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28 contents

40 Departments

Features 23 Children’s Hospital 28 Planning Your Family of Georgia

—Special Advertising Section

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Getaway With Ease –Dr. Dana Harris




Editor’s Page


Mom to Mom

News & Notes


Eating Well With Kim May You Have It Your Way!

—Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE


—Christina Katz

On the cOverHarper Duren



Is your child ready for their “close up?” If you think you’ve got a “cover kid,” submit their photo and information on our website and they may grace the cover of Augusta Family Magazine.

Also, check out our contests and giveaways!

{ } Go to —click on the contest page to find the current contests!

The Beautiful and the Messy —Paige Tucker


Ask the Doctor A Nightmare on Mall Street —J. Ron Eaker, M.D.


Summer Fun


36 Best Summer


Smart Mom’s Guide Planning a Disney World Trip

—Cammie Jones


Raising Readers


Inspiration Station Therapy Dogs

Fun and Comics —Meridith Flory

—Josh Heath




Talkin’ About My Generation —Renee Williams augustafamilymagazine


Augusta Family | May 2019 • 5


Editor’s Notes b y Renee Williams

PUBLISHER Ashlee Griggs Duren

EDITOR Renee Williams

ART DIRECTOR Michael Rushbrook


ADVERTISING SALES Doressa Hawes Mary Porter Vann Leslie Whitney


PHOTOGRAPHY John Harpring Chris Thelen Sean Morgan

CONTRIBUTORS Kim Beavers, MS, RD, CDE J. Ron Eaker, M.D. Karen Gordon Dr. Dana Harris Meredith Flory Cammie Jones LeeAnn Rhoden Naimah Shaw Paige Tucker Augusta Family Magazine is published 9 times per year and distributed throughout the Augusta and Aiken area. Send press releases, story ideas or comments to the editor at or mail to 643 Broad Street, Augusta, Ga., 30901. For advertising information, telephone (706) 823-3702. For circulation/distribution, call (706) 828-4391.


or the past few years it has been an absolute privilege to serve as editor of this cherished magazine. In this role, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with a talented staff of publishers, writers, artists, photographers, designers and creatives. Together we have brainstormed, collaborated and produced what we feel is a valuable service and resource for families in the area. It’s an understatement to say how grateful I am for everyone’s minds, their time and their gusto. I’ve learned that a significant amount of hard work goes into publishing a magazine. We have done this work outside of normal business hours-in the early mornings before work, late at night, over lunch and on the run, when necessary. I’m beholden to this work but have found myself in need of a break and space to pursue other family responsibilities and endeavors. So by the time you read this, it will be someone else’s turn to share their ideas and talents with Augusta Family but I am certain the continued philosophy and high level of integrity will continue beyond me. Moving on is a poignant experience and there is inevitably some sadness involved but there is a greater sense that the change is timely and rewarding. I find these thoughts both moving and inspiring because the great paradox of life is that with every ending comes a new beginning. Life goes on, insisting that we move with it. So a heartfelt thank you to everyone, especially our readers. It is with a blur of mixed feelings and farewells, I say good bye to my role as editor and hello to a new beginning. And to leave you with a few words of inspiration- if you are also facing an ending or new beginning, I encourage you to connect with the spirit of optimism and hope. Ignite whatever courage you need to take your dreams and pursue them with fierce determination to create your best life for your family and remember to always follow your dreams because they know the way. All the best,

We look forward to hearing from you; visit our website and on facebook and twitter. augustafamilymagazine @AUGFamilyMag

6 • Augusta Family | May 2019

Renee Williams


2019 Physicians’ Directory Available Free for iPhone® and AndroidTM.

Download the Physicians’ Directory app for free and have contact information at your fingertips for Augusta and Aiken area physicians and dentists. Database is searchable by both specialty and by name. Brought to you by Augusta Magazine.


Mom to Mom Pa i g e T u c ke r

The Beautiful and the Messy


ne four-year-old, two scoops of dark chocolate ice cream. In a cone. It got pretty messy! We were finishing up a day at Lake Oconee and about to head home to Augusta, so I was rather unruffled by the mess. Just before our ice cream on the porch, Julia Reynolds had face-planted on the sidewalk “racing” us to the ice cream shop. It broke my heart to see her fall and get hurt, skinning her knees, elbows, and a hip. Some cold water, an ice pack, Band-Aids and hugs and kisses and Julia Reynolds was good to go. Boo-boos are an event at age four, right?! Back to the mess --- a couple sitting next to us heard the commotion of us trying to help Julia Reynolds salvage her double scoop cone. Most of it was dripping down her dress and onto her little legs rather than going in her mouth. The sweet lady offered me a cup to flip our daughter’s cone into. As she handed it to me, she said kindly, “I get it, I’m a mom.” Seven simple words that can mean so much. It was no emergency. It was just a cup for a melting ice cream cone. But those words are helpful in many situations. She was saying, “I’m with you. I’ve been there.” It doesn’t have to be verbal, sometimes it’s just a knowing look instead of a glare from another mom when you’re negotiating with a tiny tyrant in the midst of a grocery store meltdown. You’ve got this, Mama. I’m not judging you. Been there, done that. We’re all in this together. We should cheer each other on and lift each other up when we’re doubting ourselves as mothers. I like to believe there’s a lot more of this going on than what the Internet would have you believe. Much is made of the so-called Mommy wars -- fighting online over bedtime routines, breastfeeding, discipline, SAHM vs. working moms, and on and on -- but I think most of us realize we’re all doing our best. It’s hard not to compare and question, but God chose our children especially for us and picked us as the perfect mom for them. Arguing over who’s doing it “right” is a waste of time. We ran into the helpful lady from the porch a few minutes later in the restroom. I had been wiping up the chocolate ice cream trail we’d dripped behind us and was wiping the chocolate goatee off Julia Reynolds’s face. She was wistful for a moment as she told me her daughter was eighteen now and away at college. Another reminder to savor it all -- the beautiful AND the messy and mundane -- because it truly goes by in a blink. Enjoy the journey, my fellow mamas. You were made for this job. And you’re doing great at it! Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, your mom and you!!

After twelve years in local news, most recently as evening anchor of NBC 26, Paige Tucker is now a work-at-home mom and freelance journalist. She produces two series for NBC 26 TV, First Responders and 26 Women Today, and you can see those stories on Tuesday nights. Paige and her husband have one daughter, Julia Reynolds, who is four years old.

Augusta Family | May 2019 • 9

Summer Fun!

Come discover Augusta’s new pie shop specializing in organic ingredients. Sweet pies, Savory pies, and True breads baked fresh daily. We pray that all we do brings joy and health to you and and your family!

3604 Verandah Dr. | 706-945-0787 | 10 • Augusta Family | February 2019

news&notes May 2019


mommy minute


GETTING THE PERFECT TAN SAFELY 1. Always avoid tanning beds. Exposure to sun has many benefits such as boosting levels of serotonin and producing vitamin D which is good for bones, teeth and skin but there really are no safe tanning beds and often leads to premature aging and skin cancer risks.

Helping Parents Raise Financially Smart Kids. Greenlight® is the debit card for kids that parents manage from their phones with flexible parental controls. HOW IT WORKS: With Greenlight®, the money you give your child is divided into two categories-money they can “Spend Anywhere” and money they can spend “ONLY” at a store you’ve approved in advance. These permission based spending opportunities are a “greenlight” because the amount of money put into each category is controlled by the parent only and can be change at any time. If your child tries to spend at a store you haven’t approved in advance and they don’t have enough “Spend Anywhere” money then their card will be declined. Fortunately, kids get a version of the app too so they can check their balances and permissions before they walk into a store.

2. Apply the right sunscreen every two hours. Look for the term “broad spectrum” on the sunscreen bottle. Go for SPF30 and reapply every two hours. If you have very dark skin, SPF15 is sufficient. 3. Understand your tanning time. Your skin reaches a tanning cut-off point when it physically can’t produce any more melanin, the tanning pigment, so it’s pointless to lounge by the pool all day. The tanning cut-off point is typically two to three hours or much less if you have fair skin. After that time, you’re just subjecting your skin to the risk of UV damage. 4. Seek some shade. Taking breaks from the sun will reduce UV intensity and your sunburn risk which means your tan will be healthier and longer-lasting. 5. Take supplements. Taking a daily 25g betacaretone supplement can boost skin’s natural defence against UV by improving its ability to tan.

“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.” - E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

6. Eat sun-friendly foods. Certain foods are known to increase lycopene, the skin’s own SPF. An antioxidant found in tomatoes and other red and orange fruit and vegetables can boost your sun protection by a whopping 33%. Green tea, fish rich in omega-3 and dark chocolate can also help protect against sunburn, while caffeine is thought to help cut your skin cancer risk. 7. You can always fake your glow. Treat yourself to a spray tan before the first big day out at the beach. Because we now know that baking in the sun (or in a tanning bed) all day is really bad for our skin, turn to spray tanning to get that beautiful bronze glow.

