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Our Town

OurTown Smyrna•Vinings• Cumberland • Galleria •Vinings Estates Publishers/Editors Linda Demery & Lori McLinden

Our Town is published and direct mailed monthly to prestigious homes in the Smyrna/Vinings Area. Opinions expressed by the editorial staff are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opin-

Graphics and Design Terry Tanner Tanner Graphics, Inc. Feature Photographer, Allison Suzanne Photography Contributing Writers Mark Orler Sherrie Le Masurier Shelia Frey Brooke Merrill Robert Poynter, III, MS, EdS, LAPC Scott Gray Leisa Bailey, PhD. Jason Goggans Pam Walker Shasta Clark Arielle Nobile Dr. Inna Donelan Deborah Ratchford


ions of the publisher. Our Town reserves the right to edit and or reject any editorial or advertising content. Our Town is not responsible for errors in advertising beyond the cost of the space or for the validity of claims made by advertisers. Entire contents copyright 2010 by Our Town. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden in any media without prior written permission from the publisher.

Our Town Magazine 109 Anderson Street Suite 109 Marietta, GA 30060

678-337-7844 Fax: 678-337-7825

6 8 9 11 12 13 14 15 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

in this issue


Calendar of Events About the Cover What does a Father Do? June Crossword Puzzle What’s Cookin’? Organizing Your Home for Summer Living Shopping with Shelia Home & Design Mindfulness Meditation 101 Home Improvement Projects that Really Pay Off!

Weddings Should Be About More than a Beautiful Day Health & Fitness Our Town Travel – Vietnam Mommy Moments Use Family Time to Work on Your Family History Pets of the Month Vacationing and Pet Ownership Real Estate in Our Town

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Our Town



ment ron

thcare to women in a nurtu l a e h ring lity a env u q i ng

SMYRNA SUMMER CONCERT SERIES: June 11th at Village Green, 200 Village Green Circle, Smyrna, GA 30080. Love their groove and energy! Rhythm Yard, working and recording with countless blues acts in the southeast, they won the International Blues Challenge with Delta Moon in 2003 and are bringing their sound to you on the Village Greeen in Smyrna! For information call 770-434-6600, or for sponsor information email

ONGOING DAUGHTERS OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE: The Daughters of the British Empire is a nationwide organization for women of British or British Commonwealth birth and ancestry. If you would like to meet for a cup of tea and a chat, or learn more , please contact Maureen at THE BREAKTHROUGH FELLOWSHIP: Looking for something different? Do you find church intimidating? If so, The Breakthrough Fellowship is a new church serving the Smyrna/Vinings and metro Atlanta communities. Our vision is simple: Seeking God. Building Community. Achieving Wholeness…through a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Please join us every 2nd and 4th Sunday at 10AM at the AMC Parkway Pointe 15 (3101 Cobb Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339). For more information, please visit

Dr. Cook and staff GYNECOLOGICAL SERVICES OFFERED: • Annual Pap Smear Screening • In Office Tubal Ligation • “Bandaid” Hysterectomy • Treatment of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding • Menopausal Testing and Treatment

• Infertility Evaluation & Treatment • Treatment of Fibroids • Pregnancy Confirmation • Endometriosis Treatment • Medical Weight Loss • Family Planning

4480 Cooper Lake Rd • Suite 220 • Smyrna, GA 30082 • 770-431-2322

SMYRNA OPTIMIST CLUB: at the American Legion Hall on Legion Dr. each Friday morning at 7:00 am. Our program includes a breakfast and program of local interest.  The purpose of the Optimist Club is to develop Optimism as a philosophy of life utilizing the tenants of the Optimist Creed which we recite at the close of every meeting. For further information check our web site at GARY HILL NETWORK: Gary Hill Network meets the 3rd Thursday of every month at various locations in the Smyrna/Vinings community. Call Gary for more information at 770-438-6961.

VININGS BUSINESS ASSOCIATION: Join us for our monthly luncheon held the first Tuesday of each month at Social Vinings Restaurant from 11:30 to 1pm. Important issues affecting your business will be discussed. Speakers and Agenda TBA. The VBA consists of business owners and managers committed to the enhancement of the economic vibrancy of Vinings and the promotion of its physical and financial health of the community through social, cultural, and business networking activities. For meeting times, please visit VININGS VILLAGE CIVIC CLUB: The Vinings Village Civic Club meets on the first Monday of each month at various locations around Vinings. All of Vinings welcome! The VVCC sponsors numerous programs and special events of interest to the Vinings community. Vinings residents and businesses sharing a commitment to maintain the character and beauty of Vinings are encouraged to become members. For more information, please email VININGS ROTARY: is an organization of business and professional leaders that provide humanitarian service encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace. Meetings are held each Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. in the Vinings Club in Overlook III. For more information, please visit SMYRNA GOLDEN K KIWANIS: A community service organization recognized for outstanding service to our schools and community. Meetings are held each Tuesday at 10:00 AM in the Windy Hill Senior Center.  For more information call 770.431.9786 or 770.801.8010. 

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ROTARY CLUB OF SMYRNA: Smyrna leaders meet each Tuesday for fellowship. We invite you to get involved and learn more about the Smyrna Rotary. We meet each Tuesday in the City of Smyrna Community Center (200 Village Green Circle) at 12:15 p.m. with rich programs. Smyrna Rotary meetings are loaded with fellowship and our speakers program is outstanding. To learn more, please visit KIWANIS CLUB OF SMYRNA: A spirited group of men and women, dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Smyrna community, meet every Wednesday at the Piccadilly Cafeteria on South Cobb Drive from 11:30 - 1:00 P.M. Lunch is FREE to all guests. Call Gary at 770-438-6961 for more information. WINDY HILL SENIOR CENTER: A variety of activities take place at the Windy Hill Senior Center in Smyrna. Movie Madness, Dining Out, The Stardust Dance Club, and even Bingo! Call 770-801-5320 for a complete schedule and detailed information. PARENTS OF MULTIPLES CLUB: Providing support, education and fun to all parents and caregivers of multiples who live, work or like to play in the Intown Atlanta area (inside and near 285). For detailed information, please visit or email MOMS Club: Ever feel like you’re the only mother who stays home? You are not alone! Come meet other at-home mothers at the MOMS Club! We are an international nonprofit organization for the at-home mother of today! Chapters have monthly meetings with speakers, park play days, holiday family parties, outings for mothers and their children, and activity groups like playgroups, arts and crafts, a monthly MOMS Night Out, and babysitting co-ops. We also do service projects to help needy children. Our activities are during the day, when mothers at home need support, and mothers may bring their children with them to our activities. For meeting times and more information about MOMS Club or to find the chapter nearest you, please visit www. WEST MARIETTA AGLOW COMMUNITY LIGHTHOUSE (WMA): a local group of Aglow International, a worldwide women’s group, is coming to Smyrna. The group will meet the first Thursday of every month at the Smyrna Community Center (200 Village Green Circle, Smyrna, 30080) in the Community Room on the first floor. For more information visit us at or call 404-935-8248. NEWCOMERS OF COBB COUNTY: The Newcomers Club of Cobb County holds a wide variety of social activities throughout the month including Bridge, Canasta, Book Club, Maj Jongg, Ladies Night Out, Golf, Bunco, Chick Flicks, Out to Lunch, Out and About Atlanta, and Weekend Pot Luck Dining. Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of every month at John Knox Presbyterian Church, 505 Powers Ferry Rd., Marietta, GA 30067. The meetings begin at 10 am. For further information, call 770.234.5068 or email STROLLER STRIDES: Stroller Strides is a total fitness program that includes power walking and intervals of body toning using exercise tubing and the stroller. Taught by nationally certified instructors, it’s a great workout for any level of exerciser. In 60 minutes, you will get a total body workout improving your cardiovascular endurance, your strength and your flexibility. The classes are equally beneficial for babies as Irving will weave songs through the workout and incorporate activities to make it fun. For more information on Stroller Strides of Smyrna or about upcoming events, please contact Tamara Irving at (888) 227-4312. If you have an event for the Our Town Calendar, please e-mail us at Listings are free, but space is limited! Deadline for calendar submissions is the 15th of the month for the following month’s issue.


