSAR.COM | JANUARY 2020

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MAMA SAID ...

A Time for Reflection BY JEN HOLMAN

A

fter a year-long break, I’m so happy to be back at SAVVYkids’ “Mama Said” column. While I loved reading the wonderful stories and insight from people in our community, I missed it here. One of the things I missed the most was being forced at least once a month to sit down, take stock and process my thoughts. Heck, to process my life! It’s the beginning of a new year—a new decade, in fact. For many people, a new year is a time for reflection. I’ve never really been one for resolutions, but I try to be mindful of what isn’t working and of what I want out of life. If I’m not, it seems to pass me by like those days you look up and it’s 3 p.m. already. Where did the day go? Where does a year go? A very smart friend of mine keeps a gratitude journal so the joys in life don’t get lost in the mix of its challenges. I’ve taken up the practice, too. As I flip through the pages of little victories, whether it was three consecutive nights of no one crying at bedtime or a thoughtful gesture from my husband, it feels great to hold on to the good things, no matter how small. Too often I find myself fixated on my frustrations instead of celebrating the wins. Why? Why do we stack the bad things one on top of another, but let the good things spill into the drain? There’s a lot of talk right now about “self-care,” but what does that even mean for us as parents? Self-care is taking intentional actions to improve our bodies, our minds and our relationships. It is not selfish. It’s not about money, and it’s not about setting unrealistic goals. It can be blocking out time for a date, for a workout, for a therapeutic conversation with a friend. It’s all about small and purposeful efforts to improve mental health, increase motivation and pleasure,

“It’s all about small and purposeful efforts to improve mental health, increase motivation and pleasure, and to reduce worry and stress. ”

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and to reduce worry and stress. As parents, there are so many demands on us from our children, our family, our jobs. Taking care of everyone around us except ourselves will never end well. I read an excellent analogy that self-care is like putting your oxygen mask on first. You can’t help your children if you can’t breathe. During football season my husband has a weekly boys’ night. He loves it, and needs this reminder he’s more than a suit, more than a dad; he’s a real, live person. My own efforts to facilitate time with friends need improvement. I’m going to venture a guess a lot of other moms can relate. But it’s so important we find comradery, that we find therapeutic release in hashing out mom problems—not to mention the benefits of realizing nobody’s kids are perfect despite what we see on Instagram. You know, maybe I’ll take up resolutions and resolve to get out more with girlfriends.


Little Rock S chool Distric t Hosts

“It’s so important we find comradery, that we find therapeutic release in hashing out mom problems —not to mention the benefits of realizing nobody’s kids are perfect despite what we see on Instagram.”

2020-2021 EXTENDED OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD: NOW THROUGH JAN 17 P3 - 12 Some wonderful accomplishments to celebrate: • • • • •

• • • • • •

Graduation rates improve from 74% three years ago to 82% this year 16 National Merit Semifinalists and three National Hispanic Scholars for 2019 LRSD’s 2018 Teacher of the Year selected as 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year - Stacey McAdoo State Champs in Swimming and Tennis 2nd Lien Loan Projects – HVAC, roofs, security camera/alarm upgrades, air conditioning at all high school gyms, resolution of drainage issues at Dunbar, turf/track/field improvements for Central, Fair and Hall Scholarship total of $23.0 million ViPS Partnerships - $27.2 million in volunteer support $150,000 grant for new Health Clinic at Chicot Elementary to support the Southwest community Little Rock Southwest High School, slated to open in 2020, will be one of the largest state-of-the-art secondary campuses in Arkansas LRSD’s Pre-K/Early Childhood Centers continue to serve as one of the strongest early learning programs in the State Career Education Expansion – doubled student numbers in medical program and Police and Fire Academies

Is there anything you could do better this year? Have you found ways to practice self-care? How can we stay happy and healthy while juggling every ball parenthood throws at us? Below are a few takeaways from the gratitude journal I’ve been keeping. Maybe they’ll help you, too. • • • • • • • • •

Pick three words to describe last year. What was the most challenging thing in your life last year? What was the best thing that happened? What was an unexpected obstacle? What was an unexpected joy? What was your biggest time waster last year? What did you learn? Who were your most valuable relationships with last year? In what way did you grow?

Some people are future-oriented thinkers who love setting goals and planning for a new year. They’re easily recognized by the huge calendars stuffed in their handbags and briefcases. While that’s not necessarily me, at the beginning of last summer I sat down with my kids and we brainstormed to make a list of the things we wanted to see and do. There were museums and fireworks, trampoline parks and camping, and of course sno cones and swimming pools. We crossed several things off the list, but not all. I’m going to work on a list of reasonable goals for this year and see how many I can cross off. I’ll get some, but not all, and that’s life.

* Dates and times subject to change. Visit LRSD.org for calendar updates.