Augusta Family | May 2019 • 11

news&notes Book Review



his novel weaves together the past and the present through the blossoming friendship between Evelyn Couch, a middle-aged housewife, and Ninny Threadgoode, an elderly woman who lives in a nursing home. Every week Evelyn visits Ninny, who tells her stories about her youth in Whistle Stop, Alabama where her sister-in-law, Idgie, and her friend, Ruth, ran a café. These stories, along with Ninny’s friendship, enable Evelyn to begin a new, satisfying life while allowing the people and stories of Ninny’s youth to live on.

12 • Augusta Family | May 2019



If you do allow your children under 16 to ride an ATV, the AAP urges you to follow these safety rules:

“We see a spike with child injuries on golf carts and ATVs after Memorial Day and throughout the summer months,” said Renée McCabe, RN, Injury Prevention and Safety Program Manager at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

• Riders should always wear motorcycle-style helmets that are approved by the Department of Transportation, eye protection, sturdy shoes (no flip-flops), and protective, reflective clothing. • Don’t ride double. Passengers are frequently injured when riding ATVs and can make them unstable and difficult to control. • All ATV riders should take a hands-on safety training course. • Stay off public roads. • Do not allow children to drive an adult model ATV, which can reach speeds up to 80 mph. Their size and speed make them too dangerous for kids to drive. • Never allow nighttime riding.

Because four-wheeled motorized vehicles require skill and quick thinking, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children under 16, who are too young to have a driver’s license, should not be allowed to operate or ride off-road vehicles. “More kids die on ATVs than bicycle crashes,” McCabe said. “In 2015, at least 73 children younger than 16 died and 26,000 were seriously injured by ATVs. More than 1,000 people are injured every month on golf carts, and the majority of these injuries are to children and teens.” Both of these vehicles have a higher center of gravity and can tip over easily. In addition, they are not meant for public roadways and this is where the majority of injuries occur. ATVs off-road tires grab paved surfaces unevenly and golf carts don’t have seat belts and are difficult for other vehicles to see. Injuries include bruises, fractures, injuries to the pelvis and spine, concussions and other head injuries.

• Do not drive ATVs while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or even some prescription medications. • If you are buying an ATV, choose one with a seat belt, roll-bar, engine covers and a speed limiting device. To stay safe on golf carts: • Don’t let children younger than 16 drive golf carts unsupervised. • Don’t overload with passengers or equipment. • Don’t let children ride in your lap. • Don’t allow anyone to ride standing in the vehicle or on the back platform. • Avoid sharp turns. • Keep arms and legs inside the cart. • Sit back in the seat and wear seat

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Augusta Family | May 2019 • 13

Eating Well with Kim Ki m B e a v e rs , M S , R D, LD, CDE

14 • Augusta Family | May 2019

Eating Well with Kim

May you have it your way! (or your kid’s way…)

Guess what is great about chicken salad? It is easily modifiable!!!!! Letting children have input on ingredients is a fabulous way to help them learn healthy eating habits. There are definitely times when feeding children is a thank-less job, when food that was lovingly prepared sits uneaten and ignored. One particular principle I learned in school and have come to cherish as a parent is the “Division of Responsibility” (DOR) principle. DOR is a guiding principle for feeding children in a healthy manner. You, the parent takes on the job (responsibility) of deciding what foods to serve as well as when and where they will be served. Your child will decide whether he or she eats what is provided and how much. This takes the pressure off both parent and child. There are a few other tricks to the trade that help navigate the feeding of children. Here are a few of my favorites. Elicit hElp: At the grocery store have the kids help pick out foods (especially produce). Focus on colors and textures and talk about what food looks good right now (positive talk). Help should continue at home, prepping vegetables, setting the table and yes have the kids help with cooking. Did you know that 90% of children will eat food they have cooked themselves? Want to get your kids in the kitchen more check out the Chop Chop Cooking Club at Add in somE fun: Have tastings of different products or foods. Try a sampling of yogurts, fruits or the same vegetable cooked two different ways. Talk about which of the samples is best and why, is it texture? Is it flavor or what about color? This opens up non-emotional discussion around foods. Then talk about other ways to season the foods or what might be a fun tasting the next time. If you want to level this up a notch there is a recipe reviewer form at were you can have your kiddos evaluate different recipes on a reviewer form. If they like something, then definitely add it to the meal rotation. consistEncy: My final favorite child nutrition strategy is consistency. Structure meal time as consistently as possible, regular meal and snack times (remember snacks are only to be had when needed). Kids should come to the table hungry (not famished but hungry). Secondly remember to present food consistently in a positive manner and be repetitive with new foods. It’s been said before but it is worth repeating (pun intended) it can take more than 10 exposures to a new food before it is accepted.

mother-in-law chicken salad

The first time I had this chicken salad I had to get the recipe because it was the best chicken salad I had ever eaten. While it is a fairly classic recipe using rotisserie chicken makes it super simple. What makes this kid friendly is the fact it can be changed to meet the flavor profile of all family members. 2 cups chopped cooked or rotisserie chicken (½ dark & ½ white or all white meat) ½ cup reduced fat mayonnaise (try canola or olive oil mayonnaise 1 ½ cups celery, chopped ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted ¼ cup plain fat-free yogurt ¼ teaspoon black pepper ½ teaspoon salt (if using rotisserie reduce or omit salt) For a smooth texture put the dark meat or half the chicken (if using only white meat) into the food processor with ¼ cup of the mayonnaise. Pulse chicken mixture until a smooth base is achieved. Transfer chicken base to a medium bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours to let flavors meld. yiEld: 6 servings (1/2 cup per serving) nutriEnt brEAkdown: Calories 150, Fat 8g (4g monounsaturated fat, 1g saturated fat); Cholesterol 40mg, Sodium 350mg, Carbohydrate 6g, Fiber 2g, Protein 18g cArbohydrAtE choicEs: ½ carbohydrate, 2 ½ lean meats cook’s notE: To toast the almonds place them in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes (or until they are fragrant and begin to turn brown). Watch them closely as they burn quickly.

Kim Beavers is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well with Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To be notified of new recipes join Kim’s facebook fan page at To search for specific recipes go to You can also watch the segments at www.

Augusta Family | May 2019 • 15

Ask the Dr. J. Ro n E a ker, M. D.

16 • Augusta Family | May 2019

Ask the Dr.

A NIGHTMARE ON MALL STREET Listen up moms…this could be your child! I recently spent way too much time at a mall. For me, this is like being forced to watch a Gossip Girl marathon, sort of in between sadistic torture and cultural enlightenment. I was in Nashville, Tennessee for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Country Music Marathon (I’ve got to get them to shorten that name!) and I was flying solo and had time to kill before carb loading. My wife elected to stay at home and avoid a six hour car ride with someone who smelled like a gym locker full of sweaty socks. The restaurant was in the mall (which says something about how I eat when I am by myself) but I was compelled by my need for cheap pasta. I am not a shopper, so for me the purpose of a mall is to keep 15-year-olds off the streets. What I discovered is that the American mall is a microcosm of American society, the good and the bad. My first stop was the “You Are Here” guide. I was in search of a bookstore but to my surprise, none was to be found. But what I did find was eight…yes, I said eight, ice cream/candy/ sugar establishments, 14 restaurants, and two shiatsu massage parlors. This very well may represent the various reasons for the decline and fall of the American society. Forget ObamaCare, the real reason we’ll fail as a nation is that we’ll drown in a sea of high fructose corn syrup. We live in a society where it is harder to get a copy of Moby Dick than a cup full of Dippin Dots. It’s ironic that a Cinnabon is next door to a Victoria Secrets as a few trips to glazed bun heaven and you’ll never be able to get your buns in a lace thong. I felt like I contracted diabetes from just walking through the mall. What does this say to the hoards of prepubescents flittering through the mall like sunfish? For lunch I can have a burger topped with M&Ms, a cherry vanilla milkshake, deep fried fries, an ice mocha latte, and still have room for dessert. They don’t understand that their entire meal was a dessert. The mall food court could be used as a recruiting station for the cardiac intensive care unit. The Corn Dog Emporium should make you fill out a living will with every Stroke on a Stick that they sell.