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calendar of events


SMYRNA FRESH PRODUCE MARKET: Saturdays now through the Fall. Here’s a great market in your backyard! Stock up on all your fresh fruits and veggies every Saturday at the Fresh Produce Market. Market opens at 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the parking lot between Smyrna First Baptist and the Market Village (1275 Church Street SE Smyrna, GA 30080-3595).

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Allison Maurer is the creative eye behind Allison Suzanne Photography. Photography has been a passion of Allison’s for over a decade.  Combining this with her love for teaching, she competed a Master’s degree in Art Education emphasizing in photography at Columbia University.  She has always had a particular interest in portraiture focused on newborns, children and families recognizing that a whole story can be told through a smile, giggle or glance.  Through her work as a professional photographer Allison is always in pursuit of what she calls that “special real un-posed moment.” Always open to a new adventure, the native Detroiter relocated to Atlanta to teach Art in Cobb County. She quickly made herself at home and met the love of her life, Jeff, an Atlanta boy through and through. 

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Allison and Jeff married and after seven years teaching to full classrooms, Allison’s days are now spent teaching to a smaller crowd. Allison’s two step-daughters and ten month old twins are keeping her busy as a full time mom. In between gymnastics classes, cheerleading, naptimes and play dates, she can be found traveling, organizing neighborhood get-togethers, sipping Starbucks or exploring the world through her camera’s lens. If you would like more information go to or contact Allison at 770-366-3529

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about the cover


Meet Rosie and Lola! It is very possible that you may have seen these two girls in the Smyrna area. Rosie(5) and Lola(4) are the children of Alisa and Jeremy Simms. Jeremy is Senior Director of Programming Operations for TBS and TNT, while Alisa, shares ownership with her sister and her mom of a store in One Ivy Walk called Lola Rose, named after Lola and Rosie! Alisa taught in Cobb County before becoming a stay at home mom. She is a member of the Smyrna Business Association. The Simms family is very involved in their neighborhood Forest Hills, and love to participate in events and activities including Keep Smyrna Beautiful. Rosie will be starting Kindergarten at Brown Elementary in Fall 2011 and Lola will follow her starting in Fall 2012. Both girls take tap and ballet at Becky Jones School of Dance in Smyrna, and Rosie plays Smyrna soccer with her Dad being one of the coaches.

Our Town

What does a Father Do? by Mark Orler What does a Father do? This may seem like a ridiculous question, but with more than 36% of households in Georgia raising children in an environment where the Father is not a permanent fixture or at worst, not even present, it becomes less ridiculous. With one-in-three children wondering what a Father would do if he were around, we must take a hard look at the role we men play in our children’s lives and what the future generation of adults will be lacking because of our absence. I could not imagine what my household would be like if I were not around and if all the responsibilities of raising a family were thrust upon my wife. Fathers and husbands are demanded in a household because, like it or not, we perform certain duties that are integral in the healthy growth of all children. For instance, we can yell louder than anybody in the house. I cannot tell you how many times a squealing/screaming match between my girls and my wife has ended abruptly simply by a 200-decibel heavy-bass yelling, “ENOUGH!” Even my wife has admitted to needing a change of innerwear after I throw that noise-bomb into the house.

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Also, who is going to allow the children to pummel them mercilessly on the floor accompanied by their screams of laughter and joy? Let’s face it, mommies have too many fragile parts that are easily wounded, and wrestling with them never allows for the kid’s aggression to be fully explored. I don’t know what it is about children and how they turn into a scene from “The Lord of the Flies” when they get you on the carpet, but apparently it is necessary so they won’t grow into serial killers.

But all kidding aside we men need to literally step up to the plate. My father gave me some great advice which I feel applies to the duties required demanded of a man. And if you have been a part of the creation of child, you are, by definition, supposed to be a man. He put it simply, “If you start something, finish it!”

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And who is going to man the grill? What a shame it would be that a whole generation of children could grow into adults without eating scorched chicken, undercooked steaks and tomato-shaped hamburgers. We may end up with a whole population expecting everything they consume to be “safe and edible.” Medical costs are going to skyrocket because every time a child bumps their head or breaks an arm their o ve r- p r o t e c t i ve mothers are going to rush them to the emergency room because the voice of reason telling them to “shake it off ” won’t be there. I guess there will be a couple of plusses though. Landfills won’t fill up nearly as fast because the trash will never be taken out and exterminating and landscape companies will make a killing because there will be no one around to squish the insect predators manually and run the “magic cutting machine.”

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Let’s all earn the cards we receive this month! Mark Orler is a full-time husband, father and part-time observationist. Mark can be reached at Congratulations to Mark and Kimberly Orler! Gabriel Lee Orler entered the world weighing a whopping 9lbs, 4 oz! Here he is with his two big sisters who are already in love with their brand new baby brother!


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Our Town

june crossword

Study • Work • Unwind


Twenty G's


g g g

The letter G appears 20 times in 32 words.



g g g g g g g Gg gg g g 1 Chart 6 End 10 Ogle 14 2:1, for example 15 Clothing frill 16 Against 17 Clothes pressers 18 __ Major (Big Dipper) 19 Pineapple brand 20 Spiritedness 21 Binds 23 Flock of geese 25 Visionary 26 Southwestern Indian 27 Laugh 30 Welcomed 34 Colder 35 Greek god of war 36 Aye 38 Young chicken 39 TV lawyer Matlock 40 Seasoning 42 Goal 43 Get out! 44 Type of eclipse 45 Olympic flipper 48 Gape 49 Stomach muscles (abbr.) 50 Nightly tv show 51 Measures 54 Daring 55 Hair stuff 58 Sign 59 TV Show "American ___" 61 Plant seed 63 Double-reed instrument 64 Void 65 Nordic 66 Typeface 67 Heavenly beings 68 Adhesives


1 Clasp 2 Sparse 3 A spinning toy (2 wds.) 4 Metal fastener 5 Hotel 6 Gummy 7 Paddles 8 American Cancer Society (abbr.) 9 Baseball associations 10 Gizmo 11 Eager 12 Shall 13 Leg joint 22 Wrath 24 Dined 25 Elderly 27 Scoff 28 Frosting 29 Tipsy 30 Grand 31 Lease 32 Looking at 33 Clear sticker 35 What children learn 37 Withered 40 Ballad (2 wds.) 41 Short-nosed dogs 43 Talking back 46 Metal attractor 47 North by east 48 Acquire 50 Voids 51 Blunder 52 Convex shape 53 Long time 54 Jewelry metal 55 Sage 56 Otherwise 57 Dregs 60 "Dynamic __" 62 Volume (abbr.)

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678-556-1934 • For Advertising Information Call 678-337-7844 • Our Town

what’s cookin’?