SAVVYKIDSAR.COM | JANUARY 2020

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EXPLORE & LEARN

Kids’ Winter Reading List Winter can be long and cold, and there’s nothing better to keep the kids warm and stimulated than a good book! Pass the time by letting kids thumb through titles and explore at your local library branch. If you need a little guidance, here are a few suggestions from the librarians at Laman Library and Central Arkansas Library System.

Books For Ages Beginner-9 Suggestions from Central Arkansas Librar y System

“Please, Baby, Please” by Spike Lee

A toddler's antics keep his mother busy as she tries to feed him, watch him on the playground, give him a bath and put him to bed.

“The Princess In Black” by Shannon Hale

Who says princesses don't wear black? When trouble raises its blue monster head, Princess Magnolia ditches her flouncy dresses and becomes the Princess in Black!

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“The 13-Story Treehouse” by Andy Griffiths

Who wouldn't want to live in a treehouse? Especially a 13-story treehouse that has a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a tank full of sharks, a library full of comics, a secret underground laboratory, a game room, self-making beds, vines you can swing on, a vegetable vaporizer and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and automatically shoots your favorite flavored marshmallows into your mouth!

“The Very Last Castle”

by Travis Jonker Ibb, curious about the lone castle in her town, forms a longdistance friendship with the guard and, despite warnings there is something fearful inside, accepts his invitation to enter.

“Captain Awesome, Soccer Star” by Stan Kirby

“We've Got the Whole World In Our Hands”

Second-grader Eugene McGillicudy finds that he can tap the power of Captain Awesome without wearing the costume, as he scores a goal for his soccer team.

by Rafael López Join in a multicultural celebration of unity and diversity friendships all around the world as we read and sing along with joy, love and peace!

SAVVYKIDSAR.COM | JANUARY 2020

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Books For Ages 10+ Suggestions from Laman Librar y

“Secret Coders”

by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes This series proves that learning the fundamentals of coding doesn’t have to be serious.

“DeadEndia: The Watcher’s Test” by Hamish Steele It’s a graphic novel with all the great elements of a cartoon show— action, magic and friendship.

“Nimona”

by Noelle Stevenson This delightful graphic novel is about a spunky shapeshifter who is the sidekick of a supervillain. It has witty humor, awesome action and great artwork.

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“The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler”

by John Hendrix It’s the fascinating true story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a man who was devoted to trying to stop Adolf Hitler.

“The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander

This book is about a 12-year-old boy who loves basketball and mad beats. Written in verse, this book is sure to appeal to ages 10 and up.

Big Rock Mini Golf & Fun Park OPEN YEAR ROUND FOR ALL YOUR FAMILY OUTINGS!

ITE PITCHING MACHINES! CHECK OUT OUR FABULOUS NEW. EL Bring your team out to practice! Pitch controlable by individual batter Karts • Mini Golf • Lazer Frenzy • Bumper Boats

PLUS: Arcade • Amazing Maze • Aerial Adv

enture • Go-

501-455-3750 | bigrockfunpark.com 11411 Baseline Road Little Rock (Near Bass Pro Shops) SAVVYKIDSAR.COM | JANUARY 2020

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SPECIAL FEATURE

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A Life A LIFE less less ORDINARY Ordinary

Katie Thomas and daughter Tavi aim to break down stereotypes of children with Down syndrome one social media post at a time BY DWAIN HEBDA PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATIE CHILDS

A

t less than 2 years of age, Octavia “Tavi” Thomas is on her way to becoming a social media superstar. The tot has a willing accomplice in her mother, Katie, who gleefully dresses Tavi up, snaps the child’s trademark full-face smile and shares it with the world. In other families, this might pass for new-baby enthusiasm at best or sheer narcissism at worst. But Tavi’s site is different. Born with Down syndrome, she’s special in all the best senses of the word and it is that very difference that her mother celebrates daily both online and in person. “The straight-up love that pours out of that baby, people are drawn to her,” Thomas said. “Like, I’ve had strangers buy me coffee in line. A lady at a flea market gave me a purse once just because she thought Tavi was cute. I’ve had people tell me that they’re having a bad day and they go look at her Facebook page and it cheers them up.” Thomas talks about her daughter with a wonder you don’t always hear when the topic is a child with a developmental disability; an attitude of celebration over the things that make her daughter so unique, even as those things require extra care and attention and planning. “I grew up always wanting a child with Down syndrome and when I was pregnant with her, I told my husband I had a feeling that this baby had Down syndrome,” she said. “I had nothing but excitement. When I called my best friend and told her that my baby was going to have Down syndrome she asked if I’d done a vision board on it. She was like, ‘You made that happen somehow.’