This being Nashville, where every waitress is a Taylor Swift wannabe, there was even a band performing on a small stage in the center of the mall. The folks actually were pretty good for a mall band, but I can see where it would be rough to get psyched to play for three folks waiting for a table in the adjoining restaurant, a mall cop on a Segway, two senior citizens who needed a rest before they hooked back up their oxygen, and a 12-year-old groupie who just got a new piercing at Claire’s. I had been in similar situations where I had given a talk to a crowd of three postmenopausal women with terminal hot flashes, so I empathized with the band. And do we really need a kiosk selling magical salt from the Dead Sea to clean your pores? Isn’t that why Dove was invented? There was also a small booth to record your own demo CD or online dating video. I have a feeling that anyone who makes a dating video in a mall booth may not be who you want to bring home to mom. One of the craziest thing I saw was a kiosk that had a five minute teeth whitening machine that you did on the spot. You stuck this mouthpiece in then they blasted you with some kind of ultraviolet light and presto, you looked like Vanessa Veneer. Watching people do this looked like some kind of alien breathing test except you got to keep your lungs. You could have had an entire makeover by going from kiosk to kiosk. One curled your hair, one whitened your teeth, one did your make up, one did your nails, one massaged your back, and they all took your money. If you ever needed to go into the FBI witness protection program, just go to the mall and you can come out a totally different person. I was thrilled when it was time for my reservation as I had already overdosed on silly, so I ventured into the pasta palace and requested a seat without a mall view. For you purists, I know pasta is not the healthiest meal choice, so shoot me. But given the option of funnel cakes and fried Milky Ways, I think I did okay! Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be mall rats. Dr. Eaker is an Augusta Ob/GYN and author. He and his wife, Susan, have two daughters in college.

Augusta Family | May 2019 • 17

Smart Mom’s Guide

Photo by Park Troopers on Unsplash

C a m m i e Jo n e s

PLANNING A DISNEY WORLD TRIP Disney World! Just the sound of that word is magical. From experience, I think it really is. However, the task of planning such a trip can be a little daunting. What is a must — see? Where should we stay? Is it worth the extra cash to stay in a Disney World property? I checked out some recent websites and talked to a local “Disney World Professional” to get some advice. 1. BEFORE YOU BOOK IT, DO YOU RESEARCH!

to visit Disney, find out which times are the best to go. The

Research is necessary for a trip like this. Start with a Google

best way to do this is to search “Crowd Calendar - Walt Dis-

search on tips for traveling to Disney, ask your friends who

ney World.” From here , there are many websites listed that will

have been there before and ask your own children (if they are

tell you down to the day and sometimes the hour of what the

old enough) to tell you what they most want to see on your

crowd level will be. These sites can also help you plan your trip

visit. Are they into the rides (make sure they are tall enough

if you are on a budget — the off season is always cheaper. Off

— hint: wear boots with low heels) or more into seeing the

season at Disney is usually late January, February (except Pres-

princesses or other characters who frequent the parks.

idents’ Day), May and September. These sites also have information about the status of the attractions including whether

If you are not pigeon holed into a specific week or weekend

18 • Augusta Family | May 2019

they closed due to refurbishment, weather, or other reasons.

Smart Mom’s Guide

2. Book Your StaY.

lowed three per day and these can be reserved online,

There are basically three categories of hotels at Disney

via a mobile app or the same day at a kiosk in the park.

in which you and your family can stay: Value, Moderate and Deluxe. These options are all about convenience

6. traDe DiSneY PinS.

and allow you to cost compare. If you decide on the least

When my kids were young and we made the trip to Dis-

expensive choice, the Value Resort, make sure you ask

ney, one thing that kept them occupied was collecting

for the “preferred” room or you may have to walk all day

and trading Disney pins. You can purchase a lanyard

for your morning coffee!

and pins (most start at around $8) at most kiosks at the park. When you see a Disney Cast Member (employee)

3. Meal Plan or not?

with a pin that you don’t have and would like, you can

This is another decision that must be made by knowing

ask to trade a pin with them. This is a fun activity for the

your own family and their eating habits. Meal plans at

younger kids and also helps to keep them entertained

Disney vary in price and number of meals per day. You

when waiting to go on a ride or for the start of a show.

can select a meal plan when booking your vacation package or as an add on to your existing reservation. There

There is some “pin trading etiquette” that must be ad-

are quick service plans, table dining plans and a deluxe

hered to. For example, you can ask any Disney cast mem-

plan for those foodies out there. Each of these include

ber to trade a pin with you but you are not to touch their

snacks and just recently added, is a plan that includes

pins. They cannot trade for a pin they already have on

alcohol for those 21 and over. Check out the Disney web-

their own lanyard. You can only trade one pin at a time

site to learn more about these meal plan choices.

and you cannot go back more than twice to one cast member. No money can exchange hands when trading.

4. Make Meal/Show reServationS earlY Once you determine when you are going and where you

7. Chill, MoM!

are staying, create an account on My Disney Experience.

When you arrive at Disney, the service is wonderful. You

This allows you to link your reservations and start build-

will feel like everyone there wants to make sure that

ing your trip. Emails will be sent to you explaining when

you have the most magical time ever. This will build

to make restaurant reservations and FastPass requests.

some excitement so you will be ready to hit the park full

Look back at your crowd calendar to decide which day to

throttle. Even though you may have a full day planned,

visit each park so that you can avoid the crowds.

make sure that your state of mind is relaxed. Long lines and a mass of people can trigger a bad mood for most

If your main goal is eating at Cinderella’s castle, go ahead

sane people. Know what to expect before you go so you

and make reservations. You can always change them once

can keep the mood light and fun.

you have your agenda set, but many of the major attractions book up quickly. There are many activities and at-

If you are a first timer, calling Disney directly or going

tractions that you may want to see so pick the ones that

through a travel agent may be a good option. Neither of

are most important. Make plans but leave a little down

these will cost you any more or any less and will provide

time for leisurely exploring. Remember, this is a vacation!

expertise when planning.

5. the DiSneY FaStPaSS

One more tip: Always remember to take short snack

Disney’s FastPasses are the best. When securing these,

or rest breaks as needed and try not to push yourself

the FastPass allows you get into the fast lane when wait-

or your children into doing too much. You are mak-

ing for your turn to ride. This is especially crucial for the

ing memories and you want those to be positive ones.

most popular rides and if you have small children who

Here’s hoping you and your family have a magical experi-

tend to be impatient. With a purchase of your ticket,

ence at Disney!

you can make Fast Pass reservations up to 30 days in advance. If you stay at any property on the resort, you can reserved up to 60 days before your visit. You are al-

Cammie Jones is an Augusta freelance writer and mother of three.

Augusta Family | May 2019 • 19

Raising Readers


Me red i th F l o r y

FUN AND COMICS I have always loved science fiction books, movies, and television, but comics were not something I collected or that felt accessible to me as a kid. I read old copies of my mom’s Archie comics when I was at my grandmother’s and the occasional collection of Calvin and Hobbes or Peanuts, but for a long time I only watched my favorite superheroes on the big screen or Saturday morning cartoons. However, as an adult and an English teacher I began to look into graphic novels, picking up

20 • Augusta Family | May 2019

adult classics like The Watchmen to read and using newer memoirs like Maus and Persepolis in the classroom. Then my daughter fell in love with Spider-Man and we decided it was time to get into the world of comics as a family. It can be overwhelming to start reading a series that has been around for over fifty years, or to enter into a genre where serious fans can be intimidating, but we have found that comic and nerd culture has been a creative way for our family to bond and spend

time together, and it influences what we read, the entertainment in our home, and even trips and outings. One of the first outings we had around this new hobby was a mother-daughter date to Free Comic Book Day. Free Comic Book Day is an annual event the first weekend in May where comic book stores have special edition short comics available for free - allowing fans and those who want to try comics to get a sampling of all the different types out there. There are always a few available that are age appropriate for children. Augusta Book Exchange is one of the local stores that sells comics, gaming supplies, books and participates in the event. Cosplay is encouraged for those participating, so I took a little SpiderMan in a tutu to collect comics for both of us to try. She wanted to find Spidey comics, and one of the employees helped us locate some All Ages comics to purchase, and showed me how to find the suggested age range on the comic books. I spoke with employees who shared that they will be participating again this year, Saturday May 4, and will have customer specials as well as showcases for local artists and writers. For more information, check out or the Augusta Book Exchange on Facebook. In addition to Free Comic Book Day, here are some ways to embrace being a geeky family throughout the year and raise comic book readers: Podcast and Youtube shows As I began to read comics, I realized that there was so much content both historically that as the genre grew, that I was going to need advice on what to read and look for. I have recently found that there are a lot of YouTube and Podcasts devoted to giving synopsis of storylines or discussing comic book related topics. Some of my personal favorites are New Rockstars, Only Stupid Answers, Comicstorian, Comics Explained, and DopeSpill Comics. Now, they are varied in appropriateness, language, and range of subjects and viewpoints discussed, so make sure to check descriptions or listen to an episode before deciding if you will listen alone or with your children. I recently heard from a fellow military family that listening to Comicstorian was a way that they spent father-child time together. Dad David Davis shared that, “Comicstorian has opened up opportunities for my kids and I to build on common ground. I get to introduce them to characters that I loved as a kid and discuss the situations and scenarios they go through. Comics have often been a platform for discussing topics that no one really wants to address, like prejudice and PTSD as well as easier topics like teamwork and humor.” His kids shared that they love getting to spend this time with their dad and that Comicstorian does great voices and sound effects. cosPlaY Cosplay is a hobby (and for some a profession) where people dress up as their favorite characters from science fiction and fantasy for events. Many hobbyist make their own costumes, making it a way to enjoy artistic pursuits such