Can you believe it is already June??? The kids are out of school and summertime has arrived. That can only mean it is time for concerts on the Marietta Square, backyard barbeques, tennis matches, and swimming pool splashes! When you start planning your menus for this fun time of the year, why not grab a copy of one of the Junior League of Cobb-Marietta’s cookbooks to stir up some great treats for your friends and family? The JLCM is pleased to offer Southern On Occasion and Georgia on My Menu at 50 percent off the cover price. All proceeds from these award winning books go directly to the JLCM. Partnering with organizations that reflect the mission of service to the children and families of Cobb County, the Junior League of Cobb-Marietta continues to be instrumental in identifying and meeting community needs through volunteer assistance and financial contributions. To order your copies, please visit

Frozen Lime Slush Page 39 – Georgia on My Menu Yields four servings 2 cups cracked ice 1 6-ounce can frozen limeade 1 ¼ cups vodka 1 10-ounce bottle club soda, chilled Strawberries or mint for garnish Combine first three ingredients in blender and mix until slushy. Add vodka and blend well. Add soda and mix gently. Serve in wine glasses and garnish with strawberries and mint. Father’s Day Steak Page 96 – Georgia on my Menu Yields six to eight servings 3 to 4 pound London broil or top round ½ cup sherry ½ cup soy sauce ¼ cup oil ¼ cup lemon juice 2 tablespoons brown sugar ½ teaspoon ginger 1 garlic clove, minced 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 4 teaspoons cornstarch ½ pound sliced mushrooms ¼ cup sliced scallions In a saucepan, mix sherry, soy sauce, oil, lemon juice, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and hot sauce. Cook 10 minutes and cool. Place the stack in a plastic bag and pour cooled marinade over steak. Tie bag. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove steak, reserving marinade to make steak sauce. Place steak over hot coals or on a broiling rack 4 to 5 inches from heat. Broil 25 to 40 minutes for a rare to medium steak. Brush with marinade; turn occasionally. Carve thin slices diagonally across grain. To make sauce, stir cornstarch into remaining marinade. Bring to a boil. Add sliced mushrooms and scallions. Cook about 2 minutes until thickened. Spoon over steak and serve. Broccoli Toss Page 73 – Southern on Occasion Serves eight to ten Florets of 2 bunches of broccoli 1 red onion, thinly sliced or chopped 1 cup raisins 1 cup pecans


1 pound bacon, crisp-fried, crumbled 1 cup mayonnaise or yogurt ½ cup sugar 2 tablespoons cider vinegar Toss the broccoli, onion, raisins, pecans and bacon in a salad bowl. Stir in a mixture of the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar up to 1 hour prior to serving. Store, covered, in the refrigerator until serving time. May use low-fat or nonfat mayonnaise. Cut the bacon into small pieces with kitchen shears prior to cooking if desired. Sunset Swirl Cookies Page 67 – Southern On Occasion Makes three to four dozen cookies 1 cup unsalted butter, softened 1 cup of sugar 2 cups of flour 2 teaspoons grated orange peel 1 tablespoon baking cocoa Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add the flour. Beat until of dough consistency, scraping the bowl occasionally. Divide the dough into 2 portions. Knead the baking cocoa into the remaining portion on a lightly floured surface. Roll each portion into a 7x12-inch rectangle on waxed paper. Stack the rectangles. Roll as for a jelly roll into a ¾-inch log. Chill, wrapped in waxed paper, for 45 minutes. Cut the log into ¼-inch slices. Arrange on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until crisps around the edges. Cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Organizing Your Home for Summer Living by Sherrie Le Masurier Summer is the season of exterior pleasures - soaking up the sun, enjoying a refreshing beverage on your deck and cooling off with a swim. So with summer just around the corner now is the time to turn our organizing thoughts to outdoor pleasures. Spring is the perfect time to gather all the necessary supplies you’ll need for summer. (I’m assuming you’ve already cleaned your outdoor furniture and have set up your porch swing or hammock. If not, get to it. No sense, putting it off. After all, you’ll need a place to relax once you get everything done.) Let’s start with the biggest of your must have accessories – a heavy duty plastic cooler, a small table and a decent sized trash can. These are all good to have on hand. You may also want to pick up a bag or two of ice to keep in your freezer so you never run short. Next check your condiment supplies. Do you have enough ketchup, mustard, relish, barbecue sauce and mayonnaise to get you through the season? If not, stock up now. A condiment refrigerator tote keeps everything organized and easy to retrieve. While you’re thinking about what you’ll need, check out your stash of paper plates, cups, napkins and plastic utensils. Consider keeping a tray of disposables handy for quick table setting. Don’t forget to stock up your picnic basket for impromptu outings. Keeping everything in your picnic basket organized and ready to go will save considerable time when it comes to hosting your next picnic. Also, keep barbecue tools and accessories like your apron and hot pads handy.

summer toys in all shapes and sizes, makes and models. By establishing a game plan at the start of the season you’ll eliminate considerable frustration. Keep swimming and water related items like floating toys, flip flops, and goggles in one place. A great way to do this is to string up some fish netting. All you need is a couple of heavy duty hooks and a bunch of toys. It keeps things all in one spot and anything damp dries quickly. Use a large lidded bin to store outdoor toys. Insisting on a daily clean-up effort at the beginning of the season will get everyone off to a good start. Fill your cooler with ice, and then organize it with drinks, snacks and antibacterial wipes so the kids won’t have to keep going into the house for stuff. Also, it’s helpful to keep necessities like bug repellents, a small first aid kit, sunglasses and sunscreen organized together and near your back door. If you find that sand or dirt frequently gets tracked in, consider placing a heavyduty mat outside and another lighter-gauge one indoors. In addition, place a basket or shoe holder outdoors to encourage family members to remove their shoes before going inside. A broom and dustpan combo or a hand-held vacuum kept nearby will also help keep your floors cleaner.

OTHER COOL SUMMER ORGANIZING IDEAS INCLUDE: • Using a folding clothes rack for hanging towels poolside. • Affixing bathtub decals to the bottom of kiddie pools to make them slip-free. • Using a small kiddie/wading pool and lots of ice to keep drinks cool when hosting a large pool party. • Using a kiddie pool to bathe the dog, as a sandbox, or to wash freshly cut grass off your feet before entering the pool.

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4624 camp highland rd. • suite 700 • smyrna, ga 30082 678.741.5900 •

hours of operation: sunday - Wednesday 11 – midnight • thursday - saturday 11 – 1am

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Remember when air travel was glamorous, exciting and fun? Those days have been replaced with hassle and irritation. The friendly skies just aren't that friendly anymore. My friend and fellow Image Consultant, Christopher Hopkins, gives us a few suggestions on how to make flying a little more pleasant by respecting your fellow travelers and airline hosts. Although we have become a more casual society and air travel is common, our manners should not be. · Comfortable clothes need not be sloppy, baggy, stretched-out, ripped and ragged, nor should they be gym or sleep attire. If you wouldn’t wear it to a decent restaurant, don’t wear it to the airport. · Know your luggage restrictions before arriving at the airport. Keep your carry- on luggage small enough to fit into the overhead bin or under your seat. Any minute now, the airlines will be charging for this privilege so let’s appreciate it while we can. · Take your luggage with you to your seat. If you’re in the rear, it goes in the rear. If you’re in the front, store it as close to your seat as possible. · If the conversation isn’t absolutely necessary, refrain from speaking on your phone until you are in the terminal. If it is, speak softly. Very softly. · Gum smacking is not only tacky it irritates others not immune to your mindless mastication. · Ear buds or phones do not keep loud music or movies from broadcasting all around you. Ask your neighbor if the volume is okay, and if need be, turn it down. · Keep conversation between you and your neighbor quiet. Very quiet. · Keep protruding parts to yourself. Keep elbows, knees, feet and hands in your own square space. · Recline your seat SLOWLY. · Control your children. You are in charge of their four S’s (Site, Sound, Space and Smell), and we all appreciate you containing their site, sound, space and smell. · A gentle touch and a “Pardon me” are better than a mid-straddle awakening. · At-home hygiene is imperative. Remember, you’ll be sitting in close quarters and it’s likely to be warm in the cabin. · Eat fried foods in the terminal, not on the plane. No one wants to smell your McNuggets. By practicing good manners, you are showing those around you that you are considerate of their feelings and respectful. You are also setting standards for others' behavior and encouraging them to treat you with similar respect.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". ~Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:12) Shelia Frey, owner of Signature Image Consulting, will help you discover your personal style and give instruction on creating your individual look. Her goal is to add value to women's lives by positively influencing the way they view themselves. Contact her at 770-893-8944 or at

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Brooke Merrill Home Creative Concepts for Comfortable Living Accommodating all your interior needs: • • • • • • • • • •