KATIE AND TAVI THOMAS SAVVYKIDSAR.COM | JANUARY 2020

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“The Down syndrome community in Little Rock is so welcoming and so awesome. I just started asking questions.” “So, I was not surprised by that at all. I was more surprised that it was a girl; kind of thought she was a boy.” Thomas understands that many parents struggle with a much different range of emotions when they discover their child has special needs—including, at first, her own husband, Woodlief— and if she was ever naïve about the extra work and worry that Tavi would require, it was dashed from the start. “Her first couple of months here on Earth were real scary because she was born really early,” she said. “She had a condition called hydrops, which can be fatal, so she was in the NICU for two months. “And, 50 percent of kids with Down syndrome have a heart defect and Tavi did, too. She had VSD [ventricular septal defect], but hers, luckily, closed up shortly after birth.” Down syndrome occurs once in about every 700 births, according to the National Down Syndrome Society, resulting in roughly 6,000 new cases annually. The condition is a genetic one in which the child is born with a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. The condition brings with it various physical issues such as low muscle tone, smaller stature and the aforementioned predisposition to heart problems, as well as developmental delays. Thomas took it upon herself to learn as much as she could about the condition while still pregnant, to identify available resources. “I asked on Facebook, which is great for crowd sourcing, to be connected with people that had children with Down syndrome or worked with kids with Down syndrome. That was huge,” she said. “The Down syndrome community in Little Rock is so welcoming and so awesome. I just started asking questions. “Both sets of her grandparents were super into it, also. They ordered all the books. I think we all read about it and shared around.” Tavi is Thomas’ third child and, by comparison, she said having a child with Down syndrome doesn’t cause any more overall worry than with her other children, as much as it apportions that parental concern differently. “I think Down syndrome used to be very scary; used to, you had basically a child forever and it’s not like that anymore,” she

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EST. 1958

said. “People with Down syndrome get married, they live on their own, they have jobs. “I think if it’s your first child, that would be scarier, too. I have two other typical children and I did get to experience all of the typical milestones. Which, by the way, Tavi can and will be able to reach most typical milestones, just on a very different timeline and they’ll look a little different.” Advocacy groups and the medical community are also quick to point to the advancements that have been made for individuals and families dealing with the condition. “Life expectancy of a human being with Down syndrome today, the last statistics show, is around 63 years. More and more people I see in the community are 65-plus,” said James Hunt, board member with the Arkansas Down Syndrome Association. “In 1983, the average life expectancy of somebody with Down syndrome was 29 years of age.” “The primary contributors to that [increase] are that we start educating earlier and we educate more aggressively and in inclusive environments. Whether they have difficulty communicating with their peers or their teachers or not, their desire and capacity for learning, for gaining knowledge and learning skills is there and is exercisable.” Hunt, who is also a parent of a child with Down syndrome, said as a result of these advancements, families such as his and society in general find themselves in uncharted territory. “At this point we don’t really know what the limits for them are,” he said. “We used to assume as late as the ’70s and ’80s that people with Down syndrome could not live on their own, could not live semi-independently, could not be educated in a public school environment, but it turns out they can be. My own son is an example of success in a public school setting where [kids are] being placed in inclusive environments and resource classes instead of self-contained rooms.” For as positive as longer life expectancy is, it’s also creating questions about what community supports to provide and how to accommodate these later stages of life. “Where things are falling behind, I think, has to do with our medical education,” said Dr. Brad Schaefer, professor of genetics in pediatrics at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “Up until now, most of the care for people with Down syndrome was given by pediatricians and pediatric geneticists. But if people are living into their 50s and 60s, they’re spending two-thirds of their life in adult medicine.” “So, one of the things we’re not doing a good job of right now is training adult medical providers on how to take care of people with Down syndrome. I think we do a great job in the pediatric world, but the adult world is a totally different place. The

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systems are different, the payers are different, the specialists are different. Gearing up the medical community to be prepared to take care of adults with Down syndrome is the one thing where we’re probably not doing as well as we should be doing.” This aside, Schaefer said people with Down syndrome are finding wider and wider acceptance throughout many different parts of society. He points to this as an important foundational element of solving other issues such as health care, social interaction, employment and other services. “There’s a general improvement in how we work and interface with people with disabilities,” he said. “People with Down syndrome aren’t put in institutions anymore, they’re integrated into society. They’re our colleagues, our friends. That whole lifestyle change has improved dramatically as well as the understanding of some of the unique health factors that go along with people with Down syndrome.” Thompson said this new understanding and acceptance can only advance on the example of affected families. Tavi’s Facebook page isn’t just to brag on her cuteness, it’s one family’s attempt to break down stereotypes about children with special needs. “Raising Tavi, there is not a lot in my day-to-day that is different than a typical baby,” Katie said. “She developed mentally probably a few months behind. She’s 16 months and she’s not walking but that doesn’t mean she can’t get where she wants to go. She can crawl, she can pull up; before she could crawl she would just roll room to room. “When people ask me if Tavi has Down syndrome when we’re in public and want to talk about it, I love that. Definitely. So just ask questions. That’s not nosy to me; I love to talk about it. I love showing people how awesome it is.”