as sewing, cosmetics, and 3-D printing. However, you do not need to be a seamstress to make it work; our family often pieces costumes together from thrift store finds. Many events have costume contests, and as the hobby increases in popularity, this might include categories for youth or group entrees. Many kids love to play dress-up naturally, so for crafty, imaginative children, cosplaying as a family can be a great way to connect. My daughter has encouraged us to do family costumes at events, and we each placed in our age categories at a local May the 4th (Star Wars Day) event last year. She and I are currently working on Captain Marvel and Goose the cat costumes for events this year. conventions and vacations One of the events many families like to cosplay at are Comic Conventions. Conventions are great ways to check out a variety of artists, actors, vendors, and businesses focused on the comic book genre. Conventions might include both child friendly and adult only events or hours, and each should share that information on their website. Augusta now has it’s very own family friendly Con, happening in June. In 2018, the Augusta Toy and Comic Show debuted, and this is the perfect way to spend a weekend as a family “nerding out” over local comics vendors, watching artist’s competitions, and hearing from actors and industry insiders. With parental admission, children under 12 are free, and there are costume contests with trophies and toy and comic giveaways on a first come first serve basis. Check out their Facebook page or for more information and tickets. In addition to conventions, there are lots of museums, art exhibits, and other attractions like themed hotels, so for families that love science fiction, there’s an abundance of ways to incorporate your shared hobby into your next family vacation - that could be a whole other column! If comics become a large part of the reading that takes place in your household, there are a variety of ways to get your hands on comics. Don’t underestimate the power of the library - as comics gain in popularity, more and more libraries have sections devoted to graphic novels and comic book compendiums. Several comic book publishers, including Marvel, have streaming services where you can pay a monthly fee to have comics on your tablet. This would work better for families with teens or for parents wanting to read, as I found the interfaces do not always have age filters or easy ways to search and use. Finally, don’t forget to support your local comic book and gaming stores as these are great places to make the purchases you need and meet others with your family’s hobby in the area! Meredith Flory is an Augusta-area freelance writer, military spouse and mother of two. She has a masters degree in children’s literature from Kansas State University and has taught high school and college English.

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Science camp

enrichment campS Science Science camp camp

SportS camp

DaySportS camp camp SportS camp

Come join us for fun instruction in Ballet, Tap, and Jazz; Arts and Crafts; and an end of the week performance.

enrichment campS SportS camp Day camp Science camp enrichment campS Day camp

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For Day a fullcamp camp listing, and to register your child, visit: For a fullFor camp listing, to register a full campand listing, and to register your child, visit: your child, visit: Time: 9:00

AM-1:00 PM For a Camp full camp listing, and register Location: 262toFury’s Ferry Rd, Augusta, GA 30907

your child, visit: Camp Dates and

Dancers Ages: 3-7 June 10-14 Princess Power June 17-21 Petshop Party July 8-12 Mickey Madness July 15-19 Tiaras and Tutus


Dancers Ages: 8-12 June 17-21 Movie Madness July 8-12 So You Think You Can Dance

1st Week: $150.00 | Each Additional Week: $100.00 50% Non-Refundable Deposit is required to reserve your spot. For a full camp listing, and to register your child, visit:

*** DANCERS NEED TO BRING SACK LUNCH AND PIZZA PARTY ON THURSDAYS Call 706-860-0998, or visit to register online.


s ’ y n i t s e D STORY

Just about every mom has a “first steps” story. When Maria’s daughter, Destiny, was 13 months old, she slipped off a Thomas the Tank Engine toy scooter and took her first steps toward her mother. “Of course, I screamed,” said Maria. Destiny stared at her, dropped to the floor, got back up on Thomas and flatly refused to take another step. “She’s always been very independent,” said Maria with a laugh. It’s a memory that etched in Maria’s mind—especially since it’s the first and last time she would ever see her daughter walk. The next day, Maria got a call at work. It took just one moment, one horrible, life-changing accident at home, and Destiny’s back—her tiny, perfect back—was broken. Doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia gave Maria the devastating news that her daughter would never walk again. “It was like everything went out of my body,” said Maria. “I didn’t know what to do, I wasn’t prepared. It’s not something you can be prepared for as a parent.” So she did what she knew best: raise her daughter. And Destiny’s independent spirit? Well, that did the rest. Within a week of inpatient rehab, the 13-month-old was navigating her wheelchair like a pro—“it was super tiny!” Maria recalled. When Destiny was 3, she began clamoring for ballet lessons. So Maria found a local instructor who offered adaptive classes. Next came sports: T-ball, softball, soccer, basketball. “There was nothing she couldn’t do,” said Maria. “If she said she wanted something, she did it. And she loved sports. I could never get her to wear a dress. She’d cry if I put her in a dress.” These were all adaptive sports—but Destiny was never quite satisfied playing in the modified version.


Then when she was around 10, more news: Destiny’s spine was curving, and she was developing scoliosis. That meant more surgery, this time a spinal fusion. And the sports she loved? They were too risky. It could have been devastating, but Destiny—the girl who once refused to wear dresses—found a new interest in pageants, watching them on TV during her recovery. “I didn’t want her to do it,” Maria admitted. “I didn’t want her to be subjected to rejection, unfairness or even mockery.” But Destiny went for it, full throttle. She signed up for Barbizon Modeling at the Augusta Mall. At the interview, she was the only girl in a wheelchair, and Maria wanted them to leave. “But Destiny was super pumped,” said Maria. “And she made it.” Six months of training followed. At her first competition in Atlanta, Destiny wasn’t allowed to compete in the modeling portion because the stage wasn’t accessible. Maria wanted to leave again—but Destiny told her, “It’s going to be OK.” She competed in another segment, and at the end of the day, she was announced not only as the division winner but also the overall competition winner, with 18 callbacks from agents. “My legs buckled,” said Maria. A national competition followed, where Destiny received a third place and two honorable mentions, along with 15 callbacks. One of them would lead to her being signed with Glitter Talent Agency in New York City. She’s also competing in this year’s Miss Georgia Teen pageant and is now writing a book about her life with her mom. “She really wants people with disabilities to know that they can do anything they put their minds to,” said Maria. “She’s like, ‘If I can do it, you can do it.’ A lot of times, agents tell her, ‘You’re so perfect.’ She says, ‘Nobody’s perfect, but I’m blessed.’ That’s just her.”

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s ’ b o c Ja STORY

If it hadn’t been for a moved appointment, Jacob might not be here today. “I had a difficult pregnancy,” said his mom Gaby, who experienced regular bleeding. “I was high-risk, and all along, I had the feeling I needed to be here at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia in case something went wrong.” July 20 was supposed to be just another checkup with maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr. Paul Browne. And it was just a fluke that Gaby had asked to move it up from the end of the month. Gaby was just 29 weeks along. At the appointment, she had a little protein in her urine, so Dr. Browne suggested a 24-hour urine test. “We can wait til you come back on Friday if you like to do your ultrasound,” he said. “Since my parents are here, could we do it today?” Gaby asked. “Sure,” he agreed. It would be the most important question Gaby had ever asked in her life. During the ultrasound, the technician found that Gaby’s amniotic fluid—which protects and cushions an unborn baby and helps tiny lungs develop—was completely gone. Blood flow had also stopped, which meant the baby, whom Gaby had already named Jacob, wasn’t getting any nutrients. Jacob was delivered that night at 6:45 p.m.—and was rushed away before Gaby could even see him because he wasn’t breathing. Doctors struggled to intubate his tiny body, only a little bigger than the size of a hand. “He was so small, they couldn’t get the tube in at first,” said Gaby. “But Dr. [Chantrapa] Bunyapen, she’s amazing. I tell her, ‘You saved his life, literally.” Gaby likes to say that she got to see