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Turning Small Into Spacious One of the biggest challenges for most homeowners is decorating in a small space. No matter how large the home, there will inevitably be a room that is too small for its intended function, but there are several clever things you can do to make that small space look spacious. First, the color of paint can make a big difference. If the room gets a lot of natural daylight, use a pale shade of paint. The light will reflect beautifully during the daytime hours and using dark furniture against the pale walls will give you “designer depth”. On the other hand, I suggest using a deep, moody color on the walls if your space gets little to no natural light. In a poorly lit space, a pale color will look dead and dreary. In this case, it is always better to paint the walls a rich color and then use plenty of lamp lighting. If you choose to use efficiency bulbs, make sure you select “soft white” in a room with little natural light. Soft white bulbs warm up the color and create a soothing, cozy environment. Using oversized mirrors on the walls will instantly enlarge the space. Not only do they reflect light, they also reflect the room, enlarging the vision plane. It creates the optical illusion that the room continues past the mirror. There are some gorgeous paned mirrors that look like arched windows, and using three side by side on a larger wall creates a very dramatic effect in a small space. If a small bathroom is the problem area you are tackling, use a larger tile on the floor. We tend to use smaller tile in small bathrooms, but by using a 12 x 12 tile instead of a 6 x 6, you can trick the eye into thinking the visual plane is much larger. Do not use cabinets or shelving that sit directly on the floor in a small bathroom, but instead mount a cabinet above the toilet. The less you have on the floor, the better, and if you have the budget, you should install a recessed, mirrored, medicine cabinet above the sink. Countertop clutter adds to the feeling of suffocation in a small bathroom, and these recessed medicine cabinets hold a surprising amount of “stuff ”. You will be thrilled with the results! One online blogger made a wonderful point about furniture arrangement in a small space. She suggested not blocking the natural traffic path with furniture. For example, don’t put the back of a piece of furniture to the door. Instead, arrange the seating area so that it faces the door.


This will “invite” you into the room. The less furniture that blocks the natural footpath, the better. One suggestion I see over and over again online is to use smaller furniture in a smaller space. I wholeheartedly disagree with this rule! I’m not, however, suggesting that you use oversized furniture in a small space. I’m suggesting that you use the appropriate sized furniture and the right amount of it. Sometimes large furniture can draw the eye up and out, so don’t be afraid to use a tall armoire in the corner of a small TV room, or a nice wall chest with lamps and a mirror above in a small dining room. If you have a small library, you can use comfy, overstuffed reading chairs with a small table and lamp in between. The chunky pieces fill the space nicely, and the small table won’t overwhelm the senses. When I tackle a small space, I follow this game plan: • Choose the function of the space (TV Room, Craft Room, Bedroom, etc.) • Install the necessary pieces of furniture • Use a small area rug (no smaller than a 5 x 7 or it will look silly) • Install large artwork or mirrors on the wall • Add plenty of lighting (floor lamps are wonderful if you don’t have a lot of surface area for table lamps) • Add more furniture to fill in the gaps until the room feels balanced It is always a good idea to grab a friend or family member to help you take the room for a test drive. Have them over for a glass of wine and ask them to give you honest opinion after hanging out in the space for an hour or so (wine can be a great truth serum!). The point is to make people feel warm and welcome in your home, so getting some outside advice can be helpful.

Brooke Merrill is an Interior Designer and the owner of Brooke Merrill Home in Smyrna. 770-432-7425

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Mindfulness Meditation 101: Benefits of Cultivating a Mindfulness Meditation Practice By: Robert W. Poynter, III, MS, EdS, LAPC “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” ~ Albert Einstein What is Mindfulness Meditation? Mindfulness meditation is a technique of meditation in which distracting thoughts and feelings are not ignored but are rather acknowledged and observed with non-judgment. Through a variety of exercises and techniques, meditation increases an individual’s awareness of his or her thoughts, feelings, and body sensations without feeling the need to be controlled by them. Yes, you can actually control your responses to your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations without feeling controlled by them. You are not your thoughts, feelings, or body sensations. They are only a fraction of your ‘whole’ self. You are not who you think you are until you discover meditation and the power of exploring your inner wisdom and intuition. Mindfulness is about being fully aware of whatever is happening in the moment. It is a moment-to-moment awareness where time slows down where you can actually focus on the task or situation that is present. Through mindfulness meditation, you are trying to achieve a mind that is stable and calm, and with practice, you will be developing and strengthening your mind in becoming calm without struggling. Mindfulness is not a new idea. It has been part of religious texts for thousands of years, writers and poets have embellished their insights, and it has been central to many contemplative traditions such as Buddhism. Mindfulness has entered the mainstream in the West and is exerting an influence in a wide variety of contexts, including medicine, neuroscience, psychology, counseling, education, and business. As a nation, we are suffering from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders from a point of view of meditative traditions. We are always doing and there is no time to rest, so we have created a society where there are more certifiable attentiondeficit disorders and diagnoses. As Eastern practices gain more popularity in the West, mindfulness has been shown to have promising results. What are the benefits? Scientific research has shown growing evidence that cultivating mindfulness can increase your enjoyment of life, expand your capacity to cope with illness, and improve your physical and emotional health. It is a powerful tool in reducing the stress and anxiety that occurs with chronic illness, and as an adjunct to modern medicine it may enhance other treatments. Mindfulness has been found to be one of the best holistic treatments in reducing symptoms of mental illness and increasing mental wellness. Here is a compiled list of benefits that have been analyzed as the top 10 benefiting factors of cultivating a mindfulness meditation practice: • Increases self-awareness, self-trust, and self-acceptance • More fluid adaptation to change and development of more effective coping strategies • Significant decrease in a variety of stress-related physical or emotional symptoms (work-related, relationship issues, life stressors, etc.) • Significant decrease in anxiety and depression symptoms • Improved concentration, focus, and creativity • Improved immune system function (lowers blood pressure, helps with heart disease, and helps with cancer and other long-term illnesses) • An increased ability to relax and control racing thoughts • Greater energy and enthusiasm for life (work productivity, relationship satisfaction, and love for life) • Enhanced interpersonal relationships • Improved self-esteem Exercises and how to cultivate a practice: I encourage people to meditate frequently, but for short periods of time—ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes. Training the mind should be very, very simple. Exercise #1: Meditation Simply find a comfortable place, free of distractions, and sit quietly while quieting your mind. Gently close your eyes. Just observe what is going on in the body (body sensations, thoughts, and feelings). Just notice how your thoughts come and go, like clouds dissipating in the sky. Just notice and observe. Exercise #2: Deep Breathing Beware of your breathing. Gently close your eyes or stare at a spot. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Breathe from your belly, not your chest. It may be awkward at first, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Become aware of the belly rising and falling, feeling the sensations in your nostrils, chest, and diaphragm. Pay attention to your breathing at red lights When you are upset, take some ‘mindful’ breaths (take 5 or 10 breaths to help you calm down)

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness meditation, you can find me at Warnecke Professional Counseling in Marietta and Alpharetta/Roswell, where I provide teachings and disciplines that help individuals cultivate their own meditational practice, so they can find more clarity in their lives. Please call 678.784.4293 to make an appointment, or for more information, visit our website at

Laura (“Laurie”) Vickery Benesh has represented individuals and corporations for over ten years throughout Georgia in state and federal courts. Please call for a free consultation.

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Sources: Kabat-Zinn, John. Full Catastrophe Living, 1990.