“Raising Tavi, there is not a lot in my day-to-day that is different than a typical baby.” LEARN MORE:

Follow Tavi’s Facebook page:

facebook.com/Tavi-and-the-Tubes-239225303461792/

Arkansas Down Syndrome Association 501-223-DOWN (3696) contact@ardownsyndrome.org ardownsyndrome.org

UAMS Down syndrome clinic information

uamshealth.com/medicalservices/genetics/downsyndrome/

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GOOD EATS

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Warm Up With Comfort Food

There’s no need to deny yourself a little indulgence in these delicious, simple comfort food recipes

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BY ZARA ABBASI PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATIE CHILDS

appy New Year, friends! Hope we all made it out of the last decade with our sanity somewhat intact. The New Year is such a glorious period of cleansing because it’s a concrete break in a timeline. We get to start over with a clean slate and try to fix all the things that are “wrong” with us. Some are positive goals and others highlight that we are not yet enough. But, what if we reframe how we look at the New Year? I don’t know about you, but 2019 seemed like it was two years long. There were a lot of lessons in there but the biggest one was “be yourself.” Such simple and age-old wisdom is still useful decades later. I, for one, am taking it to heart. I took the last two years to really slow down and take care of myself. In this new year, I’m looking to reframe my goals. I want to have fewer goals on improvement and take a minute to appreciate how far I’ve come. To applaud the battles I’ve won, the stories I get to tell, and the necks I’ve been able to hug. So, the theme of 2020, for me, is gratefulness and an ode to comfort. Whether it’s comfortable people, clothes or food, I want 2020 to be a big hug of all the things that are going right instead of focusing on the things that we feel are not up to par just yet. I think we can all agree that comfortable feels good! We love sweatpants for a reason, we love our closest friends and family for a reason, and comfort food has its own category because of its insane popularity. Needless to say, we like comfort. So why not celebrate it? Why not enjoy the things that bring us comfort on a day we’re not feeling 100 percent? The thinking is that too much comfort can keep us from our goals. But what if we were able to temper and balance it because of all the uncomfortable things we already have to do? I think that would be a great idea. And, I wholeheartedly feel that is a healthy thing to do if your goal was to be healthier this year. Let me share a beautiful story with you. My aunt is an epidemiologist, meaning she’s a doctor and scientist who investigates when disease outbreaks occur. She’s a rational person and is always seeking hard data to confirm her research and theories. She’s almost always a black-and-white, hardline person. (My son calls her the Taylor Swift of science). Here’s something she shared with me one day and it’s always stuck with me: “Ice cream is not considered healthy by any stretch of the imagination, BUT, if you indulge in ice cream once in a while when you are craving it, it increases your dopamine (your happiness chemicals) and happiness can make you healthy.” That has always resonated with me because we forget about happiness being the backbone of our health. In addition to friends and family and a good pair of sweatpants making us happy, so do certain foods. Especially when it’s chilly outside, or we’ve had a sad day, or a hard one, or we’re missing someone special and need a touch of nostalgia. In times like those, consider my aunt’s words and let go of a little guilt when indulging in things that make you happy. So, consider these comfort food recipes your way to increase your emotional health on those days. I’ve made it a little healthier for you in the notes in case you need a nudge. Happy New Year to you all. SAVVYKIDSAR.COM | JANUARY 2020

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Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

What’s more comforting than a casserole? I mean, it feels like you get a hug every time you make or receive a casserole. A shepherd’s pie is the epitome of a delicious casserole. We tried just a smidge to make this a healthier option, but feel free to throw caution to the wind and just go for the ingredients you want. For the meat: 1½ pounds ground turkey (can use beef if you’d like) 1 large onion, diced 2 to 3 tablespoons garlic paste 1 package onion soup mix 1 cup vegetable broth 1 cup corn 1 cup green peas 1 small carrot, peeled and diced ¼ cup fresh parsley (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish) Salt and pepper to taste Oil for pan For the potatoes: 6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed 4 tablespoons olive oil or butter softened 1 cup grated parmesan (divided) ¾ cup milk or broth ¼ cup heavy cream (can omit if you’d like) Salt and pepper to taste 1. Boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain and allow to cook a few more minutes to dry out the potatoes. Add in butter, half the parmesan, milk, cream or the alternatives and mash until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper. 2. While the potatoes are boiling, heat a skillet, add in the oil and cook the onions and garlic until translucent. Add in the ground turkey or beef and sauté until browned. Add in the soup mix, the broth and the vegetables. Mix and taste for seasonings. Add in the parsley. 3. Optional: To make a thicker gravy, add in two tablespoons of flour and mix into the meat mixture and then add in another cup of broth to thicken into gravy. 4. Assemble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add in the meat in the bottom of a baking dish and top with spoonfuls of the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle remaining parmesan on top of the potatoes and bake for 30-40 minutes until the tops are browned. 5. Enjoy!