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her baby being born—“just from the outside.” It felt that way, during the four long months that it took for Jacob to catch up on the time he missed growing inside his mother’s womb. Gaby started feeding him a mixture of breastmilk and formula, just 1 millimeter at a time, as soon as his stomach was ready to process food. Around two weeks, she was able to hold her baby for the first time. She was nervous. “He was so small,” she said. “But then I thought, compared to us, babies are small.” Next came his lungs. Doctors kept trying to remove his breathing tube, but Jacob would crash, every time. “He’d forget to breathe,” said Gaby. So the Children’s Hospital of Georgia was able to use new technology: the NAVA or neutrally adjusted ventilator assist. The machine uses catheter with an electrode that attached to Jacob’s diaphragm that would essentially remind him to breathe—and help him learn how to breathe along the way. And Jacob caught on fast. Soon, Gaby was experiencing that flutterly feeling of nerves, excitement and “they’re really going to let me take this baby home?” that all new moms experience. The first time that she had to clean out and then replace Jacob’s NG tube was tough, and there were more challenges along the way, but she—along with the support of her parents—were able to watch Jacob thrive. Today, at 2, he’s a “bright little boy,” says Gaby. “He catches on to everything. He sings all his letters, he knows his numbers. He’s a miracle. I am blessed beyond belief, and I give credit to God for putting the right doctors and nurses in place for him. They are like angels to us. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.”


l e b o s I mpbell’s Ca &


When you’re pregnant, you kind of expect to feel large, swollen and pretty unwieldy. So when Erica started to have some swelling when she was 30 weeks into a pregnancy with twins, the 40-yearold wasn’t too worried. Then came the weekend that changed everything. “There was a morning that I woke up and couldn’t close my lips, my eyes felt like they were going to pop out of my head, I couldn’t fit any shoes on my feet because they were so swollen and my fingers would hardly bend,” said Erica. “I knew there was a problem.” Her husband, Eddie, helped take her blood pressure, and it was high. But it was a Sunday. Erica hoped she could just call her doctor the next day. But by that evening, she was feeling worse, and the next blood pressure reading showed 170/100. In someone who isn’t pregnant, that reading would mean stage 2 hypertension, or incredibly high blood pressure. But in pregnancy, it means pre-eclampsia—a potentially dangerous condition that affects about 5 percent of pregnancies—which is what Erica was diagnosed with after she called her doctor and was admitted to Augusta University Health.


“I quickly learned that pre-eclampsia is diagnosed by persistent high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy – most commonly in high-risk pregnancies – which I was at 40 carrying multiples,” said Erica. She stayed in the hospital for 10 days, under close watch in case of a seizure—another risk of pre-eclampsia—and was treated by antihypertensive drugs and magnesium sulfate. The hope was to buy Erica’s babies as much time as possible before they had to be delivered. Erica fought hard, and that 10 days was the utmost her body could do. Twins Isobel and Campbell were ultimately born nine weeks early—and went straight from delivery to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. “Nothing can really prepare you for having twins nine weeks early,” said Erica. “We were simply shocked by their tininess and numb with fear for them.” Over the next six weeks, Erica and Eddie sat with their children, surrounded by big equipment, which seemed even bigger compared to their children, so small and helpless. Monitors and alarms beeped constantly as

they sat in darkness with just the blue glow of the lights. “The hum of the lifesaving machines becomes hypnotizing and terrorizing at the same time,” said Erica. “It felt like an eternity seeing our babies poked, X-rayed, jabbed to find a vein for an IV, catheterized, hearing them cry and not being able to hold and comfort them.” But at the same time, there was hope as they were waiting for those machines to complete the work of helping their children grow and develop. “The NICU is filled with the sickest of the sick, yet those babies in there quietly reminded us day after day that there is always hope,” said Erica. “They had a strength that I could only dream of. They were fighters.” At the entrance of the NICU is a wall of graduates: babies spent months in the hospital but who have grown up. Today, Isobel and Campbell can join them. “Looking back we realize that our time in the NICU was very similar to the real world – babies and families, life and death, rich and poor, celebrations and grief, good and bad, joy and sadness,” said Erica. “Nobody ever wants to have their baby there, but all are grateful for the chance at life the NICU offers.”

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s ’ y r Ma


Bennett Dudley still breaks down every time he remembers his 3-day-old daughter, Mary Bennett, being driven away from him by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. An hour before that, he didn’t even know the Children’s Hospital existed. It was supposed to be a happy, worry-free moment: He and his wife, Mary Rae, were ready to go home and bring their baby home to big sister Emerson Rae, then 2. But Mary Bennett had been spitting up, and from Saturday to Monday, her weight had dropped about 11 percent—a little high, but not necessarily unexpected for breastfed babies. Then, that morning, she projectile vomited “about four or five feet,” said Bennett. A dye test and an X-ray were definitive: Mary Bennett had been born with a volvulus of the duodenum and malrotation of the intestines. It happens like this: Near the end of the first trimester, a baby’s developing intestines move from the umbilical cord and rotate into the abdomen, coiling up in the midgut. With malrotation, the small intestine doesn’t rotate normally, falling instead on the right side of the abdomen. A volvulus, or a twist of the intestines, can occur, causing an intestinal blockage, which not only keeps milk from moving through the intestines but can also cut off blood flow. In a matter of 30 minutes, Mary Bennett had gone from being discharged to needing emergency surgery. When Bennett and Mary Rae arrived at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) on the 5th floor of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, their 6-pound, brand-new baby was already in an incubator and hooked up to tubes and monitors—“just looking helpless,” said Bennett. The danger with malrotation and vol-

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vulus is that precious abdominal tissue can die due to lack of blood. Dr. Walters, along with pediatric surgeons Dr. Robyn Hatley and Dr. Walter Pipkin, all worked together to perform the delicate, five-hour microsurgery. Meanwhile, the family, friends and their pastor gathered in the NICU waiting room to pray for both the surgical team and for Mary Bennett. Although doctors had to also remove the baby’s appendix since it was on the wrong side of her body, her intestines thankfully were pink and healthy. And as Dr. Walters performed the LADD procedure to correct the malrotation, they fell into place perfectly. “Our prayers had been answered,” said Bennett. There would be another 20 days of recovery at the Children’s Hospital, but when Mary Bennett, nearly a month old, went outside for the first time since that ambulance ride, “I remember her smiles and the sparkle in her eyes. She knew she was going home. It was a special moment that we will never forget,” said Bennett. Now nearly 3, Mary Bennett is a snuggler, which her parents laughingly enable, and she adores her sister, Emerson Rae, now 5, and her “doggies,” Molly and Lucy. She loves to dance, sing and plays with unending energy. But she also knows she had surgery as a baby, and she will often pull up her dress to show off her scar and say, “That’s my tough mark.” This child—and this story—“It still breaks me down emotionally every time I share it,” Bennett admitted. “We’d never heard of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia until we landed in their arms of care with our precious baby. We are so thankful for our Children’s Hospital of Georgia, their awesome pediatric team, and our little miracle that took place in our own backyard.”


PLANNING YOUR FAMILY GETAWAY WITH EASE (Making Time for What Really Matters) by Dana Harris

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amily vacations should be about creating a lifetime of memories. Whether it’s getting organized, staying fit, or spending quality time with loved ones, summer allows time for everyone to follow their passions. When you take vacations together, you become a team by embracing new adventures, sharing memorable experiences while generating a sense of joy and togetherness. You come to know that there is a world apart from yours, which is beautiful and exciting. Reflecting on those happiest moments of joyful times spent together as a family can be extremely powerful in bringing relief and relaxation when faced with the darker times that life can bring. Let’s face it, all of us have our own home-grown version of daily stress. For us, it may be the burden of not meeting those tight deadlines, schedules and agendas at work or simply managing the complexities of household demands. Most would agree, we all have lives that are filled with some form of stress, even if we don’t truly acknowledge this fact. On the other hand, our younger folks may be dealing with a whole set of stressors all on their own, such issues as complicated peer pressure, difficult relationships, bullying, not making the cut with the high school football team or cheerleading squad or perhaps a school related matter in which your child may be freaking out about that class project that will count as 70% of his/her grade. The triggers for adults and our youth may be quite different but the resulting physical, mental and emotional responses are the same. Taking a family vacation can do wonders for you and your family. Even folks who claim to love the high-pressured lifestyle will admit, in their quieter moments, that there are times when they would like to take their family on a quick get-away from it all, if

only for a short time! Vacations have the potential to break into the stress cycle. Medically speaking, taking regular vacation is perhaps one the most rewarding prescriptions favored for staying healthy! Contrary to what it may seem, studies show that more vacation for workers increases productivity and reduces the number of sick days taken off. Workers also report feeling more creative after taking off, and more than 70% of them reported feeling more satisfied with their jobs when they returned. They further admit that they returned much happier, more refreshed and ready to take on the world again. Studies have further shown that people who take vacations and travel regularly reported an almost 20% improvement in their sleep. While on vacation, they averaged an hour more of quality sleep, which even carried over to when they return home. A recent study conducted by the U.S. Travel Association uncovered a close correlation between a child’s academic achievement and summer family vacations. The report revealed that students who traveled were more likely to be successful, both academically and financially. Adults who had taken an educational trip when they were between the ages of 12-18 years old were more likely to complete a college degree and earn an average of 12% more compared to others who didn’t travel. Bottom line, family vacations do not have to be expensive or extravagant. It may mean a bit of a sacrifice, but it will yield the dividends, rewards and a priceless legacy for your children. Family vacations contributes positively to family bonding, communication, and solidarity. Studies have found that people place a higher value on the shared experiences they have on vacations than the material goods they have acquired during their lifetime. So, whether you’re headed on a cruise, to the beach, a theme park, a new city or to grandma’s house, here are some practical ways to benefit from every penny spent so that you can maximize on the enjoyment with your family.