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Many of us watch TV shows and see the miraculous transformation of homes and gardens by professionals and amateur do-it-yourselfers. Is it really that easy, we ask ourselves? Could I do it? Where do I begin? What improvement projects will generate the biggest increase in the value of my home? What Do You Want and What Can You Afford? There are several good reasons for wanting to redecorate or remodel your home. If your residence no longer reflects your changing tastes and lifestyle, but you don't want to leave a desirable neighborhood, maybe all you need to do is make one or two basic changes. Altering a color scheme, converting a bedroom into a home office, or upgrading the kitchen and bathroom are practical home improvement projects that add esthetic appeal and really pay off. If a move is in the future, you want home improvement projects that will give you the biggest bang for your buck when it’s time to sell. Whatever your motives for improving your home, make a wish list with three categories: • Must have • Would like to have • Dreams can come true When your list is complete, consider the amount of money you have available or are prepared to borrow. Unless you have unlimited funds, make a realistic estimate of what you can afford. Are you planning major renovations that will require the services of an architect or a contractor? Will you need an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter, a painter, or all four? How much work can you do yourself ? All these factors must be taken into account as you pare down your list into affordable home improvement projects. How Do You Begin? Every project starts with a plan. Itemize everything you want and think you can afford, and include a design of rooms to be remodeled. If you are going to require professional help, now is the time to talk to contractors, plumbers, and other tradesmen, and to ask for estimates. Comparison-shopping is a must. If you are an accomplished do-it-yourselfer, price materials and tools needed. If you can't afford to do everything on your list, reassess your prime needs and make a new plan. What Projects Are Key?

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The best projects for improving the value of your home are, happily, the most affordable and the easiest to do yourself, even if you are a super klutz. Ask any real estate agent for tips on how to prepare a home for resale and you will be told that the house and yard should be cleaned and all clutter removed. Creating suitable home storage facilities, and cleaning and painting the interior and exterior of your house, therefore, are the jobs that top the list of desirable improvements. The premium projects that usually require professional help are kitchen remodeling first and bathroom remodeling second. These particular upgrades will provide the best return for your money, and the real estate industry has statistics to prove it. Clean Everything in Sight Cleaning your home and yard is a great improvement project, and if you are remodeling, it will be the final step after the dust has settled. You will need something heavy-duty like tri-sodium

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Weddings Should Be About More than a Beautiful Day

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3/9/10 10:21 AM

by Leisa A. Bailey, Ph.D.

It’s wedding season – and weddings are fun! This year’s season began with the romantic and beautiful celebration of the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton. This elaborate event captured imagination and elicited thoughts on how to view weddings – which are the birth of a marriage – as about more than the perfect dress, beautiful flowers, a wonderful meal, and a great party. Sometimes the excitement of getting engaged or planning a wedding can overshadow some of the more important issues about the decision to marry. Making the wedding more about a marriage is important! Engagement and marriage is one of the most significant psychological transitions in life. It involves more than just finding true love. Often engaged couples believe that their relationship will not experience the relationship problems other couples face. However, nearly half of marriages end in divorce so clearly this belief is incorrect in many cases. To have a healthy marriage, each partner has to be mentally and emotionally mature. This means having a strong sense of self. Rushing into marriage before becoming a “grown up” rarely is successful. Being in love is simply not enough! Plan your marriage – not just your wedding! This is about more than one day. The popular TV personality Dr. Phil advises engaged couples to consider developing an emotional prenuptial agreement, outlining how you’ll handle children, discipline, sex, money, household chores, religion, careers, in-laws … … the list goes on. It may not be very romantic, but marriage isn’t all romance – it’s also collaboration and if you don’t plan for and discuss tough issues – you won’t be able to successfully merge two lives together. Some engaged couples participate in formal pre-marital counseling before their big day. Such professional sessions can assist in examining compatibility and conflict resolution style. Investing in preparation counseling sessions provides a format for couples to discuss and understand the “hot topics”. Of course, these discussions can occur outside of a professional’s office. The goal is to communicate openly and honestly about what is important to each of you. Not everything can or will be covered before the wedding but by learning effective communication skills, a couple can


learn how to navigate future issues of conflict. This skill is critical in marriage. Agreement on all the issues is not the goal. During these premarital discussions, if you agree on everything, someone isn’t being honest. You are different people and will disagree! However, being able to express strong feelings and respectfully accept a partner’s strong feelings is essential. Finding where you are willing to and how to find that important middle ground is a necessary skill in all marriages. Living intimately with another person requires making decisions together. It requires consideration of another’s view. Be sure to identify and communicate needs and expectations. It is not selfish to know what is most important to you. Be honest with yourself and your partner about your “non-negotiables” – the deal breakers. We all have them – it is important to understand what they are for you and your partner. Pre-marital counselor, Dr. Rich Nicastro offers the following five questions for engaged couples to consider: • Why do you want to get married? A feeling that “it’s time” is not enough. • Why do you want to marry this person? “Because I love him/her” is not enough. • What core values do you share with your future spouse? Compatibility on values matter. • What are the main differences between the two of you? Understanding and accepting differences are important. • How do you envision married life? Discuss expectations. If a wedding is planned for your family’s summer, take the time to discuss how the wedding day should be the celebration and beginning of a beautiful marriage. Dr. Bailey is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with a private practice in Marietta. You can learn more about her by visiting: You may reach her at (770) 428-6698 or Your comments or questions are welcome.

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health and fitness

One Nutrition Tweak You Can Make Today and See Body Changing Results…FAST! by Jason Goggans Before I reveal the one nutritional tweak you can make to super charge your results I want to have a quick history lesson. Humans have been inhabiting earth for approximately 2.5 million years. Early humans, called the Paleolithic people, lived on a much different earth than humans of today. As a result, their nutrition was wildly different. There were no grocery stores or fast food drive throughs. They had to hunt and gather to survive. What ever the land had to offer is what they had to eat. The diets of the paleo people mostly consisted of protein, fats, fruits, and vegetables. Notice I did not mention grains. You see, grains (i.e. wheat, oats, rice, etc) were not harvested until the agricultural revolution which occurred about 10,000 years ago. The agricultural revolution was a wonderful thing in many ways because it enabled humans to grow mass quantities of food to feed very hungry people. But it was at a cost. Humans have only been eating grains for 10,000 years which means we did not eat grains for 2,490,000 years. As a result, the human body is not genetically “wired” to handle grains well. To say that grains wreak havoc on the body would be an understatement! Some of you are probably thinking “Yeah but…I thought whole grains were a part of a healthy diet. I need them for fiber!” I will address this later in the article. But for now let’s discuss why grains are so bad. First, from a fat loss perspective, grains destabilize blood sugar. The body cannot effectively burn away body fat unless your blood sugar is stabilized. Eating grains will cause blood sugar levels to rise sharply leading to fat storage, and ultimately fall leading to low blood sugar and sugar cravings. It’s a vicious cycle that will result in complete fat loss frustration. Proteins, fats, and vegetables don’t have a dramatic blood sugar effect so eating these foods will not destabilize blood sugar and will keep your body in fat burning mode at all times. Grains also cause inflammation inside the body. This is because grains contain chemicals that act as a defense mechanism. This is their way of preventing themselves from being eaten. Since humans did not eat grains for 99.9% of our existence, our bodies are not genetically equipped to handle these chemicals and inflammation is one of the results. Almost all major diseases can be linked to inflammation. Inflammation can also sabotage fat loss! Grains are also addictive. The molecules in grains fit into opiate receptors in your brain just like heroin, morphine, and Vicodin. This is why you are probably reading this thinking “There is NO WAY I can stop eating grains!” But like any addiction, it can be broken.