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Crockpot Chicken Chili

This is definitely a recipe that throws caution to the wind when trying to be healthy. You could certainly make this asis or you could reduce/omit the cream cheese and the heavy cream for something that’ll be a bit more health conscious. For days you want comfort food without much work, put all these ingredients into a crockpot and go snuggle up with a book while this gorgeous chili cooks away. Enjoy this meal on a cold day when it “might” snow and the stores will already be out of milk and bread. But not you, dear friend. No, you’ll be sitting pretty with this chili and your homemade dinner rolls reading by the fire while we novices brave the grocery store. 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs 1 onion diced 3 tablespoons garlic paste 1½ cups chicken broth 2 cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed 1 cup diced green chilies 2 cups corn kernels (I love fire roasted) Salt and pepper to taste 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon dried oregano ½ teaspoon chili powder 8 ounces cream cheese ½ cup heavy cream 1 cup milk 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon 2 tablespoons flour Optional toppings: cilantro; cayenne pepper, avocados, sour cream, shredded cheese 1. Add all ingredients, except toppings, into a crockpot. Start with liquids and mixing in the flour and spices well. Then add in the peppers, corn, beans, butter and cream cheese. Top with chicken and slightly submerge. 2. Cook on low heat for 4-6 hours depending on size of your chicken. Remove chicken and shred and return to the crockpot. Top with your favorite toppings. 3. Feel zero guilt for making a fast, easy, not-so-healthy crockpot meal and enjoy!

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WHAT IS YOUR 2020 VISION?

ow do you want this decade to be different from the last? Many of us start a new year thinking of changes we’d like to make, but rates of sustaining change are staggeringly low. Not even 10 percent of people manage to accomplish their new goals and 75 percent give up after only a few weeks. One of the secrets for making changes stick is to make them with friends and family.   CHANGING WITH OTHERS REDUCES TEMPTATION. Giving up sodas will be ten times harder if the rest of the family still guzzles them. Being mindful of healthy food portions is extra hard when our work friends keep choosing buffets. It’s much harder to break out of unhealthy patterns when no one around you cares. CHANGING WITH OTHERS MAKES IT MORE FUN. When you share a goal, you are more likely to show up even when it’s hard. We are more likely to push harder in order to encourage others. We can laugh when it gets hard. We show up when we know we’ll be missed. CHANGING WITH OTHERS GIVES US PERSPECTIVE. When others are familiar with your goals, they often notice changes before you do just as you will for them. It’s encouraging to have someone who comments on your victories, whether they are small or large.   In 2020, try to spark family and community change instead of individual change. Unity Martial Arts has been a second home for thousands of families, sometimes three generations at once. When families want to build healthy habits together, here are the four suggestions we always make to get them started: • CALL A MEETING. Instead of keeping goals secret, discuss them. Tell your people what goals you have, and invite them to share theirs. You may be able to make a very small adjustment in your own routine to help someone else make big changes in theirs. • BE MINDFUL OF YOUR GROUP’S BALANCE. For example, if you want to turn Tuesday night TV time into workout time, what new way will your family relax together? If you want to stop working past 6 p.m. all the time, what will you organize differently to make sure all the work gets done? • WRAP CHANGE IN A GAME OR A CHALLENGE that everyone has an interest in. Goals can be abstract, but points, prizes and celebrations are tangible and exciting. • TRACK EVERYONE’S PROGRESS. You could have a six-day slump that makes you feel like a failure, but if you’re able to look at a chart to see how far you’ve all come, it’s easier to push through.   If your 2020 vision is to build stronger family and community connections, you are bound to be successful.

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Quick Dinner Rolls

You know what’s indulgent? Bread. I love it even though most diets are constantly shifting us away from it. But again, our theme is comfort this go-around. And, scratch-made dinner rolls give me so much comfort and happiness. These are a no-fail recipe. I have taught this recipe to many people who never thought they could bake, and they were amazed with their results. This will pair brilliantly with the chili recipe. 1 cup warm tap water 1/3 cup oil ¼ cup sugar 2 tablespoons yeast ½ teaspoon salt 1 egg, beaten 1 tablespoon softened butter 3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour (start with 3 and add in extra if needed) 2 tablespoons melted butter to brush on tops 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 2. In a large bowl, combine one cup water, oil, sugar and yeast. Let sit until yeast is bubbly (about 8 minutes). Stir in beaten egg, softened butter and salt. 3. With a stand mixer or by hand, add flour, one cup at a time until you have a soft dough that isn’t sticky. Knead by hand 10 minutes or 5 minutes with a stand mixer. 4. Divide dough into 18 even pieces, and form into balls. Place in a greased pan and cover with parchment paper and a kitchen towel. 5. Let rise 10 minutes in a warm place. (You can allow them to rise up to an additional 30 minutes if time allows). 6. Lightly brush with melted butter and bake on the middle rack for 10-12 minutes or just until browned.