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Planning and Thinking ahead. When it comes to planning, your family’s health and safety is no doubt number one. The secret to planning affordable family vacation is having a game plan that’s simple and surefire. If you’ve never traveled to your desired destination before, there’s no better way to prepare than by asking an expert. This might mean contacting a local blogger, finding a local family group or better yet, getting a reputable travel agency to plan your trip. There are many advantages to opting for a customized family trip designed by an agent, rather than planning and researching everything yourself. Leaving it all to an agency doesn’t mean you are surrendering your freedom of choice, on the contrary, it simply means you have more flexibility to do the things that interests you. You get plenty of options without the headache of making a dozen different bookings in every destination. Let’s face it, children are so unpredictable, so free time during your trip lets you be more spontaneous—or just relaxed. Always keep a watchful eye on the kids. Especially for families with small children and/or many children, this can be a hard thing to do. Children are prone to wander off or engage in conversations with strangers. Before leaving on your trip, sit down with your kids and go over what to do in bad situations - - if you haven’t had the “Stranger Danger” conversation yet, now is the perfect time. Travel planning with kids simply comes from knowing how to balance cultural experiences with kid-friendly fun, while making the logistics as seamless as possible. So, if you’re the brave one and would like to handle the logistical planning, you may want to consider using social media to gather local recommendations from friends and acquaintances. Facebook moms’ groups can also be a great source of intel on family-friendly accommodations and fun. Don’t feel like you need to plan every minute of

every day. Your plan can be as detailed as you need it to be – think of everywhere you’ll need to go on your trip and what you might need to keep the kids safe – passports, car seats, medications, plug covers, life jackets, etc. Create an itinerary of where you are going to be and where and share it with a family member or trusted friend. If you or your kids are prone to scrapes or motion sickness, bring a first aid kit with you. In it, have all the essentials like band-aids, Neosporin, prescriptions, etc. You can never be too prepared; and if you are going to places you’ve never been, having these items readily accessible will help you to avoid panic at all cost. Going on vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. By having a detailed plan and keeping open communication about where everyone will be, you can ensure that your whole family will have fun and stay safe. •

Road SafeTy TiPS. Buckle up and do it right. Do your homework. Know your car’s condition and its safety features. Avoid placing objects over the airbag cover. Be responsible and know the speed limits. No mobile phone while driving. Every activity using your mobile phone while driving can distract your attention that could lead to an accident. Children may be reckless at times and act impulsively. Take extra care when driving in school zones and playgrounds. Child and baby car seats should be fitted properly and checked prior to every trip. Anticipate, do not think you are the only one who uses the road. Use your side and rear mirrors regularly and take a break. Tiredness is considered one of the major factors of road accidents. When driving long hours, have a break and rest for at least 15 minutes every 3 hours. For long trips, share the driving responsibilities with someone else. This will allow you to keep an eye on each other while driving and enable you to nap without losing time.

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Travel SafeTy. While traveling, don’t make yourself a target for thieves and pickpockets. Always lock your vehicle especially at gas stations, rest areas, or other public facilities. Leave your jewelry and other expensive belongings locked up at home. If you are in crowded, unfamiliar areas, keep your money in a money-belt rather than in your purse. When traveling with kids, bring along an updated photo of each child – in case you become separated from them. Also have them carry a nametag of an ID containing information of the guardian. Talk with your family about who to call and what to do in case they get lost or another emergency arises while you are on vacation. Pack the least possible amount and be sure your luggage always stays under your control (or that of authorized personnel). Carry only the credit cards and ATM cards you absolutely need. Zip up your bags and xerox your passport if you’re going out of the country. And, check the drawer in your hotel room before you leave. Don’t go in sketchy areas alone without prior advice-you don’t want the adventure to turn sour. Leave enough room in your case for souvenirs and buy them. You may never realize it until later how much you regretted not spending a few extra dollars for that trinket that at the time seemed silly but in retrospect would have looked ‘oh so’ cute on your kitchen or dining room table. While you’re Gone. While you’re on vacation, thieves could be taking what you leave behind at home . . . During summer travel, stop mail and newspapers or ask a neighbor to pick them up each day. Put several household lights on timers so they turn off at appropriate times. Arrange to have grass mowed while you’re away. Ask a neighbor to park in your

driveway overnight – anything that might suggest someone is home. Leave an itinerary of your trip with someone at home in case you need to be contacted. Don’t use your home address on your luggage tags. You don’t need to let anyone know where your empty house is located. Consider using your business card instead. Keep quiet!!! You don’t need to broadcast to everyone (especially on sites like Facebook) that you are going to be away. You never know who is going to be reading or listening. Instead, tell a few selected people in your neighborhood so that they can keep an eye on your house. If you are going to be gone an extended period, consider shutting off your utilities to avoid potential flooding, fire, or gas leaks. Remove ladders outside that could be used to access the windows or balconies on upper floors. Don’t leave the GPS in the car when you use long-term parking at the airport. It will alert thieves and provide a convenient map to your home. You also want to consider scheduling a vacation home check with your local Sheriff ’s Department. If you request it, they will check on your home everyday while you are away at no charge! Time is more priceless than money. Family vacations should be all about fun. It doesn’t need to be pricey in order to make a huge impact on our kids. Family vacations are the ultimate happiness anchors aimed at creating precious memories with your kids. So instead of giving toys to the little ones, why not plan a special family getaway this year, one that will keep your children happy, smarter, enriched and actively engaged. Be it a one-day trip or a relatively long one, family vacations are an amazing opportunity for everyone to get together and reflect on what really matters – FAMILY.

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BE ST Summer EvEr NiNe Ways To amp Up The CreaTive Family FUN By Christina Katz Are you simultaneously excited about and dreading the approach of summer? If so, you might want to start preparing now to make the most of all of the unstructured, non-scheduled time your kids will soon be spending at home...or summer may not end up nearly as relaxing for you as it is for your kids! Take a cue from ‘The Artful Parent,’ blogger Jean Van’t Hul. She says, “When a child explores, learns, and creates, the side effect is often a mess. To say no to the messes inhibits the exploration and the creativity that can take place. That should take place. It’s a child’s job to explore the world around him, to experience it and learn as much about it as possible. If the adults in his world continually say, “don’t make a mess, be quiet, sit down, be still, leave that alone, do it this way, color within the lines, don’t get your clothes dirty,” that inhibits the exploration and the learning.”