Here are a few more reasons that grains should limited in our diet: • Calorie for calorie grains are remarkably weak nutritionally when compared to lean proteins, seafood, vegetables, and fruits • Grains have natural defense systems (like the one mentioned above) that cause gut irritation • Gut irritation allows intestinal contents that were never meant to enter the blood stream to do so. This causes a myriad of health issues (i.e. Infertility, Type I Diabetes, MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Autism, Depression, Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and many more) • A leaky gut can also effect your ability to use protein. This results in less muscle tissue and slower recovery from workouts. • Grains have anti-nutrients called phytates. Phytates block the absorption of important metals such as zinc, copper, and magnesium Eye opening stuff, huh? As I mentioned above, humans started eating grains about 10,000 years ago. This is the start of the Neolithic period. While the Paleolithic people were lean, tall, athletic, and relatively disease free the Neolithic people were on average 6 inches shorter, had less lean muscle, and died from diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and many more. The only real difference between the Paleolithic people and the Neolithic people???? You guessed it…the Neolithics ate GRAINS! So why do we eat grains? If they are so bad why are they so prevalent in our society? These are great questions and the only answer I can give is that people are simply uneducated about it. We have been told that we need grains for fiber and gut health. The truth is that grains make your gut unhealthy and they contain 1/8 the fiber that fruit contains and 1/20 the fiber that vegetables contain. If you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, fats, and proteins then there is no need to eat grains…ever! Now before you panic I am not suggesting that grains never cross your lips again. In our society that would be tough. I am suggesting that you take a break from grains for 14 days to let your gut heal then eat grains in extreme moderation after that. Not only will you be far healthier, you will also have a body that will make it all worthwhile!


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Little did I know when I stepped off the plane in Hanoi that I would be eating my way through Vietnam.

For years I had wanted to visit this country that is so much a part of our own history. I was in college when US forces came to fight in this small nation. I remember things like the Kent State riots, and the words Viet Cong and Hanoi Jane. I also remember Robin Williams who did such a masterful job in the film “Good Morning Vietnam”. I was really blind to what was really happening in this beautiful country in Southeast Asia. Maybe because of the years of repression under the French and then the war with the Viet Cong, that this once divided people are so glad not to be starving, that it seems to me that all they do is eat. I have never seen a country so involved in food and the Confucius theory of yin and yang in the food. The Vietnamese eat constantly. From Hanoi to Saigon and everywhere in between, streets are crowded with motorbikes and small mom and pop restaurants in front of every other store or house. And they are crowded with people eating all of the time. Big pots of soup are cooking on every corner with people on little red plastic chairs with bowls and chopsticks in hand slurping up the special of the day. Hanoi is now a huge city and the capitol of this country. Here Ho Chi Minh set up his government after the US troops withdrew from the country in 1975. Those freedom seekers from the south, left by the boatload for other countries and soon South Vietnam and North Vietnam became one communist nation with aid from China and Russia. Although Vietnam is still a communist nation, the ties with China and Russia have long been broken and now this new form of government allows for almost capitalistic progress. Gone is the starvation; gone are the industries that supported what the Vietnamese call the “American War”. In their place and in the old hangers and military bases from 40 years ago, are steel factories and cement plants to support the tremendous growth that is taking place here.

Tourism is also alive and well, and where in the past a guest house was a necessary accommodation, today China Beach in Da Nang and further south supports a myriad of modern deluxe hotels. The Nam Hai, considered by critics to be one of the best hotels in the world, nestles on a secluded beach not far from Hoi An, a city bustling with tourism. Here you can find historic buildings mixed in with markets, any number of good restaurants and shops, all very reminiscent of the large tourist hot spots in the world. There is very little you cannot find here, and all very, very inexpensive. And here too, you will see the tiny red plastic chairs with the people eating from sun up to the wee hours of the night. I had heard a lot about Halong Bay and was really looking forward to an experience aboard a rice barge or Chinese style junk. What I found was a huge tourist trade where over 500 deluxe air conditioned boats leave port every day to wander around these strange pinnacles protruding from the sea. What do you do on these boats…you eat…you swim….you eat….you kayak….you eat….and you eat again. 200 + deluxe junks are overnight hotels. In any of the bays and grottos of this lovely spot you will be sure to find one of them anchored for the night. In Saigon and in the Mekong delta, again the little red chairs are everywhere. Roadside rest stops are plentiful and there is an increasing number of tourist buses traveling Highway 1, once part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This area where US troops once did the majority of their fighting is now a hot spot on the tourist maps. The Cu Chi Tunnels are a stunning reminder of how the Vietnamese people lived during the war while they hid from the daily bombardment of American planes. I think I have put on 10 lbs here in my effort not to insult Vietnamese hospitality. I have eaten at least a 5 course meal everywhere I have traveled and several times a day. The food is always plentiful and full of vegetables and rice. The little red chairs are not for guests thankfully, because after so much food, I probably could not get out of one. But Vietnam is a wonderful country to discover today. So much to see and so much to eat and enjoy!

Everyone is scared to talk about divorce or child support. It’s how it used to be with certain diseases like cancer. It wasn’t until people felt they could speak up about it and not feel ashamed that progress was made in treatment of the disease and focus was put on improving the quality of life for patients. Divorce is the same way. No one that has one wanted it. Usually they did lots to avoid it, but its here. We have to deal with it. In this case, the bed side manner of your lawyer is critical. It’s not just about the facts and the law. This is your life. Your children’s futures. You have to TRUST your family lawyer. As a regular person, this is probably the only time you will be involved in the legal system and let me tell you, it isn’t always fair. It’s definitely not easy or safe. Time and again I see women reach out and grab the first legal hand they see- out of fear & shame, lack of money or just plain exhaustion. You could end up with a real estate attorney drafting documents (that don’t work) that control your little girl’s future for the next 15 years! I have held hands of crying women as my heart broke to tell them what they had done really couldn’t be fixed . Like a major life changing disease, you will get ONE SHOT to get yourself on the road to health and safety. I am called to practice family law and protect women who will fight. If you believe in God (unlike other lawyers I’m proud of my strong faith!) and you will trust me, I will get you through. I will fight while you heal. I will keep your little ones financially safe and secure with you. You can’t afford a cheap lawyer to protect family. “God literally sent her…” R. Cobb County

GET YOUR FAQ ANSWERED FOR FREE! CALL FREE Just call Toll Free 1-855-99UPick (998-7425) and select the information you need. I will reveal the biggest mistake a woman can make when her husband has an affair!! ◊ I have also posted a mini-summary of my AliveExpo May Seminar on “What the Rich Do that You DON’T”. Check out our testimonials at Yahoo- The Stewart Law Firm in Smyrna, GA ?

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Mommy Moments Round Three: Pregnancy from a Preschooler’s Perspective by Shasta Clark Pregnancy makes people giddy. They abandon all social etiquette, and touch pregnant women’s bellies without thinking twice. Some expecting moms get upset over the unwanted attention, but I understand. Babies are intoxicating, and the way they grow is miraculous.

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Still, there is one thing I can’t stand about people’s fascination with my swollen belly: their comments about my appearance. And everyone has one. Strangers guess my baby’s gender based on how I’m carrying. (Wide hips for a girl, straight out for a boy. Wouldn’t you know it? I get a lot of girl guesses.) Doctors warn of excessive weight gain, and children, the most honest and humorous of all human beings, tell it exactly as they see it. A few weeks ago my family and I were in the car when I was lamenting to my husband about how large I feel this pregnancy. “I swear I peed on the stick and my belly instantly popped out,” I said. “And don’t get me started on my butt…” Just then I could see my husband squirming in his seat, searching for a response that wouldn’t send him to the doghouse, when my 5-yearold son piped up from the back seat, “You’re not THAT fat, Mom.” We all laughed ourselves silly, and thanks to my son’s comic timing, my husband didn’t have to sleep with the dogs. Fat comments aside, one of the most delightful things about my third pregnancy has been experiencing it through my son’s eyes. He is infatuated with my growing stomach. He places his little hand on it in hopes of feeling his baby brother or sister kick. And he’s developed sweetness toward me that never existed before. When we first told him we were expecting, he shyly smiled and said little. “Do you have any questions?” My husband and I asked. “No, I kind of knew it already,” he said. Later when he was alone with my husband he asked all sorts of questions that left my husband a bit speechless. “How did the baby get in there?” he asked.



ages 4 - 12.

“When mommies and daddies are married, the Lord often blesses them with a baby that grows in the mommy’s tummy,” my husband said. This answer sparked more questions. “Where does it come out?” “It comes out mom’s belly,” my husband said, which is technically true if I have a C-section. “Does it come right out of her skin?” he asked dismayed, probably picturing a scene similar to the movie “Alien”. “Yeah, kind of like that,” my husband replied.