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FAMILY & PARENTING

Drawing a Line In the Sand

Discipline can be one of the hardest but most important parts of parenting for molding little ones into well-behaved, functional humans BY MELISSA TUCKER

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s a Family Life Specialist at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Brittney Schrick gets more questions about discipline than any other. The assistant professor helps parents navigate the challenges of parenting kids with different personalities and to figure out what kind of discipline makes sense based on age and temperament. “Maybe not surprisingly, a lot of times parents don’t know what to do beyond what they’re already doing,” she said. “Most people are going to discipline primarily the same way they were disciplined, with some exceptions.” She said the main problem she sees is parents disciplining children in the heat of the moment. “When that happens, even if parents know of something that might be more effective, they don’t do it,” she said. “Parents don’t take a breath

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and pause before they say they’re going to do something. Then you have to follow through with what you said you were going to do, whether or not it makes sense. Or you rush to address the issue before realizing you could’ve done something different, which can cause regret and frustration for the parent.” To prevent all that, before doling out punishments, parents should first stop and take a breath. “If you’re frustrated, you’re not thinking clearly. If you can, count to five or count to 10 first, and sometimes it’s OK to take a break for a minute or two,” she said. “Parents think they have to stay in the trenches or if they walk away their kid wins, but if you don’t walk away, sometimes everybody loses.” Whenever possible, let natural consequences be your teaching tool, she suggested. “If they’re not going to be seriously harmed by it, telling your child to get off the couch is not as effective as that one time they fall and bump their head,” she said.

behavior in a child who should be old enough to control it. She gave the example of when her 5-year-old was tired and had an outburst because she couldn’t sit with the dog. “If I didn’t know that’s normal behavior for a 5-yearold, I might have gotten mad or sent her to her room,” she said. “If my 12-year-old had that same response, it would’ve been over the line for her because screaming and crying for a 12-year-old isn’t a reasonable response for being tired, and I would’ve sent her to her room.” She said understanding what kids are developmentally capable of at different ages is important. “If they have uncontrollable outbursts, are physically harming someone, or threatening with physical harm, that would be a red flag,” she said. When it comes to offering bribes for good behavior, she said they should be used sparingly, but they’re often helpful for low-key things. “You shouldn’t bribe kids for things they should do for

“If you’re frustrated, you’re not thinking clearly. If you can, count to five or count to 10 first, and sometimes it’s OK to take a break for a minute or two” Or, instead of bailing out kids who forget important school items, let them suffer. “I know parents who give one ‘forget’ per semester where they bail their kids out. But if you forget after that, you forget. You have to buy lunch at school or go hungry or bum off your friends. If you break your phone, you don’t have a phone. Natural consequences work even with the tougher kids because you learn from that discomfort and don’t want to feel it again.” She remembers a piece of advice she heard once: Parents need to find the key that works for each child in their care. What works for one might not work for another, and sometimes parents have a hard time adjusting their expectations. It’s also hard for parents to figure out what’s normal, she said. “Expectations are sometimes the hardest thing to teach parents,” she said. “Day-to-day, most parents aren’t dealing with major infractions or big problems. It’s usually a kid not doing their chores or sassing back or typical stuff, which is normal kid behavior.” What’s not normal is seemingly uncontrollable

internal rewards. For example, don’t bribe your kid or pay your kid to do well in sports. Or don’t bribe your kid necessarily to make good grades,” she said. “However, I’d put an asterisk next to that, because for some kids, they can work towards a big goal, so maybe they want a new phone, and a parent could say, ‘If you get As and Bs all year, we can get you a new phone.’” But for small things, if you need your kid to sit still to get a haircut, and you want to give them a sucker, that’s completely fair. Overall, she said it’s difficult to say definitively what kids should be expected to do at each age. “It’s hard to make a blanket statement because cognitive functioning is different for each child,” she said. “You can find more resources for parenting young children that are straightforward, but it’s harder as they get older because there aren’t as many resources.” She suggested parents look for guidance at their local county extension office. To find those parenting resources, visit www.uaex.edu/parenting or visit uaex. edu/counties to find an agent in a nearby office. SAVVYKIDSAR.COM | JANUARY 2020

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HEALTH & WELLNESS

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BE A LIFESAVER: Donate Blood BY ANGELA E. THOMAS