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To make sure you are ready for a summer that is as creative as it is easy, take a few tips from this list. You’ll be ready to squeeze as much fun as you can out of every lazy summer day. TesT-drive The ArT supplies: Where do you keep your arts and craft supplies? If stored where they are easy to access, your kids will be more likely to use them. Give your arts and crafts storage area a quick overhaul before the vacation months arrive. Check markers. Sharpen pencils. Melt old crayons into new bigger ones. Restock your finger paint and drawing pads. Get enough clipboards or pads for each member of the family. Whatever kinds of projects your family likes to indulge in, make sure you’ve got all the supplies on hand and ready to roll! plenTy of plAces To BrAinsTorm: We have an assortment of white boards around the house that

38 • Augusta Family | May 2019

absorb an awful lot of creative energy. My eight-yearold daughter kneels in front of the one in her bedroom when she wants to draw picture after picture after picture. I use one in my office to catch ideas as they go flitting by or to jot down a few professional to-dos. And believe it or not, if I write down the family chores on the white board in the kitchen, I’m more likely to get the cooperation from the rest of the family when I need it, so we can all get back to playing. Become projecT-orienTed: Creating a garden, a tree house, or a worm box are all examples of outdoor projects the family can undertake together this summer. If you have a rainy day or prefer to stay indoors, why not get a jump on next season’s holiday gifts or cards? If everyone in the house prefers to work on his or her own projects at his or her own pace, why not make sure that each person has their own craft area, where they can leave a project out

while it’s in process, until its completed. You’ll find that projects are more likely to get finished when they are easily accessible. Bring On The COlOr: Painting your walls, your furniture, your fence or your home is one of the cheapest and most fun ways to get a fresh look at home. Why not get the whole family involved? Even a toddler can paint primer on a wall. Tweens and teens might enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from getting an entire house painted. Mom and Dad can swing in a hammock and sip a cold drink while each school-age child paints one piece of furniture from their bedrooms a favorite new hue. garden wiTh Themes: Why have a common garden when you could have a fairy garden or a pizza garden or a found objects garden? For ideas and inspiration, consult the illustrated gardening books for children by author Sharon Lovejoy: Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots (Workman 1999), Trowel & Error (Workman 2002), and Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars (Workman 2010). Why not give each member of the family their own garden plot so they can nurture the harvest of their choice? Take an UnexpeCTed advenTUre: When you set out as a family towards an unfamiliar destination, your senses come alive with possibilities. Instead of planning every summer family outing, why not just grab some snacks and water bottles, hop in the car, and surprise yourselves? Perhaps there is a city nearby you can explore. Perhaps you are just an hour from a state park or wildlife sanctuary. Target a quaint small town you can traverse from end to end on foot. Keep an ongoing list of destinations on one of your whiteboards, take a quick family vote to decide on a one, and you’re off!

hOsT a BaCkyard exTravaganza: Older children might like to put on plays or puppet shows for younger children in the summer. Why not let them play the roles of producer, director, marketing spokesperson, etc. and get the whole neighborhood involved? Fun can really start to catalyze when you pool the neighborhood dressup clothes, create an impromptu story, and start casting parts...even if only to while away a long afternoon. geT a liTTle wild: Maybe during the school year you don’t welcome the extra mess that body paint, mud, glitter, bathtub crayons, clay, or temporary hair dyes can bring into your hallowed home. But during the summer months, why not? Kids experience a lot of pressure to conform when they are in school, so let them get wild while the days are long, the nights are short, and homework is nothing more than a distant memory. make mUlTimedia memOries: Keep a camera or a video recorder handy so you can document your colorful, creative summer and share it with your distant friends and relatives. And don’t worry about what to do with all your images and film clips. The long cold winter is coming just as sure as you are fully enjoying every minute of your fleeting summer. You’ll be so happy making memories that neighbors you haven’t seen in ages may invite themselves over to join the fun. Happy creative summer, everyone!

Author, journalist, and writing coach, Christina katz adores summer family fun. You’ll find her in the backyard coming up with lots of outdoor projects or luring everyone into the car for an impromptu family road trip.

Augusta Family | May 2019 • 39

Inspiration Station By Jos h Heat h

40 • Augusta Family | May 2019

Inspiration Station

Therapy Dogs Patients at the Children’s Hospital of Geor-

“We’ve had kids who got out of bed after sur-

gia are sometimes greeted by unusual employ-

gery just so they can walk with a dog,” she said.

ees: Golden Retrievers named Casey and Nug-

Of course, not every dog is cut out for this

get. Macie Meeks and Harleigh Smith, Child Life

kind of role. Casey and Nugget completed ex-

Specialists, use the dogs to help patients adjust

tensive training from birth at Canine Assistants

to a hospital stay, which can be a scary experi-

in Alpharetta, Ga. Macie and Harleigh also spent

ence for anyone, especially children. Casey and

a week at the facility to learn how to handle the

Nugget perform a variety of important services,

dogs and work with them in a hospital setting.

including comforting patients during medical

While most kids love having Casey and Nug-

procedures, providing an incentive for them to

get at the hospital, not everyone is comfortable

participate in physical and occupational ther-

around them. “We obviously run into people

apy after an injury or surgery, and distracting

who are afraid of dogs,” said Harleigh. Chil-

them from the stress of illness. For example,

dren’s reactions to the dogs are often based on

Nugget, who started at the hospital in Novem-

their previous interactions with dogs, she ex-

ber 2017, often plays the role of a patient, hav-

plained. Other patients avoid the dogs due to

ing her blood pressure and temperature taken,

allergies, and sometimes parents refuse to al-

according to her handler, Harleigh. She’s even

low their children to interact with them.

had mock CT scans. Nugget helps patients feel

Like other employees at the hospital, the

less apprehensive about these procedures.

dogs work 40 hours a week, but they get breaks

Harleigh said most of the children are excited

throughout the day. Macie and Harleigh take

about interacting with the dogs.

Casey and Nugget home with them after work.

Casey started working in the hospital’s OR

The dogs are paid for by the Children’s Miracle

in March, so she is still acclimating to her job.

Network specifically to work in the Children’s

Macie explained that the dog helps to comfort

Hospital, but Nugget now visits the hospital

and distract patients who are nervous about

lobby twice a week, giving more patients and

surgery and helps them recover after surgery.

visitors the chance to interact with her.

Augusta Family | May 2019 • 41

42 • Augusta Family | May 2019

calendar M ay

May 1. Melissa Etheridge. Join Melissa etheridge for an evening of unforgettable songs and new music from her forthcoming album The Medicine Show. Visit, May 3 &4. Bloomin’ Arts Festival. Want to see 125 Butterflies in the skies? The 5th Annual Bloomin Arts Festival is a FREE Event in downtown Harlem GA. There will be artists, vendors, music, food, silent auction and kid’s activities. For more info go to May 2. Oak Ridge Boys. Theirs is one of the most distinctive and recognizable sounds in the music industry. The four-part harmonies and upbeat songs of The Oak Ridge Boys have spawned dozens of Country hits and a Number One Pop smash, earned them Grammy, Dove, CMA, and ACM awards and garnered a host of other

industry and fan accolades. Every time they step before an audience, the Oaks bring four decades of charted singles, and 50 years of tradition, to a stage show widely acknowledged as among the most exciting anywhere. And each remains as enthusiastic about the process as they have ever been. Visit, May 3. James Brown Birthday Bash. Augusta Soul, Soul city Presents and the Miller Theater are proud to present the James Brown Birthday Bash - featuring J.A.M.P., the James Brown Band and hosted by Bootsy Collins - May 3 at the Miller. Tickets will be free and available at the Miller Theater Box Office (10 AM-6 PM M-F), by calling 706.842.4080 or visiting www. May 4. Mother’s Day Brunch. Guest speaker Lorie Newman is the author of “A Cup Of Cold Water In His

RBRM | May 19 rBrM” have joined forces to combine their extensive catalogue of high-energy megahits and dynamic stage presence to embark on a World Tour.

We’d love to hear from you. If you have an event you’d like to add to our next issue, send an email to

Augusta Family | May 2019 • 43

NORTH AMERICAN KICKBOXING The WAKO North American Kickboxing tournament will have 3 countries battling for kickboxing supremacy. The national teams of Mexico, Canada and The Untied States will all be in attendance. This is also a qualifier for U.S. kickboxers to fight for their spot for WAKO team USA at the world Championships in Bosnia! Don’t miss the hardest hitting tournament in North America!

May 4 |

Name” and she leads groups of speakers on mission trips to impoverished nations to teach and train the women of those countries. There will be a brunch buffet for each to enjoy as we celebrate Mother’s Day and all of our ladies! Visit, May 4. North American Kickboxing. The WAKO North American Kickboxing tournament will have 3 countries battling for kickboxing supremacy. The national teams of Mexico, Canada and The Untied States will all be in attendance. This is also a qualifier for U.S. kickboxers to fight for their spot for WAKO team USA at the world Championships in Bosnia! Don’t miss the hardest hitting tournament in North America! Visit, May 4. A Day in the Park-22nd Annual PKP Plant Sale. Pendleton King Park. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Franke Pavilion. Plants and garden items for

44 • Augusta Family | May 2019

sale provided by CSRA Master Gardeners and Friends of the Park. Master Gardeners on hand for help with garden questions. Vendors Welcome (Call 706-284-3991) For more information go to Family Activities, Vendors, Live Music, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. May 4. Augusta Fly Day at Augusta Regional Airport. Join Challenge Air for Kids & Friends for the first Fly Day. Children & youth with special needs between the ages of 7-21 are invited to enjoy a opportunity of a lifetime. Sign up today to volunteer as a pilot, day of event volunteer, sponsor, agency or if you have a child with special needs. Visit, May 5. Augusta Ballet’s Croquet for Ballet 2019. Return to an era of elegance this spring and play in the annual croquet tournament or relax as a spectator. All guests will enjoy lunch,

beer, wine and live music.Boeckh Park, located just inside the Hammonds Ferry Community at 506 Front St.,North Augusta. Tickets $65 online at, $75, cash or check only, at the event. May 10-11. Aiken Bluegrass Festival 2019. Western Carolina State Fairgrounds. Visit, www. May 10. Paceline Ride at AU Summerville Campus. Paceline has a place for everyone. While the ride is the culmination of fundraising efforts, you don’t have to ride to be involved. Paceline is about rallying our community to team together to prevent, fight, and eradicate cancer. Visit, May 10. Rocktopia. Direct from its smashhit run on Broadway (68,000 people over a 6-week run), the international music sensation