Now enrolling for all Pre-School Programs, including Fall Pre-K BEFORE & AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS (INCLUDING TRANSPORTATION) Providing exceptional care and learning for children 6 weeks to 12 years old. Internet viewing of classrooms.

I’m not sure what else my husband said to my son, but at some point in the questioning, my son must have decided that he needs to comfort and protect me while I’m expecting. Nearly every day after lunch, we snuggle up on the couch and take a much-needed nap while Sesame Street plays. He sits right next to my belly and rubs my back until I fall asleep, and he says, “Mommy, I want to take care of you because you’re pregnant.” With love like that, I can withstand a few fat comments from time to time.

200 Veterans Memorial Highway, SW • Mableton 770-948-5535 • ~ Bright Minds.....The Path to Bright Futures ~ PAGE 22

Shasta Clark, a former writer for CNN Headline News is a freelance journalist who writes about her most challenging job yet, motherhood. You may contact her at

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Use Family Time to Work on Your Family History by Arielle Nรณbile The upcoming summer months bring families together for reunions and vacations. Winter holidays are another time when it is typical for you and your loved ones to get together. While these events can often be fraught with chaos, family dramas, and silly games, why not take the opportunity of being all together to go over your family history? Take advantage of your time and go through family photos and reminisce; make sure you don't loose the chance to get your Aunt Ida to identify all the cousins from that fading family portrait from last century. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you are all in one place. Here are some basic suggestions to help you get started working on your family history project during important family gatherings: 1. Pool family photos and label them. Use an archival pen that will not bleed through to write on the back. Start with the older photos-photos left unmarked might not be identifiable in a couple generations. Set aside time to for the computer-savvy family members can scan photos to make CDs, slideshows and scrapbooks. 2. Have a movie night to watch your home movies together. People are often surprised to see what they had in storage. Maybe your Aunt Jean has that video of your 6th birthday party. If there are home movies that you want to preserve you can send them to a video company to digitally transfer for longterm storage. 3. Jot down notes on your family's stories while you are spending time with them. You can use the notes to remember the stories you want to hear from your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to interview them with a voice recorder or camcorder at another, quieter time. 4. Gather family facts. Buy a simple family tree book, or bring a blank notebook and make columns for birth dates, locations, wedding and graduation dates. Have older relatives write down their parents' and grandparents' important dates as much as they remember. Maybe your great-grandparents are from Alabama and you thought they were from New Jersey. You can use this as a foundation for genealogy research later.


5. Bring a voice recorder or camcorder and record the reminiscing. Even if the scene is chaotic you will capture some moments that your family will treasure. 6. Talk to a Veteran in your family about their service. Many of us have relatives who are military veterans, and it may be difficult for them to talk about their service, especially if they served in combat. Offering to interview them about their service can let them know that you are interested in their service experience and create an opening for them speak about it. It may be easiest to ask them about their service experiences in the context of their entire life story, or some may be more than willing to share just their military stories. Regardless, interviewing veterans in your family is a great way to make historical events feel more real and present to younger generations in your family whose only knowledge of such things comes from textbooks.

Arielle Nรณbile is passionately committed to helping people tell their stories in a way that enriches their life and inspires others.

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• Full-Service Animal Hospital • In-House Bloodwork • Late Evening & Weekend Appointments • On-Line Services • Boarding for Dogs under 20lbs. and Cats • Dog Obedience Classes Monday and Friday 8 - 6 Tuesday thru Thursday 8 - 8 Saturday 9 - 1 • Sunday CLOSED Become a fan of CAC on Facebook

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Meet Mary Jane and Smokey. Both are rescues and have a wonderful forever home. Both dogs are very loyal and a real part of the family. If you would like your pet to be Our Town’s Pet of the Month, please send a photo with a short bio to:

Our Town Magazine, 109 Anderson Street, Suite 109, Marietta, GA 30060 or email it to PLEASE SPECIFY SMYRNA/VININGS EDITION PAGE 24

My name is Peggy Sue and I am an energetic, independent, sweet-natured Welsh Terrier who loves everyone. Mommy and Daddy think I am a real wonder dog, best-friend they ever had!

My name is Woody! I have been a soccer enthusiast ever since my Grandy bought me my first soccer ball five years ago. I play every day with my Dad, but today he is out of town and I miss him!

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pets of the month

Maddie is a 2 year old English Mastiff. A gentle giant. He loves his baby brother Robbie!

Vacationing and Pet Ownership by Dr. Inna Donelan, Cumberland Animal Clinic Now that school is out and summer is upon us, a lot of folks are hitting the road. You’ve got your vacation planned, but what do you do with the pets? The choices for the pet owner are to board in a kennel, hire a pet sitter, or bring the pet along. There are advantages and pitfalls to each selection. In recent years, full-service boarding facilities have sprung up in Metro Atlanta. Many of these “animal hotels” offer full-service boarding, with one-on-one interaction, playtimes, comfy beds, even suite TVs. Most have grooming and training opportunities as well. Kennels like these tend to be the less expensive choice for those who don’t wish to travel with their pet, and they do provide a lot of stimulation and interaction for Fido and Fluffy. Sometimes, though, that’s not a good thing. Some pets do not care for such a drastic change in their living conditions and become fearful or stop eating. Also, unfamiliar animals in close quarters can spread infections and/ or parasites. To keep this to a minimum, most kennels do require a full set of vaccinations before boarding, so make sure you do that well ahead of your trip. Ask for a tour of the facility before you make your selection, and if possible take a short trip before an extended one to see how your pet adjusts to being kenneled. Pet sitting is a great choice for most cat owners and some dog owners as well. A sitter will come to your house for a pre-arranged amount of visits per day. They will feed, change litter, clean up “accidents”, and play with your pets. Some will stay in your house, doubling as a house-sitter. Keep in mind, though, that this person will be in your house multiple times a day for several days on end. Make sure they’re someone you can trust! A good pet sitter will have references, ideally some veterinary experience, and a sweet way with your animals. Your veterinarian should be able to provide some names of good pet sitters. Make sure that you are comfortable with the person you choose, and your pet is too. And, it’s very important to have a plan in place for emergencies- will the sitter take your pet to your vet? Theirs? Who pays? Make sure you’re reachable by phone in case something happens. But, supposing you don’t want to leave Spot at home? Some vacations are very conducive to the addition of your furry companion. Trips to the lake and camping expeditions can be lots of fun with a dog. If you do take your dog along to a place like that, make sure that you have a full set of vaccinations (including leptospirosis, a contagious disease a dog can catch by simply walking through areas where wildlife have been), as well as heartworm and flea/ tick prevention, all set up. It’s also a good idea to know where the nearest veterinarian or emergency clinic can be found. Even trips that don’t really involve the dog don’t have to completely exclude her. Many attractions, such as Disneyworld and even Six Flags, have on-site kennels where you can board your pet while you play during the day. Some hotels will allow pets (usually with a fee), or you can find a petfriendly condo to rent. Just make sure your pet is housebroken and not a barker or a chewer, or you may find yourself facing some unexpected charges. More information on which hotels are pet-friendly and where you can exercise and entertain your pet along the way can be found on websites such as and The species, size, and age of your pet will influence whether you take them with you or plan for them to stay behind. Finances will play a role as well. With proper planning, everyone will enjoy their summer travels. Happy June!