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hile you are reading the opening of this story, three Arkansans needed blood. As a matter of fact, 1 in 7 individuals admitted to a hospital in our state needs blood. The Arkansas American Red Cross has met these needs since its inception in 1917 in Hot Springs. Last year, the organization transferred its Little Rockand Russellville-based blood recruitment and collection activities to the Arkansas Blood Institute. “Our two organizations worked closely together to introduce and appropriately transfer Red Cross blood donors and drive sponsors in Central Arkansas to Arkansas Blood Institute,” said Paulette Nieuwenhof, executive director of the institute. “Our donor center opened its doors in Little Rock four years ago. At that time, we provided the blood products for approximately 18 hospitals in the state. We now service more than 40 hospitals in the state.” The Red Cross has a strong community presence in Arkansas, its mission remains the same and its work will continue, Nieuwenhoff added. The nonprofit continues to provide blood products as well as disaster preparedness and response activities, services to military members, veterans and their families, and health and safety training throughout the state. While many people think of blood donation during and after a natural disaster or crisis, the need for blood is constant. More than 600 blood donations are needed every day for local area hospitals receiving blood from the Arkansas Blood Institute. Every two seconds someone needs blood. “Each day, patients in Arkansas hospitals need blood, whether it’s for scheduled treatments or for emergencies. Since there is no substitute for human blood, supplies must be constantly renewed. It can’t be stored for more than 42 days, so we count on donors giving regularly at mobile blood drives and in the donor centers,” Nieuwenhoff said.

DONOR TIPS

Before donating, eat well and include iron-rich foods like beef, nuts, raisins, spinach and other dark, leafy greens. Get a good night’s rest, and drink plenty of fluids. When you arrive, you’ll register, provide identification and be asked about your health. A staff member will check your temperature, blood pressure and iron level. You’ll recline in a donor chair for the collection process, which takes about 20 minutes—longer for platelet donation. Afterward, you’ll enjoy a snack and take some time to refresh and replenish your body. You’ll need to refrain from strenuous activity for 24 hours.

Although all blood types are needed, those with O-negative type blood are especially encouraged to donate. According to the American Association of Blood Banks, those with O-negative blood type make up only 9 percent of the national population; however, O-negative blood can be used by anyone in emergency need when a patient’s blood type has not yet been identified. Donors of all blood types are encouraged to donate, Nieuwenhoff said.

“EVERY TWO SECONDS SOMEONE NEEDS BLOOD." 36 JANUARY 2020 | SAVVYKIDSAR.COM


“More than 600 blood donations are needed every day for local area hospitals receiving blood from the Arkansas Blood Institute.” “When you donate blood, you can save up to three lives. Blood donations are broken down into three components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Red blood cells could go to patients having surgery, for instance. Platelets can be given to a child fighting cancer, and plasma could go to a burn victim.” The process of blood donation takes about 20 minutes. Donors may also choose to donate only platelets. The body uses platelets to stop bleeding, and patients undergoing surgery or cancer treatment may require them. This donation process is called apheresis and is slightly different from giving a whole-blood donation. During platelet donation, blood is removed from the donor, a centrifuge separates the platelets and the rest of the blood is returned to the donor. The need for platelets is constant as well, as they are stored at room temperature with constant agitation for up to only five days. Minority donors are especially important. Latinx and Native American populations have more O-positive and O-negative individuals than other groups. Asian populations have more B-positive and B-negative; and African Americans often have antibodies that make them a better match for other African Americans who have sickle cell anemia and require regular transfusions.

Generally speaking, any healthy adult can donate blood. “Most people are nervous about giving blood and think it’s going to hurt—most first-time donors feel that way. Once they see how simple and painless it is and realize the value of donating, most people donate again,” Nieuwenhoff said. “You can donate blood as long as you are at least 16 years old, with parental consent. And you are never too old as long as you’re healthy.” “We never know if a person needing blood will be a loved one, a neighbor or a co-worker. Families with loved ones in life-threatening situations have so many concerns. It is very comforting when there is no need to worry about the availability of blood.”

CONSIDER GIVING BLOOD TODAY.

I can tell you from personal experience — I’m a regular platelet donor — the process is simple, painless and quick. The Arkansas Blood Institute has five donor centers in Arkansas. Appointments aren’t necessary, but encouraged. Log on to arkbi.org or call 877-340-8777. Donate this month and receive this special-edition, long-sleeve T-shirt.