ROCKTOPIA will kick off a tour this spring. An explosive musical concert event that fuses the most iconic 20th-century rock with worldrenowned classical masterpieces, ROCKTOPIA features the works of musical innovators across centuries—including Journey, Mozart, Queen, Beethoven, Aerosmith, Handel, Led Zeppelin, Tchaikovsky, U2, Heart, Puccini, The Who and more—performed by an elite lineup of vocalists, a five-piece rock band, a 30-person choir, and a symphony orchestra. Visit, millertheateraugusta. com.

light refreshments. Poppin Stop Items will be for purchase. Poppin’ Stop Gourmet Popcorn Shop, 3558 Windsor Spring Road Hephzibah.

May 10-12. The Augusta Players Present Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Imperial Theatre. Everyone’s favorite flying car comes to life in the musical adaptation of the beloved family film. Take a fantastic musical journey with an out-of-thisworld car that floats and flies into your hearts. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is filled with amazing stage spectacle and unforgettable songs by the creators of Mary Poppins! Get tickets now to go on this highflying, fun-filled adventure for the entire family. Visit

May 16. Dueling Pianos Night at SRP Stadium, playing throughout the whole GreenJackets game. Visit,

May 11. Giant Community Yard Sale. Returning to the Columbia County Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds well be full of yard sales, this is a great place to come sell or buy! Due to the size of the event (over 200 yard sale at one time at one place) and the location, there will be lots of traffic so plan ahead. Visit, May 11. Chad Prather. Visit, May 11. 3rd Annual Daughter Luncheon at Hopeful Baptist Church in Blythe. For girls of all ages! Join other sisters in Christ. Bring your mom, sister, daughter or friends! Enjoy a nice lunch, door prizes and a special guest speaker, Nicki Koziarz! Nicki Koziarz is a two-time best selling author and speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries. $15 per person (Cash/Check/Paypal Only). Call (706)558-0974. May 12. Mother’s Day Paint Party. Come out with your mom, grandma, aunts, sisters to have a great time painting together! There will be

May 12. Children’s Hike with Storytime. Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, 1858 Lock & Dam Rd., Augusta. At 9:30 a.m. Visit, www.phinizycenter. org. May 15. Columbia Fireflies at Augusta GreenJackets. SRP Park, North Augusta. Visit, www.

May 17. Goin’ South Again: Second Helping. M3Agency presenting, benefiting The Augusta Players Camp Wonderland and The Hometown Harmony Project (Press On, 12Bands and Ronald McDonald House). The all local band is back and can’t wait to play more hits from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker and many more! VIP tickets include: Premium seating in the front of the orchestra or the balcony Pre-show catered reception with the band. Visit, May 18. Read and Play Day at the Kroc Center. A free program that focuses on building early literacy skills and family engagement for children up to age 5 with their parent or caregiver. Each monthly program session will include activities that will build literacy skills through story time, arts and crafts related to the featured story, and games. Call, 706-364-5762. May 18. Family Fun Day at Elks Lodge. 10 am 1 pm. Everyone is invited! Please come out and enjoy a great day of fun and food. We will be having a membership drive as well so bring the entire family and see what the Elks are all about! This is a free event. Visit, May 18. Moonlight Hike. 8 to 10:00 p.m. at The Greystone Preserve 1340 W Martintown Rd. North Augusta. Hike the Greystone Preserve by twilight and moonlight and experience another world. We’ll explore the forest at night, taking in

the sounds and smells of nature instead of the typical sights. If the weather’s good, we’ll celebrate with a campfire and s’mores afterwards. Visit, May 19. RBRM: Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike in Augusta at Bell Auditorium. RBRM” have joined forces to combine their extensive catalogue of high-energy megahits and dynamic stage presence to embark on a World Tour. With more than 35 years of entertainment experience, four childhood friends from Boston with multiple accolades and countless sold out concerts. RBRM’s chart-topping smash hit records like “My Prerogative,” “Every Little Step,” “Rock Wit’cha,” “Roni,” [Brown] “Poison,” “Do Me,” “Thought It Was Me” and “Smile Again” [BBD] are all timeless tracks that have stood the test of more than twenty-five years and continue to audibly paint the soundtrack of millions of lives around the globe. Visit, May 24-25. Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Festival 2019. Food+ Culture+ Music. Artists include Old Crow Medicine Show, Greensky Bluegrass, The Infamous Stringdusters, Left Over Salmon & more. Visit May 26. Fireworks Show at SRP. Right after the GreenJackets game there will be an awesome fireworks show to celebrate Memorial Day! Visit, May 28-July 19. Westminster Schools Of Augusta Summer Programs. Are you looking for a way to keep your kids active and learning during the summer? Check out the Summer Programs at Westminster Schools of Augusta. Over 30 programs for ages 3-18 that include academic and technology courses, enrichment classes, fine arts and sports camps, a general day camp and driver education. Visit for more information and to register. May 29. Shovels & Rope and I’m With Her. Visit, June 3- 7. To Mars And Beyond VBS. First Baptist Church of Augusta. Free. Visit,

Augusta Family | May 2019 • 45

Talkin’ About My Generation

Three residents representing three age groups share their reflections on family, life and fun.

Renee Williams photos by Sean Morgan

Bo Yum, 23, lives in Grovetown and her

Rachel B. Tropea, 12, is a student living

Anglia Smith, 53, works in facilities ma-

profession is in sales. She has one pet, a miniature

in Evans. She has two siblings, Sarah (14) and Becca

tainance and lives in Augusta. She has two children,

Australian Shepherd named Olive.

(11). She does not have a pet, but she loves the neigh-

Kendra Hill, 33, and Dominique Smith, 26. She has

bor’s cat, Abbie.

a Pitbull mix named Max.

One word you would use to describe yourself:

What Word Would You Use to Describe Your-


self: Genuine

beach with clear waters, and a very strong drink in

If you could have any job, what would you choose?

What Quality Do You Admire the Most: Hon-

my hand.

A pediatrician. I really want to help kids.

esty, Kindness, Compassion, and most of all, Humor

What did you want to be when you grew up?

What’s your favorite food? My grandpa’s grilled

Favorite TV Show: Hell’s Kitchen

A doctor, and slowly but surely I’m trying my best to

BBQ Ribs with my Grandma’s famous potato salad.

get there.


Hobbies? Dancing! Not that I’m any good at it, but

Hobbies? My favorite hobby is making slime. I love

it’s definitely something I love to do.

all the different textures, colors, and smells you can

What’s your favorite food? Sushi? Tacos? Noodles? How could anyone choose just ONE favorite?! Dream vacation? Somewhere far away, on a

Favorite indulgence? French fries, the one thing I could never say no to. Song playing in your head: Current song obses-

add to make to my own unique slime. Is there an important life lesson you’ve learned? To always be nice to others.

sion: Lead Me On by Teddy Robb or Drinking Terms

Whom do you admire the most? I admire my older

by Cody Purvis

sister Sarah, my baby sister Becca, and my Grandma and Grandpa, but most of all my Mom.

46 • Augusta Family | May 2019

Important Life Lessons: Your kids aren’t you, failure is good, anger isn’t worth it, kindness matters, and age is just a number. The Best Thing About Being A Mom: Loving and being loved. And, being a grandmother. Hardest Part of Being A Mom: You don’t have all the answers and you see your child go through things you sometimes can’t control. What Would Surprise People About You: I’m not as quiet as I look.

Modern Masters: Group f/64 Photographs by Ansel Adams • Imogen Cunningham Willard Van Dyke • Brett Weston • Edward Weston WORKS FROM THE BANK OF AMERICA COLLECTION O N D I S P L AY THROU G H JU LY 21, 2019

Imogen Cunningham, Magnolia Blossom, 1925. Gelatin silver print. © 2019 Imogen Cunningham Trust.

This exhibition has been loaned through the Bank of America Art in our Communities program.

1 Tenth St. I Augusta, GA 30901 I 706-724-7501 I

Augusta Family | April 2017 • 48

Profile for Augusta Family Magazine

Augusta Family Magazine May 2019