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by Deborah Ratchford

Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home - Part II How Do I find a Good Lender? The best way to find a good lender or a good Real Estate Professional, for that matter, is through a friend or a recommendation. Consult at least two lenders and be mindful to keep the number of lenders from pulling your credit to a minimum. If your credit history is viewed too many times, this can actually bring your credit score down. Ask your lender to supply you with a good faith estimate. This will show you all of the costs associated with your loan. Also make sure once you lock in your rate with your lender that you ask for this in writing. After You Have Purchased your Home What Costs Should You Expect as a First Time Homeowner? Ask your Realtor to get an estimate of utilities from the Seller so you have an idea of what the monthly cost will be. Keep in mind this number will vary depending on how many people live in the home and how conservative the residents are. As a renter, some costs such as water, may be included in your monthly payment. As a homeowner, this is not normally the case unless you are buying a townhouse or condominium. Utilities are not covered in your monthly mortgage payment when you own a single family home. Depending on where you live you may be responsible for both county and city taxes. Taxes are normally rolled into your mortgage payment. Your Realtor or mortgage broker should be able to estimate the cost for you. What Does a Mortgage Cover? Most loans have four parts. The principal is the repayment of the loan amount you actually borrowed. Interest is the payment to the lender for the money you borrowed. Homeowner’s insurance is a monthly amount that insures the property against loss from fire, smoke, theft and other hazards and is required by most lenders. Property taxes are the annual city and county taxes assessed on your property divided by the number of mortgage payments you make in a year. Most loans are 30 year term. There are also 15 year loans available in addition to other types. During the life of the loan, you will pay far more interest than you will in principal- sometimes two or three times more. Depending on how your loan is structured, one usually pays more interest than principal during the first years of the loan. During the final years of the loan, you will pay more towards the principal. This is why it is important to get the best rate possible in today's market. Interest rates are at an all-time low, making this a great time to buy. What Documentation Will You Need When You Meet With Your Lender? Having the following items on hand will save you a lot of time, especially in today's environment. You will need social security numbers for you and your spouse, if both of you are on the loan. You will also need copies of your checking and savings account statements for the past six months. If you have any assets, bonds, or stocks you will also need to provide copies of your latest statements. You will be asked to provide recent paycheck stubs detailing your earnings, as well as, the name of your employer in order for the bank to verify your employment status. Statements for all of your credit card accounts with amounts owed on each are also required. Additional documents include statements with any balances on outstanding loans such as a car loan, and the last two years of your income tax statement. Depending on your lender you may be asked for more items. What type of Mortgage Should You Apply For? How do you know which is best for you? By selecting a good lender that is knowledgeable, you will be advised on all types of loans that are available to you. For instance, with

a 30 year fixed rate your principal and interest stays the same for the duration of the loan. The advantage here is that you always know what your payment will be. Another type of mortgage is an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). With this type of mortgage, your interest rate and monthly payments usually start lower than a fixed rate mortgage. However, your rate and payment can go either up or down, and often as once or twice a year. The adjustment is tied to a financial index, such as the US Treasury Securities index. The advantage of an ARM is that you may be able to afford a more expensive home because your initial interest rate may be lower. A good lender can advise you on what loan is best for you and your family circumstance. In making your decision, you should ask yourself,” HOW LONG WILL I KEEP MY HOME?” How Much Should You Offer on A Home? Consult your Realtor. Is the home priced right in today's market? Is the home in good condition or will you have to spend a large amount to bring the home up to your standards? Make sure you are working with a good home inspector. Your Realtor can most likely help you select a good inspector. How long has the home been on the market? Have your Realtor find out why the Seller is moving and how motivated they are. If a home is priced right in today's market, the Seller will get approximately 97% of the asking price. If a home has been on the market for a long time it could be due to the home being over- priced and/or in poor condition. Even in today's market if a home is priced right, in a very good location and in good condition, the home could get multiple offers. What should you expect at Closing? A good lender assures a package is at closing a day before, provided all pieces fall into place. The buyer and seller sit at a table with a reputable attorney, Real Estate Brokers and sign papers to purchase their new home. A seller has very little paperwork to sign when selling their home. The attorney will explain the process to the buyer and clarify what documents they are signing as they go. Your agent is there to provide guidance on what you are signing or if any other questions arise. Before you meet at the closing table, the lender will go over your settlement statement to make sure you understand the process and the amount you are to bring to closing. Most attorneys require money to be wired to their office or require funds to be in a certified check in order to purchase your home. In today’s market the whole process from contract to closing could take approximately 30 to 45 days provided there are no liens on the property and the process goes smoothly. It takes about one hour to sign all the documents required to successfully purchase your home. Congratulations! How Exciting....You Have Just Bought Your First Home! What A Great Accomplishment!

Deborah Ratchford, Keller Williams Realty Cityside can be reached at 678.570.4779 (direct) or 770.874.6200 (office), Keller Williams Realty Cityside is located at 3350 Atlanta Road, SE Atlanta, SE, Atlanta, GA 30080

Home Improvement Projects That Really Pay Off phosphate or its equivalent to wash most surfaces inside and outside the house. There are also special cleaners for glass, tile, porcelain, stainless steel, and wood, and for getting rid of unpleasant molds and mildew. Visit your friendly hardware store and read labels. There are cleaners for almost every material and for solving almost every cleaning problem. Make sure rooms are well ventilated whenever you are cleaning, carefully follow directions, and wear gloves and a mask. Removing clutter is another worthwhile project and requires adequate home storage with a combination of cabinets, shelves and bins, and sufficient strength of mind to discard all junk, no matter how much you love it. You can buy easy-to-assemble shelving and cabinets in a great variety of sizes and materials at affordable prices. Small, decorative containers can be used to organize and conceal the ongoing accumulations of such items as incoming mail. In the yard, removing clutter means getting rid of dead trees, dead branches, broken slabs and stones in patios and walkways, and tidying up the garden and lawn. When faced with clutter, ruthlessly throw it out, recycle it, hold a garage sale, donate it to the charity of your choice -- get rid of it. Interior painting and exterior painting should be next on your list of preferred home improvement projects. Fresh paint helps make your home look clean, bright, and spacious. When selecting colors for the exterior, don't forget to do something about that bland front door. Have fun! Fresh, harmonious colors add beauty and personality to your home both inside and out.

by Scott Gray (Continued from page 18)

paint and redecorate the cabinets. Other Projects to Consider After you have decided on and planned for the most important home improvement projects, new window coverings and upgraded flooring should receive your attention. You can choose from a large array of window dressings and styles, or simply buy fabric, turn hems with iron-on tape, and dramatically drape the material over attractive curtain rods. Shutters are another possibility and lend themselves to many different decorating styles. Your choice of flooring is limited only by your taste and budget. Rip up the old carpet and replace it with contemporary hardwood flooring or laminate flooring. If you already have hardwood, simply sanding and re-staining it or giving it a clear finish may give your rooms the lift they need. Other flooring replacements that can transform a room include tile, vinyl, linoleum, or textured rubber. Finally, save a little energy and money to improve the appearance of your yard. Maybe all you have to do to improve the landscape is trim, mow, weed, and then plant a few flowers. Adding or upgrading an existing patio, deck, or walkway can also be very worthwhile. Choosing the best remodeling and redecorating projects will not only increase the long-term value of your home, they will also provide satisfaction and pleasure for you, the smart homeowner.

Put Kitchen and Bathroom Remodeling High on the List Although remodeling a kitchen seems like a daunting task, a complete overhaul pays great dividends if and when you sell your home. Purchasing new cabinets and appliances are worthy goals, but you can also make minor changes that will create impact. If you can't replace the kitchen cabinets, replace the cabinet doors at least. If that is also beyond your means, add molding to the cabinet doors, paint them, and replace the hardware. It’s not that difficult or expensive to replace an outdated sink, and if you can't afford a new stove, fridge and dishwasher, don't hang on to those gold or avocado monstrosities -- buy attractive reconditioned replacements. Bathroom remodeling is the next most important improvement and the biggest dividends come from installing a new sink, bathtub, toilet, and shower stall, as well as attractive tiles and custom cabinets. Again, if you can't manage a complete makeover, replace the tired old taps, faucets and shower head; add shelves; and


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june crossword solution Our Town

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Our Town

Our Town June 2011 - Smyrna/Vinings  

Our Town June 2011 - Smyrna/Vinings