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MEET THE PARENT

LUCY BAEHR is a Little Rock native, with a BA in Applied Communication and

a minor in Psychology. When she’s not chasing down her kiddos or planning events for the Arkansas Times, she runs her own photography studio, Lucy Baehr Photography, which specializes in headshots and branding. 1. What’s a goal or resolution you have concerning your family life in 2020? My biggest goal is to go on more trips, have more experiences. 2. What’s a personal goal for just yourself in 2020? My biggest goal for myself is to grow my photography business, Lucy Baehr Photography, even more. Smaller goals include becoming more disciplined in spiritual practices, learn more about astrology and contribute in my community. 3. Tell us one thing about your high school self nobody would guess by knowing you now. I had no confidence and very little self-esteem. I wanted to fit in with everyone, and I spent a lot of years trying to be someone that I wasn’t. By nature, I am a huge people-pleaser. I came off as incredibly confident, but deep down I was desperate to fit in. 4. What’s an annoying (or amazing) trait or habit you see in your kids that was passed on from you? Oh man, my girl Harper is me x 1,000. She talks louder than me and faster than me (if that’s possible). She loves her people hard (like her mama) and is so confident and independent. I’d like to say that she is learning that from me now, something that I wish I had when I was a child. 5. Share a time in parenting when you stopped and thought, “I did that right!” I have two. My son had a big scratch in his brand new jacket, and I asked him what happened. He replied, “I gave it to Savannah to wear because she was cold.” He is the sweetest little boy, always tells me that I “look beautiful,” and always asks me how my day was. The second instance was with Harper when she was 5. She was just getting really good at writing and wrote a note that said, “I love my family, I love my friends, I love me.” Self-love is something that I am working hard on and it was so incredible to see it being felt within my daughter. 6. What’s your favorite song to sing alone in your car? It depends on the day. I sing just as loud by myself as I do with people in the car. Right now I like to pretend that I’m Idina Menzel, and rock out to “Into The Unknown” on the reg. I’m also very skilled at karaoke, though others may think differently... 7. What Disney character do you most relate to and why? Stitch. I’m smart and have child-like energy and humor, super loyal to loved ones and will protect them at all costs. I’m not afraid to destroy things if need be, I LOVE adventures (even if they are super dangerous) I can be adorable, and bonus points—Stitch was adopted just like me! 8. Which TV show or movie do your kids love that drives you up the wall? Harper is basically my twin from the 00s and her favorite shows

include “Hannah Montana”and “Sam and Cat.” Now my son, he is just like his daddy. Super smart, very sweet, very science-driven. So when the girls aren’t hogging the TV, Cole enjoys “Star Wars,” “How It’s Made,” and anything about outer space and engineering. I wouldn’t say it drives me up the wall, but its incredibly boring to me.

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ADVERTISEMENT

ASK THE DOCTOR Dr. Joshua O’Neill at Little Rock Pediatric Clinic answers parents’ pressing questions about ADHD. WHAT IS ADHD?

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children with this diagnosis have difficulty controlling their impulses and have issues with hyperactivity and inattentiveness. These symptoms can lead to trouble at home and school when a child with ADHD talks excessively, interrupts or bothers other children, is easily distracted and has difficulty completing tasks or staying organized, or is unable to remain seated when required or control their behavior. These issues can disrupt academic, social and emotional functioning. Many of these children have a hard time forming friendships with other children or performing well academically (despite often having normal or above-average intelligence). The symptoms of ADHD usually show up before the age of 5, and tend to peak in severity around age 7 or 8. ADHD often runs in families, and children with ADHD have a higher chance of also being diagnosed with anxiety, depression, oppositional behavior or other learning disorders.

HOW IS ADHD DIAGNOSED?

Making an appointment with your child’s pediatrician is the best first step.

Bringing any relevant evaluations or correspondence from his teachers or other caregivers can be very helpful to your child’s doctor, and there are often standardized scales or questionnaires that parents and teachers can complete that can aid in the proper

Dr. Joshua O’Neill diagnosis. At our clinic these forms can be requested prior to the actual visit so that the results will be available to discuss during the appointment. If there are multiple or severe behavioral or learning issues identified at the initial visit the child may be referred

for a more comprehensive evaluation by a psychologist.

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR A CHILD WITH ADHD?

School-based interventions are usually the first-line treatment for ADHD. These may include modifications in the classroom (seating the child closer to the teacher, extra time for completing assignments, less distracting testing environments), tutoring or behavioral interventions. Because ADHD is considered a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, children with ADHD often qualify for school accommodations under the law. When initial interventions are not effective, your pediatrician may discuss the possibility of stimulant medication for your child. Understandably, most parents are not excited about using medication. My philosophy is to start with and use the lowest possible effective dose, only give the medicine when needed (usually just on school days), as well as monitor their progress with scheduled visits to the clinic at least every six months. The symptoms of ADHD often improve with age but for some children may persist into adulthood. n

Doctor’s Building • 500 S. University Ave. • Little Rock, AR | 501.664.4044 • littlerockpediatricclinic.com SAVVYKIDSAR.COM | JANUARY 2020

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